Morning mail: NSW Libs spill, Brexit farce, bonus culture unchecked | Australia news


Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Tuesday 17 September.

Top stories

Hardline anti-abortion Liberal MPs in NSW say they will move a spill motion against the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, over her handling of the abortion decriminalisation bill, which is due to be debated in the upper house today. The spill, backed by Tanya Davies, Matthew Mason-Cox and Lou Amato, comes just months after Berejiklian led the party to victory at the state election. It is unlikely the rebel MPs will have enough support to oust the premier, but religious leaders, rightwing MPs and conservative media commentators have mounted a vociferous campaign to derail the legislation.

Boris Johnson has been left humiliated, with claims of progress in the Brexit negotiations in tatters, after a chaotic visit to Luxembourg that ended in the UK prime minister being mocked by a fellow European leader for cancelling a press appearance to avoid protesters. Johnson was booed and jeered as he left a working lunch with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, before opting out of plans to speak alongside Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, after being targeted by a larger crowd.

Australia’s top chief executives continue to rake in hefty bonuses on top of their salaries, new analysis shows, despite last year’s banking royal commission undermining public confidence in the business sector. The report by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, released on Tuesday, found that only one ASX100 chief executive who was eligible for a bonus missed out in the 2017-18 financial year – Don Meij, the head of scandal-plagued Domino’s. It found that the median bonus for an ASX100 chief executive was $1.6m, the second-highest in the report’s 18-year history.

World





Donald Trump



Donald Trump’s tax returns have been subpoenaed by prosecutors. Photograph: Chris Kleponis/EPA

New York City prosecutors have subpoenaed eight years of Donald Trump’s personal and business tax returns, Associated Press has reported.

A politician from Germany’s far-right Alternative für Deutschland party has walked out of an interview and threatened a journalist after he was confronted with parallels between his rhetoric and that of Adolf Hitler.

Canada and its allies are scrambling to assess the damage inflicted by what experts believe could be the largest security breach in the country’s history, after a senior federal intelligence official was arrested on charges of stealing covert information.

James Murdoch has said there are views on Fox News “I really disagree with”. In an interview with the New Yorker he levied subtle but pointed criticism at his father’s news network and Donald Trump.

Taxpayers are providing more than $1m a minute in global farm subsidies, much of which is driving the climate crisis and destruction of wildlife, according to a new report.

Opinion and analysis





Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Saudi Arabia



Smoke billows from an Aramco oil facility in Saudi Arabia after it was attacked with drones. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

It’s easy and convenient to solely blame Iran for the Gulf crisis, writes Simon Tisdall, as US and British officials routinely do. Rather, it is serial western and regional miscalculations that have drawn us in. Warning bells have been ringing out for months. They have mostly been ignored, and the daunting bill is now coming due. “Any sensible policy would seek to balance the regional claims of Shia Muslim Iran and the Sunni house of Saud. But the west – turning a blind eye for decades to pitiless autocracy, legalised misogyny and religious bigotry – has continued to court Riyadh and its corrupting riches.”

“There are clear signs the weakening global economy is having an impact on Australia despite the more positive outlook on the US economy,” writes Greg Jericho. “The tourist industry is one of the sectors of the economy most vulnerable to economic changes. A weakening domestic economy can see a slowing of Australians spending money on holidays, and a weakening world economy sees a drying up of international tourists. At the moment our weak exchange rate should make Australia an enticing destination, and yet the growth of tourists from overseas is slowing dramatically.”

Sport

Israel Folau will not be at the Rugby World Cup, but his spectre will still be felt, writes Brett Harris. While the Wallabies say they have moved on, few Australian players would have been totally untouched by the furore.

As the curtain falls on Super Netball season, the Swifts are targeting a NSW dynasty.
Redemption was a thread woven deep into the fabric of the 2019 Super Netball season.

Thinking time: ‘She’s not a spy’





Kylie Moore-Gilbert



Friends have rejected any suggestion Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert – an Australian-British academic from the University of Melbourne, who has been in prison in Iran since 2018 – is a spy. Photograph: Handout/PA

Friends and colleagues of Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert have praised her as a “thoughtful and passionate academic” and rejected outright suggestions she was a spy. The British-Australian academic was arrested by the Iranian regime in September last year and has since been tried and sentenced to 10 years in prison. The charges are not publicly known but it is believed they relate to espionage: 10-year sentences are regularly handed down for spying in Iran. Moore-Gilbert is being held in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, reportedly in solitary confinement.

Moore-Gilbert is a lecturer in Islamic studies at the University of Melbourne’s Asia Institute. Both the British and Australian governments had been trying to keep the identities of their arrested citizens out of the public domain, believing diplomatic efforts to have them released would be more effective if conducted behind closed doors, but others have argued that putting a “public face” on those detained will help generate international community and political support, providing further impetus for Iran to negotiate.

Media roundup

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Huang Xiangmo, the exiled billionaire at the centre of the NSW Icac investigation into Labor party donations, “has had his Australian assets frozen as the Tax Office pursues him for $140m”. The Age’s front page is largely devoted to a story revealing “how paedophile priests in Victoria worked together to share victims”. The Australian carries the headline “Religious schools in fear of same-sex activists”, reporting on the discrimination case against Bathurst Christian College.

Coming up

The man accused of shooting dead the Australian tourist Sean McKinnon is expected to appear in court in New Zealand.

The NSW upper house is due to begin considering the bill to decriminalise abortion.

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