The postal plebiscite for same-sex marriage is on. Attempts to challenge the survey in the High Court were shut down yesterday. The Australian Bureau of Statistics will send out voting forms as soon as next Tuesday. The survey is set to cost taxpayers somewhere around $120 million. As a reminder, the plebiscite is effectively a voluntary survey for Australians on the subject of same-sex marriage. The final result isn’t legally binding, but the government has said they’ll legislate according to the results. Turnbull is voting yes, but not ‘actively campaigning’. (We did a deep dive on the issue, and how we got to this point, here.)

Mike Bowers captures Bill Shorten and Labor colleagues’ press conference immediately after the High Court’s decision – a rainbow  in the background.

Early this week, North Korea had an underground nuclear ‘test’ that scared the bejesus out of South Korea and Japan. The blast was enough to register a 6.3 earthquake in China. (That’s enough for heavy furniture to move, and for some slight structural damage.) The resulting rhetoric from the rest of the world has gone up a notch. Turnbull and Trump jumped on the phone this week. Turnbull’s been very public in saying that he expects China to step in and stop more trade with North Korea. Trump, the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the South Korean President Moon Jae-in, have called for an oil embargo against North Korea. China and Russia disagree. The United Nations meets on Monday, where North Korea will be discussed. Trump would like all countries to cease trade with the North. If that doesn’t happen, warns Trump, the US will stop trading with countries that are friendly with North Korea. It’s a complex and delicate situation, and we did a deep dive on the issue, which is well worth a read, here.

We did a deep dive into Australia’s energy policy on Tuesday. Reports since then have emerged, tracking a record drop in electricity emissions, especially since the close of Hazelwood Power Station. But this drop is cancelled out by record high emissions in other sectors such as industrial heat, transport and agriculture, which had the highest levels since 2011. The numbers track a clear rise since Tony Abbott’s repeal of the ‘carbon tax’ back in 2014. There is new debate about closing down Liddell Power Station.

The Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton, has stumbled over new citizenship laws. Labor and the Greens oppose the new laws, but now the Nick Xenophon team in the Senate have said they don’t support the laws either. That means it’ll need a major rework. The controversial bill featured the following:

  • Quadrupling the wait time for permanent residents before they could apply for citizenship (from one year to four);
  • Tougher English language tests for new applicants;
  • New powers for Dutton to overrule citizenship decisions by the administrative appeals tribunal;
  • Give Dutton the power to decide if a citizenship applicant has integrated into the Australian community;
  • Change the ‘pledge of commitment’ to a ‘pledge of allegiance’, requiring applicants to pledge to Australia, its people, and its values.

This is just the latest in a real year of hits for Peter Dutton. Last week he said Aussie lawyers helping out asylum seekers were unAustralian. He’s joked about Pacific Island nations being threatened by rising sea waters. He accidentally sent a text to a female journalist calling her a ‘mad f**king witch’. He’s refused an abortion to an asylum seeker who was raped. In the coming weeks we’ll do a deep dive on Australia’s immigration policy, and the special gent behind it all, Peter Dutton.

Last Friday, Prime Minister Turnbull announced that a special cash card for people on welfare would be put into affect into a third trial site, in the Goldfields region of Western Australia. The card quarantines 80% of a person’s welfare payment to be spent on ‘necessities’. All three trial sites have high indigenous populations. Some have cited the policy has discriminatory and racially based. Prime Minister Turnbull says the system has been successful and is about protecting children in families vulnerable to drug and alcohol abuse.

Clinton Pryor, also known as the Spirit Walker, is a 27 year old indigenous man. This week, Pryor finished his 6000km walk from Western Australia to the nation’s capital, to talk with politicians on all sides about indigenous affairs. Pryor walked away from his meeting with Prime Minister Turnbull saying he felt disrespected. He said Turnbull talked over him many times and refused to listen to Pryor’s points. Pryor’s list of issues, including the cashless welfare card, will be the subject of our deep dive next Tuesday, as it summarises the current political hot spots at the heart of indigenous affairs. Photo at the top of the article is of Mr Pryor, by Brook Mitchell for the New York Times.


Back in May, militants took Malawi, a city in the Southern Phillipines. The Abu Sayyaf and Maute groups are allied with Islamic State extremists. Since then, the region has been of concern to intelligence officials, who fear the city becoming a hotbed for terrorist activities in South-East Asia. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said that Australia is offering support to the official Filipino government. Australia has deployed aircraft to assist with intelligence gathering, but Malcom Turnbull has denied that we’re offering special forces troops.

There continues to be a refugee crisis out of Myanmar. Over 120,000 people have fled the region fearing persecution, with most seeking refuge in Bangladesh.

Photo by Zakir Hossain, as refugees from Myanmar cross the muddy Bangladesh border.

The annual Hajj pilgrimage ended on Monday evening. It’s the largest annual gathering of people anywhere in the world. It is the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the most holy city for Muslims. It is an act of solidarity for the Muslim people, and a sign of their submission to Allah. Hajj means ‘to intend to journey’ meaning both the outward act of pilgrimage, and the inward act of spiritual exploration. Approximately three million people showed up. After Hajj comes Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, to celebrate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son for Allah.

Photo by Suhaib Salem. Muslims pray at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia ahead of Hajj.
Photo from the Associated Press showing Muslims travelling to their hometowns ahead of Eid al-Adha in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Kate Millett has passed away at the age of 82. An essential feminist thinker and advocate. She was the first American woman to obtain first class honours for her postgraduate degree at Oxford university. She kicked ass. Her 1970 book “Sexual Politics”, is a fundamental part of second wave feminism. Her life’s work heavily influenced women’s rights, mental health reform, state torture and societal thinking on sexuality and relationships. She was arrested and kicked out of Iran after attending the first International Women’s Day celebrations there. She was committed to mental health institutions by her family several times and wrote about the experience extensively. She leaves behind her wife, and a world changed by her influence.

“A sexual revolution begins with the emancipation of women, who are the chief victims of patriarchy, and also with the ending of homosexual oppression.”

“Homosexuality was invented by a straight world dealing with its own bisexuality.”

We’ll be back next Tuesday with a deep dive into contemporary indigenous affairs.

If you like this blog, please share it around.

Have a great Friday and a brilliant weekend.


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