JollyPostie The Saturday Paper Robo-debt victims exposed to press, Opus Dei schools under fire, Saudis sponsor Women’s World Cup

Text-Only Mode Of The Email Robo-debt victims exposed to press, Opus Dei schools under fire, Saudis sponsor Women’s World Cup

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1 February, 2023

Max Opray

is Schwartz Media's emails editor.


Robo-debt victims exposed to press

Personal information of robo-debt victims was leaked to the media to deter them from speaking out, an adviser to former human services minister Alan Tudge has revealed.

What we know:

Rachelle Miller

on Tuesday testified to the royal commission into robo-debt over her role in handling media inquiries about the illegal welfare debt recovery scheme (



Miller said

there was a “proliferation” of negative media coverage in late 2016 “predominantly in the left-wing media”;

She alleged

that in response, Tudge “requested the file of every single person who appeared in the media … you could see the exact transactions that they’d had with Centrelink”;

Miller said

the government then released personal information of robo-debt “case studies” to “more friendly” tabloid media to deter more people from speaking out;

She added

that then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s office told her the narrative of “cracking down on welfare cheats” was playing well in marginal seats in Western Sydney;

Last year,

Miller received a $650,000 settlement from the Commonwealth after she alleged abuse by Tudge during her employment under him and former government minister Michaelia Cash;

Tudge will

today testify before the royal commission, where he will also be cross-examined by lawyers for Miller (

Canberra Times


Earlier on Tuesday,

Annette Musolino, former chief counsel at the Department of Human Services, was grilled over her failure to appeal tribunal decisions related to the scheme’s flawed use of income averaging (

The Guardian


It follows evidence

to the royal commission last week that showed how departments actively avoided legal precedents to keep the scheme running for years (

The Saturday Paper




Opus Dei schools under fire

The federal government has warned that an independent investigator could be appointed to look into the controversial schools run by Catholic organisation Opus Dei.

What we know:

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare

said his department had written to the NSW Education Standards Authority, noting investigators could look into whether the group had breached the Australian Education Act (



It follows a

Four Corners investigation into disturbing practices at the schools, such as students being taught that masturbation and homosexuality were disordered, and that watching pornography caused holes in the brain (



Queensland senator Matt Canavan

took to Twitter on Tuesday to “thank” the ABC program for the “wonderful promotion of a Catholic education” (


The schools

have been attended by some of Australia’s political elite, including NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet;

It comes after

ClubsNSW chief Josh Landis was sacked after an inappropriate attack on Perrottet’s faith, which has distracted from genuine concerns about his links to Opus Dei (

The Politics


Catholic schools

are meanwhile expected to rally against a proposal to restrict their hiring and firing powers in a reform aimed at protecting LGBTQ+ students and teachers (

The Guardian


It comes as

NSW Police seek a court order to stop a LGBTIQ+ protest on the day of George Pell’s funeral on Thursday (





Anti-corruption act boosts standing

A year after recording its worst-ever result in a key international corruption ranking, Australia has rebounded as its reputation recovers.

Transparency International (TI)

released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index on Tuesday, with Denmark leading the 180-nation pack and Somalia rooted at the bottom (

Transparency International


Australia rose

five places to 13th overall, scoring 75 out of 100, a two-point improvement on its lowest-ever result a year prior (



The improvement

comes months after Australia legislated to establish the long-anticipated National Anti-Corruption Commission.

University of Adelaide professor of public policy Adam Graycar

said “it’s no coincidence Australia’s big fall happened during the Coalition’s near-decade-long hold on the federal government” (

The Conversation


Graycar said

the federal government needed to take further measures to strengthen open, trustworthy decision-making in government, ensure a fair and honest democracy and enhance protections for public interest whistleblowing.


Users suffer myGov website

An independent audit of myGov has found usage of the government website booming despite users’ satisfaction levels sitting very low.

A review of

the service found the number of myGov accounts has doubled in five years, with 1.4 million Australians using the service every day (



Less than

half of users however were satisfied overall with how it is working.

The review

found myGov has been let down by uneven funding and a lack of cross-portfolio thinking when it comes to government service delivery, and asks the government to commit at least $138m a year to the site (



“Recent investment

will deliver some ongoing benefits for Australians, but without a commitment to long-term investment in developing the complementary capabilities (such as digital wallets) and new services (such as passport applications), the risk is that myGov will become an empty shell,” the review panel said.



Saudis sponsor Women’s World Cup

Saudi Arabia’s tourist authority has struck a deal with FIFA to sponsor football’s Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand this year.

The deal

has been agreed under FIFA’s new “commercial partnership structure” dedicated to developing revenues specifically for the women’s game (

Middle East Eye


Visit Saudi’s

sponsorship role has attracted a wave of criticism, given the country’s repressive approach to women’s rights.

Saudi Arabia

only established its national women’s football team in 2020, and women were not allowed to enter public stadiums until 2018.

“After Cristiano Ronaldo's signing,

the purchase of Newcastle United, the LIV golf series ... Saudi Arabia’s use of sport to try to mask its terrible human rights record is now a depressingly well-established pattern," Amnesty International said in a statement.

Although there

have been reforms in recent years including the end to a ban on women driving, these have been accompanied by the widespread arrest of women’s rights activists in the country.

‘Catholic Mafia’: How George Pell won over Murdoch

Why is the Murdoch media so invested in how the former Catholic cardinal is remembered? And what are they willing to ignore to make their case? Today, contributor to The Saturday Paper Richard Ackland on how Pell built his influence with journalists, and how he wielded it.



Few would have thought it possible transforming Holden’s old factory floor into a place where exotic mushrooms can be grown and cultivated.

In an unlikely second act for Adelaide’s old Holden factory, the facility is set to make shiitake instead of sedans (



Postscript: Wrexham McDonald’s plays classical music to deter bad behaviour

Frequenters of a branch of McDonald’s in Wales will soon have a symphonic accompaniment to their quarter-pounders and fries. McDonald’s in Wrexham is set to introduce the music of Beethoven in an attempt to combat persistent issues with gangs of young people (

Classic FM



Nothing to see here

It’s a new year and COVID remains a major public health crisis – so why isn’t the government talking about it?

Read more

The Saturday Paper

What weather disaster will follow La Niña?

The weather event that caused floods across much of the country is breaking down, but it may soon be replaced by an El Niño pattern of intense heatwaves and drought.

Read more


The attorney-general on ditching outdated and ‘deliberately cruel’ policy

Mark Dreyfus sat down for an extended interview with our national correspondent, Mike Seccombe, about Labor’s plans to overhaul Australia’s legal system.

Listen now

The Saturday Paper

Editorial: suburban black sites

In the detention centre at Villawood, in the west of Sydney, there are two concrete cells where asylum seekers are locked up alone. The guards call them “cool down rooms”. In prison argot, these are dry cells. They have no toilet and no water. There is a single mattress and a closed-circuit camera.

Read more


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