Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Ex-MP faces grilling on Berejiklian tryst

Former Wagga Wagga state MP in the New South Wales parliament, Daryl Maguire, will today front the Independent Commission Against Corruption in Sydney for the first time since revelations he had a “close personal relationship” with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Maguire is expected to be questioned on allegations he used his position as an MP for personal benefit, and on Berejiklian’s awareness and involvement in his dealings. It comes as The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Maguire convinced Berejiklian to meet with two publicans with criminal histories after her own racing and gaming ministers allegedly refused. The 2017 meeting over “gaming issues” involved a publican involved in arson and attempted insurance fraud and another who illegally owned poker machines. The NSW parliament will today debate a motion of no confidence in Berejiklian moved by Labor yesterday. It comes after Maguire’s former business associate Maggie Wang on Tuesday told the corruption probe how he travelled the South Pacific, ostensibly on parliamentary business, to set up lucrative business deals including a proposed Sam­oan casino and resort. Maguire also sought to delete evidence of correspondence between the pair.

A motion of no confidence put to the Victorian parliament by Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien on Tuesday has failed to oust Premier Daniel Andrews over the handling of the pandemic. The motion was defeated 44-23 during an extended sitting of the lower house that ended at 9pm. The Opposition can only introduce one no–confidence motion of this kind in a parliamentary term. O’Brien said the Premier’s handling of hotel quarantine had let the state down “like no other government has done before”. Andrews described the move as a “stunt”. It comes as regional Victoria experienced a new Covid-19 outbreak, after three new cases were identified late on Tuesday in the city of Shepparton. Before the outbreak, there had been only six active cases of the virus in all of regional Victoria, including five in the Kilmore area north of Melbourne linked to the Chadstone cluster.

A group of 16 investors and super funds will form a new partnership to push for the Australian private sector to reduce national carbon emissions by at least 230 million tonnes a year more than the government forecasts by 2030. Guardian Australia reports the target set by the “climate league 2030” is equivalent to about a 45 per cent cut by 2030, equivalent to the minimum short-term target recommended by the government’s Climate Change Authority for Australia to play its part in keeping average global heating below 2C. Collectively managing assets worth more than $850 billion, the investors include Aware Super, Cbus, IFM Investors, and AustralianSuper.

On the second day of her confirmation hearings as a nominee to the United States Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, repeatedly declined to answer questions regarding her views on abortion and healthcare, and also refused to commit to recusing herself from disputes over presidential election results. Referencing the long-standing tradition of judicial nominees not weighing in on specific issues, Barrett denied that her criticisms of past rulings upholding the Affordable Care Act indicate she would make “hostile” future rulings on the law.

James Packer shows his hand
Over the past few weeks an inquiry into Crown Resorts, Australia’s largest gambling company, has laid bare a culture of risk taking and threats. It’s also embroiled one of the company’s biggest shareholders. Mike Seccombe on James Packer’s extraordinary evidence, and what’s at stake for Crown.

“Only one state-run nursing home in the country received explicit funding in the budget: Strathalbyn and District Aged Care Facility in South Australia, which received $700,000 this financial year to expand the number of aged-care places. The facility is in the electorate of Mayo, held by MP Rebekha Sharkie of Centre Alliance, the party whose vote secured the passage of the government’s controversial higher education reforms.”

“The main criticism of the Quad back then was that it would needlessly provoke China down a perilous path of military modernisation and destabilising behaviour. Yet Beijing chose such a road anyway. The perils the Quad’s critics thought it would invoke ended up arising in its absence. The next decade brought such geopolitical instability that the four governments became convinced their disbanded dialogue had been an idea ahead of its time.”

“The game avoids many of the pitfalls of poor trans representation in fiction; Tyler’s dead name is not mentioned, and in the rare cases he is misgendered the offender is quickly and permanently corrected ... but sometimes the game’s narrative impact is stymied by its laser-like focus on not offending. In one stark instance a drunk stranger mistakes Tyler for a trespasser and threatens him at gunpoint, and Tyler responds by asserting the validity of his gender, which – ludicrously – de-escalates the situation.”

“The 2020/21 Budget also includes $3.5-million over two years to fund preliminary rehabilitation works at the former Rum Jungle copper and uranium mine in the Northern Territory. The funds will support land management and training jobs for local Indigenous communities … additional funding to ensure timely approvals and progress reforms to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 would support industry investment and expedite projects. ‘The industry will continue to support investments expanded in the budget for specific training for Indigenous youth,’ said MCA CEO Tania Constable.”

“Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) is withholding $1.9 million in royalties from a group of Pilbara traditional owners because they asked for more information about a mining proposal, a Federal inquiry has heard … at least 434 heritage sites on Eastern Guruma country had been destroyed by mining activity, while a further 285 were in ‘very close proximity’ to current operations and were inaccessible to traditional owners.”

“This is why the people of Biloela are so important. Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharunicaa face a devastatingly uncertain future, but the people of Biloela continue their witness of love and compassion. A friend has even flown to Christmas Island to support the family. These extraordinary Australians refuse to become infected by our nation’s corporate shadow, and in so doing remain manifestations of our better angels.” 

“The latest nugget of chaos released at the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) probe is that disgraced former state MP Darryl Maguire – the guy who was just revealed to be in a secret relationship with Premier Gladys Berejiklian and who may or may not have divulged details of his corruption to her over the phone – conveniently lost his phones (plural) and iPad in some kind of tractor accident.”

Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.