Well, what a week it was. Theresa May and Bill Shorten left their posts, but the internet desired something far kinkier.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had a leader fall on her sword in Britain, violence in Jakarta, the fallout from the surprise election result back home and possibly the most important Change.org petition ever launched.
British PM Theresa May has bowed to growing pressure and announced her resignation as of June 7. An emotional May spoke to the media, expressing her regret for being unable to successfully negotiate a Brexit deal. “It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” she said. “If you give people a choice you have a duty to implement what they decide. I have done my best to do that. Sadly, I have not been able to do so.”
Whoever replaces her may not have any luck either with an acceptable compromise amongst an increasingly divided parliament. May’s Conservative party will begin the process to vote in her replacement as leader of the party and ultimately, the British PM, over the next several weeks—once nominations have been settled.
The most high profile potential replacement and current frontrunner is former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson. A fierce supporter of the Brexit campaign, Johnson has made his intentions very clear. According to Johnson, he is the only one that can beat both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage in the next election.
Johnson previously made a play for the leadership in 2016 following the departure of former PM David Cameron. The campaign was disastrous according to most reports, with Johnson being woefully disorganised.
Johnson, however, isn’t likely to be the only one throwing their hat in the ring. Former House of Commons Leader, Andrea Leadsom, is expected to step forward. Leadsom previously ran against May for the leadership in 2016 however withdrew before the vote. She is an unashamed Brexit supporter and has been lauded for her effectiveness as Commons Leader during one of the most difficult times in Britain’s political history.
Former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab is also expected to put himself forward off the back of his strong support and advocacy for Brexit. He ran the Brexit department of May’s government from July until November last year, resigning following a policy disagreement with May.
Following nominations, Conservative MP’s will vote over a several week period until all bar two candidates are eliminated; then the entire 120,000-strong Conservative membership base will vote between the two candidates.
Also on The Big Smoke
- Current Affairs Wrap: Alabama terminates empathy, Morrison wins election, the $10k dinner wine au gratis
The Indonesian capital of Jakarta has erupted into violence following the re-election of President Joko Widodo.
The Indonesian election commission announced on Tuesday that President Widodo had beaten challenger Prabowo Subianto with a 55.5% majority of the vote. A group of Subianto’s supporters immediately clashed with riot police around central Jakarta, reportedly setting fire to vehicles including a police bus. Protestors also allegedly threw rocks at police who were using tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons against them.
Unfortunately, there have been six reported deaths already with a further 500 people admitted to hospital. Whilst police have indicated that the protest began peacefully, and that many of the protestors complied with police instructions, a smaller group were determined to cause trouble. Inspector-General Muhammad Iqbal indicated that police investigated some people who planned to take part and in East Java, found molotov bombs.
“So it’s been planned,” he said. “Those people weren’t going to protest peacefully—they wanted anarchy.”
Subianto isn’t helping cool the protests with the former special forces general refusing to accept the results and declaring himself the winner. Representatives from his campaign have announced their intention to challenge the election in the Constitutional Court on the grounds of massive electoral fraud. Thus far, however, they have been unable to provide any credible evidence supporting this claim.
Australia, Britain and the US have all issued travel advisories for Indonesia, indicating an increased risk to visitors. The Australian consulate general in Surabaya has also adopted “enhanced security measures” due to “heightened security concerns”.
Following Bill Shorten’s resignation as Opposition Leader in the wake of his surprising election loss last weekend, fierce debate has erupted over who will replace him as both Labor leader and Opposition Leader.
The immediate frontrunner was identified as Anthony Albanese who narrowly lost to Shorten in the leadership vote following the resignation of former PM, Kevin Rudd, in 2013. Whilst Albanese might enjoy strong popularity with the membership base and voters at large, his left wing roots were a cause for concern for some of those who sit further right in the party.
Initially, it looked like Tanya Plibersek, who served as deputy under Shorten, would put her hand up. However she quickly poured water on that, announcing that she had decided not to contest the leadership due to not being about to “reconcile” her responsibilities to her family with taking over the top job in the party.
Shadow Treasurer, Chris Bowen, put his hand up quickly but backed out almost as quickly. Bowen, who is a member of the right faction of the Labor party, told the media that he simply didn’t have the numbers, saying, “I have reached the view that it would be unlikely for me to win the ballot.”
Bowen was also quick to point out that he had the numbers in the caucus vote, but couldn’t hope to compete with Albanese in the general rank and file vote of the Labor membership.
“It’s clear to me that I would have majority support in the actual caucus ballot,” he said. “Not a big majority, but majority support with some support from the left faction as well as support from the right faction, and people that aren’t in any faction. But it’s also clear to me—I’m a realist—that Albo would win the rank and file for good reason. He’s a popular character. By a good margin.”
Bowen has a point. Whilst Labor consistently led in the opinion polls, Shorten consistently came up second best in the polls for preferred leader. It was hard for many to forget that Shorten had his fingerprints on the knife that was put into Kevin Rudd’s back in 2010—the knife that was the catalyst for a revolving door of PM’s from both parties. In our political Game of Thrones, Shorten played the role of Petyr Baelish: capable of shaping the political landscape in some of the darker corners but ultimately unable to take the top chair.
It also seemed earlier this week that a rising star inside the party, Jim Chalmers, might have been in contention. The Queensland-based finance spokesman was a popular potential choice, representing fresh blood, but also representing Queensland, the state that turned the election. Chalmers, however, appears to have heeded the warning from power brokers inside the party who told him in no uncertain terms to leave Albo with a clear run to the top. By the end of the week, Chalmers had pledged his support to Albanese. There is a good chance however that Chalmers will step in as deputy under Albanese’s leadership, which seems like a pretty wise strategy to me.
There may be others who might look to a last minute tilt, including Victorian Labor right MP, Clare O’Neil. However, it’s widely expected that Albanese has the Labor top job stitched up.
Also on The Big Smoke
While we’re on the topic of things burning down, a One Nation campaign vehicle went up in flames less than 24 hours after the election in a shopping centre on Hobart’s eastern shore.
The truck was being driven by Tasmanian One Nation Senate candidate, Adam Lambert, who had allegedly stopped to buy some groceries. Staff from the nearby Shoreline Hotel called the police just after 5pm seeing flames erupting from the carpark. Initial reports from Tassie police indicated that the fire looked to be “suspicious”; they launched an investigation into the cause.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson was furious and immediately blamed the “left”, and indicated that someone had been spotted setting the truck on fire before fleeing.
“It is amazing how the left call for tolerance but act like they’re above the law when you don’t agree with their ideologies,” she said.
In a mega surprising twist, Pauline may have jumped the gun and spoken before she thought. It turns out that CCTV footage showed absolutely no-one approaching and setting fire to the truck, and that the likely cause was an ember from a discarded cigarette.
No word on an apology from Hanson and I’m not holding my breath.
Wacky and wonderful
I love a good crazy Internet petition. The craziness and creativity of our species as a whole can really be shown off when a collection of people group together to push for something that to most seems ludicrous.
This week saw a new peak reached in this domain, with a petition launched on Change.org to decide the future of Wolverine in the X-Men cinematic universe following the retirement of Hugh Jackman and the potential joining of the X-Men cinematic universe with the Marvel cinematic universe.
Jackman is an almost impossible act to follow. In the eyes of many, myself included, it’s all but impossible to consider anyone else in that role after he owned it so perfectly. It seems, however, that someone going by the name Ring Arius, believes there is a man capable of taking the claws; and that man, is Danny DeVito.
The petition says, “Have Danny Devito play the rebooted Wolverine in the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) – The only man able to take the throne after Hugh Jackman. We believe that if Wolverine is to make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that the only man able to pull it off is Danny Devito.”
As an unashamed fan of both Jackman and Wolverine, I have my doubts. But let’s not forget that this is the man who managed to play Arnold Schwarzenegger’s twin brother despite being about 10% of his height and body mass.
That’s it from me, TBSers—have a cracking week!