Simon Birminham Australia and China coal
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

THE COAL TRUTH

According to the ABC, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has urged Chinese authorities to “immediately rule out” reports in state-run outlet The Global Times that Australian coal exports have been formally blocked.

Following months of “go slow” orders on Australia’s $14 billion export industry, China’s National Development and Reform Commission told 10 local power plants on Saturday to begin importing coal without clearance restrictions for countries “except for Australia”, a list which will reportedly include Mongolia, Indonesia, and Russia.

In other energy news:

  • Dan Andrews is expected to announce another bailout to Portland’s struggling, emissions-intensive Portland aluminium smelter within weeks (The Australian Financial Review $), after he provided a four-year $200 million lifeline in 2017 and after Angus Taylor yesterday pledged nearly $80 million for the facility to act like a “giant battery” (RenewEconomy)
  • Labor’s energy and climate change spokesman Mark Butler will move to reinsert a medium-term emissions target — likely for 2030 or 2035 — into the ALP draft platform ahead of the party’s 2021 national conference, after it was excluded from a preliminary draft (The Australian $)
  • NSW Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall has described fellow National Barnaby Joyce’s opposition to the state government’s plan for a renewable energy zone in New England as “prehistoric” (The Guardian)
  • Resources minister for a nominally-free market government, Keith Pitt, has repeated calls for a parliamentary inquiry into the “blacklisting” of fossil fuel projects by insurers and investors (RenewEconomy).

MEDIVAC DETAINEES TO BE MOVED

More than a year after the now-abolished medivac laws brought offshore detainees to Australia, Pedestrian.TV reports that about 60 refugees who have now spent more than eight years in indefinite detention have been told they will be transferred from Melbourne’s Mantra Hotel to alternative detention.

The announcement, which reportedly comes ahead of the government’s contract expiring at the end of the year, has been met with opposition from activists who began a 24-hour vigil outside the hotel.

PS: In a separate, telling example of police priorities, the ABC reports that NT police commissioner Jamie Chalker has told media it was a “sad reflection” to see attention drawn to CCTV footage from March 2018 — and obtained by the broadcaster under freedom of information — of an Alice Springs officer grabbing, shoving, and verbally abusing an Aboriginal teenager, rather than on an increase in domestic violence rates.

STORMS AND SWELLS IN NSW

Northern NSW has again been pummelled by gale-force winds and high tides, with the ABC reporting that more than 1000 emergency calls have been made over the past several days, large swells of over 6 metres have been recorded around Byron Bay, and NSW SES has warned people to prepare to evacuate flooded areas.

A SHOT IN THE ARM

According to CNN, a critical care nurse was the first person in New York and among the first in America to get a shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with Canada, Brazil, Germany, and Indonesia to shortly follow.

The news comes as the electoral collage prepares to officially vote in President-elect Joe Biden on Monday (Tuesday morning AEDT), after which Forbes explains a group of bipartisan lawmakers will unveil a slimmed-down US$908 billion aid proposal — which includes a Republican-led push for liability protections for businesses — roughly nine months after a US$2.2 trillion package passed in March.

GOOGLE ALERT

Finally, Reuters reports that multiple Alphabet Inc services, including YouTube, Gmail, and Google Drive, went down for thousands of global users last night, with consequences ranging from blocked inboxes to stuck Google Home-connected light-switches.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

The usual hysterics now swirl around this perfectly reasonable piece, as a posse of bullies tries to batter mainstream views out of the marketplace. Their ranks are now swelled by a new class of Stasi “journalists” horrified by ideas and determined to censor their publications.

Chris Uhlmann

In a reminder there is little centrists abhor more than misleading and dangerous transphobia criticising misleading and dangerous transphobia, the political editor of Nine News likens “hysterical” feedback to an anonymous op-ed to secret East German police.

CRIKEY RECAP

Reds in beds, boardrooms and bloody well everywhere. Should we be scared?

“News Corp’s Sharri Markson has gotten her hands on a leaked dossier of 1.95 million Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members. Some of these members, she says, are working in the Australian and British consulates, others at big companies like ANZ and Boeing.

“If it sounds scary, that’s because it was designed to. But like so many Markson bombshells, it promised so much and delivered little. Instead, China experts say the article is a beat-up, taking a benign and well-known reality of working in China and spinning it as a national security risk.”


A Liberal warrior’s wish comes true as regulator investigates The New Daily

“Has Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg’s Christmas wish come true? The country’s most powerful financial regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), says it will investigate online publication The New Daily and its commercial relationship to industry super funds.

“Bragg, a former senior executive at the Financial Services Council (FSC), the front group for retail super funds owned — back then — by the big banks and AMP, is leading the government’s deeply hypocritical war on industry super.”


Vote now in the 2020 Crikey Awards

“As we prepare to guiltlessly drop 2020 on the Dignitas doorstep, it is tempting to think of the year as not so much a collection of highs and lows, but lows and lower lows.

“In some parts of the country there were the long periods of lockdown. Then there was the truly exhausting carousel of scandals that has engulfed us, day after day, week after week.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Support grows to dump controversial IR provision ($)

Eddie McGuire to stand down as Collingwood president at the end of 2021 AFL season

‘We worry this year might be particularly high’: Family violence expected to spike during post-COVID Christmas

Ita Buttrose hits back at Morrison government over ABC editorial independence ($)

Ardern disputes Greta Thunberg’s criticism of New Zealand climate policy

More than $20m of investor funds deposited into Melissa’s account: court

NT Government begins winding back coronavirus road border patrols

ASIO probes Chinese Communist Party members in Shanghai consulate ($)

CNN-Bellingcat investigation identifies Russian specialists who trailed Putin’s nemesis Alexey Navalny before he was poisoned

Doctors warn Delhi’s intensive care units are full and COVID-19 symptoms are getting worse

THE COMMENTARIAT

Internal ‘partiality’ review set to leave Ita Buttrose and the ABC cornered ($) — Ian McGarrity (The Australian): “As John Howard’s chief of staff, Grahame Morris, once said: ‘Funding the ABC is just giving money to our enemies to speak to our friends.’ And as everyone knows, ‘biting the hand that feeds you’ is always worth bearing in mind before masticating. ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose’s father, an assistant general manager under Talbot Duckmanton at the broadcaster, would have recognised both of the above facts when Coalition governments were in power.”

The government still wants a Family Court merger — new research shows why this is not the answerMiranda Kaye (The Conversation): “As federal parliament heads off on its Christmas break, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over the legal community and the Australians who use the family law system. Amid a busy final sitting week, the Morrison government’s controversial plan to merge the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court — which both have responsibility for family law — has been shelved until next year.”

‘The Sun-Herald’s anonymous op-ed about trans children is baseless and unacceptableJared Richards (Junkee): “The article, which was published anonymously to ‘protect the identity of [the author’s] child, who is a minor’, was published under the title ‘My child is transitioning gender, but I feel the system makes it too easy’. Almost instantly, it was criticised upon publication by LGBTIQ+ people and trans allies, who criticised the lack of editorial oversight and fact-checking, the continual use of an outdated term ‘transgenderism’ (described as ‘dehumanising’ by GLAAD) and the continual misgendering of the author’s child.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Brisbane

  • In another Avid Reader Zoom event, Radio National Big Ideas presenter Paul Barclay will discuss Australia’s coming Summer season with contributors to Griffith Review’s “Elemental Summer” edition, Joëlle Gergis, James Bradley and Susan Harris Rimmer.

Melbourne

  • Victoria’s Public Accounts and Estimates Committee will hold hearings for 2020/21 budget estimates and, separately, its COVID-19 inquiry.

Peter Fray

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