According to The Age, the Andrews government is facing a new class action on behalf of workers retrenched during Victoria’s second wave, with the legal team set to argue that the stage three and four restrictions arose due to failures in the hotel quarantine system from Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and Jobs Minister Martin Pakula’s departments. The news comes after a cafe owner seeking Liberal preselection, Michelle Loielo, launched a separate claim aimed at the government’s curfew.
Elsewhere, the ABC reports that the hotel quarantine inquiry has heard recordings of meetings where Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said he did not believe Australian Defence Force troops were necessary, and, separately, seen new evidence that Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Phil Gaetjens offered his Victorian counterpart ADF support on April 8 — a month before infections broke out.
PS: Further north, The Guardian reports that both Queensland Labor and the LNP are turning their election tactics towards Annastacia Palaszczuk’s pandemic policies, while The Australian ($) reports that that the premier’s department spent more than $528,000 on COVID-19 polling in the past few months and hired political strategist Mike Kaiser to help develop the state’s economic recovery.
NOT ALL GAS AND GAITERS
The country’s largest energy lobby, the Australian Energy Council, has come out against Scott Morrison’s plan to build a gas-fired power station in NSW if alternative private investments are not made to replace the Liddell coal station, arguing the move “risks deterring the very investments the Government is attempting to encourage”.
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However, The Age reports that Energy Minister Angus Taylor has dismissed complaints of investment uncertainty and argued that, “the companies have had years to commit and they can still commit until April next year. They’ve had a lot of time — now it’s time to get on with it”.
Elsewhere, Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes has expressed interest in building the 1GW of dispatchable generation on the condition it is not gas-powered, but accused Morrison of contracting himself over whether the ultimatum is really “technology neutral”.
Finally, The Age reports that a leaked copy of a Liddell Taskforce study claims closing Liddell would temporarily lift the state’s wholesale power prices by more than a quarter, but the effects would decline as more capacity entered the market.
PS: If you are wondering why investors are maybe a little rattled, consider RenewEconomy’s explanation of how a seven year policy vacuum and recent, deliberate stalling tactics has meant Taylor has overseen a general decline in renewables investment since taking on the job.
Finally, an ABC investigation has revealed how, in the lead up to the Chinese government’s crackdown on Australian journalists, the Australian Federal Police seized correspondence between Chinese diplomats and a policy adviser to NSW Labor MP Shaoquett Moselmane. The AFP also named Sydney Consul Sun Yantao in a warrant as part of its investigation into political interference.
China is currently experiencing a number of strained foreign relations, with the Associated Press reporting that the US has issued a sweeping new travel warning against China and Hong Kong, citing the risk of “arbitrary detention” and “arbitrary enforcement of local laws”.
Additionally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the European Union has tied future economic cooperation with China to its human rights record, using trade talks to call for independent observers to enter Xinjiang and condemn the Chinese Communist Party’s crackdown in Hong Kong and its treatment of journalists.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in our 175-year history — until now. The 2020 election is literally a matter of life and death. We urge you to vote for health, science and Joe Biden for President.
Turns out, all it took to radicalise those nerds at Scientific American was a catastrophically mishandled pandemic and wilful climate denialism in the face of a burning west coast.
“Sexual harassment continues on a serious, pervasive level and, as cases involving Canterbury League Club chair George Coorey, former AMP Capital boss Boe Pahari, and former High Court judge Dyson Heydon have shown, powerful men can face misconduct claims stretching back months and years — and when they are outed, they often get off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist.
“Over the course of this week, Crikey will detail how the allegations against Pahari came to light, and how AMP didn’t take action until investors started pulling their money — showing just how removed the board was from what is expected by the community.
“Prime Minster Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Angus Taylor have today issued an ultimatum to the electricity sector: ‘the government will step up and back a new gas power plant in the Hunter Valley if the sector doesn’t replace [the Liddell power station’s] capacity.’
“This continued push for a ‘gas-fired’ recovery comes at the behest of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission which, coincidentally, is dominated by figures from the gas industry.
“So once again, the party of the free market decides the market could use a little prod in the direction they’d prefer.”
“So it’s come to this: police stationed outside the home of Queensland’s top public servant, tailing her in order to keep her safe while she determines the state’s border policy.
“Thus far, chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young has done a sterling job of keeping Queensland relatively COVID-free. That’s not at issue. This issue is: is this her job? Should a public servant take over the role of a premier, whose ambit is surely wider than any specific policy area?”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Morrison casts dark shadow over energy transition with massive gas intervention — Ketan Joshi (RenewEconomy): “Let’s be blunt. In any other universe, recovering from one public health crisis by worsening another would spark immediate backlash. An ‘asbestos led recovery’ would be career-ending; as would a ‘tobacco led recovery’ or a ‘AK-47 led recovery’. But fossil fuels have locked their harm so deeply into our lives that we have become desensitised to this incredible, radical significance of proposing to hurt humans as a pathway to helping them. What is happening here is simultaneously deadly and ludicrous.”
Gas will help Australia bounce back better and stronger from the pandemic — Angus Taylor (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Australia’s competitive advantage has always been based on affordable, reliable energy. As we turn to our economic recovery from COVID-19, affordable gas will play a central role in re-establishing the strong economy we need for jobs growth, funding government services and opportunities for all. Reliable and affordable power is more important now than ever.”
With our borders shut, this is the ideal time to overhaul our asylum seeker policies — Daniel Ghezelbash, Asher Hirsch and Regina Jefferies (The Conversation): “It is virtually impossible for anyone to travel to Australia at the moment due to COVID-19 restrictions — let alone those seeking asylum. But even before the pandemic, it was very difficult for asylum seekers to make their way here. With our borders completely shut, this is an opportune time to reflect on what our asylum seeker policy could look like in a post-pandemic world.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Gas billionaire and advisor to Scott Morrison’s gas plan Andrew Liveris will present “Leadership in the 21st Century — How to respond to increasing volatility and the new tectonic trends defining our world” at the National Press Club.
Swinburne University will host the first of a two-part virtual seminar, “Everything you wanted to know about the US presidential election”, with US election and voter behaviour scholar Bryan Cranston.
Journalist Amy McQuire will host a Wheeler Centre panel event “Power, Privilege and Pushing Back: with lawyer and human rights advocate Nyadol Nyuon, author of All Our Relations, Tanya Talaga, and author of White Negroes, Lauren Michele Jackson.
Shadow assistant minister for aged care Ged Kearney will speak with board director of Homeshare Australia Beris Campbell and CEO of Holdsworth Community Ruth Kestermann for Australia Institute webinar “Aged Care and Ageing Well at Home”.
Mandarin Premium will host webinar event “2020 US Presidential Election in Historical Context” with the author of Play by the Rules — The Short Story of America’s Leadership: From Hiroshima to COVID-19 Michael Pembroke.