Chinese authorities have reportedly banned Australian coal imports at the major northern port of Dalian and will cap overall levels at 12 million tonnes by the end of 2019, according to media reports that sent the Australian dollar tumbling.
Reuters reports that the indefinite ban on Australia’s top export, which kicked off early February and comes amongst deteriorating relations with China, brought the dollar down by over 1% to as low as 70.86 US cents. Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has asked Australia’s ambassador to Beijing to investigate the reports.
The news comes after Australia’s largest coal miner Glencore announced it would cap global output following shareholder pressure over global warming, and outstanding environmental concerns mean it could take up to another two years for Queensland’s Adani-Carmichael mine to gain approval.
Labor has slammed Attorney General Christian Porter for appointing a slew of former Coalition parliamentarians and staffers to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the latest example of political stacking in a body designed to conduct independent reviews of government administrative decisions.
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Of a total 34 new appointments announced by Porter, The Guardian reports that eight are former Coalition staffers and six are former parliamentarians. The list includes section 44 victim and former Senate president Stephen Parry, and former WA speaker Michael Sutherland, renowned for calling refugee activists and environmentalists “a bunch of cockroaches”. Shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus blasted Porter’s announcement and argued that Labor would “clean up this mess” by restoring “a transparent merits-based policy to judicial appointments, and apply[ing] a similar system to the AAT”.
THEY TRIED TO WARN US
Consulting firm KPMG allegedly flagged concerns about the financial state of besieged security contractor Paladin in a confidential report to Home Affairs, which earlier this week alleged the company did not “identify any significant issues” brought to the department’s attention.
While Home Affairs earlier characterised KPMG during estimates as a “commercial adviser” to the tender process, The Australian Financial Review ($) reports that KPMG’s financial strength report did not make any recommendations but did flag risks around Paladin’s small capitalisation relative to the original multi-million dollar contract. The news comes after Paladin yesterday broke its silence over the ongoing controversy and described reports linking it to bad debts as “offensive” and “unsubstantiated”.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[When] I asked Mr Burnes how could this be done so quickly he verbally advised me, ‘Hockey owes me’.
The former group general manager of Helloworld subsidiary QBT claims chief executive Andrews Burnes was able to shortly organise a meeting with a certain US ambassador. Burnes has since denied setting up the meeting or speaking like a mob boss.
CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY
“Just days ago, Andrew Burnes was a relatively unknown travel executive who happened to be the federal Liberal Party’s treasurer. Now, he is at the centre of yet another expenses scandal following reports his company paid for Finance Minister Mathias Cormann’s family holiday flights. Cormann has subsequently paid for the flights claiming the payment to be an ‘administrative error’.”
“Yesterday, the ALP tried to introduce a bill into the House of Representatives establishing a process for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to set a floor price for milk. That comes after a kerfuffle over the Woolworths shareholder and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud calling for a boycott of Woolworths rivals Coles and Aldi on the basis that they wouldn’t follow Woolies in increasing milk prices by 10%. Ten per cent is more than five times the current rate of inflation, at a time when wages are growing at around 2% (Littleproud has since dumped his shares).”
“What is happening in the NSW Greens? That’s the worried question I often encounter. The short answer is: google Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (but more of that in a minute). A long and misleading answer advanced by people like ex-Greens member Jeremy Buckingham is that socialist factions have taken over, in some kind of carefully organised infiltration operation.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Julie Bishop’s final speech sums up her career — bold, confident and with a cutting hidden message — Annabel Crabb (ABC): “Five years of intense diplomatic training have not been lost on Julie Bishop. The long flights, the sleepless nights, the interminable state dinners pretending that Ambassador X is fascinating company, the multiple instances of cheerfully not minding when some foreign leader mistakes her for the wife of the Australian foreign minister; all of it has worked.”
Beijing is not the innocent party ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “Interpreting Chinese trade moves and understanding their links to policy and politics is not quite as easy as it looks. That is certainly true of these latest restrictions on Australian coal exports to China. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that Beijing is extremely grumpy with Canberra at the moment.”
Dear Scott and Bill, we’ve strayed from our values: a Socceroo’s plea — Craig Foster (The Sydney Morning Herald): “As with Hakeem’s case, this issue transcends party lines and goes to universal values. The policy of indefinite, offshore detention does not uphold our international obligations and we need to be strong enough to admit this and to find a fair and humane solution to this crisis of our conscience.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Senate Estimates will hear from Indigenous Affairs and the Murray Darling Basin Plan.
A senate inquiry is due to release its report into credit and financial services, including Afterpay and payday lenders.
Assistant Minister for Treasury and Finance Zed Seselja will open the Australian Government Small Business Fair Canberra.
Labor leader Bill Shorten and deputy leader Tanya Plibersek, Greens leader Richard Di Natale and AEU Federal President Correna Haythorpe will speak at the Australian Education Union’s annual general conference.
EnergyLab will host a “Big Ideas” event with California Clean Energy Fund managing director Danny Kennedy and EnergyLab Cambodia country director Bridget McIntosh.
CEDA will host an artificial intelligence and ethics forum, the first of a national series of events.
CEDA will hold an annual Economic and Political Overview with NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, NSW opposition leader Michael Daley, CBA’s Michael Blythe, Asialinks CEO Mukund Narayanamurti and more.
The Energy Policy Institute of Australia will host briefing event “Australia facing decarbonisation: Policies, technologies, timing and costs” with China’s National Development and Reform Commission’s Dr Jiang Kejun, Minerals Council Of Australia chief executive Tania Constable, CEFC’s Corporate and Project Finance director Monique Miller and more.
The Brisbane Magistrates Court will hold a hearing relating to ASIC charges against Clive Palmer and Palmer Leisure Coolum Pty Ltd.
The Urban Developer will host its 2019 Brisbane Market Outlook with speakers from Macroplan and Domain.
The Castlemaine Magistrates Court will hear a case involving 46 charges of obtaining property by deception, following an IBAC investigation into allegations of mismanagement of funds of the Wesley Hill Public Hall Committee of Management.
Auckland, New Zealand
Scott Morrison and NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern are set to discuss telecommunications security following Huawei bans, along with other issues, at an annual leaders’ meeting.