• One Nation sought millions in political donations from US National Rifle Association

    An investigative report conducted by Al Jazeera has revealed senior One Nation figures met with representatives of the powerful American National Rifle Association (NRA), as well as Koch Industries, in a bid to secure donations. Pauline Hanson’s Chief of Staff James Ashby and One Nation Queensland leader Steve Dickson were secretly filmed during the meetings in Washington DC back in September. Mr Ashby and Mr Dickson are seen during a meeting with the NRA seeking ... ► Read more

  • Daley resigns as NSW Labor leader but will recontest leadership

    New South Wales Labor leader Michael Daley has stepped down as the state’s opposition leader until after the upcoming federal election. On Monday the NSW branch of the Labor Party confirmed it would wait until after the May federal election to hold a leadership ballot. In the interim, deputy leader Penny Sharpe will act as leader. “This is the right and proper thing to do,” Mr Daley said, adding that it is “in keeping with ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 17 March – 23 March 2019

    Coalition wins NSW election, minority government possible Gladys Berejiklian and the Coalition have been returned by the people of NSW for a third term in office, winning 46 of the 47 seats required for majority government so far. See the ABC’s coverage of this story here. EU agrees Brexit delay plan All 27 European Union leaders have backed a Brexit delay plan that gives the United Kingdom two options — pass Prime Minister Theresa May’s ... ► Read more

  • Sydney bars to hold election eve drink freeze

    About 34 Sydney bars will stop serving drinks for up to 15 minutes at 6:00pm tonight to draw voters’ attention to the future of Sydney’s night-time economy, ahead of tomorrow’s state election. The New South Wales Government has been criticised for introducing lockout laws and additional restrictions of liquor licensing, which has become a key election issue. In a statement Sydney’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said the bars involved will “turn up the lights” ... ► Read more

  • Thousands evacuated in NT as Cyclone Trevor approaches

    More than 2000 residents have been evacuated from Northern Territory communities located in the path of a massive tropical cyclone. Cyclone Trevor is likely to cross the Northern Territory coast on Saturday as a category four severe tropical cyclone throwing out gale-force winds, rain and tidal surges 300 kilometres from its eye and is headed towards the town of Borroloola. A state of emergency has been declared in the Gulf country, with schools closed and ... ► Read more

  • Mass evacuations in NT as Cyclone Trevor heads across gulf

    The Northern Territory has begun its largest mass evacuation since Cyclone Tracy in 1974, as Cyclone Trevor is expected to strengthen to at least a category four system. The cyclone is predicted to move across the southwestern coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria on Saturday, and the Bureau of Meteorology said it could develop into a category five system by the weekend. About 10,000 people are believed to live in the current NT cyclone watch ... ► Read more

  • Erdogan’s Christchurch comments “taken out of context”

    The senior spokesman for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the leader was “unfortunately taken out of context” in comments in which he appeared to threaten violence to Australians and New Zealanders after the Christchurch massacre. Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a white supremacist, was charged with murder after a lone gunman opened fire in attacks on the two mosques during Friday prayers, killing 50 people. In a campaign rally ahead of local elections on 31 ... ► Read more

  • Teen released without charge after egging Senator Fraser Anning

    The Melbourne teen who egged Senator Fraser Anning on Saturday has been interviewed and released by police without charge, pending further investigations. Will Connolly — dubbed “Egg Boy” — was hit in the face by Senator Anning after the teen slapped an egg on the Senator’s head. The 17-year-old’s action came after the Queensland Senator blamed Muslim immigration for the Christchurch Mosque attacks that killed 50 people on Friday. Mr Connolly’s lawyer Peter Gordon said ... ► Read more

  • “Very offended”: PM to summon Turkish ambassador over Erdogan’s ANZAC comments

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will summon Turkey’s ambassador today after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan mocked the Gallipoli campaign and threatened Australian and New Zealand citizens. Mr Erdogan said the terror attacks in Christchurch last Friday were part of a wider attack on Turkey and indicative of global anti-Muslim sentiment. The Turkish President took aim at the Anzacs’ participation in the Gallipoli campaign, threatening that Australians and New Zealanders with anti-Islam sentiment who visit Turkey ... ► Read more

  • Tropical Cyclone Trevor continues across far north Queensland

    The far north Queensland communities of Aurukun and Weipa are next in the firing line as Tropical Cyclone Trevor continues to track across Cape York Peninsula. The system crossed the coast just south of Lockhart River late yesterday afternoon and evening as a category three system with winds of up to 133km/h. Lockhart River Mayor Wayne Butcher said there had not been any reports of injuries but police and authorities were yet to assess the ... ► Read more

  • Morrison Government set to cut migration rate

    The Federal Government is set to slash Australia’s annual migration intake as Prime Minister Scott Morrison denies concerns about congestion are driven by racism. Cabinet has authorised the changes, which would slash the targeted annual intake of permanent migrants by up to 30,000, The Australian reports. It is understood the Prime Minister has held off on announcing the plan in the wake of the Christchurch attacks. Since the far-right terrorist attack that killed 50 people, ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 March – 16 March 2019

    49 killed in NZ mosque shootings Three suspects are in custody following deadly shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch on Friday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Major parties launch NSW election campaigns On Sunday the New South Wales branches of the Liberal and Labor parties officially launched their election campaigns, two weeks ahead of the 23 March polling date. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. George Pell ... ► Read more

  • PM says Australian IS members will not return home

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reiterated that his government will not allow Australian Islamic State members to return to the country. In response to pleas for help from an Australian woman trapped with her two children in a refugee camp for IS families, Mr Morrison declared that he would not put Australians at risk by helping home-grown extremists to return from the Middle East. The woman is being held at a refugee camp in north-east ... ► Read more

  • Australia, EU and others suspend 737 MAX 8s following Ethiopian Airlines crash

    Australia, the European Union and other jurisdictions have indefinitely banned the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner from their airspace, following a second fatal crash within five months. On Sunday a new Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 crashed en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 crew and passengers on board. Investigators are looking for similarities between the Ethiopian Airlines crash and that of a Lion Air MAX 8 that crashed in Indonesia, killing ... ► Read more

  • George Pell sentenced to 6 years in gaol

    Cardinal George Pell has been sentenced to six years in prison for sexually abusing two choirboys during his tenure as Archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s. Mr Pell, 77, will serve a minimum of three years and eight months before he is eligible for parole. County Court Chief Judge Peter Kidd described the cardinal’s offences as “a brazen and forcible sexual attack on the victims”. “The acts were sexually graphic, both victims were visibly and ... ► Read more

  • Privacy pivot: Facebook wants to be more like WhatsApp. But details are scarce

    Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg delivered a 3,000+ word post last week, spelling out a new vision for the social network. It prompts just one small question: Facebook, who are you? Zuckerberg’s essay, entitled “A privacy-focused vision for social networking”, signals a radical shift. Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has encouraged openness, connection and sharing. But now, it would be “privacy-focused”, featuring encrypted services and content that “won’t stick around forever”. Facebook will, says Zuckerberg, transform from open ... ► Read more

  • The internet is now an arena for conflict, and we’re all caught up in it

    Most people think the internet operates as a kind of global public square. In reality, it’s become a divided arena where conflict between nation states plays out. Nation states run covert operations on the same platforms we use to post cat videos and exchange gossip. And if we’re not aware of it, we could be unwittingly used as pawns for the wrong side. How did we get here? It’s complicated, but let’s walk through some ... ► Read more

  • Controversy as Minister for Western Sydney linked to $27 million NSW Government purchase

    The New South Wales Government’s purchase of an historic estate in Western Sydney has triggered questions from the Labor opposition after it was revealed that the registered proprietors are close friends with the Minister for Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres MP. Last year Mr Ayres announced that the NSW Government had acquired the 385-hectare Fernhill estate in Mulgoa for $27 million. The property includes a sandstone homestead built in 1845. At the time the NSW Government ... ► Read more

  • Major parties launch NSW election campaigns

    On Sunday the New South Wales branches of the Liberal and Labor parties officially launched their election campaigns, two weeks ahead of the 23 March polling date. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian spoke to Liberal Party members in Penrith about the Government’s investment in public transport, referring to the 45 major projects — each worth more than $100 million — underway across the state. Ms Berejiklian promised to invest $120 million in before- and after-school care. ... ► Read more

  • “A form of madness”: Turnbull says party rivals feared he would win election

    Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he was ousted by his Liberal colleagues because they thought he would win the next federal election. Mr Turnbull told the BBC “internal politics of the Liberal Party” led to his demise as Australia’s 29th Prime Minister. “As I said at the time it was essentially a form of madness that occurred, whipped up internally and also amplified by voices in the media,” Mr Turnbull told the Politics Live ... ► Read more

  • NSW Government announces $500M for private schools

    New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Education Minister Rob Stokes announced on Thursday that independent and Catholic schools will receive $500 million over four years to build, extend and upgrade their classrooms. The funding for private schools is intended to help them cope with rapidly increasing enrolments. Ms Berejiklian said her government will support parents, regardless of whether they choose to send their children to a public, Catholic or independent school. “We have provided ... ► Read more

  • Treasury rebukes Coalition for exaggerating impact of Labor’s proposed negative gearing changes

    The Federal Treasury has rebuked the Coalition Government for exaggerating the impact of Labor’s proposed changes to negative gearing deductions. Under Labor’s policy, negative gearing deductions would be curbed by limiting the tax concessions available to new investment properties, and capital gains tax would be increased by 50%. Since 2016 the Coalition has said this would “smash” housing values with a “sledgehammer”. However, the Treasury explicitly advised the Government that it should not claim that ... ► Read more

  • Julian Burnside QC to run as Greens candidate against Josh Frydenberg

    Outspoken barrister and human rights advocate Julian Burnside QC will run as the Greens candidate for Kooyong against incumbent Liberal MP and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. Mr Burnside said he is concerned that the political system is “broken” and that his wife had urged him to run for office. He decided to join the Greens after determining that their policies are “consistent” with his views. “The Greens used to be regarded just as a party ... ► Read more

  • PM pledges $328 million to fight domestic violence

    The Morrison Government has pledged an extra $328 million to combat domestic violence, with much of that funding going towards safe houses and frontline services. The three-year funding commitment represents the fourth and final stage of the National Action Plan that was developed, in consultation with the states, in 2010. Announcing the “record Commonwealth investment”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will also unveil a new prevention strategy to target the negative attitudes that lead to violence. ... ► Read more

  • US coal miners’ story sparks concerns for Hunter Valley miners

    Inside Singleton’s Diggers club, Hunter Valley residents are debating the future of the world’s coal industry. Coal is the big employer in this region with 40 different mines employing about 9,000 workers to drive the local economy, in turn helping Australia generate billions in export revenue. But as some countries signal a move away from coal, miners cap production and the industry remains almost permanently under the political spotlight, there is concern here that the ... ► Read more

  • Malaysia open to resuming MH370 search if leads are “credible”

    Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke has said the Malaysian Government would consider resuming the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 if it receives viable proposals or credible leads. Flight MH370 disappeared while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on 8 March 2014 with 239 people on board, including three Australian couples. Malaysia, China and Australia called off their $200 million underwater search in January 2017 after it yielded no results. Mr Loke ... ► Read more

  • Australia, Indonesia to sign delayed free trade deal

    Australia and Indonesia are just days away from signing a landmark free trade deal to bring new access to markets for agriculture and education. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham, accompanied by Defence Industry Minister Steven Ciobo, will sign the deal alongside his Indonesian counterpart Enggartiasto Lukita in Jakarta on Monday. “This is a good deal for Indonesia in terms of growing their economic opportunity and investment,” Senator Birmingham told reporters in Launceston on Friday. “This is ... ► Read more

  • Australia drops out of top 10 countries in rule of law index

    Australia has dropped out of the top 10 in global rankings on adherence to the rule of law, with annual global results showing more countries declined than improved their performance. Australia now stands at 11th place out of 126 countries in the World Justice Project index. The score places Australia second out of 15 countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, and also 11th out of 38 high income countries. The country’s best result ... ► Read more

  • Cardinal George Pell may be stripped of titles and honours following conviction

    Cardinal George Pell may be stripped of his titles and honours, following his conviction for child sexual offences, with some institutions and organisations already moving to revoke his positions. In December Cardinal Pell was convicted of five counts of child sexual offences committed against two 13-year-old boys in late 1996, but this was subject to a suppression order that was lifted on Tuesday. Vatican spokesperson Alessandro Gisotti confirmed that Cardinal Pell is no longer the ... ► Read more

  • Institutional structures create monsters like Pell

    For those who haven’t heard, the verdict on Cardinal Pell has just come out. Shocker — he’s been found guilty. If you’ve been living under a rock, Cardinal George Pell — the highest ranking member of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia — was accused of sexually assaulting underage boys a while ago. Strangely enough, he denied this claim. Back in December he was found guilty, and now that verdict has been released to the public. It’s ... ► Read more

  • Cardinal George Pell convicted of sexually abusing two choir boys

    Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, has been found guilty of sexually abusing two choir boys while he was Archbishop of Melbourne. Cardinal Pell was convicted on all charges, including one count of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16 and four counts of committing an indecent act with, or in the presence of, a child. The abuse took place in 1996 at St Patrick’s Cathedral. Cardinal Pell pleaded not ... ► Read more

  • Government green-lights Snowy Hydro 2.0

    The Government has given Snowy Hydro 2.0 the go-ahead and will commit “up to $1.38 billion in an equity investment” to the project, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced. The project was instigated by former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and the announcement is the first solid committment from the Federal Government to putting a new underground power station in the Snowy Mountains. “Snowy 2.0 will inject the energy supply and reliability our electricity market needs, ... ► Read more

  • PM pledges $3.5 billion to address climate change

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced the Government’s $3.5 billion “Climate Solutions Package” aimed at ensuring Australia meets its international climate targets. In a press release, the Prime Minister said that the Government’s plan will allow Australia to meet its Paris Agreement obligations without harming the economy and raising electricity prices. “We will meet our global commitments, and do what is right for our environment, without taking a wrecking ball to the economy,” Mr Morrison ... ► Read more

  • Newspoll: Labor still in the lead

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison says ramping up his attack on the Opposition’s approach to border protection was never about winning votes, as a new poll shows Labor would still win an election if it were held today. Labor remains ahead of the Liberal-National coalition with an unchanged two-party preferred vote of 53-47%, according to the latest Newspoll published by The Australian on Sunday night. But Mr Morrison has dismissed suggestions the result shows the Government ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 17 February – 23 February 2019

    Liberals, Nationals, Labor targeted in “sophisticated” cyber attack, says PM The Liberal, National and Labor parties were all targeted in a recent cyber attack on Federal Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. ABF admits “human error” contributed to Hakeem al-Araibi’s detention Australian Border Force (ABF) officials have admitted “human error” in their agency’s handling of Melbourne refugee Hakeem al-Araibi’s case, saying processes that might have prevented ... ► Read more

  • Bourke St rampage killer sentenced to life imprisonment

    James Gargasoulas has been sentenced to life imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 46 years, for a 2017 attack that killed six pedestrians. On 20 January 2017 Mr Gargasoulas used a stolen car to mow down pedestrians in Melbourne’s busy Bourke Street mall. Among those dead were a three-month-old baby and a 10-year-old girl. In the Supreme Court of Victoria on Friday, Justice Mark Weinberg sentenced Mr Gargasoulas to life imprisonment for each of the ... ► Read more

  • Government seeks urgent clarification on Chinese ban of Australian coal imports

    Officials from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) are seeking urgent clarification from China regarding reports of a ban on Australian coal. It was reported yesterday that imports of Australian coal had been banned in China’s northern port of Dalian, and that coal imports from all sources would be capped at 12 million tonnes for 2019, according to a customs official. It is now being reported that a total of five northeastern Chinese ... ► Read more

  • Anita Cobby’s killer dies in prison aged 66

    A judge described Michael Murphy’s crimes as “horrifying” while the crown prosecutor called them “savage”. Now, the man who abducted, raped and killed Sydney nurse Anita Cobby in 1986 has died in jail, aged 66. Murphy was one of five men, including two of his brothers, given a life sentence over the infamous killing, which shocked Australia. The media dubbed the 45-day court proceedings as “the trial of the century”. At the sentencing, Justice Alan ... ► Read more

  • Personae non grata — how ISIS members are being stripped of their citizenship and potentially left stateless

    Neil Prakash, Shamima Begum and Hoda Muthana share a lot in common. All three were born in western countries. They all left their home countries to join Islamic State. And they have all now been stripped of their citizenships. Mr Prakash was born in Melbourne, Australia. He converted to Islam in 2012 and left for Syria in 2013. Ms Begum was born in the United Kingdom and flew to Syria with two friends in 2015, ... ► Read more

  • AG says new medical transfer law has loopholes, refuses to publish legal advice

    Attorney-General Christian Porter has claimed the new medical evacuation (medevac) law passed by both houses of Parliament last week could remove the Government’s ability to return an asylum seeker to offshore detention. Citing fresh legal advice, Mr Porter told the ABC that the law was not linked back to the relevant section of the Migration Act, which grants power to return asylum seekers once they’ve been treated. “It is a terrible law, but this legal ... ► Read more

  • Four questions with FETES

    We first heard of the killer project that is FETES when we stumbled upon Cristian Campano after seeing him and his band Food Court play. We are big fans of Food Court and seized the opportunity to talk to the lead singer about the music industry, why Food Court didn’t play “I’ve been wrong” and FETES, all while Cristian generously shared his jug of beer with us. Through hearing FETES’ music, we decided this music is something ... ► Read more

  • Labor refers $423 million Manus Island contract to audit office

    The Labor Party has asked the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) to investigate the $423 million security contract awarded to a company that was, until recently, headquartered in a beach shack. Paladin Group’s Australian arm was registered to a beach shack on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island, until it received the Federal Government contract through a restricted tender process. Shadow immigration minister Shayne Neumann has referred the contract to the ANAO for urgent investigation. Officials from ... ► Read more

  • BOM: Tropical Cyclone Oma could hit southern Queensland coast

    Severe Tropical Cyclone Oma could possibly cross the southern Queensland coast, after changing direction overnight, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says. The category three system is currently off New Caledonia, about 1,120 kilometres north-east of Brisbane. BOM said it was no longer expected to turn south-east towards New Zealand over the weekend. Forecaster Sam Campbell said instead the system was moving south-west. He said a cyclone watch may be issued this afternoon ahead of gale ... ► Read more

  • Finance Minister Mathias Cormann had “no idea” he hadn’t paid for flights

    Federal Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann has repaid travel company Helloworld, after claiming he had “no idea” he hadn’t paid for flights to Singapore. In July 2017 Senator Cormann booked flights for a January 2018 family holiday to Singapore through Helloworld, but says he didn’t notice that he hadn’t been charged more than $2,700 for the economy flights. According to Senator Cormann, an administrative error resulted in the company failing to charge his credit card, ... ► Read more

  • Accused Melbourne child abuser Malka Leifer refused bail by Israeli court

    The Jerusalem District Court in Israel has denied bail to former Melbourne school principal and accused child sexual abuser Malka Leifer, who is fighting against extradition to Australia. Ms Leifer has been charged with 74 counts of child sexual abuse relating to allegations that she abused female students at the Jewish orthodox Adass Israel school in Melbourne. Judge Ram Wingrad ruled that she should remain in custody, ahead of an extradition hearing scheduled for 6 ... ► Read more

  • Liberals, Nationals, Labor targeted in “sophisticated” cyber attack, says PM

    The Liberal, National and Labor parties were all targeted in a recent cyber attack on Federal Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday. While Mr Morrison said investigators were yet to find any evidence of electoral interference, he did confirm Australia’s cyber security agencies believe a foreign government is behind the attack. “Our cyber experts believe that a sophisticated state actor is responsible for this malicious activity,” Mr Morrison told Parliament. “Let me be ... ► Read more

  • Labor, crossbench to probe Government for awarding security contracts to Paladin Group

    Labor and the crossbench plan to zero in on the awarding of contracts for security services on Manus Island as Senate estimates gets underway today. It is the final week of estimates hearings before the federal election, and the answers provided will help shape the debate around border protection in the upcoming election campaign. More than $420 million over nearly two years is going to a relatively unknown company, the Paladin Group, that was registered ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 February – 16 February 2019

    Government loses vote on own legislation as refugee treatment bill jumps constitutional hurdle The Federal Government has lost a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 78 years. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Trump to declare national emergency to build border wall United States President Donald Trump will sign a border security bill to dodge another government shutdown and declare a national emergency to fund the construction of his wall ... ► Read more

  • Former ATO deputy found not guilty of misusing position

    Michael Cranston has been found not guilty of misusing his position as former Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Tax Office (ATO). Mr Cranston was alleged to have attempted to arrange a meeting between the ATO and payroll company Plutus, in which his son was involved, and whose accounts were frozen by the ATO due to unpaid taxes and charges approximating $40 million. The prosecution alleged that between April and May 2017, Mr Cranston told an ... ► Read more

  • PM announces reopening of Christmas Island detention facility

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced that the Government will reopen the Christmas Island immigration detention facility, following the Government’s defeat on medical treatment for refugees yesterday. The Prime Minister said the facility will be reopened in anticipation of an influx of asylum seeker boats. “We have approved putting in place the reopening of the Christmas Island detention facilities, both to deal with the prospect of arrivals as well as dealing with the prospect of ... ► Read more

  • Government loses vote on own legislation as refugee treatment bill jumps constitutional hurdle

    The Federal Government has lost a vote on its own legislation for the first time in 78 years. On Thursday afternoon the House of Representatives voted in favour of a contentious bill that will allow asylum seekers in detention centres to be transferred to Australia for medical treatment, with doctors having a greater say in the process. Although Labor indicated it was willing to compromise on amendments to the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) ... ► Read more

  • Tony Mokbel in critical condition after prison attack

    Underworld figure Tony Mokbel is in a critical condition after he was attacked by two other inmates in Victoria’s Barwon Prison. The maximum-security prison remains in lockdown after the 53-year-old was attacked at around 4:00 pm on Monday. Mr Mokbel was knocked unconscious and stabbed in the chest, and has been flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital with serious head injuries. Victorian Commissioner for Corrections Dr Emma Cassar said CCTV footage showed Mr Mokbel being ... ► Read more

  • Byron Bay Bluesfest director threatens to move festival interstate

    Peter Noble, the director of the iconic Byron Bay Bluesfest, has threatened to move the festival out of New South Wales, claiming new State Government guidelines are threatening the viability of the event. Mr Noble said strict licensing and safety guidelines could cost organisers hundreds of thousands of dollars. “We are the industry professionals, we are the people that are presenting events at the highest levels,” Mr Noble said. “Bluesfest has just been inducted into ... ► Read more

  • RFS declares NSW total fire ban

    A total fire ban is in place across New South Wales today, with strong winds, low humidity and temperatures in some parts expected to hit 40ºC. It is the first statewide total fire ban for 2019. Conditions will be worst in the Hunter region, where the fire danger rating is extreme, while nine other regions across the state — including the Greater Sydney region, north coast, central and southern ranges — are expecting severe conditions. ... ► Read more

  • Hakeem al-Araibi on Melbourne-bound flight after extradition case dismissed

    Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi is headed home after his extradition case — instigated by an Interpol Red Notice issued by his native Bahrain — was dismissed by the Thai Attorney-General. Mr al-Araibi boarded a Thai Airways flight a little after midnight (local time) and is expected to land in Melbourne at about 1:00pm, where a crowd of supporters, including the Pascoe Vale Football Club and former Socceroos captain Craig Foster, will be waiting to meet him. ... ► Read more

  • Filthy Crew: Curating a show near you

    Today we bring to you someone we admire and want you all to appreciate too! Initially we had met said person, Luka Flanagan, at the beginning of 2018. It was in a fit of smoke, music, and lots of giddy laughter from your dopey twins. In further conversing with our newest friend, we were beyond shocked to believe that this guy had just turned 18. He was two years our junior, and he had such ... ► Read more

  • Universal sues Clive Palmer over use of Twisted Sister hit

    Universal Music is suing Clive Palmer for copyright infringement, after the businessman used a reworked version of Twisted Sister’s 1984 hit “We’re Not Gonna Take It” to promote the United Australia Party. Universal bought the publishing rights to the song from Twisted Sister’s frontman and songwriter Dee Snider in 2015, and filed the suit last week. The band has publicly denounced the cover, with band manager and guitarist John Finch saying that the band “have ... ► Read more

  • Labor maintains lead in polls, but Morrison still preferred PM

    As Parliament resumes this week, the Coalition trails Labor 47–53% as the preferred party of Government in Newspoll’s latest survey, with no change over the last fortnight. Labor’s primary vote rose by one point to 39%, while the Coalition remains on 37%. The Greens are at 9%, while One Nation dropped a point to 5%. But Mr Morrison has increased his his lead over Mr Shorten by two points to 44–35%, his satisfaction rating up ... ► Read more

  • Call for “empathy for the elderly” as Aged Care Royal Commission hearings begin

    Hearings of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety began in Adelaide today, with victims’ families and seniors’ groups among those to give evidence. Peter Gray QC, senior counsel assisting the Royal Commission, opened by saying a “culture of appreciation and respect for older people is needed”. Mr Gray also told the Commission that changes made to the aged care sector over the past 30 years have created “unintentional complexities” and the multitude ... ► Read more

  • Australia signs $50 billion Attack-class submarine contract

    Australian officials will today sign a $50 billion contract for the construction of 12 Attack-class submarines. At a meeting in Canberra, representatives of the Australian Government will sign the Strategic Partnering Agreement with French arms manufacturer Naval Group, in which the French Government is the majority shareholder. Construction has already begun on the first submarine in the class — HMAS Attack — but the Strategic Partnering Agreement will govern its completion and the production of 11 ... ► Read more

  • Study: Australia to meet Paris Agreement targets five years early

    Australia is on track to meet its Paris climate commitments five years earlier than expected — in 2025 — according to new research from the Australian National University (ANU). Per capita, the country is installing renewable energy faster than China, Japan, the United States, and the European Union. “The electricity sector is on track to deliver Australia’s entire Paris emissions reduction targets five years early, in 2025, without the need for any creative accounting,” lead ... ► Read more

  • Skilled migrants fast-tracked for regional Australia under $19 million plan

    Skilled migrants willing to settle in regional Australia will have their visa fast-tracked under a $19.4 million government plan. On Friday, Immigration Minister David Coleman announced that the Federal Government will provide $19.4 million in funding over the next four years to support regional areas to attract skilled migrants. Skilled migrants wanting to live and work in regional areas will have access to priority processing on their visa applications, and officials from the Department of ... ► Read more

  • NAB investors confident in interim CEO Phil Chronican

    Investors of the National Australia Bank are confident that the bank’s recently-appointed interim CEO, Phil Chronican, is the right person for the job. Mr Chronican will step into the role from 1 March 2019, after Andrew Thorburn announced he will vacate the position at the end of February as a consequence of the Banking Royal Commission report that criticised him personally. Investors told the ABC that Mr Chronican is a “trusted executive” and “proven performer”, ... ► Read more

  • Australia rejects Thailand’s claim it issued Interpol Red Notice against refugee footballer

    The Australian Embassy in Thailand has rejected a claim by the Thai Government that Canberra issued an Interpol arrest warrant for Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. Mr al-Araibi, who is wanted in his native Bahrain, was arrested by Thai authorities in November 2018 while on his honeymoon. The Thai Government said Mr al-Araibi was arrested at the request of the Australian Government, claiming that Australia alerted Thai authorities to the footballer’s travel. The Australian Embassy ... ► Read more

  • Netherlands “confident” Russia will agree to MH17 talks

    The Dutch Government says it is “increasingly confident” that Russian officials will soon agree to meet for private talks about who is responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014. A Dutch-led international investigation has concluded that the airliner was shot down using a Soviet-made surface-to-air BUK missile system. However, Russia vehemently denies any involvement. “We are in contact with Russia over national accountability via diplomatic channels,” a Dutch Foreign Ministry spokeswoman ... ► Read more

  • Security agencies investigating cyber security breach at Federal Parliament

    Australian security and intelligence agencies are investigating a cyber security breach at Federal Parliament overnight. In a statement, Parliament’s presiding officers, Speaker Tony Smith and Senate President Scott Ryan, said it appears no data has been stolen and that computer passwords have been reset as a precaution. “We have no evidence that this is an attempt to influence the outcome of parliamentary processes or to disrupt or influence electoral or political processes,” the statement said. ... ► Read more

  • 10th anniversary of Black Saturday bushfires

    On Saturday 7 February 2009, fires engulfed Victoria in the deadliest and most destructive firestorm in Australian history. Some 400 individual fires were recorded on “Black Saturday”, with the temperature in Melbourne reaching 46.4ºC — the highest temperature recorded for the city — and humidity levels dropping to as low as 2%. Strong winds fanned the flames, resulting in 173 deaths and 400 injuries, destroying 2,000 properties and 760 vehicles, killing more than one million ... ► Read more

  • Government and Labor clash over proposed changes to asylum seeker medical transfers

    Proposed changes to asylum seeker medical transfer procedures has sparked a row between the Government and Opposition. The changes, inspired by independent MP Kerryn Phelps, would allow any two doctors to request the medical transfer of an asylum seeker in offshore detention to the Australian mainland. A minister would then need to review the request within 24 hours, and, if rejected, the request would be reviewed by an independent health panel. A Home Affairs Department ... ► Read more

  • CEO Andrew Thorburn unsure of future at NAB

    National Australia Bank CEO Andrew Thorburn may be out of a job by Friday, admitting that his future at the bank is uncertain. Mr Thorburn was one of a handful of individuals specifically criticised in the final report of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry, which was publicly released on Monday. “I can’t confirm that,” Mr Thorburn told ABC’s The Business programme when asked about whether he will remain as ... ► Read more

  • Foreign Minister begins tour of the Pacific

    Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne began a tour of the Pacific with a visit to Solomon Islands yesterday. Senator Payne met with Solomon Islands caretaker Prime Minister Rick Hou “to discuss Australia’s Pacific initiatives and step-up in the region, as well as the upcoming [Solomon Islands] election”, she tweeted. The Foreign Minister joined Prime Minister Hou at a ground-breaking ceremony in the country’s capital Honiara to mark the next phase of the Coral Sea cable ... ► Read more

  • NZ Trade Minister visits Adelaide for talks

    New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker will land in Adelaide on Wednesday to discuss further integration of the Australian and New Zealand economies. Mr Parker will meet with Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and Labor’s trade spokesman Jason Clare. “We will discuss the trade outlook for 2019, including the World Trade Organisation, Brexit, the CPTPP and other issues affecting the Asia-Pacific region such as progress on Pacer Plus and how we can work together,” Mr ... ► Read more

  • Report: extreme weather cost insurers $1.2 billion in 2018

    A report by the Climate Council found Australian insurance companies paid out at least $1.2 billion in claims because of damage caused by extreme weather events in 2018. The report identified an increase in the severity and frequency of extreme weather, noting that the past four years have been the hottest on record in terms of global surface temperatures. The report’s key findings are: The past four years have been the four hottest on record ... ► Read more

  • Thai PM breaks silence on Hakeem al-Araibi

    Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has told reporters not to “jump to conclusions” regarding the verdict of detained refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi after an extradition hearing began in Bangkok court on Monday. Breaking his silence for the first time since Mr al-Araibi was detained on November 27, the Prime Minister said Thailand was working with Australia and Bahrain to find a solution. “Do not jump to conclusions about the verdict and do not politicise this,” ... ► Read more

  • NAB CEO cancels long-service leave in wake of scathing Banking Royal Commission report

    Andrew Thorburn, CEO of the National Australia Bank (NAB), has cancelled his planned long-service leave to deal with fallout from the Banking Royal Commission, which directly criticised both him and NAB chairperson Dr Ken Henry. Although he initially defended the decision to take long-service leave, Mr Thorburn cancelled his planned break today. “I am committed, I am determined, I believe in what we’re doing,” he said. “I believe a leader should be resilient. I cancelled ... ► Read more

  • Political parties respond to the Banking Royal Commission

    Australia’s major political parties have begun to respond to the 76 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry. The release of the report on Monday afternoon comes with just five Senate sitting days remaining before the next federal election, and it is unlikely — if not impossible — that the required legislation can be prepared in time for this Parliament to pass it. As a result, how ... ► Read more

  • “Unnecessary distrations”: Draft letter reveals big four’s influence on Banking Royal Commission

    It is a revelation that underscores the close relationship between the major banks and the Government. When the heads of the big four banks wrote to the Federal Government, reluctantly calling for a royal commission into their industry, they asked the Treasurer to vet a draft of their letter, documents released under Freedom of Information have revealed. National Australia Bank chairman Dr Ken Henry — a former Treasury secretary — sent an email to the ... ► Read more

  • ASX tipped to rise despite Banking Royal Commission report

    The final report from the Banking Royal Commission looks set to have little bearing on market performances, with Australian shares tipped to rise. Analysts say the recommendations were not as severe as many in the financial sector had initially feared. “The much anticipated release of the royal commission final report was disappointing, in our view,” UBS banking analyst Jonathan Mott said. “There was much discussion around misconduct within the banks and the need to change ... ► Read more

  • Frydenberg: Government will “take action” on all Banking Royal Commission recommendations

    The Federal Government will “take action” on all 76 recommendations of the Banking Royal Commission, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced. Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s three-volume report on misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry was tabled in Parliament and publicly released on Monday, with the Government providing its response in the afternoon. “From today, the banking sector must change and change forever,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters. “My message to the financial sector today is ... ► Read more

  • Taxpayers may face future liabilities over Opal Tower

    Taxpayers may foot the bill for future liabilities flowing from the Opal Tower controversy, because a state government agency retained ownership of at least 43 units within the Sydney Olympic Park development. Cracks within the 34-storey apartment building appeared on Christmas Eve, resulting in dispute over responsibility between developer Ecove and building firm Icon Construction. However, NSW taxpayers may bear the costs of rectifying the building and compensating owners for losses because the Sydney Olympic ... ► Read more

  • Firefighters hopeful as rain forecasted for Tasmania

    The Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) is hoping rainfalls forecast for the coming days could help control and extinguish bushfires that continue to burn across the state. The hope for some help from the skies came as the TFS confirmed it would investigate reports of property losses or damage on Sunday in Reynolds Neck from the Great Pine Tier fire and in townships south of Geeveston affected by the Riveaux Road fire. The weather bureau is ... ► Read more

  • Townsville flood sparks mass evacuations, leaves rescuers clinging to trees

    Hundreds of Townsville residents were evacuated and two police officers caught in floodwaters after floodgates to the city’s dam were fully opened overnight. The officers were helping to evacuate people in Hermit Park when they themselves became trapped by rapidly rising floodwaters. Their police vehicle was washed away and they were left clinging to trees for about half an hour before a swift water rescue crew arrived. Crews also rescued two people trapped on the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 27 January – 2 February 2019

    Sydney light rail: NSW may pay over $600 million extra in dispute settlement with Acciona The New South Wales Government could pay Acciona — the Spanish company contracted to build Sydney’s $2 billion light rail — more than $600 million in a dispute settlement. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. 2019 election: Julia Banks to challenge Greg Hunt for Flinders Liberal MP-turned-independent Julia Banks will contest the seat of Flinders in the upcoming general ... ► Read more

  • Queensland LNP expels state MP Jason Costigan

    The Liberal National Party (LNP) has expelled north Queensland MP Jason Costigan less than 48 hours after he was suspended over a harassment complaint. Earlier this week the LNP revealed it had received a second complaint from the family of a woman in relation to Mr Costigan, having already suspended the Whitsunday MP on an unrelated harassment complaint. The Queensland branch of the Liberal Party made the unanimous decision during a state executive meeting at ... ► Read more

  • Flood disaster zone declared in Townsville

    Townsville has been declared a flood disaster zone after days of heavy rain forced authorities to evacuate properties. About 90 homes will be evacuated from surrounding suburbs now at risk of flooding, and Townsville Council will release more water than normal from the city’s dam to reduce the risk of flooding. “We haven’t taken this decision lightly. We’re looking into what could happen over the next two or three days. We know that we’re seeing ... ► Read more

  • Federal and State Governments reject Murray-Darling Royal Commission recommendations

    The Federal, New South Wales and Victorian Governments remain firmly in support of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, despite a South Australian Royal Commission finding the plan is based on politics rather than science and recommending it be completely overhauled. Released yesterday, the report of the Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission found the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) had acted unlawfully and negligently, and committed maladministration in its approach to developing the plan to sustainably manage the river ... ► Read more

  • Australian planes involved in 2017 airstrike that killed up to 35 Iraqi civilians

    Australian Defence Force (ADF) officials have confirmed that two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fighter jets were involved in a 2017 airstrike that killed up to 35 Iraqi civilians. In June 2017, at the height of the battle to retake the northern city of Mosul, Iraqi security forces encountered seven Islamic State (IS) fighters and called in a Coalition airstrike. Two RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets were among the jets deployed, and both dropped GPS-guided bombs ... ► Read more

  • Alex Turnbull “involved” in Julia Banks’ Flinders bid

    Alex Turnbull — the son of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull — has said he is “involved” in Liberal-turned-independent MP Julia Banks’ campaign to seize the seat of Flinders from Health Minister Greg Hunt. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported Mr Turnbull’s involvement, quoting him as saying: “I’m involved, I’ll leave it at that.” He denied that his father was involved in the campaign in any way. Ms Banks confirmed rumours she would run as an independent for Flinders ... ► Read more

  • BOM: January Australia’s hottest month on record

    The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has declared January Australia’s hottest month on record, with the nationwide mean temperature last month exceeding 30°C. “We saw heatwave conditions affect large parts of the country through most of the month, with records broken for both duration and also individual daily extremes,” BOM Senior Climatologist Andrew Watkins said, as cited by AAP. The extended heatwave that defined January was caused by a high pressure system in the Tasman Sea ... ► Read more

  • Royal Commission: Murray-Darling officials committed “gross maladministration” and acted unlawfully

    The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission, set up by the Governor of South Australia, has found that Commonwealth officials committed gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions in preparing the Basin Plan to save the river system. Headed by Commissioner Bret Walker SC, the Royal Commission has recommended major reforms, including resetting water saving limits, repealing the outcome of the Northern Basin Review, and new measurements for water on floodplains. The Commission found that the Basin Plan ... ► Read more

  • 2019 election: Julia Banks to challenge Greg Hunt for Flinders

    Liberal MP-turned-independent Julia Banks will contest the seat of Flinders in the upcoming general election — a move that, if successful, would unseat Health Minister Greg Hunt. Ms Banks confirmed rumours she would run as an independent for Flinders in a statement, citing “unfinished business”. “I realised that everything I’ve stood and fought for my entire adult life intersects with this moment in time in Australia,” the statement said. “I’ve decided I’m staying in this ... ► Read more

  • Sydney light rail: NSW may pay over $600 million extra in dispute settlement with Acciona

    The New South Wales Government could pay Acciona — the Spanish company contracted to build Sydney’s $2 billion light rail — more than $600 million in a dispute settlement. Acciona has accused the Berejiklian State Government of not being transparent regarding the amount of work required to replace utility lines under George Street in the CBD, The Australian reported on Thursday. Acciona is reportedly seeking an additional $1.2 billion in court. NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has not ... ► Read more

  • Morrison: Australia is “pushing on every door” to get Hakeem al-Araibi released

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison told 2GB on Thursday that the Government is “pushing on every door” to secure the release of Melbourne-based refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi. The Prime Minister said he had not received a reply to his letter to Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan-ocha, in which he urged Bangkok to return Mr al-Araibi to Australia. In the letter Mr Morrison reportedly pointed out that Mr al-Araibi has a permanent protection visa, stressing the thorough process ... ► Read more

  • “Time is running out”: Hakeem al-Araibi’s wife sends pleas for help to Canada, New Zealand

    The wife of Australian refugee footballer Hakeem al-Araibi has written to the prime ministers of Canada and New Zealand in a desperate bid for help over her husband’s detention in Thailand. In letters reported by The Guardian, she urged the Canadian and New Zealand leaders to act, warning that a decision to return him to Bahrain could mean “possible death”. Mr al-Araibi’s wife, who did not want to be named, cited the recent case of ... ► Read more

  • Australia retains ranking in anti-corruption index

    Australia has kept its ranking in Transparency International’s annual anti-corruption index among the top 20 cleanest countries in the world. Denmark, New Zealand and Finland took first, second and third respectively, with Australia sitting just between the UK and Austria at 13th. Transparency International’s 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index shows more than two-thirds of countries scoring below 50 — 100 being very clean and 0 being very corrupt. Australia has maintained its 2017 ranking of 77/100. While ... ► Read more

  • Newspoll: NSW Labor, State Government neck and neck

    NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian could be in for a minority government or a slim majority after the next election, according to the latest Newspoll. The Coalition and the opposition are 50-50 on a two-party preferred basis, although Labor’s primary vote is up two points to 36%. That is an improvement for the Berejiklian Government, which was trailing the opposition 52-48 in December, The Australian reports. Ms Berejiklian leads Opposition Leader Michael Daley as preferred premier ... ► Read more

  • Morrison to promise 1.25 million new jobs if Coalition re-elected

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged 1.25 million new jobs if his government is re-elected in this year’s general election. The Prime Minister told the ABC that the jobs will be full-time. “That’s been our record over the last five years, we promised one million jobs going into the 2013 election, Labor and others scoffed at that, said it couldn’t be done — and we did it,” he said. He argued the economy would be ... ► Read more

  • Deloitte: China is Australia’s biggest economic risk

    An economic forecaster says China, not the local housing market downturn, could be the major swing factor for Australia’s economy in the year ahead. In its outlook for the year ahead, Deloitte Access Economics forecasts a “still growing, but slowing” scenario for the global and national economies. The business outlook report flags that global economic growth “may be pegged back to rather more pedestrian rates through the course of 2019 and 2020”, as the impact ... ► Read more

  • US sanctions Venezuelan state-owned oil firm, urges military accept peaceful power transition

    The United States has imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) as tensions between Caracas and the West continue to worsen. During a joint White House press conference with Treasurer Steven Mnuchin, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced the sanctions on the oil firm, which exports 41% of its products to the US. “We have continued to expose the corruption of [Nicolas] Maduro and his cronies and today’s action ensures that ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 20 January – 26 January 2019

    Brexit delay looks likely ahead of Downing Steet’s new proposal Suggestions that Britain’s departure from the European Union could be delayed are indicating Prime Minister Theresa May is set for yet another Brexit defeat. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. US Supreme Court lifts injunctions on transgender military service ban On Tuesday, the Unites States’ highest court lifted two temporary injunctions that had prevented the Trump administration from enforcing its ban on transgender individuals ... ► Read more

  • Remains of explorer Matthew Flinders found under London’s Euston Station

    The remains of explorer Matthew Flinders have been found underneath London’s Euston Station during construction work on the HS2 high-speed rail project. In 1802 Flinders was the first European to circumnavigate the Australian continent, accompanied by indigenous explorer Bungaree of the Kuringgai people. Flinders died at the age of 40, on the day after his book A Voyage to Terra Australis was published, and was interred in St James’s cemetery on 23 July 1814. St James’s grew rapidly, but ... ► Read more