(IMAGE: AAP/JAMES ROSS)

A MENTAL HEALTH PLAN

The Andrews government has proposed a new mental health tax, or an increase to the Medicare levy, as part of consultation with the federal government to reform Australia’s mental health system, The Age reports.

The Victorian government says mental health claims to WorkCover may have topped $700 million last year and could increase by 34% in the coming decade.

CLIMATE CHANGE OVERTAKES ENERGY ANXIETY

The latest Newspoll ($) has voters, for the first time, prioritising climate action over energy prices (43-42) — although significantly more people blamed “a failure to conduct adequate hazard reduction burns” as a cause for the bushfire crisis compared to global heating (56-35).

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The Australian‘s survey ($) has Scott Morrison bridging the “preferred PM” gap 40-41, up from 38-43 three weeks ago, and the Coalition jumping two points to trail Labor 49-51 on two-party preferred.

MEDIA RENEWS ATTACK ON CLIMATE ACTION

Cabinet ministers, the National Farmers’ Federation and freight lobbyists have all called for Anthony Albanese to cost his economy-wide target of net-zero emissions by 2050, The Australian ($) reports.

TALKING POINT: The story, however, does not mention the relative cost of inaction — which, while slightly existential, the Climate Council puts at over $2 trillion by 2050 for Australia’s agriculture, property and productivity sectors.

HANNAH CLARKE AND CHILDREN HONOURED

More than 1,000 people attended a Brisbane vigil for Hannah Clarke and her three children, with the ABC reporting friends and family have remembered her as a strong, funny and compassionate woman.

Following last week’s horrific arson attack, The Courier-Mail has published statistics on a record-high four domestic violence orders breached per hour in Queensland ($), a call for more crisis housing for survivors ($), and a push by Women’s Legal Service to make coercive control a new domestic violence offence ($).

Lifeline: 131 114; 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732; Women’s Crisis Line 1800 811 811.

THE RORTS KEEP COMING AND THEY DON’T STOP COMING

Analysis by Labor has found 83% of the Coalition’s $3 billion, election-era Urban Congestion Fund went to government and marginal Labor seats, the ABC reports.

TALKING POINT: While Catherine King has called the fund “rorting on a nuclear scale”, the scheme is distinct from the sports rorts affair in that it did not involve a competitive grants process, or, for that matter, giant, novelty cheques.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

If you’re going to have a very aggressive renewables target and you don’t have a clear plan for getting matching dispatchable generation into your system… you’re headed for trouble and that’s just where we’ve seen Victoria go.

Angus Taylor

The federal energy minister takes a jab ($) at Victoria for seeking its own reliability rules (because no one at the federal level will update them).

CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY

Stasiland more extended than we thought: the truth behind the ‘Abbott as foreign agent’ affair

“When the government discovered in November that its laws against foreign interference had instead been used to target a conservative political conference and former prime minister Tony Abbott, it was outraged.”


The ties that bind: just how much does the deputy PM know about a $2.4m grant?

“Nationals leader Michael McCormack has refused to say what role he played in approving a controversial $2.4 million regional grant to a business linked to a senior Pharmacy Guild of Australia official. The official is a supporter of the Queensland LNP and is known to McCormack through his guild lobbying activities.”


A Senate inquiry is trying to understand Australia. We tried to understand the inquiry

“It’s nearly a year to the day since an Australian man walked into a mosque in Christchurch and massacred 51 Muslims. He was a textbook internet fascist, a product of disorienting, memey online sewers. But he was also radicalised in Australia.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

State deal blocking world’s largest coal port from fossil fuel exit

“Remarkable”: ESB hails switch to renewables, gives brickbats to Coalition policy

Bushfire crisis highlights ‘urgent need’ for national action on air pollution

Friend of train driver says he raised concerns about poorly maintained rail network

Labor demands answers over Nats’ MP Pat Conaghan‘s Sweden trip after backing McCormack ($)

Crown Resorts executive authorises transfer to drug trafficker

MPs ridicule Coalition’s push for more family time ($)

School declined public appeal on sex abuse claims to protect image

South African refugee visas rejected ($)

Millions in aid but home is still the tip in Honiara ($)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Help on its way to SMEs ($) — Michaelia Cash (The Australian): “The damage late payments inflict on small businesses cannot be understated. Last year market researchers Xero found late payments made by big business to small and medium enterprises were worth $115bn a year. That’s a $115bn anchor dragging across the balance sheets of SMEs.”

Network Ten’s drift to the political left of The Guardian makes no business senseStephen Brook (The Sydney Morning Herald): “It is an odd state of affairs when Network 10, home of Neighbours, Dancing With The Stars, Young Talent Time and It’s a Knockout, positions itself as more left-wing than The Guardian. But media in 2020 is nothing if not a whole bunch of weird.”

Bernie Sanders’ Nevada win is a breakout moment. The others are toastRichard Wolffe (The Guardian): “Today, after his resounding win in Nevada on Saturday, America’s favorite socialist can look forward to trashing the arguments of the also-rans, just like the Clinton campaign trashed his protracted case of the race in 2016.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney

  • NSW’s first Spatial Digital Twin, an interactive platform that displays real-time 3D and 4D data to model the urban environment, will be launched for use by public and corporate sectors to create smarter cities.

Canberra

  • Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud will deliver the Australian Institute of Architects’ 53rd Griffin Lecture at the National Press Club.

  • Veterans Minister Darren Chester will unveil a memorial to military working dogs at the Australian War Memorial.

  • Both houses of parliament will resume today.

Brisbane

  • Open forum initiative The Purpose Project will host a ‘Your Vision in 2020’ conversation with Greens councillor Jonathan Sri at Wandering Cooks.

Hobart

  • Premier Peter Gutwein will present a keynote speech at CEDA’s 2020 Economic and Political Overview — his first since taking on the job.

  • Bob Brown will speak out ahead of filing an application in the Hobart Magistrates Court to appeal the Prohibition Notice against all forest protests.

Darwin

  • The Productivity Commission will hold public hearings as part of its inquiry into mental health.

Christchurch, New Zealand

  • A further pre-trial application hearing will be held for the Christchurch massacre at the High Court.

London, United Kingdom

  • Day one of the first part of Julian Assange’s extradition trial, to run until Friday, February 28.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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