The State of Play in Aussie Politics

Last week was the budget (which we did a deep dive on on Tuesday). This week there’s been more focus on the string of by-elections triggered by five politicians resigning – four with dual citizenship concerns, one for family reasons.

Parties are strategising on how to tackle these seats, so there’s been focus on the ‘preselection’ process this week – how parties find candidates. In the seat of Longman, for example, the LNP is apparently finding it difficult to find a superstar candidate.

Here’s the rundown on the five seats.

  • Braddon in Tasmania is probably going to remain a Labor seat, although it’s switched to LNP quickly in the past;
  • Fremantle is in the suburbs of Perth and has been a safe Labor seat for over eighty years;
  • Longman is in the Northern suburbs of Brisbane. LNP’s having trouble finding a candidate, but Labor only holds on to this seat with a 0.8% margin. It’s a strong area for One Nation, who have announced a candidate;
  • Mayo is around Adelaide, and has been held by the ‘Centre Alliance’ party – who used to be the Nick Xenophon party. That party is running again, but it’s a bit unpredictable, having gone to other minor parties and the Liberal party before.
  • Perth is in, funnily enough, central Perth. The Liberals have chosen not to stand in this seat, making Labor likely to retain it. It is also a strong area for the Greens.

Korea Talks In Doubt

After more lengthy anticipation than a marketing campaign for an Avengers film (but probably not a royal wedding) – North Korea is saying they may pull out of their historic meeting with Donald Trump. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un threatened to withdraw if the United States insisted upon the country completely trashing their nuclear program. American officials have acknowledged the threat is likely coming from a perceived weakness in American diplomacy – between the harder views of the National Security Advisor and the more cautious tones of the Secretary of State. Basically, North Korea doesn’t want to negotiate with a gun to their head. They won’t sit down with America if their position is ‘before we give you anything, you need to completely deconstruct your nuclear program.’

Gaza Protests

The United States Embassy of Israel was officially opened in Jerusalem this week. We did a deep dive into this decision last year when it was first announced.

Palestinians protested. Israeli officials killed at least 58 people, and more than 2,7000 were injured (according to numbers from the Palestinian Health Ministry). It was the bloodiest day for Palestine since 2014.

Aussie PM Malcolm Turnbull said Hamas – the more extreme heart of the Palestinians, were being deliberately provocative. “They’re pushing people to the border, in an area, in that context, in that conflict zone, you’re basically pushing people into circumstances where they are very likely to be shot at,” he said on a radio interview this week.

Former PM Tony Abbott has suggested Australia follow the US’s lead, but Turnbull says the Aussie embassy is staying Tel Aviv.

Israel has been heavily criticised by South Africa and Turkey. France is the only Western country to explicitly condemn Israel’s use of force. Violence has eased, but tensions remain between Hamas and the Israeli military.

Indonesian Terrorist Attacks

There was a disturbing string of terrorist attacks in Indonesia at the start of the week. A single family carried out three attacks against seperate churches in Jakarta around mass time, killing seven people. Another three adults and a child were killed when a bomb exploded at their apartment when police moved in to arrest them. A family of five riding on two motorbikes denoted a bomb at the entrance to police headquarters, killing all but one of the bombers and injuring four police officers. In some of the attacks, children were used as suicide bombers.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility.

Another Nauru Fail

In a story that’s becoming disturbingly familiar, an Iranian refugee and her son have been returned back to Nauru against psychiatric advice. The 17-year-old son is suffering from acute mental illness caused by his detention in the Australian run immigration centre. The pair have apparently been trapped on Nauru for five years. Original plans to settle them in the US have not come through, as the States has been rejecting almost all application from Iranian citizens without deliberation.

You can read our deep dives on Aussie refugee policy and Iran.

NASA and Water

NASA has released a new report claiming that water will be the key environmental challenge for the 21st century, joining its voice to a chorus of international data.

Earlier in the year we did a deep dive into the urgent water situation in Cape Town. Thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign, Cape Town imagined to save itself from the apocalyptic ‘Day Zero’, but the entire city is still on strict water regulations, with no long-term solution in sight.

First Iraqi Elections

Four years after Iraq united to fight against the Islamic State, which controlled about a third of the country, the nation held its first elections since defeating them. It was a ‘remarkably peaceful’ election.

 

The Royal Wedding 

A Royal Wedding is happening this weekend, which, if you believe breakfast television, is the biggest thing to happen since the last royal wedding. There’s been concern over the homeless population of Windsor as the big day approaches. Police are offering those in need the ability to store their belongings and are attempting to connect them with support services as the streets are consumed by the public.

Tom Wolfe

Journalist and author Tom Wolfe, most famous for his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, passed away this week at the age of 88. Described as a ‘great dandy’, Wolfe also captured the psychedelic and hippie movements of the 60s and 70s.

“It is very comforting to believe that leaders who do terrible things are, in fact, mad. That way, all we have to do is make sure we don’t put psychotics in high places and we’ve got the problem solved.”


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Photo at the top thanks to Guardian Media Services.

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