London attacker was 52-year old British man

1. London

Police have identified the London attacker as a 52-year old British man who was born in Kent – Khalid Masood.

Masood was previously investigated by MI5 and had a criminal conviction but the Prime Minister Theresa May says there was no prior intelligence about his murderous intent. [My report/Fairfax]

Home Secretary Amber Rudd says there was no failure of intelligence but the reality that there can be no “24 hour cover.” [Laura Kuenssberg/BBC]

The three killed by Massood have now all been identified and their stories are heartbreaking.

Tributes were laid at Scotland Yard for the slain police officer Keith Palmer.

The two others were American Kurt Cochran who was in London celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary with his wife, and a woman, Asha Frade. A great American, Kurt Cochran, was killed in the London terror attack. My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends.??? Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2017 Photo: Andrew Meares

But the PM has rejected the idea. [Sarah Martin/The n]

A separate group is urging the government to stick to its pledge to lower the company tax rate – a policy the Coalition can’t get through the current parliament. [Philip Coorey/The Financial Review]

Malcolm Turnbull’s “energy crisis” talk has only made the situation “as frightening as it gets,” says former Climate Change Authority advisor Danny Price. [Peter Hannam/Fairfax] 5. US politics

Trump’s healthcare replacement plan still looks likely to fail, despite eleventh hour attempts to make concessions that will make the bill more palatable to GOP conservatives. These possible concessions include plans to “sweep aside requirements that health insurance plans cover items like mental health care and maternity care”, which are likely to fail in the Senate anyway. [Politico]

Democrats have indicated they’re going to filibuster Trump’s Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch. [NYT]

And the congressional investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia is turning into a huge mess, with the Republican chair of the investigating committee being forced to apologise today for not sharing information with his fellow committee members before taking it to the media and the White House. [CNN]6. Israeli arrest

A 19-year old US-Israeli citizen has been arrested in Israel with police alleging he is responsible for a making a wave of bomb threats against Jewish centres in the US, n and New Zealand. [Reuters]

Sorry there was no Double Shot on Wednesday but as those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know I was caught up in the events at Westminster. Have a great weekend and stay safe.

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A budget for voters, not the common good

Budget time often shows at its most sectional and selfish, especially if it is a Coalition budget. This one was no exception. It has been described as a turning-away from the meanness of the Abbott government’s 2014 budget and a turning-away from obsession with deficits.

But I get the sense that virtually every 2017 budget measure was written with an eye to voters. Not to voters or society overall, but to particular “sectors” of voters who might change their vote for or against the government according to how well or badly or unchanged the budget affected their individual financial position.

Let’s take housing. It has three sectors: home owners, investors and potential home buyers, who are also often renters. It is impossible to significantly help home buyers by making dwelling prices fall, without hurting investors and home owners.

You can only make prices fall if you take the heat out of the market by removing tax concessions to investors. If prices fall, however, the 65 per cent of households comprised of home owners would feel hard done by.

In balancing those sectors in the budget, the government pretended to do something for first-home buyers with a tax-concessional deposit-saving plan and a plan to encourage states to increase supply. It only tinkered with investor concessions. In short, it just added more air to the housing bubble.

Now let’s take education, which is deeply sectional. The Coalition has often been on the back foot on education, particularly after the first Gonski report. “Needs-based” funding was a winner. But the Gillard government ran scared and promised that, under needs-based funding, no school would be worse off. The two were contradictory, financially unsustainable and educationally suspect.

Nonetheless, Gonski continued to give Labor the education advantage. The government needed to do something. So it adopted Gonski, stripped of the “no-school-will-be-worse-off promise”. However, the Coalition’s change did not come because of a change of heart. Coalition members, in their hearts, are proponents of private and elite education.

The change did not come because the Coalition thought it was the right thing to so. It came because it had to nullify Labor.

As it happens, needs-based funding is the right thing to do. You get more educational bang for your buck by putting money where it is most needed and less money where educational standards are already good – in wealthy schools drawing students from well-off suburbs.

In doing so, though, the Coalition has hit the selfish, sectional snag. The Catholic sector thinks it is hard done by and wants a special deal. If it gets one, the independent schools will want one, too, and the whole thing will unravel.

If the government holds its nerve, the Greens might support it because they like the fairness behind the funding base, even if they would like more money to be spent in total. But watch Labor opportunistically exploit the Catholic dissatisfaction, even at the cost of a better education-funding model.

The Coalition expropriated David Gonski himself to report on why ‘s educational outcomes fell in the past 15 to 20 years, as a sop to the right of the Liberal Party, which believes it is all down to “lazy” teachers and teacher unions, when we know nearly all of it can be put down to money being allocated to where it’s not needed.

As to financial sustainability, the government will give more to the secondary sector by taking some from the tertiary sector. It is easier pickings. You can take money from tertiary students without too much of a squeal because they repay their fees way out in the future, so their parents are not too concerned and will not change their vote on this issue alone.

Coalition governments can also take money from universities without too much fuss. Academics are seen as mainly Labor voters. Yet the correlation between excellent universities and good economies should be obvious.

In health, again the Coalition needed to neutralise Labor. Its heart is against universal public healthcare with a single health insurer, and for private healthcare with just a safety net, no matter the inequity and inefficiency. But the Coalition neeed to be seen to support Medicare and similarly the national disability insurance scheme (through an increased Medicare levy) even though they are Labor ideas, because too many voters like them too much not to.

Medicare and the NDIS are now vote-changers, as we last election. And they need to be funded, at least just enough to neutralise Labor’s advantage, not because the Coalition believes in them.

Similarly, with ruling out the welfare meanies of the 2014 budget – the “zombie” measures knocked back by the Senate. They were removed not because the Coalition thought they were unfair but because it needed to deal with them lest they affect our triple-A credit rating. But a couple of other sneaky ones were put in their place.

The Coalition kept favour with one of its favourite sectors since the Howard years: retirees. It gave an electricity payment to pensioners to heat and fuel their often high-value principal residences, which are excluded from the pension means test. Too bad for younger renters who cop the same electricity bills.

Another sector that did well was coal mining, whose subsidies topped $1 billion – a pretty good deal for the modest sums it donates into Coalition coffers.

Overall, the budget was crafted for people and sectors who want more money and things for themselves – their “fair share”, which translates as more than they deserve.

It was a petty, just-enough budget: just enough to neutralise some big Labor advantages without doing anything about Howard-era tax injustices that have favoured the wealthy over the common good for two decades.

And, apart from a couple of big-ticket worthwhile infrastructure projects (inland rail and Sydney’s second airport), there was little concern for the long-term common good.

That is why there was virtually nothing about the one thing we all share: the environment, in particular renewal energy. Unless and other countries seriously do their share of the heavy lifting to preserve a now-threatened planet, all the budget cakes and how they are sliced up will be meaningless.


Centrelink debt recovery saga hits people with disabilities

Centrelink has demanded payments of more than $10,000 from people with disabilities using its controversial automated debt recovery methods, causing distress and adding to financial pressure on families, a parliamentary inquiry into the “robo-debt” saga has heard.

The debt program has caught up young people with disabilities and their families relying on income support, causing “marked emotional and financial stress”, advocacy groupChildren and Young People with Disability said.

Unable to find evidence needed to dispute the debt claims, some had paid the amounts while others expended “significant time, energy and at times additional expense to locate the necessary documentation”.

“CYDA has been informed of significant distress experienced by young people and families around how they can correct overpayment notices, or pay off debts, while still meeting essential living costs,” it told the Senate committee.

“This has contributed to significant stress and required young people and families to balance exceedingly tight budgets to fund basic living expenses such as food, rent and school costs.

“The additional debt recovery fee further heightens these financial challenges.”

The Department of Human Services’ data-matching methods cover disability support and carer payments.

DHS spokesman Hank Jongen said people identified as vulnerable were not included in the online compliance system.

“These letters are not sent in error. They are sent when the department has identified a difference between income information provided to the n Taxation Office and the department, and simply request people to confirm their employment and income details,” he said.

“No assumption about debt is made and we invite people to provide additional information.”

Labor’s Human Services spokeswoman Linda Burney said the automated debt recovery program used a “dragnet approach” that had wrongly accused vulnerable people.

“It is deeply concerning that many accused may not have had the support they needed to appeal false debts, they could have been intimidated into paying debts they don’t even owe,” she said.

People with disabilities were vulnerable to incorrect debt claims from the DHS’ data matching system because their income sources varied, CYDA said.

“There appears to have been minimal consideration of these circumstances,” it said.

“Again, this highlights the crucial importance of having human oversight in relation to the identification of overpayments.”

How Jimmy Breslin changed my life, and how I missed it altogether

Jimmy Breslin changed my life.

I never knew it.

The shock of Breslin’s death this week was that he lived to 88, still banging out a weekly newspaper column.

In his earlier days, he gave himself a battering, which was what great journalists – and mediocre ones – were in the habit of doing before jogging and designer water came in.

Breslin went the further step, getting battered by a Mafia thug, too.

He was a New York columnist who wrote a lot of his greatest work, much of it about little people served indignities by the powerful and the crooked, long before the internet tore down the walls of press rooms everywhere and a US president started yabbering about fake news.

Tom Wolfe, who coined the term “The New Journalism” for an anthology in 1973, anointed Breslin as one of its finest stylists.

“He made the discovery,” Wolfe wrote, “that it was feasible for a columnist to leave the building, go outside and do reporting on his own, actual legwork. Breslin would go up to the city editor and ask what stories and assignments were coming up, choose one, go out, leave the building, cover the story as a reporter, and write about it in his column.”

And of Breslin’s approach to his craft: “He would … come back in at 4pm or so and sit down at a desk in the middle of the city room. It was quite a show. He was a good looking Irishman with a lot of black hair and a great wrestler’s gut. When he sat down at his typewriter he hunched himself over into a shape like a bowling ball. He would start drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes until vapor started drifting off his body. He looked like a bowling ball fuelled with liquid oxygen. Thus fired up, he would start typing.”

Problem was, if you lived in country and wanted to get exposed to Jimmy Breslin back when he was a one-man writing revolution, which was 30 years before Google was invented, you’d need somehow to get hold of a New York paper that ran his words.

The 1960s was a confused time when, on those occasions when I wasn’t thinking about girls, I was trying to figure what I might do with my life.

One day a priest who taught at our country boarding school showed me a column from an American publication that he’d found somewhere and squirreled away.

I was at the time writing for the school’s weekly roneoed??? news sheet that a few of us used as an instrument to terrorise other kids. If the Human Rights Commission had been around in those days we’d have been charged every week with offending, insulting, humiliating and harassing everyone who fell under our gaze, including teachers. We were smart arses.

This priest felt we could set our sights higher.

Journalism, he thought, was a worthy calling. And to prove it, he produced a tattered copy of a paper with a column by someone I’d never heard of.

It was a simple story about a man employed to dig graves at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington DC.

He had judgment, that priest. He’d chosen what five decades later I’d discover is still being held out as Jimmy Breslin’s greatest column.

Breslin, I’d learn years later, had earlier written “Death in Emergency Room One”, the single greatest piece of journalism about President John F. Kennedy dying on November 22, 1963. Writing through the eyes of the surgeon who worked on Kennedy, he typed lines that would live forever, like “the tall, dark-haired girl in the plum dress that had her husband’s blood all over the front of the skirt” refusing to leave the emergency room.

Breslin didn’t attend JFK’s funeral. Instead, he sought out Clifton Pollard, who worked at the cemetery. And this is how he started his column.

“Clifton Pollard was pretty sure he was going to be working on Sunday, so when he woke up at 9am, in his three-room apartment on Corcoran Street, he put on khaki overalls before going into the kitchen for breakfast. His wife, Hettie, made bacon and eggs for him. Pollard was in the middle of eating them when he received the phone call …”

It was his boss asking him to dig a grave for the President of the United States. The column that followed immortalised Clifton Pollard thus: “One of the last to serve John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was the 35th president of this country, was a working man who earns $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave.”

That a journalist could write like this and get it published … well, I decided pretty much right there that I wanted to give that a go.

But here’s the thing.

I never knew the writer’s name was Jimmy Breslin. I was a kid at school reading an old article from the other side of the world and I didn’t take notice of the byline.

A few hours after Jimmy Breslin’s death was announced this week, a friend asked if I’d read Breslin’s famous “Gravedigger Column”. I Googled it.

And there was that article a priest had showed me in the 1960s, which had changed my life.

Some reporter I’d turned out to be. Right from the start until the story was finished, I’d overlooked the key detail.

The name. Jimmy Breslin.

Sky apologises ‘unreservedly’ for Latham’s on-air claims

Sky News has apologised “unreservedly” to broadcaster Wendy Harmer and its own employee Kristina Keneally after Mark Latham made on-air claims about both women.

On March 21, Latham appeared on Sky to accuse Ms Keneally, the former NSW premier, of being a “prot??g??” of disgraced former NSW Labor minister Eddie Obeid.

Five days later, on his Sky program The Outsiders, Latham lashed out at Ms Harmer after she wrote on social media that she was “deeply unimpressed” by some of Sky’s offerings.

Latham instructed the veteran broadcaster to “tune out” and “get a life”.

He then claimed she was a “commercial failure” who got a job at the “sheltered workshop” ABC because she is a woman with a disability.

Ms Harmer sent a legal letter to Sky News over the remarks and wrote on Twitter: “To be clear, a simple apology will do.”

Latham, the former federal Labor leader, has since been sacked over a separate incident where he speculated that a Sydney schoolboy was “gay” after the teenager appeared in a video about feminism.

The apology was delivered on Thursday night, about 13 minutes into the 6pm news bulletin.

“A statement now from Sky News management,” newsreader Ashleigh Gillon began.

“Sky News acknowledges that it broadcast certain statements by Mark Latham about Wendy Harmer. Sky News acknowledges that these statements falsely imputed that Ms Harmer’s media career over the past four decades has been a failure, and that she has only been able to secure her current employment as a broadcaster with the ABC because she is a female with a disability.

“Sky News rejects these comments in their entirety and apologises unreservedly to Ms Harmer.”

The apology also acknowledged the network had broadcast “certain statements” by Latham about Kristina Keneally.

“Sky News acknowledges that these statements falsely imputed that Ms Keneally acted corruptly in her former role as premier of NSW. Sky News rejects these comments in their entirety and apologises unreservedly to Ms Keneally.”

Following the apology, Ms Harmer wrote on Twitter: “Thank you Sky News for my unreserved apology” Thank you @SkyNewsAust for my unreserved apology and also to @KKeneally 1.??? Wendy Harmer (@wendy_harmer) March 30, 2017

Dad believes booster seat contributed to daughter’s death

The crash and Thomas Huby, inset.A Beaufort man will claim a child booster seat contributed to the death of his four-year-old daughter in a crash in which he was behind the wheel.

Thomas Huby is contesting the cause of his daughter’s death, claiming the girl was seated in a booster seat which was recently withdrawn from the market.

Huby faced the Ballarat Magistrates’ Courton Thursdaywhere it was established he would be contesting how his daughter died following theApril 23crash at Cardigan.

It is alleged Huby was travelling east on Remembrance Drive when he veered off the road and crashed into a tree near Draffins Road.

Huby’s lawyer told the court he was instructed to contest the cause of death.

When questioned by magistrate Ronald Saines what alternative cause of death there could have been, he said the issue was the girl was seated in a booster seat which was recently withdrawn from the market.

Requesting the matter be adjourned to a contested committal hearing, the lawyer said he intended to question a specialist about the nature of the girl’s injuries and how they could be related to a faulty booster seat.

The Remembrance Drive crash.

The court heard the young girl suffered a number of injuries to her spine and bleeding into the brain.

“The question is whether (the injuries) could have been prevented if the booster seat was working properly,” he said.

Huby, 25, was charged by Major Collision Investigation Unit detectives with culpable driving, dangerous driving causing death and other traffic-related offences from the day of the crash.

Four-year-old Isabella Huby, who was the only passenger, was taken to the Ballarat Health Services Base Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Huby’s legal team is also expected to cross-examine a witness who was also driving on Remembrance Drive when the crash occurred.

The court heard the driver claimed he saw the car Huby was alleged to have driven swerve over the road moments before the crash.

A number of other professional witnesses, including a crime-scene reconstructive investigator and sleep specialist, will also be called.

The matter was adjourned for a two-day contested committal hearing onAugust 9.

The Courier, Ballarat

Western media blind to atrocities in Mosul

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry should be thankful that Hillary Clinton lost the US presidential election.

Had she won, Kerry would now have to defend the standards he set last October for fighting city warfare in the Middle East.

As Russian-backed Syrian forces battled to win control of Aleppo last year Kerry said he was deeply disturbed and outraged by what was happening.

The siege and bombings were “a humanitarian disaster”. They could stop tomorrow if Russia and the Assad regime behaved according to any norm or any standard of decency.

In press briefings Kerry’s State Department officials pushed the same line saying that civilians shouldn’t have to leave Aleppo and they shouldn’t be bombed by the Russians or the Syrian government.

But now American-backed Iraqi forces are confronted with the same dilemma as they battle to take Mosul.

The 600,000 people trapped in western Mosul face famine, death and injury from the campaign.

The United Nations reports that there is little food and water. No steady supplies have been able to reach the west since mid-November.

About 255,000 people have been displaced since October, including more than 100,000 since the western military campaign began on February 19.

A large number of civilians have been killed or injured.

Chris Woods, director of independent civilian casualties monitoring agency Airwars, says that since the assault began hundreds have been reported killed by coalition airstrikes.

“We’re seeing worse numbers now in Mosul than we did during Aleppo,” he says.

“There was a report in the British Daily Telegraph [March 12] saying 300 civilians died in just two neighbourhoods of Mosul in a 24-hour period as a result of airstrikes.”

The Russian and Syrian campaign to take Aleppo was extensively covered by western media with Moscow and Damascus usually blamed for the death and injury of civilians.

Few if any mainstream western media representatives blamed the al-Qaeda backed rebels for the carnage or called on them to surrender as a way of ending the siege.

Woods rightly points out that the international media is not covering the civilian casualties in Mosul in the same way as they covered the Aleppo conflict.

Certainly the n television networks are not. Children are being killed and injured and pulled from bombed buildings but if it’s “our” side doing the bombing it seems it’s not to be screened.

But the killing is not going un-noticed. It’s being raised in US State Department briefings, not least by Russian journalists.

On March 15, one journalist referred to Iraqi politician Khamis Khanjar’s statement that at least 3500 civilians had been killed in Mosul within the past month. Khanjar said the mounting casualties came mainly from airstrikes and indiscriminate shelling of heavily crowded neighbourhoods.

In response State Department official Mark Toner, who was briefing the media before the presidential election and still holds his position, abandoned Kerry’s Aleppo line that no civilians should be killed or forced to leave a city when it is being liberated.

He maintained that US forces made every effort to avoid civilian casualties when carrying out airstrikes. He said he didn’t have any sense of whether Khanjar’s numbers were credible.

If there were credible allegations of civilian casualties as a result of the coalition’s actions or Iraqi Security Forces’ actions, they should be investigated.

US authorities are co-operating with Airwars to assess allegations of civilian casualties.

But Chris Woods told the ABC’s 7.30 Report that his organisation could not engage with because n authorities would not say where they bombed, when they bombed and what they bombed. He said this had been going on for 30 months.

Questioned about this a Defence Department spokesperson told TheCanberra Times that the ADF operated under strict rules of engagement that were designed to protect n forces, minimise the risk of injury to civilians and strictly comply with ‘s obligations under domestic and international law.

He said the n Defence Force provided regular public updates on its operations, including in Iraq and Syria, and aimed to balance the protection of operational security with its obligation to be transparent and accountable to the n public.

The spokesperson said statistical data about air operations was available on the Defence website.

But the Air Task Group (ATG) statistics only show the number of operations flown each month. They do not reveal where n aircraft bombed, when they bombed and what they bombed.

The spokesperson said the ADF thoroughly reviewed every ATG strike following the return of the aircraft to ensure the strike accorded with pre-strike approvals.

“The ADF takes all allegations of civilian casualties seriously. If an allegation is raised following an ATG strike, the matter is investigated and the findings are reported.”

The ATG strike data was aggregated with coalition data and released in the daily coalition media release, he said.

But this clearly does not satisfy Airwars, which contrasts ‘s procedures with those of the United States and Britain.

In its transparency audit released in December Airwars said was one of the least transparent members of the international coalition fighting ISIS.

“Canberra has consistently refused to disclose almost any information relating to an estimated 405 airstrikes to October 2016 – with one notable exception,” the report states.

Airwars says it is unacceptable that and a number of other coalition partners have chosen to wage “semi-secret conventional wars – with affected civilians on the ground, citizens at home and monitoring agencies unable to hold these governments to account.”

Airwars rejected the security argument for refusing to disclose the dates and location of airstrikes.

“While these are legitimate worries, other states have made clear that improved public reporting has not led to an increase in such security concerns,” the report says.

“British and Canadian defence officials in particular argue that greater public transparency on military actions can be beneficial when engaging domestic populations. The adoption of similar good practice by all coalition partners can and should be pursued with some urgency.”

Russia’s opposition leader arrested as anti-Putin protests sweep Russia

1. Russia

Russia’s opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been arrested by police for taking part in some of the biggest protests held across Russia in five years. [Shaun Walker/The Guardian]

Note in the state-owned RT report how many times they say the demonstrations were “unsanctioned.” [RT]

More than one hundred people were arrested. “A warning over a loudspeaker urged people to ‘think of the consequences’ and disperse now,” reports The Washington Post. [David Filipov]

So what are they protesting about? Corruption allegations levelled at Dmitry Medvedev published by Navalny’s anti-corruption foundation, claiming the prime minister owns yachts, mansions and even a house for ducks, far beyond the wealth a person of his position should have. [BBC] 2. North Korea’s missiles could reach

Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop in the demilitarised zone in South Korea. Photo: Supplied

A US General has told Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that North Korea could soon be capable of launching a nuclear strike on .

“It was the first time I had heard [the warning] in such stark terms,” Ms Bishop tells Cameron Stewart. [The n]

And a very interesting column from Tom Switzer on how the foreign minister contradicted Malcolm Turnbull in calling for China to embrace democracy or risk never reaching its full potential. My must-read for today. [Fairfax] 3. n politics

Fairfax’s poll released on Sunday night meant a good night’s sleep for Labor types. The opposition led by Bill Shorten is a whopping ten points in front of the government led by the beleaguered Malcolm Turnbull. [James Massola/Fairfax]

Peter Hartcher says this shows last week’s Newspoll showing Turnbull had narrowed the gap was “more a wobble.” [The Sydney Morning Herald]

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

But this part of the poll is really interesting. 44 per cent of ns support a long-term company tax cut and 17 per cent aren’t sure.

It’s not majority support but its no “slam dunk” for Labor either, says TheFinancial Review. [Editorial]

While there is a certainly a valid and important debate to have about inequality, that debate does have to be put side-by-side with the fact that ns are innately aspirational. Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan learnt the hard way how non-viable class warfare is in .

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Photo: Eddie Jim

Speaking of Gillard, the former PM says you can expect to hear a lot more from her as she takes on her new role at mental health organisation beyondblue. Her warning to journalists trying to draw her into domestic politics is typically sassy. [The Age]

Back to the economy, the proposed company tax rate cut looks doomed to fail in the Senate with South n Senator Nick Xenophon demanding the government fix the unrelated energy crisis first. [Ashlynne McGhee]

Turnbull has ordered the ACCC to review electricity prices. [Adam Gartrell/Fairfax]

The Northern Fund could be used to help back a $5 billion coal-fired power station in Queensland. [David Crowe/The n]

This follows the government’s suggestion that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is supposed to invest in renewable energy (as its name would suggest) could be ordered to finance so-called clean coal. Clean coal is so risky not even the banks will invest. [Rob Henderson/The n]

risks becoming a Japan, that is a country financially crippled paying for its ageing population because its failed to strike a sensible balance between what’s coming in and what the population expects in terms of welfare. The comments are made by Tony Shepherd who headed former Treasurer Joe Hockey’s ill-fated Commission of Audit. [Jacob Greber/Financial Review]

Liberal pollster Mark Textor of CrosbyTextor has made a set of interesting comments about the rise of Pauline Hanson, the role of business in leading and advocating for reform.

Textor, or Tex, as he known says Hanson is a “device” to show the majors that voters will opt for an alternative if one is provided.

He is scathing about the n business community, which has gone M.I.A, in advocating for politically unpleasant but economically required changes like the cut to some Sunday penalty rates, but it is his comments on the environment and climate change sceptism that the far-right and conservatives should heed most. [John Lyons/The n] 4. Row over encryption

Khalid Masood sent a WhatsApp message just moments before he launched his 82 seconds of carnage at Westminister last week.

Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd says it’s unacceptable that investigators can’t access what was in that message.

Crucially, she did not say she would legislate to enforce such behaviour (an admission such a move would be futile.) [BBC]

WhatsApp says it is cooperating with law enforcement as they investigate the London attack but it’s not clear what that exactly means. [Bloomberg]

Judging by Apple’s ongoing feud with the FBI, it’s unlikely to work out in the government’s favour.

Rudd is this week calling in tech companies urging them to work with governments in these situations and demanding removal of extremist content from the internet. 5. Trump turns his tweet-fire on his own

Photo: Olivier Douliery

Donald Trump has changed tack and begun attacking Republicans for the humiliating defeat on the US President’s attempt to replace Obamacare. [Bloomberg]

The Trump administration is wondering about the GOP’s overall ability to govern. [NBC]

And delivering on Trump’s promise to lower taxes could be the next thing the Republicans are destined to fail to agree on. [Wall Street Journal] 6. Germany

Perhaps another sign the populist wave peaked with Trump?

Angela Merkel’s conservatives have strengthened their position in a state election widely viewed as a test of her party’s standing ahead of national elections later this year. [Reuters]

And that’s it from me today, you can follow me on Facebook for more.

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The Kings Cross murder that shaped a career

The new NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller.30th March 2017.Photo: Steven Siewert Photo: Steven Siewert

Mick Fuller, the 19-year-old junior officer working general duties out of Kogarah Police Station, in Sydney’s south, never pictured himself even as that station’s manager.

The teenage cop’s interests were in becoming a criminal investigator – he wanted to work the complex briefs and lock the bad guys up.

“I hadn’t pictured myself as a commissioned officer or even in a management role,” Mr Fuller told Fairfax Media in an interview just hours after becoming appointed the state’s next commissioner. “I had always liked being on the tools.”

Promoted through the ranks and working as a detective sergeant out of Kings Cross during a notorious period during the 1990s and early 2000s, there was one particular job that left a mark on him and changed his career path.

“I was investigating a homicide brief, it was the murder of a homeless man,” he said. “It was following a lengthy career in criminal investigations and it was a long drawn out investigation, a long drawn out trial. And at the end of it I was jaded”.

He needed a change. He took on some shifts relieving as an inspector. Less time out in the field, more time managing the station and the troops. He felt he had a “knack for working with management people” and getting results.

“It felt like it came easy to me,” Mr Fuller said.

From Monday, Mr Fuller will be tasked with managing 16,700 officers as he takes over from the long serving Andrew Scipione and becomes NSW’s next police commissioner.

He has a strong operational background. He went on to head the Kings Cross drug squad during the 1990s, and rose through the ranks being promoted from detective sergeant, to inspector to superintendent in the space of four years. By 2010 he was assistant commissioner.

Mr Fuller has served in Sydney and in regional areas. He has been the police’s public face in some of Sydney’s biggest events including bushfire crisis, APEC, World Youth Day and New Year’s Eve celebrations. He has also been the spokesman for alcohol related crime and domestic violence.

Despite his meteoric rise, those who have worked closely with Mr Fuller say he has never come across as ambitious, that he always had the best interests of the force and the community in mind and he was a humble policeman.

A senior detective said he thought Mr Fuller would bring fresh blood to the force and likened his appointment to that of Andrew Colvin who has helped reinvigorate the n Federal Police ranks since his appointment in September 2014.

Mr Fuller’s critics inside the force have pointed to his lack of time in counter terrorism as one main weakness and his leadership experience as the other. He has spent time filling in as a deputy commissioner, but never as a commissioner, and the additional responsibilities that come with even relieving in that position.

It doesn’t seem to have fazed Mr Fuller, who said he actually managed to sleep despite getting a late night phone call on Wednesday saying he had been given the nod.

“I had a few sleepless nights just thinking about the what ifs, what ifs it’s me and I have to be ready to go Monday but last night for some reason I slept well I was up pretty early,” he said.

“Tonight will probably be another night where the mind will be racing. But I am excited and I am pretty proud.”

Peace hopes in Tax Office’s long workplace war

There are are hopes for a peace treaty to end the bitter industrial war that has racked the Tax Office for three years.

The ATO’s most hardline workplace union says it is prepared to agree in principle to a new draft enterprise agreement for the revenue agency’s 19,000 public servants.

The decision by the n Services Union to tentatively endorse the terms of a new proposal from Tax Office bosses is likely to carry weight out of proportion to its several-hundred strong membership, given the union’s tough approach to the dispute in the past.

A settlement at the ATO would add momentum to a growing push for peace in other departments where tens of thousand of public servants remain locked in a bitter industrial combat with the Coalition government, which has been raging since the early days of the Abbott-government.

ATO negotiators told the entire workforce on Thursday that they were sufficiently encouraged by the ASU’s attitude to reinstate the online “enterprise agreement discussion” forum which was suspended two years ago as fury with a pay offer threatened to boil over and bosses pleaded for calm.

The Tax Office’s main workplace union, the Community and Public Sector Union, which has a testy relationship with the ASU, is taking a much more cautious approach, saying it was “encouraged” by recent talks but a settlement remained a long way away.

The proposed deal is likely to carry average annual pay rises of 2 per cent for the the three-year agreement, but on the real sticking points, workplace rights and conditions, the ASU says ATO employees have much less to lose than under the previous three proposals, each of which was crushed in workplace ballots.

Union official Jeff Lapidos said he and his executive team would be prepared to give in-principle support to the new agreement if the pay offer, to a workforce whose wages have been frozen since 2013, was front-loaded and there was no major cuts to rights and conditions.

“We are confident that this can be achieved, even though the draft proposal for a new agreement has not yet been finalised,” he said.

But any peace plan has a long way to go; the ASU’s stance would have to be ratified by a vote of its members, a draft agreement, when produced, would have to be signed off by the industrial hardliner Public Service Commissioner John Lloyd, the attitude of the CPSU remains to be seen and the whole deal would have to be voted up in an all-staff ballot.

CPSU Deputy Secretary Melissa Donnelly was cautious in her response to the ASU’s announcement.

“The last offer from ATO management was soundly rejected just four months ago by 71 per cent of staff, so real progress has to be made for a majority of staff to want to support the agreement,” Ms Donnelly said.

“We’re in exploratory discussions with the ATO to find a way forward in this messy and protracted dispute.

“We have been somewhat encouraged by the tone and content of recent discussions, but there is still some way to go and ATO are yet put forward a new proposal.”

“CPSU members working in Tax continue to tell us that they want an agreement that is fair and reasonable and doesn’t strip away rights and conditions.”