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Emma Elsworthy

ScoMo’s Chinese burn


Former PM Scott Morrison says we should sanction Chinese government officials for human rights abuses against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, just as we did to Putin-linked Russians. That’s according to his speech notes, The Australian ($) reports, ahead of an address in Tokyo today. Guardian Australia points out Morrison didn’t introduce sanctions against any Chinese officials when he was prime minister, which one might think was the moment to do it. He’ll also say a “benign and accommodating view of China” has “led the West to appease China’s ambitions”, namely military installations on islands in the South China Sea and turning a blind eye to human rights abuses. Our diplomatic freeze has thawed under the Labor government thanks to diplomatic efforts by Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and a lot of work behind the scenes, but Morrison took the credit. He says the dialogue started up again because “Australia took a strong stand”.

Speaking of a whole lot of hot air — this weekend is set to bring Sydney’s hottest day in over a year, the SMH ($) reports, with the mercury rising to 32C. Melbourne, not to be outdone, is expected to hit 38C, although thankfully a cool change is coming this afternoon, The Age ($) says. It’s positively balmy compared with temperatures in the northern half of WA, which could approach 50C, according to Weatherzone. It comes as powerbroker independent Senator David ­Pocock says the government’s key climate policy shouldn’t let big emitters buy unlimited carbon credits, The Australian ($) reports. The only other country that lets a company offset all its emissions is Kazakhstan, the Climate-200-backed Pocock added. It’ll be another thorn in the side of Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen, who needs the Greens and Pocock’s votes in the Senate to pass the climate bill, but it seems we’re in for a game of chicken. Bowen said he doubts they’ll vote no when the time comes.


Documents have been revealed showing the army used a military torture-resistance program that allegedly replicated techniques that defy the Geneva Conventions, leaving a soldier with PTSD and depression, the ABC reports. Damien de Pyle is suing the Commonwealth for the 72-hour course in which he alleged he was forced to “commit humiliating sex acts” on a doll. The government denied that happened. Federal Court judge Sarah Derrington initially agreed to block public access to the documents because of national security, but yesterday she partially overturned that decision. De Pyle claims they weren’t really told what to expect, but after being deprived of food, water and sleep, he said the group was hallucinating and believed the mock interrogations and imprisonment were life-threatening.

Meanwhile, former defence minister Linda Reynolds says she wants to tell her story about the “political hit job” two years after former staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped in Reynolds’ office by Bruce Lehrmann (the DPP dropped the charge against Lehrmann citing concerns for Higgins’ health). And the Liberal senator is telling it to The Australian ($). Reynolds said she felt “expendable” despite spending her life “serving my nation in the Parliament and in the army”. Could there be a dash of contrition in there? Perhaps. Reynolds says her biggest reflection is “what do you expect from your federal members of Parliament?”.

From defence to DFAT now and an oddly unsettling video of Australia’s new ambassador for gender equality Stephanie Copus Campbell has been trolled by Donald Trump Jr and Fox News. Her script is fine, but her intense, nearly blink-less gaze has not been as well received, The Age ($) reports. With prior missteps including the milkshake metaphor to the phallic Women’s Network logo, the paper asks: “What is wrong with these public service media marketeers and communications lackeys?”


NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will back legislation that makes gay conversion therapy illegal, the SMH ($) reports, punishable by jail terms from five to 10 years. But a clause says churches can express beliefs as long as they’re not intended to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Perrottet called it a complex matter but reiterated he wanted to bring “harmful practices” to an end — which comes as the world’s biggest LGBTIQA+ festival kicks off today in Sydney. Opposition Leader Chris Minns had previously vowed to back the legislation, brought by independent MP Alex Greenwich who said his support in the instance of a minority government hinged on the bill. He’s stoked. The legislation “basically says if you are LGBTQI there is nothing wrong with you, and we will end harmful practices aimed at you”, Greenwich says. It follows Infrastructure Minister Rob Stokes telling Crikey the state should “of course” apologise to men who were historically punished for the crime of consensual gay sex.

Meanwhile a Victorian cop has been sacked for making at least 10 online comments about the LGBTIQA+ community and other groups, the Herald Sun reports. Bruno Staffieri, 62, says he was expressing his Christian beliefs, but the force dismissed him for “misconduct”, capping off a 37-year law enforcement career. So what’d he say? In one post on Yammer, the paper reports that Staffieri wrote we should send 8000 Gay Pride marchers to war instead of soldiers, so they can “try to stop the enemy by waving feathers and brightly coloured boas at them” (it was after the Andrews government cancelled the Anzac march during the pandemic). It’s not immediately clear how that relates to Christianity.


A man is facing the full force of the law for stealing nearly 200,000 Cadbury Creme Eggs worth $51,000, in what the cops called an “eggs-travagent theft”. The 32-year-old man, Joby Pool, told the judge he was guilty as charged this week after he knicked the delectable chocky eggs from a unit in western England. Pool thought it was the perfect crime until he was pulled over during his getaway, CNN reports. The prosecutor was like, there’s no way this was a “spur of the moment” decision. You brought a tractor, for God’s sake. But his lawyer said, c’mon, points for admitting defeat. “He realised that the game was up — he realised the police were behind him and pulled in when it was safe to do so.” He’ll learn his fate at sentencing next month.

After the police force declared it had “saved Easter” with the arrest in a statement on Twitter — something The New York Times rather icily described as “riddled with attempted jokes” — pundits weighed in with their best crack too. “Wasn’t eggactly a success. The yoke was on them. Hope that they have to shell out a lot of cash as well as any other punishment,” one person tweeted. Another was like, simmer down on the “saving” Easter claims. “These were stolen to be sold on, likely below market price. Easter is at best neutral in this.” The eggs were not tampered with, and can go on sale ahead of the chocolatey holiday, The Guardian adds. Here’s hoping Pool gets a light sentence. No harm, no fowl, and all that.

Hoping the smiles come easily today folks, and that you have a restful weekend.


Going forward Australia must continue to be prepared to smell China’s socks.

Scott Morrison

Breathe in that funky smell, the former PM says in a speech in Tokyo today. It’s an apparent reference to a metaphor former US secretary of state Richard ­Armitage used to describe a meeting between China’s President Xi Jinping and then Japanese PM Shinzo Abe in 2014.


Australia’s richest funding a ‘grassroots’ campaign against the Voice to Parliament

“Crikey analysis of disclosed donors reveals that just 12 associated individuals and groups were responsible for at least 30% of Advance’s entire funding during the year, often through a series of donations or through holding companies. This analysis considers only disclosed donations that were above the $14,500 threshold. More than a third of donations to political parties in 2021-22 were made up of ‘dark money’.

“Despite denying it has links to the Liberal Party, Advance has a number of connections with the Coalition, including listing former ACT Liberal MLA Vicki Dunne as a director. Unlike many grassroots organisations, Advance has a history of using advertising firms to assist with its campaigns. Its Facebook lists Whitestone Strategic and RJ Dunham & Co as partnered organisations …”

‘Blatant disregard of parliamentary process’: NSW inquiry into alleged branch stacking continues

Nassif has also declined to appear, on the grounds that he is in Lebanon. The developer, who became famous in 2019 when a photo of his wife’s $480,000 yellow Lamborghini went viral on social media, owns development company Toplace. It has been the subject of proceedings in NSW Fair Trading over a number of complaints about building defects.

“Nassif has spent millions of dollars buying land around Cherrybrook railway station hoping to build a large-scale development when it passes the approval process. But the Hills Shire Council situation is a very small part of the whole picture, which is a fight-to-the-death factional war within the Liberal Party between the hard right and … the centre right.”

Twiggy, if you’re miffed at Kerry Stokes’ journos, why not buy Seven?

“it looks like Fortescue has dumped Stokes’ Caterpillar from a major equipment contract because parent company Seven Group Holdings has failed to get with the climate program, unlike rival German equipment manufacturer Liebherr, which Fortescue has contracted to supply it with 120 hydrogen-powered haul trucks.

“Unlike the Murdochs, Stokes has a history of being subtler when it comes to using media power to advance business interests, attack enemies or deny oxygen to causes of people he doesn’t like. However, it does happen. I’ve given up on agreeing to do news grabs for Seven’s 6pm slot after three separate experiences when management intervened to cut me from a story after it had been filed. The feedback was that Stokes critics aren’t welcome on Seven News.”


Israel passes law allowing deportation of Palestinian prisoners (Al Jazeera)

Nestle plans price hikes after costs eat into profits (Reuters)

Painful periods? Spain just passed Europe’s first paid ‘menstrual leave’ (EuroNews)

Vancouver photographer captures orca making a splash in Burrard Inlet (CBC)

Sunak to meet Von der Leyen amid hopes of Northern Ireland protocol deal (The Guardian)

Woman rescued after spending 248 hours under rubble in Türkiye (SBS)


Grattan on Friday: Adam Bandt is wedged by Greens’ overreach on emissions legislationMichelle Grattan (The Conversation): “It should be noted the Greens say they are not issuing an ‘ultimatum’, leaving themselves wriggle room for retreat. But their words are strong, and stepping back would be seen as precisely that. Just like the Liberals, the Greens have a base that is split between hardliners and moderates. At the radical end, their activists don’t want the party to compromise on core issues; in contrast, its mainstream voters want outcomes. The Greens have history on standing in the way of progress on climate policy, and the government is rubbing their noses in their past. Greens opposition killed the Rudd government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme (when their vote suddenly became significant after a leadership upheaval in the Liberals). Their explanation is that it ‘was bad policy that would have locked in failure to take action on climate change’.

“Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek on Thursday said, in answer to a Greens questioner in Parliament: ‘When you lined up with the Liberals last time to block the carbon pollution reduction scheme, what we saw was more emissions for longer because you voted with them.’ Of course given that, on an ordinary interpretation of ‘mandates’, Labor has one for its climate policy, the Coalition should let the legislation through — which would make the Greens irrelevant. But the opposition is spurning any recognition of Labor mandates for core election policies, contesting its $15 billion national reconstruction fund and the $10 billion housing Australia future fund as well as the safeguard bill. This deals the Greens (and non-Greens Senate crossbenchers) into the centre of things.”

In defence of JK RowlingPamela Paul (The New York Times) ($): “The answer is straightforward: because she has asserted the right to spaces for biological women only, such as domestic abuse shelters and sex-segregated prisons. Because she has insisted that when it comes to determining a person’s legal gender status, self-declared gender identity is insufficient. Because she has expressed scepticism about phrases like ‘people who menstruate’ in reference to biological women. Because she has defended herself and, far more important, supported others, including detransitioners and feminist scholars, who have come under attack from trans activists. And because she followed on Twitter and praised some of the work of Magdalen Berns, a lesbian feminist who had made incendiary comments about transgender people.

“You might disagree — perhaps strongly — with Rowling’s views and actions here. You may believe that the prevalence of violence against transgender people means that airing any views contrary to those of vocal trans activists will aggravate animus toward a vulnerable population. But nothing Rowling has said qualifies as transphobic. She is not disputing the existence of gender dysphoria. She has never voiced opposition to allowing people to transition under evidence-based therapeutic and medical care. She is not denying transgender people equal pay or housing. There is no evidence that she is putting trans people ‘in danger,’ as has been claimed, nor is she denying their right to exist.”


The Latest Headlines


Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Former Australian ambassador to Ireland Ruth Adler and Defence Science and Technology’s Claire Davis are among the speakers at panel discussion to mark the St Brigid’s Day, at ANU.

Yuggera and Turrbal Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Author Paul Dalgarno will speak about his new book, A Country of Eternal Light, at Avid Reader bookshop.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Young adult and emerging teen writers including Saskia de Leeuw Kyle, Lisa Fuller, Amie Kaufman, Jes Layton and more will read fantastical stories, at The Wheeler Centre.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Writers Vicki GeraghtyRuth Morgan and Kathryn Kaye Spence will chat about their book, Living Out Loud, at Better Read Than Dead bookshop.

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