Blast from the past for Linda Reynolds

Blast from the past for Linda Reynolds

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

You know that thing I told the Supreme Court, former defence minister Linda Reynolds asked? Yeah, not true. She had denied her chief of staff, Fiona Brown, had told her that former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins had alleged “I remember him on top of me” before the minister met with Higgins. News.com.au’s Samantha Maiden reports Reynolds changed her tune in the Spotlight interview, not that Seven’s Liam Bartlett noticed; lawyers said a conversation with Brown jogged her memory. Why is this significant? Brown and Reynolds were both asked when they learnt of an alleged sexual incident after Higgins was found in the office, and the latter said — under oath — she initially thought it was just a security breach involving two people in her office. Brown said differently — it was one of the key moments in the aborted trial.

To another woman under the spotlight: Erin Patterson has told The Australian ($) she is “being painted as an evil witch” because she cooked a beef Wellington meal with toxic mushrooms that are thought to have led to the deaths of three people. She says she’s innocent, and claims to have bought the fungi from an “Asian grocer” — a detail writer Jinghua Qian tweeted is being freely reported without any concern about whether it could be true, and what it may mean for the Asian community. Jinghua called headlines like The Age’s ($) “both inflammatory and defamatory”. And finally, seven Frankston cops have been accused of claiming to be non-binary to claim about $1300 more in clothing allowances, The Age ($) reports, although it doesn’t explain why female officers get a higher amount.

INDUCED LABOR

The Labor Party memberships of two Melbourne men were renewed for two years after they died, The Age ($) reports, with the family suspecting someone had paid on behalf of the dead. It comes after the Lalor South branch that regularly met in Climate Minister Lily D’Ambrosio’s electorate office was accused of forging the signatures of dead people on membership forms, as The Australian ($) reported. Why? The paper explains it gives factional leaders more votes at state conferences, where things such as policy and preselection are determined. It’s not the first time Lalor has been under the microscope: after a 2020 branch stacking review, only 13 of the 132 members signed up by Lalor remained members, and The Oz ($) adds that nine of the former members said they could not remember ever paying for their memberships. But Premier Dan Andrews says there’s no comparison between this and the 2020-21 branch-stacking saga that claimed four ministerial scalps. He didn’t explain why.

To Queensland now and Education Minister Grace Grace and Deputy Premier Steven Miles were both questioned why a hefty $2.4 billion blowout to Queensland’s trains manufacturing program was quietly deleted from a press release, The Courier-Mail reports. Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk ordered a review into the apparent cover-up, but Grace told reporters they’ve apologised, so let’s move on. To other issues of integrity now and PwC didn’t tell the Morrison government about real or potential conflicts of interests before it won a $2.3 million aged care contract to audit a payment to staff in the sector, Guardian Australia reports. We don’t know what the conflict of interests might be, but the paper notes PwC audits aged care provider Bupa and promotes its services to aged care providers on the big four’s website. Greens Senator Barbara Pocock put it this way: “If you are working both sides of the street you have a duty to declare it.”

HOUSE DIVIDED

We’re not sure we care enough about the housing standoff in the Senate for a double dissolution, the latest polling in the SMH ($) reveals. Just one in five respondents says they’d like to see an early election next year and just a third says the housing issue is important enough for a double dissolution. The Greens voted with the Coalition to veto the $10 billion housing bill in June, and if it fails in the Senate a second time a pathway to a trigger opens. The minor party wants more on social housing and a states- and territories-led national rent freeze. But every state, including Victoria, will rebuff the rent freeze today at national cabinet, the AFR ($) reports, after Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe warned that capping or freezing rents would make the rental crisis worse.

He’s right, William Bennett writes for the SMH ($). Look at New York, where rents soared to record highs in July ($8596 a month). Rent controls, on the other hand, are up for discussion, which could include limiting rent increases to once a year and banning no-fault evictions. So what else is on the agenda? “Removing investment barriers for super funds, streamlining ­planning restrictions, providing incentives for projects and strengthening renters’ rights,” The Australian ($) lists. Home building activity is at a decade-long low, the HIA outlook report says, with new-home construction to fall to just 95,370 in 2024. It’s estimated to reach 69,680 this year.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

One of the truisms of life is that a moment that shatters our everyday reverie does not come with the foreboding background music of movies, nor the clues carefully shown to the omnipresent TV binger. Rather the moment comes all at once — as it did for Peter Foote when he was told his son Elliot was among four friends who were lost at sea off the coast of Indonesia. Elliot was with his partner, Steph Weisse, and friends Jordan Short and Will Teagle, when the quartet boarded a wooden speedboat bound for the perfect waves of the Banyak Islands. No-one had heard from them in the three days since — loved ones tried to remain positive, but as the nights passed it was hard not to fear the worst. On Tuesday, Peter’s phone dinged, as the SMH reports. As he stared at the device, miraculous words stared back up at him. “Hey Dad, Elliot here. I’m alive. Safe now. Love you. Chat later.”

As it had turned out, dark clouds had turned into a full-blown storm that sank the small boat, leaving the Australians and three Indonesian crew members bobbing in the cold ocean. There was nothing for it, Elliot told the frightened group — he was going to try to paddle to the nearby island of Pulau Palambakbesar on his surfboard to get help. Rescuers found Weisse, Short, Teagle and two of the Indonesian crew on Tuesday morning (one is still missing) — their first question was of Elliot, who was thankfully found 20 nautical miles away. Peter wasn’t surprised, saying he knew in his bones that the friends would’ve looked out for each other out there. As for Elliot, don’t rush home, he told his son — finish your holiday, particularly “if the surf is great and the weather has come good and they are having a great time with their best mates”.

Hoping you feel hopeful today too.

SAY WHAT?

Warren Mundine just admitted to [ABC host Patricia Karvelas] that the No campaign has secretly sacked two campaign workers due to their racist views. The No campaign can’t cover up this racism scandal. They must release the details, and explain why they sacked these two workers

Matt Kean

The NSW Liberal MP backs the Yes side in the Voice to Parliament and has called for the No campaign leader to ‘fess up about out the two workers, one of whom made anti-Semitic comments.

CRIKEY RECAP

An aircraft appearance crew member cleans a Qantas plane (Image: AAP/Reuters/Loren Elliott)

“Why Prime Minister Anthony Albanese thought it was a good idea to join outgoing Qantas CEO Alan Joyce in this frolic yesterday is anyone’s guess — and does nothing to undermine the growing perception that this government is far too close to an airline that appears to hate workers, competition and its own customers and which is a significant contributor to inflation …

“See, Joyce doesn’t get too far before the simple act of explaining why Qantas supports the Yes campaign trips him and Qantas up. Where was the fair go for the baggage handlers illegally sacked by Qantas? For the customers treated like dirt? For passengers gouged to lift profits? If Qantas is so committed to a fair go, why does it lobby the politicians it is over-friendly with to keep competitors out?”

“The fate of Fraser government ministers Michael MacKellar and John Moore has long been the go-to example for any columnist wanting to quickly point out deteriorating standards in public life, and with good reason. In 1982, an inaccurately labelled colour TV achieved what the robodebt royal commission could not: claiming not one but two ministerial scalps.

“MacKellar had failed to pay the appropriate duty on an imported colour TV and Moore, in his capacity as the minister who oversaw the Customs Act at the time, had failed to properly act when alerted to this fact, and both eventually offered their resignations. It was only the first of a series of humiliations the idiot box was to inflict on our elected officials.”

“In her statement, [Pauline] Hanson made a veiled accusation against Latham that he oversaw a failed election campaign, saying the party’s vote dropped by 14%. It’s true the March results in NSW were a disappointment for One Nation: despite running 17 candidates, it didn’t win a single lower house seat, and managed to expand its seats in the upper house by only one.

“… Latham did not respond to a question on Monday, and the last time he issued a comment to Crikey was in October last year when he defended his plan to quit and run again as ‘seeking reelection, which is an expression of public trust’ (while also adding in a text message: ‘I’ve got no interest in Crikey’).”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

[Canadian] inflation jumped higher last month, to 3.3% (CBC)

NASA: 2023 could break heat records — and 2024 will be even hotter (euronews)

Tesla launches cheaper Model S, X versions in US with shorter ranges (Reuters)

Third politician in a month killed [in Ecuador] after assassination of presidential candidate (The Guardian)

Pakistanis slam ‘shameful’ cricket board video omitting [former captain Imran] Khan (Al Jazeera)

Suspected spies for Russia held in major UK security investigation (BBC)

THE COMMENTARIAT

It’s time the Liberal Party, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison apologised for robodebtBill Shorten (The West Australian) ($): “While the robodebt scheme did not, thankfully, see anyone imprisoned, it resembles the post office scandal in that it imposed other kinds of life sentences for many. But unlike the Liberals, the UK Post Office has apologised for its failures and the impact the scandal had on individual lives. One robodebt victim was a lady who chose to be anonymous. She was a refugee and not literate in English. When she got the debt notices, she hid her own children, afraid that the authorities would come for them.

Jennifer Miller gave a profoundly moving account of her son Rhys’ experience of the scheme before he took his own life in 2017. Miller said she went to her son’s apartment in Melbourne and found debt letters hanging on the fridge along with a drawing of a person shooting a gun in their mouth, with dollar signs coming out of the back of their head. His debts were later reduced to zero … The narcissism of robodebt needs to be replaced by the ethos of servant leadership in government. Ceasing the scheme after four and a half years is not enough. The royal commission is not enough. What Australians want to hear from the political class, the people privileged to represent them, is a promise that it was wrong and will never happen again.”

This indictment of Trump does something ingeniousNorman Eisen and Amy Lee Copeland (The New York Times) ($): “But the indictment stands out, above all, because Georgia offers uniquely compelling evidence of election interference — and a set of state criminal statutes tailor-made for the sprawling, loosely organised wrongdoing that Trump and his co-conspirators are accused of engaging in. It is a reminder of the genius of American federalism: when our democracy is threatened, states have an indispensable part to play in protecting it. At 98 pages, Willis’ indictment is more than twice the size of Smith’s indictment in his January 6 case and contains 19 defendants to his one …

“Willis ties them all together by levying one charge against Trump and each of the 18 other defendants under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO, accusing Trump and his co-conspirators of functioning as a criminal gang. American law has long recognised through the crime of conspiracy that combinations of criminals are more dangerous than lone wolves. RICO is conspiracy on steroids, providing for stiffer penalties and other advantages like bringing multiple loosely connected conspiracies under one umbrella. Georgia has one of the most capacious RICO statutes in the country.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe will speak about the history of the Blak Sovereign Movement and why she’s anti-Voice at the National Press Club.

Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)

  • 2023 Senior Australian of the Year and Indigenous human rights campaigner Tom Calma, SA commissioner for Aboriginal children and young people Ashum Owen, Indigenous activist Celeste Liddle, lecturer in the college of business, government and law at Flinders University Rowan Nicholson, and Indigenous human rights advocate Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts will speak about the Voice To Parliament at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Writer Peter Polites will speak about his new book, God Forgets the Poor, at Better Read Than Dead bookshop.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Writer Kevin Jared Hosein will talk about his new book, Hungry Ghosts, at The Wheeler Centre.

Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)

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