Queensland MP George Christensen is the latest to abscond to a rebellious cohort opposing the state vaccine mandates, The Australian ($) reports. Plus, the paper claims crossbenchers Craig Kelly and Bob Katter told it they were considering holding their votes hostage too. Coalition seats make up 76 of 151 MPs — that means, without Christensen’s vote, the government needs a crossbencher or Labor MP to side with them to pass anything.
Five senators crossed the floor yesterday voting for One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s anti-vaccine mandate bill, but it was defeated 44-5 anyway (they were Gerard Rennick, Alex Antic, Matt Canavan, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, and Sam McMahon, as Guardian Australia lists). So what do they want? The fivesome are demanding the Commonwealth override state laws requiring workers to be vaccinated, and they strike at a critical time as the federal election countdown ticks on, as ABC says.
In a fiery rebuke, outspoken senator Jacqui Lambie went for Hanson’s proverbial jugular over proposed state sanctions, saying the bill was not about discrimination, but rather cash, power, and One Nation seats, SBS reports. “Being held accountable for your own actions isn’t called discrimination — it is called being a bloody adult,” Lambie fired to a smirking Hanson, watching on via video link.
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WAR (WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR)
Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong reportedly reckons comments from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton are amping up China to go to war with Taiwan, ABC says. Wong will make the comments at the National Security College today, the SMH reports, arguing Dutton is amplifying Bejing’s fatalism and leading China to believe unification or conflict with Taiwan are its only choices. Wong’s speech reportedly continues that a conflict between the pair would be “catastrophic for humanity”, and that the Coalition “amping up the prospect of war against a superpower is the most dangerous election tactic in Australian history”, Guardian Australia adds. Yikes.
So what’s the deal with Taiwan? Well, it’s an island off the coast of China, which see it as a prodigal son that will eventually come back (with force if necessary). But Taiwan’s leaders see it as an independent state — it does have its own constitution, as BBC explains, and democratically elected leaders, having been governed independently since 1949. Quality of life is pretty good in Taiwan, as Business Insider delves into, and some see Beijing’s increasingly strict rule as a threat. Indeed tensions between Taipei and Beijing have been heating up since Taiwan’s pro-independence president, Tsai Ing-wen, won in 2016. The US actually supplies Taiwan with weapons — though that’s not to say the US would support them if push quite literally came to shove, The Council on Foreign Relations says. Dutton said earlier this month that, if the US did, it was “inconceivable” that Australia wouldn’t join in.
SPEAK AND YOU SHALL FIND
Queensland Liberal Andrew Wallace could be the next speaker of the House of Representatives, The Brisbane Times says. Wallace is a leading candidate among a handful of names on a ballot this morning to replace the much-loved Tony Smith — Smith’s headed to the backbench on the way to his retirement at the election. You might remember a speech from Wallace in 2017 which catapulted him into the spotlight — Wallace, who once considered becoming a Catholic priest, revealed his views on same-sex marriage had flipped when his daughter, Caroline, told him she was in a same-sex relationship.
Speaking of — the ABC has spoken to LGBTIQ people of faith to get an insider perspective on the hotly contested religious discrimination bill going before Parliament this week. Former young pastor Rosalie Dow Schmidt says she had her gig cancelled based on her sexuality, while Steff Fenton also had her senior church leadership roles stripped after coming out. Besides, University of Sydney’s Simon Rice asks, what’s the point of the bill anyway? Such discrimination is already lawful because of the religious caveats in the Sex Discrimination Act, the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act, and the SA Equal Opportunity Act, he says.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
You might have heard Channel Seven and its reporter Matt Doran are positively shamefaced after an interview with megastar Adele where Doran cheerfully admitted to her that he hadn’t listened to the hotly anticipated album the network paid $1 million for him to interview her about. Doran reckons he missed the email that held the link to it — but having been flown to London specifically for the chat, one might wonder how spending around 24 hours on a plane doing little more than listening to music and watching movies resulted in that.
But Doran’s bungle is hardly the worst we’ve seen — and Guardian Australia has done a cracking round-up. Much-loved Today show host Karl Stefanovic told the Dalai Lama a joke about the spiritual leader walking into a pizza shop and asking to “make me one with everything”. Stefanovic cracked up, which could be funnier than the joke itself. Over in the UK, blunder history was made when Guy Goma, an average bloke who turned up at the BBC for a job chat, was mistaken for a technology expert and ended up live on air. Goma realised the magnitude of the mistake 0.25 seconds in but somehow pulls the interview off like a boss, even making predictions about people’s online listening habits. And just recently, Ireland’s investment agency’s boss Martin Shanahan might’ve been preparing for a more difficult line of questioning than he got at CNBC — a reporter corrected his fellow interviewer who asked Shanahan about the euro, saying Ireland used pounds. Not quite — Shanahan patiently explained that the UK and Ireland are not the same country, to which the reporter sighed and said, well, “that’s just too confusing”.
Hope Tuesday brings you a little clarity — and a little laughter.
Yesterday I went, as we all must, to Peppa Pig World. Hands up if you’ve been to Peppa Pig World! I loved it. Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place. It has very safe streets, discipline in schools, heavy emphasis on new mass transit systems. Even if they’re a bit stereotypical about Daddy Pig.
Another day, another bizarre speech from the UK’s Trump-lite, it seems. The British PM used the swine example to make the point that the government should “get out of your hair” — drawing familiar parallels with some of the rhetoric we are hearing from our own PM. Pundits were quick to point out Peppa Pig World is nearly 500km from the Port of Tyne, where Johnson was supposed to be promoting economic opportunities.
“Previously, geographical location determined that some votes in the upper house were worth many times more than others, with the malapportionment traditionally favouring the Liberal and National Parties. While the single statewide electorate is the major plank of the legislation, group voting tickets or preference harvesting has also been abolished.
“This means that a candidate like the Daylight Saving Party’s Wilson Tucker would no longer be electable. Preference harvesting enabled Tucker to be elected in this year’s state ballot despite winning only 98 first-preference votes.”
“Scott Morrison has a problem. The return of Parliament today, for the final sitting fortnight of the year (and possibly the term), takes the prime minister away from the comfort of the campaign trail.
“And it means the government might have to do something it’s been reluctant about doing over the past three years — legislation. Specifically, two controversial and complex election promises in religious discrimination laws and a National Integrity Commission.”
“It remains to be seen exactly how a mandatory vaccination can occur without the serious threat of imprisonment, which, given vaccines mainly protect the taker from serious illness, make little sense. Moreover, it is likely to lead to significant civil unrest, already playing out to some degree.
“There’s also the problem that if 20% of a population refuses to take a vaccine, it’s simply impossible to imprison that many people (and there’s likely to be a full-blown revolution before that point).”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Why you are paying $1.70 a litre for petrol (The Australian) ($)
Assembly finds ‘overwhelming evidence’ Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment (The New York Times)
Austria’s return to COVID-19 lockdown is met with anger, resignation (The Wall Street Journal)
100 Notable Books of 2021 (The New York Times)
Austria is showing that vaccine mandates are no longer unthinkable — Liam Hoare (The Guardian): “On 18 November there were 15,145 new cases recorded, the largest number seen since the pandemic began … Going even further, [Chancellor] Schallenberg announced that Austria would also be the first in Europe to bring in compulsory vaccination beginning on 1 February 2022. Schallenberg and his health minister, Wolfgang Mückstein, had previously said that lockdown measures would return only for the unvaccinated. They hoped this might be enough to bring the vaccination rate up and case numbers down.
“On Saturday, demonstrations in Vienna against the new lockdown and mandate announcements attracted 40,000 people, according to police estimates. Convicted neo-Nazi Gottfried Küssel and identitarian leader Martin Sellner were among those taking part. Several demonstrators wore yellow Stars of David or carried placards that compared the mandate to the Holocaust.”
Class action law reform rushed and seen as Orwellian gaslighting — Adele Ferguson (The AFR): “It’s make or break time for the Morrison government’s bill to reform the billion-dollar class action and litigation funding industry … It sounds reasonable at face value, but the way it has gone about it, and the unintended consequences particularly for vulnerable Australians, if the ability to run class actions is curtailed, has raised more than a few eyebrows.
“For starters, for such important legislation, the truncated consultation process, including four days of consultation on the draft legislation, one week to make submissions on the final legislation and a day for a public hearing, left many frustrated and concerned at the haste … The bill aims to restrict the payout of litigation funders on class actions to a maximum of 30%, leaving the rest for the members of the class action, to stem ‘disproportionate’ returns … Class actions have long been a thorn in the side of business.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy and Essential Media’s Pete Lewis unpack the fortnight’s political news in a webinar for The Australia Institute.
Author Tony Birch will discuss his short story collection, Dark as Last Night, held online.
Former technocrat in the Whitlam government, David Wilmoth will be in conversation about “powerful learning cities” for Readings, held online.
Writer Sally Piper will be in conversation with author Lucy Neave discussing the latter’s new novel, Believe in Me, held online.
Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Brisbane artists, arts workers, cultural workers, and creative producers can learn more about the Lord Mayor’s Creative Fellowships at an info session at the Brisbane Square Library.