Politics

Progress on Voice to Parliament

HEARING AND LISTENING

Indigenous Australians would advise the government on law and policy that affects them under a three-tiered proposal to be unveiled today, the SMH reports. Cabinet has agreed to form 35 local and regional groups — they’ll be appointed by Indigenous Australian communities by July 1. The groups are one of the recommendations of a report, The Australian ($) continues, compiling the work of 52 mostly Indigenous prominent Australians plus feedback from 9400 people and organisations. The legislation will go before parliament in “the first half of 2022”, the SMH says

The report also recommended a National Voice — it’d consist of 24 people: two members representing each state, territory and the Torres Strait Islands, plus a remote member representing NSW, the NT, WA, Queensland, SA and the Torres Strait Islands. But there’s no chance the Voice will get up before the next election, the Oz ($) continues, even though Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt had hoped it would. The proposal is the result of two years of consultation with Indigenous leaders after 2017 Uluru Statement from the Heart — revisit it here.

TIME TO ACT

The traumatic experiences of sexual assault, harassment, and bullying in Australian Parliament will be formally acknowledged in a public statement by the federal government after the summer break. Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, who’s spearheading the response to the Jenkins review, told Guardian Australia they’ll also put together a leadership task force to oversee changes to Canberra’s toxic work culture. Looking forward Birmingham said he also wanted onboarding for new parliamentarians and staff to be better “so we don’t waste any time in terms of the life and culture of the next Parliament”, but in the meantime said he’d work with Labor, Greens, and independents to get stuff done. Yesterday’s mid-year budget update had $17.8 million over four years put aside for Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ 28 recommendations.

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Speaking of — there was was a small note in yesterday’s budget showing $16 billion set aside for… something, as The New Daily reports. The government noted that the hefty chunk of change was for decisions “not yet announced”, and the SMH reports a lot is probably for vaccines, though some will be for Coalition sweeteners before the election. So why combine the two into one little line, considering the update was roomy at 346 pages long? Labor’s Jim Chalmers and Katy Gallagher say it’s evidence of leader Anthony Albanese’s Wednesday prediction — that we’re in for a massive spendathon leading up to the ballot box. Indeed the $16 billion is actually the biggest invisible sack of cash since former PM John Howard’s 2007-08 mid-year update.

TESTING TIMES

Newcastle residents have been told by the health department that they should “seriously consider” cancelling Christmas celebrations amid the city’s Omicron outbreak. About 200 people tested positive after a 20-year-old went clubbing after being told he was a close contact, The Newcastle Herald reports. He’s been fined $10,000, and testing clinics are like a “war zone” according to essential workers. He’s not the only one — the ABC reports another 20-year-old was fined $5000 for ignoring the direction to isolate. Elsewhere, people are being told to hold Christmas outside if they can, as Guardian Australia reports, or even consider halving the attendees. Yikes.

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is isolating after going to a 50th party at the weekend where someone had COVID-19. He’s awaiting his test result, according to the Herald Sun ($). The scare comes just a few days into his summer holiday and is a bummer for a leader who already battled a serious back and rib injury earlier this year after a bad fall, as The Age reports. Victoria is experiencing its highest level of transmission in a month at the moment, while NSW’s cases are rising at the steepest rate this year, ABC adds, with every one case infecting two others.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Rap saves lives — and they’ve got the data to show it. A suicide helpline in the US received nearly 10,000 more calls — that’s a 50% surge – after rapper Logic released his song titled “1-800-273-8255”, the phone number for the service. The study, from the British Medical Journal, also found in the month after the song was released back in 2017, suicide rates for people aged 10 to 19 declined by about 5.5% — equating to 245 lives. Logic was positively beside himself. He told CNN the song came from a warm place in his heart, and to think it actually helped people, well, “that blows my mind”, he says.

The lyrics of the song, which also features Alessia Cara and Khalid, are rather beautiful. “It’s the lightness in the air when you’re there chest to chest with the lover, it’s holding on though the road’s long, and seeing light in the darkest things,” Cara sings in one verse. Logic says he drew upon his own experiences with mental health to craft his message of hope and recovery for all who might need to hear it, and he says the message stands, four years on. “I want you to know you’re going to be so happy,” Logic says in the interview with CNN, “That you continued to thrive and that you continue to work on yourself”.

Hope you start Friday with a little spring in your step — and have a restful weekend ahead.

SAY WHAT?

I can confirm that Tinder liaisons have reopened. It’s not strictly embedded in the traffic light system, but it is a given up to 25 [people], actually, in a red area.

Jacinda Ardern

The NZ prime minister made the comments on a local current affairs show, but they were thrown into an international spotlight by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, who just couldn’t resist Ardern’s implication that group sex was technically allowed. Cue the giggles. Colbert continued that “orgy groups in New Zealand” were celebrating, before showing a Lord Of The Rings clip where characters Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Pippin Took, and Aragorn embrace. Colbert and Ardern are actually pretty good mates — she even picked him up from the airport when he visited NZ in 2019.

When the muppets call you puppets, you know you’re getting under their skin

[Simon] Holmes à Court, son of the late billionaire businessman Robert Holmes à Court and a long-term climate philanthropist, has really done it this time. He’s certainly got up the nose of Liberal MP Jason Falinski. During a frothing-at-the-mouth parliamentary tirade earlier this month, Falinski depicted Holmes à Court as the evil puppetmaster of a subversive, if not criminal, organisation.

“… The dark mutterings from the Liberals are that the Holmes à Court grouping is or should be registered as a political party and that by not being registered it avoids the regulations major parties are subject to. Liberal sources allege that the body has only one reason for being and that is to win campaigns.”

MYEFO: Morrison’s massive tax haul will buy his reelection, and expand government

“But in 2022-23, the government will still account for 27.6% of GDP — up from 27.3% at the budget. A year later, it will be 27.3% of GDP, compared with 26.9% at the budget; in 2024-25, it will still be 26.5% of the budget, compared with an expected 26.2% earlier in the year.

“By way of comparison, the highest spending got under Labor during the financial crisis was 25.9%. Across the forward estimates, Morrison and Frydenberg now plan to spend $100 billion more than they said back in May — and $60 billion of that isn’t this year because of the winter lockdowns, but in coming years.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Five children die after jumping castle tragedy at Hillcrest Primary School in Devon­port, Tasmania (The Australian) ($)

India to raise legal marriage age for women, activists sceptical (Al Jazeera)

Former McDonald’s CEO repays company $105m (The New York Times)

Dutch royals regret holding party amid surge in COVID cases (BBC)

Turkey raises minimum wage as lira crash, inflation sow hardship (Al Jazeera)

Fall in fertility rates may be linked to fossil fuel pollution, finds study (The Guardian)

bell hooks, Pathbreaking Black Feminist, Dies at 69 (The New York Times)

Canadian zoo accreditation body bans elephant rides. Advocate says change is overdue (CBC)

Super typhoon Rai: Thousands flee as storm lashes southern Philippines (BBC)

Brutal and unreformed — Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Straw Dogs’ at 50 (Quillette)

THE COMMENTARIAT

MYEFO: Good reason to look forward with confidence and optimismJosh Frydenberg (The Australian) ($): “At peak, Australia’s net debt levels are less than half the average seen today across G20 countries, with Australia one of only nine countries in the world to have a AAA credit rating from the three leading rating agencies. As the Omicron variant reminds us, this pandemic is not over. But with a vaccination rate of more than 90%, one of the highest in the world, and an economic recovery that is one of the strongest in the world, Australia is in a better position than any other nation.

“To maintain this momentum, we must continue to open safely, learn to live with the virus, and stick to our economic plan. A plan that lowers taxes for families and small businesses, boosts investment for infrastructure and skills, and is creating one million new jobs as we lock in the recovery. As Australians approach Christmas they have good reason to look forward to next year with confidence, optimism and hope.”

It’s not fashionable but I’m looking back on 2021 with gratitudeWaleed Aly (The Age): “Everywhere you look, there are frightening counterfactuals. Had this deadly virus been a little more so, had its more frightening variants arrived a little earlier, had our persistence not lasted just long enough for the vaccines to arrive, this whole pandemic might have been horribly different for us. I’m grateful for that.

“We’re living through something truly historical, and for that reason, something historically awful. But with that in mind, it’s worth us recognising how relatively well we’ve fared. Partly because it’s psychologically helpful to recognise it, but also because we may not always be so fortunate. It’s entirely possible we will live through another pandemic that will not spare us the worst possibilities, at which point we might look back at this moment very differently. Or perhaps even this pandemic has some devastating third act that will have the same effect. I’m taking nothing for granted. And that, I suppose, is the point.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Swinburne University of Technology will host a live music event to celebrate the Year 12 cohort finishing school and the return to on-campus learning, with artists like Mallrat, CXLOE, and JXN.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • The three-day Bastille Festival event kicks off today at Circular Quay after being postponed due to coronavirus restrictions.

  • The Japan Expo will be held at the Sydney Town Hall, with food, travel and culture exhibitions, as well as live music.

Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)

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Peter Fray

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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