An impeachment of a world leader, the completion of a business deal, and Sofía Vergara sued by her own embryos. Standard.
Hello all and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had trouble in South Korean politics, a worsening of the crisis in Syria, a sign off on the Kidman sale from ScoMo and an interesting reward for voter engagement in Italy.
South Korea’s first female president, Park Geun-hye, was this week formally impeached, receiving 234 out of a possible 300 votes from South Korean lawmakers.
Her impeachment focused on accusations of leaking confidential presidential documents as well as assisting a close friend in extorting companies for money; accusations that she has denied in three separate televised statements.
The potential removal of Park Geun Hye could further contribute to the significant geopolitical issues being played out in the region. Park Geun Hye is a champion of conservative politics and a strong advocate for the strong alliance with the United States. Should she be removed and a more Left-leaning replacement win office, it is likely that a stronger relationship will be formed with China, and a weaker one with Japan and the US; a result that could significantly hamper US and Japan from dealing with the growing threat of North Korea as well as weaken their position in the South China Sea dispute.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Current Affairs Wrap: Greens strike deal, tragedy strikes football, Shkreli strikes back
- Current Affairs Wrap: House of Brady silent, Pauline in a wetsuit and eagle drops in for lunch
- Current Affairs Wrap: Russia move forward into past, Dutton’s rant and the corpse in power
The humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, Syria continues to worsen. According to the United Nations, hundreds of men have disappeared after crossing from rebel-held areas of Aleppo into government territory.
As the Syrian Government, with support from Iran and Russia, continues to shrink the rebel territory in the besieged former commercial and industrial hub, reports suggest that up to 100,000 people are still trapped directly in the firing line of rocket attacks, Russian airstrikes and in the case of 46 civilian fatalities this week, barrel bombs carrying chlorine gas, according to the rescue group known as the White Helmets.
For the innocent civilians on the ground, an almost impossible choice faces them. If they stay, they will face capture and most likely death when the Syrian government regains full control of the city. If they flee, they will need to make it through the most dangerous war zone on the planet. Should they somehow make it through, safety or amnesty is no guarantee once they reach government-controlled areas. Let’s not even discuss what happens if they try and come to Australia for safety…
A resolution advanced by Canada at the UN this week called for a pause in fighting in Syria to allow access to humanitarian aid. The resolution was passed by a large majority of member nations however has no force of law and will amount to nothing more than a protest vote (particularly as it comes days after Russia and China defeated a resolution in the Security Council that would have created a seven-day break in hostilities to allow aid into Aleppo and allow residents to get out). Unfortunately as we already know, failure to abide by a UN resolution has absolutely no consequences for superpowers…or anyone else for that matter.
The drawn out sale of cattle empire S. Kidman & Co has passed its final hurdle, with Government approval being given to a joint bid from Gina Rinehart and Chinese company, Shanghai CRED.
The largest station in the Kidman empire (which also happens to be the largest cattle station on the planet), will thankfully be acquired by a neighbouring farming family, the Williams, however, the rest will be acquired by Outback Beef, of which 67 percent is owned by Rinehart’s company, Hancock Beef, and the remaining 33 percent by Shanghai CRED.
Hancock has proposed control of the day-to-day operations of the business, meaning it will still be majority “Australian-owned”. Rinehart has also committed to the investment of a further $19 million in capital improvements, according to Treasurer Scott Morrison, who gave the deal the green light. This $19 million investment will result in the creation of 35 full-time permanent jobs by June 2018. That’s right…$19 million buys 35 jobs…clearly Rinehart and Morrison attended the same school of economic management. In fairness, Morrison did also announce that it will result in the employment of many more new contractors and short-term specialists – wonderfully vague promises that can’t be quantified, affording Morrison the leeway not to actually break any promises.
The minority partner, Shanghai CRED, have an appetite for rural investment in Australia, having recently spent $2 million to buy the Melita, Jeedamya and Kookynie stations in WA’s Goldfields region which they are currently waiting on the rubber stamp from the Foreign Investment Review Board to finalise. They have reportedly also purchased other stations in the Goldfields region as well as the Yakka Munga and Mount Elizabeth stations in the Kimberley.
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is happy about the deal. Independent MP Bob Katter announced his “absolute rage and disgust” over the sale, saying that the Turnbull Government was “selling their country out and selling their country off”. I don’t agree with Bob on many things, but it’s hard to ignore his point here. Particularly given that a bid from the 100 percent Australian owned BBHO consortium was withdrawn after being placed in a bidding war with Rinehart in October last year, a war that they knew they couldn’t win. Katter went on to say, “I would not describe the people in the major political parties as Australians – who knows what they are, but they are not Australians. The rejection of the original application took place just before the federal election. I don’t believe it was anything more than an election stunt. These low bastards are sneaking through the approval two weeks prior to Christmas, when the public are looking elsewhere.”
Katter does have a knack for saying what we are all thinking, god bless him for it.
As most of us would remember, the City of Fremantle recently caused controversy by announcing that they would be moving their Australia Day celebrations to January 28th in order to create a “culturally inclusive” alternative to current, and divisive, traditions. The move was criticised from many corners including some within the Aboriginal community who weren’t too impressed with the council “playing around with white politics and black politics”.
It appears that the pressure placed on them following the announcement has been effective, with the council backing down this week following an ultimatum from the Federal Government. Specifically, a letter from Assistant Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, making it clear that the council would not be permitted to hold the traditional citizenship ceremonies on the 28th “under any circumstances”.
The “One Day in Fremantle” celebrations, as they have been dubbed, will proceed on the 28th with an “informal recognition of the many migrants who have chosen to make Fremantle their home”, with the traditional citizenship ceremonies to return to the usual date of the 26th.
Wacky and wonderful
From the wacky files, Modern Family actress Sofía Vergara is at the centre of an extraordinary legal battle over frozen embryos she has stored from her former fiancé, Nick Loeb. In what must be a world first, Vergara is now being sued…by the embryos.
A right to live lawsuit was filed this week on behalf of the embryos in Louisiana, a traditionally pro-life state which already has a level of legal protection in place for frozen embryos. The court papers have listed the plaintiffs as “Emma” and “Isabella”, the names now given to the female embryos.
The basis of the suit is that by not being born, “Emma” and “Isabella” have been deprived of an inheritance from a trust that has been created for them in Louisiana. It also accuses Vergara of refusing “to allow her daughters Emma and Isabella to continue their development, so they remain frozen in a tank.”
Also on The Big Smoke
- Fremantle moves Australia Day celebrations – Nation divided
- #AUsPol winners and losers: Who ate the food in the shared cabinet?
- While you were asleep: Trump Time’s POTY, Sausages invade AACTA, Assange free
Our politicians might not always keep their promises but, as it turns out, we can rely on relatively unknown Italian actresses to come to the party. The Italian public recently voted in a referendum which would amend the Italian Constitution to reform the appointment and powers of Parliament. Actress Paola Saulino is so staunchly opposed to the changes that she promised to provide every person that voted “no” in the referendum a…umm…let’s call it “a trouser friendly kiss”.
As countless Italian men collectively held their breath, the words they have been waiting to hear came: “I am a woman of my word”.
Along with the words came details of a “Pompa Tour” (I’ll let you research the translation yourself). Throughout January, “No” voters will receive a booking form which has to be sent back to Ms Saulino to lock in their place.
It certainly redefines “polling” the constituents…I’m sorry, I had to.
Have a great week, TBSers!