Politics and diplomacy

  • US announces new charges against Julian Assange

    The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced 17 new espionage charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as it seeks to extradite him from the United Kingdom. The new indictment charges Mr Assange for violating the US Espionage Act of 1917 by publishing thousands of classified documents. In the 18-count superseding indictment, the DOJ alleges Mr Assange directed former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in ... ► Read more

  • Eight dead, 737 injured in Jakarta riots

    At least eight people have been killed during two days of post-election rioting in the capital of Indonesia, with hundreds more requiring medical attention, according to authorities. Jakarta’s Governor Anies Baswedan revealed the updated death toll while visiting the centre of the unrest on Thursday, after the violence had subsided. “The latest death toll is eight people,” he said. “As per 11 am today, 737 people have received medical treatment at hospitals around this area. ... ► Read more

  • UN demands UK hand Chagos Islands to Mauritius

    The United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution demanding that the United Kingdom give control of the Chagos Islands to Mauritius. The non-binding resolution was supported by 116 states, with only six voting against the resolution, and 56 abstentions, including France and Germany. Mauritius claims it was forced to give up the Indian Ocean archipelago in 1965 in exchange for the country’s independence from the UK. Today, the islands form the UK’s British Indian ... ► Read more

  • Election: Albanese unopposed in bid for Labor leadership

    Labor frontbencher and former party leader Anthony Albanese is currently unopposed in his bid for the Labor leadership, as senior party figures withdraw from the race. Following Labor’s failure to secure enough seats to form government at the recent federal election, Bill Shorten announced he would step down from the leadership once a replacement was found. Although a number of candidates announced their intention to seek the leadership early this week, all but Mr Albanese ... ► Read more

  • “One last chance” at Brexit, warns PM

    MPs have “one last chance” to deliver Brexit, British Prime Minister Theresa May has warned, urging them to support what she called a “new deal”. In early June the Prime Minister will introduce to Parliament the legislation required to give effect to the withdrawal agreement she negotiated with the European Union. During a speech in London, Ms May appealed to MPs, saying a negotiated withdrawal from the EU would be “dead in the water” if ... ► Read more

  • Austrian Chancellor to appoint caretaker gov’t in wake of scandal

    Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has announced he will appoint a caretaker government to be in place for three months, after a scandal broke down the coalition between his Austrian People’s Party and the Freedom Party of Austria. The relationship between the People’s Party and the Freedom Party deteriorated in the wake of a video scandal that forced Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache to resign on Saturday. The video showed Mr Strache offering political favours to a ... ► Read more

  • Coalition to form majority government after securing 76 seats

    The Coalition has secured a majority after the Liberal candidate for Chisolm, Gladys Liu, made history by becoming the first Chinese-Australian woman elected to the Lower House. Ms Liu’s victory hands Prime Minister Scott Morrison the 76 seats required to govern in majority, and it appears the Coalition is on track to win a further two seats. If the current trends continue in the remaining four seats, the Liberal Party will secure 78 in total ... ► Read more

  • Who will contest the Labor leadership?

    Labor leader Bill Shorten will step down when a replacement leader is chosen. Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen have confirmed they will stand for the leadership. Shadow finance minister Jim Chalmers is considering contesting the leadership. Deputy leader Tanya Plibersek has confirmed she will not seek the leadership. Environment spokesperson Tony Burke has given his support to Mr Albanese. Agriculture spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon may contest the leadership if there are no suitable candidates. Following last ... ► Read more

  • Morrison may not deliver key tax cuts this year as promised

    The Coalition’s tax cuts of up to $1080 per person will likely be delayed until next financial year, Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted on Monday night. The tax cuts played a central role in the Coalition’s election campaign. Because the election was not called earlier, the bureacratic processes required to return Federal Parliament and pass the tax cuts through the Senate are unlikely to be completed by 30 June. “We obviously have to wait for ... ► Read more

  • North Korea calls US “a gangster country” over ship seizure

    North Korea has described the United States as “a gangster country” over the seizure of a North Korean cargo ship, and called on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take “urgent measures” to stabilise the Korean Peninsula. In a letter to Mr Guterres obtained by The Associated Press, North Korea’s Ambassador to the UN, Kim Song, wrote that the Trump Administration committed “an unlawful and outrageous act” by taking over the ship Wise Honest and moving ... ► Read more

  • Iranian FM dismisses Trump’s “genocidal taunts”

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has called recent threats made by United States President Donald Trump “genocidal taunts”, and cautioned him against making future threats. Amid a flare up in tensions between Washington and Tehran, Mr Trump tweeted on Sunday (local time): Referring to US National Security Adviser John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as “B_Team”, Mr Zarif wrote on Twitter on Monday: Relations between the ... ► Read more

  • Ukraine: Zelensky dissolves Rada on inauguration day

    Ukraine’s new president Volodymyr Zelensky announced the dissolution of the country’s Rada (parliament) during his inaugral speech on Monday (local time). Mr Zelensky, a comedian with no political experience, does not hold a parliamentary majority, making it difficult for him to pass any reforms. His party currently holds no seats at all in the Rada, which is dominated by allies of former President Petro Poroshenko. By calling a snap election, President Zelensky might be able ... ► Read more

  • One Nation truck set alight; Hanson blames “the left”

    A One Nation campaign vehicle was set alight at a shopping centre in Hobart on Sunday. The truck was being driven by One Nation Senate candidate Adam Lambert, who was buying groceries at the time. A bar attendant at the nearby Shoreline Hotel said she saw flames erupt from the car park and called police shortly after 5:00 pm. Tasmanian Police said the fire looked “suspicious” and were investigating its cause. One Nation leader Pauline ... ► Read more

  • Swiss voters back EU gun control regulations

    Voters in Switzerland have approved a referendum to tighten gun laws in conformity with European Union regulations. Almost 64% of voters in Sunday’s referendum to introduce tougher restrictions on semi-automatic and automatic weapons. Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it risked being removed from the open-border Schengen Area if it had voted against “no” in the referendum. Switzerland ranks highly by private gun ownership in Europe, with an estimated 48% of Swiss ... ► Read more

  • Election roundup: Liberal-National Coalition to form government

    The Liberal-National Coalition is expected to form government with an outright majority of 77 seats. Labor is expected to win no more than 68 seats and cannot form government. The Liberal-National Coalition took four seats from incumbent MPs. Three Labor MPs are still at risk. Labor has lost Lindsay and could lose Lilley, the seat of former MP Wayne Swan. Gilmore has swung against the Liberals, with Warren Mundine trailing the Labor candidate. Former PM ... ► Read more

  • Trump signs order barring US telcos from using foreign equipment

    United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday (local time) intended to bar American telecommunications networks from using equipment provided by foreign suppliers. Executive order 13873 declares a “national emergency” and claims that “foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services”. The order directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to prepare rules that restrict the purchase of information and communications technology from companies “owned by, controlled ... ► Read more

  • Australia took in accused Rwandan terrorists as part of US “people swap”

    Australia reportedly resettled two Rwandan men accused of murdering eight tourists as part of the “people swap” deal with the United States that was brokered by the Coalition Government. American news outlet Politico reported that Leonidas Bimenyimana and Gregoire Nyaminani were relocated to Australia and accepted as “humanitarian” entrants. In 1999 the two men were charged with terrorism offences by US prosecutors for murdering the tourists, including two Americans, with machetes and axes. They were ... ► Read more

  • Pacific Islands ask “bigger countries” to do more to tackle climate change

    A delegation of Pacific Island nations has called on “bigger countries” in the region to take a stronger approach to climate change. During a meeting with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday, Australia’s pacific neighbours warned that rising sea levels will destroy their communities unless more is done to respond to climate change. Nauruan President and chair of the Pacific Islands Forum Baron Waqa implied Australia could be doing more to make climate change ... ► Read more

  • Boiling point: US withdraws all “non-emergency” personnel from Iraq, Iran warns of “full-scale” war

    Tensions between Washington and Tehran are nearing boiling point, with the US ordering the withdrawal of all “non-emergency employees” and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander warning “full-scale confrontation” is possible. “Ensuring the safety of US Government personnel and citizens is our highest priority … and we want to reduce the risk of harm,” a US State Department spokesman said of the withdrawal on Wednesday (local time). Following the US’ announcement, the Commander-in-Chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary ... ► Read more

  • Putin wants to “fully restore” US-Russia relations

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would like to “fully restore” relations with the United States and believes that his US counterpart Donald Trump wants to do the same. Mr Putin on Tuesday (local time) told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo he came to that conclusion after a phone call with Trump a few days ago. The Russian President, speaking ahead of a meeting with Secretary Pompeo, also said that his country had ... ► Read more

  • Election: Labor promises new wage theft tribunal

    Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten has promised to establish a new tribunal that will crack down on wage theft if his party forms government after the upcoming federal election. “It shouldn’t be too hard, it shouldn’t be too costly, to get what you are owed for a day’s pay,” Mr Shorten said. Workers who have been underpaid by employers could have claims of up to $100,000 resolved in a day by the tribunal. Mr Shorten ... ► Read more

  • “A little squabble”: Trump downplays trade war with China

    United States President Donald Trump has downplayed the US-China trade war following Beijing’s counter-tariff hike announcement, which saw over $US1 trillion wiped off stock values around the world yesterday. “We’re having a little squabble with China because we’ve been treated very, very unfairly for many decades,” Mr Trump told reporters at the White House on Tuesday (local time). “I think it’s going to turn out extremely well, we’re in a strong position.” He described his ... ► Read more

  • Greenpeace activists arrested following Sydney Harbour Bridge protest

    Police have arrested 13 people after removing Greenpeace activists dangling from the Sydney Harbour Bridge as part of a climate change protest. Three activists used cables to suspend themselves below the bridge at about 5:30am. According to NSW Police, security personnel prevented a “number of people” from climbing the bridge as part of the protest. The three who did unfurled banners calling for action on climate change. Police removed the last of the three suspended ... ► Read more

  • US-China trade war: global markets tumble

    Global equities have tumbled amid an escalation in the United States-China trade war that saw more than $US1 trillion wiped off stock values overnight. China announced it will impose tariffs of 5%-25% on $US60 billion worth of US goods, including frozen vegetables and liquefied natural gas. “China’s adjustment on additional tariffs is a response to US unilateralism and protectionism,” the Chinese Ministry of Finance said. “China hopes the US will get back to the right ... ► Read more

  • Election: PM promises subsidies for low-income first-home buyers

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has promised up to $500 million in subsidies to help low-income first-home buyers ahead of the federal election this coming Saturday. A Liberal-National Coalition Government would offer guarantees to reduce the required deposit for first-home buyers to 5% of the purchase price, instead of 20%, Mr Morrison announced at the Liberal Party’s campaign launch in Melbourne on Sunday. Singles earning up to $125,000 and couples with a combined income of up ... ► Read more

  • Adani’s Carmichael coal mine faces Qld Gov’t hurdle

    Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project faces another hurdle, with the Queensland Government seeking a further review of the company’s groundwater plans for the project. Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price approved Adani’s groundwater plans just before the start of campaigning for the federal election. The approval followed eight months of assessment, including reviews by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia. However, the Queensland Department of Environment and Science (DES) requested a further review last Friday, according ... ► Read more

  • Chelsea Manning released from jail after refusing to testify

    Former United States intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been released from jail, despite refusing to testify before an investigation into Wikileaks. The 31-year-old was held in custody for 62 days after a Virginia judge found her in contempt of court for failing to comply with a subpoena. Ms Manning will be required to appear before a grand jury on 16 May, having been served with another subpoena prior to her release on Thursday. “Today marked ... ► Read more

  • US tariff increase on Chinese imports to take effect on Friday

    The United States’ tariff increase to 25% on US $200 billion worth of Chinese imports will take effect on Friday (Washington time), heightening tensions in the ongoing Sino-American trade war. With no action from the Trump administration to cancel the increase, US Customs and Border Protection will impose tariffs of 25% on affected Chinese imports from midnight on Friday. Relevant goods leaving China before midnight will be subject to the original 10% tariff. More than ... ► Read more

  • Victorian Liberal candidate resigns over rape comments

    Federal Liberal candidate for the Victorian seat of Scullin, Gurpal Singh, has resigned over comments he made last year on Facebook dismissing a woman’s claim she had been raped by her husband. Mr Singh said he had “no sympathy” for the woman who shared her experience in an SBS Punjabi article, and called the alleged rapist the “real victim”. “It’s shameful that a married woman suffering family violence can go to such extent,” he wrote. ... ► Read more

  • Chinese media mocks Australian Government in WeChat posts

    The Australian Government has been targeted by online propaganda emanating from social media accounts linked to the Chinese Communist Party, a research paper delivered at today’s Safeguarding Australia Summit found. “Our evidence suggests that accounts aligned more closely with the Government in Beijing have a clear anti-Liberal story coming out of them,” said Dr Michael Jensen, a senior research fellow at the University of Canberra’s Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis, who co-authored the paper ... ► Read more

  • Trump blocks release of unredacted Mueller report; House Judiciary Committee finds US A-G in contempt

    United States President Donald Trump has invoked executive privilege to prevent the release of the unredacted report of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. The House of Representatives Judiciary Committee sought the unredacted report from Attorney-General William Barr, but negotiations between the committee and the Justice Department broke down on Tuesday (local time). The Judiciary Committee has now recommended that the House of Representatives find Mr Barr in ... ► Read more

  • Shorten hits back at News Corp for “gotcha shit” story on his mother

    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has slammed The Daily Telegraph for its Wednesday front-page story about his mother. Under the headline “Mother of Invention”, the popular News Corporation tabloid accused Mr Shorten of skipping parts of his mother’s career while talking about the sacrifices she made to raise her children. During his appearance on the ABC’s Q&A on Monday, Mr Shorten spoke of how his mother, Dr Ann Shorten, continues to inspire him despite her passing ... ► Read more

  • One million species threatened with extinction: intergovernmental report

    Nature is declining at unprecedented rates and the rate of extinctions is accelerating, warns a landmark report from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). “The overwhelming evidence of the IPBES Global Assessment … presents an ominous picture,” said IPBES chair Sir Robert Watson. “The health of ecosystems on which we and all other species depend is deteriorating more rapidly than ever. We are eroding the very foundations of our economies, livelihoods, ... ► Read more

  • Election: PM egged by protester in Albury

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison was egged by a protester at a Country Women’s Association (CWA) event in Albury. A 25-year-old woman walked up behind the Prime Minister and threw an egg at him, which bounced off his head without smashing. The protester, who the CWA says is not a member, had a carton of eggs with her and was tackled to the floor by security. An elderly lady was knocked over during the struggle was ... ► Read more

  • Morrison admits budget remains in deficit

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged that the budget will be in deficit as Australians go to the polls despite repeatedly declaring the country’s finances are “back in black”. It took four questions from Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30 program, before the Prime Minister admitted that a deficit would be recorded for this financial year. “The accounts, as of right now, are still in deficit and next year they go into surplus and it’s taken ... ► Read more

  • No enforcement of death penalty for gay sex, claims Brunei

    Brunei will not enforce the death penalty for persons convicted of having gay sex, following fierce global criticism of the country by international human rights organisations and celebrities. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah extended a moratorium on the death penalty to legislation prohibiting gay sex, after celebrities called for tourists to boycott a string of luxury hotels owned by the country, of which the Sultan, as absolute monarch, is both head of state and head of government. ... ► Read more

  • Election: MP Kerryn Phelps targeted with “disturbing” emails

    MP for Wentworth Dr Kerryn Phelps says she has referred “disturbing” emails about her to the Australian Federal Police (AFP). Emails sent yesterday to an unknown number of voters contained incorrect voting information, claims that Dr Phelps is ineligible for election, and several anti-Semitic remarks. The emails falsely claim that Dr Phelps is ineligible to stand for election because she is an Israeli citizen. The emails say “Kerryn Phelps has been disqualified from election, she ... ► Read more

  • Israeli and Palestinian officials reach truce after weekend of violence

    Israeli and Palestinian officials have reached a ceasefire following three days of violence in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. Four Israeli civilians and at least 19 Palestinians, half of whom were civilians, were killed. Fighting began after a sniper from the Islamic Jihad militant organisation shot and wounded two Israeli soldiers. Hamas official Hamed Ahmed Abed Khudri was killed by Israel in a targeted strike. The United States has backed Israel’s response, while Iran ... ► Read more

  • Facebook was right to ban Milo & company

    This is a conversation I have had many times with many people, and one thing I’ve observed is that there never seems to be one answer. That isn’t surprising because both core arguments make compelling cases. Basically, it comes down to whether you believe we should live in a society where individuals are allowed to say whatever they think or a society where community standards restrict what can be said. Here in Australia, section 18C ... ► Read more

  • Election: scandals, gaffes, resignations and disendorsements

    As Australia approaches a federal election on 18 May, there have already been plenty of scandals, gaffes, resignations and disendorsements. OPMagazine has helpfully made a summary of the current scandals and gaffes that are yet to be resolved and the resignations and disendorsements that have already happened barely a week after nominations closed — including the overt racists, sexists, homophobes, liars and dodgy dealers that have somehow made it onto ballot papers. Candidates clinging onto ... ► Read more

  • Facebook bans prominent controversial figures in hate speech crackdown

    Facebook has permanently banned several prominent controversial figures in a crackdown on hate speech on the social network. In a statement on Thursday (local time), Facebook said it has “always banned individuals or organizations that promote or engage in violence and hate, regardless of ideology.” Among the most notable figures banned are far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who called the Sandy Hook school massacre in the United States “completely fake”; far-right political commentator Milo Yiannopoulos, ... ► Read more

  • British Parliament declares climate change emergency

    British MPs have approved a motion requiring the Government to make proposals to “restore the UK’s natural environment”, following a week and a half of disruptive protests in London. Legislators backed opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn’s call for “rapid and dramatic action” to protect the environment, declaring a symbolic “environment and climate change emergency.” The non-binding motion calls on the Government to present proposals to Parliament in the next six months to “restore the UK’s natural ... ► Read more

  • Assange sentenced to 50 weeks’ imprisonment over bail breach

    Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks’ imprisonment for disobeying an order to surrender to court in 2012. Mr Assange sought asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 after the United Kingdom’s Supreme Court upheld a ruling that he should be extradited to Sweden for questioning over an alleged sexual assault. He claimed he was seeking political asylum because he believed his extradition to Sweden would eventually see him extradited ... ► Read more

  • UK: PM fires Defence Secretary over Huawei leak

    British Prime Minister Theresa May has fired her defence secretary, Gavin Williamson, saying an investigation suggested he was to blame for leaking discussions about Chinese telecoms company Huawei from her National Security Council. An investigation was launched last week after The Daily Telegraph first reported that the security council, which meets in private, had agreed to let Huawei participate in some aspects of Britain’s new 5G wireless communications network. The Government insists no decision has ... ► Read more

  • Fresh modelling suggests Labor climate policy could shrink economic growth by 0.8%

    Labor’s climate targets could cost the Australian economy $542 billion, according to new modelling from economist Brian Fisher. The modelling estimates that by reducing carbon emissions by 45% by 2030, Australia’s economic growth could decrease by 0.8% over the next decade. However, Dr Fisher also says that by increasing the carbon emissions offset threshold for major polluters through international credits, the impact on growth could be halved. Labor’s climate policy spokesman Mark Butler has dismissed ... ► Read more

  • Putin enacts “internet sovereignty” bill

    Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday (local time) signed into law a controversial bill that aims to isolate Russia’s internet. MPs first proposed the bill to tighten state control in response to an “aggressive” United States cybersecurity strategy. It has drawn criticism both domestically and internationally, with digital rights groups warning such legislation would lead to an isolated internet landscape similar to that of China. The law seeks to create an alternative domain name system ... ► Read more

  • Mueller frustrated over portrayal of Russian interference report

    Special Counsel Robert Mueller is frustrated over the way his findings on Russian interference in the 2016 United States presidential election are being portrayed, according to a US Department of Justice (DOJ) official. Mr Mueller wrote to the DOJ after US Attorney-General William Barr issued a four-page summary of the special counsel’s conclusions about whether the campaign of current President Donald Trump colluded with Russia and whether the President had attempted to obstruct the investigation. ... ► Read more

  • Venezuela: rioting claimed to be part of coup attempt

    Violence broke out at anti-government protests in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas on Tuesday (local time), with President Nicolás Maduro claiming his government has suppressed a coup attempt. Following calls from opposition leader Juan Guaidó for the military to help him oust the incumbent president, several dozen armed troops accompanying Mr Guaidó clashed with pro-government soldiers at a rally outside La Carlota air base. Venezuela’s health services reported that at least 69 people were injured ... ► Read more

  • One Nation “family man” candidate Steve Dickson resigns over strip club videos

    Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Senate candidate for Queensland Steve Dickson has resigned after the Nine Network’s A Current Affair aired footage of him making lewd comments and touching a dancer at a United States strip club. Mr Dickson has issued a statement apologising for his behaviour. “The footage shown does not reflect the person I am. It shows a person who was drunk and not in control of his actions and I take full responsibility for allowing ... ► Read more

  • Newspoll: Coalition gains ground on Labor

    Voter support for the Government has continued to recover, with the latest Newspoll leaving just 1% between the two major parties. The Australian published the poll on Sunday night, revealing Labor’s two-party preferred lead has slipped to 51-49 just three weeks out from the federal election. The poll is good news for the Coalition, which in May was down 54-46 by the same measure. Meanwhile, Labor leader Bill Shorten has climbed two points as preferred prime ... ► Read more

  • Election: Liberals and United Australia agree how-to-vote preference deal

    The Liberal Party has struck a deal with the United Australia Party to exchange how-to-vote preferences for the upcoming federal election. Under the agreement, the Liberals will place Clive Palmer’s party second or above Labor on its how-to-vote cards for both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Although how-to-vote cards are not binding, they can influence the way that voters cast their ballots. In the House of Representatives, votes for the weaker of the ... ► Read more

  • Turkish nationals banned from Anzac Day Gallipoli dawn service

    The Turkish Government has announced a ban on Turkish nationals attending the Anzac Day dawn service on the Gallipoli peninsula. Turkish nationals, including bus drivers and tour guides, will be barred from the peninsula during the dawn service amid heightened security fears. Australian Veterans’ Affairs Minister Darren Chester defended the ban. “It’s not actually unprecedented for the Turkish authorities to recommend that Turkish nationals not attend the service, it’s happened in previous years,” Mr Chester ... ► Read more

  • New IRA apologises for killing of journalist

    The New Irish Republican Army (New IRA) militant group has apologised for the killing of journalist Lyra McKee. It is the first acknowledgement that a New IRA member was involved in the death, which the organisation described as “tragic”, offering “full and sincere” apologies to her partner, family and friends. On 18 April 2019 the 29-year-old journalist was observing Irish nationalists attack police following a raid in Derry (Londonderry) when a gunman opened fire in ... ► Read more

  • Saudi Arabia beheads 37 people after “sham trial”

    The Saudi Arabian regime beheaded 37 citizens on Tuesday (local time) in a mass execution for alleged terrorism-related offences. Most of those killed were minority Shiites, however, in one case, Saudi authorities publicly pinned the executed body and severed head of a convicted Sunni extremist to a pole as a warning to others. Ali al-Ahmed, a Saudi dissident who runs the Gulf Institute in Washington, identified 34 of those executed as Shiites, based on the ... ► Read more

  • Morrison, Shorten risk WeChat ban

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten are among the Australian politicians who could be kicked off Chinese social media platform WeChat for violating its terms and conditions, according to an ABC investigation. Both Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten had their official WeChat accounts set up by Chinese citizens, a practice that seems to be in breach of the platform’s rules. By using accounts registered in China, they are subject to Chinese censorship ... ► Read more

  • Kremlin confirms Putin-Kim summit

    Russian President Vladimir Putin will host North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok this month, the Kremlin has announced. Kremlin aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters the two leaders will discuss political and diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula. Mr Ushakov also said Moscow believes it is important that the United States and North Korea maintain contact. The Putin-Kim summit comes as nuclear talks between ... ► Read more

  • Helloworld boss gave $200,000 to Liberal Party during government tender

    A private company co-owned by Helloworld CEO Andrew Burnes donated $200,000 to the Liberal Party during the tender process for a $1 billion government accommodation contract that was awarded to Helloworld. Mr Burnes, who is also the Liberal Party’s federal treasurer, co-owns Burnewang Pastoral Company, paid a further $120,000 for tickets to a Liberal Party dinner in 2017, while contract negotiations remained ongoing. This money was treated as an attendance fee rather than a donation. ... ► Read more

  • Election: Labor will raise minimum wage for skilled migrants to boost local employment

    The Australian Labor Party will increase the minimum wage for skilled migrants to prevent them being used as cheap replacements for local workers, opposition leader Bill Shorten announced today. Speaking in Queensland, Mr Shorten told reporters that Labor will reduce the number of foreign workers by increasing the minimum wage and enforcing skill shortage tests more strictly. “We want to make sure that short-term skilled migration doesn’t just become an excuse for cheap labour, exploitation ... ► Read more

  • US threatens to veto UN resolution on wartime rapes

    The United States is threatening to veto a United Nations Security Council resolution on combatting rape as a weapon of war because it refers to reproductive and sexual health, senior UN officials and European diplomats say. Germany, which holds the presidency of the Security Council this month, hopes the resolution will be adopted at a special Security Council session on Tuesday. However, the US is threatening to veto the resolution because it makes reference to ... ► Read more

  • “My wife and my daughter were on the floor”: Australian man describes moment bomb detonated in Sri Lanka

    An Australian man whose wife and daughter were killed in the Sri Lankan terrorism attacks has described the moment a bomb went off during an Easter Sunday church service. At least 290 people were killed and 500 injured in a series of coordinated blasts in churches and hotels, in Sri Lanka’s deadliest violence since a devastating civil war ended in 2009. Australian woman Manik Suriaaratchi and her 10-year-old daughter Alexendria were killed in the attack ... ► Read more

  • Sri Lanka bombings: Government confirms knowledge of imminent attack

    The Sri Lankan Government has confirmed it had “prior information” of an imminent attack on churches up to 10 days before the Easter Sunday bombings. At the time of this report, 207 people have died and at least 450 others left injured following a series of explosions that tore through churches and luxury hotels in three Sri Lankan cities, including the capital Colombo. It is estimated that 30 foreigners are among those killed. The Department ... ► Read more

  • Zelensky wins Ukraine election

    Ukrainian comedian Volodymyr Zelensky has secured a landslide victory in his country’s presidential election, according to exit polls. The polls suggest Mr Zelensky, a political novice, received over 70% of the vote, with incumbent Petro Poroshenko receiving around 25%. Mr Poroshenko, who was voted in back in 2014, has conceded defeat. “I will never let you down,” Mr Zelensky told supporters on Sunday (local time). “I’m not yet officially the President, but as a citizen ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 14 April – 20 April 2019

    2019 election: Morrison and Shorten to debate on 29 April Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will go head-to-head in a debate set for 29 April. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Fire tears through Notre Dame Notre Dame’s spire has collapsed after a fire engulfed the iconic Parisian cathedral on Monday (local time). See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. North Korea tests new “tactical” weapon, says DPRK state media ... ► Read more

  • “I’m fucked”: Mueller report made public

    When then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions told United States President Donald Trump that a special counsel was being appointed to investigate potential links between his campaign and Russian meddling in the election, Mr Trump said: “This is the end of my Presidency”. The revelation is one of many after the long-awaited 448-page Mueller report was released with redactions. Key quotes from the Mueller report “When [former Attorney General Jeff] Sessions told the President that a Special ... ► Read more

  • North Korea tests new “tactical” weapon, says DPRK state media

    North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un inspected and directed a “new tactical guided weapons firing test” on Wednesday, according to the country’s state news agency KCNA. KCNA did not elaborate on the nature of the weapon or its potential range, however, its description does not suggest it is a missile. Tactical weapons are designed more for battlefields and are not typically long-range armaments. Additionally, the United States Defence Department said it did not detect any missile ... ► Read more

  • Trump vetoes resolution to end US involvement in Yemen

    United States President Donald Trump has vetoed a resolution passed by Congress to end US military support of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in the Yemeni Civil War. Although the veto was expected, legislators have viewed the passing of the war powers resolution as a milestone for the re-assertion of Congress’s war-making authority. In making the second veto of his presidency, Mr Trump criticised Congress, highlighting tensions between the President and lawmakers who seek to reel in ... ► Read more

  • 2019 election: Morrison and Shorten to debate on 29 April

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will go head-to-head in a debate set for 29 April. The debate, set to be hosted in Perth, will be the first election debate held in Western Australia. Details like where and when it might take place, and who will moderate it are yet to be confirmed. However, it is likely the debate will cover the economy, taxation and healthcare. ► Read more

  • Ecuador’s allegations “outrageous”, says Assange’s lawyer

    The lawyer representing Julian Assange has slammed Ecuador’s claims about the jailed Wikileaks founder’s behaviour inside its London embassy. Jennifer Robinson told Sky News on Sunday that Ecuador was making some “pretty outrageous allegations” to justify inviting British police into the embassy to arrest Mr Assange. Mr Assange sought asylum at the embassy in 2012, defying an order to surrender to court. He remained there until taken into custody by the Metropolitan Police last week. ... ► Read more

  • Finland faces tough coalition talks after Social Democratic Party wins narrow victory

    Finland’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) has won a narrow victory in the country’s general election with 17.7% of the vote, just 0.2% ahead of the far-right Finns Party. “For the first time since 1999 we are the largest party in Finland,” said SDP leader Antti Rinne. However, with the vote split and no party winning an outright majority, the SDP will have to negotiate with other parties to form a coalition government. With 40 seats, ... ► Read more

  • One Nation support plummets following guns-for-funds scandal: Newspoll

    Recent Newspoll figures show support for One Nation has plummeted, boosting the predicted results for Labor and the Liberal-National Coalition ahead of the 18 May federal election. One Nation’s primary vote has dropped to just 4% following the “guns-for-funds” scandal, in which Al Jazeera revealed the party sought millions in donations and access to campaign support from the American National Rifle Association (NRA). In return, Queensland leader Steve Dickson and chief-of-staff James Ashby promised to ... ► Read more

  • Leyonhjelm misses out as One Nation secures final NSW seat

    Former Senator David Leyonhjelm has missed out on a seat in the New South Wales Parliament, as the results of the recent state election confirmed today. Two weeks ago the former Liberal Democrat Senator prematurely claimed a NSW upper house seat, but the final distribution of preferences shows he will not be taking a seat in the Legislative Council. Half of the 42 seats were up for election this year. Elected to the Legislative Council ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 7 April – 13 April 2019

    2019 election: Australians to vote on 18 May Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 18 May as the date of the 2019 federal election, giving parties just over five weeks to sell their plans for the nation. See OPMagazine’s coverage of this story here. Construction of Adani mine receives final federal approval, despite allegations Minister was threatened Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has given Adani the final federal approval needed to begin construction of its ... ► Read more

  • Shorten demands Dutton apologise for disability slur against rival

    Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has taken aim at Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton over comments he made about his Labor opponent in the seat of Dickson. Mr Dutton accused his opponent Ali France of using her disability “as an excuse” for not living in the electorate. The comment was made after Ms France said she had not been able to find a wheelchair-accessible house in the electorate ahead of the campaign. Mr Dutton told The Australian: ... ► Read more

  • Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange arrested in London, faces US extradition request

    Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was arrested in London yesterday after almost seven years of refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. Mr Assange, an Australian citizen, took refuge in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning over sexual assault allegations that have since been dropped. He claimed that the extradition proceedings were a ploy to facilitate eventual extradition to the United States on espionage charges. In May 2012 the Supreme Court of the ... ► Read more

  • EU agrees to delay Brexit until 31 October

    The European Union has agreed to a “flexible extension” of the Brexit process until 31 October 2019, European Council President Donald Tusk announced today. After five hours of talks Mr Tusk said his “message to British friends” is “please do not waste this time.” British Prime Minister Theresa May said the United Kingdom would still aim to leave the EU as soon as possible, but it appears likely that the UK will need to hold ... ► Read more

  • Israel election: Netanyahu secures fifth term

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has won the Israeli election, with allied religious-rightist parties set to hand him a parliamentary majority and his main rival Benny Gantz conceding defeat. With over 99% of votes counted, Mr Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party will form a coalition government to secure 65 seats of Israel’s 120 seat Knesset (Parliament). The results will deliver Mr Netanyahu a record fifth term in the top job and come despite the 69-year-old being investigated ... ► Read more

  • 2019 election: Australians to vote on 18 May

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced 18 May as the date of the 2019 federal election, giving parties just over five weeks to sell their plans for the nation. At a 8:00am news conference Mr Morrison kicked off the campaigning, telling reporters that “there is a clear choice” for voters this election. “It is a choice that will determine the economy that Australians live in, not just for the next three years but for the ... ► Read more

  • Melbourne CBD shut down for workers’ rally

    Melbourne CBD was shut down today as an estimated 50,000 workers marched for better wages and increased job security. The “Change the Rules” rally began at Trades Hall at about 10:30am, marching to the Victorian Parliament via Bourke Street in the city’s CBD. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews marched alongside workers as part of the Australian Council of Trade Union’s nationwide campaign. Unions claim the current Federal Government has overseen the most significant decline in living ... ► Read more

  • Christchurch terror suspect sent death threat two years before mosque attack

    A Melbourne man has revealed suspected Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant sent him a death threat after he criticised the far-right United Patriots Front (UPF) extremist group in 2016. Screenshots of a Facebook Messenger conversation between the man and Mr Tarrant show the alleged right-wing terrorist defended the anti-Islamic UPF as “the leading ethno-nationalist group within Australia.” “When you speak against the UPF you speak against my right to a home for my people and my ... ► Read more

  • Labor plans to resurrect Australia’s car manufacturing industry

    Labor will offer tens of millions of dollars to the world’s auto giants in a bid to revive Australia’s car manufacturing industry, according to a yet-to-be-revealed plan uncovered by the ABC. According to an ABC exclusive, the plan centres around building electric and hydrogen-powered cars in an attempt to tap into the rapidly increasing global demand. The plan has reportedly been in the pipeline for years, with high-ranking executives from the United States travelling to ... ► Read more

  • Israel election: Both Netanyahu and Gantz claim victory

    Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz have claimed victory in Israel’s general election, with exit polls showing no clear winner. Mr Gantz, a centrist and former military chief, was projected to win between 36 and 37 seats, while right-wing Prime Minister Netanyahu was expected to take between 33 and 36 seats. Two exit polls indicate that right-wing parties allied to Mr Netanyahu had a greater chance of forming a coalition government. ... ► Read more

  • Construction of Adani mine receives final federal approval, despite allegations Minister was threatened

    Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price has given Adani the final federal approval needed to begin construction of its proposed coal mine in central Queensland. The project now requires final approvals from the Queensland State Government before construction can commence. The proposed coal mine in central Queensland’s Galilee Basin has been controversial, with environmentalists clashing with MPs and Senators who want it approved to bring jobs to the area. The Environment Minister was under pressure from ... ► Read more

  • US labels Iranian Revolutionary Guard as terrorist organisation

    United States President Donald Trump has taken the controversial step of designating the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organisation. The IRGC was established after the 1979 revolution and, according to the Constitution of Iran, protects the country’s Islamic Republic. But Mr Trump has accused the IRGC as being the terrorist wing of the Iranian Government. “The IRGC is the Iranian Government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign,” ... ► Read more

  • Chinese billionaire paid lobbyist “tens of thousands” for private meeting with Dutton

    Pro-Chinese Communist Party billionaire Huang Xiangmo paid “tens of thousands of dollars” to former Liberal minister-turned-lobbyist Santo Santoro to arrange a private meeting in 2016 with then-Immigration Minister Peter Dutton. According to a joint investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Mr Huang was trying to secure Australian citizenship at the time. Despite the meeting — which took place inside the private suite of a Sydney Chinese restaurant — Mr ... ► Read more

  • 38 arrested as animal rights protest causes chaos in Melbourne

    Police have arrested 38 people over an animal rights protest that blocked a major Melbourne intersection during the morning peak hour. The protesters blockaded the intersection of Flinders and Swanston streets on Monday morning, with more than 100 activists chanting “what do we want? Animal liberation — now!” and holding signs that read: “This is a peaceful protest” and “SOS animal emergency climate emergency.” Protesters also sat on the tram lines near the intersection, causing ... ► Read more

  • Australian residents interrogated by Chinese officials over ASIO investigation

    Two Australian residents have revealed they have been interrogated by Chinese officials about an investigation into China’s influence in Australia. Chinese intelligence agents interrogated Yang Hengjun and Feng Chongyi for information on John Garnaut, who led the top-secret investigation with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) in 2016. A joint investigation by the ABC’s Four Corners programme, The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed both men were detained and interrogated over the ASIO probe. Mr Yang, a former Chinese ... ► Read more

  • Abbott faces 12% swing against in Warringah

    Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott could lose the federal seat of Warringah, with internal Liberal Party polling indicating he is facing a 12% swing against in the electorate. The North Sydney seat has been held by the Liberal Party or its predecessors since it was created in 1922, and has been held by Mr Abbott since 1994. Mr Abbott currently holds the seat by a margin of about 11.5%, meaning Warringah could potentially change hands ... ► Read more

  • Assange set to be expelled from Ecuadorian embassy, says WikiLeaks

    WikiLeaks says high-level sources within Ecuador are signalling that Australian Julian Assange will be expelled from the country’s London embassy within “hours to days”. In a tweet, WikiLeaks said Ecuador already had an agreement with the United Kingdom for Mr Assange’s arrest. Another tweet, posted an hour later, confirmed it had received “secondary confirmation from another high-level source”. It has been reported that Ecuador’s President is trying to surrender the Australian in exchange for debt ... ► Read more

  • Backlash over laws targeting “abhorrent” social media content

    Lawyers, rights groups and the technology industry have criticised legislation passed by Parliament on Thursday that requires Internet companies to quickly remove “abhorrent” content or face criminal penalties. The Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Bill 2019 is aimed at preventing the “weaponising of social media platforms” and will become law once it receives Royal Assent. It is part of the Government’s response to the Christchurch terror attack that took place in New ... ► Read more

  • Labor to promise low-income tax cuts and billions for health

    The Australian Labor Party will promise tax cuts for those earning less than $40,000 a year and billions in additional health spending if it wins the May federal election. Some three million of the lowest-paid Australians would benefit from the tax cuts, which will be formally announced in Labor leader Bill Shorten’s budget reply speech on Thursday night. Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek said Mr Shorten would unveil Labor’s tax relief plan in a “classic” ... ► Read more

  • Brunei introduces stoning for gay sex and adultery

    The Sultan of Brunei has introduced new laws that make anal sex and adultery punishable by stoning to death. In a move towards stricter interpretation of Islamic law, the new measures came into force on Wednesday, and also include harsher punishments for other offences. The new measures will primarily apply to Muslims, which account for about two-thirds of the country’s population of 420,000. Brunei is an absolute monarchy in which Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah is both ... ► Read more

  • Brexit: PM seeks extension to negotiate compromise with Labour

    British Prime Minister Theresa May will seek an extension of the Brexit deadline from the European Union to “break the logjam” in Parliament. The Prime Minister says she wants to meet with opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, in an effort to secure the Labour Party’s support for a plan on the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the EU. Mr Corbyn said he was “very happy” to meet with Ms May, and would ensure a customs union ... ► Read more

  • Senator Fraser Anning censured over Christchurch terror attack comments

    The Senate has censured independent Senator Fraser Anning for anti-immigration comments he made following the Christchurch terror attack. Senator Anning said, shortly after the attack, that New Zealand’s immigration programme had contributed to the attack by allowing Muslim fanatics to migrate to the country. His comments were condemned in the upper house, and Senator Anning was formally censured after an hour of debate led by Senate party leaders Mathias Corman (Liberal) and Penny Wong (Labor). ... ► Read more

  • Budget 2019 at a glance

    The budget bottom line will surge to a surplus next financial year on the back of higher than expected revenues from commodities, strong corporate profits and low unemployment. The estimated surplus of $7.1 billion for 2019-20 will be the first time the budget has entered positive territory since 2007-08. How will the Government spend this unexpected windfall of revenues? Simplifying the tax system will cost the government $158 billion over the next ten years. The ... ► Read more

  • Government to close Christmas Island mere months after reopening it

    Less than four months after reopening Christmas Island detention centre, the Government has announced it will close the facility. The centre’s reopening was a $185 million knee-jerk reaction to the passing of the Medevac bill, which gives doctors a greater say in refugee medical transfers to Australia from Manus and Nauru, but ultimately leaves the decision to transfer in the hands of government. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the legislation would encourage people smuggling and ... ► Read more

  • Erdogan’s party to lose Turkey’s biggest cities in local elections

    Turkey’s ruling party has lost mayoral elections in the country’s largest three cities — Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir — in a stunning election setback for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to unofficial results published by state-run Anadolu Agency on Monday (local time). The official results will be released after the country’s election board looks into objections filed by political parties, who have three days to file complaints. Anadolu’s unofficial data shows Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) candidate Ekrem ... ► Read more

  • Brexit: MPs reject four alternative proposals

    A deadlock remains firmly in place in Britain’s Parliament after MPs rejected four alternative Brexit proposals on Monday (local time). The option that came closest to passing proposed Britain remain within the European Union Customs Union, but failed by just three votes. A vote on a confirmatory referendum on any deal received the most votes, but was also defeated by 292–280. The British Government staunchly opposes both options because the former would prevent the UK ... ► Read more

  • Ukraine: exit polls suggest comedian leading presidential race

    Comedian and anti-corruption campaigner Volodymyr Zelensky is leading in the exit polls for the first round of the Ukrainian presidential election. The 41-year-old political novice has led opinion polls, ahead of incumbent President Petro Poroshenko and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, and is the frontrunner according to preliminary exit polls on Sunday, with 30.6% of the vote. “I would like to say thank you to all the Ukrainians who did not vote just for fun,” ... ► Read more

  • Zuckerberg calls for governments to play a “more active role” in Internet regulation

    Facebook founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg has called for governments to play a “more active role” in making rules to regulate the Internet. In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Mr Zuckerberg wrote that a “standardised” approach for removing content would help keep Internet companies such as Facebook “accountable”. “By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs ... ► Read more

  • Slovakia elects first female president

    Slovakia has elected its first female President, the progressive lawyer and political novice Zuzana Čaputová, who ran on a slogan of “stand up to evil.” Ms Čaputová went head-to-head with the government-backed candidate Maroš Šefčovič on Saturday after they emerged as the most popular candidates in the first round of elections held on 16 March. Mr Šefčovič conceded defeat shortly before midnight on Saturday, with Ms Čaputová receiving 58.4% of the vote in the second ... ► Read more