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“When I was a prosecutor trying cases, I would have loved to have had cases where the entire crime was on video. That just doesn’t happen that often.”
Said Mary McCord, a Georgetown University Law Center professor, of 6 January US Capitol riot cases that are starting the hit the courts. And with the cases come a myriad of excuses, despite recorded evidence of the self-incriminating behaviour by defendants, which has given prosecutors the upper hand.
1. Labor will announce its Pacific plan in Darwin today. Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong and other senior party figures will outline what an Albanese Government would do to keep the region engaged with Australia and safe from foreign influence.
2. Meanwhile, PM Scott Morrison is moving on the Queensland today (PW) to promise 2 new hydrogen hubs in Townsville and Gladstone and announce a $60 million business grants program for energy-efficient projects.
3. The Australian’s Newspoll (PW) shows primary support for the major parties has lifted a point each to 36% for the Coalition and 37% for Labor. Its 2-party preferred result remains at 53-47 in Labor’s favour – that’s consistent with the last 2 surveys.
4. The Financial Review’s Ipsos poll (PW) has Labor’s primary support at 34% and the Coalition at 32%. It says the only statistically significant shift since the last survey was taken 3 weeks ago is the 3 point jump in Anthony Albanese’s disapproval rating to 35%.
5. Elon Musk has bought Twitter. "Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated," he said this morning.
Going deeper: A thin red line is drawn with China
PM Scott Morrison made international headlines on Sunday when he said if China built a military base on the Solomon Islands, it would be the "red line" for Australia and the US. "This is a shared concern,” he said, noting Fiji, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand are all concerned. "We won’t be having Chinese military naval bases in our region on our doorstep."
● Morrison also said that the Solomon Island’s PM Manasseh Sogavare assured him it would not happen. "So he clearly shares our red line," Morrison said.
● But as he marked the year’s most significant military commemoration, Defence Minister Peter Dutton doubled down yesterday, telling Nine’s Today: “The only way you can preserve peace is to prepare for war and be strong as a country. Not to cower, not to be on bended knee and be weak. That’s the reality.”
What it means: Morrison has not said what Australia would or should do if China crosses the ‘red line’, leading critics to say he’s painted himself into a corner. Meanwhile, Michael Shoebridge from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says deterrence is about a combination of power and the will to use it. He says Australia’s problem is that we’re “spending a lot of money”, but we’re not going to get the firepower for years.
What’s next: Labor is set to announce its plan for Pacific engagement today with money for aid, climate change, building defence capabilities, more broadcasting and working visa reforms. Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong says the policy combines "defence, strategic, diplomatic and economic power to reassure the region they can rely on Australia." Until tomorrow then…
Deves says she’s copping threats over transgender women in sport
On Sunday night, the Liberals’ Warringah candidate Katherine Deves told SBS she’d received death threats over her position on transgender women’s participation in sport and since-deleted comments she made online about transgender people. But she’s not abandoning the campaign, declaring: “What we are witnessing right now – we are in a time where it is dangerous to speak your mind.”
● Conducting the interview from a secret location, Deves said that she’s sent her family away from Sydney and that she has been “chastened” by the criticism, but denied she was transphobic.
● NSW Police told The Guardian that they are not aware of any threats against her. And the AFP said it "does not comment on matters that may be the subject of investigation".
What it means: Independent NSW MP/LGBTQ+ advocate Alex Greenwich says she’s not the only one under pressure – he’s also been threatened over his support of transgender people. He added that calls to mental health support services for trans people have increased by over 50% in the last couple of weeks.
What’s next: Don’t expect to see Deves on social media anytime soon… “Going forward, I will be conducting myself in a dignified and respectful fashion. I recognise that the way I prosecuted those arguments was not conducive to proper, reasonable debate.”
Macron gets a seconde fois
Shaking off a 20-year reelection voodoo, French President Emmanuel Macron will serve another 5-year term as the nation’s leader. It’s a pretty big achievement in modern French political history – even frenemy Scott Morrison congratulated him. The centre-party leader is on course for 57.4% of the vote – better than expected but less than his 66.1% result in 2017. That leaves far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen with 42.6% – better than last time and a victory for her supporters.
● Le Pen says the ideas she represents – anti-Europe, anti-NATO, anti-accomodating of France’s +5 million Muslims – “had reached new heights”. “In this defeat, I can’t help but feel a hope,” she said.
● As supporters of right-wing politicians are on the increase, polls say those on the left are becoming increasingly disengaged. And across the community, a poll from the end of last year showed 25% said France is not in decline.
What it means: Macron says he’s got the message… Yesterday he said he would respond “efficiently” to the “anger and disagreement” of voters who chose the far-right and called on his supporters to be “kind and respectful” because the country was riven by “doubt and division”.
What’s next: Next cab off the rank is the first round of the French National Assembly election – that’s on 12 June.
Businessman Simon Holmes a Court might personally benefit from having climate-friendly independent candidates in parliament, The Australian claims. It’s editorialised this morning (PW) that independence between his Climate200 political fundraising vehicle and his business activities needs to be demonstrated.
The Coalition has announced $23.3 billion in projects in the 4 weeks since the Budget compared to Labor’s $1.9 billion. The SMH/Age’s promise tracker is keeping tabs on everything from footpaths to assistance for veterans.
Most Australian embassies, high commissions and consulates won’t host polling booths this election (PW). The Electoral Commission says it reflects COVID-19 restrictions and has encouraged those affected to do a postal vote.
A man who yelled abuse at Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and squared up to hit a Federal Police agent last week is in custody. The AFP has established Operation Wilmot “to help ensure the security of high-office holders and parliamentarians during the 2022 federal election.”
Former Labor PM Kevin Rudd is set to campaign in Western Australia on Friday. WA-based Attorney-General Michaelia Cash says he’s no friend of the state (PW) given his plans to tax the mining sector in 2010.
Billionaire tech entrepreneur/climate activist Mike Cannon-Brookes was the million-dollar punter backing Labor’s Bill Shorten in the 2019 election (PW). He made no secret of his disappointment at Morrison’s election, and now we know it came with a financial sting.
The Electoral Commission’s balls have had a spin, the numbers have been drawn, and the declaration of the candidates made… There are 1,624 candidates who will contest in the 2022 federal election – 1,203 in the House of Representatives, and 421 are vying for a Senate seat. It’s now time to print and distribute the 60 million ballot papers with early voting beginning around the country on Monday, 9 May.
Scott Morrison is heading to FNQ to promise 2 new hydrogen hubs in Townsville and Gladstone (PW)
And Anthony Albanese remains in COVID isolation. Senator Penny Wong and other senior Labor frontbenchers take the lead with the party’s Pacific engagement announcement in Darwin
11.30am (9.30am local time) – Former WA Treasurer Troy Buswell to be sentenced for assaulting his ex-wife – Perth
12.00pm – Start of a recount to fill the vacancy created by former Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein’s decision to quit politics – Hobart
12.30pm – Former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is scheduled to speak at an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce lunch – Adelaide
ABS Data Release – Taxation in Australia in 2020/21; Australia’s Population by Country of Birth, June 2021
*All times in AEST unless noted
And today’s quote for the subject line is a classic from French military and political hero, Charles de Gaulle.