Politics and diplomacy

  • 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

  • Pelosi urges Trump to postpone State of the Union address

    Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, has suggested to President Donald Trump that his annual State of the Union address to Congress be postponed until after the current government shutdown ends. “Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest that we work to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address, or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union ... ► Read more

  • Theresa May: Government has confidence of Parliament, time to deliver Brexit

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for bipartisan talks to develop a Brexit deal that will pass the House of Commons. In a short late-night address from No 10 on Wednesday (local time), Ms May said she had held talks with senior parliamentarians from a number of parties on Brexit that evening, but was disappointed by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s absence. She said: “I am disappointed that the leader of the Labour Party has ... ► 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

  • Chechnya: two people killed and 40 detained in LGBT purge, activists say

    At least two people have died and 40 others detained by the Republic of Chechnya in Russia in a crackdown against the gay community, LGBT+ activists charged on Monday (local time). The new allegations follows reports that emerged in 2017 claiming that more than 100 gay men were arrested and subjected to torture, with some of them killed, in the conservative republic. “Widespread detentions, torture and killings of gay people have resumed in Chechnya,” Igor ... ► Read more

  • Theresa May’s Brexit deal rejected by House of Commons

    UK Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered an unprecedented defeat after the House of Commons rejected her Brexit deal by 230 votes. MPs voted down the deal 432 to 202, prompting Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn to table a vote of no confidence. If Prime Minister May loses the vote of no confidence a general election would be triggered. However, with Britain’s EU departure date set for March 29, just 10 weeks away, it is unlikely ... ► 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

  • 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

  • Trump: “I never worked for Russia”

    United States President Donald Trump has rejected the suggestion that he has had inappropriate dealings with Moscow, in response to increasing scrutiny of his relationship with Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. “I never worked for Russia, and you know that answer better than anybody,” Mr Trump responded to a reporter as he left the White House on Monday morning (local time). “Not only did I never work for Russia, I think it’s a disgrace ... ► 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

  • Delaying Brexit would be “catastrophic” for democracy, says Theresa May.

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned MPs that blocking Brexit would be “catastrophic” for democracy, just days before Parliament is expected to reject her agreement with Brussels on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The Prime Minister postponed a parliamentary vote on the agreement in December due to fears the deal would be voted down by MPs, and ahead of the vote on 15 January she has told MPs that they must ... ► 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

  • Trump denies he kept details of conversations with Putin secret

    United States President Donald Trump has dodged questions about his relationship with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, amid reports he went to “extraordinary lengths” to keep details of one-on-one talks with the Russian President secret. During an interview with Fox News late on Saturday (local time), Mr Trump was asked whether he works, or ever worked, for the Russian Government. The US President replied that it was “the most insulting thing I’ve ever been asked.” ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 6 January – 12 January 2019

    Trump reaffirms threat to declare national emergency on visit to Mexican border United States President Donald Trump reaffirmed his threat to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the country’s border with Mexico if Congress does not grant him the funds he requested. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. 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 ... ► Read more

  • Trump reaffirms threat to declare national emergency on visit to Mexican border

    United States President Donald Trump reaffirmed his threat to declare a national emergency to fund a wall on the country’s border with Mexico if Congress does not grant him the funds he requested. “I have the absolute right to declare a national emergency,” Mr Trump told reporters during a visit to a border patrol station in McAllen, Texas on Thursday (local time). Flanked by border officers and relatives of people killed by illegal immigrants, and ... ► Read more

  • Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to publicly testify before Congress

    Michael Cohen, former lawyer to United States President Donald Trump, will publicly testify before a US House of Representatives Committee on 7 February he confirmed on Thursday (local time). In a statement, Mr Cohen said he had accepted an invitation from committee chairperson Elijah Cummings to appear before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “I look forward to having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible ... ► 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

  • Trump storms out of meeting with senior Democrats

    United States President Donald Trump stormed out of a meeting after Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi — the Speaker of the House of Representatives — said she would not agree to fund a wall on the border with Mexico. The President met with Ms Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer at the White House to discuss the ongoing government shutdown, which has resulted from Congress refusing to approve funding for the wall. According to the Democrats, ... ► Read more

  • Turks and Kurds ask Russia for help amid fears US withdrawal from Syria could cause further destablisation

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will visit Moscow this month to discuss the effects of the United States’ planned withdrawal from Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Syrian Kurds have also approached Russia for assistance in the hope that a deal can be brokered to avert the threat of a Turkish attack. Both Turkey and the Kurds have been allies of the US in the American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War, but US President ... ► Read more

  • Brexit: UK Parliament twists May’s arm in blow to her authority

    Rebel MPs in the UK Prime Minister’s own Conservative Party have joined forces with Labour to inflict a fresh blow to the May Government’s authority on Brexit. As MPs started five days of debate on Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, the Parliament demanded the Government come up with revised plans within three days if the exit plan is rejected. The House of Commons will vote on the plan next Tuesday (local time). The Government ... ► 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

  • Amendment shows UK Parliament won’t support a no-deal Brexit

    The British Parliament has passed an amendment restricting government revenue raising options through taxation in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The amendment to the Finance Bill passed by 303 to 296 votes and is seen by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn as an “important step”. However, No 10 says it is “inconvenient rather than significant”. So, who is right? The short answer is both. It is true that the amendment’s practical significance is fairly minor. ... ► 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

  • Trump to visit US-Mexico border following primetime address

    United States President Donald Trump will visit the country’s southern border with Mexico on Thursday. In a tweet, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the President would “meet with those on the frontlines of the national security and humanitarian crisis”. Mr Trump intends to give a primetime address before visiting the border, and has requested television networks allow him to interrupt scheduled programming on Tuesday night at 9:00pm American Eastern Standard Time. The ... ► 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

  • Analysis: The Trump-Congress Border Stalemate

    The impasse between United States President Donald Trump and the US Congress continues to prolong the shutdown that has seen significant non-essential government services become unavailable. Many federal employees are indefinitely without work, and federally-owned facilities are shut or unattended, including most national parks. The stalemate is the result of Congress failing to pass legislation that would ensure the Government has adequate funds to continue operating as normal. Mr Trump demanded that Congress apportion $5.6 ... ► 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

  • Sultan Muhammad V Abdicates Malaysian Throne

    Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan has abdicated from the Malaysian monarchy, effective from 6 January 2019 according to a statement from the National Palace. The ruler of the Malaysian state of Kelantan was elected the country’s 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in 2016, and has stepped down just two years into his scheduled five year term. He is the first Malaysian monarch to have abdicated. No reason has been given for his abdication, but Sultan Muhammad, ... ► Read more

  • Trump: USS Cole attack mastermind killed in airstrike

    The al-Qaeda militant behind the USS Cole bombing in Yemen in 2000 has been killed in an airstrike, United States President Donald Trump announced on Sunday (local time). Jamal al-Badawi was accused of leading the attack on the US destroyer, which claimed the lives of 17 American sailors and injured at least 40 others. It took place as the USS Cole was refuelling in the port of Aden. Mr Trump said the US “military has ... ► Read more

  • Turkey builds up military presence on Syrian border

    Turkey began reinforcing its positions on both sides of its border with Syria on Sunday (local time), according to Reuters, as Ankara and Washington agreed to coordinate a US withdrawal from Syria. The heightened military activity comes two days after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would postpone a planned military operation on Kurdish YPG militia east of the Euphrates river in northern Syria following the US decision to pull out. He also said Turkey ... ► 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

  • Putin on Brexit: Theresa May must “enact the will of the people”

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has no choice but to follow through with Brexit, as backing down would undermine Britain’s democracy, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. “She must enact the will of the people, expressed during the referendum,” Mr Putin said during his end-of-year press conference in Moscow. “Otherwise it is not a referendum at all. Doing it over and over again if someone did not like [the result] — is it a democracy?” ... ► Read more

  • Mattis to retire in February, urges Trump to consider future

    United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis will step down from his post in February “with distinction”, President Donald Trump announced via Twitter on Thursday (local time). Mr Trump praised General Mattis for helping him “in getting allies and other countries to pay their share of military obligations”. The President did not identify a successor but said a replacement “will be named shortly.” General Mattis’ departure follows President Trump’s announcement that he is withdrawing all US ... ► Read more

  • Trump Foundation to be dissolved amid allegations it was used for personal and political benefit

    United States President Donald Trump has agreed to dissolve his eponymous personal charity and give away its remaining $1.75 million amid allegations he used it for his own personal and political benefit, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced on Tuesday (local time). The Attorney-General filed a suit against the charity, Mr Trump, and his three eldest children in June this year, alleging “persistently illegal conduct” at the Donald J Trump Foundation. Ms Underwood said ... ► Read more

  • British Government escalates preparations for a no-deal Brexit

    The British Government announced on Tuesday (local time) that it would escalate its preparations for a no-deal Brexit, under which the United Kingdom would leave the European Union without an agreement on their future relationship. Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure from the British Parliament to expedite the vote on her draft withdrawal agreement, which she postponed to mid-January after realising she did not have enough support for it to pass. The Government is ... ► 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

  • Belgian PM Charles Michel resigns after vote of no confidence

    Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel’s resignation has been accepted by King Philippe, after the country’s parliament passed a vote of no confidence in his government. Mr Michel became Prime Minister in October 2014 by forming a centre-right coalition consisting of the New Flemish Alliance, the Christian Democratic and Flemish Party, the Open Flemish Liberals and Democrats, and Mr Michel’s own party, the Reformist Movement. Last week Mr Michel lost the backing of the New Flemish ... ► 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

  • Brexit Commons vote to be held in mid January

    British Prime Minister Theresa May says the postponed vote in Parliament on her Brexit agreement will be held the week of January 14 — more than a month after it was originally scheduled, and just 10 weeks before the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. But even as Ms May insisted she could salvage her unpopular divorce deal, pressure was mounting for dramatic action — a new referendum or a vote among politicians — to ... ► Read more

  • Tear gas and water cannons deployed after Brussels anti-immigration protest turns violent

    Belgian security forces fired tear gas and water cannons at anti-immigration demonstrators, after a protest outside the European Union headquarters in Brussels turned violent. Local authorities initially banned the protest for fear of violence erupting, but Belgium’s High Court overturned the ban, citing the right to protest peacefully. However, police deployed tear gas and water cannons after some protesters became violent when asked to leave, and 90 people were detained. According to police, some 5,500 ... ► Read more

  • Theresa May and Tony Blair squabble over former PM’s call for second Brexit referendum

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused one of her predecessors, Tony Blair, of “undermining” Brexit negotiations by calling for a second referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union. Mr Blair suggested last week that MPs could back the holding of another referendum if “none of the other options work”, referring to the uncertainty surrounding whether Parliament will support Ms May’s withdrawal agreement. Ms May responded, saying: “For Tony Blair to ... ► Read more

  • Iowa poll: Joe Biden top pick for 2020 US presidential election

    Former US Vice President Joe Biden holds the pole position in the first CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll among likely 2020 Democratic caucusgoers, with Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke joining him as the only possible candidates in the field with double-digit support. The new Iowa Poll finds 32% of likely caucusgoers saying they back Mr Biden as their first choice, 19% Senator Sanders, 11% Congressman O’Rourke, 8% Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, 5% ... ► 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

  • Maria Butina admits to being Russian agent in plea deal

    A Russian woman accused of being a secret agent has admitted that she conspired to infiltrate the American gun rights movement to gather intelligence on conservative political groups as Donald Trump rose to power. Maria Butina, 30, agreed to plead guilty to a conspiracy charge as part of a deal with US federal prosecutors. The case, which is separate from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, ... ► Read more

  • Trump says he never told Michael Cohen to break the law

    US President Donald Trump has responded to his former longtime lawyer Michael Cohen’s sentencing, saying he “never directed” Mr Cohen to break the law. Mr Cohen was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on Wednesday (local time) for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Mr Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia. Both Mr Cohen and federal prosecutors ... ► 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

  • “Blind loyalty”: Donald Trump’s former “fixer” sentenced to three years in prison

    Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on Wednesday (local time) for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Mr Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia. US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan sentenced Mr Cohen to 36 months for the payments, which violated campaign finance law, and to ... ► 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

  • Theresa May wins Tory vote of no confidence

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has surived a Conservative Party vote of no confidence. Ms May won 200 votes to 117. The result means that another internal leadership challenge cannot be launched for at least 12 months. Speaking outside Downing Street, Prime Minister May said a “significant number of colleagues did cast a vote against me”, but insisted “we need to get on with the job of delivering a Brexit that delivers on the vote”. She ... ► Read more

  • Huawei CFO granted bail by Canadian court

    A court in Vancouver, Canada has granted bail to Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese electronics giant Huawei, while she awaits a hearing for extradition to the United States. The US alleges the 46-year-old daughter of the company’s founder misled multinational banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting those banks at risk of violating US sanctions against the Middle Eastern country. Justice William Ehrcke granted bail to Ms Meng, with a bond of ... ► Read more

  • Trump threatens government shutdown over border wall funding

    United States President Donald Trump has threatened to shut down the Government if Congress does not approve funding for his proposed wall on the US border with Mexico. During a heated exchange with senior Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer in the Oval Office on Tuesday (local time), the President said he would be “proud” to shut the Government down over border security. “If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, ... ► Read more

  • Tory leadership challenge could be imminent as May’s Brexit negotiations stall

    British Prime Minister Theresa May could be ousted from the leadership of the Conservative Party, after she delayed a vote on her Brexit agreement due to fears Parliament would block it. The British press is widely reporting that the 48 letters calling for a vote of no confidence against Ms May have been received by the Chief Whip, and a vote on her leadership could come as early as Wednesday night (local time). Ms May ... ► Read more

  • TIME announces its Person of the Year

    TIME Magazine has named four journalists and a newspaper as its 2018 Person of the Year for what it says is standing up for the truth in the face of persecution and violence. The group, which TIME called “the guardians”, consists of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi; the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland, where five people were shot dead at the newspaper’s offices in June; Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, who has been arrested; and Reuters journalists ... ► 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

  • Macron announces wage rises and tax cuts to quell riots

    French President Emmanuel Macron has announced wage rises and tax cuts in an effort to quell anti-government riots. After several weekends of violent civil unrest, Mr Macron finally addressed the nation to respond to accusations that his government’s economic policies are harming the country’s poor. He announced a wage rise of €100 per month in 2019 for the country’s poorest workers, and tax cuts for pensioners, but refused to reinstate a wealth tax or to ... ► 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

  • May postpones Brexit vote, seeks further negotiation with Brussels

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has called off a crucial vote on her Brexit deal so she can go back to Brussels and ask for changes to it. As it stands, the deal “would be rejected by a significant margin” if MPs voted on it, she admitted on Monday (local time). But she said she was confident of getting “reassurances” from the EU on the Northern Ireland border plan. MPs reacted angrily to her announcement, ... ► Read more

  • Paris riots: economy suffering as Macron to address nation, Trump attacks climate accord, and Russia accused of involvement

    The French “yellow vest” protests have continued for a fourth consecutive weekend of rioting across the country. What began as a protest against planned fuel tax increases has broadened into a general anti-government movement, with protestors demanding lower taxes, higher minimum wages and better pension benefits. Some 1000 people are currently being held in custody, 100 of whom are minors and most without police records. Most of those in custody are men under 40 who ... ► 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

  • Ecuador’s president says Assange can leave London embassy “in near-liberty”

    Ecuador’s president said on Thursday (local time) that conditions have been met for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the country’s embassy in London, which would end a six-year standoff with British authorities. “The way has been cleared for Mr Assange to take the decision to leave in near-liberty,” President Lenin Moreno told reporters, explaining that he still had to answer in Britain for violating the terms of his bail. President Moreno, however, said Britain ... ► 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

  • British A-G publishes Brexit advice: Northern Ireland could remain in EU customs union indefinitely

    British Attorney-General Geoffrey Cox has published his legal advice to the British Government concerning the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union, just days after the Government was found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to provide the advice in full. The advice on Brexit consists of six pages that focus solely on the legal effect of the “Irish backstop” set out in the withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU, which will be ... ► 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

  • Putin warns of new arms race if US withdraws from INF treaty

    Russia will develop missiles banned under a Cold War agreement if the US exits the pact, President Vladimir Putin has warned. His comments came shortly after the Russian Foreign Ministry said it received official notification that the US intends to withdraw from the INF unless Moscow remedies what Washington says is a serious violation of the treaty. Signed in 1987 by the US and USSR, it banned both countries’ use of all short and medium-range ... ► Read more

  • George HW Bush farewelled as world figures gather to pay respect

    An emotional George W Bush has paid tribute to his father, former President George HW Bush, during a state funeral in Washington on Wednesday (local time). Mr Bush Jr, himself a former president, described him as “a noble man, the best father”. All surviving US presidents attended the funeral, sharing a pew in the US National Cathedral in Washington DC. Mr Bush Sr, who served as the 41st US president between 1989 and 1993, died ... ► 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

  • Dozens of construction workers killed in Papua attacks

    Indonesian authorities are attempting to recover the bodies of 31 construction workers and a soldier killed by gunmen in the province of Papua this week. Police spokesperson Suryadi Diaz said 24 workers were killed on Sunday when gunmen stormed a government bridge construction project in a remote village in the centre of the province’s Nduga district. According to officials, the workers had been brought from Sulawesi to help build the trans-Papuan highway. The following day, ... ► Read more

  • Nigel Farage quits UK Independence Party

    Nigel Farage has quit the UK Independence Party (UKIP), claiming that party leader Gerard Batten is turning a blind eye to extremist politics. The former UKIP leader said that he had worked “tirelessly” for UKIP to “get us back our independence” from the European Union, but claims that “a lot has changed” under Mr Batten’s leadership. “He seems to be pretty obsessed with the issue of Islam, not just Islamic extremism but Islam, and UKIP ... ► Read more

  • British Government releases Brexit advice after being found in contempt of Parliament

    The British Government will publish the full legal advice on which it has based Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union after MPs found the Government in contempt of Parliament for issuing a summary. The Government lost the vote by 311 to 293 at the beginning of a week of votes related to leaving the EU. Before the vote, Prime Minister Theresa May told her cabinet that “candid” legal advice given to the Government must remain ... ► 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

  • Sir David Attenborough: “We are facing a man-made disaster of global scale”

    British documentarian and environmentalist Sir David Attenborough has urged world leaders, meeting in Poland to agree ways to limit global warming, to get on and tackle “our greatest threat in thousands of years”. “Leaders of the world, you must lead,” said Sir Attenborough, who was given a ‘People’s seat’ at the two-week UN climate conference in the Polish coal city of Katowice alongside two dozen heads of state and government. “The continuation of our civilisations ... ► 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

  • Anonymous document leak suggests UK group running misinformation campaign against Russia

    International hacktivist group Anonymous released on Monday (local time) a new package of documents of the UK Integrity Initiative project, calling for an open pan-European investigation into the project’s activity. In a statement, Anonymous said: “Early in November, we published here a large part of the documents relating to the Integrity Initiative project. The Integrity Initiative have confirmed their validity, yet they don’t consider the information relevant. Meanwhile, neither the organization nor its sponsors have ... ► 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

  • Russia, Ukraine agree to Normandy format talks to de-escalate tensions

    Both presidents of Russia and Ukraine have agreed to hold Normandy format talks to de-escalate the recent flare up in tensions over the Kerch Strait incident. Over breakfast with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Russian President Vladimir Putin told the German leader that he supported the talks. “We have spoken about the situation in the Azov Sea, where all sorts of aggravation have to be avoided,” ... ► Read more

  • Macron orders PM to hold crisis talks to end Paris riots

    French President Emmanuel Macron has ordered his Prime Minister to hold crisis talks with political leaders and demonstrators, as Paris experiences its worst riots in a decade. As part of the nationwide anti-government protests, riots broke out in the French capital on Saturday (local time), leaving hundreds injured and causing widespread destruction throughout the city. During a meeting with his government on Sunday (local time), Mr Macron told Prime Minister Édouard Philippe to hold talks ... ► Read more

  • Israeli police recommend Netanyahu be charged with bribery, fraud

    Israeli police have said their investigation has found sufficient evidence for bribery and fraud charges to be brought against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife, in a third corruption case against the leader. Authorities on Sunday alleged Netanyahu awarded regulatory favours to Bezeq, Israel’s largest telecommunications group, in return for more positive coverage of him and his wife on Bezeq’s subsidiary news website, Walla. Prime Minister Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing. “These recommendations were determined ... ► 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

  • George HW Bush dies at age 94

    George HW Bush, the 41st president of the United States, has died at age 94. Mr Bush served one term as president from 1989 to 1993. He also served as a congressman, CIA director, and Ronald Reagan’s vice-president. As the last US president to have served in World War II and the country’s last Cold War leader, the end of Mr Bush’s time in the White House marked the end of a political era. But ... ► Read more

  • Michael Cohen admits to misleading Congress over Trump Moscow project

    US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen admitted on Thursday (local time) to a criminal charge of making false statements to Congress. Prosecutors allege he deliberately minimised the extent of discussions with Mr Trump about a Moscow-based real estate project and obscured the fact that conversations about the proposed development continued well into the 2016 presidential campaign. The felony charge Mr Cohen pleaded guilty to on Thursday was the first brought against him ... ► Read more

  • Angela Merkel to miss start of G20 summit after plane develops fault

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel will miss the opening of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, after her plane developed a technical problem and was forced to land in Cologne. According to her office, the Chancellor and accompanying delegates safely landed in Cologne shortly after departing Berlin. The plane turned back while it was over the Netherlands due to “malfunction of several electronic systems”, the captain announced to passengers, but no details of the cause have ... ► 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

  • “Undoubtedly a provocation”: Putin says Poroshenko staged Kerch Strait incident

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko of trying to boost his ratings ahead of 2019 elections with last Sunday’s (local time) naval confrontation off Crimea. Speaking at an investment forum on Wednesday (local time), Mr Putin said the Ukrainian Navy’s actions were “undoubtedly a provocation” and that it was organised by Ukraine’s authorities and president “in the run-up to the Ukrainian presidential election in March 2019”. Mr Poroshenko has seen low ... ► Read more