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- “A common purpose”: The vague phrase the police are using to clamp down on protests
- Dogs can be trained to detect COVID-19, claims study
- State governments have collected $5.2m in COVID fines since March
- Refugee moved to high security area after raising COVID concerns, four now on hunger strike
You’ve lived to see the validation of Boris Johnson, the death of a verbose bikie and history’s stupidest fistfight. Well done.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Current Affairs Wrap. We’ve had a big result in the UK, more tragedy in New Zealand, a death in custody in Victoria and the most embarrassing bar fight of all time.
UK PM Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party have won the UK election in a monumental landslide, achieving an overwhelming majority.
The result saw the Conservative Party win their largest majority since 1987 and has left the Labour party licking its wounds with a huge reduction in their parliamentary seats.
The new majority that Johnson will enjoy makes it certain that he will be able to push his Brexit deal through parliament which should result in Britain leaving the EU next month.
In many ways, the result mirrors US President Donald Trump’s victory in 2016 with the dysfunction of Brexit leaving a very jaded public looking for options outside the norm; and outside the norm is certainly a diplomatic way to describe PM Johnson. That and the ridiculous hair of course.
There are some similarities closer to home as well. A prominent British Conservative commentator, Tim Montgomerie, compared the huge swing against the Labour party in the north of England to the swing against Labor in QLD in our recent federal election.
It remains to be seen whether the rest of the UK will forgive the northerners – I know we’ll never forgive the Queenslanders. Many seats in the northern regions that had been held by Labor for decades fell including Doncaster which elected its first Conservative MP in history.
Our election result claimed the scalp of the then Labor leader, Bill Shorten; and the UK result has now claimed the scalp of Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who announced his resignation during his concession speech.
Corbyn said, “I want to make it clear that I will not lead the party in any future general election campaign…I will discuss with our party to ensure there is a process now of reflection on this result and on the policies that the parties will take going forward…and I will lead the party during that period to ensure that discussion takes place and we move on into the future”.
Corbyn also spoke of the effect that Brexit had on Labour’s horrible result, “This is obviously a very disappointing night for the Labour Party with the results we’ve got…but in the election campaign, we put forward a manifesto of hope, a manifesto of unity and a manifesto that would help to write the wrongs and injustices and inequalities for those who live in this country.
However, Brexit has so polarised and divided debate within this country that it has deprived so much of our normal political debate and I recognise that has contributed to the result the Labour Party has received this evening all across this country.”
Beyond the significant effect that an all but certain Brexit will have on the UK’s economy, there is one other strong possibility that could eventuate and that is the cessation of Scotland from the UK.
Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, was in a celebratory mood as her party won 47 of the 59 seats in Scotland (an increase of just over 8% from the last election)and defeated Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson. Sturgeon told the media that the positive result for her party was an endorsement for another Scottish independence vote,
“Scotland has sent a very clear message – we don’t want a Boris Johnson government, we don’t want to leave the EU. The results across the rest of the UK are grim, but underline the importance of Scotland having a choice.
Boris Johnson has a mandate to take England out of the EU but he must accept that I have a mandate to give Scotland a choice for an alternative future”
No matter what, it’s going to be an interesting six months in the Motherland.
The week began with tragedy with the White Island volcano in New Zealand experiencing a large eruption on Monday afternoon that is believed to have claimed the lives of fourteen people.
At the time of the eruption, forty-seven people were visiting the popular tourist attraction when the catastrophic eruption occurred seemingly without warning. Of the forty-seven, around half were Australian.
So far, six Australian deaths have been confirmed as well as the death of two New Zealand tour guides, Hayden Marshall-Inman and Tipene Maangi.
The New Zealand Defence Force and the New Zealand Police Force led a joint recovery operation on Friday in extremely dangerous conditions that saw them recover the bodies of a further six victims, all believed to be Australians.
There are two bodies still to recover which are believed to be those of the Kiwi tour guides, with recovery operations expected to continue over the weekend.
Many of the survivors have experienced horrific injuries with some still listed as being in critical condition. Eight of the Australian survivors have been transported back to Australia and are being treated in two Sydney hospitals. A further two survivors are expected to be transported back over the weekend.
As the recovery operations continue, the question of how such a tragedy could happen without warning is still unanswered and being debated. Some have immediately called for a ban on tourism to the active volcanic island however NZ PM Jacinda Ardern has indicated she will reserve judgement until further investigations can occur.
“These are things where I wish to allow a bit of time and space for experts and proper analysis before making any judgements. Both WorkSafe New Zealand and the coroner have opened investigations into the disaster, including whether proper risk assessments were carried out…my view is that I need that job to be done properly. People deserve to have their questions answered”
Geology expert, Chris Elders, has told the media that there was “very little warning” of the eruption despite the alert level of the volcano being upgraded on November 18 from “One” to “Two”; two being the highest alert level before an eruption occurs and indicates “moderate to heightened volcanic unrest” with the “potential for eruption hazards” (https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-12-09/alert-level-white-island-volcano-upgraded-three-weeks-ago/11781984).
Elders explained, “The increase in activity that had been observed was relatively low-level, just more of a release of gas and sulphur, not a clear indication that such a violent eruption was to take place …Very violent eruptions like this are relatively rare, or occur during widely-spaced intervals”
We’ll have to wait and see what the investigations turn up; but it’s hard to see a situation where regular tourism will return to White Island in a hurry.
A notorious boss from the Finks bikie gang, Brent Reker, has been found dead inside the Ravenhall Correctional Centre in Victoria.
Authorities have indicated that the death of the 35-year-old is not being treated as suspicious.
At the time of his death, he was on remand facing charges for allegedly bashing a man in retaliation for the alleged leaking of naked photographs of Tara Egglestone, who was also named as an accomplice in the alleged bashing.
It was alleged that he and three other members of the Finks forced their way into a house in the southeast of Melbourne on September 9, 2018, and proceeded to assault a man with a baseball bat and tyre lever. It’s also alleged that they threatened to kill his partner and children if they called the police.
Reker had previously been the sergeant-at-arms for the WA chapter of the US-based Rock Machine bikie gang. The Finks recruited him in an attempt to boost their profile which prompted his move to Victoria where he believed the Finks could thrive. In an interview last year, he said, “Bikie clubs are the last stand for human rights…Victoria is the last state where there are still basic human rights – police can’t just bash down a door and come into our homes – they can’t tell us we can’t talk to our mates”
The police may not have been able to bash down his door, but two months after that interview, two men set fire to his car and fired several bullets into his property. Reker was at home at the time with his partner and child who were thankfully unhurt in the attack.
A 36-year-old man from Ipswich has been arrested and charged with murdering his pregnant partner this week.
The body of Kardell Lomas was discovered in the boot of a car in the backyard of the house she shared with her partner. She was 24-weeks pregnant at the time of her death. Not long after the discovery, her partner, Traven Fisher was arrested by police before being charged in the Ipswich Magistrates Court on Friday.
Detective Acting Inspector, Heath McQueen, has told the media that at this stage they don’t know how long Ms Lomas’ body had been in the boot of the car when she died.
Police received a tip-off from a member of the community on Tuesday which led them to conduct a welfare check and make the horrific discovery.
“We conducted a search and located a female deceased in the boot in the backyard”
Fisher is believed to have arrived home in the middle of the search and police have indicated that both she and Ms Lomas were “known to police”. Just a horrible and tragic outcome.
Wacky and Wonderful
Two drunken Wisconsin men got into an argument last Sunday and began beating the ever-loving piss out of each other.
They had attended the Green Bay Packers game earlier in the day, kicked on at a local bar to keep drinking and then began trading blows during the drive home – a drive I’m sure was completely sober and legal.
Hardly newsworthy. Except when you discover that the topic of the argument was the popular sitcom, “How I Met Your Mother”.
The police confirmed that the men had confirmed they had been arguing over the show, but did not offer any further details about what element of the show they were specifically arguing about.
I have to know. I just have to know. Was it the classic “Barney/Robin/Ted” argument? Was it a fierce debate about what Barney’s job actually was? Was it an argument over the finale which saw the showrunners reward their fans nine seasons of loyalty by answering the big mystery before killing her off and having Ted and Robin end up together? Or maybe just a “slap-bet” gone horribly wrong.
We’ll probably never know…and that just kills me.
That’s it from me TBSers, have a cracking week!