REEF OR MADNESS

A government progress report on the health of the Great Barrier Reef shows mixed results. The Guardian reports that more work needs to be done to improve water quality for the reef, although the government’s update to UNESCO reports “good progress” on protecting the reef.

But is there any more money going towards protecting the reef, which has experienced its worst ever coral bleaching event this year? Depends on which paper you read. The Sydney Morning Herald reports “no new funding or climate commitments” while The Australian reports a “Billion-dollar boost to help Great Barrier Reef”.

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So what is it? No new funding or a boost? The money had already been allocated to the reef, so a “boost” is probably a bit generous. This report is part of the Reef 2050 plan, which the government initiated to avoid UNESCO listing the reef as “in danger”.

BACKPACKER ISSUE RESOLVED, BURDEN LIFTED

Farmers thanking the Greens? We wouldn’t have believed it 24 hours ago, but here we are. Yesterday the government finally passed the backpacker tax at a rate of 15% — with the help of the Greens. In return for their support the Greens extracted $100 million for Landcare and forced the government to scrap plans to tax backpackers’ superannuation at a rate of 95%, now down to 65%. Farmers say the 18 months of uncertainty has already hurt them, but national farmers federation president Fiona Simsion says it is good a deal is finally done.

TAKE IT FROM ME …

“Quite frankly, if I was to lay a bet on this matter, I don’t think I’ll be facing Malcolm Turnbull at the next election. I think the Liberal Party will move on to someone else.” — Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on 7.30 last night. Well, he would know a thing or two about changing leaders before an election …

NSW TO COMPENSATE STOLEN GENERATIONS

Mike Baird‘s government will offer compensation to members of the stolen generation, with a $73.8 million redress program to be announced today. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that there are about 730 survivors of the stolen generation in NSW today, although it could be up to 1350.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Today is International Day of People With a Disability

Canberra: State and federal treasurers will meet in the nation’s capital today, with housing affordability and competition reform on the agenda.

Sydney: Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras announces its 2017 program. The Mardi Gras board has announced that PM Malcolm Turnbull has not been uninvited from the event, despite a motion passed at the organisation’s AGM (and he was never banned from attending in the first place).

Melbourne: Premier Investments AGM. Shareholders are likely to discuss a report that Just Group could face a major blowout over unpaid penalty rates.

Perth: Labor MP Anne Aly is starting the summer break by taking part in a 25-hour dance-off world record attempt at Edith Cowan University. Apparently she’s a big Latin and belly dancing fan.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Parliament diminished as puritans defy pragmatists — David Crowe (The Australian $): “Australian politicians do not know what to do about youth unemployment but they know how to bicker on television over foreign workers. Voters can see again just how quickly their representatives lose touch with reality.”

ABC’s unhealthy obsession with sport and politics — Toni Hassan (The Age): “In taking religion out of the mainstream the ABC is walking away from one of its central mandates, which is to talk about important things that others won’t.”

No point in keeping laws we don’t enforce — Tom Elliott (Herald Sun $): “If the authorities persist with turning a blind eye to public marijuana use, we should follow the Greens’ lead and abolish the rules that prohibit it. Otherwise we risk indulging a more general disrespect for laws against other forms of criminal behaviour.”

Farmers believe in climate change, so why don’t the politicians who say they represent them? — Anika Molesworth (Sydney Morning Herald): “Farmers have a stake in tackling climate change not only because of the threats to agriculture but also because there are many ways in which we can play a part in solving it.”

Defence must regard climate change as a serious security issue —  Anthony Bergin (The Australian $): “Defence should now appoint a senior military leader to act as a strategic voice for climate change national security issues, including preparedness and capability. The first step would be a review of climate change impacts on ­Defence.”

THE WORLD

Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has been anointed the King of Thailand 50 days after the death of his father. The new king will take the titled King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun. Unlike his well-loved father, he is little known to the Thai people. — BBC 

French President Francois Hollande has announced he will not seek re-election in 2017 after serving just one term in office. His withdrawal leaves the candidacy for the country’s centre-left Socialist Party open. — Reuters 

Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for US President-elect Donald Trump to work with him on combating “international terrorism”. In a nationally televised address the Russian leader said he was ready to work with the new administration. During the US election, Trump suggested America could work with Russia to defeat the Islamic State group in Iraq. — Wall Street Journal 

Charlie Hebdo magazine has launched its first foreign language spin-off in Germany. The inaugural cover depicts Chancellor Angela Merkel as a broken-down Volkswagen. — The Guardian

WHAT WE’RE READING

First Contact: Poverty Porn And Trauma TV, With Bonus Celebrities (New Matilda): “Anything that purports to confront racism, but fails to push the participants to look inwardly — to consider their own history, their own complicity, their own prosperity and the structures that benefit them, and belittle others — is simply entertainment.”

The New Rules for Covering Trump (Politico) “There has never been a president like Trump before, and the usual press reflexes won’t produce copy that allows readers to see through his lies and deceptions. The Trump challenge demands that the house of journalism gives itself a makeover. Here’s how.”

Black Gold (New Zealand Herald) “Consumers don’t want to think about the women who grew their hair or the chains of labour that led to it landing on their scalp because, hair trade academics argue, the thought of wearing someone else’s body part is grotesque.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

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Peter Fray

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