THE SHARMA OFFENSIVE
Dave Sharma is back — the former Wentworth MP who lost his blue ribbon seat to teal MP Allegra Spender has been preselected to fill the NSW Senate seat left vacant by Marise Payne, The Australian ($) reports. He beat former NSW Liberal minister Andrew Constance in an upset for the frontrunner and his moderate pack after former ACT senator Zed Seselja’s preferences flowed to Sharma. The geo-political former diplomat reenters the fray at a tense time as the Israel-Hamas four-day ceasefire comes to a close. This comes as UN Human Rights Council special rapporteur Francesca Albanese denied that her trip to Australia was paid for by Palestinian lobby groups, calling it “another trail of egregiously false claims”. UN Watch executive director Hillel C. Neuer had cited a media release that described her “sponsored” trip”, but the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network told Crikey it and the Australian Friends of Palestine Association supported but did not fund Albanese’s trip.
Meanwhile independent Senator Lidia Thorpe has vowed to make a statement “every day this war continues” in her first remarks since the war began, Sky News Australia reports. She explained she hadn’t attended pro-Palestine marches because she’d been under police protection in her home amid threats after the Voice to Parliament debate. Thorpe said Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong was yet to respond to her letter urging Australia to stop selling weapons to Israel. The government has greenlit 350 defence export permits to Israel in the past five years, including 50 this year, The Conversation says. But we don’t know much more — Australia is known for keeping military export permits shrouded in secrecy (hiding behind reasons such as confidentiality or protecting business), to the point where human rights groups have filed legal action about it.
Correction: a previous version of this item incorrectly identified Dave Sharma as Jewish.
WHO GOES THERE?
We need 480,000 tradies over the next three years and we should import them, the building industry told the government, as the SMH ($) reports. Only 1,135 carpenters and 215 plumbers have arrived since last May and it’s making building more costly — the industry wants a $10,000 subsidy for each international worker. This comes as the government will give Australian Border Force, Australian Federal Police and other agencies $255 million to help manage the freed stateless detainees who’ll cop a raft of penal restrictions because Opposition Leader Peter Dutton effectively scared Labor into it, the ABC reports. It’s Dutton’s fault actually, Workplace Minister Tony Burke said, in a speech in which he mentioned Dutton no fewer than 14 times, as the AFR ($) reports. Burke said the then-Home Affairs minister had overseen the citizenship laws that were declared illegal in the High Court despite being warned they were likely to be unconstitutional.
Speaking of Burke — he’s amending same job, same pay rules again, in a flexible bid to get the IR reforms through. It’ll “stop labour hire workers getting paid out accrued leave at a host company’s higher rates on termination if they have worked at a number of hosts”, the AFR ($) explains. It cones as support for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is at its lowest this term of government, according to a Newspoll conducted for The Australian ($), identical to Dutton’s at minus 13 (when you look at approval minus disapproval rates). In the primary, support for the Greens is up to 13% and the teals to 12%.
Australian students are learning 44 science topics in their first nine years of schooling compared with an average of 74, Guardian Australia reports. It’s the finding of a new report from education research and consulting group Learning First, that concluded we’re too slow compared with international students — for instance, evolution isn’t taught until Year 10 in the Australian curriculum, compared with Years 5 and 6 in Quebec and Year 6 in England. The whole thing needs an overhaul, it found.
It comes as the Australian Education Research Organisation has told education ministers that the new curriculum “does not provide sufficient guidance to teachers”, who’ll have to “invent their own’’ syllabus resources, The Australian ($) reports. Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox told the paper it’s a “very common lament of employers” that graduates don’t have “basic skills” in reading, writing and numeracy, which sounds like a rather large exaggeration to me, but anyway. Meanwhile the flow-on effect of COVID-19-era lockdowns has left kids from all neurodiverse and neurotypical backgrounds struggling to attend face-to-face schooling, news.com.au reports. It quotes several former high-achieving students who describe panic attacks, tardiness and anxiety.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Writer Deirdre Fidge is cursed, and maybe you are too. Take her daily interaction with Postman Pat (not his real name, she notes), to whom she has formed a fond casual connection. Their exchanges are as unpredictable as they are innocuous — truly the stakes could not be lower — with topics discussed in brief including whether or not her package contained an empty wine bottle and the clockwork boisterousness of her dogs (barking at the postie, Fido? Groundbreaking). A recent knock on Fidge’s door revealed an ashen-faced Pat who asked if he could trouble her for a doggy bag on account of a rather large shit that was left on the street. Take three, said an obliging Fidge, and “our hands clumsily smooshed into a plasticky high-five”.
Herein lies the curse, Fidge says. Her life is full of uncomfortable, but not unpleasant, interactions with other humans — clumsily clacking one’s debit card on the screen and being told the chip reader is 10cm to your right, the veritable brain freeze when a faceless person knocks on the bathroom door, or cheerily replying “You too!” when a waiter dutifully tells you to enjoy your meal. But perhaps it’s not so much a “curse” as a quirk, the inevitable mortifying reality of being known, that we can neutralise as we retell the story to friends over a glass of wine (or in a national paper). Fidge says the weird moments used to worry her a lot when she was younger, but now she realises: “Some of us are a bit awkward, and some of us are kind and understanding to those who are.” Both are wonderful.
Hoping you feel comfortable in your skin today.
‘Mr’ always comes first in any choice of salutations. I quietly flipped this, so that ‘Ms’ comes first now. Perhaps no one would have noticed this… until now.
Queensland’s chief judge revealed her own small moment of “protest against the patriarchy” in the Pride in Law address, where she spoke about her tweak to the forms parties sign before appearing in court.
“And Bullock has a message for us all: we’re spending too much on haircuts, dentists, eating out, going to concerts and sporting events. To get inflation down, Bullock suggests don’t leave the house, do your own haircut and take some Panadol for a toothache rather than go to the dentist. Of course, if you’re going to confine yourself to home and not go to a concert or the footy or a meal out, you won’t need a decent haircut anyway.
“Delivering a punitive message to Australians that they need to quit fripperies such as a Taylor Swift concert or a meal at the pub and adopt a more puritan lifestyle to lower inflation is one thing … But telling Australians they need to reduce demand for dentistry?”
“Through a freedom of information request, Crikey has obtained invoices given by South Australian conservative Christian Coalition Senator Alex Antic to the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority between April and June 2022. Documents show that Antic’s office claimed $26,972.22 in expenses from Whitestone Strategic for just three months of services between December 2021 and February 2022.
“These invoices include items such as ‘social media content and placement’ for $1,650 in January, $11,069.30 for ‘additional social media spend’ in December and January, and ’email communications to supporters’ for $1,485 in February. The invoices also provide specific details about additional campaigns that Antic sought Whitestone Strategic’s services for.”
“[Nick] McKenzie’s and [Chris] Masters’ vindication was hailed as a rare victory for public interest journalism. For their efforts, alongside the Walkley honour was a grant announced in their names: the Masters-McKenzie Grant for Investigative Journalism, awarding $10,000 to a recipient each year.
“The pair received an extended standing ovation from the entire room, bar one notable table. Right in front of them, on table four, sat a table of Seven West employees, who indeed remained ‘firmly in their seat’ … The table included Seven News Sydney presenter Michael Usher. One witness told Crikey the table glowered at McKenzie and Masters as they accepted the acknowledgement of the Australian press.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Journalism lost in push for ‘balance’ over truth — Julie Szego (The Australian) ($): “In June, I was sacked from my weekly Age column for speaking out about activist journalists at the paper who were smothering my efforts to air the commonsense debates around paediatric gender transition and the clash between sex-based rights and rights based on ‘gender identity’. (The paper has since been pushing back against the censorious within its ranks) … Once a finely tuned BS detector was considered an attribute of good journalism, but now too many in the progressive media see it as a tool of oppression and weapon of ‘harm’. A similar philosophy animates the unprecedented open letter, signed by a cohort of journalists at the ABC, Guardian and Nine, calling for a new approach to reporting the Israel-Hamas war.
“… But the point is: the signatories to this letter, or at least its instigators, well understand that the public can tell the difference between propaganda and the complicated, bloody mess that is the truth. So they seek to rewrite the rules of journalism as a way of bullying the profession into accepting as fact that which is deeply contested. The rot, unfortunately, runs very deep when the national media section of the journalists’ union (the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance) endorses such a letter as it has done. Being a true believer, I’m so ‘proud to be union’; I have been paying union dues even though I am technically unemployed. No more. In keeping with the current vogue of grand pronouncements, I hereby renounce my membership of the journalists’ union, the MEAA, because whatever it’s about these days, it’s no longer journalism.”
Israel told us to move to south Gaza. Then it said it would bomb the south too. So where do we go now? — Rozan (The Guardian): “As I began to write this, here in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, Israeli missiles were striking nearby. Once you get over the initial shock of the loud explosions, the shaking of the house and your knees, the first instinct is to immediately rush to calm the children whose cries somehow seem louder and more painful than the strikes themselves. Throughout Israel’s invasion, people in northern Gaza have been told to move to the ‘safety’ of the south. But our day-to-day lives here are testament to the fact that in Gaza, nowhere is safe. As missiles fall, our house is filled with relatives, including lots of children — some of whom lost their homes nearby to Israeli airstrikes, others who have fled the bombardment in northern Gaza for the ‘safety’ of the south.
“It was here in the south that I lost my closest relatives on my father’s side. Three brothers and their wives and children were struck by Israeli missiles, and their entire building was reduced to rubble. Only a few of them survived, mainly those who had gone out to buy supplies. They had no warning whatsoever, and no leaflets had been dropped in the area telling people to evacuate … Israeli officials are already considering expanding their ground invasion into Khan Younis. That prospect is too great for us to imagine. Almost a million people have already had to leave northern Gaza for the south. We are running out of food. Taps are decorative at this point, as is the fridge. There is never any running water or electricity. All the canned food and pasta we had has run out. Flour is the main thing we have left.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)
Human rights advocate Behrouz Boochani, refugee law expert Daniel Ghezelbash and journalist Jan Fran will speak at the Belvoir St Theatre.
Journalist Julia Baird will speak about her new book, Bright Shining, at Better Read Than Dead bookshop.
Yuggera and Turrbal Country (also known as Brisbane)
Author Allison A Andrews will talk about her new books, Order of the Dragon 1 and 2, Illusions and Blood Memories, at Avid Reader bookshop.