Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Higgins’ partner quits Canberra job

Brittany Higgins’ partner has quit his Canberra job over fears of payback in response to her sexual assault claim, as a fourth woman comes out against the alleged perpetrator. Higgins’ partner David Sharaz resigned from his job handling federal government clients for a media analytics company, which required healthy relationships with ministers. “I do not believe I can continue to do that following the events of last week,” Sharaz told Guardian Australia. It comes as a fourth woman levels claims against Higgins’ alleged perpetrator. She told the ABC that he reached his hand under the table in 2017 without invitation and stroked her thigh while they were drinking with work colleagues at Canberra’s Public Bar. She filed a police report on Sunday. In recent days a Liberal staffer and a former Coalition volunteer have also made allegations to The Australian that they were both sexually assaulted by the same former staffer, who is reported to have been stood down from a corporate job. Higgins’ allegations have sparked four separate inquiries seeking to improve the workplace culture at Parliament House and find out who knew about the allegations inside the Prime Minister’s Office.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will seek party room endorsement this morning for a “modest” permanent ­increase to JobSeeker, which news.com.au reports will be less than $50 a week. That equates to less than $7 extra a day, below the current boosted rate and well short of the Australian Council of Social Service call for a permanent increase of at least $25 a day. The concession will be offered in exchange for stricter mutual obligation requirements, reports The Australian. A plan to eliminate multiple supplement payments has been abandoned as too complex. A survey of financial counsellors by Anglicare Victoria found a sharp decline in clients looking for assistance when the original boosted supplement was introduced. Deloitte Access Economics estimates an $80-a-fortnight increase in JobSeeker, if it included a similar-sized boost to the Youth Allowance, would cost about $2.7 billion this year.

The Rio Tinto executive responsible for leading a review into the company’s Juukan Gorge demolition has been handed a 46 per cent pay rise. Rio Tinto’s annual report, published yesterday, reveals Michael L'Estrange earned $288,386 in 2020. The former CEO, Jean-Sebastien Jacques, meanwhile received a 20 per cent pay rise, taking home $12.85 million last year despite the Rio Tinto board labelling him "partially responsible" for the destruction of the 46,000-year-old rock shelters.

The US Supreme Court on Monday allowed the release of eight years worth of Donald Trump’s tax records to prosecutors, rejecting a bid to keep them secret. Trump’s lawyers have been working to prevent his tax records from being handed over to New York prosecutors investigating hush payments to women and possible fraud. The decision paves the way for the documents to be handed over to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. “The work continues,” Mr Vance said in a three-word statement issued after the ruling.

‘I was a staffer, and so was my perpetrator’
Eighteen months ago, Dhanya Mani spoke to the press about being assaulted while working as a Liberal Party staffer. This week, she reflected on how little has changed — and how culpable the Prime Minister is for that.

“Another aspect raising warning flags is that the merger’s key backers are a Coalition MP who’s soon to be out of parliament and a female senator who believes there needs to be a Minister for Men. Kevin Andrews – who was moved out of the Social Services portfolio after trying to implement ‘relationship counselling vouchers’ – is the chair of the joint select committee on Australia’s family law system. His offsider in the enterprise is One Nation leader Pauline Hanson, who has been campaigning for the abolition of the Family Court since 1996. She has become notorious for serially making unproven claims that women habitually lie about family violence.”

“At 52, the Foo’s Dave Grohl is rock’s cool uncle, smiling evangelist and plain-spoken philosopher. Gregarious and media savvy, he recently engaged 10-year-old drumming prodigy Nandi Bushell in a cute online duel ... He jams with Paul McCartney, makes docos about recording studios, sent a hopeful message to the trapped miners of Beaconsfield and, even if his principal band have made insipid pap for the past two decades, is assured street cred by having written ‘Everlong’ and bashed the skins for Nirvana. Everyone, it seems, loves Dave.”

“Being a politician means learning to carefully deliver sentences that have been crafted by experts who know that everything you say will be parsed and dissected. This is why prime ministers employ speechwriters – people adept at reading the warp and weft of social discourse and threading a path for their boss that will offend few and please many. Prime Minister Scott Morrison really should think of hiring such a person.”

“Crown’s future as the operator of its giant Melbourne casino has been thrown into doubt after the state government announced an unprecedented inquiry into whether the company had broken the law and was suitable to hold a gaming licence in Victoria ... Shortly after the government announced the royal commission, Crown informed the sharemarket that long-serving director Harold Mitchell would step down from the company’s board – the fifth director including the CEO to be forced out in the past fortnight.”

“After just a day’s Senate hearings, both the Coalition government and Labor have decided there is no need for an Australian royal commission into media diversity. The government ‘decision’ — announced ‘exclusively’ by reporter James Madden in The Australian and attributed to communications minister Paul Fletcher — is a response to a petition by former prime minister Kevin Rudd, but comes while a senate committee hearing on the subject is still in progress.”

“Scott Morrison actually announced a two billion dollar national bushfire recovery fund. And he used those words. And that was going to be overseen by the former Australian Federal Police Commissioner, Andrew Colvin, who now is the coordinator of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. But there was never actually any specific fund ... so it's more of a theoretical pot of money that they have to get from elsewhere in government.”

“Hey, it’s me: Short Afternoon Walk. As you may have noticed, you’re all turning to me an awful lot these days. Don’t get me wrong, I love what we have together, but I think we need to face the truth: I can never be everything you want me to be. When this little routine first started, I thought it was the greatest thing in the world. I was an escape. I was an adventure. I was beloved. But somewhere along the way, I became your everything.”

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