Politics and diplomacy

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

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

  • Stormy Daniels’ former lawyer charged with extortion, embezzlement, fraud

    Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who represented Stormy Daniels in her claims against United States President Donald Trump, has been charged with extortion, embezzlement and fraud, according to US federal prosecutors. The US attorney’s office in New York charged Mr Avenatti with trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike, following his arrest on Monday (local time). It is alleged that he and an unnamed co-conspirator told Nike’s lawyers on 19 March that they had ... ► Read more

  • Egypt brokers Gaza-Israel ceasfire, says Hamas

    Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, says it has reached an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel after an exchange of fire on Monday. “Egyptian efforts succeeded with a ceasefire between the occupation and the resistance factions,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said. Israel has yet to comment. The reported truce comes shortly after multiple rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel on Monday evening, according to a joint statement issued by Gaza’s armed groups, in response ... ► Read more

  • Daley resigns as NSW Labor leader but will recontest leadership

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

  • MPs vote to take control of Brexit process

    British MPs have voted to take control of the House of Commons agenda from the Government, to try to find a majority for a Brexit option. The unprecedented move is a reflection of Prime Minister Theresa May’s continued inability to achieve parliamentary support for her negotiated agreement for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The Government’s defeat by 329 votes to 302 means MPs will get a series of “indicative votes” on Wednesday ... ► Read more

  • Trump campaign did not collude with Russia, says Mueller report

    Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election found no evidence of criminal activity on the part of President Donald Trump’s campaign but stopped short of exonerating the President, according to a summary of Mr Mueller’s report released by US Attorney-General William Barr. After two years of investigating allegations that Russia interfered with the 2016 election to secure victory for Mr Trump, Mr Mueller provided his report to ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 17 March – 23 March 2019

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

  • Sydney bars to hold election eve drink freeze

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

  • EU agrees Brexit delay plan

    All 27 European Union leaders have backed a Brexit delay plan that gives the United Kingdom two options — pass Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal next week for an extension until 22 May, or decide by 12 April whether it will participate in the upcoming European Parliament elections. If the UK opts not to participate in the elections and the deal has not passed the House of Commons, the EU would let Britain drop out ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Tusk says Brexit delay possible if MPs back deal

    European Council President Donald Tusk has said that the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union could be delayed, but only if British MPs approve the negotiated withdrawal agreement. The British Parliament has twice rejected the agreement brokered between Brussels and Westminster and Prime Minister Theresa May has sought an extension of the Brexit process beyond 29 March, when the UK is due to leave the EU. “I believe that a short extension will be ... ► Read more

  • Teen released without charge after egging Senator Fraser Anning

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

  • British PM will formally ask to delay Brexit

    British Prime Minister Theresa May will formally ask the European Union to postpone the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU. Ms May’s negotiated Brexit deal with the EU has failed to receive the support of Parliament, and there are fewer than 10 days until the UK is scheduled to leave the EU. Downing Street said no decision had been made as to how long the delay would be, but it is expected to be until ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Kazakh President resigns after three decades

    Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has abruptly announced his resignation 29 years after taking office. In a televised address on Tuesday (local time), the 78-year-old said he has made the “difficult” decision to terminate his authority as president, but did not give a specific reason for the shocking decision. “I have decided to end my duties as president,” Mr Nazarbayev said before signing a decree terminating his powers effective March 30. “This year I will have ... ► Read more

  • British Gov’t must present new Brexit motion to Parliament, says Speaker

    The Speaker of the House of Commons has told the British Government that he will not allow a third “meaningful vote” on “substantially the same” Brexit motion that MPs rejected last week. There are just 11 days to go until the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union, but Parliament has consistently rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposed post-Brexit arrangements with the EU. Speaker John Bercow MP has now told the Government that ... ► Read more

  • Morrison Government set to cut migration rate

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

  • Putin signs off on bill banning fake news, government insults

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a controversial set of bills that make it a crime to “disrespect” the state and spread “fake news” online, Russian media reported on Monday. The bills amending existing information laws overwhelmingly passed both chambers of Russian parliament in less than two months. Observers and some lawmakers have criticised the legislation for its vague language and potential to stifle free speech. The legislation will establish punishments for spreading information that ... ► Read more

  • The psychology of fear and hate, and what each of us can do to stop it

    As an immigrant to New Zealand, I am saddened and outraged by the events in Christchurch. The apparent innocence of New Zealand has been stripped away by acts of cowardice and evil. Police remain on high alert and authorities are still responding to events following the shootings at two mosques in Christchurch that took the lives of 50 people and seriously injured many more. Three people have been arrested, and one, an Australian living in ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 March – 16 March 2019

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

  • US Senate overturns Trump’s border emergency declaration, setting up veto

    The United States Senate voted on Thursday (local time) to overturn President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southwestern border. Twelve Republican Senators joined the Democrats and independents in voting down the measure 59–41, arguing that the President had exceeded his authority by trying to build a wall on the border with Mexico without congressional approval. “Never before has a President asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the President ... ► Read more

  • Israeli warplanes bomb gaza

    Explosions were heard in the Gaza Strip early Friday and Palestinian witnesses said Israeli planes bombed two Hamas security positions. The Israeli military said it was attacking “terror sites” in Gaza, hours after it said two rockets were launched from the enclave at the Tel Aviv area. The attacks were taking place in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis, about 25km south of Gaza City. An OPMagazine contact in Khan Younis said the bombing ... ► Read more

  • British MPs vote to delay Brexit

    British MPs have voted to delay Brexit just two weeks out from the departure date on 29 March. The House of Commons supported the May Government’s motion to extend the leave date with 412 votes to 202. UK Prime Minister Theresa May will now travel to Brussels in pursuit of an extension until 30 June, however it is understood European Union officials are planning to push for a longer period. EU Council President Donald Tusk ... ► Read more

  • PM says Australian IS members will not return home

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

  • British MPs reject no-deal Brexit

    The UK Parliament has voted to avoid crashing out of the European Union without a negotiated deal, 321 votes for to 278 against. It follows an amendment of the Government’s motion that toughened the stance of Parliament to avoid a no-deal Brexit under any circumstances. However, the approved motion is not legally binding, and Parliament will still need to pass legislation to avoid leaving the EU without a deal on the Brexit deadline day of ... ► Read more

  • Venezeula: Juan Guaido investigated for sabotage

    Venezuela’s Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab says he has asked the Supreme Court to investigate opposition leader Juan Guaido for allegedly sabotaging the country’s electrical system. Much of Venezuela has been without power since Thursday (local time) afternoon. President Nicolás Maduro has said that “US technology” was used to sabotage the electricity grid and has pointed the finger at the opposition. Mr Guaido says it is down to government mismanagement. Mr Saab’s announcement came just hours ... ► Read more

  • British MPs reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal

    British MPs have rejected Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit agreement for a second time, prompting a new vote on whether Britain should leave the European Union without a deal. Ms May had hoped that MPs would be swayed in support of her deal after she secured legal assurances that an alternative arrangement to the Irish backstop would be agreed upon with the EU by December 2020. The revised deal was defeated by 149 votes — ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Brexit: Theresa May secures “legally binding” committment from EU over Irish backstop

    British Prime Minister Theresa May says she has secured a “legally binding” commitment from the European Union that an alternative arrangement to the Irish backstop will be agreed upon by 2020. The Irish backstop is essentially an insurance policy that will allow Northern Ireland to remain in the EU Customs Union indefinitely. The backstop is designed to prevent a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which experts and ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Over 15,000 Russians protest “sovereign internet” bill

    Thousands of people took to the streets of Moscow and two other cities on Sunday to rally against tighter internet restrictions, in some of the biggest protests in the Russian capital in years. Lawmakers last month backed tighter internet controls contained in legislation they say is necessary to prevent foreign meddling in Russia’s affairs. But some Russian media likened it to an online “iron curtain”, and critics say it can be used to stifle dissent. ... ► Read more

  • Controversy over Trump plan to bill allies for hosting American troops

    The Trump administration is preparing demands that South Korea, Germany, Japan and, eventually, other countries hosting American troops pay the full cost of the deployment and an additional 50%, according to administration officials. Under the direction of United States President Donald Trump, some countries would be asked to pay up to six times as much as they currently pay under the new approach. This move is intended to pressure the US’ NATO partners into accelerating ... ► Read more

  • Major parties launch NSW election campaigns

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

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

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

  • NSW Government announces $500M for private schools

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

  • Hundreds of IS fighters surrender in Baghouz, Syria

    Hundreds of Islamic State (IS) fighters have surrendered or been captured during evacuations of Baghouz, the last of the IS-held territory in Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) militia has the Baghouz enclave under siege, but slowed its assaults to allow civilians to evacuate. According to the SDF, among the 2,000 evacuees on Wednesday were hundreds of IS fighters who surrendered, while some 400 others were captured trying to escape. Approximately 6,500 people were evacuated ... ► Read more

  • Trump to be “very disappointed” if North Korea building rocket site

    United States President Donald Trump says he would be “very disappointed” if North Korea is redeveloping a missile launch site that was partially dismantled last year. Freshly released satellite images appear to show the reconstruction of the Tongchang-ri launch site near the North Korea-China border. Pyongyang started dismantling the site following last year’s historic summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Chairman Kim Jong-un. Released by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) — ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Tories suspend 14 members for Islamophobia

    The British Conservative Party has suspended 14 members in relation to Islamophobic messages posted in a Facebook group. “When we find evidence of members making offensive or inappropriate comments, we consistently take decisive action,” a Tory spokesperson said. The messages were posted in the “Jacob Rees-Mogg Supporters Group” — which is not affiliated with the MP or the Conservative Party. Conservative Party members identified as using the page have been suspended, pending an investigation. Prior ... ► Read more

  • House Democrats open corruption probe into Trump

    The United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary has opened an investigation into allegations of corruption against President Donald Trump and his administration. On Monday (local time) the Judiciary Committee demanded documents from the White House, and the President’s company, charity, transition team, and election campaign, as well as several of his associates and both adult sons. Committee chairman Jerry Nadler opened the probe with letters to 81 people and entities seeking documents ... ► Read more

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

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

  • PM pledges $328 million to fight domestic violence

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

  • Venezuela: Guaido calls for mass protests on return

    Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for mass protests across the country on Monday, following a week-long tour of South American allies. In January this year, the opposition-controlled National Assembly declared incumbent President Nicolas Maduro’s re-election fraudulent, and proclaimed Mr Guaido as interim President in accordance with the country’s constitution. Mr Guaido has been recognised by more than 50 countries as the interim President of Venezuela, and defied a travel ban imposed by President ... ► Read more

  • Australia, Indonesia to sign delayed free trade deal

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

  • US-NK summit: leaders disagree over abrupt ending

    United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have given conflicting explanations for why their Thursday summit in Hanoi ended abruptly. Mr Trump claims that North Korea had demanded an end to US sanctions. “It was all about the sanctions,” he told reporters. “They wanted the sanctions lifted in their entirety and we couldn’t do that.” However, North Korea says it made “realistic proposals” at the summit. According to Mr Trump, Mr ... ► Read more

  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to be indicted on corruption charges

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust, according to the country’s Attorney-General. Mr Netanyahu is alleged to have accepted gifts from wealthy businessmen and given favours to improve his press coverage. Among the allegations is that he accepted expensive gifts including cigars, champagne and jewellery from Israeli-born film producer Arnon Milchan in return for assistance with an American visa. The Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, says ... ► Read more

  • “Peace gesture”: Pakistan to release caputred Indian pilot

    Pakistan will release a captured Indian pilot as a “peace gesture” on Friday, Prime Minister Imran Khan has said. Mr Khan revealed the decision in the National Assesmbly, saying that Pakistan was focused on de-escalation. “As a peace gesture we are releasing the Indian pilot tomorrow,” Mr Khan told Pakistani lawmakers in the National Assembly on Thursday. He also repeated his call for the de-escalation of the situation, saying that Pakistan and India “have to ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Trump-Kim summit 2.0: second day of talks to focus on denuclearisation

    Verifiable denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula is expected to dominate the second and final day of talks between United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Despite positive rhetoric, little progress has been made on that and other issues since the first Trump-Kim summit in Singapore last year. Wednesday’s meetings were limited to brief questions from reporters, one-on-one talks and a “social dinner”, which included US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and ... ► Read more

  • Iranian FM resigns abruptly

    Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif, an ally of moderate President Hassan Rouhani, unexpectedly announced he was stepping down in a social media post on Monday (local time). “I sincerely apologise for the inability to continue serving and for all the shortcomings during my service. I thank the Iranian nation and officials,” the 59-year-old diplomat wrote on Instagram. “Be happy and worthy,” he added. However, the withdrawal would only become valid if accepted by the ... ► Read more

  • May under pressure to delay Brexit as Corbyn announces support for new referendum

    British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced that Labour will support a second referendum on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union to prevent a “damaging Tory Brexit”. The party will back a second referendum if its own proposed Brexit agreement is rejected by Parliament on Wednesday (local time). Labour MP Emily Thornberry said that if the choice is between no deal or the Prime Minister’s deal, the public should make the decision. Pressure ... ► Read more

  • Microsoft to go ahead with defence contract despite employee outcry

    Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella defended the company’s multimillion-dollar contract with the Pentagon to supply augmented reality (AR) headsets in an interview with CNN Business on Monday (local time). Last week, dozens of employees publicly criticised that same contract and called for the company to end its ties with the United States military. On Friday (local time), a group of about 50 Microsoft workers published a letter demanding that the company pull out of its nearly ... ► Read more

  • UN Secretary General: “We need a new vision for arms control”

    United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday (local time) warned pillars of “international arms control architecture are collapsing” and called on the United States and Russia to salvage the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. During an address at the UN’s Conference on Disarmament, Mr Guterres said the world “simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War”. “I will be blunt. Key components of the ... ► Read more

  • Government green-lights Snowy Hydro 2.0

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

  • Lawsuit claims Trump kissed campaign worker without consent

    A woman who worked on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has sued the President, accusing him of kissing her without consent before a 2016 rally in Tampa, Florida. Alva Johnson said in the lawsuit that the alleged incident was “part of a pattern of predatory and harassing behavior towards women” by Mr Trump. “This accusation is absurd on its face,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said in a statement. “This never happened and is directly contradicted ... ► Read more

  • PM pledges $3.5 billion to address climate change

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

  • Brexit could be delayed until 2021, as PM postpones vote

    Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union could be delayed until 2021, according to senior EU officials. The United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the EU on 29 March 2019, but Prime Minister Theresa May has been unable to secure the support of the British Parliament for her Brexit deal. Extending the negotiating period by a further 21 months is the EU’s default position, but would mean that the UK remains within the EU while plans ... ► Read more

  • Newspoll: Labor still in the lead

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

  • Week in Brief: 17 February – 23 February 2019

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

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

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

  • Kazakh President fires government

    Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev fired the Government on Thursday (local time) over what he described as its failure to improve living standards and make positive changes in the country. “In many areas of the economy, despite the adoption of many laws and government decisions, positive changes have not been achieved,” the President said. Mr Nazarbayev wrote on the presidential website that he will soon propose “a range of measures to strengthen social welfare and raise ... ► Read more

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

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

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

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

  • Russia will respond in kind if US deploys missiles in Europe, says Putin

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a stark warning to the United States during his annual address to Russia’s Federal Assembly. Mr Putin said that any US missile deployments in Europe would be considered a “serious threat”, and that Moscow would retaliate in kind by targeting Western capitals with Russia’s new weaponry. “I’m saying this clearly and openly, Russia will be forced to deploy weapons that can be used… against the decision-making centres that are ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Bernie Sanders to contest Democratic presidential primaries in 2020

    United States Senator Bernie Sanders has announced a second tilt at securing the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 2020. The democratic socialist unsuccessfully challenged Hillary Clinton for the 2016 nomination, but will attempt to leverage the revived left-wing elements of the party. In an email to supporters, the 77-year-old Vermont Senator pledged to build a vast grassroots movement to challenge the special interests he says dominate politics. The primaries and caucuses that determine the Democratic ... ► Read more

  • UK strips ISIS teen of British citizenship

    The United Kingdom has cancelled the citizenship of a London teenager who left Britain to join Islamic State (IS), according to her family’s lawyer. Shamima Begum left Britain four years ago, when she was 15, to join the fundamentalist terrorist organisation. Ms Begum was found in a refugee camp in Syria by The Times newspaper this month. Now 19, Ms Begum recently gave birth to a baby boy, and wants to return to the UK. She says ... ► Read more

  • British Labour MPs quit party over Brexit and anti-semitism

    Seven British Labour MPs have quit the party and formed a group of independents, citing Labour’s Brexit policy and failure to address anti-semitism among its membership as the reasons for the split. “Politics is broken, it doesn’t have to be this way, let’s change it,” said MP Chuka Umunna at the launch of the Independent Group. Despite comparisons with the “Gang of Four”, who left Labour in 1981 to form the Social Democratic Party and ... ► Read more

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

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

  • ABF admits “human error” contributed to Hakeem al-Araibi’s detention

    Australian Border Force (ABF) officials have admitted “human error” in their agency’s handling of Melbourne refugee Hakeem al-Araibi’s case, saying processes that might have prevented him from being detained in Thailand “broke down”. Mr al-Araibi spent two months in a Bangkok prison after having an Interpol red notice issued against him, despite being recognised as a refugee. He was released last week after a decision by Thai officials not to pursue extradition proceedings. “Having reviewed ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Merkel rejects US demand for withdrawal from Iran nuclear deal

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rejected the United States’ demands that its European allies withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, defending the use of multilateral instruments to ease geopolitical tensions. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, Dr Merkel said the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remains the best way of containing Iran’s nuclear programme, reaffirming Germany’s commitment to the agreement despite the US’ withdrawal. “I see [Iran’s] ballistic missile programme, I see Iran ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Polish PM calls off Israel visit after Netanyahu’s holocaust collaboration comment

    Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has cancelled a high-level visit to Israel after Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu said that “Poles collaborated with the Nazis”. Mr Netanyahu’s comment sparked outrage in Poland, which suffered the murders of millions of both Jewish and ethnic Poles during Nazi occupation. The Israeli Prime Minister’s office has said Mr Netanyahu was “misquoted” by Haaretz, the oldest and one of the most-read newspapers in Israel. “Netanyahu spoke of Poles and not ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 February – 16 February 2019

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

  • Brexit: embarrassment as MPs vote against Government’s negotiating strategy

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered an embarrassing defeat in the House of Commons, with MPs refusing to endorse the Government’s Brexit negotiating strategy. MPs voted 303 to 258 against a non-binding motion to endorse the Prime Minister’s approach to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. Downing Street confirmed that Ms May will maintain her current approach to the negotiations, which include seeking legally-binding changes to controversial provisions relating to the UK’s ... ► Read more

  • “Left only with bones”: starving 12-year-old sobering reminder of Yemen’s desolation

    Displaced by war, starving and living under a tree, 12-year-old Fatima Qoba weighed just 10kg when she was carried into a Yemeni malnutrition clinic. “All the fat reserves in her body have been used up, she is left only with bones,” said Makiah al-Aslami, a doctor and head of the clinic in northwest Yemen. “She has the most extreme form of malnutrition.” Qoba’s slide into starvation is typical of what is happening in much of ... ► Read more

  • Trump to declare national emergency to build border wall

    United States President Donald Trump will sign a border security bill to dodge another government shutdown and declare a national emergency to fund the construction of his wall along the US-Mexico border. The border security bill is essentially compromise legislation which includes US$1.3 billion (AU$1.8 billion) for border security measures such as physical barriers, but does not allot funds for Mr Trump’s wall. “The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the ... ► Read more

  • British Government admits it has “run out of time” to find ships to bring in extra supplies after no-deal Brexit

    British Government officials have admitted that they have “run out of time” to find ships to bring in additional emergency supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The admission comes after the Government cancelled a contract with Seaborne Freight to operate additional roll-on-roll-off ferry services between Ramsgate in England and Ostend in Belgium. The contract was signed in response to fears of reduced capacity at Calais — the busiest port on the English Channel. ... ► Read more

  • PM announces reopening of Christmas Island detention facility

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

  • Russia plans temporary Internet cut-off in “sovereign Internet” test

    Russia is planning to temporarily disconnect from the global Internet as part of a test of its cyber-defences. The test is to determine whether Russia has the technical capability to maintain a “sovereign Internet”, with a draft law introduced to the Russian Parliament last year calling for a domestic network that is able to operate independently. During the test, data being transmitted between Russian devices will stay within the country rather than be routed internationally. ... ► Read more

  • Macedonia officially changes name to North Macedonia

    The Macedonian Government says the balkan country is now officially renamed North Macedonia, under an agreement to normalise relations with Greece that also allows it to enter NATO. A Government press release says that as of Tuesday, the country is officially called the Republic of North Macedonia. An official said the decision would be published in the Government’s gazette later on Tuesday (local time). As of Wednesday (local time), the new name will be incorporated ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Byron Bay Bluesfest director threatens to move festival interstate

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

  • Corruption trial of former Malaysian PM postponed

    The corruption trial of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been postponed, after his lawyers filed an application to delay the trial. Mr Najib has been charged over his alleged involvement in the 1MDB state development fund scandal, in which more than US $4.5 billion of public money was embezzled. He is accused of receiving almost a quarter of 1MDB’s funds into his personal bank accounts, and faces 42 charges of corruption, money laundering ... ► Read more

  • Amnesty International: Myanmar military shelling villages

    Security forces in Myanmar have bombed villages and are blocking civilians from accessing food and humanitarian assistance amid a crackdown targeting rebels in the troubled Rakhine State, Amnesty International says. Citing villagers and local activists, the human rights watchdog said soldiers were also using vague and repressive laws to detain civilians as part of the offensive that began on January 4, when Arakan Army guerrillas raided police stations and killed 13 officers. At least 5200 ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Universal sues Clive Palmer over use of Twisted Sister hit

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

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

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

  • Australia signs $50 billion Attack-class submarine contract

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

  • EU Parliament Brexit rep welcomes Corbyn’s new exit plan

    The European Parliament’s Brexit representative, Guy Verhofstadt, has welcomed Jeremy Corbyn’s new plan for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. The British Labour opposition leader wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May and called for a “permanent and comprehensive UK-wide customs union”, close alignment with the single market underpinned by “shares institutions”, protections on workers’ rights, and British participation in some EU agencies. In January the British Parliament rejected Ms May’s proposed withdrawal agreement, which would ... ► Read more

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Netherlands “confident” Russia will agree to MH17 talks

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

  • Security agencies investigating cyber security breach at Federal Parliament

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

  • Venezuelan military blocks aid route bridge

    The Venezuelan military has blocked a border bridge with Colombia to stop an aid convoy organised by the country’s opposition. Troops made make-shift barriers by using shipping containers and a tanker of sorts, positioning them in a way that blocks all vehicle access across the bridge. United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took to Twitter to demand the blockade be removed. Opposition figures have called on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to let the aid ... ► Read more

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

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

  • “Special place in hell” for Brexit promoters with no exit plan, says EU chief negotiator

    European Council President Donald Tusk has said that there is a “special place in hell” for those who promoted the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union without having a plan to carry it out. During a press conference with Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadker, Mr Tusk said they had discussed how to respond to the “possible fiasco” of a no-deal Brexit, under which the EU-UK relationship would end with no agreement on their ... ► Read more

  • SOTU: Trump announces second North Korea summit

    United States President Donald Trump has announced a second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will be held 27-28 February. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night (local time), Mr Trump said if it were not for his election, the US and North Korea would be at war. “Our hostages have come home, nuclear testing has stopped, and there has not been a missile launch in 15 months,” he said. “If ... ► Read more