FORTUNES OF WAR
Australia and France will together supply thousands of artillery shells to Ukraine’s military, The Guardian reports. The deal is worth several million dollars and is the first of its kind since the Morrison government’s unceremonious French exit from the $90 billion submarine deal, a diplomatic bungle that iced over our relations with France. New government, new day, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles said. The first shipment will arrive in Kyiv in the next two months. And no — France will not be giving us interim submarines amid AUKUS program delays, Marles added. It comes as the US navy has suspended submarine repair work at a dry dock because of the risk of earthquakes, the ABC reports, which could lead to even more delays in the AUKUS deal. We’ll learn more about the plans in March.
Meanwhile former British PM Boris Johnson said Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to assassinate him. “He threatened me at one point, and he said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you but, with a missile, it would only take a minute’ or something like that. Jolly.” Johnson told a BBC documentary. Jolly?! But Putin had a relaxed tone, Johnson tried to assure the interviewer, an “air of detachment”, a detail which honestly makes it worse to me. The Kremlin called Johnson’s claim “more precisely, a lie”. Meanwhile, Australian Open boss Craig Tiley says Russians should not be banned from competing on the professional tournament circuit, the Express reports, “but we do support them not being able to compete as part of a Russian team”. It comes as the All England Club is still mulling over whether they’ll bar Russian and Belarusian players from Wimbledon this year. Speaking of tennis — two guys have been charged with stealing former tennis No. 1 Margaret Court’s medals and awards, The West ($) reports. Her achievements have been overshadowed in later life by comments slammed as homophobia, including telling a radio station that “tennis is full of lesbians”, as Guardian Australia reported.
Australia’s interest rate will probably keep rising all the way to 4.1% by August, according to Deutsche Bank Australia senior economist Phil O’Donaghoe. O’Donaghoe works for one of the world’s largest credit agencies that affirmed the nation’s AAA credit rating, the SMH says, so he knows his stuff. Could it be!? The Reserve Bank will meet again next month, and folks speculate the cash rate will increase by another quarter of a per cent (it’s 3.1% now), but there were hopes it would be the last hike after its historic climb from 0.1% last year. But O’Donaghoe says we all spent too much over the silly season and inflation is still high. So what are we talking about in dollar figures if the central bank hikes it all the way to 4.1% over the next six months? The monthly repayments on your average $750,000 mortgage would increase by $480, the paper says. Yikes.
Meanwhile in Queensland, about one in 10 people living in Queensland’s Greater Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Logan, Beaudesert, Moreton Bay North and Ipswich are struggling to afford the roof over their head — and it’s partly because of how many people moved there in the pandemic. That’s according to a damning new report from UNSW and the Community Housing Industry Association (CHIA), as The Courier-Mail ($) reports. It comes as the first hearings are unfolding into the Coalition and the Greens’ cost-of-living inquiry — opposition finance spokeswoman and inquiry chair Jane Hume told The Age ($) that Labor’s promise to reduce energy bills by $275 was a “broken promise”, which some might say is a bit rich coming from the Coalition, but anyway.
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DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA
Activist and political staffer Sally Rugg is taking teal MP Monique Ryan to court over an alleged workplace law breach, The Australian ($) reports. Rugg, who is chief of staff, is accusing Ryan of a breach of general protections under the Fair Work Act — which protects employees from “harmful (adverse) action, coercion, undue influence or pressure, and/or misrepresentation, where they affect workplace rights”, the paper says. Guardian Australia says workload and long hours have been an issue for Rugg, and adds that she’s still employed at the Kooyong MP’s office. Is this a product of the Albanese government’s decision to slash crossbench MPs’ staff numbers from eight to five? The SMH adds the court action comes just six months after both Ryan and Rugg shared elated comments with the paper about the new appointment.
Speaking of internal dramas, newly elected WA Liberal leader Libby Mettam is going for “The Clan’s” jugular, WA Today reports. “The Clan” — which had included former finance minister Mathias Cormann, state Liberal MPs Peter Collier and Nick Goiran, and WA Liberal president Fay Duda — refers to secret communications between a group of WA Liberal powerbrokers that was accused of branch stacking, among other things. About 700 pages of WhatsApp messages were leaked in 2021. Now Mettam has vowed to strip main powerbroker Goiran of his roles as spokesman for legal matters, child protection and industrial relations. Mettam says she wants to send a message that factional politics has been a “unfortunate and unedifying spectacle” for the WA Liberals, who are desperately unpopular out west.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Bindi, like any pampered pooch, is a bit of a sook. She sleeps in WA man Trent Emery’s bed, goes to work with him each day at a mechanical fabrication site, goes on regular getaways with the family, and even gets carried through the local Bayswater grocery store each evening as Emery grabs a few items for dinner. Except, well, Bindi is a dingo. It’s more like having another child than having a dog, Emery tells WA Today. “They need to be with you 24 hours a day or they will become very stressed and mischievous. They’ll rip your house apart to get out, if left alone.” Fortunately, Emery knew what he was doing — he had previously kept two rescue dingoes, Nitro and Mischief, who both lived until the age of 17. He’s had Bindi, who is a lovely sandy colour with simply humungous ears, since she was six weeks old.
Surprisingly, it’s actually fine to keep a dingo as a pet without a permit in WA and NSW (you need one in Victoria and the NT), though they have to be registered and microchipped. But this particular pet is not for the faint of heart. WA Dingo Association vice-president Leigh Mullan describes dingoes as “a cat in a dog suit with a monkey brain”, adding that they’re about as trainable as your average feline. But they’re not the monsters that we might think. Like a fox, they favour flight over fight and in the right home “they can make the most amazingly rewarding, loving companions and become a valued member of the family”. Though it would be worth avoiding this breed of wild dog if you have a cat. Experts say Fluffy doesn’t stand a chance, unfortunately, no matter how much haughty authority she commands while strutting around your house.
Hoping you can see something in a new light today.
The words wrongly attributed to me, criticising them for quoting my grandfather, are not mine at all — they belong not to me, but to those who have amplified these falsehoods all over the world. I am mortified to have seen how my words were twisted in such a way as to distort my genuine concerns about the commercial exploitation of my grandfather’s legacy.
Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter slammed “an Australian newspaper” — an apparent reference to News Corp’s Australian tabloids and The Australian ($) — for misquoting her. The papers ran an “exclusive” story that included quotes from her accusing Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of using Mandela’s name and legacy for profit in their recent documentary series. “It was false,” the younger Mandela wrote. “I had never accused Harry and Meghan of doing this.”
Aussie companies rush to help Clive Palmer after US ticket agency pulls out of anti-vax events
“Two Australian ticket companies appear to have seized the opportunity to help Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party host a series of vaccine-sceptic conferences after a US ticket platform pulled out at the last minute. Palmer raged against Eventbrite last week for cancelling a Sunshine Coast UAP event featuring a US coronavirus vaccine sceptic …
“Although Eventbrite didn’t immediately respond to questions from Crikey about what prompted the cancellation, its community guidelines have provisions against ‘misinformation’ that list ‘scientifically or medically unsubstantiated health advice that may have detrimental effects on attendees’ health or public safety’ as prohibited.”
Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter and other people News Corp may have misquoted
“News Corp declined to comment when the Nine papers asked about it, and the pieces remain on the respective websites without acknowledgment of Ndileka’s denial. But of course this is far from the first time the subject of a News Corp campaign has felt they’ve been credited with words they never said.
“‘Albanese’s battle cry in war on wealth and family tax’, revealed The Australian in the lead-up to last year’s federal election. The story pointer told us the then opposition leader ‘sharply criticised capitalism and family wealth as causes of social injustice’ and took aim at ‘incomes over $100,000’. Except as the story revealed, Albanese had made these ‘previously unreported remarks’ in the early 1990s when he was assistant general secretary of NSW Labor.”
Anti-vaxxers suddenly care a lot about who won the Australian Open
“You do, under some circumstances, have to hand it to Novak Djokovic. The Serbian tennis great last night chalked up a remarkable 10th title at the Australian Open (which is also how many times he’s competed in the tournament).
“There will be much written about Djokovic’s sporting legacy and where he now stands in the ‘greatest tennis player of all time’ debate. But thanks to his time in immigration detention last year, when his visa was cancelled because he allegedly ‘failed to provide appropriate evidence’ that he had been vaccinated against COVID-19, Djokovic has a new set of fans.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Western weapons ‘prolong the war’, says Croatia’s president (Al Jazeera)
Exclusive: pro-Kremlin activists in Germany gave money for Russian army gear (Reuters)
Giorgia Meloni’s first 100 days in office: what has Italy’s PM done so far? (EuroNews)
Campbell Johnstone reveals himself to be first openly gay All Black (Stuff)
Ukraine: Boris Johnson says Putin threatened him with missile strike (BBC)
Spain’s prized jamón ibérico under threat from climate crisis (The Guardian)
What you need to know about the decriminalisation of possessing illicit drugs in B.C. [Canada] (CBC)
Pakistan: dozens killed in mosque blast in Peshawar (The Guardian)
I’m green-ish, ride my bike, eat organic, but I flatly refuse to buy an electric car — Jenny Sinclair (Brisbane Times) ($): “I’m green-ish. I vote Green; I do almost all my daily shopping by bike; I buy organic when I can; I offset flights, and this past year I’ve gone off red meat. We have a roof covered with solar panels, and I pay extra for green power in my workspace. My tiny share portfolio divested big miners years ago, and now includes a few moon-shot green ventures, to the detriment of my retirement plans. Our car, purchased new 20 years ago, costs north of $100 to fill on a good day. And my husband, both green-ish and tech-loving, is champing at the bit to get rid of it and buy an electric vehicle (EV).
“But I’m resisting — OK, flatly refusing — and my reaction to the increasing number of EVs tootling along our streets made me wonder why. (And to be clear: I feel annoyed by them even when they’re not Teslas.) The answer isn’t pretty. I’m only sharing it because I know that what I feel, others will too, especially other women. It will reveal me as selfish, entitled and an environmental vandal. I don’t have an electric car yet because I don’t want to. I don’t want to add range anxiety to the many calculations involved in every trip I make. I don’t want to spend hours waiting for a spot at an oversubscribed charging station. I don’t want to build my road trips around chargers — I’d rather choose where I stop along the way. I don’t want to have to hire a car, or catch the bus, to get to the snow. (EVs hate the cold.)”
Why NSW electoral rules don’t help teals in ‘Kmart election’ — Margot Saville (The SMH) ($): “The impending NSW state election has different rules, however. The history of the NSW Labor right ‘whatever it takes’ faction has been problematic, but in 2011 it actually got something right. When Kristina Keneally as premier capped campaign expenditure by political parties, candidates and third parties, it went some way to levelling the playing field. As a result, the NSW poll is very much the Kmart election: it looks and feels quite different from its upmarket federal counterpart. Overall, this is a good outcome — for too long Australian politics has been subject to the rule that the ‘loudest voice is the person with the deepest pockets’. But the problem is that it entrenches the advantages of incumbency.
“The current spending cap for independent candidates is $198,700 per campaign. To put this in perspective, financial returns for non-party backed federal candidates released last November showed that the three winning ‘teal’ candidates in NSW spent $4.6 million in total; Wentworth’s Allegra Spender alone spent $2.1 million. They were not alone; political party spending figures, to be released on Wednesday, are predicted to show that the Coalition spent comparable amounts defending those seats. The NSW spending cap includes donations ‘in kind’ like office space for campaign headquarters, staff, cars and even the cost of catering at a fundraising event. One campaigner told me that to stay under the limit, most dry events now asked people to ‘bring a plate’ — tea and Iced VoVos, anyone?”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Griffith Review’s John Tague, writer Lea McInerney, and author’s daughter Kara McEwen will speak about The Wonder of Little Things, which was written by the late First Nations Elder Vince Copley, at Avid Reader bookshop.