Politics and diplomacy

  • ICAC hears Chinese billionaire gave $100K to NSW ALP official, breaching electoral laws

    Chinese billionaire property developer Huang Xiangmo gave $100,000 in cash to a senior NSW Labor Party official in breach of electoral funding laws, an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) inquiry has heard. The ICAC has begun six weeks of public hearings to investigate whether NSW Labor received money from illegal sources. The donation was disguised as a series of $5,000 donations made during a “Chinese Friends of Labor” fundraising dinner. Scott Robertson, counsel assisting the ... ► Read more

  • Deputy PM apologies for saying Pacific islanders will survive climate change by picking fruit

    Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has apologised for saying that Pacific Islanders will be able to survive climate change by working as fruit-pickers in Australia. Mr McCormack made the comments last Friday in response to criticism at the Pacific Islanders Forum that Australia is ignoring the threat of climate change to low-lying island nations. On Friday last week the Deputy Prime Minister said he got “a little bit annoyed when we have these sorts of ... ► Read more

  • Trump criticises automakers for failing to support repeal of fuel efficiency rules

    United States President Donald Trump has criticised automakers for failing to support his administration’s plan to repeal fuel efficiency rules. Mr Trump singled out Ford in particular for backing a deal with California for stricter fuel economy standards. The President said company founder Henry Ford would be “very disappointed if he saw his modern-day descendants wanting to build a much more expensive car, that is far less safe and doesn’t work as well, because execs ... ► Read more

  • Sudan to form 11-member transitional government

    Sudan will form an 11-member “sovereign council” to govern the country for a three-year transitional period until elections are held. The council will be led by Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the transitional military council that has ruled Sudan since a military coup ousted President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April this year. Economist Abdalla Hamdok has been nominated by the opposition to serve as Prime Minister in Sudan’s transitional government. Under a ... ► Read more

  • Chinese State Council calls for greater integration of Shenzhen with Hong Kong and Macau

    China’s State Council has called for greater integration of the city of Shenzhen with the neighbouring special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. The State Council is the executive branch of the Chinese Government, and its directive comes amid protests against Beijing’s perceived interference with Hong Kong’s political and economic autonomy. In a 19-point directive published by the state-run People’s Daily, the State Council called for Shenzhen’s “economic strength and development” to rank among ... ► Read more

  • IS claims responsibility for Afghan wedding attack that killed 63 people

    Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for an attack at a wedding in Afghanistan on Saturday (local time) which killed 63 people and wounded 182 more. A suicide bomber set off explosives during the celebrations at the Dubai City wedding hall in the Afghan capital of Kabul. As many as 1,000 people were in attendance, a witness estimated. One wounded survivor, Mohammad Aslim, still wore his bloodied clothes the day after the blast late Saturday. ... ► Read more

  • Iranian oil tanker released from Gibraltar

    An Iranian oil supertanker has been released by British authorities and is moving away from Gibraltar, according to local media and shipping data. British Royal Marines seized the Adrian Darya on 4 July over suspicions it was carrying oil to Syria via the Mediterranean Sea, in violation of European Union sanctions. Iran denied the ship was headed for Syria. Two weeks after the tanker was seized, Iran captured the Stena Impero, a British-flagged tanker in the ... ► Read more

  • Qantas, Virgin cancel flights to Hong Kong amid protests

    Qantas and Virgin Australia on Monday cancelled all flights to Hong Kong due to ongoing pro-democracy protests in the Chinese special administrative region. The cancellations were announced after peaceful protesters staged a sit-in at Hong Kong International Airport — one of the world’s busiest airports. The airport was forced to cancel all departing and arriving flights. Virgin Australia said in a statement: “At this stage, all other Virgin Australia flights are operating as expected however ... ► Read more

  • ATO whistleblower launches crowdfunding campaign for legal defence

    Australian Taxation Office (ATO) whistleblower Richard Boyle has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for his legal defence against 66 criminal charges totalling a maximum sentence of 161 years’ imprisonment. The former public servant told ABC News that he will continue his fight against the “excessive and unjust” charges. As part of the GoFundMe campaign launched today, Mr Boyle said his case may be the first to test whistleblower protection laws “and could be ... ► Read more

  • Boris Johnson orders review of dangerous offenders’ sentences

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has ordered a review of sentencing of offenders in response to concerns that dangerous criminals are being let out of prison too soon. The Prime Minister’s office said on Sunday (local time) that the review would focus on whether violent and sexual offenders are receiving sentences that adequately reflect the seriousness of their crimes. “We have all seen examples of rapists and murderers let out too soon or people offending ... ► Read more

  • Police and worshipers clash outside Israeli mosque

    Israeli police clashed with Muslim worshipers at a major holy site in Jerusalem during prayers on Sunday to mark the start of the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha. Palestinian medics said at least 14 people were wounded in skirmishes with police at the site, which Muslims refer to as the Al-Aqsa Compound and Jews call the Temple Mount. Police said at least four officers were wounded and witnesses say at least two people were arrested. Officers ... ► Read more

  • Russia asks Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events”

    Russia’s communications watchdog has asked Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events” on its YouTube video-hosting platform, following a large political protest in Moscow on Saturday. Tens of thousands of people gathered to demand free elections for the legislature of the Russian capital, defying a crackdown on such rallies. Roskomnadzor — the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media — said information about illegal protests was being spread via YouTube’s advertising ... ► Read more

  • Trump blames Federal Reserve for slow economic growth, but economists say trade war could cause recession

    United States President Donald Trump has blamed the Federal Reserve for the country’s “slow” economic growth. During his 2016 election campaign, Mr Trump promised his administration would deliver 3% annual economic growth, but growth has instead continued at a rate of about 2%, consistent with the trends of the last decade. The President has criticised the Federal Reserve for not lowering interest rates, which could boost economic activity by encouraging borrowing, spending and investment. However, ... ► Read more

  • More protests planned as Hong Kong recovers from another weekend of demonstrations

    Hong Kong is recovering from yet another weekend of clashes between anti-government protesters and police, but further protests are expected on Monday. In response to the protests, police blocked multiple roads in key commercial and shopping districts and stormed Metro stations. Metro services resumed on Monday and streets were being cleaned of debris. Shares in the airline Cathay Pacific, which is based in Hong Kong, have dropped almost 4% after the Chinese aviation authority ordered ... ► Read more

  • NSW Lower House passes abortion bill

    A historic bill to decriminalise abortion has passed the New South Wales Lower House after it was introduced two weeks ago. Members of Parliament were granted a conscience vote on the bill, which aims to remove abortion from the Crimes Act 1900 and define it as a medical procedure in its own legislation. The bill was passed just before 11:00pm on Thursday with 59 in favour and 31 against. NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian voted for ... ► Read more

  • Diplomatic row after MP Andrew Hastie warns of Chinese mobilisation

    Coalition backbench MP Andrew Hastie has sparked a diplomatic row after he compared China’s mobilisation to that of Nazi Germany. Mr Hastie, who chairs the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, warned that Australia’s economic and national security will be tested by China’s expanding regional influence. “Right now our greatest vulnerability lies not in our infrastructure but in our thinking. That intellectual failure makes us institutionally weak,” Mr Hastie wrote in an opinion piece ... ► Read more

  • US and Germany accused of meddling in Russian politics

    The Russian Foreign Ministry will submit official notifications to Washington and Berlin over alleged interference of American diplomats and German media in domestic affairs, the Russian news agency TASS reports. Russia claims the United States Embassy was involved in planning unauthorised rallies held in Moscow on 3 August. “[T]he embassy of the United States was most closely involved in [the rallies],” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said in a televised interview with the Rossiya’1 channel ... ► Read more

  • Five Eyes nations vow to step up efforts to counter online child abuse material

    Security officials from the Five Eyes security alliance have called for tech giants to allow backdoor access to encrypted content on WhatsApp and other communications platforms in order to combat sex offenders and the circulation of child abuse material. The “Five Eyes” nations — Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States — say urgent action is needed from the companies to combat live-streaming of child sexual abuse. Executives from Google, Facebook, ... ► Read more

  • Clive Palmer settles with largest creditor in Qld Nickel case

    Clive Palmer has reached a settlement with the largest creditor of his failed Queensland Nickel company. Barrister Shane Doyle QC, who acts for the liquidators of the company, told the Queensland Supreme Court that a “resolution” had been reached on the $90 million claim of Aurizon Holdings Ltd. The details of the settlement have not been made public. According to Mr Doyle, talks are also continuing between the liquidators and the billionaire mining magnate to ... ► Read more

  • Bill legalising abortions to be introduced to NSW Parliament this week

    New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard has said it is “time for change” when it comes to abortion law, ahead of the introduction of a new bill which would see pregnancy terminations regulated as a medical procedure around the state. Currently, abortions in NSW are dealt with under the Crimes Act 1900. The Reproductive Healthcare Reform Bill 2019 — a private member’s bill — will be introduced to the NSW Parliament this week by the independent ... ► Read more

  • Moscow protest: nearly 1400 detained

    Close to 1400 people were detained by police in Moscow following a mass protest on Saturday (local time), according to monitoring group OVD-Info. OVD-Info, which monitors police arrests, said the number of the detentions from Saturday’s protest reached 1,373 by early Sunday (local time) — making it the largest number of detentions at a rally in the Russian capital this decade. While the majority of people were released shortly after their arrest, 150 remain in custody. ... ► Read more

  • Dutton to push for child abuse material crack down at Five Eyes meeting

    Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton will push for the Five Eyes (FVEY) countries to prioritise preventing online child exploitation material at a meeting in London on Monday. FVEY is an intelligence-sharing network which includes Australia, New Zealand, Britain, Canada and the United States. “There needs to be greater international engagement in the battle against child exploitation,” Mr Dutton told The Australian ahead of flying to London. “Now with the internet, pay-per-view, [offenders] can direct material ... ► Read more

  • US Government condemned for reinstating federal death penalty

    The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has reinstated the federal death penalty, 16 years after it was last applied, and has immediately scheduled the execution of five federal death row inmates. Litigation surrounding the drugs used for lethal injections has prevented the Government from carrying out executions, but the Trump Administration has taken steps to eliminate barriers to the practice. “Congress has expressly authorised the death penalty through legislation adopted by the people’s representatives ... ► Read more

  • UK’s Boris Johnson eyes Australia’s immigration points-based system

    United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed an interest for amnesty for illegal immigrants on Thursday (local time), telling the House of Commons the UK must “continue to attract the best and brightest talent from around the world.” He added he wanted to introduce and Australian-style points-based system for visas for skilled overseas workers. Mr Johnson said he would ask the British Government’s Migration Advisory Committee to review the Australian system “as the first step ... ► Read more

  • Ukraine seizes Russian tanker, frees crew

    The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) seized a Russian oil tanker in the Ukrainian port of Izmail on Thursday (local time). SBU alleges the tanker was involved in an incident in the Kerch Strait near Crimea last year which saw Russian border forces capture a Ukrainian naval ship and its crew, who remain in Russian custody. The Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s Office told Reuters that 10 of the tanker’s crew members had been interrogated as witnesses. ... ► Read more

  • Medevac repeal bill passes Lower House

    The Government has cleared the first hurdle to repealing the asylum seeker medical evacuation (medevac) provisions attached to the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Act 2019. The so called medevac repeal bill sailed through the Lower House on Thursday — courtesy of the Morrison Government’s majority. However, the Coalition now needs to contend with a tougher Senate, where a committee will scrutinise the bill before it is debated in November. With Labor and most of ... ► Read more

  • Trump was not exonerated, Mueller tells Congress

    Former special counsel Robert Mueller has testified to the United States Congress that he did not exonerate US President Donald Trump of obstruction of justice. Mr Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election charged 35 people and three companies on matters related to the election, but did not charge any members of the Trump family. However, Mr Mueller has rejected the President’s assertion that the investigation “totally exonerated” him. Instead, Mr ... ► Read more

  • Boris Johnson to be Britain’s next prime minister

    Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has won the United Kingdom’s ruling Conservative Party leadership contest, making him Prime Minister-designate of Britain. Mr Johnson, who also served as Mayor of London for eight years, beat rival and incumbent British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt by 92,153 votes to 46,656. Mr Johnson will take over from outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday (local time). During his victory speech, the Prime Minister-designate promised to “deliver Brexit, unite ... ► Read more

  • “Wiped off the face of the earth”: Trump says he could win Afghan war “in 10 days”

    United States President Donald Trump says he could win the war in Afghanistan “in 10 days” if he wanted to, but that it would cost millions of lives. During a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday (local time), Mr Trump told reporters he “could win that war in a week. I just don’t want to kill 10 million people.” He said: “If I wanted to win that war, Afghanistan would be wiped ... ► Read more

  • Foreign fighters bill sparks concern over Dutton’s growing power

    New legislation to prevent foreign fighters from returning home has sparked concern over Home Affairs minister Peter Dutton’s growing powers. Mr Dutton is pushing to have the Counter-Terrorism (Temporary Exclusion Orders) Bill 2019 passed by Parliament by the end of the week, as national security is high on the Coalition Government’s agenda. The Bill is a redraft of legislation introduced earlier this year, following a review by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security ... ► Read more

  • Hong Kong descends into chaos amid tensions with Beijing

    Protests have once again turned violent in Hong Kong as police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at anti-government demonstrators on Sunday night. Riot police and masked protesters clashed in the finance hub hours after China’s Central Government Offices were defaced with graffiti and eggs in a clear reproof of Beijing’s rule. Masked pro-government supporters armed with sticks also took to the streets, attacking protesters at a train station as well as reporters who live-streamed ... ► Read more

  • PNG Prime Minister to discuss Manus Island with Morrison and Albanese

    Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape has arrived in Australia for his first official visit since being elected in late May. Mr Marape wants a deadline for the ending of the offshore detention on Manus Island. “We would like it to end as soon as possible,” Mr Marape said. Mr Marape will receive a ceremonial welcome in Canberra before meeting for talks with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. However, he ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 14 July – 20 July 2019

    Adani prosecuted over Carmichael mine report The Queensland Government is prosecuting mining company Adani for allegedly providing false and misleading information in its 2017–18 annual report to the Environment Department. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. “Defensive action”: US warship shoots down Iranian drone A United States amphibious assault ship has shot down an Iranian drone after the unmanned aircraft flew within 900 metres of the American warship, US President Donald Trump announced on ... ► Read more

  • Yang Hengjun: Australian writer detained in China charged

    Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who has been detained in China since January, has been charged with endangering national security, according to his lawyer. Mr Yang has also been moved to criminal detention in Beijing and is no longer under house arrest. The Chinese Ministry of State Security formally charged Mr Yang through a formal notice at 10:00am Thursday (Chinese local time). The notice says Mr Yang has been detained under section 85 of the Chinese ... ► Read more

  • “Defensive action”: US warship shoots down Iranian drone

    A United States amphibious assault ship has shot down an Iranian drone after the unmanned aircraft flew within 900 metres of the American warship, US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday (local time). The USS Boxer was sailing through the Strait of Hormuz when it took “defensive action” after the drone ignored “multiple calls to stand down and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew”. “The drone was immediately destroyed,” Mr ... ► Read more

  • DFAT “formally” requests Beijing let family of Australian Uyghur man leave China

    The Australian Embassy in Beijing has “formally requested” the Chinese Government allow the wife and son of Uyghur Australian man Sadam Abudusalamu to leave China so they can be reunited in Australia, Foreign Minister Marise Payne has said. The request follows Mr Abudusalamu’s appearance on the ABC’s Four Corners programme earlier this week, through which he spoke out against the persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in China’s supposedly autonomous Xinjiang region. According to the ... ► Read more

  • Adani prosecuted over Carmichael mine report

    The Queensland Government is prosecuting mining company Adani for allegedly providing false and misleading information in its 2017–18 annual report to the Environment Department. “The prosecution relates to information contained in Adani’s 2017/2018 annual return for its Carmichael mine,” the Environment Department said in a statement. “The annual return requires information about planned and actual disturbance of land at the mine. “The department alleges that Adani’s annual return contained false and misleading information about the ... ► Read more

  • Ursula von der Leyen becomes first female President of the European Commission

    Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen has become the first female President of the European Commission. She is also the first German to get the job for more than 50 years. She replaces Jean-Claude Juncker as President, a position he had held since 2014. 733 votes were cast in a secret ballot, with 383 voting in favour of Ms von der Leyen and 327 voting against. 22 votes were in abstention and one vote was void. ... ► Read more

  • Australian students taught Chinese language and culture by Beijing-vetted staff

    Students in classrooms and universities across Australia are being taught Chinese language and culture by teaching assistants vetted by the Chinese Government, an ABC investigation has revealed. The assistants teach Mandarin alongside Australian teachers as part of a Confucius Institute program overseen by Chinese Government agency Hanban, and are vetted by the Chinese Communist Party for “good political quality” and a love of “the motherland”. According to the ABC, the application criteria was first issued ... ► Read more

  • Curtin University, UTS announce reviews of surveillance technology used by Chinese Government

    Curtin University and University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on Tuesday announced they are reviewing funding and research approval procedures due to concerns over links to technology that is being used to carry out mass human rights abuse by the Chinese Government in Xinjiang province. Four Corners revealed on Monday night that UTS was conducting an internal review into its $10 million partnership with CETC, a Chinese state-owned military tech company that developed an app that ... ► Read more

  • Explainer: Trump, Twitter and four Democrat congresswomen

    United States President Donald Trump is at the centre of yet another firestorm. Mr Trump is no stranger to controversy, usually using it to his own advantage. But this latest presidential scandal, sparked by race-fuelled tweets, is growing out of Mr Trump’s control as he receives condemnation domestically and ire internationally. So, what happened? It all started when the US President told four Democratic Party congresswomen to “go back” to the “totally broken and crime ... ► Read more

  • ADF warns of influx of refugees and increased conflict due to climate change

    The Australian Defence Force (ADF) may be forced to increase patrols to deal with increased “sea-borne migration” prompted by rising sea levels, according to internal briefing notes. Documents obtained by the ABC under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 also warn that climate change will “exacerbate the potential conflict” and contribute to “state fragility and the undermining of economic development in our immediate region.” Former Chief of the Defence Force Admiral Chris Barrie (retired) said Australia ... ► Read more

  • More clashes in Hong Kong between police and protesters

    Clashes between police and protesters have continued in Hong Kong over a controversial extradition bill that would allow Beijing to extradite Hong Kong residents to mainland China. The latest protest began late on Sunday afternoon (local time) when a small group of protesters threw objects at police, dismantled roadside metal barriers and set up barricades to separate themselves from police, who formed into a line. Protesters put on face masks, helmets and goggles and armed ... ► Read more

  • Rouhani: Iran “ready for talks” with US if sanctions lifted

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Tehran is ready to hold talks with Washington if the Trump Administration provides sanctions relief and returns to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In a televised speech on Sunday (local time), Mr Rouhani said for talks to take place Iran must be allowed to export the same amount of oil as it did prior to the United States’ controversial withdrawal from the multilateral JCPOA. “We have always ... ► Read more

  • French police fire tear gas at protesters following Bastille Day celebrations

    French police have fired tear gas at Yellow Vest protesters following Bastille Day celebrations near the Champs-Elysées in Paris. Beforehand, Yellow Vest protesters booed French President Emmanuel Macron as he was driven down the avenue. Police say they apprehended more than 150 people, including two Yellow Vest leaders accused of staging an unauthorised demonstration. A few hundred protesters were attempting to occupy the road following the celebrations. They attempted to block the road with metal ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 7 July – 13 July 2019

    AFP accessed journalists’ metadata almost 60 times in 2017–18 The Australian Federal Police (AFP) accessed the metadata of journalists almost 60 times in one year, according to disclosures made to the first review of Australia’s mandatory data retention regime. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Alek Sigley denies he was spying on North Korea Alek Sigley, who was released from detention in North Korea last week, has denied allegations by Pyongyang that he is ... ► Read more

  • Australia has recommitted to keeping Antarctic free of mining and military

    More than 50 countries, including Australia, have renewed their commitment to protect the Antarctic’s environment on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Antarctic Treaty. More than 370 representatives, experts from civil society groups and observers from international organisations have been gathering in Prague to attend meetings on the Antarctic since 2 July, according to the Czech Foreign Ministry. Key topics covered by attendees included the effects of climate change, growing tourism and the ... ► Read more

  • Iran “tried to intercept a British tanker”, says UK Defence Ministry

    The Strait of Hormuz has once again become the scene of international scandal, with the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) accusing Iran of trying to seize a British oil tanker. According to the MoD, the HMS Montrose — a British frigate which was shadowing the BP-owned tanker — was forced to position itself between the tanker and three Iranian boats. The boats, believed to belong to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), then dispersed and the ... ► Read more

  • 2020 US election: Biden leads Democrats in NBC/WSJ poll

    Former United States Vice President Joe Biden is leading the Democratic presidential field, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. The poll shows 26% of Democrat voters will back Mr Biden in next year’s Democratic primaries or caucuses, while 19% will support Senator Elizabeth Warren. Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders tie in third place at 13%. Mayor Pete Buttigieg scored 7% of Democratic primary voters, with both former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke ... ► Read more

  • “You are the best of us”: UK Ambassador to the US resigns amid Anglo-American tiff

    Britain’s Ambassador to the United States Sir Kim Darroch has resigned amid a tiff between Downing Street and the White House over leaked diplomatic cables that described the Trump Administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional”. Sir Darroch, a veteran diplomat with a career spanning four decades, wrote in his resignation letter that the “current situation is making it impossible for me to carry out my role as I would like”. He said that while his posting ... ► Read more

  • Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney warns Australia on press freedom

    Amal Clooney has cautioned Australia on press freedom at the inaugural Defend Media Freedom conference in the United Kingdom, which was attended by Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. “What happens in a country like Australia, or the UK or the US will be looked at by every other leader in the world and potentially used as an excuse to clamp down even further on ... ► Read more

  • Referendum on Indigenous recognition within three years, announces Ken Wyatt

    A referendum will be held within the next three years to recognise Indigenous Australians in the Constitution, Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt announced today. Mr Wyatt stressed the importance of ensuring the proposed constitutional amendments are “right” in a speech delivered at the Australian Press Club. “Constitutional recognition is too important to get wrong, and too important to rush,” he said. “We need to design the right model to progress to a point at ... ► Read more

  • Sir David Attenborough slams Australia for lack of action on climate change

    Sir David Attenborough has slammed Australia for inaction on climate change, adding that it is one of the countries worst affected by the issue. Mr Attenborough told members of the British Commons Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy committee about the impact of climate change, including the dangers of not addressing the issue with optimism and immediacy. Regarding Australia’s inaction on climate change, Mr Attenborough told British MPs it is “extraordinary actually because Australia is already ... ► Read more

  • Hunt takes on Trump over “disrespectful” remarks

    British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has told United States President Donald Trump to reciprocate the “respect” shown to him by British Prime Minister Theresa May. Mr Hunt took to Twitter to take issue directly with Mr Trump, saying the US President’s recent comments about Prime Minister May and the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to the US “are disrespectful and wrong to our Prime Minister and my country”. He urged Mr Trump to treat the UK with ... ► Read more

  • Alek Sigley denies he was spying on North Korea

    Alek Sigley, who was released from detention in North Korea last week, has denied allegations by Pyongyang that he is a spy. Mr Sigley was studying in the North Korean capital before he went missing on 25 June. He was released last Thursday with the help of Swedish diplomats and left for Tokyo where he was reunited with his wife. He wrote for Western media, such as NK News, during his time in North Korea. ... ► Read more

  • Trump’s attack on May only reinforces Darroch’s assessment of the White House

    It is both unsurprising and amusing that US President Donald Trump would respond to the British Ambassador’s criticism by lashing out. To provide a bit of context, UK Ambassador to the US Sir Kim Darroch said in a series of leaked diplomatic cables that the White House was “uniquely dysfunctional” and “divided” under Mr Trump, stating: “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; ... ► Read more

  • AFP accessed journalists’ metadata almost 60 times in 2017–18

    The Australian Federal Police (AFP) accessed the metadata of journalists almost 60 times in one year, according to disclosures made to the first review of Australia’s mandatory data retention regime. Under amendments made to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act in 2015, all telecommunications service providers are required to store detailed phone and Internet records for their customers for a minimum of two years. Government agencies, including the AFP, can access that information by obtaining ... ► Read more

  • Hong Kong: Controversial extradition bill “dead”, says Lam

    Hong Kong’s head of government Carrie Lam has said a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition to the Chinese mainland is “dead”. In a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Lam declared the Government’s work on the bill a “total failure”, but again stopped short of announcing its complete withdrawal, as protesters have demanded. The proposed legislation sparked weeks of demonstrations across the city, prompting the Government to previously announce that progress on the bill ... ► Read more

  • Trump lashes out at May on Twitter

    United States President Donald Trump has attacked British Prime Minister Theresa May on Twitter, criticising her for not heeding his advice on Brexit and saying it was “good news for the wonderful United Kingdom that they will soon have a new Prime Minister”. Mr Trump also took aim at the UK Ambassador to the US Sir Kim Darroch, who described Mr Trump and his administration as “inept” and “dysfunctional” in leaked diplomatic cables. The leak ... ► Read more

  • “Inept Trump”: UK Government launches inquiry into leaked ambassador’s emails

    The British Government has launched an inquiry into an emails leak that made public criticisms from the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to the United States regarding the Trump Administration and the US President. The British Ambassador, Sir Kim Darroch said the White House was “uniquely dysfunctional” and “divided” under Donald Trump. He said: “We don’t really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal; less dysfunctional; less unpredictable; less faction-riven; less diplomatically clumsy and inept.” ... ► Read more

  • Australia to become one of the “world’s worst” contributors to climate crisis

    Australia is set to become one of the “world’s worst” contributors to the climate disaster, according to new research from Berlin-based science and policy institute Climate Analytics. According to the research, Australia could be responsible for 17% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Australia’s current global climate footprint is around 5%, which includes emissions from Australia’s coal, gas and oil emissions (3.6% of global total) and domestic emissions (1.4% of global total). The ... ► Read more

  • Lawyers for Australian writer detained in China urge Government to intervene

    Lawyers for Australian writer Yang Hengjun, who has been detained in China since January, are urging Canberra to intervene. The calls come after Mr Yang’s wife, Yuan Xiaoliang, was prevented from leaving China to return to Australia by officers from the Ministry of State Security on Sunday. Ms Yuan was not detained but has been questioned by Chinese authorities and is subject to an exit ban. She was interrogated for two hours on Sunday, according ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 30 June – 6 July 2019

    North Korea releases Australian detainee Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australian man Alek Sigley has been released from detention in North Korea and has left the country. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Senate passes Coalition tax cuts, Labor backs down The Senate has voted to pass the Coalition Government’s tax cuts, with Labor backing down after failing to secure changes to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More ... ► Read more

  • Senate passes Coalition tax cuts, Labor backs down

    The Senate has voted to pass the Coalition Government’s tax cuts, with Labor backing down after failing to secure changes to the Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More Of Their Money) Bill 2019. Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared the passage of the $158 billion tax cut package a victory for “Australians quietly going about their lives” and said Parliament had voted to “reward aspiration”. “This is a win tonight not for ... ► Read more

  • “Divided States of America”: Trump addresses Fourth of July parade

    United States President Donald Trump’s Salute to America has drawn both praise and ire from the American public, highlighting the US’ political polarisation on a day that typically unites rather than divides. Mr Trump is the first president in nearly seven decades to address a Fourth of July parade as his predecessors sought to avoid politicising the national day. In an address to supporters in Washington, the US President said the “future of American freedom” ... ► Read more

  • Scott Morrison seeking review of former ministers’ post-political jobs

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has written to his department head, Martin Parkinson, to investigate the post-political careers of the former Defence Minister Christopher Pyne and former Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop. The Statement of Ministerial Standards says former ministers cannot take lobbying jobs for 18 months after leaving office, and both Mr Pyne and Ms Bishop have entered positions with consultancy firms since they quit politics. Mr Pyne has taken a job with professional services ... ► Read more

  • Does Hong Kong have a future divorced from Beijing?

    Hong Kong has seen weeks of protests sparked by a proposed law that would allow residents of the special administrative region (SAR) to be extradited to mainland China for prosecution. Increasingly, Hong Kong residents are questioning the continued viability of the “one country, two systems” policy that has maintained Hong Kong’s relatively high degree of economic freedoms and personal liberty since the British returned it to China in 1997. Some are pushing for Hong Kong ... ► Read more

  • Trump warns Iran against nuclear threats

    United States President Donald Trump has cautioned Iran that issuing threats “can come back to bite you”, in response to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s vow to enrich as much uranium as “we want”. Mr Trump tweeted: Earlier this week, Iran exceeded the 300kg cap on its enriched uranium stockpile agreed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the breach on Monday (local time). “We can confirm ... ► Read more

  • North Korea releases Australian detainee

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australian man Alek Sigley has been released from detention in North Korea and has left the country. “Alek is safe and well,” Mr Morrison said during Question Time. “We were advised that the [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] have released him from detention and he has safely left the country and I can confirm that he has arrived safely.” Mr Morrison thanked Swedish officials, through whom diplomatic efforts were ... ► Read more

  • China warns UK not to interfere amid ongoing Hong Kong protests

    China has warned the United Kingdom not to “interfere in its domestic affairs”, as the countries are embroiled in a growing diplomatic dispute over recent protests in Hong Kong. Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to the UK, said Sino-British relations have been “damaged” by comments made by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and others in support of the protests. For weeks demonstrators have held protests against a controversial bill that would allow residents of Hong Kong to ... ► Read more

  • Libya attack: UN says preliminary information indicates “war crime”

    The United Nations has said an airstrike on a detention centre in Libya’s capital Tripoli could be a war crime and is calling for an investigation. The number of people killed by the airstrike continues to rise, with some reports putting the death toll as high as 80. At least 130 people are understood to have been injured. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres tweeted: Meanwhile, the UN’s International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the United Nations ... ► Read more

  • Bishop and Pyne criticised over post-Parliament jobs

    Former Liberal MPs Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne have been criticised for taking up jobs with companies with interests related to their former ministerial portfolios. Both Ms Bishop and Mr Pyne held ministerial positions until they stepped aside at the last federal election. As Foreign Minister, Ms Bishop oversaw the privatisation of foreign aid spending, and now works for aid contractor Palladium, a major beneficiary of the Coalition’s policy. Mr Pyne, formerly Defence Minister, has ... ► Read more

  • Morrison and Albanese will meet today to discuss press freedom

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will meet today to discuss an inquiry into press freedom. The meeting comes after the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids raided the home of News Corp reporter Annika Smethurst and the ABC’s Sydney headquarters last month. After the raids, media organisations called for enhanced protections for journalists. The inquiry will examine how police and intelligence agencies have impacted press freedom in Australia. Mr Morrison wants the ... ► Read more

  • Sri Lanka police chief and former defence secretary arrested for negligence

    Sri Lankan Police on Tuesday (local time) arrested the country’s police chief and former defence secretary for alleged negligence ahead of the Easter Sunday bombings that killed 258 people. The former defence secretary, Hemasiri Fernando, and police chief, Pujith Jayasundara, were arrested at hospitals yesterday where they were in custody, according to police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekara. The arrests came a day after prosecutors asked police why they had not arrested Mr Fernando and Mr Jayasundara ... ► Read more

  • US border officers joke about migrant deaths in Facebook group: report

    A ProPublica report published today has revealed a secret Facebook group for current and former United States Border Patrol agents with approximately 9,500 members where they joke about migrant deaths. The group is called “I’m 10-15” — 10-15 is Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody”. The group page, which has been active for three years, is littered with vulgar images, comments and memes. One such post contains a photoshopped image of United States President Donald ... ► Read more

  • Hong Kong: Protesters storm parliament, police respond with tear gas

    Hundreds of protesters stormed Hong Kong’s parliament building on the anniversary of the city’s 1997 return to China on Monday night. Protesters shattered windows and pried open steel security gates to enter the building, destroying pictures and graffitiing the walls. The occupation ended after three hours when police deployed tear gas shortly after midnight, causing protesters to flee. The incident is part of ongoing dissent over a proposed law that would allow residents of the ... ► Read more

  • Iran breaches enriched uranium limit, sparks global concern

    Iran has exceeded the 300kg cap on its enriched uranium stockpile agreed under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed the breach on Monday (local time). “We can confirm that IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has informed the Board of Governors that the Agency verified on 1 July that Iran’s total enriched uranium stockpile exceeded [the deal’s limit],” an IAEA spokesman said in a statement. The IAEA’s confirmation came ... ► Read more

  • Tax cuts in focus as Parliament prepares to resume

    Tax cuts are prominent on the Coalition Government’s legislative agenda as Parliament prepares to resume on Tuesday. The Coalition is hoping to deliver its election promise of $158 billion in income tax cuts to be rolled out in three stages over the next five years. However, Labor has maintained its resistance to the plan, with opposition leader Anthony Albanese saying his party will try to bring some of the tax cuts sooner than planned. Labor ... ► Read more

  • ABC investigation: Australian mother tells of horrors in Syrian detention camp

    An ABC investigative report published on Monday has revealed horrifying claims made by an Australian woman living in a Syrian detention camp. The woman, who has lived at Syria’s notorious al-Hawl refugee camp since 2014, made several claims in an open letter to family regarding the treatment of women, children and Australians at the camp. In the letter acquired by the ABC last week, the woman made a desperate plea to the Australian Government and ... ► Read more

  • General David Hurley sworn in as Australia’s Governor-General

    Former Defence Force Chief and Governor of New South Wales General David Hurley has been sworn in as Australia’s Governor-General, succeeding Sir Peter Cosgrove as Queen Elizabeth II’s representative in Australia. Prior to his appointment as NSW Governor in 2014, General Hurley served in the Australian Army for more than four decades. He was sworn in on Monday at a ceremony at Parliament House which included a 21 gun salute. ► Read more

  • Trump, Kim agree to resume talks in historic meeting

    Donald Trump has made history as the first sitting United States president to step foot in North Korea while meeting Chairman Kim Jong-un in the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the Koreas. The two leaders posed for photos before holding a meeting in the inter-Korean House of Freedom in the DMZ, from which they agreed to resume stalled nuclear negotiations. Nuclear talks broke down in February after the second Trump-Kim summit in Hanoi ended abruptly with ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 23 June – 29 June 2019

    Government to push ahead with tax cuts despite Labor reservations The Morrison Government is planning to follow through with its tax cut plan despite Labor not giving full support. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Rouhani says White House “afflicted by mental retardation”, Trump threatens “obliteration” United States President Donald Trump has threatened to obliterate parts of Iran after the Middle Eastern country’s President said the White House was “afflicted by mental retardation”. See ... ► Read more

  • Merkel trembles uncontrollably for second time this fortnight

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel was seen trembling uncontrollably during a ceremony with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a second such incident this fortnight. The 64-year-old has no history of serious health issues and a spokesperson insisted that there was “nothing to worry about”. During a farewell ceremony for Germany’s justice minister, Ms Merkel began visibly shaking and crossed her arms as if to brace herself. Two weeks ago Ms Merkel was seen shaking more severely when ... ► Read more

  • US wants Australia to join anti-Iran coalition

    The United States wants Australia to impose further sanctions on Iran, but US President Donald Trump has not asked Australia to commit to joining potential military action against the country. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said support for military action “wasn’t sought” during his meeting with Mr Trump at the G20 Summit in Japan, adding that “at this stage I think those issues are a bit premature.” “We would deal with any requests from an ally ... ► Read more

  • Putin calls liberal values “obsolete”

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has said liberal values are obsolete because they have been rejected by a majority of westerners. In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Putin took aim at the political ideology which has guided Western democracies since the end of World War II. Among his qualms with liberalism was German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to loosen Germany’s immigration policies to accommodate asylum seekers fleeing war-torn Syria, which he called a “cardinal mistake”. ... ► Read more

  • Morrison, Trump hold working dinner ahead of G20

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison and United States President Donald Trump have held a working dinner in Osaka ahead of the G20 Summit. The meeting reportedly ran overtime, with the two leaders talking for more than an hour about the impact of the US-China trade war on the world, including close allies such as Australia. “For Australians, we are a trading nation,” Mr Morrison told the ABC after the meeting. “One in five jobs are dependent ... ► Read more

  • Trump responds to Rio Grande tragedy, blames Democrats

    United States President Donald Trump has responded to the drowning of a Salvadoran father and his daughter who tried to cross the Rio Grande River to enter the US. Oscar Alberto Martinez and his 23-month-old daughter Angie Valeria were found deceased on Monday (local time) on the banks of the river. Mr Trump blamed the Democrats for the deaths, claiming their “open borders” stance and asylum seeker policies were responsible. Open borders is not a ... ► Read more

  • Turnbull wanted to involve Governor-General in Liberal leadership spill

    Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wanted to involve the Governor-General in the August 2018 leadership spill that saw Scott Morrison succeed him as leader of the country. Mr Turnbull argued with Attorney-General Christian Porter over whether Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove should refuse to appoint Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton as leader of the Government if Mr Dutton won the leadership spill. As a matter of constitutional convention, the Governor-General plays a ceremonial role in the ... ► Read more

  • Paladin to have its security contract temporarily extended

    Paladin Solutions will have its Manus Island security contract temporarily extended by the Australian Government in a new agreement struck with the Papua New Guinean Government. The group, which oversees security on the offshore detention centre on Manus Island, have had their $20-million a month contract extended for a further 12 months. However, it is expected to only last until the end of the year. After that period, a PNG company will operate security at ... ► Read more

  • Rouhani says White House “afflicted by mental retardation”, Trump threatens “obliteration”

    United States President Donald Trump has threatened to obliterate parts of Iran after the Middle Eastern country’s President said the White House was “afflicted by mental retardation”. Mr Trump announced fresh sanctions against Iran on Monday (local time) as part of the White House’s response to Iran’s downing of a US drone last week. The new sanctions, which are largely symbolic, target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well ... ► Read more

  • Stephanie Grisham appointed new White House Press Secretary

    United States First Lady Melania Trump announced on Wednesday (local time) that her long-time spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, will be the next White House Press Secretary and Communications Director. Ms Grisham will succeed Sarah Sanders in her role as White House Press Secretary and also fill the role of White House Communications Director, a position that has been unfilled since Bill Shine left the position in March. She was chosen for the position of Press Secretary ... ► Read more

  • Victoria set to ban mobile phones in public schools

    The Victorian Government is set to ban mobile phones in state primary and secondary schools from next year to help decrease cyberbullying and increase learning. Victorian Education Minister James Merlino wrote on Twitter the move is “…the right thing to do” and is something he “…thought about long and hard.” According to Bullying. No Way!, approximately 20% of people under 18 in Australia experience cyberbullying, while 84% of students cyberbullied are also bullied outside of ... ► Read more

  • ABC, Nine, News Corp unite to demand media, whistleblower protections

    In a rare show of public unity, executives from three of Australia’s major media organisations are demanding increased protections for journalists and whistleblowers. The demands follow last month’s Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst’s home and the ABC’s headquarters in Sydney. The raids, or “search warrant executions” as the AFP refers to them, were conducted in response to stories which contained leaked highly classified information. The National Press Club (NPC) ... ► Read more

  • Government to push ahead with tax cuts despite Labor reservations

    The Morrison Government is planning to follow through with its tax cut plan despite Labor not giving full support. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said tax relief is “about backing Australians, that they are in a better place to decide how their money should be spent, how they should invest it, than governments.” The Government plans to cut income tax for paycheck earners of $45,000-$200,000 to 30 cents per dollar, down from 32.5 cents per dollar. ... ► Read more

  • Trump announces new “hard hitting” sanctions targeting Iran’s Supreme Leader

    United States President Donald Trump announced fresh sanctions against Iran on Monday (local time) as part of the White House’s response to Iran’s downing of a US drone last week. The new sanctions target Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, as well as military officials. Mr Trump told reporters the punitive measures will deny the Iranian Supreme Leader, his office “and many others” access to financial instruments. “Today’s actions follow a ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 16 June – 22 June 2019

    “Very big mistake”: Trump responds to US drone downing United States President Donald Trump has said Iran “made a very big mistake” by shooting down a US drone, while Iran has defended the action and pledged to “zealously defend our skies, land and waters.” See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Tory leadership: Johnson and Hunt last men standing Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have emerged as the final two candidates that will be put ... ► Read more

  • Key quotes from Russia’s annual presidential Q&A

    Russian President Vladimir Putin held his annual live question and answer session on Thursday (local time) where he touched on a range of pressing issues. Mr Putin takes questions from a large audience and even responds to queries over the phone. Here are the highlights. On whether he has become tired of the presidency “No, otherwise I wouldn’t have run for this term.” On arrests related to economic crimes “I would like to say: you ... ► Read more

  • Tory leadership: Johnson and Hunt last men standing

    Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have emerged as the final two candidates that will be put to a postal vote of Conservative Party members to decide who will be the next party leader and British Prime Minister. Following the resignation of incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May on 7 June, ten MPs nominated to take over as Tory leader and head of the British Government. After five rounds of elimination voting, the candidates were reduced to ... ► Read more

  • “Very big mistake”: Trump responds to US drone downing

    United States President Donald Trump has said Iran “made a very big mistake” by shooting down a US drone, while Iran has defended the action and pledged to “zealously defend our skies, land and waters.” Washington claims the high altitude surveillance drone was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday when it was shot down, but Tehran alleges the aircraft ventured into Iranian airspace over its coastal Hormozgan Province. “Iran made ... ► Read more

  • Medevac ruling likely to be appealed as Dutton warns of more boat arrivals

    A ruling that an appointment is not required before a doctor can determine that an asylum seeker needs treatment in Australia is likely to be appealed as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton warns the decision will lead to more boat arrivals. On Tuesday Justice Mordy Bromberg ruled in the Federal Court that under last year’s “Medevac” amendments the Migration Act 1958 doctors can make an assessment remotely on the basis of an asylum seeker’s medical records. Although ... ► Read more