Australia may finally be closer to legalising gay marriage. The gay marriage debate stalled last year when the Government’s attempt to implement a plebiscite on the issue didn’t get up. Now four Liberal Party MP’s have said they would ‘cross the floor’ if a Parliamentary vote on gay marriage was called, meaning they would effectively go against their party’s official policy and vote in favour of equality. There’s been plenty of in-fighting in the Liberal Party since that announcement. Labor might seize the moment next week, and strategically call for a vote on the matter immediately. Turnbull’s called a meeting for his party first thing Monday to reconsider their official position. Studies consistently find that the vast majority of Australians now support marriage equality. (For more on the intricacies of this debate, including just what the frig a plebiscite is and why it’s so problematic, we’ll be doing a deep dive on the issue next Tuesday.)
The Human Rights Commission has released a devastating report on sexual harassment, assault and rape on Australia’s universities campuses. Approximately 6% of all Australian university students have experienced sexual assault or rape on campus. Only 9% of those students reported it to the university. Women are at the highest risk, with 10% of all female students surveyed saying they’ve experienced sexual assault in the last two years. The report outlines a nine step plan for universities to adopt in order to reduce incidents, but the plan has already drawn criticism, as it gives no recommended course of action for dealing with perpetrators of assault.
Spoiler: Trump’s White House is still nuts. He fired his new Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci this week after just ten days in the job. This comes in the wake of his Press Secretary and Chief of Staff both leaving in the last two weeks. Within 24 hours of getting the job, Scaramucci rang a reporter and unleashed a tirade of ‘off-the-record’ criticism of the administration that had just hired him, saying his colleague Steve Bannon was trying to ‘suck his own cock’. Also, Trump tweeted out this week he was going to ban transgendered people from being allowed into the military. The policy was apparently a shock to the leading US military authorities.
A transcript has leaked of a phone conversation between Turnbull and Trump earlier this year. It shows Trump to be aggressive, insulting, and failing to understand Turnbull’s immigration policy – despite Turnbull’s repeated attempts to explain it to him. The phone call made headlines earlier in the year when Trump publicly wanted to back out of a deal to take 1,200 refugees from Manus and Nauru.
The Commonwealth Bank is being accused of failing to report properly on $77 million worth of laundered cash. The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre is suing the bank for 53,700 breaches of money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. Apparently, some of the ‘smart deposit’ ATM machines have been used by money laundering syndicates to support drug networks.
The week began with news of a foiled terror plot in Sydney. Two men face court today charged with planning to take down a passenger flight. The two have links to the Islamic State in Syria.
The annual Garma Festival is about to start up in Arnham land. Both Bill Shorten and Malcom Turnbull will attend. The Festival is an annual opportunity for a high profile discussion on Indigenous and Torres Strait Island Affairs.
This week saw the passing of British actor Robert Hardy of Harry Potter fame (he played Cornelius Fudge), American actor and famed playwright Sam Shephard and Australian musician Dr G Y–. Download the 2008 ‘Gurrumul’ album and read a Sam Shepherd play if you’ve never given yourself the pleasure. Both are highly recommended.
UPDATE: The name and image of Dr G was removed in line with the family’s wishes. My most sincere apologies to the family for not receiving this message earlier.
Love is the only disease that makes you feel better. -Sam Shepard