What a week it was. Indonesia was rocked by an earthquake, the banks did poorly and one gent immortalised himself with a phone charger.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had more of Mother Nature’s wrath in Indonesia, justice for the victims of a formerly beloved entertainer and a rocket for the financial sector from the Royal Commission.
Indonesia’s central Sulawesi province has been hit by a sizeable 7.5 magnitude earthquake and numerous strong aftershocks, followed by a devastating and destructive tsunami. The 7.5 earthquake struck late on Friday night at a depth of approximately 10km, some 56km northeast of the central Sulawesi town of Donggala. A number of strong aftershocks, including one measuring at around 6.7 magnitude continued in the hours that followed.
The tsunami that was triggered by the larger quake, however, quickly turned the disaster into a catastrophe. The central Sulawesi capital, Palu, copped the brunt of the powerful three-metre high wave which has claimed the life of at least 48 people with the death count expected to rise significantly. Palu has a population of more than 380,000 people and at this stage authorities are unable to provide estimates of how many have lost their lives or how many have been injured. Palu is built around a narrow bay that seems to have magnified the force of the tsunami, making it even more destructive.
The primary airport in Palu has been closed for at least 24 hours following the disaster after the earthquake cracked the runway and damaged the control tower. Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the spokesperson for the Indonesian disaster agency, has reassured the public that essential aircraft are still able to land at the airport to bring in supplies and support.
The disaster in Sulawesi comes just months after earthquakes on the popular Indonesian island of Lombok killed almost 500 people.
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Comedian Bill Cosby had his sentencing hearing this week following his guilty judgement in April of three counts of aggravated indecent assault. The 60 women who have made accusations against Cosby as well as the countless number of those supporting them saw Cosby sentenced to between three and ten years in jail.
The sentence has likely pleased prosecutors who were seeking a sentence of five to ten years. Cosby and his defence team are less so, however, having asked for house arrest instead. In addition to the sentence, Judge Steven O’Neill designated Cosby a “sexually violent predator” which means that Cosby will have a number of restrictions placed on him both inside prison and beyond. He will have to go undergo monthly counselling as well as having to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Every neighbour and school within a reasonable radius of the former star will be provided with details of his crime and his home address.
All three of Cosby’s guilty verdicts related to just one of the 60 or more of accusers; his one-time friend, Andrea Constand. Ms Constand issued a written statement at the beginning of the sentencing hearing in which she said, “Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it.”
The financial sector held their collective breath as the Banking Royal Commission released its interim report this week. Any hopes of a reprieve from the well-deserved pasting that the commission has handed them so far were snuffed out when a particularly damning report was handed down by the Governor-General.
Newly appointed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg quickly took to Twitter to highlight the damning report, saying “The Royal Commission’s interim report, released today, is a frank & scathing assessment of the culture & compliance in the financial sector.” I suppose he wanted to make sure he said it before Labor did.
Frydenberg continued: “Banks and other financial institutions have put profits before people, greed has been the motive as short-term profits have been pursued at the expense of basic standards of honesty. Too often simply selling products has become the sole focus of attention.”
Just to clarify, he was talking about the Royal Commission report and not the recent leadership spill.
The Royal Commission’s interim report, released today, is a frank & scathing assessment of the culture, conduct & compliance in the financial sector. pic.twitter.com/8IehO5FICm
— Josh Frydenberg (@JoshFrydenberg) September 28, 2018
Labor did chime in of course but focused more on the Government with Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, saying “Scott Morrison called (the commission) “a reckless distraction”, “a QC’s complaints desk” and a “populist whinge”.
Whilst you couldn’t begrudge Labor for taking the opportunity for political point scoring when it’s put in their lap with a bow on it, Plibersek has a point. As a new ad released by the Labor party reminds us, not only did Morrison say every single one of those things when he was treasurer but he also voted against instigating the Royal Commission 26 times.
The words might continue to come back and bite him over and over again as out of 9,400 submissions to the commission, only 27 victims have given evidence so far. The seventh round, which will focus on public policy questions arising from the revelations, will begin on November 19.
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Former One-Nation and now Katter Australia Senator, Fraser Anning, has had a tough week following the decision by Facebook to take down his page. Anning found infamy following his maiden speech to parliament – a speech that was universally criticised and included use of the Nazi-associated term “final solution”. Following the speech, Anning doubled down and started posting statements and videos on social media, calling for a ban on Muslim immigration.
Anning’s page was automatically unpublished by Facebook, with a notification sent to the Senator saying “It looks like recent activity on your Page doesn’t follow the Facebook Pages Terms. If you think your Page was unpublished in error, you can appeal and we’ll take another look.”
Anning was furious and took to Twitter, saying “Free speech is under attack and communication is being regulated by foreign companies with tendencies of political bias. This is completely unacceptable and we will fight this.”
Facebook, of course, can regulate whatever they choose to on their product. We have no legal guarantee of free speech on social media and more often than not, we waive any potential right to it when we tick a little checkbox when signing up. Hopefully Anning takes a little more care in reading legislation put in front of him than he did when accepting Facebook’s terms and conditions.
But like most people or pages that get banned on Facebook, I’m sure it won’t be long before we are all given the privilege of reading Anning’s musings on our Facebook feeds.
Wacky and wonderful
It’s fair to say that the majority of us are at least a little addicted to our phones. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m far more addicted than anything that would resemble a healthy amount. But at least I’m not this guy.
A passenger on a domestic flight in India was forcibly removed from a flight following a failed attempt to enter the cockpit on the flight. The plane was preparing to take off for Kolkata from the western city of Mumbai when the passenger concerned tried to open the cockpit door and enter, and then demanded to be allowed access. His reason? He needed to charge his mobile phone.
After being removed from the plane, he was handed over to Indian police “on grounds of a security violation” according to a statement released by the IndiGo airline. Following questioning, he was released without charge.
Hopefully he manages to pick up a portable charger before his next disembarkment.
That’s it from me, TBSers – have a cracking week!