Politics and diplomacy

  • Australia considers sanctions against Myanmar over Rohingya atrocities

    The Australian Government is considering targeted sanctions against Myanmar (Burma) in response to atrocities committed against the Rohingya people. The United Nations has recommended that several of Myanmar’s senior military officials be investigated for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, after a UN fact-finding mission documented atrocities committed against ethnic minorities in the country, including the Rohingya people. “The full report of the fact-finding mission adds to a large body of evidence indicating the ... ► Read more

  • Labor promises $400 million superannuation boost for women

    Women on maternity or holding several low-paid jobs would receive superannuation payments under a plan unveiled by Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek on Wednesday. On average, women retire with $113,000 less superannuation than men, a gulf of 40% that means older single women are more dependent than men on the age pension, and are the fastest growing homeless age group in Australia. This disparity is due to many factors, including women taking time out of ... ► Read more

  • “Bullying, betrayal and backstabbing”: Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis will not recontest her seat

    Liberal MP Ann Sudmalis has announced that she will not recontest her seat of Gilmore at the next federal election, citing “bullying, betrayal and backstabbing” by New South Wales state MP Gareth Ward. In a speech to the House of Representatives, Ms Sudmalis announced on Monday that she will quit Parliament at the next election, and said Mr Ward had “flexed his vengeance on strong Liberal women” by undermining her with branch stacking and unethical ... ► Read more

  • Russia and Turkey agree to create demilitarised zone around Idlib

    The presidents of Russia and Turkey have agreed to establish a demilitarised zone separating rebels and Government forces in Syria’s Idlib province. At a summit in the Russian resort city of Sochi on Monday (local time), Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared the province a demilitarised zone, in an attempt to halt the Syrian Government’s attacks on the region, which is currently held by rebel forces. As part of ... ► Read more

  • US imposes further $200 billion tariffs on Chinese imports

    United States President Donald Trump has followed through on his threat to impose a second tranche of tariffs on Chinese imports, this time applying 10% tariffs on about US $200 billion worth of products. In announcing the new tariffs, President Trump warned China against taking retaliatory action against US industry, threatening that the US “will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately US $267 billion of additional imports.” Collection of the 10% tariffs ... ► Read more

  • MH17: Dutch to look at new evidence provided by Russia

    Dutch prosecutors investigating the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 have said they will analyse all information provided by Russia, after the Russian Ministry of Defence (MOD) released a report that claims the missile that hit the plane was fired by pro-Kiev forces. Speaking to reporters on Monday (local time), General Nikolay Parshin showed a number of documents which appeared to identify the Buk missile. According to General Parshin, the Russian MOD used serial numbers ... ► Read more

  • Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault accuser reveals her identity

    A woman accusing US President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault has identified herself. Christine Blasey Ford told The Washington Post Mr Kavanaugh had pinned her to a bed and tried to undress her when they were both teenagers, allegations the Supreme Court nominee denied when they first surfaced last week. Both Mr Kavanaugh and Dr Ford are now expected to speak with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, according to ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 9 – 15 September 2018

    Malcolm Turnbull urges Liberal colleagues to refer Dutton to High Court Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Liberal Party colleagues to refer Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court to clear up questions about his eligibility. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Roman Quaedvlieg demands Dutton withdraw “disgusting” grooming comment Former Australian Border Force Commission Roman Quaedvlieg has demanded that Home Affairs ... ► Read more

  • Dave Sharma announced as Liberal candidate for Wentworth by-election

    Former Australian ambassador to Israel Dave Sharma has been selected by the Liberal Party as its candidate in the by-election for the federal seat of Wentworth. “I’m honoured to have been selected as the Liberal candidate,” Mr Sharma said after the selection vote. “We have a tough fight ahead of us to hold on to this seat, but [I] believe we can retain it, and retain a Liberal Government in Canberra.” The seat of Wentworth ... ► Read more

  • Skripal poisoning suspects speak on Russian state TV

    Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, the two men identified by the British Government as suspects in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March, have spoken to Russian broadcaster RT, claiming they travelled to the UK simply as tourists. In the interview with RT’s editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan, the pair confirmed that they are the men in the images released by UK authorities last week and said they travelled to Salisbury — the location of the attack ... ► Read more

  • Malcolm Turnbull urges Liberal colleagues to refer Dutton to High Court

    Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he is urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other Liberal Party colleagues to refer Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court to clear up questions about his eligibility. Mr Turnbull tweeted overnight from New York: The point I have made to @ScottMorrisonMP and other colleagues is that given the uncertainty around Peter Dutton’s eligibility, acknowledged by the Solicitor General, he should be referred to the High ... ► Read more

  • Putin: Skripal poisoning suspects ‘civilians, not criminals’

    The two men identified by British investigators as suspects in the nerve agent attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March are civilians and not members of the Russia’s military intelligence service, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The UK Government last week named the suspects as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, and claimed they were from Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), which the Kremlin has dismissed as lies and provocation. Speaking at the ... ► Read more

  • Australian Special Forces deployed to PNG for APEC meeting

    Australia has deployed special forces soldiers to Papua New Guinea (PNG) as part of the effort to secure Port Moresby ahead of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit scheduled for November. Concerns that local military and police personnel are inadequate are behind the deployment. World leaders including United States Vice President Mike Pence, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison are expected to attend the two-day summit. “We ... ► Read more

  • Leaders agree to closer ties between China and Russia

    Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met on the sidelines of the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok on Tuesday, agreeing to bolster ties between their countries to counterbalance the United States’ economic power. The leaders have now met three times in 2018, which President Xi told President Putin reflects the “uniqueness and distinction” of the countries’ relationship, according to Chinese state broadcaster CCTV. “Both nations have to oppose unilateralism and trade protectionism, ... ► Read more

  • “Spare no effort” to protect civilians in Idlib, UN Secretary-General says

    United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has called on Russia, Iran and Turkey to “spare no effort to find solutions that protect civilians” in the rebel-held Syrian city of Idlib. Mr Guterres said it was “absolutely essential” to avoid full-scale conflict in Idlib province, which “would unleash a humanitarian nightmare unlike any seen in the blood-soaked Syrian conflict.” Idlib is the last major rebel-held stronghold in Syria and home to some 3.5 million people, at least ... ► Read more

  • Roman Quaedvlieg demands Dutton withdraw “disgusting” grooming comment

    Former Australian Border Force Commission Roman Quaedvlieg has demanded that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton withdraw his “disgusting and offensive” accusation that Mr Quaedvlieg “groomed” a younger woman who became his girlfriend. Mr Dutton made the accusation in Parliament on Tuesday, taking advantage of parliamentary privilege to protect him from legal retaliation. The 53-year-old Mr Quaedvlieg was dismissed earlier this year when it emerged he had helped his girlfriend, believed to be in her 20s, ... ► Read more

  • Letter: Kim Jong-un suggests second meeting with Trump

    North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un has written to US President Donald Trump suggesting the two hold a second meeting. White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed the receipt of the letter in a news conference and described it as “very warm” and “very positive”, but said it would not be released to the public without the consent of the North Korean leader. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said President Trump received a "very warm" ... ► Read more

  • Independent Dr Joe McGirr predicted to win Wagga Wagga state by-election

    Election analyst Antony Green has called the Wagga Wagga state by-election for independent candidate Dr Joe McGirr. Polls closed for the New South Wales Legislative Assembly seat on Saturday night, but Mr Green said he was comfortable Dr McGirr had won the by-election on Sunday night. Wagga Wagga was vacated in August by Liberal MLA Daryl Maguire, who resigned from the Parliament of New South Wales after admitting to corruption. The fallout saw the Liberal ... ► Read more

  • Mike Pence says he would take lie detector test over NYT op-ed

    US Vice President Mike Pence says he would take a lie detector test “in a heartbeat” to prove he did not write an anonymous op-ed in The New York Times last week claiming the existence of a “resistance” movement within the Trump Administration. Mr Pence dismissed the theory he was the author of the article because it includes the word “lodestar” — a word he uses often — as an effort to “distract attention” from the Trump Administration’s achievements, ... ► Read more

  • Liberal Party tactics undermine Australian democracy

    Revelations that Peter Dutton supporters bullied their colleagues into signing the petition that brought on a leadership spill and ousted former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull have grim implications for Australian democracy. We all knew Libspill was brutally bloody and driven purely by self-interest (it clearly wasn’t in the interest of the country), but these latest allegations against the Dutton camp mark a low point in Australian politics. So, what happened? Supporters of Dutton, who twice ... ► Read more

  • Allegations of bullying during Liberal Party leadership spill emerge

    Parliamentarians have told the ABC that supporters of Peter Dutton bullied them and their colleagues to sign the petition that brought on a leadership spill and ousted former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull two weeks ago. It is claimed that Mr Dutton’s supporters would enter colleagues’ offices without invitation, and refuse to leave unless they signed the petition. Backers of Mr Dutton, who twice attempted to take the leadership and failed, would allegedly target MPs during ... ► Read more

  • Saipov defence cites Trump tweets in argument against death penalty

    The defence team of accused “bike path terrorist” Sayfullo Saipov has argued that tweets from US President Donald Trump and the President’s criticisms of the Department of Justice would make it impossible for Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to fairly and impartially seek the death penalty. Mr Saipov, an immigrant from Uzbekistan, is accused of driving a rented pickup truck into cyclists and runners in Lower Manhattan, New York City, killing eight people and injuring 11 others ... ► Read more

  • Indian Supreme Court decriminalises consensual gay sex

    The Supreme Court of India decriminalised consensual gay sex in a unanimous decision delivered in New Delhi on Thursday afternoon (local time). A five-judge bench determined that section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, which punishes “carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal” with up to life imprisonment, shall no longer apply to homosexual activity. “Any discrimination on the basis of one‘s sexual orientation would entail a violation ... ► Read more

  • Former Victorian Greens leader accused of sexism

    More allegations of sexism in the Australian Greens have emerged, with former Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber accused of calling women in the workplace “fat, hairy lesbians”, “power pussies” and “hairy-legged feminists”. It is claimed that Mr Barber also had a meeting room in his office that female staff were not allowed to enter unless invited. Mr Barber is the brother-in-law of federal Greens leader Richard Di Natale. Earlier this year, it was revealed that ... ► Read more

  • Julie Bishop: ‘Aren’t the public justified in feeling contempt for all of us?’

    Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has criticised her parliamentary colleagues, saying she has witnessed “appalling” behaviour she never would have accepted while running a major law firm 20 years ago. Speaking at a Women’s Weekly awards event in Sydney, Ms Bishop discussed her experience of being a senior woman in the Turnbull Government and addressed a number of issues, including the lack of female MPs within the Liberal Party, bullying from male colleagues, and the adversarial nature ... ► Read more

  • Skripal poisoning: UK names Russian nationals as suspects

    British investigators have named two Russian nationals as suspects in the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in March. UK Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday (local time) the men, identified as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are believed to be officers of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). She said the poisoning was “not a rogue operation” and was “almost certainly” approved at a senior level of the Russian ... ► Read more

  • Government drops policy to raise pension age to 70

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Wednesday that the Government will abandon its long-standing policy to raise the pension age to 70. Instead, the pension qualifying age will increase to 67 in 2023 as scheduled, and stay there. “I don’t think we need that measure any longer when it comes to raising the pension age, and it is one of the things I will be changing pretty quickly,” Mr Morrison told the Nine Network on ... ► Read more

  • Trump criticises Attorney-General for indicting Republican congressmen before mid-term elections

    United States President Donald Trump has publicly criticised Attorney-General Jeff Sessions and suggested that the Department of Justice has jeopardised Republican hopes for the upcoming mid-term elections by indicting two Republican congressmen. The President tweeted: “Two long running, Obama era, investigations of two very popular Republican Congressmen were brought to a well publicized charge, just ahead of the Mid-Terms, by the Jeff Sessions Justice Department. Two easy wins now in doubt because there is not ... ► Read more

  • Dutton to face no-confidence motion this month

    Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton will face a no-confidence motion when the federal Parliament resumes next week. The Greens and Labor will support a no-confidence motion in Mr Dutton as there is mounting controversy over his personal intervention to grant two European au pairs emergency visas in 2015. It has emerged that Mr Dutton may have misled Parliament when he said he had no personal connection to the cases, when it was later revealed that ... ► Read more

  • Ukraine: Tens of thousands gather for rebel leader’s funeral

    Tens of thousands gathered in the Ukrainian rebel stronghold of Donetsk on Sunday (local time) to mourn the death of separatist leader Aleksandr Zakharchenko. Mr Zakharchenko and his bodyguard were killed after a bomb detonated at a coffee shop in Donetsk, injuring 12 other people. He was the most prominent figure in the separatist movement to be killed in the Ukraine conflict, which started in 2014 as a result of widespread civil unrest in the ... ► Read more

  • Report says “worst fears” surpassed in Nauru detention centre

    A report co-authored by the Refugee Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre released on Monday details escalating levels of abuse, trauma, and desperation in Australia’s offshore detention centre in Nauru. According to the report, the situation for the 900 people detained on Nauru (including 109 children) has surpassed the “worst fears” of advocates when the policy of offshore detention was reinstated in 2012. Around 50 overseas medical requests have been actively blocked ... ► Read more

  • EU and UK clash over Brexit negotiations

    Michel Barnier, the European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, “strongly” opposes key parts of the British Government’s proposals for a future trade deal between the United Kingdom and the EU. Mr Barnier’s comments follow an article penned by British Prime Minister Theresa May and published in The Sunday Telegraph, in which the Prime Minister insisted she will not make compromises on the Government’s plan to leave the EU that are against the “national interest”. Included in ... ► Read more

  • Morrison considering deregistering CFMEU

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he will discuss deregistering the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) with his industrial relations minister. Speaking on Sydney’s 2GB radio station on Monday morning, Mr Morrison said he would “of course” consider deregistering the CFMEU, which would refuse officials the right to enter workplaces and limit its ability to bring cases to the Fair Work Commission. The Prime Minister described the CFMEU as a “bunch of thugs” ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 26 August–1 September 2018

    Coalition suffers worst opinion poll result in a decade An opinion poll conducted by Newspoll indicates the Coalition’s primary vote has fallen to 33%, the lowest since Brendan Nelson was opposition leader in 2008. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Three dead and 13 injured in shooting at video game tournament in Florida Three people have been killed and 13 injured after a gunman opened fire at an online video game tournament being live-streamed ... ► Read more

  • New study: women are becoming increasingly drawn to right-wing populist parties

    A new study has shown that women are becoming increasingly drawn to right-wing populist parties, often showing more radicalism than men. According to the study conducted by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES), which is affiliated with Germany’s centre-left Social Democratic Party, the number of women drawn to right-wing populist parties is increasing. The report examined right-wing populist voters in Germany, France, Greece, Poland, Sweden and Hungary. Elisa Gutchse, who edited the FES study, argued that ... ► Read more

  • Dutton under fire over granting a second au pair visa

    It has emerged that Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton used his powers to grant an emergency visa to an Italian au pair planning to work for one of his former Queensland Police colleagues. The revelation has come just days after it was revealed that Mr Dutton personally intervened to free a French au pair from immigration detention after his office was contacted by AFL boss Gillon McLachlan, a relative of the host family. Italian ... ► Read more

  • Syria and Russia to ‘wipe out terrorists’ in Idlib

    The Syrian and Russian governments have signalled an all-out offensive to retake the last rebel-held Syrian province may be launched in the near future. Speaking at a joint press conference with his Syrian counterpart Walid al-Muallem in Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the majority of Syria had been “freed of terrorists”, save for Idlib, a northeastern province bordering Turkey, according to Al Jazeera. “What we need to do now is to wipe out those terrorist groups which ... ► Read more

  • Aus. Government threatens to deny whistleblower Chelsea Manning a visa

    The Australian Government has threatened tour organisers with a visa denial for convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning ahead of her upcoming tour. Think Inc., the tour organisers, announced on Thursday that it had received a notice of intention from the Government to deny Chelsea Manning entry to Australia for her speaking tour which is scheduled to start in Sydney on Sunday. The group is now calling on Ms Manning’s supporters to lobby new Immigration Minister ... ► Read more

  • Scott Morrison to finalise Indonesia free trade deal

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison will leave for Indonesia on Thursday to conclude free trade talks with President Joko Widodo. Mr Morrison said the talks in Jakarta will focus on enhancing economic and security ties between the two G20 nations. “Our close collaboration across economic, security and strategic domains makes both countries stronger, safer and more prosperous,” Prime Minister Morrison said. “I look forward to working with Indonesia’s President to lay the foundation for the next ... ► Read more

  • Dutton ignored Border Force advice when granting au pair’s visa

    Emails leaked to Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching reveal that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton ignored the advice of a senior Australian Border Force official when intervening in the case of a detained French au pair. This revelation adds to the concerns that Mr Dutton intervened in the matter as a personal favour to Liberal Party donors. The emails show that Mr Dutton approved the release of 27-year-old Alexandra Deuwel, despite being told there was detail ... ► Read more

  • Abbott appointed special envoy on indigenous affairs

    Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been appointed special envoy on indigenous affairs, stating he will focus on school attendance and performance. Although Mr Abbott was left out of the new Cabinet assembled by incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week, Mr Abbott’s appointment as special envoy is part of Mr Morrison’s efforts to heal the wounds inflicted by last week’s leadership challenges. In accepting the position, Mr Abbott made a number of recommendations ... ► Read more

  • Allegations that Dutton intervened in au pair case due to lobbying

    Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton is under fire for personally intervening to free a 27-year-old au pair from immigration detention in November 2015. The au pair, Alexandra Deuwel, arrived at Adelaide Airport on 31 October 2015 and was detained because she had arrived on the wrong visa. Mr Dutton personally intervened to grant Ms Deuwel and three-month tourist visa because it was “in the public interest”. In a document marked “Sensitive: Personal” dated 1 ... ► Read more

  • Suspected asylum seekers detained after abandoning boat in Queensland

    A total of 17 suspected asylum seekers have been detained in far north Queensland after the group abandoned their boat that ran aground near the Daintree Rainforest area on Sunday. Authorities believe they have detained all members of the group, however further patrols are being conducted in case there are any others. A number of those people have been transported to an immigration facility in Darwin, where they await to be repatriated back to Vietnam. ... ► Read more

  • ‘Do not despair of our present difficulties’: Read John McCain’s farewell letter

    A farewell letter from renowned American Senator John McCain has been made public following his death on Saturday (local time). Read the letter below as released by his office: “My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans, “Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to ... ► Read more

  • Coalition suffers worst opinion poll result in a decade

    An opinion poll conducted by Newspoll indicates the Coalition’s primary vote has fallen to 33%, the lowest since Brendan Nelson was opposition leader in 2008. The Labor Party now leads the Government 56–44% in the two-party preferred poll, with Labor leader Bill Shorten the preferred Prime Minister over current Prime Minister Scott Morrison, 39–33%. Newly-appointed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg acknowledged the damning results were expected, following two Liberal leadership spills last week and the ousting of ... ► Read more

  • Peter Dutton sworn in as Home Affairs Minister

    Peter Dutton has been sworn in as Home Affairs Minister, making him the first minister of the Morrison Government to be sworn in following Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s victory in Friday’s Liberal leadership spill. Mr Morrison unveiled his new ministry on Sunday which sees Marise Payne replace Julie Bishop as Foreign Affairs Minister, and Peter Dutton lose immigration from his Home Affairs portfolio. Ms Bishop, who lost her position as deputy Liberals leader in the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 19 August – 25 August 2018

    Scott Morrison wins leadership spill Scott Morrison has won Friday’s Liberal leadership spill, clearing the way for him to become Australia’s 30th Prime Minister. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Government instability in the wake of leadership challenge Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government was rocked by turmoil following Tuesday’s unsuccessful leadership challenge by former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump warns American economy would crash if he ... ► Read more

  • Trump warns American economy would crash if he was impeached

    United States President Donald Trump has warned that any attempt to impeach him could result in the crash of the American economy. The President made the claim as the White House struggles to manage the fallout after Mr Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, entered into a plea deal on behalf of Mr Trump’s former campaign chairperson, Paul Manafort, who was convicted of financial offences this week. The President, who is incensed at Michael Cohen’s ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: Scott Morrison wins leadership spill

    Scott Morrison has won Friday’s Liberal leadership spill, clearing the way for him to become Australia’s 30th Prime Minister. Mr Morrison defeated Peter Dutton by 45-40. Josh Frydenberg has also been elected deputy leader of the Liberal Party, replacing long-serving deputy leader Julie Bishop. Mr Morrison’s victory comes amid a chaotic week in Canberra which has now ended Malcolm Turnbull’s three year tenure in the top job. Mr Turnbull used his final press conference to ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: PM receives petition calling for party-room meeting

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed he has received a petition with 43 signatures calling for a Liberal party-room meeting. The Prime Minister said in a tweet that he will call the meeting once the signatures have been verified by the party whips. He tweeted: I have just been provided with a request for a meeting of the Parliamentary Liberal Party. It has 43 signatures. As soon as they are verified by the Whips, which ... ► Read more

  • Leadership crisis: Turnbull to call party-room meeting for Friday, will not stand as candidate in spill

    #BREAKING PM not standing down. Says Dutton wanted the House adjourned. He’s waiting for the petition from members for a party room meeting. If he gets it, he’ll call a meeting of the party room midday tomorrow. And he wants SG advice on Dutton before then #auspol @politicsabc pic.twitter.com/JnDLo4irRc — Matthew Doran (@MattDoran91) August 23, 2018 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that he will call a Liberal party room meeting for midday on Friday ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: Cormann, Cash, Fifield offer resignations, call for leadership spill

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that he will call a Liberal party room meeting for midday on Friday if he receives a petition from a majority of Liberal MPs and Senators. If it goes ahead, the meeting will decide who leads the Liberal Party, and who is Prime Minister of the country. On Thursday, senior Liberal Senators and Cabinet members Mathias Cormann, Michaelia Cash, and Mitch Fifield told the Prime Minister that he no ... ► Read more

  • German foreign minister calls for independent payments system from US

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has called for the creation of a new electronic payments system independent of the United States to ensure the survival of the nuclear deal between Iran and the West, which the US withdrew from in May this year. Mr Maas told Handelsblatt that Europe should not allow the US to “act over our heads or at our expense.” “For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing ... ► Read more

  • Government faces increased instability in the wake of leadership challenge

    Malcolm Turnbull’s coalition government remains in turmoil following Tuesday’s unsuccessful leadership challenge by former Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton. The Prime Minister caught would-be challengers off-guard when he declared all leadership positions vacant at the coalition’s party room meeting on Tuesday. Mr Dutton, who was rumoured to be planning a leadership challenge, stood against Mr Turnbull and lost 48–35. As convention dictates, Mr Dutton resigned from his cabinet position and will return to the ... ► Read more

  • Leadership spill: Turnbull is not out of the woods

    Everyone knew there was something off on Monday. Despite the smiles and assurances of support for the Prime Minister, it was clear something was bubbling inside the Liberal Party. And so, here we are — Dutton tried and failed, and Turnbull comes out victorious. But does he really? Sure the PM came out on top, but a closer look at the results reveals Turnbull is anything but out of the woods. It is no secret the Liberal ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: Malcolm Turnbull wins leadership challenge

    Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has survived a snap Liberal Party leadership challenge from Peter Dutton amid weeks of internal pressure over the National Energy Guarantee. On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Turnbull declared all leadership positions vacant, clearing the way for anyone wanting to make a bid for the leadership. Mr Turnbull beat Mr Dutton 48-35, prompting Mr Dutton to resign as Home Affairs Minister, despite the Prime Minister reportedly offering him the chance to stay ... ► Read more

  • ‘If they have their dollars, we have our God’: Erdogan doubles down on rift with US

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has doubled down on the detention of an American pastor which sparked diplomatic fallout with the US, saying Ankara will not bow before those who set up their “own order by exploiting the world” and make Turkey their “strategic target”. “They were not able to make us collapse and they will never be,” Mr Erdogan told supporters on Saturday (local time). “If they have their dollars, we have our God.” While ... ► Read more

  • Omarosa Manigault-Newman releases recording of Lara Trump offering $15,000-a-month job

    Omarosa Manigault-Newman, a former White House communications aide, has released another secret recording on Thursday that she says backs her claim that President Trump’s daughter-in-law had offered her a $15,000-a-month salary in exchange for her silence about her time as a White House adviser. The audio, which was aired during an interview on MSNBC, is the latest in a trickle of recordings that Ms Manigault-Newman has made public to build credibility for Unhinged, her tell-all ... ► Read more

  • Pompeo announces Iran Action Group

    US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Thursday (local time) the launch of a new Iran policy team following President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from multinational nuclear deal with Tehran. The Iran Action Group (IAG), headed by State Department director Brian Hook, aims to develop strategies to combat “the Iranian threat”. Mr Hook, as the IAG Special Representative for Iran, told reporters the group’s focus will be on monitoring the effect of Iranian policy on ... ► Read more

  • Restrictions on foreign ownership of housing would be welcomed in Australia

    Australians have long been enthusiastic about property ownership. By 1945, with a population of 7.39 million, 50% of Australians owned their own homes. The end of World War II saw Australian ex-servicemen, who had previously been living through the Depression, finally have a substantial bank balance due to receiving their accumulated military pay. Many turned that bank balance into their own part of the Great Australian Dream by purchasing a property. Following the Baby Boom ... ► Read more

  • Dutton reportedly urged to challenge Turnbull for Prime Ministership

    The Daily Telegraph has reported that some anonymous government backbenchers are urging Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton to challenge Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for leadership of the Liberal Party and the country. A small group of government MPs are opposed to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), a policy to address electricity affordability, reliability, and emissions, that was adopted by the Coalition party room on Tuesday. Those MPs opposed want more done to cut prices ... ► Read more

  • New Zealand passes law banning foreign non-residents from buying houses

    The New Zealand Parliament yesterday passed the Overseas Investment Amendment Bill 2018, which bans many non-resident foreigners from buying existing housing, as part of the Labour Government’s election promise to tackle housing affordability. During the election campaign last September, now-Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pledged to stem rising house prices and reduce growing homelessness, partly by banning foreign buyers. Associate Finance Minister David Parker, who introduced the bill in December last year, described the bill’s passing ... ► Read more

  • 48 dead in Kabul education centre suicide bombing

    A suicide bombing at an education centre in Kabul has killed 48 people and left 67 injured, according to Afghan officials. Police say a suicide bomber entered the centre while tuition was taking place and detonated his bomb belt at about 4:00 pm (local time) on Wednesday afternoon. “We can confirm the attack was caused by a suicide bomber on foot,” police spokesperson Hashmat Stanikzai said. “The bomber detonated himself inside the education centre.” Many ... ► Read more

  • Donald Trump revokes former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance

    US President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he has revoked former CIA director John Brennan’s security clearance. The decision by Mr Trump is an unprecedented use of presidential authority. “I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today, in fulfilling that responsibility, I have decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency,” Trump said in a statement ... ► Read more

  • Man arrested on suspicion of terror offences after Westminster car crash

    The driver of a Ford Fiesta that was involved in a collision in front of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster yesterday morning (local time) has been arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences and is being held in a south London police station, according to Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu. At 7:37am the vehicle collided with cyclists and pedestrians, resulting in the hospitalisation of two people with non-life threatening injuries. The man was alone ... ► Read more

  • Transcript: Senator Fraser Anning’s ‘final solution’ speech in full

    Katter’s Australia Party senator Fraser Anning has used his maiden speech to call for a ban on Muslim migration to Australia and a plebiscite on whether Australia should only accept European immigrants, in what would be a return to the White Australia policy. Mr Anning’s speech has attracted condemnation from both sides of politics. Read Senator Anning’s full speech below. Thank you, Mr President. I am pleased to advise that this is finally my first ... ► Read more

  • Government releases exposure draft of encryption-breaking legislation

    The Government today released an exposure draft of its proposed legislative response to increasing use of encrypted communications services. Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security Angus Taylor said the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018 “will allow law enforcement and interception agencies to access specific communications without compromising the security of a network” and will “expressly prevent the weakening of encryption or the introduction of so-called backdoors.” For more than ... ► Read more

  • Coalition party room backs NEG

    The Coalition party room officially endorsed the Turnbull Government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG) on Tuesday. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hailed his victory as bringing Australia “one step closer to cheaper and more reliable energy”. The Coalition party room meeting lasted over two hours and has been described as “testy”, according to the ABC. While the majority of Liberal and National MPs supported the plan, a handful of backbenchers, including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, have ... ► Read more

  • Former White House aide releases secret recordings with Donald Trump

    Former Apprentice contestant and White House communication aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman has released a recording of a conversation with US President Donald Trump after she was fired. John Kelly, Mr Trump’s White House Chief of Staff, fired Ms Manigault-Newman last December from her position as director of communications for the White House’s Office of Public Liaison, in a tense meeting that she secretly recorded. After the meeting, she spoke privately with Mr Trump who seemed unaware that she ... ► Read more

  • Canada-Saudi row: what exactly happened?

    Canada and Saudi Arabia have had a severe diplomatic falling out and for two fairly major global players, there has been a considerably small amount of coverage. So what exactly caused the rapid deterioration in the relationship between one of the West’s most prominent countries and a major Middle Eastern power? The tweet Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland urged Saudi authorities to release civil rights activists facing up to 20 years imprisonment in a tweet ... ► Read more

  • Australia’s population: it isn’t so bad

    On 7 August 2018 Australia hit the wonderful milestone of growing to a population greater than 25 million. Australia’s population still remains fairly small in comparison to other nations even with smaller landmass. So, while you may believe we are taking in a record number of refugees, or that foreigners are taking all your jobs, here are a couple of reasons why you should be thankful about our population size and perhaps realise that it ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 5 August – 11 August 2018

    Pence unveils details on Space Force United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday (local time) unveiled details of how the Trump Administration will build the so-called Space Force which is set to become the sixth branch of the US military, saying the “time has come” to prepare for “the next battlefield.” See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Emma Husar will not recontest seat at next federal election Labor MP Emma Husar announced on ... ► Read more

  • Source: Israel and Hamas reach ceasefire agreement amid escalating hostilities

    Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire agreement late on Thursday (local time) evening amid an intense 24-hour period of hostilities, according to a diplomatic source that had knowledge of the negotiations. The ceasefire was expected to go into effect at midnight, the source said. Egypt and the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process has backed the agreement, with both parties leading efforts toward the negotiations. Both have repeatedly called for peace ... ► Read more

  • Mike Pence: ‘We must have American dominance in space’

    .@VP Mike Pence announced today the #DoD will establish #SpaceForce as a sixth military branch by 2020. pic.twitter.com/eXc3SZ6ej7 — U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) August 9, 2018 United States Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday (local time) unveiled details of how the Trump Administration will build the so-called Space Force which is set to become the sixth branch of the US military, saying the “time has come” to prepare for “the next battlefield.” US President Donald ... ► Read more

  • US announces fresh sanctions on Russia over Skripal poisoning

    The United States will impose new sanctions on Russia over the Kremlin’s alleged role in poisoning former Russian spy Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March, US State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Wednesday (local time). Ms Nauert said the US had determined that Russia “has used chemical or biological weapons in violation of international law”, adding that the sanctions will come into effect around 22 August. By declaring Russia guilty, the US ... ► Read more

  • China matches US tariff hike

    China will respond in kind to the United States’ decision to impose 25% tariffs on USD $16 billion (AUD $22 billion) worth of Chinese imports, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced on Wednesday. The new tariffs will take effect from 23 August — the same day the US’ tariffs take effect — and will target products including fuel, steel, cars, bicycles, medical equipment, fish meal, wood waste, paper, and scrap metal. Both the US and ... ► Read more

  • Former ACCC chief calls for consumer watchdog to take over ASIC banking powers

    Former chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Professor Allan Fels has called for the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) to be stripped of its regulatory powers over banks, and those powers handed to the ACCC. Criticising ASIC for being ineffectual in dealing with banking misconduct, Professor Fels told ABC’s AM programme that “ASIC is not feared, unlike the ACCC.” According to Professor Fels, transferring bank supervisory powers from ASIC to the ... ► Read more

  • Syrian President’s wife Asma al-Assad diagnosed with breast cancer

    Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s wife has been diagnosed with breast cancer, Syria’s official state news agency reported on Wednesday (local time). Asma al-Assad, the British-born first lady of Syria, is currently being treated for early stage breast cancer at a military hospital in Damascus. The Syrian President tweeted a photo of him sitting along his wife as she received treatment, saying, “With strength and confidence and faith, lady Asma al-Assad starts the first stage of ... ► Read more

  • BREAKING: Emma Husar will not recontest seat at next federal election

    Labor MP Emma Husar announced on Wednesday that she will not recontest her western Sydney seat of Lindsay at the next federal election, amid an internal Labor investigation into allegations of bullying and misconduct made against her by former staff at her electorate office. Despite denying the allegations, Ms Husar told Channel Nine that “enough is enough”. “It’s a disappointing day for me,” Ms Husar said. “I’ve made the decision, the agonising decision, that I ... ► Read more

  • Homeopathy all but eradicated from National Health Service in England

    Publicly-funded homeopathy is all but over in England, after Bristol’s Clinical Commissioning Group decided to cease providing homeopathic treatments under the National Health Service (NHS). Bristol was the last place in England to offer NHS-funded homeopathic treatment, and it will now be provided only in exceptional circumstances. Homeopathy uses treatments based on the idea that “like cures like” — that minute doses of natural substances that produce similar symptoms as an illness can be used ... ► Read more

  • Global trade war escalates as US threatens sanctions against trading with Iran and increases Chinese tariffs

    United States President Donald Trump has threatened to impose trade sanctions on countries that continue to trade with Iran, after the US reimposed sanctions on the Middle Eastern country this week. “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States,” President Trump said in a tweet on Tuesday (local time). “I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less!” The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ... ► Read more

  • Canadian ambassador expelled as relations with Saudi Arabia rapidly deteriorate

    Canadian ambassador Denis Horak has been expelled from Saudi Arabia after Canada called for the release of human rights activists. Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in #SaudiArabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful #humanrights activists. — Foreign Policy CAN (@CanadaFP) August 3, 2018 Saudi Arabia has also frozen all trade with Canada and its state airline ... ► Read more

  • Rouhani on new sanctions: US ‘psychological warfare’ illogical

    On Monday (local time), Iranian President Hassan Rouhani called the United States’ plan to re-impose sanctions an attempt at “psychological warfare” that “doesn’t make sense”. During an interview on state television Mr Rouhani said: “If you’re an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife.” It is Mr Rouhani’s first response to US President Donald Trump’s ... ► Read more

  • Craig Emerson quits Sky News over Blair Cottrell interview

    Craig Emerson resigned from his regular commentary spot on Sky News on Monday in protest of the network’s interview with far right ‘activist’ Blair Cottrell on Sunday night. The former Labor front-bencher announced his resignation from Sky via Twitter, saying the broadcaster’s interview “Neo-Nazi Blair [Cottrell]…was another step in a journey to normalising racism & bigotry in our country.” Mr Emerson tweeted: I have advised @SkyNewsAust that I have quit as a Sky commentator. My father ... ► Read more

  • Venezuela: six arrested for drone explosions during President’s speech

    The Venezuelan Government says six people have been arrested following drone explosions during a speech by President Nicolas Maduro on Saturday evening (local time). According to Interior Minister Nestor Reverol, two drones packed with a kilogram of C-4 plastic explosive each, were flown toward the President as he spoke at a celebration of the 81st anniversary of the National Guard in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. Both drones were intended to detonate close to the ... ► Read more

  • Australian industry groups urge governments to support the National Energy Guarantee

    Seven groups that represent Australian industry have urged the federal, state, and territory governments to get behind the National Energy Guarantee (NEG). In a joint statement issued on Monday the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Council of Small Business Organisations, National Farmers’ Federation, Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, and Australian Energy Council called on Australian leaders to “put aside politics and support the implementation of the ... ► Read more

  • Trump acknowledges son met with Russians for Clinton dirt

    US President Donald Trump has acknowledged his son, Donald Trump Jr, met with a group of Russians at Trump Tower to get information on Democrat rival Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election. Referring to reports by US media that his son could be in legal strife over the meeting, in a tweet on Sunday (local time) Mr Trump called the reports “Fake News” and “a complete fabrication”,  adding that the meeting was “totally legal” ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 29 July – 4 August 2018

    Trump’s offer to meet with Rouhani rebuked on both sides US President Donald Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been shot down both from within his own administration and senior figures in Iran. See OPMG’s coverage of this story here. Trump on Mueller investigation: “Stop this rigged witch hunt right now’ US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to condemn special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in ... ► Read more

  • Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa wins election

    President Emmerson Mnangagwa has won the Zimbabwean presidential election, according to the country’s electoral commission. Mr Mnangagwa secured 50.8% of the votes beating opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, who won 44.3%. The opposition has rejected the results, with the chairman of Mr Chamisa’s MDC Alliance saying the count could not be verified. By winning just scraping more than 50% of the vote, Mr Mnangagwa has avoided a second run-off election. Taking to Twitter, the President said ... ► Read more

  • Zimbabwe: troops open fire on rioters in capital

    Three people were killed in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare after troops opened fire on rioters on Wednesday, police say. Supporters of the opposition party MDC Alliance began rioting when it was announced that the government party, ZANU-PF, had won a majority of seats in the parliamentary election but that the results of the presidential election were not ready. State broadcaster ZBC reported that the Electoral Commission would announce the presidential results at 12:30 pm ... ► Read more

  • US sanctions Turkish officials over jailed pastor

    The United States Government has imposed sanctions on Turkey’s justice and interior ministers over the ongoing detention of American pastor Andrew Brunson. Mr Brunson has been held in custody for almost two years over alleged links to political groups. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said the US Government believes Mr Brunson is “a victim of unfair and unjust detention”, adding that the Government has “seen no evidence that Pastor Brunson has done anything wrong.” ... ► Read more

  • Labor MP Emma Husar faces new allegations of misusing entitlements

    Labor MP Emma Husar has been under constant fire since it was revealed in July that the Labor Party had placed her under independent investigation following accusations that she bullied and harassed staff at her Western Sydney electorate office. A stream of negative reports has ensued, with Labor colleagues predicting that Ms Husar will not re-contest her marginal seat of Lindsay. It emerged this week that Ms Husar may have used her taxpayer-funded entitlements to ... ► Read more

  • Trump on Mueller investigation: ‘Stop this rigged witch hunt right now’

    US President Donald Trump has taken to Twitter to condemn special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election, calling for his Attorney-General Jeff Sessions to end the probe. Mr Trump said in a tweet Mr Sessions “should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further” and accused special counsel Mueller of being “totally conflicted”. ..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff ... ► Read more

  • Government announces increased privacy protections for My Health Records

    In response to concerns over the adequacy of privacy protections, the Federal Government has announced changes to the My Health Records system to allow deletion of records and restrict government access to patient data. After meeting with doctors from the Australian Medical Association (AMA) and College of General Practitioners to discuss privacy concerns on Tuesday night, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced changes will be made to the My Health Records Act 2012. Australians will be ... ► Read more

  • US State Dept. expects DPRK to denuclearise despite reports of new ICBMs

    The US State Department expects North Korea to follow through on its commitment to denuclearisation despite reports surfacing that Pyongyang is developing new missiles. “What we are going on is the commitment that Chairman Kim [Jong-un] made to our president, and that is the commitment to denuclearise. That is something that we certainly anticipate that he will hold up his end of the bargain,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Tuesday (local time). Ms ... ► Read more

  • Trump’s offer to meet with Rouhani rebuked on both sides

    US President Donald Trump’s offer to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been shot down both from within his own administration and senior figures in Iran. In a joint news conference with Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Mr Trump said that he would be willing to meet with the Iranian President. “I’ll meet with anybody,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with meeting.” When he was asked whether the meeting would include preconditions, he replied ... ► Read more

  • Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All Bill would cost $32.6 trillion, working paper claims

    A working paper published by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University claims that US Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposed Medicare for All Bill (“M4A Bill”) would cost approximately USD $32.6 trillion over the first decade of implementation (2022–2031). According to the paper’s author, Charles Blahous, the “projected increase in federal healthcare commitments would equal approximately 10.7% of GDP in 2022, rising to nearly 12.7% of GDP in 2031 and further thereafter.” The increased costs would ... ► Read more

  • Australia and Japan join US Indo-Pacific infrastructure initiative

    Australia and Japan have formed a trilateral partnership with the United States to invest in infrastructure and development projects in the Indo-Pacific region, it was announced on Tuesday. The announcement follows months of talks regarding a joint scheme to respond to China’s Belt and Road Programme. Initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, Belt and Road is a massive infrastructure investment programme across Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific, but has been criticised for spreading Chinese political influence ... ► Read more

  • Analysis: the ‘Super Saturday’ by-elections didn’t change much, but there were some lessons

    Saturday saw five by-elections for the House of Representatives, each triggered by the resignation of the incumbent MP. Although dubbed “Super Saturday” by the media, the results were generally predictable and posed no threat to the status quo. In four of the by-elections the incumbent was returned, while the incumbent in Perth, Tim Hammond, did not contest the election and was replaced by Labor colleague Patrick Gorman. But there were some noteworthy aspects of the ... ► Read more

  • Julie Bishop arrives in East Timor after five year diplomatic drought

    Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop arrived in East Timor on Sunday marking the first visit by an Australian government minister to the country in five years. Tensions between Australia and East Timor have now eased after a five year diplomatic drought. The rift between Canberra and Dili, East Timor’s capital, mostly resided in a bitter dispute over maritime boundaries. East Timor accused Australia of trying to steal a large supply of oil and gas that lies between the two ... ► Read more