The wretched virus has stolen our conversation, so I decided to run with it and post some new material here in ‘salon’ style.
1. Can you catch the coronavirus twice?
As a weather attribution study finds that climate change made the weather that drove the devastating Australian fires 30% more likely, Joe Duggan, a science communicator at ANU returned to his project of asking climate scientists how they feel about climate change.
Graham Readfern explains that Duggan was bowled over when he first started the project in 2014. Continue reading Sad, angry, guilty, some hope – climate scientists reveal their feelings
Not long ago Slate was blaming Biden for messing up the selection of a Democratic Party presidential candidate in The “Establishment” Probably Could Have Made a Regular Democrat the Nominee if It Hadn’t Gotten So Stuck on Biden.
Some senior Democrats are going ballistic about Sanders comparing his Nevada win to Nazi Germany’s successful invasion of France, for example. The article says that if you thought Sanders was electoral poison:
There is a virus abroad in the land. In this NH winter season, in the US alone, it has already caused an estimated 26 million illnesses, 250,000 hospitalizations and 14,000 deaths. It’s called influenza.
This LiveScience article asks the question How does the new coronavirus compare with the flu? Continue reading COVID 19: are we ready?
The Guardian broke the story yesterday:
The New Daily has an article News Corp in ‘dangerous times’ as audience and revenues drop in print and digital:
On Monday 3 February ABC’s Media Watch examined how News Corp’s loudest voices denied or downplayed the role of climate change. Those voices included Peta Credlin, Chris Kenny and Alan Jones:
Passionate denial that the bushfires should make us act on climate change runs right across the Murdoch media in this country reaching an audience of millions.
But it’s also echoed by Murdoch’s Fox News in the US…
Australians seem to like doing crazy things on Australia Day, like pie-eating competitions and wrestling crocodiles. This time an innocent lamington-eating competition went horribly wrong when a Hervey Bay woman choked and died.
Laura Tingle asks seriously As we approach Australia Day, do we even know who we are as a nation? Continue reading Weekly salon 28/1
Simon Longstaff, Executive Director of The Ethics Centre, is very clear. While what Bridget McKenzie did may not be illegal, ethically it was wrong. Politicians are elected to serve the public interest, not indulge in behaviour to promote private interests, or further the interests of a political party.
Quite simply, she should resign, or be sacked.
Part of Longstaff’s argument in his AFR opinion piece is that corrupt politicians tend to corrupt others:
He says that McKenzie may be a wonderful person, but she has shown herself to be an irresponsible minister who has done wrong and refuses to acknowledge this.
The honourable course of action would be for the minister to resign. However, if she fails to do so, then she should be dismissed by Scott Morrison.
PM Scott Morrison gave his answer to Sabra Lane this morning (from 6:30 on the counter) – there are some legal issues the Attorney General is “clarifying”, we may learn from this, but the rules were followed, no ineligible projects were funded, the minister has made the decisions, and they were “actioned in an endorsing way by Sports Australia”.
In a sense he’s right about that last bit. Sports Australia should have refused to action decisions improperly made, and so they have become complicit.
The bottom line is that it looks as though the government is going to get away with this scam.
Which is why legal action should be considered.
Here an opinion piece in the AFR Why McKenzie’s sports rorts defence is wrong by Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Sydney, becomes relevant. The lead-in summary is:
Twomey says that there are at least three areas in which rules are likely to have been broken. Firstly, there is a legal obligation on ministers when acting within the scope of their powers to behave in a manner that is procedurally fair. They can’t take into account irrelevant considerations and they must not act for an improper purpose or in a biased manner.
Clearly there is a basis for what happened to be challenged legally in this regard.
Secondly, there is a question as to whether the minister had any power at all to make these grants. She says:
While Bridget McKenzie had power under section 11 of the Act to give “written directions to the Commission with respect to the policies and practices to be followed by the Commission in the performance of its functions and the exercise of its powers”, this did not allow her to exercise its function and decide who got the grants. In any case, she made no such direction.
The third reason relates to the constitution itself. The constitution lists the areas where the Commonwealth Parliament may legislate, for example, external affairs, defence and banking. These are known as “heads of power”. There is no head of power for sport.
She says that the school chaplaincy program ran into a similar problem. The High Court found that direct funding by the Commonwealth was invalid.
So the funding must be channelled through the states which tend to have “more stringent accountability measures, such as codes of ethics for MPs and ministers, strong anti-corruption bodies and legal sanctions.”
In NSW what McKenzie did would likely end up with ICAC (the Independent Commission Against Corruption). Furthermore, in NSW it is a criminal offence to give any property or benefit to any person to influence votes.
That is section 209 of the NSW Electoral Act. If breached a Court of Disputed Returns must declare the election void, as actually happened in 1988 in the case of Scott v Martin.
It seems that who won and why is not relevant, it is the act of attempted influence itself that matters.
I’m not sure if that would fly under Commonwealth law, but truly, this matter is quite egregious and there should be some form of restitution. Here’s exhibit A, from the Longstaff article:
Earlier post: Bridget’s dreaming and broken democracy
Kevin Rudd’s AFR article Trade deal will not stop US and China drifting apart gives us the lowdown. From the URL his heading was probably Trade war truce a symbol of the US unhinged. Seems Trump banged on for an hour about incoherent nonsense at the announcement while the head Chinese trade negotiator stood patiently by.
Rudd says intellectual property theft will be criminalised in China for the first time. Good in principle, but you will need to make your case in Chinese courts. Continue reading Weekly salon 20/1
It seems that anything a LNP politician did to keep the Bill Shorten out of The Lodge and the ALP out power prior to the 2019 election was ipso facto justified. It’s either that or there is no such thing as integrity left in this government’s modus operandi. Continue reading Bridget’s dreaming and broken democracy