Scott Morrison coal power
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

FEELING THE HEAT

A new report has found Australia’s response to climate change is among the worst in the G20, noting a lack of policy, reliance on fossil fuels and rising emissions, The Guardian reports.

As politicians argue over whether the “unprecedented” bushfires ravaging NSW are linked to climate change — or whether it’s appropriate to bring it up at all — the latest Brown to Green Report ranked Australia third-worst in terms of progress toward meeting its Paris goals. The report states Australia is not even on track to meet its “insufficient” 2030 targets, and highlights a poor response on deforestation, transport, energy supply and carbon pricing. The international report was compiled by 14 NGOs, thinktanks and research institutes.

A STATE OF EMERGENCY

About 600 schools will be closed across NSW today, with a week-long state of emergency declared, as the east coast braces for an unprecedented and “catastrophic” fire risk, the ABC reports.

More than 60 bushfires continue to burn across the state, with the Bureau of Meteorology forecasting “hot, dry and gusty winds” that “will generate very dangerous fire conditions”. The NSW Rural Fire Service is warning that firefighters will not be able to help everybody if a fire takes hold, releasing a statement declaring “if you call for help, you may not get it”. NSW RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers says the situation is worse than he could have imagined, telling reporters: “If someone came to me and said ‘let’s do one of the scenario role-plays’, I would be saying, ‘let’s try to keep this a bit more realistic’”.

For the latest updates on the bushfires, visit the NSW RFS and Qld RFS websites.

BRACE YOURSELF, VICTORIA

The Victorian government is bracing for an extreme heatwave, reportedly worse than Black Saturday, that could cripple infrastructure and kill hundreds of people, Nine reports.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning predicts that a “one-in-110-years” heatwave, more destructive than the “extreme” ones of 2009 and 2014, is a real possibility, while biennial “severe heatwaves” could become the norm. Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio says preparation for such heatwaves is well underway in areas including health, transport, water, agriculture, education, energy and emergency services.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

People make mistakes. It doesn’t mean that they can never be forgiven. I think they’ve taken it seriously.

Dara Khosrowshahi

The Uber CEO compares the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi to “mistakes” with driverless cars.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Frydenberg signals reforms amid ‘mega-trends’ of rising debt, ageing population

Key crossbench senator proposes ‘conduct threshold’ for future union mergers

Smethurst’s High Court challenge a ‘high stakes’ test for press freedom

Labor pollster not given chance to speak to Shorten over campaign concerns, says secret report

Police defend body camera policy, saying they only switch them off with ‘good reason’

Religious freedom: Coalition bill ‘will sustain nastiness and hostility’, Michael Kirby warns

Hong Kong protester fights for life after policeman opens fire at point-blank range

NT top cop promises Warlpiri people full investigation into Yuendumu shooting

Australian retiree convicted of terrorism and jailed for 12 years in Vietnam

Almost 200 aged-care homes on the brink ($)

I didn’t try to foil Donald Trump, says Alexander Downer ($)

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

If now isn’t the ‘right time’ to ‘talk about’ climate change, when on earth is?

“What’s particularly ironic is that the same set of politicians who deny climate change, or falsely insist it’s being addressed, are often the ones to be found hyping the threat of terrorism as the basis for spending billions of dollars on security theatre and systematically eroding civil liberties. Climate change is causing far more deaths in Western countries than terrorism, much more economic damage. But those usually quick to accuse others of being soft on terrorism are themselves soft to the point of vacuum on a far more serious threat to the lives, health and prosperity of Australians. Want to talk about politicians who ignore warnings about security threats? How many warnings have climate denialist politicians like Scott Morrison been given? Even the government’s own 2016 Defence White Paper warned that climate change was a ‘major challenge’.”


Lies, damned lies, and political posters masquerading as neutral advice

“In Australian politics, there’s been a steady deterioration of the restraints that the shame of being caught lying once brought to political life. ‘Whatever it takes’ has morphed from the provocative title of Graham Richardson’s memoir a quarter of a century ago, to the accepted — even admired — mode of political practice. That morphing has been encouraged by a political reporting that admires winning, that celebrates political success over public morality. It valorises power over principles, resulting in a depressing meta-narrative, reporting politics as competitive sport.


Everything NSW fire services could have bought if their budget wasn’t cut

“Here are some of the ways state fire services could have spent those missing millions.

  • The annual salary of 488 qualified firefighters, or 384 station officers
  • Almost 70 new “Class 3 Pumper” trucks, heavy fire engines for both metro and regional areas which cost around $580,000 each
  • 115 4WD fire trucks to reach fires in difficult terrain, worth $350,000 each
  • Almost 50,000 fire-protective helmets at $818 each
  • 123,100 flame resistant rescue coveralls at $329 each
  • 10,739 gas exposure testing kits at $3,771 each
  • The annual salary of 260 superintendents, or 241 chief superintendents.”

THE COMMENTARIAT

We’ve been in bushfire hell in Glen Innes – and the scientists knew it was comingGlen Innes Severn mayor Carol Sparks (The Guardian): “While all this is a personal tragedy for my family and myself, it is but one story within an unfolding statewide and global disaster, about which our community deserves nothing less than the honest and unvarnished truth. There are already those who, following such statements, will aim to shoot the messenger. To those people I say this: take your best shot, for I have already been through hell and there is nothing you can say or do that can touch me now. But for the sake of the future, for the sake of our community and the rising generation who will inherit this scorched Earth, one can only hope there will be enough people remaining who retain the common decency to listen, to heed the cries of those in harm’s way, who will now together take decisive and collective action to save our ecosystem and our civilisation from collapse.”

Michael McCormack’s tough words only confirmed his weaknessDavid Crowe (The Age/Sydney Morning Herald):The divisions within the Liberal Party make any statement on climate science dangerous for any leader. Until a Liberal leader can speak frankly about the science, rather than in a political code to satisfy restless conservatives, there is no chance of a consensus on the policy. None of this means the Greens can reduce bushfires by shutting down the Australian coal industry and driving thousands of people out of work while China keeps burning fossil fuels. The whole point of the science is the connection is indirect. To make that point, of course, a politician would have to stop shouting when asked about the science.

Paying very wealthy pensioners is hardly prudent ($) – Adam Creighton (The Australian): When Australia introduced old age pensions 110 years ago it was for the genuinely needy. As one early 20th-century Victorian parliamentarian put it, the pension was “for people who have discharged their obligations as citizens and now find themselves unable to obtain a livelihood”. I don’t know about you but homeowners in Australia’s most expensive suburbs, with a few hundred thousand dollars in financial assets in the kitty, do have res­ources to obtain a livelihood. Andrew Fisher and Alfred Deakin, the prime ministers who oversaw one of the world’s first age pension schemes, would be horrified to see what it has become: an economically costly inheritance preservation scheme.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Former UK high commissioner Alexander Downer will speak on “Brexit and the changing politics of Europe” at the National Press Club.

  • Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will speak at the ANU about the global economy.

Sydney

  • NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott will be at the RFS headquarters for a bushfire briefing, followed by a press conference with RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

  • The High Court will announce its decision on whether disgraced cardinal George Pell can appeal his child sexual abuse conviction.

  • NBN Co will present its financial and operational first quarter results.

  • Nine Entertainment will hold its 2019 AGM.

NSW

  • Labor leader Anthony Albanese will visit northern NSW communities affected by the bushfires.

Melbourne

  • Stop the Debt Trap Alliance, a national coalition of consumer advocacy organisations, will release a report on the scale of Australia’s payday lending crisis.

  • The 2019 Women with Heart Luncheon will raise funds for research.

  • Media Diversity Australia will host a launch party for its Victorian chapter — the second state chapter run by local journalists, communication specialists and media academics.

Hobart

  • The Federal Court will rule on a challenge made by the Wilderness Society against approval granted to a controversial high-end tourism development at Lake Malbena.

  • A Tasmanian parliamentary committee will report on proposed gun law changes.

Adelaide

  • The 46th annual Clinical Oncology Society of Australia conference will be held.

Perth

  • Rio Tinto iron ore CEO Chris Salisbury, Bunnings MD Michael Schneider and McKinsey’s Oliver Tonby will discuss the future of work.

Alice Springs

  • The Spinifex Symposium will focus on mental health issues among rural Australians.