BRING IN THE SUITS
Former Liberal staffer Bruce Lehrmann is suing Network Ten and its presenter Lisa Wilkinson, as well as News Corp Australia and its political editor Samantha Maiden, for defamation, according to The Australian ($). The Project and news.com.au reported Brittany Higgins’ allegation that she was raped at Parliament House, although originally did not name Lehrmann. He says people would have known he was the senior staffer in question. He further alleged Wilkinson “was seeking to exploit the false allegations of sexual assault as made by Ms Higgins for her own personal and professional gain”. Sydney lawyer Mark O’Brien will represent Lehrmann, the ABC adds. The rape charge was dropped against Lehrmann, the ABC reported, due to an “unacceptable risk to the life of the complainant [Higgins]”.
Meanwhile, a new Victorian MP says she felt her life was not worth living after photos of her working as a topless waiter and stripper were posted on Facebook without her consent, news.com.au reports. Animal Justice Party’s Georgie Purcell revealed the harrowing experience unfolded in her second year at Deakin University when she “froze, staring at a photo of myself on the screen — and a thread of comments beneath”. She didn’t return to campus and lived in fear of the photos resurfacing, but fast-forward to today and Purcell says she’s proud of her pathway to becoming “the youngest woman of this Parliament” and vowed to use her experience to act with compassion and empathy.
For anyone seeking help, Lifeline is on 13 11 14 and Beyond Blue is 1300 22 4636. In an emergency, call 000.
Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg will publicly lobby his party leader Peter Dutton to back the Voice to Parliament, Guardian Australia reports, kicking off with his position paper released today called “Five reasons the Voice is right”. Bragg, who was the head of the Libs & Nats for YES campaign during the marriage equality plebiscite, says the Voice “isn’t a Labor project, it’s an Australian project”. Bragg continued that it’s not evidence of some “‘woke’ agenda. It’s not identity politics and it isn’t a separatist agenda which denigrates Australia.” It’s the best shot we’ve got at reconciliation, he says, but we do need more detail on the potential for High Court “interference”.
It comes as Dutton told his partyroom the Liberals won’t choose a side until there’s more detail, though said he is strongly in favour of a “bipartisan position” for Indigenous policy, The West ($) reports. Indeed Minister for Indigenous Australians Linda Burney commended Dutton for engaging with the Voice working group “with an open heart and an open mind”, words one wouldn’t immediately associate with the Dickson MP, not least because a bunch of his friends wouldn’t put their name to an article ($) complimenting him, as Junkee reported. But I digress. Yesterday Burney told a Labor caucus meeting to get out there and pound the pavement in their electorate because a lot of the people “who will decide the referendum still don’t know about it”, the AFR ($) reports.
ANOTHER SHOT IN THE ARM
Go get your fifth COVID-19 jab if your last one was six months ago, our expert vaccine advisory body urges. People who have tested positive in the past six months are fine to sit this one out (for now), the ABC reports, but everyone else can get the fourth booster from February 20. The third booster had only a two-in-five uptake, but anyone over 65 is at high risk of severe disease and should top up their vaccine dose ASAP.
From health to safety, and it seems NSW Police copied and pasted details from one gay hate review to another but forgot to change the dead man’s name, the ABC reports. An inquiry into LGBTIQA+ hate crimes is looking into dozens of unsolved deaths in the state between 1970 and 2010, as well as scrutinising Strike Force Parrabell’s review of 88 deaths between 1976 and 2000. The unit was dissolved in a restructure, with its remit falling under counterterrorism. Staying in NSW, and scientists say there’s been no review of the Black Summer bushfire damage to the state’s forests, meaning “the Forestry Corporation of NSW is free to log” to its heart’s content. Michael West Media reports a bunch of globally renowned scientists have signed a letter prepared by the NSW Environment Protection Agency alongside Australians for Animals NSW asking for the review to be brought forward from 2024.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
A German painter purchased a small tube of white paint that undid a multimillion-dollar art fraud spanning 30 years. Wolfgang Beltracchi wasn’t forging originals, but rather copying the style of some of the art world’s most remarkable and enigmatic painters, as CNN tells it. His wife, Helene, claimed she had inherited her collection from her grandfather, who’d got it from a Jewish gallerist fleeing Hitler’s Germany. She sold the forged paintings for millions. Beltracchi’s incredible skill was so precise and meticulous that he and Helene fooled everyone — appraisers, buyers, galleries, and even finding their way into private collections belonging to high-profile stars such as Steve Martin. But the forgery was “incidental”, Beltracchi says. Sure they “got a kick out of it, we got rich”, but importantly he got to paint, and research.
And boy, did the couple research. They’d travel all over the world to see original works, immerse themselves in the artist’s letters and diaries, and pore over the scholarship, with Beltracchi estimating he mastered more than 50 artistic styles. The couple would name the forgeries after lost works that had no photographic record, filling gaps in history without raising a lick of suspicion. So how did it unravel? The white paint Beltracchi purchased had zinc in it, but it had been used in white paint only since the 1920s. The couple was convicted of forging 14 paintings, but there are about 300 fakes out there, hanging undetected on gallery walls and in rockstar bedrooms, nearly worthless. The couple was sentenced to six and four years, but both were released early. In the art world, their biographer mused, where practically every buyer is obscenely rich, who really lost out from this? “Everyone was greedy for the sale, and everyone earned from it — the experts, the auction houses, the couple. And in the end, we simply have to say that everyone was happy, including the buyer.”
Wishing you a creative day ahead, whatever that looks like for you,
Native title has hurt our people. It also [says] … that our sovereignty is just a spiritual notion. That’s why mining companies have been allowed to ride roughshod over this country and its traditional owners.
The new crossbencher indicated that empowering First Nations peoples could help us take more meaningful action against big fossil-fuel polluters to help fight climate change. Exxon, Chevron and BP have all posted record profits in recent days.
Why would China use obsolete espionage when it operates advanced satellites?
“Indeed, it no doubt explains why China has in recent times developed a fleet of modern spy balloons, deploying them around the globe from India and South America to the US, the latter of which has reportedly tracked up to eight incidents of Chinese balloons in American airspace in recent times.
“What makes the incursion of last week’s balloon so novel, says Blaxland, was its undisguised audacity — its visibility to the naked civilian eye and proximity to sensitive locations — something that may or may not feed the perception the balloon was, as China claims, an innocuous weather balloon haplessly blown into American skies.”
ABC’s curious case study sparks boomers v millennials house price outrage
“Yesterday the ABC published a piece looking at the various impediments to home ownership faced by different generations. It features (among many other voices) Kerrie Boylett, 68, who recounts the struggle and sacrifice she faced buying a home in 1995 … ‘They [millennials] want, you know, the latest mobile phone, the latest iPad, they want a nice car, they want to go on holidays, they still want to go out to restaurants.’
“This is not the first time she has made the news. She was — after her struggles in the mid-1990s — the general manager for John Hemmes’ hospitality behemoth Merivale for more than a decade before his death in 2015. The “trusted lieutenant” inherited $2 million from Hemmes’ fortune.”
‘Save the only planet we have’: Tony Abbott joins climate-sceptic think tank
“The GWPF was founded in 2009 by Thatcher-era chancellor Nigel Lawson, who reportedly resigned from the House of Lords last month. Described by UK Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay as the ‘climate denier-in-chief’, Lawson claimed that ‘global warming is not a problem’ in a 2021 article written for The Spectator during the COP26 in Glasgow.
“The foundation’s director, Benny Peiser, also made headlines for spurious statements, including that he found it ‘extraordinary that anyone should think there is a climate crisis’ and that climate ‘alarmism’ was driven by ‘scientists’ computer modelling rather than observational evidence.’ “
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Iran unveils underground base in response to US-Israel exercises (Al Jazeera)
Ukraine says Russians endure deadliest day so far as fighting intensifies in east (Reuters)
More than 5200 dead as Turkey declares a state of emergency (EuroNews)
US trade deficit hit record in 2022 (The Wall Street Journal)
Supreme Court of Canada hears appeal on Yukon First Nations’ residency requirement (CBC)
‘Surprise’ in Canada as NYC buses migrants to border (BBC)
Wettest summer this century for many North Islanders (Stuff)
Kaylea Titford’s father found guilty of killing her by letting her become obese (The Guardian)
Wong should celebrate benefits of colonial history — Nick Cater (The Australian) ($): “There is little doubt Penny Wong’s forebears lived lives more brutal, unjust and less equal than ours. Yet to insinuate that her Hakka Chinese ancestors lived under the yoke of colonial oppression in British North Borneo is a curious interpretation of history. Wong’s speech at King’s College London last week did nothing to enhance her personal reputation or that of the country she represents. The raising of alleged historical grievances may be common diplomatic practice in less peaceful parts of the world, but if Wong wants to drag them in to our dialogue with Britain she needs to do more than rely on century-old family anecdotes.
“Wong’s ahistoricism doesn’t end there. She repeats the myth that Australia didn’t take Asia seriously until the election of Gough Whitlam. The history of her father’s connection with Australia paints a very different picture. Frances Wong was one of the 20,000 Asian scholars who studied at Australian universities between 1950 and the mid-’80s under the Menzies government’s Colombo Plan. Labor offered only equivocal support for the Colombo Plan, variously complaining about the cost, the danger of undermining the White Australia policy and gifting scholarships to our former Japanese enemies. Menzies’ cultural and trade diplomacy helped repair the damage in our relations with Asian countries caused by the arbitrary expulsion of Asian migrants under Labor between 1945 and 1949.”
The Greens were dumped — not the other way around. And that’s their lasting shame — Julie Szego (The Age) ($): “Indigenous Australians may well deserve better as a matter of legal and moral principle. But despite office workers routinely kicking off Zoom meetings by solemnly acknowledging ‘sovereignty was never ceded’, every day brings fresh evidence of the disempowerment of Indigenous Australians. Thorpe’s freelance advocacy against the Voice while a senator for the minor party highlights two enduring pathologies on the political left. The first is adherence to the notion of ‘stay in your lane’. The second, more enduring, pathology is a reflexive disdain for incremental reform of which a proposal like the Voice is an example.
“ ‘Stay in your lane’ is the idea in contemporary identity politics that only groups with ’lived experience’ of oppression can legitimately expound on issues concerning them; they effectively commandeer discussion by declaring the subject — sexual politics, gender identity, race and so on — closed to debate. The greater the group’s perceived oppression, the less those professing to speak for them can be challenged in good faith. In the intersectional world view — or at least the intellectually flabby version of it — power relations are seen as rigid. Indigenous people are always less powerful than non-Indigenous people — a belief wildly contradicted in the melodrama that became Thorpe and the Greens.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Authors Rebecca Giblin and Cory Doctorow will chat about their new book, Chokepoint Capitalism, at Avid Reader bookshop.
Foreign policy experts James Mann, Alice Han, Peter Varghese and Sarah Teitt will speak on a panel about Australia’s relations with China as the US-China competition remains intense, at The Inchcolm by Ovolo.
Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)
ANU visiting fellow Christiane Gerblinger will launch her book, How Government Experts Self-Sabotage: The Language of the Rebuffed, at Harry Hartog Booksellers ANU.
Economist Stephen Duckett, ACT AMA president-elect Kerrie Aust, and RACGP president Nicole Higgins will speak about Medicare reforms, at the National Press Club.