Clive Palmer (Image: AAP/Dan Peled)

Are you gonna take it, Clive?

Clive Palmer has been all over the media of late thanks to his legal challenge over the closed WA border — a challenge in which the Morrison government had no particular interest, and then was secretly supporting, and then dropped like a hot potato that knew what terrible PR looked like (despite the fact that Scotty owes Palmer a favour or two or 83 million).

And that’s just one of the legal battles Clive is fighting at the moment. He’s also engaged in some environmental challenges, and is facing a possible five years in jail after being charged with fraud and dishonest use of his position regarding his previous political party, Palmer United. Oh, and he’s also going to court over whether he nicked a hair metal song.  

To recap: for months the nation’s airwaves rang to the sound of “Australia’s Not Gonna Cop It” ahead of the 2019 election. The jingle, in which Palmer exhorted people to vote for his United Australia Party, made the nation sit up as one and go “wait a second, did he get permission to rewrite Twisted Sister’s classic ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’?” 

And the answer was no, with Palmer arguing that he totally didn’t steal it and that the melody was actually “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” — which he also didn’t write but which is conveniently out of copyright.

Most music copyright cases are a matter of which party gives up first since the costs are staggering and the payouts meagre, so it’s perhaps a shame that Palmer happened to pick a fight with Universal Music Publishing Pty Ltd — part of the most powerful entertainment company on the planet, and one of the relatively few international music publishers with offices in Australia. Whoopsie! 

According to the Federal Court’s listings portal it’s all happening in the NSW Federal Court in October, and while it’s impossible to guess at the outcome of these often arcane legal cases, the interim rulings so far suggests that after all this time Palmer’s likely to cop it / yes, he’s likely to cop it / Palmer’s likely to cop it / after aaaaaaallllllll *guitar solo*.

That sinking feeling

While Australia fears the ravages of a larger second wave of COVID-19, some countries which have managed to get things under control are starting to make tentative steps toward reopening the industries devastated by the disease.  

In one hopeful case Italy is restarting their tourism industry — because who the heck wouldn’t want to holiday in one of Europe’s most enchanting former hotspots?

That said, there are a few changes in place. Venice, for example, has reduced its gondola services to reflect lower demand because of COVID-19. Social distancing regulations have been put in place because of COVID-19. And the number of people admitted into a gondola has been reduced because of… tourist fatarseness.

Yes, new regulations have reduced the people-per-boat number from six to five for the regular-sized gondolas, and from 12 to 10 for the “water taxi”–sized ones, because tourists have gotten heavier in the last decade and are making the waterlogged watercraft harder to maneuver in narrow canals. And let’s be honest, people getting back out there after piling on the lockdown kilos are unlikely to flatten that unflattering curve.

“Going forward with over half a ton of meat on board is dangerous,” said Raoul Roveratto, unsubtle president of the Association of Substitute Gondoliers to La Repubblica. And if you can’t trust the estimates of the president of the Assoc-Sub-G, who can you trust?

What’s especially great about this news is that the Italian authorities could very easily have passed this off as an infection control measure rather than choosing to explicitly tell the world their holiday exports are on the porky side. 

What’s with the judgement, gondoliers? You lot poke boats around with sticks for a living; maybe tone down the smug superiority.

Coal Runnings

While pro-mining hawks like Labor’s Joel Fitzgibbon have been keen to talk about coal exports like they’re a real thing with a future (and imply that anyone in his party that thinks otherwise is a secret Green operative) the rest of the world is seemingly less fussed about the whole “paying an unnecessary premium to hasten our climate catastrophe” thing.

Global Energy Monitor have been doing the sums and concluded that over the first six months of 2020, and for the first time on record, more coal-burning plants were shut down than were commissioned.

The reduction in construction has been mainly in Europe and, perhaps surprisingly, the US — but also India (a big client for Australia), Japan and many south-east Asian countries. 

China is one of the few nations to have increased construction of coal-fired plants — but before anyone in a hi-vis vest starts celebrating it’s worth noting they are also relying more heavily on their own coal production.

Also, you might have noticed that relations between Australia and China are a bit on the frosty side at the moment, especially as everyone looks at US naval “exercises” in the South China Sea and goes “say, reckon Trump will want to get a quick war in before the election?” and doesn’t even know if they’re joking anymore.

Tim Buckley, from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, looked at the report and told The Guardian: “No one is saying it is going to happen in the next five years, but the trajectory is clear. How can you compete with [solar and wind] that has zero marginal cost of supply? They are going to lose. I have zero doubt about it.”

Still, Australia’s fans o’ coal are still bullish about the sector’s future — and why wouldn’t they be, when companies like Adani are powering ahead to… um, having South Korean investment company Hanwha Securities be the latest to decide to pull out of coal projects after concluding that the debt difficulties were too great.

Maybe Hanwha should look into more promising 2020 investment opportunities, like competitive breath-inhaling competitions, hugging festivals, or the global live music industry.

Peter Fray

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