1. Turnbull’s Kim Jong-un moment
One of two big stories this week, from the SMH, Peter Dutton to head merged ASIO, AFP and Border Force super security department. However, Paula Matthewson at The New Daily captured the spirit of the thing by focussing on the optics in Hilarious and menacing at the same time: Turnbull’s Kim Jong-un moment. When Abbott made a national security announcement, this is what we got:
This is Turnbull:
The scary bit, however was this (from The Conversation):
Peter Dutton will head up a new mega-department containing the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), the Australian Border Force, and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, as well as immigration.
At first I thought it was a sensible idea – better co-ordination etc. However, apparently the various security units now coordinate extremely well, and don’t need a minister to help them, so why the change? It also downgrades each unit, coming under a new umbrella department formed out of the Office of National Assessments.
Also Cabinet will now only have advice from one minister rather than three.
Finally, though, it puts too much power in one person’s hands.
What could possibly go wrong?
Furthermore, immigration is now firmly embedded in a security frame, rather a social/economic one.
Probably the biggest story in the media was the killing of Justine Damond, also known as Justine Ruszczyk, by police in Minneapolis. This is a total tragedy, but unless you spent the week backpacking in the mountains, which is where the Minneapolis chief of police was, you will have heard plenty.
I thought police chief Janee Harteau handled the issue well:
Conceding she had her work cut out to regain public trust, she said: “Justine didn’t have to die … this should not have happened.”
In breaking news Harteau has resigned at the request of the mayor, as part of re-establishing trust.
The rookie officer Somali-American Mohamed Noor who fired the shot exercised his constitutional right not to speak. I believe he will be obliged to speak in the administrative review, conducted by a third party, but we may not get to hear what he says.
There will also probably be a civil case.
On ABC RN we heard that there had been 554 people killed by police so far this year in the US, that’s almost three a day. I also heard that one police officer per week is shot on average. Noor may well have been jumpy, thinking they could be heading into an ambush.
Chances of anything changing in American gun laws remain at zero. Canadians have guns, but don’t use them so much to shoot each other. Something about the culture of the place?
Incidentally, my great grandmother on my father’s side was a Ruciack, very possibly a cognate name to Ruszczyk.
They are small, about 2-6mm in length, but are nasty, and if they win they will change our life-style, devastate wild-life, and cost us billions. Here they are on a 10c coin:
They attack in swarms, so your arm might look like this:
They can cause an anaphylactic shock in humans, and have the charming habit of chewing the eyes out of small animals.
So far outbreaks in Gladstone and Sydney have been eradicated. I think there was one also at the wharves in Brisbane. However, around the turn of the century they escaped attention and became firmly established south-west of Brisbane. Now they are found in parts of the Brisbane, Ipswich, Scenic Rim, Gold Coast and Logan City council areas.
So far around $327 million has been spent since 2001 trying to eradicate the ants, but the ants appear to be winning. Other states have been contributing, and next week ministers will be looking down the barrel of spending $300 million over the next 10 years. The cost if we don’t beat them has been estimated at $35 billion over the next 30 years.
This article tells of nests in five parks in Logan. It’s annoying that locals are not allowed to eradicate nests, and the proper authorities don’t come immediately. Too stretched.
Also I believe that if you don’t kill the whole nest a queen is likely to relocate. In the US midwest I believe they are limited only by the winter snow line.
4. Bill Shorten casts his bread upon the waters
‘Inequality kills hope’ he says as he sets out the defining mission if he wins government.
Governments need to take responsibility and do stuff that matters.
- To that end, he will promise if Labor wins the next election it will work with business to develop industries that provide jobs, end the political uncertainty over energy and climate policy, make home ownership more affordable for the working and middle class and spend more on health, and in particular Medicare.
In contrast to Mr Shorten, Mr Turnbull delivered a full-throated defence of free trade and open markets in a speech he delivered to the Melbourne Institute on Thursday.
No more detail yet, but as Andrew Leigh told Patricia Karvelas, they have lots of existing policies that fit the theme.
I do believe in active government for the collective and individual good, so we’ll see how the man goes.
5. Party picnic
Meanwhile, if you go down to the woods this weekend in Sydney, the Liberals are having a picnic. At a special meeting of the NSW Liberal Party there will be a “tussle for soul of the Liberal Party”.
Under consideration will be a motion from the Warringah federal electorate conference (Abbott’s branch) that candidates and delegates be selected by plebiscite of members. As Michelle Grattan says, other states have plebiscites, but in NSW the Warringah blueprint is seen as radical change on steroids.
- Mr Turnbull, squeezed between factional allies who want to limit reform and militant rank-and-filers, addresses the convention on Saturday morning. He has previously indicated he is in favour of plebiscites, but looks for measured changes rather than Warringah’s full monty.
However, there is talk of all or nothing and I’ve heard of mutterings about a party split.
Whatever view prevails this weekend, in the current state of democracy in the party it will be up to State Council to decide.
Cory Bernadi stands by licking his chops. His party membership now stands at nearly 13,000 nationally with about 4,000 in New South Wales. A mere $25 will get you on board.