Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Laming spoils PM’s party for women

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is eyeing social media safeguards against abuse of women online, but has refused to push for the expulsion of a backbencher accused of online harassment. Tougher rules for social media companies that facilitate abuse of women online is one example of the policies to be considered by a new ministerial taskforce focused on women’s issues, following a cabinet reshuffle that created a host of new female-focused portfolios. It comes as Morrison on Monday refused to push for the expulsion of backbencher Andrew Laming from the Coalition despite his online harassment of women. Laming is now facing a police inquiry over allegedly taking a photo of a woman at her workplace in a compromising position, with the woman and a male co-worker making a formal complaint on Monday. Upskirting is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison. Laming told ABC radio on Monday that the photo attempted to show someone trying to fit an impossible amount of stock into a refrigerator. “She was playing a game of Tetris trying to get every possible can in the fridge,” he said.

Greater Brisbane has been plunged into a three-day snap lockdown from 5pm on Monday, after the state recorded a further four locally acquired infections. The lockdown includes the Ipswich, Logan, Redlands, Moreton and Brisbane council areas. People in Greater Brisbane will only be able to leave their homes for essential reasons like grocery shopping, exercise, work and medical care. Masks will be mandatory on public transport and in any location indoors except for home, with exemptions for relevant medical issues and for strenuous exercise. Looser restrictions apply to the rest of the state. Most states and territories have closed their borders to Greater Brisbane ahead of the Easter long weekend, although NSW is only recommending against travel there. 

Federal Opposition leader Anthony Albanese is today unveiling a promise to establish a $15 billion “national reconstruction fund” if Labor wins the next election. Albanese will say the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in local manufacturing and that Australia needs to ensure it can support itself in the future. The fund would operate in a similar fashion to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), with an independent board making decisions about how to invest the initial $15 billion. The fund’s remit would include processing of rare earth minerals; car, train and ship manufacturing; and medical supplies. The announcement comes ahead of the ALP’s two-day special platform conference in Revesby, in south-west Sydney.

Shipping traffic through Egypt’s Suez Canal has resumed at last after a gargantuan container ship that blocked the waterway for almost a week was refloated. After dredging and excavation work over the weekend, tugboats waited until the peak of high tide to wrench the bulbous bow of the 400m-long ship from the canal’s sandy bank. “She’s free,” an official involved in the salvage operation said. The salvage team pulled the vessel towards the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south end of the canal. It is expected to take 10 days to clear the backlog of hundreds of waiting vessels. Dozens of ships instead opted to take a 5000km detour around the Cape of Good Hope.

One month, four more Aboriginal deaths in custody
Over the past month there have been four Indigenous deaths in custody across Australia. Now, a new organisation has been created to help their families fight for justice. Today, Madeleine Hayman-Reber on the grassroots group supporting families whose loved ones have died in police custody.

“The year of Covid-19 was a very good one for Gina Rinehart. According to the most recent survey of Australia’s richest people, Rinehart’s fortune more than doubled in the year to February 2021, from $16.25 billion to $36.28 billion. To put that in some context, her net worth is now about the same as that of 82,000 median Australians. Put another way, the increase in Rinehart’s fortune, some $20 billion over the Covid-19 year, would have paid the salaries of about 250,000 emergency care nurses.” 

EDITORIAL

“It is difficult to keep ahead of federal parliament’s cascade of scandals. Even for the prime minister, who has been dragged into this fray he so desperately wanted to keep at arm’s length. He is visibly flustered; perhaps he truly did not realise the rot went so deep. But ignorance is not an excuse, not for a leader of a country.”

“Through the chiaroscuro of Ockelford’s negative effects Rakini’s heavily made-up face appeared: startlingly white, the forehead bejewelled, the blood-red lips seeming to seep beyond their outline, the thickly kohled and shadowed eyes wide open, staring ... Rakini’s performative project is to inhabit female religious iconography as a protest against misogyny and the abuse of women. The dancing goddess/cloaked Madonna was as beautiful and alluring as she was forbidding. Her power was unequivocal.”

“Angela Rima has put most of her belongings on the verge. She and her family have to be out of their Kwinana rental property by the end of Monday — the first day since the McGowan government's moratorium on rent increases and some evictions lifted. ‘It’s a storm,’ she said. ‘In my mind and my heart and everything — it's a lot to deal with.’”

“Changes to the more than 130 rental law changes taking effect today in Victoria could have a big impact … now landlords must have a ‘reasonable reason’ to prevent tenants from painting the premises, fixing a pet door, installing a dishwasher or setting up a herb garden ... Landlords will need to provide a valid reason if they choose to end a tenant’s lease — ‘no specified reason’ is no longer an acceptable answer … Upon leaving, a tenant can apply to the Rental Tenancies Bond Authority to receive the full amount, regardless of whether the landlord disagrees.”

“Like those bystanders, we have all become witnesses to Floyd’s death. The footage, powerful, confronting and undeniable, has backed the testimony of the black witness, who has known intimately the reality of police brutality, while awakening the white witness, who is more likely to be believed.”

“Mere days after an Evergreen ship, called Ever Given, got lodged in the Suez Canal, images surfaced of a truck with the Evergreen logo in Nanjing, China, having crashed and ending up coming to a halt across the road’s multiple lanes ... both the truck and ship veered off course to their right side and stopped at a roughly 45° angle. They also both blocked traffic from behind them.”

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