Australia

Media wars have regularly made great front page news down under, but Australia’s latest dust-up has been more personal than corporate.

James Packer, son of the late media magnate Kerry, and his old mate and best man David Gyngell on Sunday took their 35-year friendship to a physical level when – in true Aussie fashion – they slugged it out on a Bondi street outside the billionaire’s residence.

Local media have widely quoted tweets from Chris Walker, a Sydney resident who witnessed the brouhaha: 

  • The United Arab Emirates is hoping to deliver public services using drones.
  • Mitochondrial replacement was developed in the UK, but it might be lost to the US because of government procrastination.
  • Wondering what will happen now that the Swiss have backed immigration quotas? Take a look at our Q&A on the topic.
  • Gideon Rachman looks at what it means now that two German institutions have registered objections to the policies underpinning the euro. He has also mulled over whether the EU should take punitive action over the Swiss vote – prompting quite some debate.
  • Australian authorities have published a graphic novel, seemingly aimed at deterring asylum seekers.
  • The New York Times looks at the conflict faced by Palestinians who opt to take jobs in Israeli companies in the occupied West Bank.
  • Some Russians are mourning the pre-Putin, pre-Olympic Sochi of their childhoods.

 

By David Gallerano
♦ Edward Luce argues that Lawrence Summers has done everyone a favour by taking himself out of the running to be the next Fed chair.
♦ Alec Russell interviews Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu and asks him about God, Mandela and Syria.
♦ James Blitz retraces last week’s main events in the Syria crisis, while the Wall Street Journal reports on Barack Obama’s conduct behind the scenes of the Syria crisis.
♦ Shadi Hamid points out that Assad was rewarded rather than punished for his use of chemical weapons.
♦ The New York Times’ Laura Pappano reports on Battishug Myanganbayar, a 16 years-old genius from Ulan Bator, Mongolia. “How does a student from a country in which a third of the population is nomadic, living in round white felt tents called gers on the vast steppe, ace an MIT course even though nothing like this is typically taught in Mongolian schools?”
♦ The Hewitts, a white South African family, left behind their comfortable life and moved to 100-square-foot shack with no electricity or running water. A notable experiment for some – just “poverty pornography” for others.
♦ The Royal Academy presents an exhibition of 200 artworks from the “vast and diverse nation” of Australia

♦ The ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ talks to the FT about dividing his time between the UK and Iraq.
♦ Edward Snowden has managed to stir up “the biggest bout of anti-Americanism since the Iraq war.”
♦ Edward Luce thinks Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles are wrong about US debt – “At 4 percentage points of GDP, the salient worry is whether it is falling too rapidly.”
♦ China’s government may be less fixated on GDP targets, but it still needs to sustain confidence in the economy.
♦ Chairman Mao banned golf in China as a bourgeois frippery and China’s first golf course is younger than Tiger Woods, but the game is catching on fast – Chinese wunderkinds are being incubated and some are infiltrating the game at the highest levels.
♦ A new language has been discovered – Warlpiri rampaku is spoken only by people under the age of 35 in Lajamanu, an isolated village in northern Australia.
♦ Charles Pierce pens his furious response to the verdict over Trayvon Martin’s death: “Of course, black kids can’t win fights without getting shot through the chest. They are supposed to act very politely, speak when spoken to and, maybe, just get off the sidewalk when they come in contact with people like George Zimmerman”. 

Gideon Rachman

Julia Gillard addresses parliament (Getty)

Just a couple of days ago, Alastair Campbell, Tony Blair’s former communications chief, tweeted that he had met Julia Gillard and that the then Australian prime minister was an impressive woman. But, Campbell added, the Labor party needed to unite if it was to have a chance of victory in the upcoming Australian election.

The Australian Labor party, however, appears to have its own ideas on the matter. It responded to Gillard’s dramatic “back me or sack me” snap leadership election by ditching her and replacing her with her long time deadly rival, Kevin Rudd. The decision to switch leaders at this late stage testifies to the party’s desperation as it heads to what pundits expect will be a landslide defeat by the conservative opposition led by Tony Abbott.

 

Opposition leader Tony Abbott with his two daughers (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Earlier this year Australia’s prime minister couldn’t catch a break.

From the Australia Day “riot” to the scandal that enveloped the speaker of the House and the nocturnal activities of a backbench MP, Julia Gillard seemed to stumble from one omnishambles to another.

But the tables have turned, and it’s opposition leader Tony Abbott who is under the kosh.

On Tuesday Mr Abbott managed to single-handily undermine his party’s attack on the Labor government’s mid-year budget with some ill-chosen words that reignited Australia’s now infamous misogyny debate.

It all started when Treasurer Wayne Swan attempted to explain the government’s decision to cut the baby bonus from A$5,000 to A$3,000 for the second and each subsequent child.

“We believe that these changes to the baby bonus will bring it more into line with the actual costs of having children. After the first child you’ve already bought the cot, the pram and other items you can use again,” he said.

Enter Mr Abbott, a proud father of three girls. He attacked the move on breakfast TV with the following logic: 

Esther Bintliff

In parliament on Tuesday, Australia’s prime minister, Julia Gillard, launched into a lacerating tirade against the leader of the opposition, accusing him of misogyny and hypocrisy.  

Gideon Rachman

Following the elimination of Lleyton Hewitt and a couple of compatriots in the first round of this year’s Wimbledon, there is no Australian man in the second round of the men’s singles. This is the first time this has happened since 1938. Gideon Rachman asks why.