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Well, that just happened. However, Scott Morrison sensationally winning the federal election was merely the top of a very shady iceberg.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve seen a draconian move in Trump’s America, democracy snags all around back home and the death of a political titan.
It’s hard to argue that the US has been sliding backwards with respect to social policy since Trump took the oval office. This week, however, a new law approved in Alabama has many up in arms—and rightly so.
The Alabama Senate voted to pass a law this week which effectively creates an all-out ban on abortion. Governor Kay Ivey signed the bill into law on Wednesday, unsurprisingly invoking God while doing so:
“To the bill’s many supporters, this legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
An interesting take from the state that has the honour of having the highest per capita death penalty rate in the US; Alabama courts impose more death sentences than Texas—a state with five times its population. In fact, an execution took place in Alabama the day after the abortion bill was signed into law. A sacred gift from God indeed.
The introduction of the new law has made performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy not only illegal, but a felony with a jail sentence of anywhere between ten years to life in prison. And if that wasn’t bad enough, no exceptions have been provided under this law for pregnancies caused by rape or incest.
The law is expected to receive myriad legal challenges with Planned Parenthood leading the charge. There is a six-month delay before the ban comes into effect, allowing ample opportunity for it to be challenged. Staci Fox, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast has indicated that she is confident of having the law overturned.
“We haven’t lost a case in Alabama yet and we don’t plan to start now,” Fox said. “We will see Governor Ivey in court.”
Whilst Alabama’s new law may be the worst on file in the states, the move is part of a larger conservative movement to test the existing federal abortion laws, in particular, the landmark Roe v Wade case in 1973. A number of other states have also recently passed what are commonly referred to as “heartbeat bills” which sees abortion banned as soon as a foetal heartbeat can be detected—which can be as early as six weeks, and often before a woman even knows she is pregnant.
Or there’s Missouri, whose Senate voted in a bill almost identical to the one in Alabama that bans all abortions and makes no exception for rape and incest cases. It hasn’t been signed into effect yet, but it seems a foregone conclusion.
Towards the end of the Obama administration, we saw all state bans on same-sex marriage lifted by the Supreme Court. A couple of years into the Trump administration and abortion is quickly becoming criminalised. I guess that’s what he means by “Making America Great Again”.
The much awaited and maligned Federal Election finally arrived yesterday, with democracy sausages being consumed across the country. As usual, the day wasn’t without a few hiccups and humorous moments.
The Liberal party are under serious fire after they produced posters at polling venues targeting Chinese speaking voters in the Melbourne seat of Chisholm. The posters, written in Mandarin, used the AEC colour scheme and were placed next to AEC signs in a deliberate attempt to make them look official and non-partisan. The text on the posters was translated to “Correct way to vote. On the green voting card, put preference 1 next to the Liberal Party. The other boxes can be numbered from smallest to highest.”
I’m sure it’s not the last we’ve heard about that below the belt stunt; Labor have lodged a formal complaint with the AEC.
Bill Shorten, who has almost completed his personal transformation from the T-1000 to the “man of the people”, had his morning jog yesterday wearing a delightful tongue in cheek slogan. The bright red shirt said, “Vote 1 Chloe Shorten’s Husband” in a wonderful nod to the positive impact his wife had on his campaign and his chances.
Time for change. Let’s do this! pic.twitter.com/gD9gZwTBvA
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) May 17, 2019
Well, as tweets are wont to do, it aged terribly, with Bill Shorten sensationally losing last night’s election. By now, you will be familiar with the narrative. Queensland uniformly rolled over to the Coalition, elevating Scott Morrison to Kirribilli. While we’re still picking apart the damage, it’s best that we pause to remember those we lost. Other than Bill Shorten, who quit in the post mortem, prayers should go up for Tony Abbott, Fraser Anning, Clive Palmer and Jacinta Price. A drop in an ocean of despair, sure, but I’m far too hungover and far too sad to rehash last night.
Nevertheless, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the clear King of Australian politics.
The frenzied lead up to the election took a pause on Thursday night as we learned of the passing of former PM, Bob Hawke. Hawke is considered by many to be our greatest PM—and by some as the greatest Australian to ever live.
The 89-year old icon passed peacefully at his Sydney home following recent health troubles. Hawke was Labor’s longest serving Prime Minister, holding the top job from 1983 until 1991 and winning four federal elections. This achievement also has him as Australia’s third longest-serving Prime Minister behind Menzies and Howard.
The outpouring of grief was immediate and came from all sides of the political spectrum.
From PM Scott Morrison:
Bob Hawke was a great Australian who led and served our country with passion, courage, and intellectual horsepower that made our country stronger. He was true to his beliefs in the Labor tradition and defined the politics of his generation and beyond. He had a unique ability to speak to all Australians.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten:
With his passing, the labour movement salutes our greatest son, the Labor Party gives thanks for the life of our longest-serving Prime Minister and Australians everywhere remember and honour a man who gave so much to the country and people he cared for so deeply… (He was) a leader and a statesman who inspired such profound affection and admiration, such loyalty and love among so many(…) Every Australian carries a monument to Bob Hawke with them, their Medicare card. A green-and-gold promise that the health of any one of us, matters to all of us.
Former PM Kevin Rudd:
Bob Hawke is a giant of Australian politics. He and Paul Keating internationalised the Australian economy. He established APEC and radically deepened Australia’s engagement with Asia. He established Medicare. Together with Therese and the entire nation, I mourn his passing.
Former partner in crime, Paul Keating:
Bob possessed a moral framework for his important public life, both representing the workers of Australia and more broadly, the country at large. He understood that imagination was central to policy-making and never lacked the courage to do what had to be done to turn that imagination into reality…and that reality was the formation of Australia’s economy and society and its place in the world.
His former PM Julia Gillard:
Bob Hawke was the greatest peacetime leader Australia has ever had. As a teenager Bob inspired me, as a PM he guided me. I will miss him. I wish so very much that Bob had been able to see one more election day. My condolences to Blanche, his children and grandchildren.
The tributes and shared memories weren’t without controversy however once the walking hubris, former PM Tony Abbott, weighed in:
In my judgement, he was Labor’s greatest prime minister. But his key achievements—financial deregulation, tariff cuts, and the beginnings of privatisation—went against the Labor grain, as Labor’s more recent policy direction shows. You might almost say he had a Labor heart, but a Liberal head. Certainly the Coalition supported nearly all his big reforms, helping to make his tenure a time of economic revitalisation.
Thanks, Tony. Another contribution from you to the annals of Australian history that is barely worth being recorded on toilet paper.
Hawke’s legacy in this country is undeniable. His popularity as a leader is unrivalled and probably will remain so for a long time. It became clear immediately after his passing that a vast number of Aussies have a personal story related to him somehow—whether it be a touching letter to a young girl after the death of her grandmother, or a story from Barrie Cassidy that no other leader in our history or future could hope to match.
“They couldn’t believe a former prime minister would do that.”@barriecassidy shares a recent and largely unknown story about Bob Hawke that stunned a group of visiting US dignitaries. pic.twitter.com/lb1fyBGZvI
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) May 16, 2019
I was lucky enough to buy Bob a beer in my early twenties, and lucky enough to then watch him launch into an uninvited rendition of Twist and Shout with the cover band who’s set he jumped up and hijacked. But that’s a story for another day…
RIP, Bob. If we’re ever lucky enough to have a leader half as good as you, we’ll all be alright.
Wacky and wonderful
Anyone that’s worked in the food service industry for a reasonable period of time understands the importance of cost control. In one of my early jobs working for a certain international McFast Food Chain, I was admonished by a manager for enjoying my complimentary on shift coke in a cup size larger than I was supposed to—not because I was having too much Coke, but because the difference in cost between the small staff cups and the small customer cups was enough to make a difference.
So you have to feel for a staff member of the Hawksmoor Manchester restaurant in England who made a similar, but a slightly more expensive mistake. A pair of diners ordered a pricey £260 Bordeaux to compliment their dinner recently but received a 2001 bottle of Chateau le Pin Pomerol by mistake. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t complain. Neither would I if I’d been mistakenly given a £4,500 bottle of red.
The waitress responsible was reportedly mortified when the restaurant’s manager realised the mistake later, but in a show of real class, the restaurant told her that “One-off mistakes happen and we love you anyway.” I’m sure she’s still had a few sleepless nights this week!
That’s it from me, TBSers—have a cracking week!