New South Wales reports no new locally-acquired cases
Australia’s Future Fund – a taxpayer-funded investment fund designed to grow the country’s wealth – invested $50m in the failed (and much-mocked) video streaming site Quibi.
Quibi attracted a string of negative reviews, and low subscriber numbers, with a model that only commissioned films and shows shorter than 10 minutes.
One episode, directed by respected horror director Sam Raimi, was particularly mocked for its flat acting and strange concept, focusing on a woman who had a golden arm.
Quibi raised $2bn in funding in total and a Future Fund spokesman told the AFR that “As Quibi winds down we’ll be receiving capital back”.
The Future Fund has more than $4.3bn to invest in venture capital. “It’s in the nature of venture capital that some investments don’t work and some produce outsize returns,” a spokesman said.
Notes over council funding to Berejiklian ‘shredded and deleted’, committee hears
Notes given to New South Wales premier Gladys Berejiklian regarding millions in disputed council funding were shredded, and their digital versions deleted, in what was “not routine practice”, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.
Two senior staffers to Berejiklian are testifying before the NSW parliament public accountability committee today about the Stronger Communities fund, where more than 95% of $252m in grant money was given to coalition seats, according to the NSW Greens.
The committee heard that Sarah Lau, a senior policy adviser to Berejiklian, sent two emails regarding the grants that said “The premier has approved” and “The premier has signed off further funding”.
But Lau said that this was just “a turn of phrase” and Berejiklian did not “approve” the funding.
I would say my use of the term ‘approve’, and I think the other email I might have said ‘sign off’, it was a turn of phrase, I was using. It would have been more accurate to say she confirmed she was comfortable with the proposed projects.
The truth is, she was not approving any payments under the grants program. As I have mentioned earlier, that was not a role that she had under the program.
Lau said she gave Berejiklian a “working advice note” about the funds, and the premier “indicated on that note that she was comfortable”. She said she could not recall what Berejiklian wrote, but it was likely that she just ticked the note, or circled it.
After the premier indicated she was comfortable…I sent emails recording that…I then disposed of those working advice notes…in line with my normal record management practices.
She said the notes were likely shredded.
She was asked by the chair of the committee, Greens MP David Shoebridge, whether digital versions existed.
Lau said the notes were created on Word and they are “no longer available”, and she believed she had deleted them “as part of her normal record keeping process”.
Shoebridge then asked Sarah Cruikshank, who was Berejiklian’s chief of staff at the time, if this was routine practice.
Cruikshank said: “No I would say it is not.”
We can bring you more details now of the letter the Chinese ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, sent to the conservative Liberal senator Eric Abetz likening him to Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.
This, of course, comes amid ongoing tensions in the relationship between China and Australia.
The one-page letter, dated yesterday, is in response to a letter Abetz sent to the ambassador on 19 October. Abetz is the chair of the Senate foreign affairs, defence and trade legislation committee, which is conducting an inquiry into the Morrison government’s proposed foreign veto powers which are widely expected to target international agreements such as Victoria’s Belt and Road deal with China.
The ambassador began his letter by saying he wanted to share with Abetz a Chinese proverb that “A Mind of Malice does not present sense or truth”.
Those who made malicious allegations against China in their submissions and during the recent public hearings were notorious for their longstanding anti-China stance. Everything about China is twisted in their eyes and minds.
The ambassador did not name which witnesses before the inquiry he had in mind, but the public hearings have heard from critics of the Chinese Communist party such as Clive Hamilton and Drew Pavlou.
Cheng then appeared to turn his mind to Abetz’s controversial tactics at a separate inquiry into issues facing diaspora communities, where the senator last week urged three Chinese-Australians to publicly and unconditionally condemn “the Chinese Communist party dictatorship”.
Having said that, I have to point out that your recent assertions on China at the Senate are far off the mark, which have the smack of Geobbel’s tricks. It is appalling and outrageous, deserving condemnation. It’s my hope that you would look at China and our bilateral relationship in an objective and rational manner without tinted lens or bias. I also hope you could do more to help improve the relationship on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit, rather than making it more difficult to the detriment of the interests of both countries.
Abetz told the Australian newspaper – which first reported the contents of the letter – that the “unattractive belligerent and indeed aggressive tone of His Excellency’s response confirms why so many in the Chinese diaspora live in fear of the Chinese Communist dictatorship even here in Australia”.