emissions
Energy Minister Angus Taylor (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

NO FARM, NO FOWL

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the National Farmers Federation has called for Australia to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050, a relatively tame, vague goal adopted by literally every state and territory — along with most developed countries and even fossil fuel companies — but still rejected by the Morrison government.

Five years after replacing the carbon price with roughly nothing, the Coalition has again refused to implement any carbon target, with Energy Minister Angus Taylor only saying he is working with the farm sector to reduce emissions but that the government “won’t set a target without a plan”.

Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers will speak to the Warwick Chamber of Commerce today on both climate change and regional communities.

Meanwhile, agriculture spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon — who after less than a month ago speculating that members of the Labor Environment Action Network had “probably infiltrated the party” — has fretted on a podcast run by business search firm Blenheim Partners that Labor could end up splitting trying to juggle urban and regional bases.

PS: This feels like a fine time to remind everyone that the Beyond Zero Emissions’ five year proposal to create 1.8 million jobs could probably help with the recession, regional communities, and next global crisis.

PPS: In the first of the 2020-21 season, 9News reports that a bushfire is burning across 160 hectares in Duranbah, along the Pacific Highway near the NSW-Queensland border.

DEAL OR NO DEAL?

At 10.30pm AEST Tuesday, just about every media outlet in Australia had published Scott Morrison’s claim to have signed an agreement with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, one worth hundreds of millions of dollars to mass produce their Oxford vaccine candidate in the event it succeeds.

However, as The Monthly explains via industry publication Pharma in Focus, Morrison’s “deal” is in fact a signed letter of intent that, according to an AstraZeneca spokesperson, does not “go into any detail about costs or numbers or anything until [they] have an idea of what the manufacturing capacity is”.

According to the ABC, Morrison also walked back comments yesterday indicating any future vaccines would be compulsory — acknowledging that, while there are social programs such as “No Jab, No Pay”, the government “can’t hold someone down and make them take it” — and later promised to roll out any locally-made drugs to Pacific and some South-East Asian countries.

PS: For some global context, both the US and the UK have signed agreements with six different vaccine candidates, as has the United Kingdom.

MEATING STANDARDS

According to the ABC, the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services told some meatworks staff at JBS Brooklyn that, despite several infections amongst staff, they could skip the self-isolation period following COVID-19 tests so that the plant could remain partially open.

The department has replied that the exemption only applied to workers who were not considered close contacts of infected colleagues and who were not feeling unwell.

Elsewhere, The Age reports that new clusters at two hospitals in Melbourne’s south and east are not believed to be linked to a growing outbreak at Frankston Hospital, while the Herald Sun notes that, as Dan Andrews and Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warn of a decline in testing rates, some clinics are now seeing as few as 20 people a day.

PS: According to The Age, the Victorian government yesterday removed a restriction barring Melburnians from driving to local parks and other areas in order to exercise, after Victoria Police reminded residents on Tuesday that they faced $1652 fines if found to breach the blatantly nonsensical rule.

HOME AFFAIRS IS AT IT AGAIN

The Federal Court has dismissed an application to stop Home Affairs from transferring a 68-year-old man with underlying health issues from a Melbourne detention facility to Perth, after first ruling that the government must stop detaining him within the city’s COVID-19 outbreak.

Rather than simply letting the man stay with his Melbourne family, Home Affairs intends to fly him to the Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre, located an hour outside of Perth — a transfer the Human Rights Law Centre explains has been deemed permissible on the basis that prevention measures be put in place, such as masks, gloves and social distancing.

PS: In a separate, damning update on Australian incarceration policy, The Guardian reports that Western Australia has set up a new prison taskforce following the fourth Aboriginal death in jail in three months.

STATE COVID WRAP: BRISBANE’S HEALTH ALERT

  • As the ABC reports, a health alert has been issued for both Virgin flight VA-962 from Brisbane to Sydney on Monday August 17 and Brisbane’s Jam Pantry cafe after a woman who visited later tested positive
  • The Western Australian government has announced that, with Victoria’s outbreak not expected to come under control for another two months, “phase four” of their recovery roadmap will be extended another two months until October 23, and the 2020 Perth Royal Show will no longer go ahead
    • Separately, the government has collaborated with Rex airlines to deliver more regional flights to Albany, Esperance, Carnarvon and Monkey Mia from August 31, Albany will receive 14 services a week up from eight, a 75% increase, and Esperance services will increase from eight services a week to 13
  • The Victorian government has announced that local elections will go ahead on Saturday October 24th, with the Victorian Electoral Commission creating COVIDSafe voting plans and candidates to both complete a set of “Safe Campaigning Guidelines” and online candidate training courses
  • Both NSW and Queensland made substantial PPE announcements this week, with the former introducing a $5 million grants scheme to locally manufacture the materials and the latter announcing an expanded bulk storage site to house equipment in Inala
  • The Tasmanian government has established an independent review into the North West COVID-19 outbreak, with Greg Melick AO SC appointed as “Independent Reviewer”
  • Finally, as part of the territory’s economic recovery plan, the ACT government has announced that a new fire and ambulance station will be built in Acton.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

We regulate aged care, but when there is a public health pandemic, then public health … whether it gets into aged care, shopping centres, schools or anywhere else, then they are things that are matters for Victoria. So I don’t think it’s as binary as you suggest.

Scott Morrison

The prime minister attempts to share responsibility for aged care failures, and, while the Commonwealth is responsible for funding and regulating the sector, he’s not wrong that states can have a role: of the 2000 cases linked to the sector, only five are in Victorian government-run homes, which, coincidentally, are the only ones subject to legislated staff-to-client ratios.

CRIKEY RECAP

Feel that groceries are going up? You’re dead right — we are in for a shock

“Australian shoppers — and politicians — may be about to get a very unpleasant cost-of-living shock.

“Coles supermarkets just reported its official results and buried below its impressive $930 million profit is some bad news: grocery prices are rising again — faster than official inflation and faster than wages.”


Cannabis use soars during pandemic

“Cannabis is the COVID-19 drug of choice in Australia after alcohol. Self-reported usage rates have soared and medicinal cannabis approvals are at record rates, increasing by almost 40% since telehealth was implemented in April.

“Australians are turning to marijuana during the pandemic for prescribed medication, self-medication, and as an alternative to other substances.”


The right is wrong: we are embracing COVID lockdown as freedom, not jail

“The Australian response to the coronavirus should be, by any rational assessment, a cause for pride. We’re not a boutique little island like New Zealand. We’re a continent nation with two major global travel hubs in Melbourne and Sydney.

“Had we had a fully anti-science populist prime minister — i.e. the one we will have, gifted by Murdoch, in 10 years — or a couple of premiers of the same stripe, disaster would have been possible.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Embassy job cuts ‘hamstring our consular muscle’ ($)

‘Desperate’ Australian hotels want overseas passenger caps raised to fill quarantine rooms

‘What are you planning to say?’ Pope quizzed whistleblower priest, book claims

Frydenberg snubs China Mengniu’s $600m dairy deal for Lion ($)

Banjima people caught up in BHP’s Pilbara mine expansion say they were forced to ‘trade away’ heritage

$1b NT gas pipeline plan for east coast gas supply ($)

Apple’s market value doubles in two years, becoming first US company to top $US2 trillion

Australian home affairs department blunder reveals whistleblower’s identity and disclosure details

Coronavirus updates: India records deadliest day, Iran death toll tops 20,000

US to roll out rarely-used diplomatic line of attack to reimpose Iran sanctions

THE COMMENTARIAT

Weird scenes from the Democratic convention — world waits for the real Joe Biden ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “The unbelievably weird second night of the Democratic National Convention had four stars — Donald Trump, COVID-19, Jill Biden and a terminally schmaltzy version of Joe Biden’s personal story. This was the Instagram convention. A near vertigo-inducing series of amateur videos paired with an almost complete lack of spontaneity, substance and even rationality.”

Local government needs a voice at the national cabinetAndrew Giles (The Mandarin): “It’s almost a cliché’ to say the challenges we face today are unprecedented. But it makes this no less true. The challenges we face as policymakers and elected officials are enormous. How we respond to the challenges of a pandemic and a deep recession, in particular how we craft policy to make our cities and suburbs better, healthier, more liveable and productive places.”

Coronavirus vaccine: Truth behind Scott Morrison’s ‘No Jab, No Pay’ policySamantha Maiden (news.com.au):Scott Morrison was in a strop. It was a Friday — February 20, 2015 — and the Productivity Commission had just released a report into childcare. He had reluctantly agreed to be interviewed about the report in his capacity as social services minister by News Corp Australia’s Sunday newspapers. Recently appointed to the role after ‘stopping the boats’, he was, by all accounts, not impressed with his new job and regarded it as a sideways move.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Labor leader Anthony Albanese will speak in conversation with Crikey’s editor-in-chief Peter Fray and politics editor Bernard Keane tonight at 6pm AEST. This event is for our Inside Access members — you can upgrade here or become a member here.

  • CEO of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association Christina Bu will speak in conversation with Giles Parkinson, founder and editor of RenewEconomy and The Drive, for The Australia Institute’s latest webinar, Electrifying our Roads — Norway’s Way.

Peter Fray

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