It was a week that brought us many horrible things. Headlined by the schadenfreude the bank commission enabled.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen more progress from North Korea, tragedy in the music world, shocking revelations from the Royal Commission and a very industrious little jetsetter.
North Korea have shocked the world by announcing that they will suspend nuclear and missile tests immediately and have agreed to abolish a nuclear test site.
Kim Jong-un made the announcement, saying that North Korea had achieved its goal of developing nuclear weapons and had no need to continue the testing program. The official Korean Central News Agency reported that the move was designed to shift the national focus and to improve the North Korean economy which has presumably been suffering considerably under economic sanctions.
The announcement comes one week before the North Korean leader is due to meet with South Korean counterpart, President Moon Jae-in in what is considered a precursor to a historic summit between Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump. The meeting with President Moon Jae-in is also quite significant as it will see President Kim cross the Military Demarcation Line that has divided the two nations since the end of the Korean War in 1953, making him the first North Korean leader to do so.
Whilst the news is obviously good, there is no indication that North Korea will give up its nuclear arsenal or cease its nuclear program, nor are experts expecting that they will do so. Many believe that this is just another step in a well-crafted strategy from North Korea that will see them enter negotiations with the international community from a much strengthened position following the successful development of a nuclear program.
North Korea has agreed to suspend all Nuclear Tests and close up a major test site. This is very good news for North Korea and the World – big progress! Look forward to our Summit.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2018
The music world is in mourning this week following the shock passing of Tim Bergling, more famously known as Avicii. The Grammy-nominated Swedish DJ died at his home on Friday afternoon in Oman at the age of 28.
Avicii had retired from touring back in 2016, citing ongoing health issues which included “acute pancreatitis, in part due to excessive drinking.” He also had his gallbladder and appendix removed in 2014 which led to a number of cancelled shows. His cause of death has not been released as yet.
Tributes have flown in on social media from fans and peers alike. Fellow DJ, Calvin Harris, tweeted:
Devastating news about Avicii, a beautiful soul, passionate and extremely talented with so much more to do. My heart goes out to his family. God bless you Tim x
— Calvin Harris (@CalvinHarris) April 20, 2018
Madonna, for whom Avicci produced Devil Pray, tweeted:
So Sad……. So Tragic. Good Bye Dear Sweet Tim. 💙 Gone too Soon. pic.twitter.com/l7FDKCu6K4
— Madonna (@Madonna) April 20, 2018
Gone too soon indeed.
The Royal Commission into the banking sector, once resisted by many in power, has revealed an inordinate level of shocking practices and behaviours that have left the country reeling.
Former ACCC chairman Allan Fels spoke to the media about the findings so far, saying:
“This is a turning point in the debate, because it’s now out there in public that this behaviour has been going on, widespread, shocking, unconscionable. It’s worse than I thought, more systemic, more unconscionable.”
The findings have also claimed their first scalp, with AMP’s CEO Craig Meller resigning immediately from his high-profile position. Evidence was presented at the commission this week showing that AMP had lied to corporate watchdog ASIC for almost a decade in order to avoid being found out for charging customers fees for advice that was never delivered. The AMP started giving evidence on Monday, with Meller resigning within days.
Evidence heard against the AMP indicated that the company had lost count of the number of times it had deliberately mislead ASIC. Documents were also presented showing that AMP had attempted to influence an independent review by a law firm in an attempt to downplay the knowledge and involvement of senior executives.
The Commonwealth Bank have also been in the crosshairs with evidence presented showing that the CBA had charged deceased customers for non-existent advice. Many rightly believe that we might be just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Also on The Big Smoke
Treasurer Scott Morrison has responded by announcing new, tougher penalties within the banking and corporate sectors that could see offenders facing ten-year jail terms as well as significant financial penalties. In the case of individuals, the jail sentence could be accompanied with fine of $945,000 or three times the benefits gained or loss avoided – whichever is higher. Corporations will face a penalty of $9.45 million, three times the benefits gained or 10% of the company’s annual turnover if it was larger, capped at $210 million.
Critics have been quick to remind the Turnbull government that they actively resisted the Royal Commision in the first place. Labor leader Bill Shorten called on PM Turnbull to apologise for resisting and blocking the formal inquiry that Labor, the Greens and some Nationals back benchers had been pushing for. Unsurprisingly, Morrison hasn’t apologised and instead attacked Shorten for using the Royal Commission for political point-scoring. Well Scotty, if you’re standing in front of an open goal with the ball in your hand…
An apology of sorts was forthcoming from an unlikely source – former Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce. Joyce took to Twitter this week to say:
In the past I argued against a Royal Commission into banking. I was wrong. What I have heard is so far is beyond disturbing.
— Barnaby Joyce (@Barnaby_Joyce) April 18, 2018
It’s amazing how quickly our pollies can find their conscience as soon as their leadership aspirations are removed, isn’t it?
Greens leader Richard Di Natale announced this week that his party will be tabling a proposal to legalise cannabis for all Australians over the age of 18 which has the support of former Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner Mick Palmer.
Di Natale told Channel Ten:
“As someone who was a drug and alcohol doctor, I’ve seen how damaging the ‘tough on drugs’ approach is to people. We’ve got to have a much more tightly-controlled and regulated environment.”
Senator Di Natale has pointed to a number of examples around the world where cannabis legalisation has resulted in a drop in drug-related crime (specifically the US, Spain and Uruguay) as well as the potential tax revenue that the move could generate.
Unsurprisingly, many have criticised the proposal. Health Minister Greg Hunt argued that cannabis’ status as a “gateway drug” makes its legalisation dangerous. Hunt of course ignored the fact that both alcohol and prescription medications are as just as significant as gateway drugs as well as ignoring the fact that people will use it whether it’s legalised or not. This of course didn’t stop him from swinging at strawmen, effectively suggesting that the proposal was akin to legalising ice and heroin. Obviously Greg didn’t take the time to read my article from 2015 debunking every word that slimed its way out of his mouth.
Dr Alex Wodak, president of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, spoke out positively about the proposal:
“Banning cannabis hasn’t reduced its use or availability, yet it has distracted police from following up more serious crimes, harmed a lot of young people and helped make some criminals rich.”
Hard to argue with. But it didn’t stop everyone’s favourite breakfast host, Kochie, attacking the proposal using every tired and debunked cliché in the book… causing them to all be debunked again. Can we take a Sunrise poll to find out whether people believe Kochie would be significantly more watchable after he smoked a joint or two?
Wacky and wonderful
Every kid has threatened to run away from home at some stage or another. Most of the time it’s just an empty threat, occasionally it rises to a weak attempt at a follow through. I remember the only time I followed through on the threat to my parents; I packed my rucksack up and made it as far as my neighbours’ house across the street who promptly spotted me and sent me home.
Well, a young fella by the name of Drew has put the rest of us to shame.
Drew, 12, was told by his mother Emma that they weren’t going to Bali. Clearly perturbed at his dreams of cheap Bin Tang and knockoff singlets being ripped from his grasp, Drew immediately took matters into his own hands. He “borrowed” the family credit card, tricked his grandmother into releasing his passport into his custody and started organising a solo trip. After researching which airlines would allow a 12-year old to fly alone without a letter from parents (there was one apparently), he booked his tickets and started packing.
After telling his parents he was off to school, he rode his razor scooter to the local train station and travelled to the airport. Taking advantage of the self-service check-ins that helped him avoid contact with staff, he secured his tickets and was let on the plane, no questions asked.
He even managed to deal with a stopover in Perth, which he admitted he “sort of stuffed up because I got the deal cheap,” before successfully making it to the Island of the Gods. Once his school reported him as absent, Emma and her family reported him missing before realising that the little tyke had made it to Bali.
Not that she needed to worry. Not only did he make it there, but he successfully booked a room at the All Seasons and booked himself a motorbike ride to the hotel where he talked his way through a check in.
Most parents rely on a fear factor to keep their kids in check. No such luck for Emma with Drew not perturbed at all over getting caught, saying “It was great because I wanted to go on an adventure.”
I’m beyond impressed and beyond grateful he’s not mine.
That’s it from me, TBSers – have a cracking week!