Five Australian Soldiers Killed In Afghanistan

Three Australian soldiers have been killed by a rogue Afghan soldier in Afghanistan and two members of the SAS have died in a Black Hawk helicopter crash.

Details of the incidents have been announced by the Acting Chief of the ADF, Air Marshal Mark Binskin. The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, has described this as “the darkest of days for Australia”.

Mark Binskin

The “green-on-blue” incident occurred at a base in southern Oruzgan province yesterday. Two other soldiers were injured in the attack.

The helicopter crash occurred during an “insertion” in Helmand province. The aircraft rolled over on landing.

  • Listen to Air Marshal Binskin (16m)

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About 1500 Australian Defence Force troops are in Afghanistan as part of the International Security Assistance Force. The casualties announced today bring Australia’s death toll to 38. Seven soldiers have now been killed in green-on-blue incidents.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that she has “made the judgement call” to come home early from the Pacific Islands forum in the Cook Islands. She said this is the nation’s worst day in Afghanistan and the worst loss of life since Vietnam.

Julia Gillard

Gillard insisted that the commitment in Afghanistan has a purpose and that “progress is being made”. She said: “We cannot allow even the most grievous of circumstances to alter our strategy… We went there for a purpose and we will see that purpose through.”

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Statement released by Department of Defence.

Three Australian soldiers killed, two wounded in insider attack

Three Australian soldiers have been killed and two wounded following an insider attack at Patrol Base Wahab in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan.

The attack occurred during the evening of 29 August, 2012 (Afghan time) inside the confines of the Patrol Base. [Read more…]

Kevin Rudd Launches Whitlam Biography

Kevin Rudd has launched volume two of Jenny Hocking’s biography of Gough Whitlam.

The second volume, titled “Gough Whitlam: His Time” covers Whitlam’s period in government and includes important new revelations about The Dismissal. Rudd’s speech was titled “Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s future”.

The launch was held at the Museum of Sydney.

Text of Kevin Rudd’s speech at the launch of Jenny Hocking’s second volume biography of Gough Whitlam.

Labor Politics, Conservative Politics and Australia’s Future

It is nearly four years since I launched Volume I of this important biography of E.G. Whitlam.

I am honoured to have been asked by the author, Jenny Hocking, to today launch Volume II.

Much has changed in Australian politics since then.

Just as many things have not.

The essential narrative of Australian politics has remained much the same for more than a century: Labor in government the party of progressive economic, social and environmental reform, and of Australia’s place in the region and the world. [Read more…]

CLP Wins Northern Territory Election; Labor Out After 11 Years

The Country Liberal Party has won today’s Northern Territory election. Terry Mills will become Chief Minister, replacing Paul Henderson and the eleven-year-old Labor government.

Terry Mills

The CLP appears to have won three seats, and possibly four, from Labor, giving it 15 or 16 seats in the single-chamber 25-seat parliament. Labor will drop from 12 seats to 8 or 9.

The CLP retained the 12 seats it held before the election and picked up Daly, Arafura and Arnhem. Labor is narrowly ahead in Stuart, ahead of its former ALP member Bess Price who defected to the CLP during the last parliament.

The independent member for Nelson, Gerry Wood, who backed Labor in the hung parliament, retained the seat, despite a swing of over 16% to the CLP.

The swing to the CLP was predominantly in remote and pastoral areas amongst indigenous voters. The swing in Darwin was much smaller and in some areas towards Labor. In Fannie Bay, Labor’s most marginal seat on a margin of 0.9%, the ALP secured a swing of 7% towards it.

Paul Henderson

The Chief Minister, Paul Henderson, retained his seat of Wanguri but there was a swing of around 7.8% to the CLP.

Indigenous leaders have been quick to point out that the indigenous vote can no longer be taken for granted. Hostility to the Intervention in indigenous communities appears to have been a factor in the swing against the ALP in rural areas.

  • Listen to Chief Minister Paul Henderson concede defeat (15m)

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  • Listen to CLP Opposition Leader Terry Mills claim victory (16m)

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Gillard In Marathon Press Conference Over Slater And Gordon

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has held a marathon press conference answering allegations about her work as an industrial lawyer in the 1990s.

Julia Gillard

In a press conference lasting for 73 minutes, Gillard attacked “misogynists and nutjobs” on the internet over the “sexist” allegations in relation to her work at the law firm Slater and Gordon 17 years ago.

The Prime Minister’s remarks came hours after The Australian newspaper published an online apology for saying she had set up a trust fund for her then boyfriend, Bruce Wilson, in the 1990s.

Referring to “false and defamatory material attacking my character”, Gillard said she had decided to deal with the issues. Reporters then questioned her for 54 minutes.

Evening television coverage of the event also centred on a security breach where an intruder made it into the executive wing of Parliament House where the press conference was being held. The man handed Gillard some papers before leaving.

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  • Listen to the first section of the press conference on asylum seekers – Gillard & Chris Bowen (19m)

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  • Watch SBS’s Karen Middleton discuss Gillard’s response:
  • Watch Channel 7 report on the security breach:
  • Watch Channel 10 report on the press conference:
  • Watch ABC News report on the press conference:

Transcript of Julia Gillard’s press conference with Chris Bowen.

GILLARD: I’m here with Minister Bowen to make an announcement arising from Angus Houston’s report into asylum seeker and refugee issues. There are some other issues today which I will deal with but we will deal with this immigration issue fully first. Minister Bowen has a booked telephone call with Papua New Guinea.

We received the report from Angus Houston last week and the Parliament did endorse the legislation necessary to implement what Angus Houston and his team referred to as a circuit breaker – that is, the commencement of processing on Nauru and PNG. But at the time we received the report from Angus Houston and his review team, we said we accepted Mr Houston’s analysis that this was an integrated package, that you couldn’t cherry-pick between the recommendations that you needed to do them all.

Today Minister Bowen and I are announcing we are actioning Mr Houston’s recommendation that the number of humanitarian places be increased to 20,000. This is important because we want to send two messages to asylum seekers. Message No.1, if you get on a boat you are risking your life, you are paying a people smuggler your hard-earned money and you are at risk of being transferred to Nauru or PNG. But Message No.2, if you stay where you are and you have your claim processed by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees then there are more resettlement places available in Australia. That is the purpose of announcing the 20,000 places – that is the purpose that Mr Houston identified. [Read more…]

Northern Territory CLP Election Advertisements

This is a selection of television advertisement from the Country Liberal Party for the August 25 Northern Territory election.

Terry Mills has been CLP leader since January 2008. It is is his second stint as leader. He originally replaced Denis Burke as Opposition Leader for 15 months from November 2003 before being replaced by Jodeen Carney in February 2005.

Northern Territory ALP Election Advertisements

The Northern Territory election takes place this Saturday.

The minority Labor government led by Paul Henderson is seeking a fourth term. Some commentators believe Henderson will be re-elected but the Northern Territory News today reports a poll showing a big swing to the Country-Liberal Party. The poll also shows Henderson remains popular in the important northern suburbs of Darwin.

This is a selection of ALP television ads:

Julian Assange Speaks From Ecuadorian Embassy In London

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spoken for the first time since seeking asylum two months ago in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Julian Assange

Assange appeared on the balcony of the embassy and read a prepared statement. The appearance lasted nine minutes. He called on the United States to “do the right thing” and end its “war on whistleblowers”.

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Text of Julian Assange’s statement.

I am here because I cannot be closer to you.

Thank you for being here.

Thank you for your resolve, and your generosity of spirit.

On Wendsday night, after a threat was sent to this embassy, and the police descended on the building, you came out in the middle of the night to watch over it, and you brought the words’s eyes with you.

Inside the embassy,after dark, I could hear teams of police swarming up into the building through the internal fire escape.

But I knew that there would be witnesses. [Read more…]

Ecuador Grants Asylum To Julian Assange

Ecuador has agreed to grant asylum to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Assange is an Australian citizen. He has been in Ecuador’s London embassy for the past two months since seeking asylum shortly after English courts ordered his extradition to Sweden to face sex charges.

Ecuador has issued a statement of reasons for their decision. British Foreign Secretary William Hague has also made a statement on the asylum decision.

This is Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Ricardo Patino, explaining the decision to grant asylum:

Statement from Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Integration. (Google Translation)

Declaration by the Government of the Republic of Ecuador on the asylum application Assange

On June 19, 2012, the Australian national citizen Julian Assange, appeared at the premises of the Embassy of Ecuador in London, to request diplomatic protection of the Ecuadorian State to benefit from the existing rules on Diplomatic Asylum. The applicant has based its request on the fear that the eventual results might suffer political persecution in a third country, it could use his extradition to the Kingdom of Sweden to get to turn the subsequent extradition to that country.

The Government of Ecuador, faithful to the asylum procedure and attach the utmost seriousness in this case, has reviewed and evaluated all aspects involved in it, particularly the arguments presented by Mr. Assange to support the fear they feel about a situation that this person perceives as a threat to life, personal safety and freedom.

It is important to note that Mr. Assange has taken the decision to seek asylum and protection of Ecuador over allegations that it says, have been made ??by alleged “espionage and treason”, which exposes the citizen who inspires fear the possibility of being handed over to the United States of America by the British, Swedish or Australian, for he is a country, said Mr. Assange, chasing him because of the declassification of information embarrassing to the U.S. Government. Is also the applicant, that “a victim of persecution in various countries, which derives not only from their ideas and actions, but of their work to publish information which compromises the powerful, to publish the truth and, Therefore, exposing corruption and severe human rights abuses of citizens around the world.” [Read more…]

Malcolm Turnbull Pays Tribute To Robert Hughes

Malcolm Turnbull has delivered a moving tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives today.

Malcolm Turnbull

Hughes, writer and art critic, died on August 6, aged 74.

Turnbull’s wife, Lucy, was Hughes’s niece. Hughes’s brother, Tom, the Sydney barrister and a former Liberal member of the House (1963-72), was in the public gallery with his wife during the condolence motion.

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Tom Hughes and wife

Malcolm Turnbull

Text of Malcolm Turnbull’s tribute to Robert Hughes in the House of Representatives.

Mr TURNBULL (Wentworth) (14:21): Can I thank, on behalf of Bob’s family, the very generous words of the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and the minister. Bob would have been very chuffed to hear them, if a little bemused. He was the youngest of four. His brother Tom who is with us today with his wife, Chrissie, Lucy’s father, the elder by 15 years, became in effect in loco parentis after Bob’s father, Geoffrey, died when he was only 12.

Bob’s father, Geoffrey, was a hero, and not just to his youngest son. He had been a fighter ace in the First World War and among his many victories had shot down no less than Lothar von Richthofen, the brother of the Red Baron himself.

The Hughes family were staunch and pious Catholics. Bob’s great-grandfather, John, had made a fortune, but as Bob often lamented, had given away most of it in building churches and schools. John had established the Order of the Sacred Heart in Australia, his daughters had become nuns and the Hughes family home, Kincoppal, had become a convent and a school. If John Hughes was not in heaven, Bob often said, God didn’t know the value of money. [Read more…]

Obama Campaign Begins Attack On Ryan

Within minutes of the first public appearance by Paul Ryan as Mitt Romney’s vice-presidential running mate, the Obama campaign unveiled a commercial attacking Ryan’s budget proposals.

For Australians, the attack is reminiscent of Keating Labor’s assault on John Hewson’s Fightback! policies in 1993.

[Read more…]