AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine
(Image: AAP/James Ross)

JIBBER-JABBER

National cabinet has agreed “in principle” to bring forward the vaccine rollout to allow Australians over the age of 50 to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, with ABC noting that changes will be formally put forward for approval at Thursday’s meeting.

Most people aged 50-69 are currently not covered by phase 1a or 1b, with Labor emphasising that more than three-quarters of aged-care facilities have not had their residents fully vaccinated. The news comes as doctors report of patients missing their appointments due to concerns over rare blood clots.

Australia and New Zealand also began the trans-Tasman bubble yesterday and, according to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, the government is in discussions with other low-caseload neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Pacific Island nations.

PS: In the latest from the world’s best vaccine rollout-cum-medical apartheid, Israel has lifted its outdoor mask mandate as, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, full vaccination hits 56%.

NET ZERO CHANCE OF ACTION

Scott Morrison has again vaguely hinted at a 2050 net zero emissions target, this time by extolling the virtues of regional communities and sectors in a speech to the Business Council of Australia’s annual dinner. Morrison again rejected carbon taxes or pricing — the most cost-effective form of emissions reduction — and, to be clear, did not actually announce any targets or initiatives.

The news comes ahead of Joe Biden’s two-day virtual climate summit this week, where the US president plans to pressure governments holding up the rear on climate action. This will include the Morrison government, which is currently sitting on Tony Abbott’s 2030 target of just 26-28% off 2005 emissions levels, a goal largely condemned as “out of step” with the global community even back in 2015.

Leading up to that meeting, The Australian ($) reports Energy Minister Angus Taylor has claimed that “between 2005 and 2018, Australia’s emissions fell faster than Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Korea or the US”, apparently neglecting to mention that, if we ignore the Howard government’s unique land use cheat, that’s almost entirely due to the carbon price’s 2012-14 dip.

Elsewhere, Anthony Albanese has outlined Labor’s plan for “green manufacturing” in an AFR ($) op-ed through the previously-announced $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, the “Rewiring the Nation” project to upgrade national grids, a $200 million community battery scheme, and slight electric vehicles tariff and tax reforms.

PS: At the same Business Council dinner ($), Morrison announced a new recovery initiative will slash $430 million in annual compliance costs. Note that the last time the government announced a post-COVID deregulation plan it directly contravened a banking royal commission recommendation for responsible lending laws.

TORTURE IN CHINA?

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT.

Finally, a new report by Human Rights Watch and Stanford Law School provides horrific first-person allegations of torture of Uyghurs and other other Turkic Muslims by the Chinese government in Xinjiang detention centres.

One woman recounts being chained underground with 40 others in a 40-square-metre, barely-ventilated underground cell. The detained people, The Sydney Morning Herald explains, were stripped naked, forced to undergo a medical examination, electroshocked and beaten while interrogated. She also witnessed nine deaths in three months of detention.

Authors of the report call for a coordinated international response, with global calls for a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and a united sanctions regime gaining momentum.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

We will not achieve net zero in the cafes, dinner parties, and wine bars of our inner cities. It will not be achieved by taxing our industries that provide livelihoods for millions of Australians off the planet, as our political opponents sought to do, when they were given the chance.

It will be achieved by the pioneering entrepreneurialism and innovation of Australia’s industrial workhorses, farmers and scientists. It will be won in places like the Pilbara, the Hunter, Gladstone, Portland, Whyalla, Bell Bay, and the Riverina…

Scott Morrison

Speaking at the Business Council of Australia’s annual dinner party in that quaint little rural town of Sydney, the prime minister again winks at net zero emissions while actually pledging nothing beyond Tony Abbott’s pathetic 2030 target.

CRIKEY RECAP

Messaging in new government-funded high school consent video seems confused and perpetrator-focused

“A new government video designed to teach consent to Year 10-12 students is as damaging as it is bizarre. With a focus on the perpetrator’s feelings and ‘maintaining’ an unhealthy relationship, the video echoes the arguments of men’s rights activists and fundamentalist Christians.

“The Good Society is a new resource for ‘teaching respectful relationships in schools’ as part of the Australian government’s Respect Matters program, featuring content for primary, middle and senior school-aged kids.”


I call bullshit: Labor’s climate straw man rhetoric spews out both sides of its mouth

“It is a wicked trick Labor needs to pull. It wants to talk out both sides of its mouth on climate change. It needs to unequivocally endorse concrete goals to reduce emissions because the vast majority of Australians care about climate change. But it also needs to placate those employed by the fossil fuel industry — and the MPs who need their votes.

“The best way to quell the cognitive dissonance caused by this split personality is to produce a straw man, an imaginary figure (possibly spotted in Point Piper) who wants to shut down the coal industry ‘overnight’.”


Four Cartier watches? Bah! Libs hand out the equivalent of 90 a year to party hacks

Christine Holgate not only lost her job but took a severe reputation hit for trying to reward staff for hard work. Her only actual error was buying Cartier watches rather than sending her executive team and partners to a Bledisloe Cup game. She should have known better — we do sports in Australia, not luxury items.

“Her $20,000 expenditure for four watches looks trivial compared with the $450,000 retirement scheme the Liberal Party extracts from Australia Post annually. What you say? That’s the equivalent of 90 Cartier watches a year.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Scott Morrison bows to pressure to launch royal commission into defence and veteran suicides

Far North Queensland on flood watch as parts of state prepare for 300mm rain

Uber Eats rider died riding e-bike not approved for use in NSW, company confirms

‘Can pain kill you?’: Teen’s final words after he was turned away from NSW hospital

Rats reappear on Lord Howe Island for the first time since 2019 eradication program

Gas is the new coal with risk of $100b in stranded assets

One dead as Typhoon Surigae blows near Philippines

‘God knows what’s going to happen’: Minneapolis braces for verdict in Floyd’s death

Could a Green Party chancellor lead Germany?

‘Not just a film’: Bosnia brings Srebrenica to the Oscars

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter makes historic first flight on Mars

THE COMMENTARIAT

The world running out of patience with our excuses on climate changeMichele O’Neil (The Sydney Morning Herald): “If the Prime Minister thought 2021 was about to get a little easier, he should think again. At US President Joe Biden’s Climate Leaders Summit to be held next week, Australia will come under unprecedented pressure to join global efforts to stop global warming. So far though, the prime minister looks to be turning up to the summit empty-handed.

Scott Morrison caved on super and it will hurt low-paid workers ($) — Judith Sloan (The Australian): “It came as no surprise to learn the Morrison government has taken the coward’s way out and will not stand in the way of the com­pulsory superannuation contribution charge rising from this July, reaching 12% in 2025. The government has insufficient political capital at this point to take on a well-organised and well-resourced opposition in the form of the superannuation industry.”

Australia’s government is refusing to support Myanmar’s anti-coup movementRory Anderson (Jacobin): “Australian authorities have added their voices to the international condemnation of the crackdown, making it seem as if they have nothing to do with the Tatmadaw and its actions. But this could not be further from the truth. Just as Australia’s rulers have supported repressive regimes in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific region, they are intimately involved with Myanmar’s military ruling class.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Melbourne

  • The Wheeler Centre will host panel event “Last Words: Voluntary Assisted Dying” with host of podcast Better Off Dead Andrew Denton, former Supreme Court judge Betty King and Chair of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Review Board and oncologist Dr Phillip Parente.

Australia

  • In The Mandarin’s webinar “The challenge for government departments to be heard”, editor Chris Johnson and reporter Melissa Coade will speak with journalist Virginia Haussegger on communication challenges from a media perspective. The event will be on at 1pm and is free for all subscribers.

Peter Fray

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