Good morning, this is Helen Sullivan bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 18 February.
As parliament returns on Monday for the last sitting week before the budget in April, a few pieces of legislation are set to test Scott Morrison’s minority government. The prime minister faces a choice to either capitulate or risk losing a second major vote in the lower house in the space of a week. Labor will introduce a bill to crack down on payday lending and Labor and the Nationals are pushing for measures to improve small businesses’ access to justice, in an alliance of interests likely to force the government to back down on its opposition to a bill that passed the Senate on Thursday. And after Labor and the crossbench combined to pass a bill for medical evacuations from offshore detention last week, the government has moved to avoid similar embarrassment by promising to support a motion calling for a royal commission into disability care.
Michael Daley and Gladys Berejiklian remain locked in a tight race less than five weeks out from the NSW election, according to a new Essential poll which also indicates about one in four voters giving their first preference vote to minor parties or independents. Labor narrowly leads the Coalition 51 to 49 on a two-party-preferred basis, according to the survey, representing a swing of 5.3% since the 2015 election. The poll reaffirms the possibility the Coalition could be facing minority government after election day on 23 March, or be returned with only a wafer-thin majority. But the ABC election analyst, Antony Green, has warned this state election is particularly hard to predict given the number of tight, three-cornered contests around the state.
Nearly one in 10 adults have taken nude photos or recorded footage of others without consent, an Australian-first study into imaged-based sexual abuse has found. RMIT researchers surveyed 4,200 people aged 16 to 49 and found more than 6% of respondents had shared the images or footage and close to 5% had made threats to do so. Nearly 9% of respondents had captured images or footage without consent. And one in five survey respondents had been victims.
Donald Trump has told the EU it must take back its 800 Isis fighters captured in Syria by US-backed forces, and put them on trial. The president’s call comes as Britain debates how to respond to the case of the teenager Shamima Begum, who travelled to Syria to join Islamic State in 2015 and has said she is desperate to return to the UK after giving birth in a refugee camp. Separately, a US woman, Hoda Muthana, captured by Kurdish forces after fleeing the last pocket of land controlled by Islamic State says she “deeply regrets” travelling to Syria to join the terrorist group and has pleaded to be allowed to return to her family in Alabama.
Theresa May is facing a fresh showdown with Eurosceptic Conservative MPs, whose support she is likely to need to get approval for her withdrawal agreement, after a cabinet minister suggested she may put her Brexit deal to parliament again without having secured a change to the withdrawal text.
Brazilian activists have taken to the streets in five major cities after the death of a young black man who was restrained by a supermarket security guard.
The Arab world’s first female interior minister has hailed her appointment as a “point of pride for all women”. Raya al-Hassan is one of four women to take cabinet jobs in the new Lebanese government, a record for the country and three more than in the last government.
Hundreds of people have demanded refunds after a Fortnite festival was branded a shambles. The computer game-themed event near Norwich was underwhelming and understaffed, visitors say.
Opinion and analysis
The Canadian government has recruited Indigenous rangers from Arnhem Land as part of a $25m program to double the country’s protected land and sea by 2020. The pilot program is inspired by Australia’s Indigenous rangers and protected areas. Senior ranger Dean Yibarbuk, a traditional owner of Djinkarr, near Maningrida in Arnhem Land, and his fellow travellers swapped 40C temperatures at home for -36C temperatures in Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories, meeting with the Dehcho, Sahtu and Lutsel K’e First Nations, as well as the Canadian minister of environment and climate change, to advise them on how to care for country, and why it works. “What I am sharing with Canadians is that your culture and your elders are your strength, your youth are your future,” Yibarbuk says. “Combine the two with your own responsibility to your traditional lands and sea, and that will give you power.”
Australia views Asia through the wrong end of the telescope, writes George Megalogenis. He argues that every prime minister since John Howard has placed domestic concerns above all else and assumed that “our neighbours will forgive our insensitivity when we ask them to play along”. From Julia Gillard indicating that asylum seekers would be sent to Timor-Leste for processing (she hadn’t consulted the Timor-Leste government) to Scott Morrison’s hasty Wentworth byelection call to move Australia’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the troubling episodes points to a wider systemic problem in our body politic, says Megalogenis. “But while Howard matured in the role of prime minister, none of his successors have held the job long enough to leave a positive legacy.”
The AFLW season has started brightly with impressive skill levels and big crowds but, as Kasey Symons writes, the controversial conferences system is already undermining the fundamental fairness of the competition.
Colin Kaepernick’s lawyer says his client still wants to play in the NFL, and believes he would fit in well with the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. On Friday Kaepernick and his former teammate Eric Reid settled a complaint of collusion against the NFL.
Thinking time: The voice of little England
A quarter of a century after Coogan’s clueless sports reporter turned broadcasting pariah, Alan Partridge, made his screen debut on The Day Today, he is returning to the BBC in This Time With Alan Partridge. The conceit is that the disgraced anchor has been invited to cover the absence of the regular presenter of a One Show-style magazine programme. Despite Partridge’s deep-seated loathing for the “BBC gravy train”, he has been in the digital radio wilderness for years, and is desperate to get back in front of the cameras. Luckily, the BBC, wanting to reflect the voice of little England in these politically altered times, thinks Partridge is just what it needs.
Coogan says they had some lively discussions about who Partridge now aligns himself with. Who has he heard talking about the big issues and agreed with lately? Coogan warms to this. “There is a quote in episode two where he says there is evidence that lower wages increase productivity.” He goes on, more Partridge now than Coogan: “As Kirstie Allsopp says: ‘A well-fed dog is a lazy dog.’ The thing is, Allsopp never said that at all, but we have fun with things like that.” Libelling Allsopp aside, Partridge is trying to keep his nose clean and make a good impression. This time, he’s back, he says, to “give of my best”. He’ll cock it up, obviously, but he really is trying.
The Daily Telegraph’s front page reveals, in “an exclusive”, that school pupils are being “used as climate pawns”, as “taxpayer-funded eco-worriers are coaching children to skip school again next month, giving them detailed instructions on how to play truant, make posters and organise ‘marshals’ for a climate change protest march.” Scott Morrison is having a moment, the Australian reports: the PM is campaigning on border security in key migrant communities in Arabic, Mandarin and Korean, “drawing comparison to John Howard’s Tampa moment”. The Sydney Morning Herald says foreign criminals who have had their visas cancelled are using an opaque process to get the mandatory cancellations overturned.
More than 30 festival organisers will hold crisis meeting at NSW parliament over the government crackdown on music festivals.
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