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It was a very shouty week. Arnold vs Trump, Turnbull vs Shorten, us vs the sun. But now that we’ve survived it (sort of), it’s time to go back to the very recent future.
Hello all, and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. Trump and co have spent the week rewriting the rules of ethics, Cory Bernardi finally jumped ship and the weather has been playing havoc at home and abroad.
Trump’s controversial “Travel Ban” hit a major stumbling block following its suspension being upheld by an appeals court in San Francisco this week.
The ban had been suspended by a federal judge in Seattle the previous week following a challenge to its legal legitimacy. Trump of course appealed this immediately but was shocked to see the ban upheld, taking to Twitter to tell the judge in question “See you in court”. Well… yeah… Where else would you see him?
His vow to continue the fight was quickly broken with reports suggesting that the Trump camp had abandoned the plan to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider the ruling. Rather, it’s been suggested that’s he’s planning on issuing a new and modified order to try and achieve the same result.
Meanwhile, over the pond, it looks like the British Government’s plan to have Trump address Parliament during a visit later in the year has been abandoned in response to backlash from MP’s and the public. House of Commons Speaker John Bercow said that Parliament’s opposition to “racism” and “sexism” made an official address by Trump to both houses inappropriate.
Trump is still lobbying to play a round of golf with the Queen (seriously) and to have tea at Buckingham Palace.
The separation of Trump’s business and political interests (and those of his family) has also hit the headlines this week. Department store chain, Nordstrom, announced that they were dropping all products associated with Trump’s daughter, Ivanka – primarily in response to the “#GrabYourWallet” movement. In an unprecedented move, Trump took to Twitter to attack the chain:
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
The tweet had legal and ethics experts on high alert as it appeared that a pretty serious conflict of interest was brewing. Whilst it’s arguable whether Trump’s tweet crossed the line, it’s undeniable that the follow up from his special Counsel, Kellyanne Conway, effectively pissed on the line and kept running. Conway appeared on Fox News in the days following to heap praise on the “wonderful” line, saying that she even owns some of it. The speech was effectively a direct sales pitch and a direct violation of a number of ethics rules and laws.
It’s unheard of and completely and utterly wrong. It would be like the Vice President of the US having a vested interest in a company that made immeasurable profits from a war started while he was in office… oh…
A natural disaster has unfolded in Farewell Spit in New Zealand this week with a super pod of 416 whales becoming stranded.
Unfortunately, around 300 of the whales died on Friday morning before rescuers could get to them. Rescuers did manage to avert disaster however, with another pod of 200 met by 200 volunteers who formed a human chain in the water to prevent the creatures from stranding as well.
The volunteers are truly heroes, not only braving the water but braving the threat of sharks who had moved in on Friday night and attacked around 100 of the stranded whales. Those stranded on the beach were also cared for by volunteers who had no choice but to leave them overnight in the hope that they would re-float naturally during high tide.
Department of Conservation operations manager Neil Murray described the scene as the worst stranding he had ever seen and the third worst in New Zealand history.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Current Affairs Wrap: US honeymoon over, AusPol starts anew, piracy hits new wave
- Current Affairs Wrap: Trump’s first week, Australia Day protests and Doomsday Clock’s tick
- Current Affairs Wrap: Start of Trump, end of Baird, and moth balls?
Inclement weather has caused major landslides in Bali, unfortunately resulting in the deaths of twelve locals.
Three villages experienced landslides as a result of extreme rain all day on Thursday, the result of which has seen several houses being buried and badly damaged, as well as three children being among the twelve deceased. At least five people have also been injured, three of them seriously.
Unfortunately landslides and flooding are common in Indonesia during the wet season; last December saw 29 die and a further 19 go missing when floods and landslides hit Garut in Western Java.
Cory Bernardi finally pulled the trigger and resigned from the Liberal Party this week following months of speculation. Bernardi claims that the Coalition government are “failing the people of Australia” and that “it really is time for a better way – for a conservative way.”
The reaction from the Coalition was swift and strong. Education Minister Simon Birmingham called it a “dog act”. Attorney General George Brandis accused Bernadi of not acting like a conservative at all by breaking a promise to his electorate in leaving the party. Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne accused him of cheating his constituents and immediately called for him to resign and re-contest as an Independent; a sentiment echoed by PM Turnbull. Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce chose to focus on the volunteers who worked for Bernardi during the election campaign, suggesting they should be upset with the defection, going on to say “It’s not your ticket to really hand over; it’s sort of ours.”
Joyce was also asked if he had any advice for Bernardi, to which he responded: “Pray, pray hard”.
It’s hard not to see their point. Only hardline Bernardi supporters would suggest for a second that his re-election last year was a vote for him; the vast majority of his votes were likely for his party. Unfortunately, it will be a long time before we are able to put this to the test and now the Turnbull government has an even more difficult senate structure to horse trade with. Surely we need a rule change here?
Most would have expected Turnbull to quietly disappear for a few days to work out how he was going to possibly fight another war on another front. However, it appears that Big Mal is sick of having bad weeks and wanted to unleash all of his frustration – and he found a target in opposition leader Bill Shorten.
Turnbull absolutely unleashed on Shorten during Question Time this week, calling him a “social-climbing sycophant”, a hypocrite and a parasite.
The tirade was a departure from the meek performances we have come to expect from the PM and almost rose to Keating levels (not quite of course). The performance had his Coalition colleagues in fits of laughter, with Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce looking like he may actually keel over and explode. At the very least, if this continues, Question Time might actually be watchable again.
Also on The Big Smoke
- The domino theory: Who could follow Bernardi?
- The lies and slippery slope of Trump’s presidency
- Australia slips further in global corruption index
While Big Mal was hot under the collar, the entire country was too, as a scorching heatwave took hold in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
If the fire danger wasn’t bad enough, failure of our power infrastructure was the icing on the cake. South Australia hit the headlines as rolling blackouts, or “load shedding”, plagued the state on Wednesday night while the mercury was still over 40 degrees. SA Power Networks was ordered to commence the shedding which left 40,000 households and businesses without power for around 45 minutes. Predictably, the blame game began immediately.
The South Australian Government blamed the federal Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) who ordered the shedding “due to lack of available generation supply in SA”. According to the SA Government, the second unit at the Pelican Point power station was sitting ready to go however it was never turned on despite the AEMO being aware of it.
The AEMO hit back with a statement saying that they don’t “accept the assertions that some generators that were available to enter into the market could do so.”
PM Turnbull blamed the SA Government; well, more specifically, their reliance on renewable energy sources. Federal Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler pointed the finger straight back, accusing the Libs of seizing on the issue for political gain. Butler went on to second the SA State Government’s assertion that AEMO dropped the ball by not turning on the second generator at Pelican Point. Surely all of this can actually be proven? Wouldn’t it be nice to see some actual, quantifiable information instead of more finger pointing? Well, I’m an optimist after all…
Meanwhile, NSW was almost in the same boat later in the week, narrowly avoiding shedding after the government asked industrial consumers to reduce their demand to prevent blackouts; they complied but were none too happy about it with the head of the NSW Tomago aluminium smelter labelling it a disgrace.
Wacky and wonderful
Trump has a lot of enemies, as we know. The most serious? Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The two have been in a very public feud of late, with Trump recently mocking the ratings of The Celebrity Apprentice, which Arnie now hosts and Trump used to. Arnie’s response? “I called my assistant and said, ‘I think what we really should do is request a meeting and go back to New York… And then we just smash his face into the table.’” Now say it in Arnie’s voice…
Also on The Big Smoke
- #AusPol winners and losers: Who fled the sinking ship this week?
- While you were asleep: Jack’s familiar comeback, Trump’s unwelcome bookclub, senate’s Centrelink probe
- While you were asleep: Male birth control cometh, Harambe back from the dead, Bernie Sanders: fashion icon
We’ve all had social media be the cause of our undoing at least once. Usually, it’s late night visits to Facebook after a little too much happy juice. For one guy, it was a seemingly innocuous complaint to the Burger King Instagram page that had disastrous results.
Jordan_vonsmith86 took to the page to complain about drive-through waiting times saying “My girl legit took 20 minutes ordering in the drive thru last night, those whoppers were worth it tho lol”.
His actual girlfriend, as in not the one referenced in the post, took to the page saying “I don’t recall going last night or ever liking Burger King who are you talking about”?
A very public back and forth ensued much to the delight of people just there to look at pictures of onion rings and request the return of menu items like user “fastbingo” who added: “Bring back the tender crisp bacon cheddar ranch”. His girlfriend had the last laugh, however, finishing with “Hope the whopper jr’s were worth it. Your sh** is outside…”
Have a cracking week, TBSers!