BIT OF A STAFF-UP
An ad for the Victorian Liberal Deputy Leader David Southwick features a salt-of-the-earth bloke named Daniel, 19, a uni student who used to think politicians were bums — but he’ll be voting for Southwick this state election, as Guardian Australia reports. The only problem? Daniel is a staffer of Southwick’s. In the video, Daniel says he often sees Southwick at the local café talking to people. And at work, one presumes. Another bloke, “Andy”, features in a video that the paper watched, a self-described 22-year-old “former independent supporter” who changed his mind when he “met David, my local MP”. He’s Southwick’s campaign manager, Andy Gordon, who has been affiliated with the Liberals since 2018. Oh dear.
Meanwhile the diaries of Victorian ministers and their staff would be made public just like in NSW, Queensland and the ACT, under the Centre for Public Integrity’s proposal to overhaul Victoria’s integrity regime, The Age reports. It also argued an independent tribunal should fund the Victorian Parliament (which is funded by the executive at the moment) as well as the state’s integrity agencies like the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC). The problem with the current funding model, the centre says, is that it makes the watchdog vulnerable to cuts. Integrity is a massive issue for voters ahead of the November 26 election, but the Property Council wants politicians to steer their attention to empty offices. The Herald Sun ($) reports Melbourne is still more than half empty, behind Sydney (58% full), Perth (78%) and Adelaide (76%).
THE DONALD IS TRUMPED
Former president (and “very, very, very probably” 2024 candidate) Donald Trump is “livid” and “screaming at everyone”, his adviser told CNN, because there was no red wave in the US midterms. He ought to self-soothe, maybe suck on a dummy, because Republicans are still likely to take control of the House. A quick sprint through some context: Republicans need a net gain of just five seats, and if they inch over the line they’ll work on unpicking every part of President Joe Biden’s domestic legislative agenda. And many of the candidates were, well, a little different from past years — namely, they don’t believe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square. We’re talking a potential mini army of Trumpian conspiracy theorists in the hallowed halls of Congress — no wonder both sides brought a presidential election-level campaign to these midterms. The good news, for Democrats at least, is that Biden does have the ace card — the president’s veto — that requires a two-thirds majority to topple. However, that would set the stage for an angry and antagonistic two years. In the House, all 435 seats were up for grabs, as CNN reports, where politicians would serve two-year terms. In the Senate, 35 of the 100 seats went to a vote — cast your mind back and you may remember it was an even 50-50 with Vice-President Kamala Harris casting the deciding vote after Biden’s election.
And here’s what we’ve learnt overnight: as of 4.50am AEDT, the Democrats and Republicans each have 48 seats in the Senate, and the Democrats have 187 in the House to the Republicans’ 203, as the BBC reports. Democrat John Fetterman has snatched Pennsylvania from Republican candidate (and Oprah’s one-time favourite doctor) Mehmet Oz, which, significantly, flips that seat from red to blue. The Democrats need two of the three seats in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia. NBC reckons Georgia will go to a runoff — Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock v Republican challenger Herschel Walker, a staunch anti-abortion (even in the case of incest) candidate who was accused of paying for an abortion by no fewer than two ex-girlfriends (one even had a receipt), as AP News reports. Speaking of, Kentucky voters have rejected an amendment that would have removed abortion rights from the constitution, The Guardian reports. And Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, who’ll probably run for the Republican presidential nominee in 2024, had a thumping victory. Tellingly, dismally, Trump didn’t celebrate that win, which makes the former toddler-in-chief’s run almost inevitable. Buckle up, folks…
GOING FOR BROKE ON THE POKIES
Pokies are creating “human misery” for the “financial lifeblood for many NSW clubs”, Cities Minister Rob Stokes says via the SMH, “entrenching inequality”, “entrenching disadvantage” and creating “more broken homes”. Stokes says pokies areas are deceptively designed to be “a fairyland of lights and delights — all directed to deprive the vulnerable of their savings”. He made the powerful speech in Parliament yesterday much to the obvious ire of the Nationals. But Stokes laid out the facts: no other country in the world gives clubs special treatments in tax, regulation, even in the planning system — it’s all become so distorted and harmful, he argued. The groundswell is building — NSW Greens MP Cate Faehrmann and independent MP Helen Dalton are pushing for reform too, launching a campaign yesterday, The Advocate ($) reports. Premier Dominic Perrottet is meeting with industry representatives today to get them on board with the cashless gaming cards. NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns says he’ll support an expanded trial of them, but he can’t get behind a mandatory introduction, the SMH reports, saying the industry would take a big financial hit.
To more crime activity now and the AFR ($) reports “cybercriminals who stole a vast trove of sensitive customer data from Medibank appear to have had unfettered access to the insurer’s data for at least several weeks, emails and WhatsApp messages between Medibank officials and the criminal gang suggest”. It’s creepy stuff — the attack was supposed to be a ransomware attack, where the gang would lock Medibank’s data (encryption) and then demand money for the key. But Medibank shut it down fast, so now they’re extorting them using the data they got. A group with ties to the Russian-speaking REvil gang began publishing the stolen records yesterday, as Tech Crunch reports. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese later revealed he’s a Medibank customer, though the paper says he’s not among the 200 customers exposed so far.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Whether it’s our own impending votes in NSW and Victoria, or the nail-biting midterms in the US, it can be stressful stuff. But when a rather bright-eyed New York Times social media editor helpfully suggested a few tips to “help you cope” with election anxiety on the paper’s Twitter profile, people from all sides of the spectrum couldn’t help but laugh. Among them was a suggestion to dunk your whole face in a bowl of icy water for half a minute (never mind it’s well into autumn in the northern hemisphere, with snow in several places) and to “breathe like a baby”, whatever that means (through an audible snot bubble, perhaps?). The reaction was almost instantaneous. “My coping strategy tonight will be knowing that at any given moment people across the country will be plunging their faces into bowls of ice water because The New York Times told them to do so,” the editor of right-leaning magazine Reason, Billy Binion, said.
But the small-L liberals joined in too. Slate asked “[could] plunging our faces in ice water help us accept the possibility of US senator Dr [Mehmet] Oz?” while the website’s valiant communications director, Katie Rayford, actually did it on camera. Before she took the plunge, she put her stress levels at about a six, six and a half — afterwards, and following many laugh-induced bubbles popping the surface of the icy bowl, she told the camera she was “not gonna lie”. “I feel like more stressed out. Like I feel like I almost drowned in there,” she quipped. It was made all the more sweeter, The Guardian rather gleefully points out, by a February article where the stately NY Times asked “Cold Water Plunges Are Trendy. Can They Really Reduce Anxiety and Depression?”. The paper’s final answer? “More research is needed.” Chef’s kiss.
Hope you feel cool, calm and collected this morning, folks.
What’s happening is criminals are spending the proceeds of crime [on the pokies]. Guess what? They spend on everything from tattoos and handbags, to jewellery and jet skis. They spend it on food and groceries. So do we say that Coles and Woolworths are the recipients of the proceeds of crime? Of course not.
The ClubsNSW boss reckons the cashless gambling cards that the NSW premier wants to introduce unfairly target his industry’s precious pokies. It comes as the crime commission found a chunk of the $95 billion put into the state’s pokies every year was the proceeds of crime.
News Corp, ABC waste precious time and resources over Louise Milligan culture war
“But that didn’t stop the Oz spinning out the tale for several more days — Milligan has said, pointedly, that a young female journalist writing one of these follow-ups said she was simply acting on the instructions of her editor: ‘She’s the fourth young woman at News Corp who has told me this’ …
“Most particularly the sense that at a certain level, a lot of time and money that could be spent holding the powerful to account are instead directed towards published correspondence between high-profile rival media figures, the public interest barely factoring in.”
The Democrats may have survived a disaster — and could still clinch something resembling victory
“There was further cheer when it looked as if grungeista cool mayor John Fetterman was cruising to an easy win over hero-surgeon/Oprah quack Dr Mehmet Oz. But this has now narrowed to a 1% lead, and will run for days. In Washington state, Patty Murray appears to have easily seen off Trumpista mama bear Tiffany Smiley …
“Finally, in the special measures, the Kentucky anti-abortion amendment appears to have gone down, about 52-48%, and the California pro-abortion amendment appears to have been voted up. No word, however, on whether eastern Washington has succeeded in its bid to secede to Idaho, or whether the California municipality of San Bernardino has succeeded in becoming a state in its own right.”
Poaching of Aussie pilots by overseas airlines set to send local aviation crisis soaring
“However, in a sign that it may be experiencing some problems at Jetstar — where Crikey understands a group of pilots is leaving for the US — Qantas had made a 21% pay offer across seven years. Crikey has obtained a copy of the draft agreement, and the offer is above the company-wide enterprise agreements it is trying to have implemented that provide for only a 9% pay increase across five years.
“Pilots in Australia have a wide range of pay scales from about $120,000 a year for small aircraft operators to $400,000 a year for experienced pilots on Qantas, a scale which applies to legacy aircraft A380, A330 and 787 … But experienced pilots told Crikey the trend was already affecting traditional feeder airlines, such as those handling fly-in, fly-out routes and the Royal Flying Doctors.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Russia abandons Ukrainian city of Kherson in major retreat (Reuters)
Clashes in Greece as strikes over inflation disrupt public transport (EuroNews)
Epstein victim says she may have ‘made a mistake’ in accusing Dershowitz (The New York Times)
UK army killed 64 children in Afghanistan between 2006-14: report (Al Jazeera)
US basketball star Brittney Griner transferred to Russian penal colony (The Guardian)
King Charles keeps calm and carries on after protester hurls eggs at him in York (CBC)
Disney shares slide as streaming losses balloon (The Wall Street Journal) ($)
Facebook owner Meta to sack 11,000 workers after revenue collapse (The Guardian)
Italy earthquake felt in several countries (BBC)
Pollies keep hitting the jackpot. No wonder they’re cosy with clubs — Caterina Giorgi (The SMH): “While the Coalition and Labor consider whether to enter into an agreement with ClubsNSW, the harm from alcohol and gambling are increasing. The Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed last month that alcohol-induced deaths reached their highest level in a decade last year, when almost 1600 people died from causes such as acute alcohol poisoning and liver disease. Australians lost more than $11.4 billion on poker machines alone last financial year. NSW residents lost the most on pokies: an average $4525 compared with $2800 in other states.
“For decades, we have witnessed how the clubs and pubs lobbies behave when their profits are at risk … And ClubsNSW awaits yet another MOU. Its position of confidence is based on the track record of political parties. Securing their backing has coincided with a significant down payment. Between 2011 and 2021, dozens of organisations with gambling links donated more than $1 million between them to NSW political groups. Almost half was from clubs. Voters want greater transparency and accountability from political leaders. Governments are elected to represent the community, not lobby groups. When the interests of lobby groups are given priority over health and safety, communities lose.”
Australia falling behind Singapore in green finance stakes — Glenda Korporaal (The Australian) ($): “Part of its credibility in making Singapore a green finance hub has been moving to mandatory climate change and emission reporting requirements for industry — starting with the financial sector. Setting mandatory and agreed standards for reporting is a critical part of the framework for financial investment in the sector. In Australia, ASX guidelines encourage companies to report on ESG and climate strategies, but they are not mandatory. A survey by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors of ASX 200 companies issued last week reported that some 48% had not set any emission reduction targets at all.
“Only 9% of companies had net zero targets covering all applicable emission scopes. In Singapore, from this year, all listed companies have to start providing climate reporting on a comply or explain basis. It is moving to mandatory reporting on a sector by sector basis for listed businesses, starting with the financial, energy, agriculture, food and forest products sectors. This will expand to the transport, materials and building sector in the 2024 financial year. In Australia, the Albanese government has begun to look at the issue of mandatory reporting which was stoutly rejected by the Morrison government.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)
Journalist Anne Howell will talk about her new book, All That I Forgot, at Glee Books.
Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)
Pulitzer prize-winning author Andrew Sean Greer, singer and director Robyn Archer, burlesque queen Evana de Lune, multidisciplinary artist and Magic Hands founder Luke King, poet Laniyuk, activist and Trans Sisters United founding member Sasja Sÿdek, and writer Ellen van Neerven will share stories of their own flings as part of the Wheeler Centre’s Spring Fling series at The Capitol.
Broadcaster Jon Faine will interview the Climate Council’s Amanda McKenzie at Monash University Law Chambers. You can also catch this online.
The Kew candidates — the Greens’ Jackie Carter, independent Sophie Torney, Labor’s Lucy Skelton, and the Liberals’ Jess Wilson will speak at a forum on climate change, clean energy and green jobs.