ABBOTT: GLOBAL WARMING ‘PROBABLY’ GOOD

Tony Abbott has argued that the planet’s warming climate is “probably doing good, or at least, more good than harm”, telling a gathering of climate sceptics in the UK that more people die in cold snaps than in heat waves. In a speech due to be delivered today and telegraphed in The Australian, the former prime minister says there “must not be” a Clean Energy Target (CET) introduced in Australia and warns: “Beware the pronouncement, ‘the science is settled’.”

The speech also argues that photographs of Manly beach taken over the last 100 years do not reveal any signs of a sea rise.

The speech comes after Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg yesterday appeared to suggest the Coalition would not commit to a CET, as recommended by Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel. With Malcolm Turnbull trying to quiet his backbench over the issue, and the government telling renewable energy operators they will need to “stand on their own two feet”, the Coalition has drawn the rebuke of Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox, who said abandoning a bipartisan CET would bring energy policy back to a state of “rancour and division”.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has continued to offer to work on a bipartisan CET with the government but isn’t missing the opportunity to go on the attack.

“Turnbull is sacrificing policy certainty and lower prices for consumers, lower prices for businesses, lower chance of job security for people working in those industries, just to keep his day job and to fend of Tony Abbott and the right wing of his party,” he said.

DEFENCE HACK

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) will release its 2017 Threat Report today, which finds a 15% increase in year-on-year “cyber incidents”.

While the report draws attention to the financial impact phishing scams and password theft are having on small businesses, it has also been revealed that a national defence contractor had “large amounts” of data stolen after being hacked last year. Assistant Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan said it was not clear who was responsible for the attack — which was ended with the ACSC’s help after the centre learned of its existence — but a report in The Australian said it was “understood” the hacker was based in China.

There are yet more national security laws in the works, with Attorney-General George Brandis reportedly set to release draft laws that would give the government powers to direct the operators of key infrastructure deemed insufficiently safeguarded against threats.

‘CITIZENSHIP SEVEN’ CASE BEGINS

The seven federal MPs who had their eligibility challenged on the basis of dual citizenship will appear before the High Court over the coming days. Writing for Fairfax, University of Queensland law professor Graeme Orr says the court’s determination will hinge on whether MPs should have taken “reasonable steps” to renounce citizenship, an especially difficult question given several MPs will argue they were not aware they had a second citizenship to renounce.

The issue could get especially ugly for the Coalition if Nationals deputy leader Fiona Nash is ruled ineligible, with the Liberal member who would take her spot now reportedly set against relinquishing it at a later date, thus preventing Nash from returning.

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: The High Court hears the cases of five MPs who had their eligibility challenged on the basis of dual citizenship.

Canberra: Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security Dan Tehan addresses the National Press Club.

Perth: Irish President Michael Higgins addresses the West Australian Parliament.

Melbourne: Mention for four men charged over an alleged Christmas Day terror plot. 

THE COMMENTARIAT

Amish ways good for some, the rest of us need power — Tony Abbott (The Australian $): “Beware the pronouncement, ‘the science is settled’. It’s the spirit of the Inquisition, the thought police down the ages. Palaeontology indicates that there have been warmer periods and cooler periods that don’t correlate with carbon dioxide concentrations: the medieval warm period when crops were grown in Greenland and the mini-ice age when the Thames froze.”

Energy policy: Vale the plan, all await the cunning plan — Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review $): “By dumping the existing apparent policy trajectory – and one on which Labor had been heading towards a possible political truce — the government has unnerved the energy sector and left voters with renewed grounds for thinking the government doesn’t know what it is doing.”

    CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

    Poll Bludger: how Nick Xenophon could end the two-party political system — William Bowe: “In taking on what federal voting patterns suggest to be only his 13th strongest seat, Xenophon is signalling just how far his ambitions extend beyond consolidating the party’s existing presence in the Adelaide Hills.”

    Small fish in a big pond: why media mergers won’t create Aussie sharks — Chris Warren: “She noted that the combined value of the three free-to-air networks was just $2.1 billion. Fairfax Media was about the same with a market valuation of $2.2 billion. We don’t know, but can guess than News Corp’s Australian operations are probably worth about the same. Facebook? About $650 billion. Alphabet? About $850 billion. Even little old Netflix that’s causing the NBN so much grief? $90 billion.”

    Facial recognition technology is something Australia can be proud of — Peter Chudd (as shouted down the phone line to satirist James Colley): “The Luddite public love to panic prematurely, crying that a new technology is the precursor to a totalitarian state. I’m much more measured. I’d rather wait and see if a totalitarian state emerges and then, if it does, ingratiate myself with the leaders. I’m putting the civil back into civil liberties.”

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