1. Sussan Ley takes one for the team
Health and sports minister Sussan Ley took one for the team and resigned before inquiries into her expenses had concluded. Apparently while she was there journalists who currently have nothing much else to report on were digging into everyone’s business, like the four ministers attending the PM’s private New Year function.
Earlier Bronwyn Bishop amused everyone by saying that criticism of Ms Ley was socialism on the march.
Ley seemed to have a fatal attraction for the Gold Coast, and defended spending $13,000 on two charter flights on capital city routes to avoid diary clashes.
Attention now turns on who will replace Ley. Turnbull does have a serviceable secondhand health minister on the back bench in one Tony Abbott, but word is that Julie Bishop might get the gig because of the importance and sensitivity of the portfolio. Or it could be one of three Victorian men, Josh Frydenberg, Greg Hunt and Dan Tehan.
The entitlements scheme will be overhauled and a new agency formed to rule on eligibility.
Meanwhile The Shovel has reported that a new algorithm is now in use which automatically assumes government ministers are misusing their entitlement, putting the onus on them to prove otherwise. A special help-line has been set up with an average waiting time of seven hours.
- Former prime minister Paul Keating has rounded on President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state nominee, accusing him of threatening to bring on war with China and making “ludicrous” comments on the tense South China Sea dispute.
In a statement released on Friday, Mr Keating warned the Australian government to reject Rex Tillerson’s declaration this week that a “signal” needed to be sent to Beijing that the construction of artificial islands in the contested region must stop and “access to those islands also is not going to be allowed”.
Tillerson wants regional allies “to show backup”. Keating is saying we should have our own foreign policy, and so we should.
Meanwhile Republicans in Congress are warning that if he doesn’t get tougher on Russia they will.
They can, you know, legislate on sanctions for interfering with American democracy. I suppose Trump could refuse to sign the legislation. That would show quite clearly where he stands.
3. Will Malcolm survive? Mark’s view
Mark has written a piece Will Malcolm Turnbull survive 2017?
This is probably the central bit:
- Turnbull’s basic problem is that he’s been monstered by the reactionaries in his own paddock. There’s been an escalation from “sign away what you think” (same-sex marriage and climate policy) to “change your mind instantly when we say you are doing the unthinkable” (emissions intensity, the republic) to the new yardstick — “you don’t really believe it when you do the things we want you to do”. This is the sole purpose of all Abbott’s rhetoric about “centre-right” leaders and governments. It intensifies the test Turnbull faces, and he cannot pass it. No matter how much he gives away to the reactionaries, they can always say he lacks conviction.
Along the way he reckoned that my piece Will Turnbull be PM this time next year? was well worth a read. Can’t say I disagree.
- Two Greens parliamentarians have publicly defied their federal leader, Richard Di Natale, on the existence of factions and whether the Left Renewal faction, which aims to replace capitalism, has a place in the party.
In an opinion piece for Guardian Australia, the federal senator Lee Rhiannon and the New South Wales upper house politician David Shoebridge argue that the Greens’ founding principles “don’t endorse or condemn capitalism” and therefore differences of opinion must be tolerated within the party.
Di Natale had told them to consider finding a new political home.
- He said the Greens do not support the overthrow of capitalism, describing it as a ridiculous idea.
Seems they are not going anywhere, and are not changing their tune.
5. One Nation gets a foot in the door in the Queensland parliament
Steve Dickson, a former Newman government minister announced that he was jumping ship and joining One Nation. He says it’s about an amnesty for the use of medicinal cannabis, the LNP say it’s about his own political ambitions.
Dickson was involved in a failed plot to install Tim Mander as leader, and consequently was passed over for a shadow cabinet position. He’s now a chance to become leader of ON in the Qld parliament, if the voters of Buderim re-elect him.
- A high-ranking LNP official said: “There’s a special place in hell reserved for rats.”
6. Kidman says it’s time to support Trump, Streep not so much
Nicole Kidman, who was born in Hawaii, raised in Australia, lives in Nashville with dual citizenship, says it is time to get behind whoever is in the chair. She’s not overtly a Republican, and says her politics is issue-based.
By contrast, Meryl Streep let rip at a Golden Globe award acceptance speech. What offended her was Trump imitating and mocking a disabled reporter.
- “It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.
“That instinct to humiliate when it’s modelled by someone in a public platform, it filters down into everyone’s life because it gives permission for others to do the same.”
“Disrespect invites disrespect, violence incites violence,” she continued. “When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”