Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Dutton sues refugee advocate over tweet

Defence Minister Peter Dutton has made good on his threat to bring legal action against social media critics, taking a refugee advocate to court over a tweet that labelled him a “rape apologist”. Dutton filed Federal Court defamation proceedings on Friday against refugee advocate Shane Bazzi claiming he was defamed in a February 25 tweet this year, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Bazzi added the comment to a link he posted to an article on Dutton’s 2019 comment that some women on Nauru who had claimed to have been raped were “trying it on” in order to secure a medical transfer to Australia. It came at a time of widespread allegations around rape allegations at Parliament House made by staffer Brittany Higgins. Greens Senator Larissa Waters issued an apology last month for a tweet accusing Dutton of being an “inhuman, sexist rape apologist” after he said he hadn’t been “provided with the ‘she said, he said’ details” of Higgins’ allegations. “I accept that there was no basis for those allegations and that they were false,” Waters said. Dutton is the second federal minister to launch defamation proceedings in 2021, following Christian Porter’s case against the ABC over reporting of an alleged rape claim levelled against him, which Porter has denied.

The lockdown of the Perth and Peel region has ended after no new community spread of Covid-19 was recorded in a 24-hour period. Some interim restrictions will remain for the next four days, including the mandatory wearing of face masks in public. WA Premier Mark McGowan said the three-day lockdown “has done the job it was designed to do” following two cases of community transmission. Australian Medical Association WA president Andrew Miller said the outbreak, which originated in hotel quarantine, showed the need for something like mining camps to be used to house returned travellers. “The problem is federal advisers have not yet properly acknowledged airborne spread of the disease," he said. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt on Monday said low Covid-19 case numbers in Australia showed the hotel quarantine system had been successful and does not need to be modified.

The federal cabinet’s national security committee will today consider whether to further restrict or ban flights from India, as the country breaks Covid-19 infection records. Health Minister Greg Hunt said the committee will consider whether new measures are needed, and also discuss humanitarian support including supplies of oxygen from the states. Last week’s 30 per cent reduction in passenger numbers from India have further disrupted the plans of more than 8000 Australians trying to return home. On Monday, the country set a new record of coronavirus infections for the fifth straight day, with 352,991 new cases and a national record of 2812 deaths in a 24-hour period.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the federal government will split the costs with the Queensland government for the Brisbane 2032 Olympics. The bid was granted “preferred” status by the International Olympic Committee earlier this year. Morrison said federal funding would be used to build venues, road and transport projects. The funding is contingent on the Queensland government agreeing to a jointly owned, funded and run Olympic Infrastructure Agency to give the federal government an equal say in planning. The federal government’s share of the funding is expected to run into the billions, which will be significantly more than its $150 million contribution to the Sydney 2000 Games. 

What’s behind the violence engulfing Northern Ireland?
For much of the 20th century Northern Ireland was marred by violence, as Irish republicans and forces aligned to the United Kingdom fought over the future of the region. That conflict officially came to an end with a peace agreement in 1998 but now the violence is flaring up again.

“Peter Dutton is shaking things up. But those at the top of the Australian Defence Force are mindful that, in his new job, the Defence minister wields a sword with a double blade. Dutton’s reversal of Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell’s plan to strip 3000 special forces personnel of a meritorious unit citation for their service in Afghanistan is being seen as decisive, if controversial. But while it demonstrates power, the move also underlined the former Home Affairs minister’s willingness – and that of his prime minister – to prioritise the government’s political fortunes over some other considerations in Defence.” 

“Australia faces a reality where porn has become young people’s choice for sex education – not because it’s a good educator, but because it’s better than what else is on offer. The federal government’s new consent education campaign is exemplary of why this is the case.”

“On Monday, the world learned that 12 of its largest football clubs – six from England, plus three each from Spain and Italy – had quietly plotted a historic coup. They were the founding members, they said, of what would eventually be a 20-team European rebel comp – the ‘Super League’ … By Tuesday, fans were torching shirts and blockading the Chelsea team bus.”

“Australian history classes rarely include accounts of a violent frontier, and few monuments exist that tell the story of the Indigenous people who lost their lives in a conflict sometimes called ‘the frontier wars’. Although work is being done to uncover the stories of Aboriginal resistance and to document Indigenous massacres, these accounts haven’t yet entered mainstream understanding, or bipartisan acceptance. ‘We need to improve the historical literacy of Australians,’ Monash Indigenous studies historian Professor Lynette Russell AM says.”

“The National Archives is racing to digitise more than 11 million photographic items and 400,000 audio-visual items on magnetic tape and film that could be lost in the next five to 10 years due to deterioration or ageing playback equipment … a review found it would cost more than $400 million to preserve the archive's delicate collection, but recommended the federal government spend $67.7 million on a seven-year program to urgently digitise material most at-risk. The government is yet to respond to the review.”

“For four days Tarpie Watts’s body was laid out in the chilled bedroom of her Blue Mountains home, covered with her favourite purple sarong. She had treasured the garment during her long life, so it felt right to her family that she should have it now, in death. Although some people may find the idea of having a dead body in the house confronting, Langfield says there was nothing creepy about it. In fact, she believes spending time with her mother’s body helped her to move through the grieving process.”

“Federal authorities arrested a New York man on Thursday, accused of taking part in the January 6 Capitol insurrection after a prospective date reported him to the police when he boasted about storming the Capitol in a message to her on a dating app.

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