News

  • Labor promises $400 million superannuation boost for women

    Women on maternity or holding several low-paid jobs would receive superannuation payments under a plan unveiled by Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek on Wednesday. On average, women retire with $113,000 less superannuation than men, a gulf of 40% that means older single women are more dependent than men on the age pension, and are the fastest growing homeless age group in Australia. This disparity is due to many factors, including women taking time out of ... ► Read more

  • “Bullying, betrayal and backstabbing”: Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis will not recontest her seat

    Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis has announced that she will not recontest her seat of Gilmore at the next federal election, citing “bullying, betrayal and backstabbing” by New South Wales state MP Gareth Ward. In a speech to the House of Representatives, Ms Sudmalis announced on Monday that she will quit Parliament at the next election, and said Mr Ward had “flexed his vengeance on strong Liberal women” by undermining her with branch stacking and unethical ... ► Read more

  • Russia and Turkey agree to create demilitarised zone around Idlib

    The presidents of Russia and Turkey have agreed to establish a demilitarised zone separating rebels and Government forces in Syria’s Idlib province. At a summit in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Monday (local time), Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the province a demilitarised zone, in an attempt to halt the Syrian Government’s attacks on the region, which is currently held by rebel forces. As part of ... ► Read more

  • US imposes further $200 billion tariffs on Chinese imports

    United States President Donald Trump has followed through on his threat to impose a second tranche of tariffs on Chinese imports, this time applying 10% tariffs on about US $200 billion worth of products. In announcing the new tariffs, President Trump warned China against taking retaliatory action against US industry, threatening that the US “will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately US $267 billion of additional imports.” Collection of the 10% tariffs ... ► Read more

  • MH17: Dutch to look at new evidence provided by Russia

    Dutch prosecutors investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have said they will analyse all information provided by Russia, after the Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD) released a report that claims the missile that hit the plane was fired by pro-Kiev forces. Speaking to reporters on Monday (local time), General Nikolay Parshin showed a number of documents which appeared to identify the Buk missile. According to General Parshin, the Russian MOD used serial numbers ... ► Read more

  • Typhoon Mangkhut strikes southern China

    Typhoon Mangkhut hit mainland China at 5:00 pm (local time) on Sunday afternoon (local time), causing landslides that authorities fear have buried dozens of people. The storm has left death and destruction in its wake, with 64 people dead after it crossed the Phillipines, a toll that is expected to rise as rescue workers attempt to locate those still missing, likely buried beneath the 51 landslides in the north of the country. 😲😭TYPHOON mankhut Aujourdui ... ► Read more

  • Death no barrier to charging life insurance premiums, AMP tells Royal Commission

    AMP continued to charge life insurance premiums after being notified customers had died, executive Paul Sainsbury told the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry on Monday. Mr Sainsbury confirmed that in some cases AMP did not stop insurance premiums even when there was no longer a life to insure. He explained that AMP’s system “was coded to refund [premiums] when the claim was admitted”, rather than “stop the premiums ... ► Read more

  • Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault accuser reveals her identity

    A woman accusing US President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has identified herself. Christine Blasey Ford told The Washington Post Mr Kavanaugh had pinned her to a bed and tried to undress her when they were both teenagers, allegations the Supreme Court nominee denied when they first surfaced last week. Both Mr Kavanaugh and Dr Ford are now expected to speak with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to ... ► Read more

  • Police: no Novichok link to ill Salisbury diners

    There is “nothing to suggest that Novichok” was the cause of two people falling ill at a restuarant in the Wiltshire city of Salisbury, according to UK authorities. Police declared a major incident after a middle-aged man and woman became ill at Prezzo in High Street on Sunday evening. Surrounding streets were cordoned off “due to recent events” in the city, but restrictions have now been lifted and Police say they are no longer treating ... ► Read more

  • Government, aged-care sector to establish royal commission scope

    The Government will work with aged-care providers to determine the terms of reference for the newly announced royal commission into the sector, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters on Sunday. Mr Morrison announced the royal commission in response to findings of widespread non-compliance and abuse of elderly people at aged-care facilities. According to the Minister for Health Greg Hunt, there was a 177% increase in the number of aged-care homes where a serious risk to ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 9 – 15 September 2018

    Malcolm Turnbull urges Liberal colleagues to refer Dutton to High Court Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Liberal Party colleagues to refer Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court to clear up questions about his eligibility. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Roman Quaedvlieg demands Dutton withdraw “disgusting” grooming comment Former Australian Border Force Commission Roman Quaedvlieg has demanded that Home Affairs ... ► Read more

  • Man killed and several injured in Massachusetts gas explosions

    A man has been killed and at least 10 people injured after a series of gas explosions and fires affected some 40 homes and business in three Massachusetts towns on Thursday (local time). Eighteen-year-old Leonel Rondon was inside a car in the town of Lawrence when a chimney fell on the vehicle. Mr Rondon was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he later died. Authorities believe an issue with gas service caused several explosions in ... ► Read more

  • Dave Sharma announced as Liberal candidate for Wentworth by-election

    Former Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma has been selected by the Liberal Party as its candidate in the by-election for the federal seat of Wentworth. “I’m honoured to have been selected as the Liberal candidate,” Mr Sharma said after the selection vote. “We have a tough fight ahead of us to hold on to this seat, but [I] believe we can retain it, and retain a Liberal Government in Canberra.” The seat of Wentworth ... ► Read more

  • Skripal poisoning suspects speak on Russian state TV

    Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two men identified by the British Government as suspects in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March, have spoken to Russian broadcaster RT, claiming they travelled to the UK simply as tourists. In the interview with RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, the pair confirmed that they are the men in the images released by UK authorities last week and said they travelled to Salisbury — the location of the attack ... ► Read more

  • CommInsure negotiated penalty for misleading heart attack cover advertising

    CommInsure, a subsidiary of the Commonwealth Bank, made a voluntary $300,000 “community benefit payment” as part of a deal with the corporate regulator to avoid a multi-million-dollar fine for misleading advertising. The insurer failed to adequately disclose in its advertising that its heart attack cover was limited to severe heart attacks, as defined by CommInsure using an out-of-date definition. Instead, customers would have to access and read the product disclosure statement. CommInsure’s managing director Helen ... ► Read more

  • Malcolm Turnbull urges Liberal colleagues to refer Dutton to High Court

    Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Liberal Party colleagues to refer Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court to clear up questions about his eligibility. Mr Turnbull tweeted overnight from New York: The point I have made to @ScottMorrisonMP and other colleagues is that given the uncertainty around Peter Dutton’s eligibility, acknowledged by the Solicitor General, he should be referred to the High ... ► Read more

  • Putin: Skripal poisoning suspects ‘civilians, not criminals’

    The two men identified by British investigators as suspects in the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March are civilians and not members of the Russia’s military intelligence service, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The UK Government last week named the suspects as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and claimed they were from Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), which the Kremlin has dismissed as lies and provocation. Speaking at the ... ► Read more

  • Australian Special Forces deployed to PNG for APEC meeting

    Australia has deployed special forces soldiers to Papua New Guinea (PNG) as part of the effort to secure Port Moresby ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit scheduled for November. Concerns that local military and police personnel are inadequate are behind the deployment. World leaders including United States Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison are expected to attend the two-day summit. “We ... ► Read more

  • Leaders agree to closer ties between China and Russia

    Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday, agreeing to bolster ties between their countries to counterbalance the United States’ economic power. The leaders have now met three times in 2018, which President Xi told President Putin reflects the “uniqueness and distinction” of the countries’ relationship, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. “Both nations have to oppose unilateralism and trade protectionism, ... ► Read more

  • “Spare no effort” to protect civilians in Idlib, UN Secretary-General says

    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on Russia, Iran and Turkey to “spare no effort to find solutions that protect civilians” in the rebel-held Syrian city of Idlib. Mr Guterres said it was “absolutely essential” to avoid full-scale conflict in Idlib province, which “would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict.” Idlib is the last major rebel-held stronghold in Syria and home to some 3.5 million people, at least ... ► Read more

  • Roman Quaedvlieg demands Dutton withdraw “disgusting” grooming comment

    Former Australian Border Force Commission Roman Quaedvlieg has demanded that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton withdraw his “disgusting and offensive” accusation that Mr Quaedvlieg “groomed” a younger woman who became his girlfriend. Mr Dutton made the accusation in Parliament on Tuesday, taking advantage of parliamentary privilege to protect him from legal retaliation. The 53-year-old Mr Quaedvlieg was dismissed earlier this year when it emerged he had helped his girlfriend, believed to be in her 20s, ... ► Read more

  • Freedom Insurance staff wouldn’t take no for an answer, Royal Commission hears

    Freedom Insurance retention officers made it “far too difficult for customers to cancel” insurance policies, the insurer’s Chief Operating Officer Craig Orton told the The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry on Wednesday. Between 1 July 2017 and 30 June 2018, Freedom Insurance received 37,500 calls from customers wanting to cancel their life insurance policies, but only 28.5% of those were successful in cancelling their policies. Instead, almost half ... ► Read more

  • Freedom Insurance pushed accidental death policy on man with Down syndrome

    Freedom Insurance staff pressured a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome into signing up for an accidental death policy, despite no indication that the man understood what he was agreeing to, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard on Tuesday. Grant Stewart’s son was sold an accidental death insurance policy by Freedom Insurance in 2016. Mr Stewart told the Royal Commission that while his son has “reasonable” literacy and ... ► Read more

  • Banking Royal Commission reveals ClearView’s abusive sales tactics

    The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard further details of ClearView Direct’s abusive sales tactics on Tuesday. ClearView Direct call centre training materials from 2014 show that its sales staff were encouraged to continue signing up reluctant customers by telling them they could read the policy documents after signing up for life insurance. The insurer’s chief actuary, Gregory Martin, conceded that this was wholly inappropriate. Senior counsel assisting ... ► Read more

  • Massive class action suit launched against Australian banks

    Millions of workers could receive a payout in what is expected to be the largest class action suit in Australian legal history. Law firm Slater and Gordon are preparing for legal action against Australia’s largest banks on behalf of the third of Australian workers believed to have their superannuation invested with the banks. Slater and Gordon “will allege the big bank-backed super funds failed to obtain for members competitive cash interest rates on cash option ... ► Read more

  • Letter: Kim Jong-un suggests second meeting with Trump

    North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un has written to US President Donald Trump suggesting the two hold a second meeting. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the receipt of the letter in a news conference and described it as “very warm” and “very positive”, but said it would not be released to the public without the consent of the North Korean leader. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump received a "very warm" ... ► Read more

  • John Bolton threatens to sanction ICC judges

    The United States Government has delivered a scathing verbal attack on the International Criminal Court (ICC), threatening to sanction judges if they continue a probe into alleged war crimes by Americans in Afghanistan. US President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, called the ICC an “illegitimate court” that “is already dead to us” in an address to the Federalist Society in Washington on Monday (local time). “Today, on the eve of September 11th, I want to deliver ... ► Read more

  • ClearView under fire for junk life insurance policies

    A cleaner with a heart problem was sold an inferior insurance product by ClearView after she was told she was not eligible for life insurance, the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry heard on Monday. A recording of a phone call was played before the Royal Commission, in which the customer was “downgraded” to an accidental death policy as a “backup” option because her pre-existing heart problem made her ... ► Read more

  • Banking Royal Commission: insurers admit substantial misconduct

    On Monday the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry started a round of hearings on life insurance, general insurance, and disaster insurance. This week the Royal Commission will focus on life insurance, including sales, claims, dispute resolution, and superannuation arrangements. Rowena Orr QC, counsel assisting the Royal Commission, raised concerns that insurance claims handling does not come within the Corporations Act 2001, and so the Australian Securities and Investment ... ► Read more

  • NAB puts mortgage rates on hold to ‘re-build trust’

    National Australia Bank (NAB) has announced it will keep its standard variable mortgage rates at 5.24% despite Westpac, ANZ and the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) lifting their rates over last few weeks. In a statement, NAB said if home loan rates had increased by 15 points — approximately the same as the other three big banks — a customer on a $500,000 mortgage would have had to pay an extra $47 per month. “We are listening and acting differently,” NAB ... ► Read more

  • Independent Dr Joe McGirr predicted to win Wagga Wagga state by-election

    Election analyst Antony Green has called the Wagga Wagga state by-election for independent candidate Dr Joe McGirr. Polls closed for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat on Saturday night, but Mr Green said he was comfortable Dr McGirr had won the by-election on Sunday night. Wagga Wagga was vacated in August by Liberal MLA Daryl Maguire, who resigned from the Parliament of New South Wales after admitting to corruption. The fallout saw the Liberal ... ► Read more

  • Mike Pence says he would take lie detector test over NYT op-ed

    US Vice President Mike Pence says he would take a lie detector test “in a heartbeat” to prove he did not write an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times last week claiming the existence of a “resistance” movement within the Trump Administration. Mr Pence dismissed the theory he was the author of the article because it includes the word “lodestar” — a word he uses often — as an effort to “distract attention” from the Trump Administration’s achievements, ... ► Read more

  • UK allies back Salisbury allegations

    France, Germany, the US and Canada have issued a joint statement supporting the UK’s assessment that two Russian intelligence operatives were behind the nerve agent attack on Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March. In the statement, the countries’ leaders reiterated their “outrage at the use of a chemical nerve agent” and urged “Russia to provide full disclosure of its Novichok programme to the OPCW”. “We have full confidence in the British assessment that the two suspects ... ► Read more

  • Allegations of bullying during Liberal Party leadership spill emerge

    Parliamentarians have told the ABC that supporters of Peter Dutton bullied them and their colleagues to sign the petition that brought on a leadership spill and ousted former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull two weeks ago. It is claimed that Mr Dutton’s supporters would enter colleagues’ offices without invitation, and refuse to leave unless they signed the petition. Backers of Mr Dutton, who twice attempted to take the leadership and failed, would allegedly target MPs during ... ► Read more

  • Saipov defence cites Trump tweets in argument against death penalty

    The defence team of accused “bike path terrorist” Sayfullo Saipov has argued that tweets from US President Donald Trump and the President’s criticisms of the Department of Justice would make it impossible for Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to fairly and impartially seek the death penalty. Mr Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, is accused of driving a rented pickup truck into cyclists and runners in Lower Manhattan, New York City, killing eight people and injuring 11 others ... ► Read more

  • Indian Supreme Court decriminalises consensual gay sex

    The Supreme Court of India decriminalised consensual gay sex in a unanimous decision delivered in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon (local time). A five-judge bench determined that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” with up to life imprisonment, shall no longer apply to homosexual activity. “Any discrimination on the basis of one‘s sexual orientation would entail a violation ... ► Read more

  • Former Victorian Greens leader accused of sexism

    More allegations of sexism in the Australian Greens have emerged, with former Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber accused of calling women in the workplace “fat, hairy lesbians”, “power pussies” and “hairy-legged feminists”. It is claimed that Mr Barber also had a meeting room in his office that female staff were not allowed to enter unless invited. Mr Barber is the brother-in-law of federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale. Earlier this year, it was revealed that ... ► Read more

  • Julie Bishop: ‘Aren’t the public justified in feeling contempt for all of us?’

    Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has criticised her parliamentary colleagues, saying she has witnessed “appalling” behaviour she never would have accepted while running a major law firm 20 years ago. Speaking at a Women’s Weekly awards event in Sydney, Ms Bishop discussed her experience of being a senior woman in the Turnbull Government and addressed a number of issues, including the lack of female MPs within the Liberal Party, bullying from male colleagues, and the adversarial nature ... ► Read more

  • Skripal poisoning: UK names Russian nationals as suspects

    British investigators have named two Russian nationals as suspects in the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday (local time) the men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are believed to be officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). She said the poisoning was “not a rogue operation” and was “almost certainly” approved at a senior level of the Russian ... ► Read more

  • 90 elephant carcasses found in Botswana with tusks hacked off

    Ninety elephant carcasses have been found in Botswana with their tusks hacked off, a charity announced on Tuesday. Elephants Without Borders, a charitable organisation dedicated to conserving wildlife and natural resources, said that the grim discovery of nearly 100 elephant carcasses, which took place through an aerial survey over several weeks, is believed to be one of Africa’s worst mass poaching sprees. “We started flying the survey on July 10, and we have counted 90 ... ► Read more

  • At least eight dead in central Japan as Typhoon Jebi makes landfall

    Typhoon Jebi struck the central Japanese cities of Kobe and Osaka on Tuesday. At least eight deaths have been reported and more than 150 people injured, as Japan responds to the most intense tropical storm to hit the country in 25 years. The typhoon made its first landfall in Tokushima Prefecture around noon (Japanese standard time), before crossing the Osaka Bay and making landfall at Kobe around 2:00pm, and passing northwards over Hyogo Prefecture into ... ► Read more

  • Government drops policy to raise pension age to 70

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday that the Government will abandon its long-standing policy to raise the pension age to 70. Instead, the pension qualifying age will increase to 67 in 2023 as scheduled, and stay there. “I don’t think we need that measure any longer when it comes to raising the pension age, and it is one of the things I will be changing pretty quickly,” Mr Morrison told the Nine Network on ... ► Read more

  • Trump criticises Attorney-General for indicting Republican congressmen before mid-term elections

    United States President Donald Trump has publicly criticised Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and suggested that the Department of Justice has jeopardised Republican hopes for the upcoming mid-term elections by indicting two Republican congressmen. The President tweeted: “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not ... ► Read more

  • Westpac to pay $35 million settlement in irresponsible home loan case

    Westpac has agreed to settle a case with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) involving more than 10,000 loans that allegedly breached responsible lending laws. As part of the settlement, the bank will pay a $35 million civil penalty for irresponsible lending. ASIC commenced proceedings in March 2017, alleging that Westpac’s use of the Household Expenditure Measure (HEM) to calculate loan applicants’ living costs led to customers being approved for loans that they would ... ► Read more

  • Dutton to face no-confidence motion this month

    Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton will face a no-confidence motion when the federal Parliament resumes next week. The Greens and Labor will support a no-confidence motion in Mr Dutton as there is mounting controversy over his personal intervention to grant two European au pairs emergency visas in 2015. It has emerged that Mr Dutton may have misled Parliament when he said he had no personal connection to the cases, when it was later revealed that ... ► Read more

  • Ukraine: Tens of thousands gather for rebel leader’s funeral

    Tens of thousands gathered in the Ukrainian rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Sunday (local time) to mourn the death of separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko. Mr Zakharchenko and his bodyguard were killed after a bomb detonated at a coffee shop in Donetsk, injuring 12 other people. He was the most prominent figure in the separatist movement to be killed in the Ukraine conflict, which started in 2014 as a result of widespread civil unrest in the ... ► Read more

  • Report says “worst fears” surpassed in Nauru detention centre

    A report co-authored by the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre released on Monday details escalating levels of abuse, trauma, and desperation in Australia’s offshore detention centre in Nauru. According to the report, the situation for the 900 people detained on Nauru (including 109 children) has surpassed the “worst fears” of advocates when the policy of offshore detention was reinstated in 2012. Around 50 overseas medical requests have been actively blocked ... ► Read more

  • EU and UK clash over Brexit negotiations

    Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, “strongly” opposes key parts of the British Government’s proposals for a future trade deal between the United Kingdom and the EU. Mr Barnier’s comments follow an article penned by British Prime Minister Theresa May and published in The Sunday Telegraph, in which the Prime Minister insisted she will not make compromises on the Government’s plan to leave the EU that are against the “national interest”. Included in ... ► Read more

  • Morrison considering deregistering CFMEU

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he will discuss deregistering the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) with his industrial relations minister. Speaking on Sydney’s 2GB radio station on Monday morning, Mr Morrison said he would “of course” consider deregistering the CFMEU, which would refuse officials the right to enter workplaces and limit its ability to bring cases to the Fair Work Commission. The Prime Minister described the CFMEU as a “bunch of thugs” ... ► Read more

  • ‘China’s internet is fully open’: Beijing bans ABC website

    China’s cyber security regulator has issued a statement to the ABC confirming it has censored the Australian public broadcaster’s website for breaching the country’s internet rules, but declined to clarify how. Chinese web users had been able to access the public broadcaster’s site, but that all stopped on 22 August. Following repeated requests for clarification, the ABC has confirmed it finally received a statement from an official at China’s Office of the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission. The ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 26 August–1 September 2018

    Coalition suffers worst opinion poll result in a decade An opinion poll conducted by Newspoll indicates the Coalition’s primary vote has fallen to 33%, the lowest since Brendan Nelson was opposition leader in 2008. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Three dead and 13 injured in shooting at video game tournament in Florida Three people have been killed and 13 injured after a gunman opened fire at an online video game tournament being live-streamed ... ► Read more

  • New study: women are becoming increasingly drawn to right-wing populist parties

    A new study has shown that women are becoming increasingly drawn to right-wing populist parties, often showing more radicalism than men. According to the study conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), which is affiliated with Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic Party, the number of women drawn to right-wing populist parties is increasing. The report examined right-wing populist voters in Germany, France, Greece, Poland, Sweden and Hungary. Elisa Gutchse, who edited the FES study, argued that ... ► Read more

  • Dutton under fire over granting a second au pair visa

    It has emerged that Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton used his powers to grant an emergency visa to an Italian au pair planning to work for one of his former Queensland Police colleagues. The revelation has come just days after it was revealed that Mr Dutton personally intervened to free a French au pair from immigration detention after his office was contacted by AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, a relative of the host family. Italian ... ► Read more

  • Syria and Russia to ‘wipe out terrorists’ in Idlib

    The Syrian and Russian governments have signalled an all-out offensive to retake the last rebel-held Syrian province may be launched in the near future. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the majority of Syria had been “freed of terrorists”, save for Idlib, a northeastern province bordering Turkey, according to Al Jazeera. “What we need to do now is to wipe out those terrorist groups which ... ► Read more

  • Aus. Government threatens to deny whistleblower Chelsea Manning a visa

    The Australian Government has threatened tour organisers with a visa denial for convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning ahead of her upcoming tour. Think Inc., the tour organisers, announced on Thursday that it had received a notice of intention from the Government to deny Chelsea Manning entry to Australia for her speaking tour which is scheduled to start in Sydney on Sunday. The group is now calling on Ms Manning’s supporters to lobby new Immigration Minister ... ► Read more

  • Scott Morrison to finalise Indonesia free trade deal

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will leave for Indonesia on Thursday to conclude free trade talks with President Joko Widodo. Mr Morrison said the talks in Jakarta will focus on enhancing economic and security ties between the two G20 nations. “Our close collaboration across economic, security and strategic domains makes both countries stronger, safer and more prosperous,” Prime Minister Morrison said. “I look forward to working with Indonesia’s President to lay the foundation for the next ... ► Read more

  • Dutton ignored Border Force advice when granting au pair’s visa

    Emails leaked to Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching reveal that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton ignored the advice of a senior Australian Border Force official when intervening in the case of a detained French au pair. This revelation adds to the concerns that Mr Dutton intervened in the matter as a personal favour to Liberal Party donors. The emails show that Mr Dutton approved the release of 27-year-old Alexandra Deuwel, despite being told there was detail ... ► Read more

  • Russia will become first country in Europe to introduce driverless taxis

    Russia will become the first country in Europe and Eurasia to introduce driverless taxis. Russian tech giant Yandex announced the launch of Europe’s first driverless taxi, which will hit the road in Innopolis, a tech-focused town that is also known as ‘Russian Silicon Valley’. A driverless car prototype was released by Yandex last year, which is designed to operate under the companies’ taxi service. While companies across the globe have been competing against each other ... ► Read more

  • Abbott appointed special envoy on indigenous affairs

    Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been appointed special envoy on indigenous affairs, stating he will focus on school attendance and performance. Although Mr Abbott was left out of the new Cabinet assembled by incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week, Mr Abbott’s appointment as special envoy is part of Mr Morrison’s efforts to heal the wounds inflicted by last week’s leadership challenges. In accepting the position, Mr Abbott made a number of recommendations ... ► Read more

  • Allegations that Dutton intervened in au pair case due to lobbying

    Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton is under fire for personally intervening to free a 27-year-old au pair from immigration detention in November 2015. The au pair, Alexandra Deuwel, arrived at Adelaide Airport on 31 October 2015 and was detained because she had arrived on the wrong visa. Mr Dutton personally intervened to grant Ms Deuwel and three-month tourist visa because it was “in the public interest”. In a document marked “Sensitive: Personal” dated 1 ... ► Read more

  • Shoigu: Russia to hold ‘unprecedented’ war games

    Russia will next month hold the biggest war games since 1981, according to Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu. The Defence Minister said in a statement that the Vostok 2018 military exercises, which will also include the Chinese and Mongolian armies, will involve almost 300,000 troops, more than 1000 military aircraft, two of Russia’s naval fleets, and all its airborne units. Mr Shoigu said the drills “are on an unprecedented scale, both in terms of the area ... ► Read more

  • Suspected asylum seekers detained after abandoning boat in Queensland

    A total of 17 suspected asylum seekers have been detained in far north Queensland after the group abandoned their boat that ran aground near the Daintree Rainforest area on Sunday. Authorities believe they have detained all members of the group, however further patrols are being conducted in case there are any others. A number of those people have been transported to an immigration facility in Darwin, where they await to be repatriated back to Vietnam. ... ► Read more

  • ‘Do not despair of our present difficulties’: Read John McCain’s farewell letter

    A farewell letter from renowned American Senator John McCain has been made public following his death on Saturday (local time). Read the letter below as released by his office: “My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans, “Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to ... ► Read more

  • Search for first asylum seeker boat arrivals since 2014 still underway in North Queensland

    The search for a group of asylum seekers is currently underway in a crocodile-infested area in far north Queensland, after a boat that was carrying a number of asylum seekers from Vietnam ran aground. The boat, which has since been abandoned, is the first people-smuggling vessel to have reached Australia in 1400 days, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said. “I want to confirm for you today that Australia, we believe, has received the first vessel ... ► Read more

  • Three dead and 13 injured in shooting at video game tournament in Florida

    Three people have been killed and 13 injured after a gunman opened fire at an online video game tournament being live-streamed from a mall in Florida at 1:34pm on Sunday afternoon (local time). According to authorities, three people, including the gunman, died at the shooting in the Jacksonville Landing, a mall in downtown Jacksonville near the St Johns River. Eleven others were wounded by gunfire but are in a non-critical condition, and two others were ... ► Read more

  • Coalition suffers worst opinion poll result in a decade

    An opinion poll conducted by Newspoll indicates the Coalition’s primary vote has fallen to 33%, the lowest since Brendan Nelson was opposition leader in 2008. The Labor Party now leads the Government 56–44% in the two-party preferred poll, with Labor leader Bill Shorten the preferred Prime Minister over current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, 39–33%. Newly-appointed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg acknowledged the damning results were expected, following two Liberal leadership spills last week and the ousting of ... ► Read more

  • Peter Dutton sworn in as Home Affairs Minister

    Peter Dutton has been sworn in as Home Affairs Minister, making him the first minister of the Morrison Government to be sworn in following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s victory in Friday’s Liberal leadership spill. Mr Morrison unveiled his new ministry on Sunday which sees Marise Payne replace Julie Bishop as Foreign Affairs Minister, and Peter Dutton lose immigration from his Home Affairs portfolio. Ms Bishop, who lost her position as deputy Liberals leader in the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 19 August – 25 August 2018

    Scott Morrison wins leadership spill Scott Morrison has won Friday’s Liberal leadership spill, clearing the way for him to become Australia’s 30th Prime Minister. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Government instability in the wake of leadership challenge Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government was rocked by turmoil following Tuesday’s unsuccessful leadership challenge by former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump warns American economy would crash if he ... ► Read more

  • Trump warns American economy would crash if he was impeached

    United States President Donald Trump has warned that any attempt to impeach him could result in the crash of the American economy. The President made the claim as the White House struggles to manage the fallout after Mr Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, entered into a plea deal on behalf of Mr Trump’s former campaign chairperson, Paul Manafort, who was convicted of financial offences this week. The President, who is incensed at Michael Cohen’s ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: Scott Morrison wins leadership spill

    Scott Morrison has won Friday’s Liberal leadership spill, clearing the way for him to become Australia’s 30th Prime Minister. Mr Morrison defeated Peter Dutton by 45-40. Josh Frydenberg has also been elected deputy leader of the Liberal Party, replacing long-serving deputy leader Julie Bishop. Mr Morrison’s victory comes amid a chaotic week in Canberra which has now ended Malcolm Turnbull’s three year tenure in the top job. Mr Turnbull used his final press conference to ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: PM receives petition calling for party-room meeting

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he has received a petition with 43 signatures calling for a Liberal party-room meeting. The Prime Minister said in a tweet that he will call the meeting once the signatures have been verified by the party whips. He tweeted: I have just been provided with a request for a meeting of the Parliamentary Liberal Party. It has 43 signatures. As soon as they are verified by the Whips, which ... ► Read more

  • Kalashnikov takes on Tesla with new electric concept car

    Russian arms manufacturer Kalashnikov unveiled on Thursday (local time) a new electric concept “supercar” it says will rival Elon Musk’s Tesla. Based on the body of the Soviet-era Izh hatchback, Kalshnikov’s CV-1 has a 90 kilowatt hour battery which offers a range of 350 kilometers. The vehicle can accelerate from 0 kph to 100 kph in six seconds, according to the arms company. Kalashnikov spokesperson Sofia Ivanova told Russia’s RBC that the CV-1 would compete directly “with ... ► Read more

  • Leadership crisis: Turnbull to call party-room meeting for Friday, will not stand as candidate in spill

    #BREAKING PM not standing down. Says Dutton wanted the House adjourned. He’s waiting for the petition from members for a party room meeting. If he gets it, he’ll call a meeting of the party room midday tomorrow. And he wants SG advice on Dutton before then #auspol @politicsabc pic.twitter.com/JnDLo4irRc — Matthew Doran (@MattDoran91) August 23, 2018 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that he will call a Liberal party room meeting for midday on Friday ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: Cormann, Cash, Fifield offer resignations, call for leadership spill

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that he will call a Liberal party room meeting for midday on Friday if he receives a petition from a majority of Liberal MPs and Senators. If it goes ahead, the meeting will decide who leads the Liberal Party, and who is Prime Minister of the country. On Thursday, senior Liberal Senators and Cabinet members Mathias Cormann, Michaelia Cash, and Mitch Fifield told the Prime Minister that he no ... ► Read more

  • German foreign minister calls for independent payments system from US

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called for the creation of a new electronic payments system independent of the United States to ensure the survival of the nuclear deal between Iran and the West, which the US withdrew from in May this year. Mr Maas told Handelsblatt that Europe should not allow the US to “act over our heads or at our expense.” “For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing ... ► Read more

  • Government faces increased instability in the wake of leadership challenge

    Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government remains in turmoil following Tuesday’s unsuccessful leadership challenge by former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. The Prime Minister caught would-be challengers off-guard when he declared all leadership positions vacant at the coalition’s party room meeting on Tuesday. Mr Dutton, who was rumoured to be planning a leadership challenge, stood against Mr Turnbull and lost 48–35. As convention dictates, Mr Dutton resigned from his cabinet position and will return to the ... ► Read more

  • #MeToo: Asia Argento made a deal to pay off sexual assault accuser

    Actress and filmmaker Asia Argento, who was one of the first people to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of rape, made a deal with a younger actor who accused her of sexual assault. The New York Times reported on Sunday that it was only months after she made the allegation against Mr Weinsten, that she paid actor and musician, Jimmy Bennett, $US380,000 ($520,000) to settle a sexual assault complaint filed by Mr Bennett, who was only ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: Malcolm Turnbull wins leadership challenge

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has survived a snap Liberal Party leadership challenge from Peter Dutton amid weeks of internal pressure over the National Energy Guarantee. On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Turnbull declared all leadership positions vacant, clearing the way for anyone wanting to make a bid for the leadership. Mr Turnbull beat Mr Dutton 48-35, prompting Mr Dutton to resign as Home Affairs Minister, despite the Prime Minister reportedly offering him the chance to stay ... ► Read more

  • Kerala’s devastating floods kill more than 350 people

    India’s southernmost state of Kerala is in crisis as torrential floods continue, seeing at least 350 people killed and about 800,000 displaced. The floods, which started on August 8, have ripped through the state, creating landslides, destroying houses, bridges and roads, and trapping thousands. Footage from flood-affected areas have shown the devastation that has thus far ruined around 10,000 km of road, making evacuations and transport of supplies even harder. Spokesperson for Oxfam India Basab ... ► Read more

  • ‘If they have their dollars, we have our God’: Erdogan doubles down on rift with US

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has doubled down on the detention of an American pastor which sparked diplomatic fallout with the US, saying Ankara will not bow before those who set up their “own order by exploiting the world” and make Turkey their “strategic target”. “They were not able to make us collapse and they will never be,” Mr Erdogan told supporters on Saturday (local time). “If they have their dollars, we have our God.” While ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 12 August – 18 August 2018

    MPs condemn Senator Fraser Anning’s ‘final solution’ speech Katter’s Australia Party senator Fraser Anning has used his maiden speech to call for a ban on Muslim migration to Australia and a plebiscite on whether Australia should only accept European immigrants, in what would be a return to the White Australia policy. See the ABC’s coverage of this story here. Coalition party room backs NEG The Coalition party room officially endorsed the Turnbull Government’s National Energy ... ► Read more

  • Omarosa Manigault-Newman releases recording of Lara Trump offering $15,000-a-month job

    Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a former White House communications aide, has released another secret recording on Thursday that she says backs her claim that President Trump’s daughter-in-law had offered her a $15,000-a-month salary in exchange for her silence about her time as a White House adviser. The audio, which was aired during an interview on MSNBC, is the latest in a trickle of recordings that Ms Manigault-Newman has made public to build credibility for Unhinged, her tell-all ... ► Read more

  • Pompeo announces Iran Action Group

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Thursday (local time) the launch of a new Iran policy team following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from multinational nuclear deal with Tehran. The Iran Action Group (IAG), headed by State Department director Brian Hook, aims to develop strategies to combat “the Iranian threat”. Mr Hook, as the IAG Special Representative for Iran, told reporters the group’s focus will be on monitoring the effect of Iranian policy on ... ► Read more

  • AMP to refund super customers

    Financial services company AMP will refund superannuation customers whose cash investments were eroded by fees and charges, the banking royal commission has heard. AMP’s superannuation trustees will cut fees and refund $5 million to approximately 12,500 customers who have $43 million invested in AMP super accounts and who chose cash as their investment option. The firm will also refund around $27 million to AMP Capital superannuation members who were wrongly charged fees. AMP Superannuation chairman Rick ... ► Read more

  • Dutton reportedly urged to challenge Turnbull for Prime Ministership

    The Daily Telegraph has reported that some anonymous government backbenchers are urging Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton to challenge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for leadership of the Liberal Party and the country. A small group of government MPs are opposed to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), a policy to address electricity affordability, reliability, and emissions, that was adopted by the Coalition party room on Tuesday. Those MPs opposed want more done to cut prices ... ► Read more

  • Aretha Franklin dies at age 76

    Aretha Franklin’s family have confirmed the legendary R&B singer has died at age 76. Ms Franklin died at 9:50 am (local time) on Thursday in her Detroit home, surrounded by family and friends, according to a statement released by Ms Franklin’s longtime publicist Gwendolyn Quinn on behalf of the singer’s family. The “official cause of death was due to advanced pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type, which was confirmed by Franklin’s oncologist, Dr Philip Phillips of Karmanos ... ► Read more

  • New Zealand passes law banning foreign non-residents from buying houses

    The New Zealand Parliament yesterday passed the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill 2018, which bans many non-resident foreigners from buying existing housing, as part of the Labour Government’s election promise to tackle housing affordability. During the election campaign last September, now-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to stem rising house prices and reduce growing homelessness, partly by banning foreign buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker, who introduced the bill in December last year, described the bill’s passing ... ► Read more

  • 48 dead in Kabul education centre suicide bombing

    A suicide bombing at an education centre in Kabul has killed 48 people and left 67 injured, according to Afghan officials. Police say a suicide bomber entered the centre while tuition was taking place and detonated his bomb belt at about 4:00 pm (local time) on Wednesday afternoon. “We can confirm the attack was caused by a suicide bomber on foot,” police spokesperson Hashmat Stanikzai said. “The bomber detonated himself inside the education centre.” Many ... ► Read more

  • Donald Trump revokes former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance

    US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he has revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance. The decision by Mr Trump is an unprecedented use of presidential authority. “I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today, in fulfilling that responsibility, I have decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Trump said in a statement ... ► Read more

  • Man arrested on suspicion of terror offences after Westminster car crash

    The driver of a Ford Fiesta that was involved in a collision in front of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster yesterday morning (local time) has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences and is being held in a south London police station, according to Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu. At 7:37am the vehicle collided with cyclists and pedestrians, resulting in the hospitalisation of two people with non-life threatening injuries. The man was alone ... ► Read more

  • Italian bridge collapses leaving dozens dead

    At least 30 people have died and many others injured after a major motorway bridge collapsed in the Italian city of Genoa, prompting a huge rescue effort and an investigation into the cause of the collapse. What exactly caused the Morandi Bridge to fall down remains unknown, however the event has caused broad speculation. Early during the aftermath of the incident, authorities were working on the theory that there was structural weakness in the span ... ► Read more

  • Transcript: Senator Fraser Anning’s ‘final solution’ speech in full

    Katter’s Australia Party senator Fraser Anning has used his maiden speech to call for a ban on Muslim migration to Australia and a plebiscite on whether Australia should only accept European immigrants, in what would be a return to the White Australia policy. Mr Anning’s speech has attracted condemnation from both sides of politics. Read Senator Anning’s full speech below. Thank you, Mr President. I am pleased to advise that this is finally my first ... ► Read more

  • Government releases exposure draft of encryption-breaking legislation

    The Government today released an exposure draft of its proposed legislative response to increasing use of encrypted communications services. Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 “will allow law enforcement and interception agencies to access specific communications without compromising the security of a network” and will “expressly prevent the weakening of encryption or the introduction of so-called backdoors.” For more than ... ► Read more

  • Coalition party room backs NEG

    The Coalition party room officially endorsed the Turnbull Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) on Tuesday. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed his victory as bringing Australia “one step closer to cheaper and more reliable energy”. The Coalition party room meeting lasted over two hours and has been described as “testy”, according to the ABC. While the majority of Liberal and National MPs supported the plan, a handful of backbenchers, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have ... ► Read more

  • Former White House aide releases secret recordings with Donald Trump

    Former Apprentice contestant and White House communication aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman has released a recording of a conversation with US President Donald Trump after she was fired. John Kelly, Mr Trump’s White House Chief of Staff, fired Ms Manigault-Newman last December from her position as director of communications for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison, in a tense meeting that she secretly recorded. After the meeting, she spoke privately with Mr Trump who seemed unaware that she ... ► Read more

  • Former Archbishop Philip Wilson to serve child sex abuse concealment sentence in home detention

    Former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson will serve his sentence for concealing child sex abuse in home detention. Mr Wilson was sentenced to 12 months detention with six months non-parole for covering up child sex abuse that occurred in the 1970s in the NSW Hunter region. He has spent the last few weeks on bail while he and his sister’s homes were being assessed for home detention. He will be eligible for parole on February 13, ... ► Read more

  • Canada-Saudi row: what exactly happened?

    Canada and Saudi Arabia have had a severe diplomatic falling out and for two fairly major global players, there has been a considerably small amount of coverage. So what exactly caused the rapid deterioration in the relationship between one of the West’s most prominent countries and a major Middle Eastern power? The tweet Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland urged Saudi authorities to release civil rights activists facing up to 20 years imprisonment in a tweet ... ► Read more

  • Idris Elba fuels speculation that he may be the next James Bond

    Idris Elba has fueled speculation that he will be the next James Bond by posting a photo of himself on Twitter on Sunday night with the caption, “my name’s Elba, Idris Elba”. my name’s Elba, Idris Elba. pic.twitter.com/kEyyaVg8JX — Idris Elba (@idriselba) August 12, 2018 Rumours around who will play the suave MI6 agent after Daniel Craig’s 12 year run as Mr Bond have continued to circle throughout the media and the internet. However, the rumour ... ► Read more

  • Syria: 39 killed in Idlib blast including 12 children

    An explosion at a weapons depot housed in a residential building in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province on Sunday (local time) has killed at least 39 people including a dozen children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). The blast reportedly occurred in the northwest town of Sarmada near the Turkish border. The cause of the explosion, which resulted in the collapse of two buildings, remains unknown. SOHR said one of the five-storey residential buildings’ ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 5 August – 11 August 2018

    Pence unveils details on Space Force United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday (local time) unveiled details of how the Trump Administration will build the so-called Space Force which is set to become the sixth branch of the US military, saying the “time has come” to prepare for “the next battlefield.” See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Emma Husar will not recontest seat at next federal election Labor MP Emma Husar announced on ... ► Read more