Yes In The Senate

The same sex marriage bill has passed through the Senate. It was a couple of days of emotional debate. Ultimately, the bill passed relatively unscathed. 43 voted in favour. 12 voted against. Pauline Hanson abstained from the final vote, as she felt ‘the no votes had not been respected’. The other dozen chose to vote against the bill as representatives of the ‘no’ vote, or because they felt religious freedoms were not sufficiently protected.

The bill is expected to pass easily through the House of Representatives next week, although there is still contention around a couple of amendments. The first seeks to protect the legal status of charities from being stripped of their legal status, even if they declare they’re against marriage equality. The second would allow civil celebrants to refuse to facilitate same sex weddings. Both amendments failed in the Senate. Malcom Turnbull has backflipped on his position after pressure from the conservative arm of his party, saying he would likely support such amendments in the House of Representatives.

Besides all this, Australia is expected to have legislated for same sex marriage within weeks.

Photo: Marriage equality advocate Magda Szubanski and Senator Penny Wong meet in the Parliamentary courtyard after a long day of debate in the Senate. Photo from Magda Szubanski’s Twitter.

Labor Senator Sacked

Labor Senator Sam Dastyari has been forced to step down from his leadership position as Deputy Whip. You probably recognise Sam Dastyari – he’s the one who befuddled Pauline Hanson on Q&A on the matters of Muslims and what Halal actually means. He’s tried to make ‘Halal Snack Pack’ a meme. Sam loves the cameras, but has faced two mega scandals in as many years.

Last year, it was revealed that Sam had accepted donations from massive Chinese companies. He had travelled to China and spoken at media conferences. When asked about his comments on sensitive matters, such as the tense chess game of the South China Sea, Sam reassured Australia that his response was mumbled and non-definitive. The uproar was enough to have him resign from his position as Manager of Opposition Business. A year later, re-branded and refreshed, Sam is now toppled from the role of Deputy Whip. Audio tape emerged of an answer he gave at a Chinese Press Conference, definitely stating that China should assert and protect its ‘rights’ in the South China Sea – a stance not only dangerous, but against Australian and Labor Party policy.

The LNP are calling from Sam Dastyari’s full resignation.

Which Bank?

After months of pressure from the conservative arm of his party, Malcom Turnbull did a surprise backflip yesterday morning and announced a royal commission into the banking sector. He received a letter from the Chairmen of the ‘big four’ banks of Australia requesting the move, as they blamed ongoing uncertainty about the enquiry was negatively affecting their stock price.

It was a surprise left turn for Turnbull, who had ruled out an enquiry as recently as 48 hours before he announced one. Labor, the Greens, and members of his own party had been calling for the investigation for 18 months. The $75 million commission will deal with banks, wealth managers, superannuation providers and insurance companies. It will investigate bank culture and remuneration practices (how much big managers take home) and how it contributes to poor bank behaviour.

Record-breaking famine in Yemen

Seven million people are on the brink of famine in war-torn Yemen. Yemen faces one of the world’s worst cholera outbreaks ever, but has been further disadvantaged by Saudi Arabia’s blockades this week. Saudi Arabia is pointing the finger at Iran, who they claim supplied missiles to rebels in Yemen. Whatever the case, it’s been a disaster for citizens in Yemen, who are now blocked from aid organisations. Less than 45% of the country’s medical facilities are operating.

This is a complex and disturbing situation which will receive a full treatment in the deep dive next Tuesday.

North Korea Fires Again

After a few quiet months, North Korea launched another missile this week, aimed squarely at Japan and landing in their ‘economic zone’ in the ocean. The missile’s most notable for its reach and accuracy – it’s now proof that they can produce a weapon that can hit the US mainland. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe joined Donald Trump in renewing pressure on China – North Korea’s main economic ally – to impose more sanctions on North Korea. It’s provoked a new round of talks between the United Nations, China, Japan, the US and North Korea.

For our deep dive into North Korea, and to understand our chances of dying in a nuclear armageddon, click here.

Don Burke – Sexual Predator

80’s and 90’s Aussie television juggernaut Don Burke faces over fifty allegations of inappropriate conduct and sexual harassment from former colleagues. In an interview with A Current Affair, Burke muddled his response, simultaneously denying the allegations as baseless, and blaming ‘undiagnosed Aspergers’ as a reason why he can’t read inter-personal signals. The evidence and sheer volume of complaints is damning. The Fairfax investigation that has published the claims says there are more allegations ahead for other big name Aussie media figures.

A Royal Engagement

American actress Megan Markle has announced she is engaged to an unemployed ginger.

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Back on Tuesday.





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