Morning mail: Joyce interview, BT Financial files, Trump pardon | Australia news
Good morning, this is Richard Parkin bringing you the main stories and must-reads on Monday 4 June.
Barnaby Joyce has revealed he campaigned to hold the seat of New England for the government during last year’s byelection in full knowledge he would have to stand down as leader of the National party and deputy prime minister. In an interview with the Seven Network, for which he and his partner, Vikki Campion, accepted a fee of $150,000, Joyce repeatedly refused to disclose any details about his private life and was not asked when he had revealed his relationship with Campion, his former staffer, to colleagues in the government.
Campion also accused unnamed people in the National party – identified only as “they” and “conservatives” – of attempting to pressure her to terminate her pregnancy, advising her that if she refused “they’re going to come after you”. Joyce said he was much more concerned about the impact of the relationship and the pregnancy on his former wife and their four daughters than about the political consequences of his actions. “To be quite frank, I couldn’t give a shit about the political ramifications, really,” he said.
Westpac’s wealth management arm lost the files of hundreds of customers it was supposedly providing with financial advice, whistleblowers have revealed. BT Financial Group realised the customer files were missing in 2013 while conducting a massive operation to digitise its hard copy records. One source with knowledge of the project said about 10,000 customer files were thought missing and, while 8,000 were later found, the remaining 2,000 were recreated using information held by the business. “It was a complete cover-your-arse exercise, rather than having to do anything with the actual client,” he said. BT Financial Group disputed the numbers, saying only 215 customer files were detected missing.
Donald Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has declared that the president “has no need” to pardon himself in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, contradicting a previous statement from Trump’s legal team that the president could “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon”. “Pardoning himself would be unthinkable and probably lead to immediate impeachment,” Giuliani told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “And he has no need to do it, he’s done nothing wrong.” The former New York mayor reaffirmed claims that the president cannot be compelled to testify by a grand jury subpoena as part of the Russia investigation, saying he doubted the president would grant Mueller an interview.
George Soros has called for the EU to compensate Italy for migrants landing there, as the country’s hardline new interior minister made a provocative trip to one of their main arrival points in Sicily. Matteo Salvini, the far-right leader of the League, travelled to the port of Pozzallo on Sunday with a blunt warning that migrants “should get ready to pack their bags”. Salvini later told a crowd in Catania: “Enough of Sicily being the refugee camp of Europe. I will not stand by and do nothing while there are landings after landings. We need deportation centres.” Salvini has pledged to “send home” about 500,000 undocumented immigrants.
In the UK, Brexiters have hit back at leaked government advice warning of food and fuel shortages if Britain leaves the EU without a deal. Three scenarios – the worst referred to as “armageddon” – set out the consequences should Britain walk away from the negotiating table. “In the second scenario, not even the worst, the port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets of Cornwall and Scotland will run out of food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks,” a source told the Sunday Times. A spokesman for the Department for Exiting the European Union dismissed the reports as “completely false”, saying: “We know that none of this would come to pass.”
Eight years after entering the competition, AFL expansion club the Gold Coast Suns are battling. The club has lost its inaugural captain and $1m-a-year marquee man Gary Ablett jnr, who returned to star in Geelong’s thumping of the Suns on Saturday night. Just what does the club stand for post-Ablett, asks Craig Little. Situated in a sporting graveyard and with full-forward Tom Lynch potentially following Ablett out of the door, coach Stuart Dew faces an unenviable task.
Alexander Zverev has completed his third five-set win in five days at the French Open, beating Russia’s Karen Khachanov 4-6, 7-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 to set up a quarter-final against Dominic Thiem. In the women’s draw Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys both had easy wins on their way to the quarter-finals, heading for a potential all-American confrontation in the semi.
“Australia just experienced one of the biggest mining booms in world history,” writes Richard Denniss, in an excerpt from his essay How Neoliberalism Ate Itself And What Comes Next. “But even at the peak of that boom, there was no talk of the wonderful opportunity we finally had to invest in world-class mental health or domestic violence crisis services. Convincing Australians that our nation is poor and that our governments ‘can’t afford’ to provide the level of services they provided in the past has not just helped to lower our expectations of our public services and infrastructure, it has helped to lower our expectations of democracy itself.”
As Donald Trump approaches 500 days in office, unleashing a daily barrage of remarks, tweets, insults, pardons and threats, teeing up a global trade war and chasing an on-off-on meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, the restraints are off and the fabled “adults in the room” appear scarcer than ever, writes David Smith. Once it was thought that rival White House factions would compete to shape the Trump presidency. But now, critics say, it is not so much a team of rivals as a team of one. Donald Trump.
When two young men go missing in the small town of Patterson in remote Western Australia, local cop Emma James calls in seasoned detective Jay Swan to help find out what happened to them. So begins Mystery Road, a six-part spin-off of Ivan Sen’s 2013 film of the same name, directed by Rachel Perkins. The grittiness of Sen’s films draws out a sense of menace from the violence that lies just underneath the surface of small towns but Perkins creates a more polished world, and one that is perhaps a better fit for a television audience, writes Larissa Behrendt.
What’s he done now?
Donald Trump has quoted remarks on Fox News by a former Clinton adviser, Mark Penn, that included a reference to alleged “Stormtrooper tactics” by special counsel Robert Mueller, amid a string of tweets that also claimed the Department of “Justice” (Trump has taken to putting this in quotation marks) should have warned him Paul Manafort was under investigation before the election.
A joint exclusive by the Age and Financial Review reports that the former Papua New Guinea prime minister Sir Michael Somare was the subject of an alleged $1m bribe from China, as part of Beijing’s push to exert greater influence in the Pacific. The Mercury details a young surfer’s account of helping rescue two fishermen and the desperate search for a third man, whose body was recovered from chilly waters outside Hobart. And the ABC says a special investigation into the death of Aboriginal teenager Mark Haines in 1988 has revealed new evidence.
Kevin Rudd will give evidence via video link from New York to the class action trial by Roo Roofing Pty Ltd over losses incurred by businesses following the cancellation of the government’s home insulation program of 2009.
The chief executive of NBN Co, Bill Morrow, is among those due to give evidence to a parliamentary committee on the business case for the national broadband network.