The best of The Spinoff this week

Bringing you the best weekly reading from your friendly local website.

Don Rowe: Tasman deathtrap: the brutal toll of Australia’s deportation policy

“Shortly after 9pm on September 11, Togatuki sent two calls for help over the prison intercom, telling guards he had harmed himself. No one responded. There was a big NRL game that evening. Sydney Roosters were playing, down two points in a final against the Melbourne Storm when the first call from Togatuki came through. One of the guards confirmed later that the TV was on – and Togatuki had a history of nuisance calls. By full time, blood and water were spilling from beneath his cell door. Junior had flooded his room, in what investigators speculated was a last attempt to get the attention of guards walking past.

He was unsuccessful. CCTV recorded four different guards walking through the puddle of Togatuki’s blood before morning came.

In the early hours of September 12, 2015, armed officers entered Togatuki’s cell and pinned his stiff, rigored body beneath a riot shield. On the walls were messages written in blood.

‘God forgive me,” one read. ‘I’m sorry.'”

Alex Braae: What the hell just happened? The Jami-Lee Ross vs Simon Bridges leakwar explained

“In a series of four tweets, National MP Jami-Lee Ross has detonated a bomb under the leadership of Simon Bridges. Just a few minutes before the National leader began a media conference announcing results of the inquiry into his expenses leak, Ross accused his party leader of directing him to break the law, saying Bridges was about to unfairly pin the leak on him.

Here are the tweets, in reverse order.”

The Spinoff: The Jami-Lee plot tapes: a transcript of the Ross and Bridges donation chat

“SB: I mean, it’s like all these things, it’s bloody hard, you’ve only got so much space. Depends where we’re polling, you know? All that sort of thing. Two Chinese would be nice, but would it be one Chinese or one Filipino, or one – what do we do?

JLR: Two Chinese would be more valuable than two Indians, I have to say.

SB: Which is what we’ve got at the moment, right? Your problem there is you end up in a shit fight because you’ve got a list MP – you’ve got two list MPs – it’s a pretty mercenary cull – sitting MPs, all that shit. And then we’ve got the issue of – we could end up getting rid of some list MPs if we want and bringing in some of those new ones, and if you do that you’re just filling up your list even further with ones that you’ve gotta sort of look after – I mean I reckon there’s two or three of our MPs, not picking up obvious ones like Finlayson or Carter, but actually we just want them to go. You know? Like Maureen Pugh is fucking useless.”

Alex Casey: I tried New Zealand’s first brand of period proof undies

“After doing the customary, baboon-style display of the butt to my nearest and dearest, who assured me that nothing was visible, I remembered that I was wearing stone cold SCIENCE underpants. They feel a little bit thicker to the touch than your average – more like boy cut togs than a mesh Lonely waif – but I figure that’s the kind of security you want when the lining of your womb is rudely trying to exit your body.

Realising that the bloodshed was completely, comfortably contained, I got brave. I got William Wallace-level brave. From Day 4-6 (not Day 3 because Day 3 is literally The Shining lobby pour moi), I went cup free. Once you get over the fact that you are basically wearing a space age adult diaper, it feels freeing to the point of subversive. All I’m saying is, I briefly thought about peeing a little bit just to see what would happen. To be clear: I didn’t. But I did think about it.”

Dejan Jotavonic: MAFS just touched on HIV prevention – and really messed it up

“Tayler reassures Sam that he still wears condoms (PrEP won’t protect you from other sexually transmitted infections) and that it’s all a preventative measure: ‘I just want to reassure him that I’m not sleeping around but that it’s to protect myself and my heart.’ The symbolism writes itself, I swear.

To which Sam replies: ‘And you’re telling me this because…’ For the record, yeah, Sam, I agree. It’s not really a big deal, but good on Tayler for spotlighting HIV prevention to audiences that probably don’t have a robust understanding of it!

Tayler says, quite fairly, ‘I just wanted to be open…’ Good on you, Tayler, the stigma surrounding sexual health is the real villain in this story. Then, the ominous music starts playing!

And then Sam: ‘Strong topic that you’ve just put on me. It’s going to take a lot more than just toast and coffee to digest this. I’m not judging, don’t worry, I’m not judging…’ I’m sorry, what?

‘I like this conversation, it’s constructive’, Tayler ends.

Me, as narrator: ‘It was anything but constructive.'”

Madeleine Chapman: Just some memes about Jami-Lee Ross and the National Party

Every great political moment births a thousand not-so-great political memes. Madeleine Chapman gets the ball rolling on the Ross-Bridges saga.

Danyl Mclauchlan: One little leak has plunged Simon Bridges into a deep political nightmare

“This is the stuff of nightmares for Bridges — who denies all the claims — and the rest of National. Political nerds obsess over policy and ideology but leaders and their advisers know that this kind of disunity within a party is uniquely toxic with the public. The voters don’t want idiots running their country. They know — even if a party’s supporters don’t — that a party consumed with infighting is unfit to govern and a leader unable to control caucus is unfit to lead.

National needs this to go away. Every second they spend talking about this is time they’re not attacking the government on petrol prices or teacher strikes. But Ross has decided to go out fighting. He seems likely to lawyer up and resist any attempts to remove him from the National caucus, or from parliament, and seems inclined to inflict as much damage on Bridges and, collaterally, his own party as possible.”

Toby Manhire: ‘Transformation does take time’: a cup of tea with Jacinda Ardern, one year on

“As for the nuclear-free metaphor, ‘I’ve upgraded my position on that a little bit’, Ardern said.

How?

‘We were unified around the nuclear free movement. And yet what we’re doing on climate change – it is just that much harder, because it’s a call to action for everyone. And so I’m hoping we can get to the place of having that same unified moment that we had around nuclear free for climate change.’

Again: how?

‘It’s huge,’ she said.”

Andrew Geddis: Was that $100k National donation legal, or not?

Jami-Lee Ross’s ever-changing story about the $100,000 donation originating from businessman Zhang Yikun makes it hard to assess precisely what Police would be investigating. Either way, we’re all the poorer for the way it’s played out, writes writes law professor Andrew Geddis.

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