“You have to have your wits about you…”
Said Marine biologist Jacinta Shackleton of getting up close to the weeks-long sea turtle party that’s about to start off the coast of Queensland’s Bundaberg. Let’s just say any documentary made on it will not be PG rated…
ELECTION SEASON IS HERE...
Footy/netball finals, schminals… T’is the season to be jolly – about elections. And this weekend there’s an embarrassment of riches with the electors of New Zealand and the Australian Capital Territory going to the polls on Saturday. Another thing those elections have in common – voting systems that no one understands other than Antony Green…
OK, SO LET’S START WITH KIWILAND
• With a 120 member House of Representatives, the National Party has the largest number of MPs at 54. Wait, what? PM Jacinda Ardern’s Labour comes in second at 46 seats. Through a coalition deal with Deputy PM Winston Peters’ NZ First party, and a confidence and supply agreement with the Greens, Ardern formed government in October 2017.
• Since her win, Jacindamania hasn’t let up at home or on the international stage. Ardern became the second-ever female national leader to ever give birth while in office. And she received praise for her handling of the Christchurch mosque attacks in March 2019 and the White Island volcano disaster in December 2019. When it came to COVID-19, New Zealand went into one of the world’s hardest lockdowns in the world – which hasn’t seemed to dent her popularity.
• Ardern’s up against the National Party’s Judith ‘Crusher’ Collins. As her nickname suggests, she’s known as a hardened politician who says she isn’t into Ardern’s “love and a hug” approach but stands for “hope and a job”.
• The issues – the economy and health care. Housing is also top of mind with Ardern’s government failing to build tens of thousands of new affordable homes as promised.
• New Zealand’s Mixed Member Proportional voting system is set up so it’s unlikely that one party will win a majority of seats. And it hasn’t happened in New Zealand since it was introduced in 1996. But pundits say Ardern has a chance at majority government this time around…
AND IN THE NATION’S CAPITAL?
Look, with about 300,000 eligible voters, it’s the first major Australian election where the vast majority of votes are likely to be cast at an electronic console. So stick your pencil and ballot paper in your pipe and smoke it… This time around, there are 137 candidates in the hunt for 25 Legislative Assembly spots, and the ‘it’s time’ factor after 19 years in office doesn’t look to be a problem for Labor and its leader Andrew Barr. He’s expected to keep the Alistair Coe-led Liberals out of office for another term with support from the Greens. As for voting – the ACT uses the Hare-Clark system which is complicated and oh look over there it’s a democracy sausage drone…
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THAI PROTESTERS DEFY BAN
Following 3 months of largely peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations, Thai authorities yesterday enacted an emergency law banning protests in Bangkok. Also banned: the publishing of information online that “could create fear” or “affect national security”. The bans brought tens of thousands of demonstrators out in defiance yesterday – a big move given the nation’s tough laws against speaking out. Protest leaders were arrested on Wednesday when riot police cleared demonstrators who were camped outside the office of PM Prayut Chan-ocha. Those calling for change want the military-backed government to resign and reform to the monarchy. “These moves are clearly designed to stamp out dissent, and sow fear in anyone who sympathises with the protesters’ views,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
PM IN CAIRNS, WITHOUT A WORKING PLANE OR A SECURE LINE...
And that’s thrown a spanner in the works… An official announcement about bringing Aussies stuck overseas due to travel issues brought on by the coronavirus will have to wait with PM Scott Morrison’s plane unable to leave Cairns in Queensland due to “technical issues”. And without a secure link, today’s National Cabinet meeting where the plan was to be discussed will have to wait until next week. Due to start in weeks, reports say 1,000 Australians stranded overseas will be able to get home every month via commercial and charter flights subsidised by the federal government. There are 29,100 Aussies currently overseas who want to come home, and those with pressing financial, family or health needs will be given priority. And if you’re in Sydney this weekend and see the NT’s Chief Minister Michael Gunner wandering around, make him feel welcome… He was already on his way to Sydney for the announcement with Morrison today. Meanwhile, all eyes will be on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday for news of any easing of restrictions for Melburnians.
AN UPDATE ON SOME INVESTIGATIONS…
CLAREMONT NOT GUILTY VERDICT WON’T BE APPEALED – Prosecutors won’t appeal the not guilty verdict handed to Bradley Edwards over the 1996 murder of Sarah Spiers. There wasn’t enough evidence linking her disappearance to the murders of Jane Rimmer and Ciara Glennon which Edwards was convicted of last month. A new trial over Spiers’ murder can happen if new evidence is found.
ABC JOURNO WON’T BE CHARGED – Dan Oakes will not be prosecuted over his Afghan Files reporting, Federal Police confirmed yesterday. The published investigation, which was based on leaked classified information, alleged Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan committed war crimes and led to a raid on the ABC’s Sydney offices last year.
MAGUIRE ‘SOUGHT ASSURANCE’ FROM PREMIER – In another day before the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, former Wagga MP Daryl Maguire said Premier Gladys Berejiklian was a trusted friend who he would “raise things with”about his financial dealings. A good part of the day’s evidence was held in private (with the transcripts accidentally loaded to the website…) with the inquiry probing him on the depth of his relationship with Berejiklian. Maguire returns to the inquiry today.
UNEMPLOYMENT SEE-SAW GOES UP AGAIN…
More Aussies were out of work in September, according to the Bureau of Stats, with the unemployment rate rising by 0.1% to 6.9%. The official numbers say full-time jobs fell by 20,100 in September, and part-time employment fell by 9,400 – but the number of hours worked in the month increased by 9 million hours. In total, it means 937,400 people are officially out of work – but policymakers know the real number is higher with many people dropping out of the workforce and off the official statisticians’ radars.
NEW LOOK VIRGIN OPTS FOR NEW LOOK LEADERSHIP
Virgin Australia CEO Paul Scurrah is set to be replaced by former Jetstar boss Jayne Hrdlicka early next month, following the company’s sale to US private equity firm Bain Capital in September. With the sale process in its final stages, Bain maintains it won’t turn Virgin into a low-cost carrier. Deloitte administrator Vaughan Strawbridge said Virgin would become a “hybrid” service, appealing to “the full spectrum of travellers”. Bain Capital boss Mike Murphy thanked Scurrah but said the airline requires a “different form of leadership to survive in the long-term”. Not happy about the change – the Transport Workers Union. It says Hrdlika’s appointment with her discount airline experience shows the new owners are set on “ripping out the heart of Virgin”.
FRIDAY LITES - THREE THINGS WE LIKED THIS WEEK
Talking about things that are proper, tablescaping. It’s a trend where house-proud entertainers are setting their tables with incredible arrangements of their best cutlery, crockery and napery. Apparently, it’s a byproduct of the coronavirus lockdown as people find new ways to nest.
Speaking of finding new ways to nest… This weekend we’re making our Christmas pudding to put away for 2 months. This recipe has good tips about how to wrap and store it, and it’s the closest to grandma’s we’ve found.
SQUIZ THE DAY
7.50pm (AEDT) – AFL Preliminary Final – Port Adelaide v Richmond – Adelaide Oval
7.50pm (AEDT) – Rugby League Preliminary Final – Melbourne Storm v Canberra Raiders – Suncorp Stadium
World Food Day (UN)
World Bread Day
Birthdays for musician Flea (1962), motorcycle racer Casey Stoner (1985), and tennis champ Naomi Osaka (1997)
• the beheading of Marie Antoinette (1793)
• Oscar Wilde’s birthday (1854)
• the foundation of the Liberal Party of Australia (1944)
• the publication of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847) and CS Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (1950)
• the beginning of the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)
4.15pm (AEDT) – Horse Racing – The Everest – Sydney
5.15pm (AEDT) – Horse Racing – Caulfield Cup – Melbourne
7.40pm (AEDT) – AFL Preliminary Final – Brisbane Lions v Geelong Cats – Brisbane Gabba
7.50pm (AEDT) – Rugby League Preliminary Final – Penrith Panthers v South Sydney Rabbitohs – ANZ Stadium
A Birthday for rapper Eminem (1972)
Anniversary of the birthdays of playwright Arthur Miller (1915) and actress Rita Hayworth (1918)
11.30am – Motor Racing – Bathurst 1000
1.00pm (AEDT) – Super Netball Grand Final – Melbourne Vixens vs West Coast Fever – Nissan Arena
2.00pm (AEDT) – Bledisloe Cup Rugby – New Zealand vs Australia – Eden Park (NZ)
7.00pm (AEDT) – 2020 Virtual Brownlow Medal Count – the award for the AFL’s fairest and best player
Alaska Day marking the anniversary of the US taking possession of the territory after purchasing it from Russia
World Menopause Day
A birthday for actor Zac Efron (1987)
• the founding of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), later called British Broadcasting Corporation (1922)
• the first all-female spacewalk by NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Jessica Meir outside the International Space Station (2019)
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