1. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has drawn criticism for saying that asylum seekers’ ‘threats of self harm’ are ‘blackmail’. He said, “The Australian Government should not be expected to take responsibility for foolish actions by non-citizens. We just can’t be expected to take responsibility for that … People should not threaten acts of self-harm, and the Australian Government will not be blackmailed, should not be blackmailed by people who are threatening to do something that they should never do.”
2. The Coalition has also called for military intervention on the seas, in cases where boats need to be turned around. Abbott has said that he was prepared to have the deaths of asylum seekers on his conscience. He told ABC’s 7.30 Report last night that, “obviously I will take responsibility for what happens on my watch, but the important thing is to stop the boats”.
3. Kevin Rudd has announced plans to give all ALP members – not just members of the parliamentary caucus – a say in who gets to lead the party. The Prime Minister said that the new rules are being submitted to caucus, to assure the Australian people “that the Prime Minister they elect is the Prime Minister they get.”
4. Meanwhile, the latest Newspoll shows Kevin Rudd with a 22 point advantage over Tony Abbott as preferred Prime Minister. On a two-party preferred basis, the Labor Party and the Coalition are neck and neck on 50 per cent.
5. After the death of a four-year-old girl in Queensland last month, makers of button batteries have vowed to now produce the product in childproof packages. The decision came after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission held a meeting with retailers and manufacturers. The change will be made “as quickly as practicable”.
6. Jim Moore, the director of Family and Community Services, has left his position after being charged with offences of assault and intimidation. Jim Longley will now be acting as director general of DOCS.