There are two more sitting days left until the parliament rises for the winter break, and once again, the news dominating the corridors is everything happening outside the chambers.
Marise Payne, the most media shy Morrison government minister, delivered a foreign policy speech overnight, where she took aim at China for the spreading of disinformation, as relations between Canberra and Beijing remain tense.
As Daniel Hurst reports:
Amid current tensions with Beijing stemming from Australia’s pursuit of an independent international investigation into the Covid-19 origins and response, Payne said Australia had been “very clear in rejecting as disinformation the Chinese government’s warnings that tourists and students should reconsider coming here because of the risk of racism”.
Payne said Australia would welcome students and visitors from all over the world, regardless of race, gender or nationality, with law enforcement agencies responding to individual crimes. She said the prime minister had “repeatedly called out racist behaviour” and had thanked the Chinese-Australians who returned from China in the early period of Covid-19 for their cooperation in preventing the spread of the virus.
“The disinformation we have seen contributes to a climate of fear and division when what we need is cooperation and understanding,” she told an audience at the Australian National University.
Payne pointed to last week’s report issued by the European Commission that concluded Russia and China had carried out targeted disinformation campaigns “seeking to undermine democratic debate and exacerbate social polarisation”.
After that speech, Payne told the Seven Network that Australian consulate authorities had visited the detention centre where 53-year-old Karm Gilespie was being held, following his death sentence.
We were able to make a visit to the detention centre today and to engage in a video conference to have that visit,” Payne said.
“That is a very important thing and I’m very pleased that has been conveyed back to his family.”
She said she would continue to seek that consular access, and reiterated that Australia rejects the application of the death penalty in all countries, in all circumstances.
“I’m very careful and very considered about his situation.”
Back home and all eyes are still on Victoria. The Labor party decision to send in administrators for the Victorian branch has led to some angst and a bit of hand-wringing from some quarters, as Katharine Murphy reports here:
But as Anthony Albanese, his deputy Richard Marles, and the Victorian premier Daniel Andrews worked to land a proposal that would be supported by the national executive, there was significant pushback from some quarters of the Victorian right about the scale of the correction, and sensitivity about the terminology that would be used to describe it.
The toppling of Somyurek puts allegiances in the Victorian right in flux. The controversial powerbroker had torpedoed a longstanding stability pact between the right and the left brokered by veteran powerbrokers and former ministers Stephen Conroy and Kim Carr – a contested power shift facilitated in part by the former Labor leader Bill Shorten that fractured relationships within the right, and reshaped transactional alliances with the left.
Guardian Australia understands Shorten was active in the internal discussions about the intervention proposal, and there was concern more broadly within the Victorian right about the consequences of an inevitable rebalancing of power within the branch. Somyurek’s fall from grace benefits the leftwing Albanese because it disrupts opportunities for right-led internal mischief.
Plus the committee looking into sports rorts should be meeting again today.
We’ll cover all of that and more as the parliament sitting days rolls on, with of course all the Covid-19 news you need to know as well. You’ve got a three-coffee Amy Remeikis with you, along with Murph, Paul Karp and Hursty and Mike Bowers is already running around the hallways, because that man can not slow down. The entire Guardian Australia brains trust is also at your service, you lucky ducks.
As always, you can catch us on social media, email or occasionally in the comments, if you have something you need us to know.