THE DAY AFTER DEBBIE

As the sun rises over Queensland the impact of cyclone Debbie is becoming clear after winds of up to 263km/h lashed the state’s north. Premier Annastacia Palazszczuk said the cyclone would continue to make its impact felt over the coming days and dubbed the storm a “one-in-100-year” event. The state’s police commissioner Ian Stewart said he expected news of more injuries and possible deaths to emerge.

Tens of thousands of homes were left without power yesterday afternoon and one man was injured after a wall fell on him in Proserpine. But it could have been worse, with an anticipated storm surge in Mackay narrowly avoided.

BISHOP’S DIPLOMACY

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has met with Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye to smooth over the government’s decision to hold-off on ratifying a China-Australia extradition treaty. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday backed down from the move after disunity among his own party and formal notification from Bill Shorten that Labor would not support ratification.

The minister has also been busy rallying her own diplomats, warning an assembly of Australian ambassadors they face new challenges from “significant economic volatility, rising nationalism and protectionism driven by populist campaigns, terrorism, violent extremism, radicalisation”. The speech included politely disparaging references to the new US President as well as the UK’s Brexit decision. 

MCMANUS ON A MISSION

The ACTU’s new Secretary Sally McManus will today call for a major increase to the minimum wage worth $45 per week. The rise would be triple the increase granted by the Fair Work Commission in 2016. Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson responded by saying the ACTU “needs a reality check”.

While the cause may lead unionistas to cheer, they’ll be less enthused by a set of draft recommendations from the Productivity Commission proposing employees only be allocated a default super fund once in their lifetime. The Australian Financial Review has a handy explainer on the proposal here.

THE MAGIC NUMBER: $135.4 MILLION.

The value of revenue derived from streaming music in Australia last year. Streaming services now account for 40% of all music revenue in the country.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

New AEMO boss says no silver bullet for Aust electricity

Ben Cousins sentenced to one year in jail over stalking, drug possession

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: New ACTU chief Sally McManus will address the National Press Club.

Adelaide: Former PM Julia Gillard givers her first address since being announced as the new chair of beyondblue.

Adelaide: Official visit by ambassador of the Phillippines, Minda Calaguian-Cruz.

Melbourne: The Australian Transport Safety Bureau report into the light plane crash into the Essendon DFO mall, which killed five people, is due to be released.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Democracy triumphs over Turnbull’s unfathomable foreign policy fiasco— Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “But the Turnbull government has achieved for itself the worst of all possible results — it has embarrassed itself and the Chinese, it has embarked on a course which contradicts fundamental Liberal ­values and its campaign of justification for the proposed ratification was at times bizarre and frequently rested on inadvertent factual mistakes from ministers who gave every impression of not understanding the process.”

Why sleeping rough is not quite the same as a camping holiday — Bill Swannie (The Age): “Criminalising homelessness is bad policy because it does nothing to tackle the issue. Rather, it needlessly entangles people in the criminal justice system, and adds to the difficulties of people sleeping rough. A criminal conviction could severely impact their chances of getting work, a bank loan or entering the private rental market. It further disadvantages some of the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society, and adds to the costs and delay of our already overstretched legal system.”

We can gain a lot by sharing our sensitive health data — Sam Crosby (The Sydney Morning Herald):”‘Personalised medicine’ would allow doctors and nurses to use a combination of patient history, behaviours, and genetic data to identify individualised treatments and drugs. Our lives — and the lives of our children — could conceivably be saved through the swift transfer of pertinent information. Better, freer data would also enable those who run the health system, including hospitals and the PBS, to better identify areas of low-quality care.”

Opinion: Malcolm Turnbull is not under threat –Dennis Atkins (The Courier-Mail): “Labor’s NSW Senator Sam Dastyari, who has plotted against most federal leaders in the last seven years (either as an apparatchik or MP), tweeted on Sunday that anyone who didn’t think Turnbull was under threat didn’t know what they were talking about. In this conversation, the person who is off the pace is Dastyari.”

THE WORLD 

More than 100 bodies have been pulled from the site of a US-led coalition airstrike in Mosul, amid increasing concerns around civilian casualties from Coalition airstrikes on ISIS. Senior Iraqi health official Ahmed Dubardani said at least 112 bodies had been pulled from the Mosul rubble, and a senior Iraqi military officer said a March 17 coalition airstrike on an explosives-laden ISIS truck killed “dozens” of civilians. The coalition have not confirmed this account, but confirmed one strike on that date in the area where the casualties were reported, and both the Iraqi and US defense departments have launched investigations into possible civilian deaths in airstrikes between March 17 and 23. — CNN

Prime Minister Theresa May will today pull the trigger on the Brexit bill, submitting a notice of intention to leave the European bloc under Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty Council to EU President Donald Tusk. The move comes nine months after Britons voted to leave, and means May, who came to power in the upheaval that followed the vote, will have until March 2019 to negotiate the terms of the separation — Reuters

A German state minister has accused Turkey of “intolerable and unacceptable” espionage and German prosecutors have announced an investigation amid claims that Turkish agents are spying on alleged supporters of exiled preacher Fethullah Gülen based in Germany. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Gülen supporters for inciting last year’s failed coup against the government. The interior minister of Lower Saxony, Boris Pistorius, said the Turkish government had asked Berlin to help spy on about 300 alleged Gülen supporters and had provided a list to Germany’s BND spy service, which turned it over to state governments. — The Guardian

TODAY IN TRUMP

US President Donald Trump has signed the Energy Independence Executive Order, which reduces restrictions on carbon emissions and winds back more than half a dozen Obama-era rules aimed at combating climate change. Trump said the order would end the “war on coal” and “job-killing regulations”. Among the initiatives that the order rescinds is the Clean Power Plan, which required states to slash carbon emissions to meet US commitments under the Paris accord. The order does not specify whether the US will remain party to the accord, but The Atlantic notes that without major technological advances, reaching those commitments will be difficult without rules similar to what was in place under the Clean Power Plan.

WHAT WE’RE READING

Trump’s triumph of incompetence (New York Times): “Of all the national politicians I’ve met over the decades, Trump may be the one least interested in government or policy; he’s absorbed simply with himself. And what we’re seeing more clearly now is that he has crafted an administration in his own image: vain, narcissistic and dangerous.”

The death of advertising (Medium): “Advertising as we’ve always known it  —  large-scale campaigns predicated on instilling subconscious intuition in consumers  –  will die. What will rise from its ashes be unlike anything we’ve seen before. It will not condition us to select from a menu of mediocrity, as it has done for centuries. Rather, the algorithms buried within the walls of companies like Google and Facebook will deterministically present us with our best options for everything from dinner to marriage, given the troves of user data they have at their disposal.”

Would a fatwa stop Indonesia’s fake news? (South China Morning Post): “Indonesia’s highest Muslim clerical council is set to issue a religious decree that prohibits the circulation of fake news on the internet, underscoring rising concerns that hoaxes are inflaming ethnic and religious tensions in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.”

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Peter Fray

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