Politics and diplomacy

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

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

  • Human cost of Ukrainian civil war growing, UNSC hears

    The human cost of the conflict in Ukraine is growing, the United Nations political chief told the Security Council on Tuesday, during a briefing on the current situation in the country. UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo’s briefing to the Council was delivered just days before Ukrainians vote in parliamentary elections on 21 July. Ms DiCarlo expressed her hope that the poll will be “peaceful and democratic”, and inclusive, reflecting the “broadest participation of women”. However, the current ... ► Read more

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

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

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

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

  • Explainer: Trump, Twitter and four Democrat congresswomen

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

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

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

  • More clashes in Hong Kong between police and protesters

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

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

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

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

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

  • Week in Brief: 7 July – 13 July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney warns Australia on press freedom

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

  • A quarter of Pacific Islanders live in poverty, UN development forum hears

    While progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has been made over the past four years, some vulnerable island states are losing momentum in the race to 2030, according to discussions at the United Nations’ annual High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) on Wednesday. In 2015, the UN set out a vision for “people, planet, peace and prosperity” through partnership and solidarity, when it adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  To date however, many ... ► Read more

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

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

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

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

  • Hunt takes on Trump over “disrespectful” remarks

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

  • Alek Sigley denies he was spying on North Korea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Trump lashes out at May on Twitter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Week in Brief: 30 June – 6 July 2019

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

  • Senate passes Coalition tax cuts, Labor backs down

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

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

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

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

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

  • “All-consuming crisis”: UN human rights chief demands Venezuela ends rights violations

    The Venezuelan authorities should take immediate steps to halt widespread rights violations being perpetrated against the country’s people and work to resolve “this all-consuming crisis”, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said on Thursday (local time). Ms Bachelet’s appeal to the Government of Nicolas Maduro comes ahead of her address to the Human Rights Council on Friday and follows her official visit to Venezuela from 19 to 21 June. Her comments follow ... ► Read more

  • Does Hong Kong have a future divorced from Beijing?

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

  • Trump warns Iran against nuclear threats

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

  • North Korea releases Australian detainee

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

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

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

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

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

  • Bishop and Pyne criticised over post-Parliament jobs

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

  • Dubai ruler’s wife reportedly seeks asylum in UK

    The wife of Dubai’s ruler has reportedly fled the United Arab Emirates with their young son and daughter and sought asylum in London. According to the BBC, Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein is said to be “afraid for her life”, while a person close to the family told The New York Times that she fled to Britain several months ago and was seeking a divorce. It follows the departure from Dubai of one of her husband’s daughters last year. ... ► Read more

  • Morrison and Albanese will meet today to discuss press freedom

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

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

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

  • Morrison praying for Perth man missing in North Korea

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he is praying for missing Perth man Alek Sigley, as authorities struggle to ascertain new information into his disappearance in North Korea. “I’m seeking and receiving regular updates but in the absence of those, and indeed regardless of those, prayer is my response,” he said. Mr Morrison made the comments outside a Canberra church, which hosted a service to mark the opening of the 46th Parliament. Mr Sigley’s family has not ... ► Read more

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

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

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

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

  • Iran breaches enriched uranium limit, sparks global concern

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

  • Tax cuts in focus as Parliament prepares to resume

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

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

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

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

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

  • Trump, Kim agree to resume talks in historic meeting

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

  • Week in Brief: 23 June – 29 June 2019

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

  • Merkel trembles uncontrollably for second time this fortnight

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

  • US wants Australia to join anti-Iran coalition

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

  • Putin calls liberal values “obsolete”

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

  • Morrison, Trump hold working dinner ahead of G20

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

  • Trump responds to Rio Grande tragedy, blames Democrats

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

  • Australian man reported missing in North Korea

    The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing consular assistance to the family of a 29-year-old Perth student who is reportedly missing in North Korea. Alek Sigley, who speaks fluent Korean, began studying for a master’s degree in Korean literature at Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang last year. He is believed to be the only Australian living in North Korea and it is understood that friends of Mr Sigley reported him missing earlier this week. In ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Paladin to have its security contract temporarily extended

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

  • Lowy Institute: Australians’ trust in China at lowest point in 15 years

    Australians are losing trust in China due to its military intentions, infrastructure ambitions in the region, and displays of influence, according to the Lowy Institute. The latest Lowy Institute poll on Australian attitudes to international events, released on Wednesday, reveals local sentiment towards China has taken a negative turn. Australians’ trust in China is at its lowest level in the 15 years of the poll, with only 32% saying they trust the Asian power either ... ► Read more

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

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

  • Stephanie Grisham appointed new White House Press Secretary

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

  • Victoria set to ban mobile phones in public schools

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

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

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

  • Government to push ahead with tax cuts despite Labor reservations

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

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

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

  • How Iran’s Revolutionary Guard became so powerful

    The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) was founded as an ideological custodian of Iran’s 1979 revolution. Charged with defending the Islamic Republic against internal and external threats, the corps has gained an outsized role in executing Iran’s foreign policy and wields control over vast segments of the economy. The IRGC’s ties to nonstate armed groups in the region, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, help Iran compensate for its relatively weak conventional military forces. Answering directly to the ... ► Read more

  • Week in Brief: 16 June – 22 June 2019

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

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

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

  • Tory leadership: Johnson and Hunt last men standing

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

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

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

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

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

  • Iran’s Revolutionary Guard says it shot down US drone

    Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has said it shot down a United States drone on Thursday — a move that, if confirmed, will surely further exacerbate tensions between Tehran and Washington. The alleged downing follows the US Military’s allegation that Iran fired a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. Washington blames Iran for the attack on the ships, which Tehran denies. ... ► Read more

  • Tory leadership: Johnson extends lead as Rory Stewart eliminated

    Rory Stewart has been eliminated from the British Conservative Party leadership election, while Boris Johnson has extended his lead as the parliamentary party’s preferred leader and next Prime Minister. Four of the initial 10 nominees remain, which will be reduced to two final candidates after a further two rounds of ballots. Dominic Raab was eliminated after failing to meet the required 10% threshold in the second round of voting. Mr Stewart almost doubled his vote ... ► Read more

  • MH17: four suspects to be charged with murder

    Five years after the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine, the Dutch-led Joint Investigation Team (JIT) has announced it will charge four men with murder over the deaths of all 298 people onboard, including 38 Australians. The JIT — made up of investigators from the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and Ukraine — named Russians Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky and Oleg Pulatov, as well as Ukrainian Leonid Kharchenko. They will be prosecuted by ... ► Read more

  • Confused about Iran? Here’s an explainer

    Tensions between the United States and Iran have soared in recent months to what appears to be near boiling point. The two countries have been at loggerheads for decades, with Washington accusing the oil-rich country of destabilising the Middle East by backing extremist groups and attempting to develop a nuclear arsenal, and Tehran accusing the US of imperialism and trying to provoke another conflict in the region. But US-Iran relations stabilised in 2015 when Iran ... ► Read more

  • Why is the Tory leadership contest taking so long and who will be the new PM?

    This article will continue to be updated as the election progresses. On 24 May 2019, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation as leader of the Conservative Party (“the Tories”), effective from 7 June. This announcement triggered an election within the Conservative Party to determine who will lead the party and succeed her as Prime Minister. It has been two weeks since Theresa May’s resignation took effect, and we still don’t know who the ... ► Read more

  • Controversial Hong Kong extradition bill may lapse

    The head of the Hong Kong Government, Carrie Lam, has indicated that a controversial bill to allow extradition to mainland China may lapse following the region’s most violent protests since 1997. In a press conference on Tuesday, Ms Lam apologised for the political turbulence and said that the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 would not be reintroduced during her time in office if concerns cannot be adequately ... ► Read more

  • NSW budget: Berejiklian Government delivers modest surplus

    New South Wales Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has handed down his first budget since the Berejiklian Government’s re-election, delivering a modest surplus, record infrastructure spending and the biggest write-down in NSW history. “We are strongly in the black,” Mr Perrottet said. “This is a budget that is a testament to our strong financial management here in NSW.” However, the surplus is down from $1.4 billion to $802 million due to a $10.6 billion plunge in stamp ... ► Read more

  • “Nearly two million” join Hong Kong protests, organisers say

    Did you take part in the Hong Kong protests? If so, we’d love to hear from you. Share your story by emailing or messaging us on Facebook or Twitter. Almost two million people have participated in mass demonstrations in Hong Kong, according to organisers. Protesters have taken to the streets for the third time in just over a week in opposition to a bill that would allow extradition from Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland. The ... ► Read more

  • Israeli First Lady convicted of misusing state funds

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara has admitted to misusing state funds. Mrs Netanyahu was accused of spending US$99,300 ($145,000) on restaurant-cooked meals while falsely claiming there were no cooks available at the prime ministerial residence. She dodged goal-time by taking a plea deal which reduced a fraud charge to a lesser offence. The Israeli First Lady will need to pay the state 45,000 shekels ($18,000) in reimbursement and a 10,000 shekel ($4000) fine. ... ► Read more

  • PNG at odds with Australia over Paladin contract renewal

    Papua New Guinea’s Immigration Minister Petrus Thomas has revealed the PNG Government is against the Morrison Government’s plan to renew Paladin Solution’s $20 million-a-month Manus ­Island security contract. Mr Thomas told The Australian on Sunday that PNG wants a locally owned company to be awarded the contract instead. “The PNG government position is to … terminate the Paladin contract by end of this month,” Mr Thomas said. “The PNG [Government] wants a transparent tender process and ... ► Read more

  • Putin, Xi praise Russia-China relations

    Chinese President Xi Jinping began a three-day visit to Russia on Wednesday (local time) with a touch of panda diplomacy and a raft of new Russian-Chinese business contracts. Mr Xi and Russian President Vladimir Putin praised their countries’ ties during talks at the Kremlin, as Russia and China seek to shore up cooperation amid shared tensions with the United States. “President Putin is for me a best friend,” Mr Xi told journalists during a joint ... ► Read more

  • Morrison treads lightly amid press freedom row

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has given cautious responses to questions about the Australian Federal Police’s (AFP) raids conducted at a News Corp journalist’s home on Tuesday and the ABC’s headquarters in Sydney yesterday. Mr Morrison said his “government is absolutely committed to freedom of the press” but that “no one is above the law”. “These are matters that were being pursued by the AFP operationally, at complete arm’s length from the Government, not with the ... ► Read more

  • Morrison: US-China trade war putting “living standards of billions of people at risk”

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned the trade war between the United States and China is unprecedentedly testing global trade and “putting the prosperity and living standards of billions of people at risk.” Mr Morrison, who is in London to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings, issued the warning during a speech to the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce. He stressed the importance of multilateral economic institutions that forged the “post-war liberal economic order” ... ► Read more

  • Protests to overshadow May-Trump talks

    United States President Donald Trump’s talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May will take place amid mass protests across the United Kingdom, including in London’s iconic Trafalgar Square. Mr Trump is on a three-day state visit to the UK and has so far called London Mayor Sadiq Khan a “stone cold loser” and seemingly failed to recognise the gift he and his wife Melania gave to the Queen. He also drew controversy ahead of his ... ► Read more

  • Police raid journalist’s home over national security story

    Officers from the Australia Federal Police (AFP) have raided the Canberra home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst in relation to a story published last year concerning potential new powers for the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD). The story included images of letters between the heads of the Departments of Home Affairs and Defence discussing whether the ASD should be allowed to monitor Australian citizens and businesses on home soil, rather than being limited to gathering ... ► Read more

  • Tiananmen Square: 30 years on and China remains just as brutal

    All countries have dark periods in their histories that are shameful at best. Like much of the West, Australia has a plethora of examples where atrocities have been committed, whether it be the Frontier Wars during colonisation or the White Australia Policy of the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. However, in Australia there has been an acknowledgement of wrongdoing and attempts to correct past trespasses. The effectiveness of those attempts is another matter, but it is ... ► Read more

  • Tiananmen Square massacre a “correct policy”: Chinese Defence Minister

    In a rare acknowledgement of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe told a regional forum that the violent crackdown on “political turbulence” was the “correct policy”. In mid-1989, an estimated 100,000 students and workers occupied Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in mass pro-democracy protests. The Chinese Government deployed more than 250,000 troops to the square and ordered them to open fire. The massacre that ensued killed an unknown number of protesters, with some ... ► Read more

  • Morrison pledges $250 million toward Solom Islands infrastructure

    Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pledged $250 million in infrastructure aid to the Solomon Islands in a bid to shore up diplomatic capital. During his visit to Honiara, Mr Morrison also announced Canberra will fund the construction of a new office complex which will house the Pacific nation’s prime ministerial office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and promised loans of nearly $3 million for temporary Solomon Island workers coming to Australia under labour mobility ... ► Read more

  • Farrell withdraws from Senate deputy contest to make room for Keneally

    Labor Senator Don Farrell has withdrawn from Labor’s Senate deputy leadership contest to make way for Kristina Keneally. Earlier this week newly-appointed Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he wanted Senator Keneally to join his shadow ministry, but denied playing any part in Senator Farrell’s withdrawal. “I don’t regard this as a captain’s call at all,” Mr Albanese told reporters. “[Senator Farrell] was prepared to step aside as Labor’s deputy leader in the Senate on the ... ► Read more

  • Boris Johnson ordered to appear in court over £350 million Brexit claim

    Conservative MP Boris Johnson has been ordered to appear in court over claims he lied during the Brexit campaign by saying the United Kingdom gave the European Union £350 million a week. The frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest to replace Prime Minister Theresa May has been accused of misconduct in public office after making the claim during the 2016 Brexit referendum campaign. Campaigner Michael Ball crowdfunded £200,000 to launch the private prosecution of the ... ► Read more

  • Historic first as Wyatt sworn in as Minister for Indigenous Australians

    In an historic first, Noongar man and Hasluck MP Ken Wyatt has become the first Aboriginal person to be sworn in as Minister for Indigenous Australians. “Can I ask all those, other than His Excellency, of course, to stand to welcome the first Indigenous member of cabinet … the Honourable Ken Wyatt AM, MP, as Minister for Indigenous Australians,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Mr Wyatt was also the first cabinet minister to wear a ... ► Read more

  • Malaysia to send waste back to developed nations

    Malaysia will send about 3,000 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic back to countries like Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, as it seeks to avoid becoming a dumping ground for developed nations. Malaysian Environment Minister Yeo Bee Yin said Malaysia and other developing countries have recently become targets after China banned the import of plastic waste last year. Ms Yeo said 60 containers stacked with contaminated waste were smuggled into the country, bound ... ► Read more

  • Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions rising, but resources minister backs new coal plant

    Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2018 rose for a fourth year in a row, according to a Government submission to the United Nations. The National Inventory Report, provided in accordance with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, shows 537 million tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions for 2018. This is an increase of about 0.5% from 2017’s 534.7 million tonnes, despite Australia’s commitment at the Paris climate summit in 2015 to reduce emissions by 26–28% ... ► Read more

  • Husic steps down from Labor frontbench to clear the way for Keneally

    Western Sydney MP Ed Husic has stepped down from the Labor frontbench to allow former New South Wales Premier Kristina Keneally to take a seat in the shadow ministry. Labor’s left and right faction leaders have been holding discussions behind the scenes to determine who will sit on the party’s federal frontbench, but that spilled into public view when new Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he wanted Senator Keneally in the shadow ministry. “What I’m ... ► Read more

  • Sydney’s lockout laws may be relaxed after parliamentary review

    Sydney’s lockout laws may be relaxed after New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian ordered their review, saying it was time to “take stock” of their impact on the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross. A cross-party committee will be established to examine the laws, while the the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party (SFF) and Greens push to scrap the laws. SFF MLC Robert Borsak and Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann have both tabled motions in the NSW ... ► Read more

  • Iraqi court sentences three French IS members to death

    An Iraqi court sentenced three French nationals to death on Sunday, after finding them guilty of joining Islamic State (IS). Thousands of suspected IS members are being tried in Iraqi courts, including hundreds of foreigners arrested as the militant organisation’s strongholds collapse throughout the country. Kévin Gonot, Léonard Lopez and Salim Machou were extradited to Iraq in February and were among the 14 French nationals included in a group of 280 detainees handed over by ... ► Read more

  • Albanese to be confirmed as Labor leader this week

    Anthony Albanese is set to become leader of the opposition later this week, when Labor’s Federal Caucus meets to confirm the results of the party’s uncontested leadership ballot. Four other candidates publicly announced they were considering contesting the leadership, but none put their names forward when nominations closed at 10:00 am on Monday. Mr Albanese thanked his Labor colleagues and fellow party members for their support. “Together we can return our great party to government ... ► Read more

  • 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