• Fijian workers able to work on Australian farms under expanded Pacific Labour Scheme

    Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today announce that Fijian workers will be able to work on Australian farms under the expanded Pacific Labour Scheme. “We will work with Fiji to help them access the Pacific Labour Scheme this year, boosting both economies while helping Australian farmers,” Mr Morrison said ahead of his visit. Under the expanded scheme, workers from certain Pacific countries are able to work in rural and regional Australia for up to ... ► Read more

  • Woman found dead in Melbourne reportedly Israeli student

    The woman found dead just metres from a Melbourne tram stop on Wednesday morning was reportedly an international student studying in Australia. Israeli media said the woman was aged in her 20s, and that the Israeli consulate in Australia was now arranging for the victim’s body to be returned to her family. Police are expected to further canvass nearby streets on Thursday in a bid to determine how she died, and what led to her ... ► Read more

  • Heatwave set to peak over coming days

    Tennis players are sweating, toxic ozone warnings are out for Sydney and fruit is cooking on the branches — this is a heatwave, Australia. Sarah Fitton is an extreme weather meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM), who said the heat would peak over the next few days. There is expected to be a slight reprieve over the weekend before the heat starts to build again across southern Australia early next week. It reached 40C in ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government concerned by death sentence for Canadian man convicted in China

    The Australian Government has deep concerns over the death sentence given by a Chinese court to a Canadian man convicted of drug smuggling. Robert Lloyd Schellenberg was sentenced to death for attempting to smuggle a quarter of a tonne of methamphetamine from China to Australia in 2014. Mr Schellenberg was initially sentenced to 15 years imprisonment, but on appeal to the Dalian Intermediate People’s Court he was sentenced to death. “We are deeply concerned with ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government providing assistance to woman detained in Bangkok

    The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is providing consular assistance to an Australian woman who has been detained by Thai authorities in Bangkok for over a week, a department spokesperson has confirmed. Claire Johnson, 46, was expected to arrive in Sydney last week after travelling the world for a year, but was detained when trying to exit Thailand. In a series of Facebook messages Ms Johnson asked her friend Juliet Potter to contact ... ► Read more

  • Toxic ozone gas warning issued for Western Sydney

    Health authorities have issued a high ozone warning for Western Sydney as New South Wales enters day two of a severe heatwave. NSW Health said ozone levels were likely to rise this afternoon due to a combination of heat and sunlight. Ozone is created when nitrogen oxides from things like car exhausts and air conditioner fumes react with oxygen in the air on hot days. It is colourless, but pungent, and can trigger a variety ... ► Read more

  • NSW Coroner to investigate musical festival deaths

    A directions hearing will be held next Tuesday as the NSW Coroner opens an inquest into recent deaths at music festivals in the state. The inquest will focus on five deaths since September 2018: Diana Nguyen and Joseph Nguyen Nhu Binh Pham at the Defqon 1 festival on 15 September 2018. Callum Brosnan, who died after attending the Knockout — Games of Destiny festival on 9 December 2018. Joshua Tam, who died following the Lost ... ► Read more

  • WA domestic violence perpetrator has sentence doubled after prosecutors appeal

    The Western Australian Court of Appeal has doubled the sentence of a Kimberley man whose attack on his former partner left her a quadriplegic. Joshua Simon Yamalulu, 33, was originally sentenced by the District Court to three years and eight months imprisonment after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to his 38-year-old partner, Peggy Sue Button, at a community in Fitzroy Crossing in February 2017. Mr Yamalulu would have been eligible for release on ... ► Read more

  • No criminal charges for Australian Workers Union raid leaks, says Federal Police

    Criminal charges will not be laid against anyone implicated in leaks to the media about raids on the Australian Workers Union (AWU), after lawyers for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) told the Federal Court on Monday that there were no reasonable prospects of a conviction. The media was alerted that the AFP and Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) officials were searching the Sydney and Melbourne offices of the AWU in October 2017. After being ordered by ... ► Read more

  • Former MP Rob Oakeshott to contest Cowper at next federal election

    Former independent MP Rob Oakeshott has announced that he will run for federal Parliament at the next election. Mr Oakeshott will contest the northern NSW electorate of Cowper, which the National Party currently holds by a margin of 12.6%, and has held for 98 of the past 100 years. However, the Government has performed poorly in recent polls and popular incumbent MP Luke Hartsuyker has announced his retirement at the next election. “I obviously have ... ► Read more

  • Federal MP Cathy McGowan to retire at next election

    Independent MP Cathy McGowan has announced that she will retire as the member for the seat of Indi at the next federal election, saying it is time for her to “pass on the baton” to a successor. Ms McGowan won the north-east Victorian electorate in 2013, defeating incumbent Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella. On Saturday delegates from the Voices 4 Indi community group, which campaigned for Ms McGowan in the 2013 and 2016 elections, voted to ... ► Read more

  • NSW Premier under pressure amid fresh calls for pill testing

    NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is standing firm on her opposition to pill testing, despite pleas from the family of a teenager who died of a suspected overdose after taking drugs at a music festival. Alex Ross-King, 19, died after she was rushed from the FOMO festival at Parramatta Park to Westmead Hospital on Saturday night. It was the fifth such death in NSW since mid-September. “Premier please can we have this pill testing done,” her ... ► Read more

  • Australia set to sweat as heatwave hits every state and territory

    Temperatures across every state and Territory will soar on Monday as Australia braces for a potentially record-breaking heatwave. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) forecasts low intensity heatwave conditions in parts of central Western Australia to southern parts of the Northern Territory, southwestern Queensland and across NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia. It will be worst in South Australia where multiple days of temperatures above 40C, an unusual event even for summer, meteorologist Dean Narramore said, ... ► Read more

  • Australian teenager dies in Austrian avalanche

    A 16 year old Australian has died after being buried in an avalanche while skiing with his family in Austria. Max Meyer, a teenager from Sydney, is being remembered as a treasured classmate and a “great kid”. The school boy’s life was tragically cut short after an avalanche struck St Anton am Arlberg on Wednesday afternoon (local time), while he was skiing away from prepared ski runs with his family. An emergency call was issued ... ► Read more

  • Cormann’s $37,000 Canberra-Adelaide-Perth flights draw ire

    Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has drawn criticism after the ABC revealed he spent $37,000 on flights from Canberra to Perth via Adelaide, so he could lobby crossbenchers to support the Government’s corporate tax cuts. According to the ABC exclusive report, on the day after Parliament passed the personal tax cuts last year, Minister Cormann chose to perform morning media duties in Canberra, pay a visit to Adelaide, and then travel on to his home city ... ► Read more

  • Payne reiterates concern for Melbourne-based refugee footballer detained in Thailand

    Foreign Minister Marise Payne has again raised concerns over the detention of a Melbourne-based refugee footballer by the Thai Government. Minister Payne, who is on a trip to Thailand, brought up Hakeem al-Araibi’s case while in a meeting with her Thai counterpart Don Pramudwinai and other high-ranking government officials on Thursday. “The Thai Government is most certainly aware of the importance of this matter to Australia,” Ms Payne told reporters in Bangkok. She said the ... ► Read more

  • 2018 third hottest year on record for Australia

    Last year was Australia’s third-warmest year on record, with every state and territory recording above average temperatures in 2018. According to the Bureau of Meteorology’s annual climate statement, the nation’s average temperature last year was 1.14C above the average for 1961-1990, making 2018 slightly warmer than 2017. “When we look across all of Australia in 2018, we can see that every single state and territory had above average day and night-time temperatures,” the Bureau’s senior ... ► Read more

  • Victorian man charged over suspicious packages sent to consulates, embassies

    Police have charged a Victorian man over sending dozens of suspicious packages to consulates and embassies in Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne. The 48-year-old was arrested at his home in northern Victoria last night and will face court later this morning. He has been charged with sending dangerous articles via the postal service. According to the ABC, the prosecution will allege the man sent 38 parcels containing a substance that they believe was “sourced from his ... ► Read more

  • Alqunun declared refugee by UNHCR clearing way for Australia to offer asylum

    The UN refugee agency has referred the case of a Saudi woman claiming asylum to Australia for consideration. 18-year-old Rahaf Alqunun flew into Thailand from Kuwait, saying she had a ticket onwards to Australia where she had hoped to seek asylum over fears her family would kill her for renouncing Islam. But when she arrived in Bangkok she said a Saudi diplomat met her at the airport and tricked her into handing over her passport ... ► Read more

  • Dutton proposes public register of child sex offenders

    Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has proposed a national database that publicly registers child sex offenders. Mr Dutton has written to states and territories urging them to support his proposal, saying that parents should be able to see if sex offenders are living close by. The database, which would include child sex offenders’ names and photographs, is being described as “the toughest crackdown on paedophiles” in Australian history. “Thwarting the exploitation of children is my ... ► Read more

  • ASX set for a good day following foreign market gains

    Australian shares are tipped to climb again as global markets rally on trade talks between China and the US, which have entered a third day. The SPI200 futures contract was up 18 points, or 0.32% to 5,681.0 at 7:00am AEDT on Wednesday, hinting the benchmark ASX/200 will extend gains into a second session. Global markets are buoyant on hopes the United States and China will strike a deal to end a trade war that rocked ... ► Read more

  • Senator David Leyonhjelm Will Contest NSW State Election

    Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm has announced that he will contest the New South Wales state election in 2019. Senator Leyonhjelm will resign from the Federal Parliament in order to run for a seat in the NSW Legislative Council in the upcoming state election. In an interview with Sky News on Monday night, Senator Leyonhjelm said he was moving from federal to state politics because he wants to deal with “nanny state issues”. “Red tape ... ► Read more

  • Thai authorities: Rahaf Alqunun will not be returned to Saudi Arabia

    Thai authorities have assured the UNHCR that 18-year-old Saudi woman Rahaf Alqunun will not be deported back to Saudi Arabia. Ms Alqunun renounced Islam and fled her country in hope of seeking asylum in Australia. She says if she returns to Saudi Arabia her traditionalist family will kill her. OPMagazine understands UNHCR has made contact with Ms Alqunun and that she is now in the custody of Thai immigration officials. The Thai Government initially blocked ... ► Read more

  • Saudi asylum seeker en-route to Australia detained in Bangkok

    An 18-year-old Saudi woman on her way to seek asylum in Australia has been detained in an airport hotel in Bangkok. Rahaf Alqunun arrived in Bangkok from Kuwait for a connecting flight to Australia, however she claims that upon arriving in the Thai capital a Saudi diplomat met her and forcibly confiscated her passport. Ms Alqunun alleges she is currently being detained in an airport hotel and is being watched by men from the Saudi ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government joins allies in condemnation of Chinese cyber espionage

    Australian officials have confirmed local companies are among the global victims of an extensive campaign of cyber attacks backed by the Chinese Government, aimed at stealing commercial intellectual property. Senior intelligence sources told the ABC it is the biggest threat to Australia’s cyber security uncovered so far. The confirmation came after the US Justice Department charged two Chinese citizens, alleging they carried out hacking at the direction of Beijing’s Ministry of State Security. It is ... ► Read more

  • Australian share market opens lower as Wall St plunges

    The local share market has opened lower following the negative lead of foreign markets. The Australian Dollar (AUD) rose slightly to 71.14 US cents at 8:10am (AEDT), on the back of a weaker greenback. The Nasdaq Composite was the worst-performing US index. It fell into a bear market, before clawing back some losses in the final trading hour. New York’s tech-heavy index has shed 19.5% since its late-August peak. Overnight, it tumbled 1.6% to 6,528, ... ► Read more

  • NSW hail storm a “catastrophe” says Insurance Council of Australia

    Last night Sydney was struck by a catastrophic hail storm that caused more than $20 million dollars in damage across the state, with 15,000 people having already lodged insurance claims. Multiple storm fronts converged on Sydney, Wollongong and the Hunter Valley on Thursday, prompting a severe weather warning from the Bureau of Meteorology. Hailstones, some the size of tennis balls, fell over Western Sydney, reducing to the size of golf balls when the storm reached ... ► Read more

  • Nationals President pushes for female to replace Andrew Broad

    The National Party will have a better chance at holding on to Andrew Broad’s rural Victorian electorate of Mallee in next year’s election if the party’s replacement candidate is a woman, according to the Nationals President. Mr Broad has confirmed he will not contest the 2019 election after the ‘sugar baby’ scandal dominated headlines this week, putting the Nationals leadership under pressure to explain what they knew about the MP’s behaviour and when. New Idea exposed ... ► Read more

  • “Sugar baby”: Andrew Broad scandal deepens

    The Nationals are under increasing pressure to explain the actions of colleague Andrew Broad, who resigned on Monday after the media revealed the married MP had used a dating website to meet with a “sugar baby” on a trip to Hong Kong. Mr Broad quit his position as assistant minister to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Mr McCormack told a journalist he was told about the serious allegations “a couple of weeks ago”. The story ... ► Read more

  • NSW pilots world first mobile phone detection system

    Technology capable of detecting drivers illegally using mobile phones will be rolled out in two Sydney locations as part of a world-first pilot scheme. Following testing, the NSW Government chose Australian company Acusensus to trial the high-tech cameras on the M4 and Anzac Parade. Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey said that more than 11,000 drivers a day were detected during the month long trial period in October. “Shockingly, one driver was pictured ... ► Read more

  • MYEFO: budget on track to return to surplus in 2019

    A surge in mining industry profits and tax revenue has boosted Commonwealth coffers and allowed the Federal Government to forecast a bigger-than-expected surplus next year. The Government has received $8.3 billion more than it expected in the first half of this financial year, thanks largely to greater collections of individual and company taxes. It now expects to deliver a $4.1 billion surplus in 2019-20. The Government Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) projects wage growth ... ► Read more

  • Israel unhappy with Australia’s West Jerusalem recognition

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s formal recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has sparked outrage from all sides, including Israel itself. The Israeli Government has shown displeasure at Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem, with a senior Israeli minister urging Canberra to “fix the mistake”. Prime Minister Morrison on Saturday officially recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, adding that if a two-state solution is implemented, East Jerusalem would be recognised as the Palestinian capital. ... ► Read more

  • NSW Government to ban mobile phones in primary schools

    The NSW Government will introduce a ban on mobile phones in state primary schools from 2019 to reduce bullying and distractions in classrooms, Premier Gladys Berejiklian told Seven’s Sunrise on Thursday morning. “Mobile phones, unfortunately, are not only distracting but also causing stress for young children, and we can’t have that continue,” Ms Berejiklian said. “We’re sending a very strong message to everybody that children need to be protected.” The announcement followed an expert review of mobile ... ► Read more

  • PM announces new anti-corruption commission

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a new federal anti-corruption commission, giving in to sustained demands from Labor and the crossbench for establishment of such a body. The Opposition and crossbenchers in both houses of Parliament have long called for the establishment of a federal anti-corruption watchdog, and the Government has finally capitulated, although Mr Morrison admitted that it had been under consideration since the start of the year. “This is an exercise we embarked ... ► Read more

  • George Pell removed from Pope’s close advisers

    Pope Francis has removed from his group of close advisers two cardinals hit by sexual abuse scandals, including his economy minister, Australian George Pell, the Vatican said on Wednesday (local time). Cardinal Pell has taken an indefinite leave of absence from his job as head of the Secretariat for the Economy, one of the most powerful posts in the Vatican, to defend himself from prosecution for historical child sexual offences in Australia. Vatican spokesman Greg ... ► Read more

  • Analysis: Theresa May has won the battle, but certainly not the war

    While Theresa May has survived an attempt to remove her, there is at least a third of her party which does not have confidence in her leadership. The nature of Brexit is highly divisive and the hardline Brexiteers will not just disappear. Conservative backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg, who led the calls for a no confidence vote, has already seized on the opportunity to take further shots at Ms May, calling the vote a “terrible result for ... ► Read more

  • Pedestrian killed in major Sydney truck crash

    A pedestrian has been killed after a B-double truck ran off the road in Sydney’s inner south Wednesday morning, in what authorities have described as an “absolutely horrific” incident. Emergency services responded to reports of a truck crash south of Green Square railway station just after 7:45 am. The truck, carrying bricks, was travelling southwards on Botany Road when it veered into the northbound lanes before hitting a power pole, a bus stop, a building ... ► Read more

  • Adelaide to be home of Australia’s new space agency

    Australia’s new space agency will be based in Adelaide, reinforcing South Australia as a hub for innovation and technology, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says. The PM says the Australian space sector is set to reach new heights and the agency will open doors for local businesses to access the $US345 billion ($AU478 billion) global space industry. “Our government’s $41 million investment into the agency will act as a launching pad to triple Australia’s space economy ... ► Read more

  • Cabinet plans to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

    The Morrison Government will formally recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital after a cabinet meeting but it won’t be announced until the COAG meeting on Wednesday, according to The Australian. Citing sources, The Australian reports that the decision will be ratified by the cabinet at a meeting on Tuesday after the national security committee approved it on Monday night. However, the Australian embassy won’t be moved from Tel Aviv just yet. Instead a consular office will be ... ► Read more

  • European markets tumble, Wall St. rebounds, AUD surges against the Pound

    Political turmoil in London has caused the Pound to plunge and European markets to tumble. British Prime Minister Theresa May called off a crucial vote on her Brexit deal so she can go back to Brussels and ask for changes to it. The benchmark Paris and Frankfurt indices lost 1.5% each, while London’s FTSE fell 0.8%. Wall Street also fell sharply initially, with the industrial-skewed Dow Jones index shedding up to 500 points at its ... ► Read more

  • House prices: prepare for a hard landing, warns OECD

    Australian regulators should be drafting contingency plans for a severe collapse in house prices with a “hard landing” looming as a key risk, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is warning. In its latest survey on Australia, the OECD pointed to the possibility of a “significant correction” in the housing market that might result in “financial institution insolvency”. “Australia’s housing market is a source of vulnerabilities due to elevated prices and related household ... ► Read more

  • Government calls on Thailand to release Melbourne-based refugee

    The Australian Government is calling for the immediate release of a Melbourne-based refugee from Thai detention, amid fears he could be tortured if an extradition request made by Bahrain is carried out. Hakeem Ali AlAraibi — a Bahraini national — was detained at Bangkok Airport in November and remains in custody despite being cleared to return home after an Interpol Red Notice used to detain him was lifted. Amnesty International has joined calls for his ... ► Read more

  • Asylum seekers to allege torture in class actions against Australian Government

    Asylum seekers will allege that the Australian Government subjected them to “torture, crimes against humanity and the intentional infliction of harm” as part of two class actions concerning Australia’s offshore processing system. The cases have been filed in the High Court of Australia and represent all remaining detainees on Manus Island in Papua New Guinea, and on Nauru. Their legal team, led by Julian Burnside QC and human rights lawyers from the non-profit National Justice ... ► Read more

  • Shorten gains ground on Morrison as preferred PM

    The Coalition continues to trail Labor on a two-party preferred basis while Labor leader Bill Shorten has narrowed the gap as preferred leader in the latest Newspoll. Mr Shorten has gained two points to 36% as preferred prime minister while Liberal leader Scott Morrison dropped two points to 44%, according to the Newspoll published in The Australian on Sunday night. For the third consecutive poll and the last for 2018 Labor leads the Liberal-National coalition ... ► Read more

  • Knockout Games of Destiny death renews calls for pill testing

    Another Sydney music festival death has renewed calls for pill testing at major events but the NSW Premier is standing firm against the measure. A 19-year-old man died in Concord Hospital early on Sunday while two women, aged 19 and 25, and a man are in critical but stable conditions at Westmead Hospital after suspected drug overdoses at the Knockout Games of Destiny dance party at Sydney Olympic Park on Saturday night. NSW Police Assistant ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 2 December – 8 December 2018

    Government faces defeat on critical refugee legislation Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing a humiliating defeat as his Government may be unable to block a bill that would expedite medical treatment for refugees held in offshore detention centres. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Labor backs down, supports Federal Government’s controversial encryption laws Law enforcement and intelligence agencies will gain greater access to encrypted messages — such as Facebook messages — after a Labor ... ► Read more

  • ASX set for flat open as global markets tumble

    Australian shares are set for a subdued open as trade uncertainty, falling oil prices, and global growth concerns weigh on Wall Street, which resumed overnight after a one-day break. The SPI200 futures contract is down 3.0 points, or 0.05%, to 5,654.0, at 0800 AEDT on Friday, pointing to a flat open for the ASX. US stocks are mostly down on mounting worries of slowing global growth after a fresh twist in China-US tensions, with the ... ► Read more

  • Labor backs down, supports Federal Government’s controversial encryption laws

    Law enforcement and intelligence agencies will gain greater access to encrypted messages — such as Facebook messages — after a Labor backdown allowed the Federal Government to pass its legislation on Parliament’s final sitting day. Labor had planned to amend the legislation, which it has repeatedly described as flawed. But late on Thursday Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced Labor would pass the laws provided the Coalition agreed to make certain changes in the new year. Labor then ... ► Read more

  • Government faces defeat on critical refugee legislation

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing a humiliating defeat as his Government may be unable to block a bill that would expedite medical treatment for refugees held in offshore detention centres. Independent MP Dr Kerryn Phelps introduced a bill to the House of Representatives on Monday to require refugee children and their families in Nauru and Manus Island be transferred to Australia for medical and psychiatric assessment. But, despite the possibility of receiving support from ... ► Read more

  • Former SA premier Jay Weatherill retires from politics

    Former Labor South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill will retire from state politics. He has sat on the Opposition backbench since Labor’s defeat at the March election. The announcement could pave the way for a by-election in his western suburbs seat of Cheltenham. The former lawyer was first elected in 2002 and was directly appointed to Premier Mike Rann’s cabinet. He replaced Mr Rann as premier in 2011. In 2014, he took Labor to an unlikely ... ► Read more

  • AUD tumbles, flat open for ASX expected

    The Australian Dollar (AUD) fell sharply after traders digested yesterday’s worse-than-expected economic-growth figures. Markets at 8:00am (AEDT): ASX SPI futures: +0.2pc at 5,675, ASX 200 (Wednesday’s close) -0.8pc at 5,668 AUD: 72.68 US cents, 57.08 British pence, 64.07 Euro cents, 82.29 Japanese yen, $NZ1.05 US: (closed for national day of mourning for former President George HW Bush) Europe: FTSE 100 -1.4pc at 6,922, DAX -1.2pc at 11,200, CAC -1.4pc at 4,944, Euro Stoxx 50 -1.2pc ... ► Read more

  • Victorian shadow A-G John Pesutto concedes electoral defeat

    Former Victorian shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto has formally conceded defeat in the electorate of Hawthorn, but is “hopeful and interested” in making a return to politics in the future. It has been almost two weeks since the incumbent Labor Government extended its majority in the Victorian Parliament, with many traditionally Liberal seats, including Hawthorn, changing hands. Mr Pesutto told ABC radio on Wednesday morning that it looked like he had lost to Labor candidate John ... ► Read more

  • PM promises conscience vote on LGBTI+ students after Parliament delays bill

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been accused of breaking a promise to end discrimination against LGBTI+ students, after the Federal Parliament failed to reach agreement on a bill and delayed the matter until next year. Mr Morrison has responded by pledging to introduce his preferred version of the legislation as a private member’s bill, with Coalition MPs to be given a conscience vote on the issue. Under his proposal, religious schools would not be able ... ► Read more

  • Victorian Government announces Royal Commission into police misconduct

    The Victorian Government announced on Monday that it will establish a Royal Commission into police misconduct that may have jeopardised at least 22 criminal convictions, including that of underworld figure Tony Mokbel. Some of Australia’s most notorious criminals received letters on Monday telling them that their defence lawyer had acted as a police informant in what the High Court of Australia has described as “reprehensible conduct” on the part of Victorian Police, who were “involved ... ► Read more

  • Survey: 82% of Australians support immigration

    An annual national survey tracking public opinion on immigration and population issues has found a strong majority of Australians still see benefits in immigration despite heightening concern over population growth. The 2018 Mapping Social Cohesion survey, conducted by the philanthropic Scanlon Foundation, found more than four in five Australians see benefits to immigration. The survey, which canvassed the views of 1,500 randomly chosen Australians, also found 52% of Australians consider the current intake of migrants ... ► Read more

  • Liberal Party changes leadership spill rules

    The Liberal party room has backed Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s proposal to make it harder to replace sitting prime ministers — an attempt to reduce the political fallout of the leadership coup that ousted Malcolm Turnbull in August. From now on, two-thirds of the party room will need to support a leadership spill if there is to be a change of prime minister. These rules will not apply in opposition or to Mr Morrison because ... ► Read more

  • House prices see fastest drop since GFC

    Australia’s housing market has taken another big step down, with Sydney, Melbourne and Perth continuing to lead the declines. CoreLogic’s monthly figures show prices fell 0.7% nationally last month, with a 0.9% slide in the capital cities and a 0.1% fall in the regions. Sydney prices dropped 1.4% in November, bringing the city’s total peak-to-trough decline to 9.5% — almost on par with the previous record fall of 9.6% between 1989 and 1991, when interest ... ► Read more

  • ASX surges following US-China trade war ceasefire

    Australian markets have rebounded after China and the United States agreed to a trade ceasefire at the G20 summit over the weekend. US President Donald Trump agreed to hold off for three months until March 1 before he increases tariffs on $US250 billion worth of Chinese imports. In the meantime, negotiators from Beijing and Washington will attempt to negotiate a deal to de-escalate their trade war, which has plagued global markets for the past year. ... ► Read more

  • Doctors say Nauru asylum seekers’ mental health as bad as “victims of torture”

    Australian doctors say the mental health of asylum seekers on Nauru is similar to torture victims. A new report titled ‘Indefinite Despair’ by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) looked at the mental health suffering experienced by Asylum Seekers on Nauru. Doctors without Borders Australia President Stewart Condon said data collected from doctors treating asylum seekers on Nauru points to a mental health crisis. “What our data shows is that the mental health situation on Nauru is ... ► Read more

  • Turnbull tells Liberal Party don’t “capitulate” to Craig Kelly threats, calls for early election

    Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has intervened in the preselection process of Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly, urging his colleagues not to “capitulate” to threats from the conservative MP. Mr Turnbull has also encouraged his successor Scott Morrison to go to the polls shortly after the long summer break, arguing he and the then treasurer had been planning to call an election for March 2 before Mr Turnbull was ousted. He denied his comments were part ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 25 November – 1 December 2018

    Julia Banks moves to the crossbench, denounces Coalition’s “reactionary right wing” The Morrison Government has been dealt a major blow, with moderate MP Julia Banks revealing she will quit the Coalition and join the crossbench. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Federal Government under fire for scheduling only 13 sitting days before budget Labor has attacked the Federal Government for scheduling just 13 parliamentary sitting days before the federal budget is released in April ... ► Read more

  • Thousands of kids skip school for climate action rally

    Thousands of Australian school children are walking out of class to demand government action on climate change in a series of coordinated rallies across the country. The ‘Strike 4 Climate Action’ — inspired by a 15-year-old Swedish school girl’s activism — will involve children in capital cities and 20 regional centres such as Ballarat and Newcastle. Up to one thousand children packed Sydney’s Martin Place on Friday afternoon, chanting “climate action now,” while similar numbers descended on ... ► Read more

  • AFP investigating soldiers over alleged war crimes in Afghanistan

    Allegations of war crimes committed by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan are now the subject of a Federal Police investigation. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said in a statement it received a referral in June and had launched its own investigation. It follows an inquiry led by New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Paul Brereton, who is assisting the Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to investigate the actions of Special Forces soldiers during the ... ► Read more

  • ASIS officers could be given clearance to shoot people threatening operations

    Officers from the highly covert Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) could soon be permitted to shoot enemies who pose a risk to other people involved in their overseas undercover operations. Under current legal arrangements, ASIS officers are only able to use their weapons for self-protection, or to protect those working with the spy agency. On Thursday the Morrison Government will introduce new laws to Parliament allowing ASIS staff to use “reasonable force” during their overseas ... ► Read more

  • Amy Shark, 5SOS big winners at 2018 ARIA Awards

    Amy Shark and 5 Seconds of Summer are the biggest winners at the 2018 ARIA Awards, which has seen Australian music royalty brave Sydney’s inclement weather to herald their best and brightest. Ms Shark, whose debut album Love Monster went to number one on the charts this year, won Best Pop Release — one of nine awards the 32-year-old Queenslander was nominated for. She also took home Best Female Artist and Album of the Year, becoming ... ► Read more

  • Matthew Guy resigns as Victorian Opposition leader after Liberal election defeat

    Victorian Opposition leader Matthew Guy has resigned as leader of the Liberal Party following the disastrous state election last weekend. In a brief statement, Mr Guy expressed his “deep appreciation” for the support and unity of his colleagues throughout his leadership, and congratulated incumbent Premier Daniel Andrews on the victory. “I would like to place on record my deep appreciation for the hard work of all my Liberal members in the last parliament. They were ... ► Read more

  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg cancels G20 trip to deal with Liberal Party chaos

    Deputy Liberal leader and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will not attend the G20 economic forum in Buenos Aires this week, remaining in Canberra to deal with the chaos engulfing the Liberal Party. As the most senior Victorian Liberal MP in Federal Parliament, Mr Frydenberg is managing the fallout from the Liberal Party’s severe defeat in the Victorian state election last weekend, and Julia Banks’ resignation from the party to sit as an independent MP. A ... ► Read more

  • “People will burn to death”: authorities conduct final sweep of Deepwater area as “firestorm” closes in

    Authorities have made a final plea to residents in the Deepwater, Baffle Creek, Rules Beach and Oyster Creek areas to leave immediately, warning that they have a window of roughly one to two hours before road access will be cut off. Flat Rock Road is the only evacuation route left open. In a joint press conference, Queensland Deputy Police Commissioner Bob Gee said all modelling shows the fire will break containment lines around the Baffle Creek and ... ► Read more

  • Federal Government under fire for scheduling only 13 sitting days before budget

    Labor has attacked the Federal Government for scheduling just 13 parliamentary sitting days before the federal budget is released in April 2019, saying the Government is trying to skip work and avoid scrutiny. The sitting week calendar was passed with a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives on Tuesday night, and was immediately criticised by the Labor Opposition. Following the resignation of Chisholm MP Julia Banks from the Liberal Party, the Coalition Government is ... ► Read more

  • Paul Manafort allegedly met with Julian Assange in 2016

    A British newspaper claims that Paul Manafort secretly met WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London within days or weeks of being brought aboard Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. If confirmed, the report on Tuesday suggests a direct connection between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, which released tens of thousands of emails allegedly stolen by Russian hackers during the 2016 election. The campaign seized on the emails to undermine Mr Trump’s rival, Hillary ... ► Read more

  • Sydney in chaos as eastern NSW receives over 100ml

    Greater Sydney is experiencing intense rainfall from Illawara to Katoomba and north to Gosford, causing severe flooding in residential areas and flight delays and cancellations. The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) has made a dozen flood rescues after drivers became stuck in rising waters across Sydney as an unprecedented downpour saw a month’s worth of rain fall in two hours. The SES received more than 280 calls for help as a line of severe thunderstorms ... ► Read more

  • PM says budget to be released in April

    Australians are all but assured to head to the polls for a federal election in May, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison announcing he will deliver the Budget in April. The Prime Minister said the Budget would be released on 2 April 2019 and Australians would go to the polls after that. But his hold on power has been threatened even more, with backbencher Julia Banks announcing she has quit the Liberal Party. She made the ... ► Read more

  • Julie Bishop calls on Government to reach agreement with Labor on National Energy Guarantee

    Former deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop has called on the Coalition Government to reach an agreement with Labor on the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), saying it would be good for business and ensure a stable investment environment for the energy industry, and is the only framework for achieving “elusive” bipartisanship on energy. Proposed by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, the NEG was intended to address energy affordability, reliability and emissions, but was quickly abandoned after ... ► Read more

  • Julia Banks moves to the crossbench, denounces Coalition’s “reactionary right wing”

    The Morrison Government has been dealt a major blow, with moderate MP Julia Banks revealing she will quit the Coalition and join the crossbench. The Government was already in minority after independent Kerryn Phelps was elected in Malcolm Turnbull’s former seat of Wentworth, and will now need to manage even more delicate negotiations with the crossbench to pursue its agenda. Ms Banks excoriated the “reactionary right wing” within the Coalition for its role in toppling ... ► Read more

  • Report: thousands of public servants say they have witnessed corruption

    Almost 4400 public servants believe they witnessed corrupt behaviour at work, according to the Australian Public Service (APS) State of the Service Report 2017–18. The report also revealed that 78 public servants were investigated over allegations of corruption in 2017–18, and 569 public servants were investigated for breaches of the APS Code of Conduct with 72 found to have breached the code. The proportion of APS staff who said they witnessed corruption has been consistent ... ► Read more

  • NASA’s InSight touches down on Mars

    US space agency NASA has landed a new robot on Mars after a dramatic seven-minute plunge to the surface of the Red Planet. The InSight probe aims to study the deep interior of Mars, and make it the only planet — apart from Earth — that has been examined in this way. The touchdown confirmation came through shortly after 06:50 AEDT on Tuesday. It ended an anxious few minutes in which the robot radioed home updates on ... ► Read more

  • PM to meet with Victorian MPs following brutal state election defeat

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with his Victorian colleagues in Canberra today to discuss the ramifications of the federal leadership spill on the Liberal Party’s state electoral defeat last weekend. The Victorian state election saw significant swings to Labor in safe Liberal seats, which may be replicated at the federal election next year and topple the Liberal government. Voter backlash against the Liberal Party’s federal leadership spill in August has been cited as the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 19 November – 24 November 2018

    Ivanka Trump used personal email account for government business The daughter of US President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, last year used a personal email account to discuss or relay official White House business, according to emails released by a nonpartisan watchdog group. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Dozens of homes at threat as NSW bushfire flares up A bushfire emergency has been declared in NSW’s Hunter region with homes threatened at Salt Ash ... ► Read more

  • Dozens of homes at threat as NSW bushfire flares up

    A bushfire emergency has been declared in NSW’s Hunter region with homes threatened at Salt Ash and authorities issuing a total fire ban as conditions deteriorate. The fire in the Salt Ash area, north of Newcastle, has so far scorched about 1,300 hectares. About 200 firefighters are battling it. The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) upgraded the incident to an emergency early this morning as strong winds continued, warning locals to monitor the situation and ... ► Read more

  • NSW Government issues health warning as dust storm hits Sydney

    A dust storm that has blanketed parts of regional NSW has reached Sydney, prompting the State Government to issue an air quality warning. The storm, which stretches about 500 kilometres, reduced visibility to just metres in some far western areas yesterday, including Darling River and Broken Hill. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said light dust was beginning to impact Sydney by 8:00am, however the main band remained around the Great Dividing Range. The dust was ... ► Read more

  • The US-Saudi alliance shows justice is only worthwhile when it’s convenient

    Donald Trump has released a statement defending the US’ relationship with Saudi Arabia, despite admitting that “it could very well be that [Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman] had knowledge” of the plan to murder journalist Jamal Khashoggi. In the statement, Trump said it would be foolish to break ties with Saudi Arabia, because of the US$450 billion the kingdom plans to invest in the United States — US$110 billion of which will go to American defence ... ► Read more

  • ASX tumbles after panic-selling in US, Europe, Asia

    A wave of panic-selling across Wall Street, European and Asian markets has spread to Australia. The local ASX 200 index had lost 1.3% to 5,599 at 10:10 am (AEDT). The broader All Ordinaries index also fell by a similar level to 5,684 points. Most sectors are in the red, with energy (-2.5pc) and resources (-2.4pc) being the weakest performers. It was driven by steep losses from Origin Energy (-4.4pc), Santos (-3.4pc), Fortescue Metals (-3.9pc), BHP ... ► Read more

  • Josh Frydenberg officially rejects CKI’s bid for APA Group

    Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has officially rejected Hong Kong-based CK Infrastructure’s (CKI) $13 billion bid for Australia’s east coast gas pipeline owner APA Group, two weeks after his preliminary ruling declared the deal was contrary to the national interest. The CK Group consortium released a statement on Wednesday morning saying the takeover will not proceed, and the deal was terminated. Though national security grounds were a consideration for the Government behind the scenes, Mr Frydenberg said ... ► Read more

  • PM says permanent migration must be cut to reduce congestion

    The Federal Government is likely to cut Australia’s permanent migration cap, in a move it says will ease congestion in the major cities. Prime Minister Scott Morrison, in a speech on the future of Australia’s cities, said Sydney and Melbourne had been overwhelmed with population growth. “The roads are clogged, the buses and trains are full, the schools are taking no more enrolments,” he said. “I hear what you are saying, I hear you loud ... ► Read more

  • Jarryd Hayne charged with aggravated sexual assault

    Rugby league star Jarryd Hayne has been charged with aggravated sexual assault after an alleged incident in the New South Wales Hunter region on NRL grand final night. NSW Police confirmed the charge, which came after a 26-year-old woman lodged a complaint to the NRL Integrity Unit earlier this year. Mr Hayne, 30, was questioned at the Ryde Police Station on Monday afternoon and later charged with “aggravated sexual assault inflict actual bodily harm on ... ► Read more

  • Three men arrested over alleged terror plot

    Three men have been arrested for allegedly plotting a terror attack in Melbourne. Authorities say the men, aged between 23 and 30, were planning to use a semi-automatic rifle to kill as many people as possible in a crowded place. Two of the men are brothers and all three had their passports cancelled earlier this year and have been people of interest since “early 2017”, according to Victoria Police Chief Commissioner, Graham Ashton. “There was ... ► Read more

  • Fairfax shareholders give Nine takeover green light

    Fairfax shareholders have overwhelmingly backed a takeover by Nine Entertainment, paving the way for both companies to merge by the end of this year. At the Fairfax annual general meeting today, more than 80% of votes were in favour of the deal. Antony Catalano, the former head of real estate website Domain, tried to block the deal by submitting a last-minute bid for 19.9% of the newspaper publisher’s shares on Sunday evening. In a letter, ... ► Read more

  • Banking Royal Commission: Commonwealth Bank CEO defends variable remuneration

    Commonwealth Bank CEO Matt Comyn defended his bank’s use of “variable remuneration” to reward employees for signing customers up to more services, despite the Banking Royal Commission hearing this has led to serious misconduct. Mr Comyn told the Royal Commission that short-term variable remuneration is necessary to motivate staff — to encourage what the Commonwealth Bank calls “discretionary effort.” When asked by Rowena Orr QC why “paying an adequate and appropriate level of fixed remuneration” ... ► Read more

  • Cabinet divided over Israel embassy policy

    Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has said that keeping the Australian embassy in Tel Aviv is “like Israel saying that they intend to put their embassy in Sydney and pretend that Canberra isn’t our capital”, as Cabinet remains publicly divided on the issue. Last month Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested that his government is considering relocating the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, which has been claimed by Israel as its capital since its occupation in ... ► Read more

  • APEC 2018: US-China divisions deepen worrying world leaders

    Deep divisions between the United States and China have derailed the APEC meeting in Port Moresby, with regional leaders failing to agree on a final communique for the first time in the summit’s history. The two superpowers clashed repeatedly over the language on trade in the final document, with Beijing angrily rejecting paragraphs that called for an overhaul of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and warned against unfair trade tactics. The Trump Administration has repeatedly ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 November – 18 November 2018

    UK, EU agree on draft Brexit deal In a diplomatic breakthrough, UK and European Union officials have agreed the draft text of a Brexit agreement after months of negotiations. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Morrison reverses “foolish” decision to cut Foodbank funding Prime Minister Scott Morrison has intervened to boost the Government’s food relief budget to ensure a charity that feeds 710,000 people a month retains its funding. See OPMG’s coverage of this ... ► Read more

  • Moving Australian embassy to Jerusalem could increase terror attacks, warn Indonesia and Malaysia

    Indonesian and Malaysian politicians have warned that moving the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem could result in increased Islamist terror attacks against Australians. Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated in October 2018 that the Australian Government is considering relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv to the de facto capital Jerusalem, although Jerusalem is not recognised by the United Nations. The potential policy change has caused concern regarding Australia’s relationship with Muslim-majority nations, ... ► Read more

  • Morrison Government downplays Israel embassy move amid tensions with Indonesia

    The Government is reportedly downplaying the chances it will go through with a proposal to move Australia’s embassy in Israel in its private conversations with Indonesian ministers. Canberra is still trying to finalise a highly anticipated trade deal with Indonesia, ideally this year, but is facing a backlash from Jakarta over its announcement it would “consider” a shift in Middle East policy. Fairfax Media reports the Australian side have told Indonesian ministers in Singapore, where ... ► Read more

  • Amyl and the Sniffers: it’s still passion

    Amyl and the Sniffers are an enigma. The very first time we got the pleasure of seeing these guys play was when they were opening for cult favourites Cosmic Psychos in Sydney. We stood watching the stage for the space of what felt like a millisecond before being electrocuted into the world the Sniffers projected. It was unreal. After showcasing our over excited, mountain-goat-style jumping up and down and ridiculous dance moves for the duration ... ► Read more

  • Fiji votes in second democratic election since 2006 coup

    Polls have opened in Fiji, which is holding its second democratic election since a military coup ousted the Government 12 years ago. While the Pacific island nation has made strides away from its troubled political history, which saw the military overthrow four governments in the space of two decades, today’s general election sees two former coup leaders vying for the prime ministership. Incumbent Frank Bainimarama leads the FijiFirst party, which is looking to retain power ... ► Read more

  • UK, EU agree on draft Brexit deal

    In a diplomatic breakthrough, UK and European Union officials have agreed the draft text of a Brexit agreement after months of negotiations. A cabinet source told the BBC that the document has been agreed at a technical level by officials from both sides after intensive discussions this week. A special cabinet meeting will be held at on Wednesday (local time) as British Prime Minister Theresa May seeks ministers’ backing. Ms May has been meeting ministers ... ► Read more

  • Cyber security chief: Austal hacking “attribution can take months, even years”

    The head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) said on Tuesday an investigation into the hacking of defense contractor Austal could take years, rejecting a report by the ABC that his agency had concluded the attack originated from Iran. Austal said earlier this month hackers had breached its defences to gain access to ship designs and that some staff email addresses and mobile phone numbers were accessed. The attack triggered an investigation by the ... ► Read more

  • Melbourne CBD’s Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar reopens following terror attack

    Melbourne’s Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar reopened on Tuesday for the first time since co-owner Sisto Malaspina’s death in Friday’s terror attack. The stool at the bar where the 74-year-old would sit is empty. A coffee, newspaper and candle sat on the bench as scores of people lined up for a coffee to pay their respects after the doors opened just before 8:00am. “It’s been a good experience, a strange experience. I see today as the beginning ... ► Read more

  • Morrison reverses “foolish” decision to cut Foodbank funding

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has intervened to boost the Government’s food relief budget to ensure a charity that feeds 710,000 people a month retains its funding. Foodbank was facing the prospect of cutting services for the needy after it was told about a redistribution of the relief budget which amounted to a funding cut of more than $250,000 a year. Mr Morrison announced the reversal on Twitter: [1/3] Yesterday I promised to review the Foodbank ... ► Read more

  • Nearly $100,000 raised for man who charged terrorist with trolley

    An online fundraiser has raised over $100,000 for a homeless man who confronted the Bourke Street terrorist with a shopping trolley during the attack on Friday. Michael Rodgers has drawn widespread attention since he repeatedly pushed a trolley at Hassan Khalif Shire Ali while the 30-year-old man attempted to stab police. “I ran, threw the trolley straight at him, got him, but didn’t get him down,” Mr Rogers told 7 News. “I did that motion ... ► Read more