CORAL INTO ACTION
A landmark report by the Australian Academy of Science, The risks to Australia of a 3°C warmer world, warns that the Great Barrier Reef is all but doomed without radical climate action, as the Paris agreement’s more ambitious goal of a 1.5 degree global temperature rise — and a subsequent death of just 70-90% of the reef — looks “virtually impossible”.
While just 1% of the reef would survive a 2 degree increase, The New Daily explains that the risk assessment based on peer-reviewed scientific literature predicts blistering heatwaves, annual Black Summer-style bushfires, and 250,000 flooded coastal homes if the world hits 3 degrees. Which, as the United Nations Environment Program found in December 2020, the planet is currently on track for despite climate targets and the pandemic.
Authors warn this decade will be transformational and make several recommendations to the Morrison government, including ratcheting up their (relatively pathetic) emissions targets and investing in several adaptation strategies i.e. disaster preparedness, food production, health, economy etc.
However, as RenewEconomy explored yesterday, Energy Minister Angus Taylor is set to take both five years of climate inaction and, with no increased 2030 target, a plan for another 10 to the global COP26 summit at the end of the year.
And while Anthony Albanese flagged minor packages for electric vehicles and community batteries at day two of Labor’s national conference, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that amendments backed by energy unions added references to the importance of coal and other mining jobs.
Greater Brisbane will find out this morning whether its lockdown will be extended beyond 5pm this afternoon, with Queensland’s list of COVID-19 contact sites now topping 100 and two rooms at Hamilton Hotel emerging as close contact locations for Tuesday, March 23.
The Australian Medical Association’s Queensland arm has escalated calls for an investigation into how a third health worker from the same Princess Alexandra Hospital ward became infected, although Brisbane Times notes that Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed the fact that only two cases of community transmission — the nurse and their housemate — were reported yesterday amid a daily record of 33,408 tests.
Meanwhile, New South Wales’ case locations have grown to include sites in Ewingsdale on Sunday, March 28, and, while only one case was identified yesterday in the Byron Bay region, Guardian Australia explains the risk of exposure from recent, infectious travellers led Health Minister Brad Hazzard to cancel Bluesfest for the second time in a year.
The news comes as Australia officially misses Scott Morrison’s vaccination target of 4 million by the end of March by just 3.4 million. Amid the slow rollout and new cases, Queensland and NSW premiers and health ministers yesterday hit out at the Morrison government leaking selective rollout figures to News Corp publications, with The New Daily explaining the states have in part blamed “lumpy” and inconsistent deliveries.
Today, The Australian ($) adds that just one-third of residential aged and disability care facilities — a federal responsibility — have received COVID-19 vaccinations.
Note: This story discusses sexual assault.
New South Wales MP Michael Johnsen has become the first Australian politician to resign amid a series of sexual violence allegations across state and federal parliaments, with the ABC reporting the former Nationals member stepped down yesterday — sparking a byelection — a week after coming forward to deny an accusation of raping a sex worker in the Blue Mountains in 2019.
On Tuesday, the national broadcaster revealed the Upper Hunter MP had offered the sex worker $1000 to attend State Parliament for sex, and sent the woman lewd text messages and an obscene video while Parliament was sitting. Nationals leader and NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro had openly called for Johnsen’s resignation this week, and welcomed yesterday’s news.
Elsewhere, South Australia Labor MP Nat Cook has terminated her adviser, Benjamin Waters, after he was charged with one count of producing child abuse material through a carriage service and four counts of possessing child exploitation material.
PS: According to The Age, the Community and Public Sector Union will request the Department of Finance include sexual harassment and bullying training for MPs and staff within months, as well as a better reporting regime, in a meeting over a new enterprise agreement on Friday.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[on selective vaccine figures leaked to News Corp]: I am extremely angry and I know there are other health ministers in the country who share similar views … It is not appropriate that we wake up and find figures put into the media that haven’t been shared with any state or territory governments.
… We were under the impression from the advice we received from the federal government that we would receive just over 13,000 vaccines. What they actually gave us, with no forward announcement, was 45,000 and then a few days later there is a press report saying we haven’t distributed them all. Well, you get 45,000 items dumped on your front door at night and told ‘Now you should have it out by the next morning’. No one would be able to do that.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard
The Morrison government’s attempt to shift blame on the vaccine rollout is slammed by their closest state ally. And up in Queensland, deputy premier Steven Miles has welcomed David Littleproud’s taunt, “If the federal government hasn’t done their job, we deserve an uppercut”.
“Unlike previous waves of feminism, the Me Too movement has largely focused on assault, harassment and supporting survivors. But sexual violence is not driven by sexual desire alone — it’s driven by power and control cultivated in an unequal society.
“The movement’s founder, Tarana Burke, has said this hyper-focus on calling out harassment was never its point. She said to create a world free of sexual violence: ‘We start by dismantling the building blocks of sexual violence: power and privilege. This starts by shifting our culture away from a focus on individual bad actors or depraved, isolated behaviour.’”
“Australia is rushing full tilt into a new era of protectionism that means less spending on government services, more poorly paid jobs and fewer opportunities for exporters. And there’s a bipartisan consensus for it.
“Yesterday Anthony Albanese unveiled a National Reconstruction Fund worth $15 billion to fund manufacturing projects via loans, co-investments and guarantees, with the intention of generating a return for taxpayers. Areas targeted would be food, renewable energy, medical supplies, transport equipment. It would, Albanese said, ‘harness the power of government purchasing to grow existing industries’.”
Liberal Party is being forced to kill off its own liberalism as ‘animal spirits’ transform into predatory behaviours
“The Liberal Party is facing a crisis, one related to gender, but it’s not the one you think it is.
“It’s true that recent weeks have exposed a level of decadence and squalor that has surprised even many of its enemies. The Morrison government had managed, before and since the last election, to put together a program and approach which combined voter self-interest and collective being (from the ‘promise of Australia’ to the ‘quiet Australians’) in a formula upon which Labor found difficult to land a blow.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Australia’s carbon price is coming, one way or another — Jessica Irvine (The Sydney Morning Herald): “I know a lot of people get quite dispirited when reflecting on the past decade or two of climate change and emissions pricing policy in Australia. For those deeply involved in the policy debate, the hours of work wasted in trying to design the various iterations of Australia’s attempt at a carbon emissions trading scheme a decade ago don’t bear thinking about. But make no mistake. Australia is about to get a carbon price, one way or another. Unfortunately, the process is shaping up to be much more economically damaging than it could have been.”
What Peter Dutton needs to do as defence minister ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “The Morrison government’s decision to establish a missile manufacturing industry is one of our nation’s most important strategic decisions in decades. Of course, we have to be watchful of the distance between announcement and delivery. But the government is proceeding with real urgency. That is fantastic, for nothing has been more lacking in defence over the past 15 years than urgency.”
The first ‘scalp’: How is it that only one MP has fallen? — Rachel Withers (The Monthly): ‘Just some of the things politicians have been accused of in the past few weeks, without facing consequences, include: violently raping a woman who later went on to kill herself; victim-blaming and slut-shaming an alleged rape victim; misleading parliament; weaponising an anonymous (and false) allegation to deflect blame and settle a score; harassing a woman to the brink of suicide; hiding in the bushes to take photos of a woman; taking a photo of a woman while she is bent over at work. None of these allegations cut it, apparently — even the last three, which have all been alleged against the same man.’
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Readings will host two literary events: Stan Grant will discuss his new book With the Falling of the Dusk in an online event, while Gunai/Kurnai woman and former police officer Veronica Gorrie will launch her memoir Black and Blue.