Celeste Barber
Celeste Barber wearing a shirt featuring Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks during the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concert at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, February 16, 2020. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)


Celeste Barber, John Farnham, Olivia Newton-John, Queen (performing their 1985 Live Aid set fronted by Adam Lambert) and many, many more artists have helped raise $9.5 million at Sydney’s Fire Fight Australia concert for bushfire relief, the ABC reports. Russell Crowe also popped up in a frankly terrific video about the impact of climate change.

PLAYBACK: While a full video of the concert is yet to be uploaded, you can, and should, watch the English/Gamilaraay cover of You’re the Voice by Farnham, Newton-John, Brian May, Mitch Tambo and a group of volunteer firefighters.


In a stranger attempt at support, backpackers will be granted new visa benefits if they help rebuild ­bushfire-affected communities, under an overhaul of the working holiday program, The Australian ($) reports.

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TALKING POINT: One wonders if the almost 50,000 failed asylum seekers that The Age reports are currently awaiting deportation will be granted the opportunity to apply.


According to the ABC, 70 more passengers and crew aboard Japan’s quarantined cruise ship Diamond Princess have tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total to 355 or just under 10% of those on board.

As both Australia and the US work on evacuating nationals stuck on the ship, The Guardian reports a group of Australian evacuees will leave quarantine on Christmas Island today following no reported cases of coronavirus.


Firefighter and cult hero Paul Parker has told The Project — shortly after telling Scott Morrison mid-bushfire crisis “to go and get fucked from Nelligen” — he was dismissed from his volunteer captaincy at NSW’s Rural Fire Service for “allegations and foul language”.

HOT TAKE: While the news got #IStandWithFiremanPaul trending, and Parker will never pay for another beer in his life, really, as Crikey contributor Ben Eltham noted on Twitter, is there anything more Australian than punishing someone for speaking out against authority?


The IPCC is not governing Australia. The Liberals and Nationals are.

Michael McCormack

The Nationals leader answered a question InsidersDavid Speers absolutely did not ask (which, FYI, was actually about whether McCormack accepts IPCC emission trajectories).


Who will benefit from a new coal-fired power plant in Queensland?

“Mining giant Glencore has managed to keep its name more or less out of the news that the government has backed a proposal for a new coal-fired power plant in northern Queensland.”

The real reason why everyone thinks Queensland coal miners totally rock

“For perspective, 52,000 coal miners compares to 270,000 farmers (the constituency that the Nationals are more usually associated with), 300,000 building construction workers (and another 100,000 heavy engineering workers), 390,000 people in food retailing, over 800,000 people in cafes, bars and restaurants, 275,000 road transport workers, 630,000 preschool and school teachers, 490,000 people in hospitals, 270,000 aged-care workers.

“You get the point.”

What the auditors really thought of the sports grants process

“Officials from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) appeared before a Senate inquiry last night, revealing further details about the sports rorts scandal. We’ve pulled out some of the highlights from the evidence.”


Firefighters ‘taken off trucks’ to plug gaps in fire safety unit

Sports grants scandal: rural areas received less than $10m of $150m funds allocated

Not appy: warnings out of date due to inaccurate fire data ($)

ICAC investigation into Liberal MP John Sidoti enters its fifth month

‘Why I chose an abortion’: Tasmanian women share their stories

Jackie Trad braces for caucus storm ahead of integrity law debate

Graham Ashton writes to schools in a bid to stop program run by retired long-serving cops ($)

Aged care helpline: more than 100 calls a day went unanswered 

Perrottet slams Canberra for tax reform drought ($)

‘She didn’t want to die’: Woman’s pleas for help unanswered by hospitals


Labor exposed on climate, and Bandt not helping ($) — Nick Cater (The Australian): “Would Richard Marles welcome a new Australian coal-fired power station? The ABC’s David Speers asked the question of Labor’s deputy leader at least a dozen times last week before giving up and answering himself.”

The High Court and the “aliens” powerMegan Davis (The Saturday Paper): “The decision by the High Court of Australia this week on the ‘aliens’ power cast my mind back to my work in 2011 on the prime minister’s expert panel on the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian constitution.”

Bring them back: It’s time the government brought IS wives to AustraliaMichael Bachelard (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Well, at least we now have it clear. The Australian government is not prepared to accept Australian citizens, and those with a claim to citizenship, home from detention in Syria unless they can pay a people smuggler to help them escape.”


The Latest Headlines



  • Lifeline chair John Brogden and RSF commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons will launch Lifeline’s Australia-wide bushfire support phone line.

  • Tony Abbott will begin a national tour to mark the launch of his book ­Abbott: The Defining Speeches.

  • Phase three of the NSW ICAC public inquiry into the regulation of lobbying, access and influence will begin, focusing on the roles and perspectives of government officials.

  • Day one of the three-day Future Justice & Corrections Summit, to feature representatives from the Commonwealth Ombudsman, Serco, GEO Group, and others.


  • An inquest into Melbourne’s 2017 Bourke St Mall rampage will restart.

  • Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt will open the Think Pink Living Centre, a breast cancer support facility at Yarra’s Edge.

  • Queen Victoria Market will host its 22nd annual ‘Opera in the Market’ event.


  • ANU will host a forum event titled “Imagining Australia with 100% renewable energy: how do we get there?” Speakers will include the former head of the CEFC and independent Oliver Yates.

  • Former High Court judge Michael Kirby will deliver the inaugural Canberra Law School commencement oration.


  • The 2019 Matilda Awards (a celebration of the Queensland theatre industry) will be held at the Powerhouse.


  • Early voting opens today for the February 29 by-election for the Northern Territory seat of Johnston.

  • The Indigenous Carbon Industry Network will hold its second annual meeting.


  • The Veterans at University Symposium will include a keynote from Air Vice-Marshal Dr Tracy Smart on transition as a health issue for veterans.


  • Pianists Andrew Hagger and Élodie Sablier will perform a classical crossover concert ‘Vivid’ to raise funds for the Minderoo Foundation Fire Fund.

  • Historian Tiffany Shellam will launch her new book, Meeting the Waylo: Aboriginal Encounters in the Archipelago, at UWA Publishing’s Love House.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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