Australia Boots Russian Spies

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The first use of a chemical weapon on European soil since World War Two has forced the Turnbull government to boot Russian spies, posing as diplomats from Australia. Similar action has been taken by other countries like the UK.
The Prime Minister explicitly named Russia as a country that is on notice for its intrusion into the domestic matters for other countries – elections in France, USA, Catalonia and the Brexit referendum are all currently being assessed for Russian interference.
The Turnbull government is working on updating Australia’s espionage laws for the modern era and will consider Russia’s actions in the international community.

Dastyari resigns over Chinese connections. Again.

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Bill Shorten has asked Sam Dastyari to resign over his links to Chinese donors. Again.

He will remain a Senator for NSW.

The resignation comes following fresh revelations of his connections to a Chinese businessman living in Australia, who is actively involved with the Chinese Communist Party.

In December last year Dastyari was busted for having several legal and travel bills paid for by Huang Xiangmo. During the 2016 election, Dastyari spoke at a press conference when he made comments on the South Chinese Sea Dispute that were contrary to Labor Party policy.

These comments are connected to a $400,000 donation Mr Huang made to Labor shortly after.

Dastyari said these comments on the dispute were ‘garbled and off the cuff’. In the last 24 hours, the ABC released audio of that press conference for Chinese language media that made it clear that the remarks were scripted

In addition to this, it’s reported that Sam told Mr Huang that his phone may have been tapped by American and Australian Authorities.

Yesterday’s revelations appear to be the final straw.

Budget 2017: Foreign Aid


The foreign aid budget has been gutted once again. Aid and development spending is the lowest it has ever been in Australia, despite the goal of aid funding rising in line with CPI.

The budget has confirmed that aid funding has been frozen altogether for two years from 2018 to 2020.

The 303 million dollars in foreign aid that has been frozen will be diverted to the Australian Federal Police for ongoing recruitment and training of officers.


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France Votes: Vive la democratie!

France has begun the process of electing their next president and the contest is heating up! 

The nation has two votes: Not to establish the top two candidates out of the declared 11 (held yesterday) and another on May 11 to pick the victor. The winners are far right candidate Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron, a centre candidate.
Le Pen is campaigning on strong nationalistic themes, including some kind of French exit from the European Union as well as tightening immigration, opposing Islam and refugee issues. The French unemployment and economic situation is a key theme in this election for her.

Sound familiar? 

Macron is a former banker, who started his own party a year ago, has no political experience and has never held political office. He’s pretty thankful that he did that today, given that all of the left within France is now rock solid behind him in order to defeat the ‘Trump’ style candidate for France.

Turnbull to shake up citizenship


The process to receive Australian Citizenship faces a major shakeup under reforms the Turnbull Government announced this morning. Here’s the short version:

  • Applicants are required to be permanent residents for four years before they can apply, up from one year.
  • A higher level of English will be needed: Level 6 on the IELTS scale.
  • Applicants will need to demonstrate how they have integrated into the Australian community. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull suggested this could include ‘participation in voluntary organisations.’
  • The citizenship test will be expanded from 15 multiple choice questions on Australian civics and history, to include questions on ‘Australian values’. These include questions on the equality of women and rejection of domestic violence, child marriage and female genital mutilation.
  • Changes will be made to the pledge, however it’s unclear what those changes are for now.

The new pledge and questions for the citizenship test will be made available for pubic consultation before June. These changes will be subject to approval of the parliament.

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Turnbull’s India Trip

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The Prime Minister is on a trip to India this week visiting Narendra Modi to restart talks on a free trade agreement, bringing along a large delegation from across the business sector including education – our biggest export to India that isn’t dug from the ground.

Turnbull also visited Gutam Adani to discuss the prospect of progressing their mining project in Queensland. Turnbull has committed to adjusting native title laws and will accept an application from the company for a 900 million dollar government loan to pay for a rail line for coal transportation. If it goes ahead the mine would be the biggest in Australia and the resources would be sent to India.

Brexit Begins

Brexit.jpgIn June last year the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a group of 28 nations who united to open their economies and boarders in the aspiration of broader economic growth.

The United Kingdom leaving the EU has sent shockwaves through Europe and across the world and late last night the exit began with Prime Minister Teresa May signing a letter formally beginning the two year exit process as out in article 50.

Ban foreign donations: Enquiry 

An issue that arose in last year’s election was the concept of foreign donations to political parties – it also exploded late last year costing Sam Dastyari his job. After each election a parliament holds an inquiry in the conduct of the poll and makes recommendations on how to improve the system.

The second report from the enquiry has been released and it says its time to tackle the issue of foreign donations. There seems to be consensus on all sides of politics in this issue so watch this space.