Politics and diplomacy

  • Ivanka Trump used personal email account for government business

    The daughter of US President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump, last year used a personal email account to discuss or relay official White House business, according to emails released by a nonpartisan watchdog group. The Washington Post reported Monday the White House conducted an investigation into Trump’s email usage and that she used her personal email address for much of 2017. According to emails released by the watchdog group, American Oversight, Trump used her personal account ... ► Read more

  • PM says permanent migration must be cut to reduce congestion

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

  • TurkStream: Putin, Erdogan mark completion of offshore stage

    Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have marked the completion of the offshore phase of a gas pipeline underneath the Black Sea, the latest sign of growing cooperation between Moscow and Ankara. Speaking at the November 19 ceremony in Istanbul, Mr Erdogan said the TurkStream pipeline will carry 31.5 billion cubic meters of gas from Russia to Turkey each year when operational, and will send at least half of the amount ... ► Read more

  • Macron, Merkel pledge to build “truly sovereign Europe”

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron met in Berlin on Sunday (local time) to discuss defence, the eurozone and more, pledging to continue Franco-German collaboration on strengthening the “foundation” of Europe. President Macron spoke of a “Franco-German responsibility in preparing for the future and the re-founding of Europe.” “This responsibility means building something, building a truly sovereign Europe and building a strong European Union on this sovereignty,” the Mr Macron said alongside ... ► Read more

  • Cabinet divided over Israel embassy policy

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

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

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

  • Theresa May warns that Brexit will be delayed if she is ousted

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned detractors that a successful leadership challenge would delay negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal agreement with the European Union. “It’s not going to make the negotiations any easier and it won’t change the parliamentary arithmetic,” Ms May told Sky News on Sunday. Several Tory MPs have written letters expressing their lack of confidence in the Prime Minister after Ms May unveiled a 585-page draft agreement negotiated with the ... ► Read more

  • Trump: “no reason” to hear Khashoggi murder recording

    In a wide-ranging interview with Fox News Sunday, US President Donald Trump said there is “no reason” for him to listen to an audio recording of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Mr Trump confirmed his government is in possession of the recording sourced by Turkey, adding that he doesn’t “want to hear the tape, no reason for me to hear the tape”. The President said the briefing he received on the recording ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 10 November – 18 November 2018

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

  • Japanese cybersecurity minister admits he has never used a computer

    Japan’s deputy minister for cybersecurity, Yoshitaka Sakurada, has never used a computer in his professional life, the 68-year-old admitted in the country’s National Diet (parliament) on Wednesday. In response to an opposition question, Mr Sakurada said: “Since the age of 25 I have instructed my employees and secretaries, so I don’t use computers myself.” When asked whether USB drives were in use at Japanese nuclear facilities, he also appeared confused and said that it was ... ► Read more

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

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

  • US bill sanctions Saudi military over Khashoggi killing, Yemen

    A bipartisan group of US senators introduced legislation on Thursday (local time) seeking to strike back at Saudi Arabia over the death of a Saudi journalist at a consulate in Turkey and for its role in the devastating war in Yemen. If the bill were to be passed, it would suspend weapon sales to Saudi Arabia and prohibit US refueling of Saudi coalition aircraft for Riyadh’s campaign in Yemen against the Houthi rebels. It also ... ► Read more

  • May attempts to restore order after political chaos over Brexit draft agreement

    British Prime Minister Theresa May will continue to sell her Brexit withdrawal deal on Friday (local time) as cabinet minister Michael Gove is understood to be considering quitting. According to the BBC, Mr Gove had rejected the Prime Minister’s offer to make him Brexit secretary, because Ms May would not let him renegotiate the deal. Dominic Raab quit the role on Thursday (local time) over “fatal flaws” in the agreement, triggering two other ministerial resignations. ... ► Read more

  • “France is not a vassal state,” Macron says in response to Trump tweets

    French President Emmanuel Macron told his American counterpart Donald Trump that France is America’s ally, not a vassal state, after the US President made a series of tweets criticising France. Mr Trump posted five tweets on Tuesday after his visit to Paris to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, in which he mocked Mr Macron’s calls for a European army by referencing France’s near-defeat in both world wars, criticised ... ► Read more

  • EU chief Brexit negotiator: draft agreement a “crucial step in concluding these negotiations”

    The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier says “decisive” progress has been made in reaching a final agreement on the UK’s departure from the bloc. Mr Barnier said a 585-page draft withdrawal agreement published on Wednesday represented a “crucial step in concluding these negotiations”. He also said provisions were included to avoid a hard border with Ireland. His comments came after UK Prime Minister Theresa May said her cabinet had backed the draft agreement. While ... ► Read more

  • Morrison Government downplays Israel embassy move amid tensions with Indonesia

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

  • Jim Acosta’s suspension was a step too far

    US President Donald Trump’s war with the media began as a tactic to bolster support for his candidacy in the 2016 election. But what started as fairly empty rhetoric has escalated into something more ugly than perhaps President Trump anticipated, moving beyond mere words to actions. And now, with the suspension of CNN’s chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta, the war has certainly taken a dangerous turn, and the broader West should be concerned. It ... ► Read more

  • Gaza Strip: Egypt brokers ceasefire following severe escalation

    Palestinian groups in the besieged Gaza Strip say they have agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel to end the worst violent escalation between the two sides in years. A statement by Palestinian groups in Gaza said: “Egypt’s efforts have been able to achieve a ceasefire between the resistance and the Zionist enemy. The resistance will respect this declaration as long as the Zionist enemy respects it.” The announcement set off celebrations in Gaza City ... ► Read more

  • Fiji votes in second democratic election since 2006 coup

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

  • UK, EU agree on draft Brexit deal

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

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

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

  • Morrison reverses “foolish” decision to cut Foodbank funding

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

  • Gaza Strip: three Palestinians killed in Israeli air raids

    At least three Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air raids in the Gaza Strip, according to health officials, in the latest escalation less than 24 hours after a deadly covert Israeli operation in the besieged enclave. Hamas, the group administering the Strip, said one of Monday’s air attacks destroyed the building of its television station. There was no immediate word of any casualties in the strike on Al-Aqsa TV, which reportedly took place after ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Gaza officials: 7 killed in Israeli raid

    Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in a clandestine raid targeting a Hamas commander and air strikes that provided cover for the commandos to escape back into Israel by car, according to Gaza officials. The Israeli incursion and air attacks drew rocket fire from the Hamas-controlled enclave late on Sunday. A senior official of Hamas, the group administering the Gaza Strip, said the Israeli special forces team infiltrated an area near the ... ► Read more

  • Newspoll: Labor far ahead of Coalition

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison knows he has a “mountain to climb” to win the next election but polls are showing voters keep making that mountain even steeper. The Coalition has sunk further below Labor to 45-55 on a two-party preferred basis, sitting just one point higher than it did in the days following the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull in August. The Newspoll published in The Australian shows the Liberal-National primary vote is similarly in trouble ... ► Read more

  • Theresa May says UK open to “different relationship” with Russia

    British Prime Minister Theresa May will say on Monday (local time) that London is “open to a different relationship” with Russia if Moscow takes a new path and stops “attacks” that undermine international treaties and security. Just a year ago, Ms May used her annual speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet to accuse Moscow of military aggression and of meddling in elections. This year, she will tell London’s financial centre that the action taken since — ... ► Read more

  • “I’m suffocating”: Jamal Khashoggi’s last words, according to Turkish media

    The head of investigations at the Turkish Daily Sabah newspaper has told Qatar’s Al Jazeera that Jamal Khashoggi’s last words were “I’m suffocating … Take this bag off my head, I’m claustrophobic”, according to an audio recording from inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Mr Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist and columnist at the Washington  Post, suffocated to death while a plastic bag covered his head, Nazif Karaman told Al Jazeera. Mr Karaman said the murder ... ► Read more

  • Macron denounces nationalism, Trump responds with scorn

    French President Emmanuel Macron used an address to world leaders gathered in Paris for Armistice commemorations on Sunday (local time) to send a stern message about the dangers of nationalism, calling it a betrayal of moral values. With US President Donald Trump — who only weeks ago declared himself a “nationalist” at a political rally — sitting just a few feet away listening to the speech via translation earpieces, Mr Macron denounced those who evoke nationalist ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 4 November 2018 – 9 November 2018

    US midterm elections held Although some seats have still not been declared, the results of the 2018 United States midterm elections are already clear: the Senate remains in Republican hands, but the House of Representatives is now controlled by Democrats. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Bourke St attack: one dead, two others in hospital Police have shot a man in the chest in Melbourne’s CBD after he allegedly stabbed three people. See OPMG’s ... ► Read more

  • Yemen crisis: peace talks delayed to end of year

    The United Nation’s envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, is no longer aiming to convene the country’s warring parties for peace talks this month and will instead try to bring them together by the end of the year, according to a UN spokesperson. Addressing reporters on Thursday (local time), UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said Mr Griffiths’ goal was to hold consultations before the end of the year. “There is always different challenges to bringing the parties ... ► Read more

  • Ukraine ordered to pay compensation for Roma hate attack

    The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has unanimously ruled to award a group of Roma people — victims of a 2002 hate attack — more than $200,000 in damages which will be paid by the Ukrainian Government. The attack took place on 9 September 2002, when a “mob of hundreds of people” attacked Roma homes in the village of Petrovka in Ukraine’s Odessa Oblast’, according to a press release by the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), ... ► Read more

  • Christopher Pyne: Turnbull conspirators “have to be responsible for their actions”

    Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s appearance on the ABC’s Q&A has reignited tensions inside the Liberal Party, with frontbencher Christopher Pyne declaring Cabinet colleagues “have to be responsible” for their actions in the ousting of Mr Turnbull. During the hour-long Q&A special, Mr Turnbull called on Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Health Minister Greg Hunt and former prime minister Tony Abbott to explain why they challenged his leadership in August. Appearing on Channel ... ► Read more

  • Turnbull names Liberal insurgents, demands they explain why they “blew up the Government”

    Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has named nine key figures responsible for his ousting, and challenged them to explain why they “blew up the Government”. During a special appearance on the ABC’s Q&A, Mr Turnbull told the audience he still could not explain why he was rolled as prime minister, and claimed he did not see it coming. “I think those people who are responsible for taking a successful, competitive government and literally blowing it ... ► Read more

  • White House revokes CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass

    CNN’s chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, has been denied access to the premises following a contentious press conference with US President Donald Trump. Mr Acosta asked the President several questions during the post-midterm-election news conference, during which Mr Trump called the journalist a “terrible person” after Mr Acosta continued to pose questions about immigration and the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election. I’ve just been denied entrance to the WH. Secret ... ► Read more

  • Australian Government announces $2 billion Pacific development fund to counter Chinese investment

    The Australian Government has announced it will establish a $2 billion fund for infrastructure development in the Pacific in response to increased Chinese investment in the region. The announcement comes ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Port Moresby next weekend. The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility will assist the Pacific in developing energy, communications and transport projects. Speaking in Townsville on Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said his Government would make sure Australia is ... ► Read more

  • Analysis: consequences of the US midterm election results

    Although some seats have still not been declared, the results of the 2018 United States midterm elections are already clear: the Senate remains in Republican hands, but the House of Representatives is now controlled by Democrats. What are the implications of these results? I answer four questions fellow non-Americans may have. Will there be a change of government? No. The United States uses a presidential system rather than a parliamentary system. The President is the ... ► Read more

  • Trump fires AG Jeff Sessions

    US President Donald Trump on Wednesday (local time) fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “At your request I am submitting my resignation,” Mr Sessions wrote in a letter to White House chief of staff John Kelly. Matthew Whitaker will take over as acting attorney general, the President said. Mr Whitaker is expected to take charge of the the Russia investigation and special counsel Robert Mueller from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Mr Trump tweeted: ….We thank ... ► Read more

  • Mark Latham to run for One Nation in NSW state election

    Former federal Labor leader Mark Latham has joined One Nation and will contest the New South Wales state election next year. He will lead the party in NSW and be the first of One Nation’s NSW Legislative Council candidates on the ballot. Mr Latham is standing for election because he believes voters need a third option, he told Alan Jones on 2GB radio on Wednesday morning. He said he intends to campaign on issues including ... ► Read more

  • Macron calls for a “European army” to reduce dependence on the US

    French President Emmanuel Macron has called for the creation of a European army so the European Union can “defend itself better alone” from potential threats, such as Russia. The French President has previously proposed a joint intervention force for crisis missions, which received the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, so long as it was part of “the structure of defence co-operation”. Mr Macron revived his warning that the EU cannot rely on the United ... ► Read more

  • Joe Biden to make announcement on 2020 presidential bid early next year

    Former US Vice President Joe Biden told reporters he still does not know if he will run for president in 2020, but that he will be making a decision early next year. Mr Biden said he would make a decision with his family shortly after new year. He would not say when he would make an announcement, noting it would “depend on the circumstances and a whole lot of things.” Mr Biden campaigned in 13 cities, including ... ► Read more

  • Europe to continue trading with Iran despite US re-imposition of sanctions

    United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has warned that the US will exert “relentless” pressure on Iran unless it changes its “revolutionary course”. His comments came hours after the Trump Administration restored all pre-2015 nuclear deal sanctions targeting core parts of Iran’s economy. Speaking to reporters, Mr Pompeo said: “The Iranian regime has a choice: it can either do a 180-degree turn from its outlaw course of action and act like a normal country, ... ► Read more

  • New Caledonia votes to remain French territory

    Islanders on the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia rejected independence on Sunday in a referendum, but the results showed weaker-than-expected support for Paris. Some 18,000 kilometres from the French mainland, New Caledonia is home to a quarter of the world’s known supplies of nickel — a vital electronics component — and is a foothold for France in the Pacific where China is gaining influence. On the final count, 56.4% of people rejected the proposition that New ... ► Read more

  • Ukrainian anti-corruption activist dies after acid attack

    Ukrainian anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handzyuk has died from wounds suffered in an acid attack three months ago. The attack left her blind in one eye, and with 40% of her body severely burnt. The 33-year-old died on November 4 (local time) in a Kiev hospital where she was being treated for burns from the attack, colleagues and officials said. Ms Handzyuk, who also served as an adviser to the mayor of Black Sea port city Kherson, ... ► Read more

  • Week In Brief: 28 October – 3 November 2018

    Total fire bans in eastern NSW as temperatures soar Total fire bans are in place in four areas of eastern New South Wales as temperatures hit 37 degrees Celsius in parts of Sydney on Friday. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. NSW Nationals faces threats over plan to expel white supremacists, neo-Nazis A man has been charged with making threatening phone calls to the NSW National Party office on the day the party moved ... ► Read more

  • Liberal MP Felicity Wilson may lose North Shore preselection

    Federal MP Felicity Wilson may lose the Liberal Party preselection in Sydney’s North Shore electorate next week, after key local branches withdrew their support. The Mosman, Clifton Gardens, Mosman West and Cremorne Point branches will not back Ms Wilson’s preselection because she has failed to provide their members with a complete account of her residential history and full answers about her academic record. According to a senior Liberal member, Ms Wilson has “lost the middle ... ► Read more

  • US Department of Justice charges Chinese and Taiwanese companies with economic espionage

    The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged a Chinese state-owned company, its Taiwanese partner, and three individuals for “economic espionage” related to American trade secrets. The charges come amid the ongoing trade war between the US and China, which is due in part to the Trump administration’s accusations that China has engaged in unfair trade practices, including the widespread infringement of American intellectual property. The DoJ has charged Chinese state-owned company Fujian Jinhua ... ► Read more

  • Report: demand for Australian coal to plummet in future

    Economists are predicting Australia’s thermal coal exports to plummet faster than expected, due to falling demand across Asia that appears permanent and irreversible. A study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) found Australia’s top four export markets — China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea — were shifting rapidly to renewables. The study found New South Wales, the source of nearly 70% of thermal coal exports, should brace for disruption in energy markets. IEEFA ... ► Read more

  • George Brandis: children to be off Nauru by year’s end

    Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK George Brandis says he expects there will be no children of refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru by the end of the year. More children have been transferred for treatment, with Government sources confirming there are now 40 on the Pacific Island — down from 52 last week. Political pressure has been mounting on the Coalition to transfer all children off the island, as top medical professionals warn of ... ► Read more

  • Turkey: Khashoggi strangled immediately after entering consulate

    Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was strangled as soon as he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and his body dismembered just moments later, the city’s chief prosecutor’s office said in a statement on Wednesday (local time). “In accordance with plans made in advance, the victim, Jamal Khashoggi, was choked to death immediately after entering the Consulate General of Saudi Arabia in Istanbul on October 2, 2018, for marriage formalities,” the statement said. “The victim’s body ... ► Read more

  • Paul Ryan: “You cannot end birthright citizenship with an executive order”

    Speaker of the US House of Representatives Paul Ryan on Tuesday (local time) broke with President Donald Trump on whether an executive order could deny a constitutional guarantee of citizenship to babies born in the US to non-citizen parents. However, despite Mr Ryan’s stern rebuttal to the President, the idea of limiting birthright citizenship still has significant cache among congressional Republicans, even though it is a constitutional guarantee stemming from the 14th Amendment. Mr Trump ... ► Read more

  • Australia ratifies CPTPP membership

    Australia has officially joined a massive trade deal that the Federal Government says will deliver a windfall to farmers and businesses. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed Australia ratified the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on Wednesday, making it the sixth country to come on board. The step means the CPTPP will come into effect on December 30. The deal strips 98% of tariffs for 11 countries with a combined GDP of more than ... ► Read more

  • Erdogan advisor: Greece would suffer “catastrophe” in 3-4 hours if it wages war with Turkey

    An advisor to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has issued a strong warning to Greece, saying it “will end up in a catastrophe” within hours if it decides to wage war on Ankara. Speaking on Turkish television, Yigit Bulut said: “Greece will end up in a catastrophe within three to four hours if it wages a war against Turkey.” #Greece will totally end up in a catastrophe within three to four hours if it wages ... ► Read more

  • UN rights chief urges Saudi Arabia to handover Khashoggi’s body, calls for international investigation

    United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet has called for international experts to take part in an independent investigation into the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, with access to evidence and witnesses. “For an investigation to be carried out free of any appearance of political considerations, the involvement of international experts, with full access to evidence and witnesses, would be highly desirable,” Ms Bachelet said in a statement. She also urged Saudi Arabia to reveal ... ► Read more

  • “Australian Alcatraz”: business group lobbies for private terrorist prison in NT

    Central Australia could be the location for an “Australian Alcatraz” that houses high-level terrorists, if an Alice Springs business group proposal goes ahead. The Alice Springs Major Business Group (ASMBG) is currently lobbying for a privately-run detention centre to be built in the middle of the Red Centre, with the facility purposely designed to detain criminals who have broken federal terrorism laws. It hopes the project will garner private investment and create a new industry ... ► Read more

  • NSW Nationals faces threats over plan to expel white supremacists, neo-Nazis

    A man has been charged with making threatening phone calls to the NSW National Party office on the day the party moved to expel white supremacist elements from its ranks. At the time, the party officials were meeting to discuss sending letters to 20 members asking them to justify why they should not be expelled from the party for alleged links to neo-Nazi groups and white supremacist views. Police arrested a 55-year-old man at a ... ► Read more

  • Berejiklian to set up migration panel to reduce NSW intake

    The New South Wales Government has set up an expert panel to build a case for less immigration amid growing population pressure. Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Wednesday appointed the three-member panel to develop a NSW population policy to take to the Federal Government next year. The group, consisting of Western Sydney University Chancellor Peter Shergold, Infrastructure NSW CEO Jim Betts and NSW Department of Planning Secretary Carolyn McNally, will be given two months to advise ... ► Read more

  • Refugee advocates: Nauru detainees quietly flown to Adelaide

    Asylum-seeker families are being quietly flown from Australia’s offshore processing centre on Nauru to Adelaide, according to some advocates. Nauru Airlines does not fly commercially to Adelaide, but its planes have been seen at the airport as recently as Monday. The latest monthly figures from Border Force are for the month from September 1 to September 30, when there were no asylum seekers transferred to Australia or any other country. However, some families may have ... ► Read more

  • Angela Merkel announces retirement in 2021

    Germany’s long-serving Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Monday (local time) she will retire from politics at the end of her term in 2021. “I will not be seeking any political post after my term ends,” Ms Merkel told a press conference in Berlin, adding that she would not seek re-election as leader of the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in December after holding the post since 2000. The CDU has experienced a series of political ... ► Read more

  • “This is an invasion”: Trump warns migrant caravan US “military is waiting”

    The US military will deploy more than 5,200 troops to bolster President Donald Trump’s efforts to secure the border with Mexico as a caravan of migrants treks toward the frontier, a senior US general announced on Monday. General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, the head of US Northern Command, said 800 US troops were already en route to the Texas border and 5,200 would be headed to the south-west region by the week’s end, far higher than the ... ► Read more

  • UK immigration to fast-track Australians from 2019

    Australians will be able to be fast-tracked through immigration upon arriving in the UK from next year, the British Government has announced. Chancellor to the Exchequer Philip Hammond made the surprise announcement when delivering the UK’s budget at the House of Commons, saying those with electronically-enabled passports will be able to pass through e-gates at airports. “We’ll open the use of ePassport gates at Heathrow and other airports, currently only available to EEA nationals, to ... ► Read more

  • Brian Owler to run for Bennelong on Labor ticket

    Former AMA President Brian Owler is the Labor candidate for Bennelong in next year’s election, opposition leader Bill Shorten announced on Tuesday morning. Doctor Owler is a neurosurgeon and the former president of the Australian Medical Association (AMA), and lobbied strongly against the Abbott Government’s Medicare co-payment in 2014. Labor’s former candidate Lyndal Howison wrote to party members this morning, telling them she had withdrawn from the race to make way for a better candidate. ... ► Read more

  • NSW Nationals move to expel members with neo-Nazi ties

    The NSW Nationals will write to 20 members asking them to justify why they should not be expelled from the party over their alleged links to white supremacist and alt-right movements. The party has investigated 35 members, after the ABC revealed a push by people involved in the alt-right movement to join mainstream Australian political parties in order to influence their policy agendas from within. Some of those under investigation allegedly shared social media posts praising the ... ► Read more

  • Jair Bolsonaro wins Brazil presidential election

    Former army captain Jair Bolsonaro has won Brazil’s presidential election, riding a wave of frustration over corruption and crime that brought a dramatic swing to the right in the world’s fourth-largest democracy, official results have shown. With 99% of the ballots counted, Mr Bolsonaro had 55.2% of the votes in the run-off election against left-wing hopeful Fernando Haddad of the Workers Party (PT), who had 44.8%, according to the electoral authority TSE. In celebration, Mr ... ► Read more

  • Week In Brief: 21 – 27 October 2018

    Dow Jones drops 608 points, loses all 2018 gains The industrial-skewed Dow Jones index has wiped out all its gains for this year after it dropped 608 points, or 2.4%, to 24,583. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Obamas, Clintons among suspected bomb targets Former US President Barack Obama and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were reportedly among those targeted in a suspected bombing attempt. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. ... ► Read more

  • All British military roles now open to women

    Women in the British armed forces are able to apply for any role in the military including the elite Special Air Services (SAS), it was announced on Thursday (local time). UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson confirmed that the “armed forces will be determined by ability alone and not gender” for the first time in British history. Speaking at the Salisbury army demonstrations this week, Mr Williamson said that “opening all combat roles to women will ... ► Read more

  • PM announces $5bn drought fund

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will unveil the first federal drought fund of its kind in Canberra on Friday. The $5 billion Future Drought Fund aims to provide relief to farmers, help them recover from the so-called ‘green drought’ on the east coast, and assist with their long-term resilience. “There are people in trouble,” Mr Morrison told SBS in an exclusive interview. “They need help. It’s the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility to look after the people.” The ... ► Read more

  • Over 800 Australian paedophiles refused passports

    More than 800 paedophiles have been denied Australian passports since tough new laws aimed at stopping child sex tourism were introduced late last year. Ross Tysoe, from the Australian Passport Office, says 857 child sex offenders have been denied passports and another 39 have been stopped at the border. Nine registered paedophiles have been charged with 10 offences since the legislation was passed in December, Mr Tysoe told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday. Federal ... ► Read more

  • Obamas, Clintons among suspected bomb targets

    Former US President Barack Obama and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were reportedly among those targeted in a suspected bombing attempt. According to Reuters, at least eight suspicious parcels were intercepted before reaching any intended recipients, including Mr Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, former CIA Director John Brennan and prominent Democratic Party donor George Soros. Two packages were sent to California Congresswoman Maxine Waters, the FBI said. None of the packages detonated. Speaking ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Crown Prince calls Khashoggi killing “heinous”, vows “justice”

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman vowed to bring Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s killers to justice during an address to international investors at a major conference in Riyadh on Wednesday (local time). Prince Mohammed assured investors Mr Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul would not derail the kingdom’s reform agenda. “We will prove to the world that the two governments (Saudi and Turkish) are cooperating to punish any criminal, any culprit and at the ... ► Read more

  • Dow Jones drops 608 points, loses all 2018 gains

    The industrial-skewed Dow Jones index has wiped out all its gains for this year after it dropped 608 points, or 2.4%, to 24,583. The benchmark S&P 500 lost 3.1%, marking its sixth straight day of losses. The S&P technology sector (-3pc) was hit the hardest, after the share prices of Apple (-3.4pc), Facebook (-5.4pc), Google (-5.2pc) and Netflix (-9.4pc) fell sharply. This caused the tech-heavy Nasdaq index to plummet by 4.4%. Several factors dampened investor ... ► Read more

  • Jamal Khashoggi’s son shakes hands with Crown Prince in photo op

    Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with family members of slain Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in Riyadh on Tuesday. The Saudi rulers met with Mr Khashoggi’s son Salah and brother Sahel at the royal palace as part of a high-profile economic forum which was boycotted by many Western powers, including Australia. According to Saudi state news agency SPA, King Salman and Prince Mohammed offered their condolences to the family of the Saudi journalist. ... ► Read more

  • Bolton: Russia meetings “very comprehensive and productive”

    US National Security Advisor John Bolton has described meetings in Moscow this week including as “very comprehensive and productive”. Speaking with Russian President in front of the press following their 90 minute meeting on Tuesday (local time), Mr Bolton said Washington wanted to withdraw from a key nuclear weapons control treaty with Russia since it was confident Moscow had violated it. He also said that the danger to Europe was not the US withdrawing from the ... ► Read more

  • Prime Minister rejects proposed refugee compromise

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will not compromise on the Government’s plan to introduce legislation that will ban refugees held on Nauru and Manus Island from ever entering Australia. Labor announced on Tuesday that it was willing to agree to the legislation if the Government accepts New Zealand’s offer to resettle up to 150 refugees, so long as the lifetime ban only applies to that group of refugees. But Mr Morrison maintains that the Government will ... ► Read more

  • Footage: alleged Saudi operative walked out of consulate in Jamal Khashoggi’s clothes

    On the day Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, a man walked out of the building apparently wearing his clothes, according to surveillance footage acquired by CNN. The new footage emerged amid reports that a top aide to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ran the interrogation of Mr Khashoggi via a Skype call. The CCTV footage has put ever-increasing pressure on Saudi Arabia to clarify what happened ... ► Read more

  • Government moves to set default power prices

    The Government has announced it will follow a recommendation made by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to set a default price for electricity in an effort to reduce the burden of energy costs. The Australian Energy Regulator (AER) will act on Tuesday to require power retailers to set their prices against a default market price. This could help households save hundreds of dollars, and businesses thousands. “The default offer will ensure customers are ... ► Read more

  • Mikhail Gorbachev: Trump’s plan to dump US-Russia nuclear treaty a “mistake”

    Former Soviet General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, who signed the US-Russia nuclear treaty with Ronald Reagan, has called US President Donald Trump’s plan to quit the deal a “mistake”. Mr Trump announced on Saturday (local time) that the United States would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), accusing Russia of violating the agreement for many years. He said Russia had violated terms of the treaty that prohibit the two super powers from possessing, producing or ... ► Read more

  • UK, Germany, France issue joint statement condemning Jamal Khashoggi killing

    The UK, France and Germany have denounced the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, demanding urgent clarification from Saudi Arabia over his death. A joint statement said the explanation that Mr Khashoggi died after a “fist fight” in the consulate in Istanbul needed “to be backed by facts to be considered credible”. United States President Donald Trump earlier said he was “not satisfied” with the account, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday vowed ... ► Read more

  • Wentworth by-election: Kerryn Phelps victorious as Liberals see historic loss

    Independent candidate Dr Kerryn Phelps has won the Wentworth by-election, forcing the Coalition into a minority government. The Liberals suffered a swing of almost 20% against candidate Dave Sharma, losing the eastern Sydney seat after holding it for over 100 years. Ballots are still being counted, but the latest numbers show that fewer than 900 votes separate Dr Phelps and Mr Sharma. The final results will be announced in the coming days. Dr Phelps danced ... ► Read more

  • Banks slow to respond to misconduct, says corporate regulator

    The chair of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has criticised banks for failing to swiftly address misconduct. Despite assurances from bankers that they would address revelations of the Banking Royal Commission, ASIC says they are taking too long to respond. ASIC chairperson James Shipton told the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services on Friday that he accepted the Royal Commission’s criticism of ASIC, but said banks need to take urgent action ... ► Read more

  • Pope Francis open to visiting North Korea

    Pope Francis has indicated that he is open to an official visit to North Korea, a country recognised as the worst in the world for persecuting Christians. South Korean President Moon Jae-in relayed an invitation from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the Pope during a private audience at the Vatican on Thursday. The South Korean presidential office said President Moon “conveyed [Kim’s] desire for a papal visit to North Korea”, and that a formal ... ► Read more

  • Canberra believes Labor state government behind ASIO Jerusalem advice leak

    The Australian Federal Police is investigating the leaking of a classified ASIO briefing that warned any move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel could provoke unrest and violence in Palestinian territories. According to Fairfax Media, the Federal Government believes a state Labor government leaked the briefing to The Guardian. Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament on Thursday ASIO “as a matter of routine practice provides this advice to Commonwealth and state governments on ... ► Read more

  • Pompeo listened to recording of Khashoggi murder

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has heard an alleged audio recording of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, a senior Turkish official has told ABC News. Speaking exclusively and on condition of anonymity to the American broadcaster, the official claimed the recording was played in meetings in Turkey on Wednesday (local time), and that Mr Pompeo was given a transcript. Turkish officials believe that Khashoggi was killed and ... ► Read more

  • Littleproud denies National Party leadership spill rumours

    Federal MP and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has dismissed speculation of an imminent National Party leadership spill, saying he is not interested in leading the party. Mr Littleproud told ABC’s AM programme through a spokesperson: “There’s no chance of a leadership contest and even if there was, I am not interested in any leadership position.” Although one MP described Mr Littleproud as “the new kid on the block, the fresh apple off the tree so ... ► Read more

  • Liberal MPs urge PM to evacuate all families and children from Nauru

    Three government backbenchers are urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison to bring more than 80 children and their families detained on Nauru to Australia for processing. Craig Laundy, Russell Broadbent, and Julia Banks argue the situation on Australia’s offshore detention centre on the Pacific island nation has reached a “tipping point”, as hundreds of doctors added their voices to calls for a medical evacuation in recent days. Their proposal would see the children and their families ... ► Read more

  • Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against Trump fails

    A United States federal judge has dismissed porn star Stormy Daniels’ defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump. US District Judge S. James Otero issued the order on Monday (local time) in Los Angeles. Ms Daniels alleges she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006 and sued him in April. The lawsuit came after the President tweeted about a composite sketch of a man Daniels says threatened her in 2011 to keep quiet about the ... ► Read more

  • PM says Liberal senators’ support for “it’s OK to be white” motion is “regrettable”

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called Coalition senators’ support for a motion declaring it is okay to be white “regrettable”, while the Coalition’s leader in the Senate has apologised and blamed an “administrative error”. The motion, moved by One Nation leader Pauline Hanson on Monday, was narrowly defeated 28 votes to 31, despite the Coalition’s backing. It called on the Senate to acknowledge the “deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation” and that ... ► Read more

  • PM considering recognising Jerusalem as Israel capital

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reportedly said he is open to moving Australia’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem following talks with Dave Sharma, Liberal candidate in this weekend’s Wentworth by-election and former ambassador to Israel. According to the ABC, nearly 13% of voters in Wentworth are Jewish and the Government needs to win the seat to retain its one-seat majority in the Lower House. Speaking at a forum in Bondi on Monday, ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Arabia vows to retaliate if punitive measures made against it

    Saudi Arabia has issued a stark warning that any attempts to punish it over the disappearance and suspected murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi would be met with “greater action”. The warning follows calls from Britain, France and Germany for a “credible investigation to establish the truth”. Riyadh has come under diplomatic pressure after Mr Khashoggi, a self-exiled critic of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul and has not been seen ... ► Read more

  • Week In Brief: 7 – 13 October 2018

    Government promises to fast track company tax cuts ahead of federal election The Morrison Government has promised to fast track company tax cuts ahead of the next federal election, with legislation to be introduced to Parliament in the next fortnight. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. AFP raids Home Affairs Dept over au pair scandal leaks Federal Police are raiding the Department of Home Affairs over suspected leaks in relation to the au pair ... ► Read more

  • Religious schools shouldn’t expel gay students, Prime Minister says

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he would “not be comfortable” with gay students being expelled from religious schools, he said in response to leaked recommendations of the Ruddock review into religious freedoms. A list of 20 recommendations leaked to the media on Friday included the recommendation that amendments be made to the Sexual Discrimination Act to ensure religious schools can discriminate against both students and staff “on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or ... ► Read more

  • Washington state Supreme Court strikes down “arbitrary and racially biased” death penalty

    On Thursday (local time) the Washington state Supreme Court unanimously struck down the death penalty as unconstitutional and “racially biased”, the latest development in a trend away from capital punishment in the United States. Washington Governor Jay Inslee placed a moratorium on the death penalty in 2014 and there are no scheduled executions, but the Supreme Court ordered that the eight men on death row in the state are to have their sentences converted to ... ► Read more

  • AFP raids Home Affairs Dept over au pair scandal leaks

    Federal Police are raiding the Department of Home Affairs over suspected leaks in relation to the au pair affair that embroiled Cabinet Minister Peter Dutton last month. AFP officers entered one of the Department’s buildings in Canberra this morning, with suggestions they were seeking to secure evidence on departmental computer systems. Police received a complaint from the Department last month about an “unauthorised disclosure of information”. Emails between Mr Dutton’s office, Home Affairs personnel and ... ► Read more

  • Government promises to fast track company tax cuts ahead of federal election

    The Morrison Government has promised to fast track company tax cuts ahead of the next federal election, with legislation to be introduced to Parliament in the next fortnight. The tax rate for companies with a turnover under $50 million was reduced from 30% to 27.5% for the 2018–19 financial year, and is scheduled to drop to 25% for the 2026–27 financial year. On Thursday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the Liberal-National Coalition Government intends to expedite ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Arabia silent as evidence of journalist murder mounts

    Turkish media has published images of an alleged 15-member Saudi “assassination squad” and footage of suspicious movements at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul following journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s disappearance a week ago. It comes as The New York Times reports that highly placed Turkish security sources told the publication that Mr Khashoggi was killed within hours of entering the consulate by a special hit squad on the orders of the Saudi royal court, and that his ... ► Read more

  • Nikki Haley resigns as US ambassador to the United Nations

    United States ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley resigned on Tuesday, saying she wants “to take a little time off”, according to President Donald Trump. The President said he accepted Ms Haley’s resignation and that she would leave at the end of the year, with her successor to be named within the next three weeks. “We’re all happy for you in one way, but we hate to lose [you],” Mr Trump said beside Ms ... ► Read more

  • Bellingcat identifies second Skripal poisoning suspect as Russian military doctor

    British-based citizen journalism website Bellingcat announced on Monday that it had identified the second suspect in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia as a military doctor working for Russia’s military intelligence directorate. The Bellingcat Investigation Team, a group of investigative citizen journalists specialising in war zones and the criminal underworld, said it “has conclusively identified the second suspect, who travelled to Salisbury under the alias Alexander Petrov.” The team had “already produced ... ► Read more

  • Morrison Government to announce new migration settlement plan

    The Morrison Government will unveil long-promised changes to Australia’s visa system on Tuesday, implementing a plan to require migrants to spend years in regional areas before they can move to a city like Sydney or Melbourne. The move, advocated by the Nationals and key lobby groups like the Farmers’ Federation, is part of the Government’s bid to tackle population growth in the country’s congested capitals while stimulating regional areas needing more labour. Scott Morrison’s newly appointed “congestion-busting” ... ► Read more

  • Alan Jones says he “regrets” attack on Opera House boss

    Broadcaster Alan Jones says he now regrets calling for the sacking of the Sydney Opera House’s chief executive Louise Herron, as opposition to the promotion of a horse race on the sails of the iconic building mounts. The 2GB talkback host ran a pro-racing segment on Friday, and called for Ms Herron to be sacked over her opposition to projecting an advertisement for the Everest race onto the iconic building. But on Tuesday morning, Mr ... ► Read more

  • Controversy over planned use of Opera House as billboard to promote horse race

    The New South Wales Government’s plan to use the Sydney Opera House as a digital billboard to promote the $13 million Everest Cup horse race has proved controversial, despite being backed by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Late last week the Premier intervened after broadcaster Alan Jones publicly criticised Opera House executive Louise Herron, who said that words or branding promoting the Everest Cup should not be projected onto the Opera ... ► Read more