Climate change Australia
(Image: AAP/Darren Pateman)

DIALLING UP THE HEAT

Australia has been called out as one of the main nations dragging the chain on climate action by a senior US climate official, Guardian Australia reports. It comes as the newly released IPCC report concluded that the world is almost certainly hurtling towards a climate catastrophe. Jonathan Pershing, deputy to US presidential climate envoy John Kerry, said Australia was one of the top 20 emitters and yet had twiddled our thumbs since the 2016 Paris agreement. “As a G20 member, as a leading developed country — the commitments they made in Paris are not sufficient,” he said. Pershing said Australia’s target — reducing emissions by about 27% by 2030 — was “inconsistent with what the science is suggesting”, saying we need to nearly double it to 50%, like the US.

The IPCC report found climate change is already here and is affecting every country in the world. There are wildfires raging in Greece, Turkey, California, and Russia. Arctic warming is rising at twice the global average rate since 2000. The Maldives president said the destination is on the “edge of extinction”. But Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce told the ABC he wouldn’t support an emissions reduction target unless he was shown “exactly what is the cost and who is paying it”. The SMH says the Nats will likely use a net-zero emissions target as a bargaining chip with the Liberals, by tapping into a long-held grudge by farmers for Howard’s 1998 Kyoto climate accord.

CLOSED SYSTEMS

Melbourne’s lockdown has been extended by a week after 20 new cases were recorded, the Herald Sun reports, while Greater Sydney’s lockdown is probably about to get tougher, Guardian Australia says. The singles bubble and a rule allowing people to visit a residence outside of Sydney are both set to be tightened, while there’ll be more ADF personnel. Sadly, there were two more deaths — a man in his 30s (with pre-existing conditions), and a man in his 70s — in addition to 344 new cases yesterday. In some small semblance of good news, CHO Kerry Chant said she was happy to see stabilising numbers in hotspots Fairfield and Canterbury-Bankstown.

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There are fears for western NSW’s Indigenous population after a Walgett man tested positive, ABC reports. He was released from Bathhurst jail and returned the positive test a couple of days later, joining two other cases announced yesterday in nearby Dubbo. A third of NSW’s prison population is Indigenous (compared to just 3% of Australia’s population) as the SMH reports, while about a third of Walgett’s residents identified as Indigenous in the 2016 census. Eight western areas from the Queensland border right down to NSW’s centre are now locked down. If an outbreak was to occur in central Australia, one expert told the ABC, modelling suggests it could kill 5% of the unvaccinated Indigenous people.

SING WHEN YOU’RE WINNING

Japan is calling on Australia to lead the resistance against China’s influence in the region, the SMH reports, after the Japanese defence minister made some of his strongest comments on the Indo-Pacific’s escalating insecurity. Nobuo Kishi said the military battle over Taiwan was not just a problem for Japan, but for the stability of the world. “[China] is trying to change the status quo unilaterally backed by force and coercion. And they’re trying to make it into a fait accompli,” Kishi told the paper. But Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce told Bloomberg that, if anything, Australia needed to be “more cautious” amid our sour trading relationship affecting coal, barley and wine exports.

Meanwhile, China’s government, no stranger to maintaining local control (including scrubbing politically sensitive commentary), has extended its purview to karaoke. The government has rolled out a nationwide ban on “illegal content” including a blacklist of karaoke songs, The New Daily reports. The content includes anything that endangers national unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity, violates state religious policies by propagating cults or superstitions, or which encourages illegal activities such as gambling and drugs, the ministry said. Looks like “Because I Got High” by Afroman is off the cards, then.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

The Zander family were on a five-week jaunt in Queensland when disaster struck, as ABC reports. Ten-year-old Ethan Zander’s favourite stuffed bat — a comfort tool for the young lad who has additional needs — was gone. The bat, named T-Y, had fallen behind after the family explored Hughenden. Parents Cassi and Joel said Ethan cried for three days, but they told him that it would be nearly impossible to find the toy again. On a whim, Cassi joined the local Facebook group and put out the call — had anyone seen a beloved grey toy bat who may or may not respond to T-Y?

Several locals were immediately on the case — and by the time the Zander family arrived home in Brisbane, T-Y was waiting for them snug in a little parcel. “It just said, ‘Love from Leslie and the Hughenden community. We don’t want any money for it’ and it was just covered in hearts,” Cassi says. “I don’t know what these people are going through — drought, COVID, and yet they still went above and beyond for me.” Cassi said the family chuckled when they realised the bat’s name is, by coincidence, an acronym for ‘thank you’.

Hope a “Leslie” makes your day too, or that you’re a “Leslie” for someone else today.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

We don’t actually come up with the plan. The CSIRO, other competent people, come up with the plan.

Barnaby Joyce

ABC’s Fran Kelly held it together as the 2IC of the country implied he didn’t know how to make a climate crisis plan and didn’t plan to find out. Prime Minister Scott Morrison contradicted Joyce yesterday, saying his cabinet will be coming up with a plan to reach net zero emissions.

CRIKEY RECAP

The right’s silent spring on climate — a damp blessing in a hot world

“Then under the influence, it seems, of James Murdoch, News Corp announced its green conversion, that the organisation would be carbon neutral, and Rupert announced that the carbon neutral message would be pushed in his papers’ articles, which was a great demonstration of his view of a free press. Then it was all change again, and a new wave of denialism returned. Was it a last hurrah?

“Let’s hope so. If what has to be fought over is whether a genuine commitment by us to zero-net by 2050 or earlier makes a difference — it does — then that is an enormous advance. If Barnaby Joyce is now obstructing a net-zero commitment for rural privilege, then Labor should use that in the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide middle-class marginals (poster/ad with a photo of Morrison and a photo of Barnaby: ‘Vote for Scooter, get the Beetrooter’. No, you’re welcome).”


Book your ringside seat for the Queensland Senate bout: Campbell Newman v the rest

If Newman takes votes from One Nation, he almost definitely won’t get elected given the low base of the Liberal Democrats’ presence in Queensland — but neither will Hanson. And if he takes them from the LNP, it’s almost certain Stoker will suffer.

“The irony there will be that he kills off the candidate who probably mirrors most closely many of his views. (There’s another column there on how all the safe seats will be taken up by males… but that’s for another time.) One thing is certain. Newman’s stance against how Queensland has dealt with the pandemic won’t win him too many votes from Labor. Annastacia Palaszczuk’s historic win late last year showed the support the Labor government has for how it is being handled.”


Berejiklian and Morrison offer a one-two punch on non-leadership

Gladys Berejiklian appears to be out of ideas about stopping the growing wave of infections, reducing herself to a hapless bystander who can only urge people to abide by the rules and get vaccinated, a mere premier who only controls what legislation applies and what a whole police force and health system do — why ask her to take any further action to reduce the spread of COVID? How long that stance is politically sustainable is an open question if the daily numbers climb to higher-three figures.

“Less than an hour after Berejiklian gave her latest ‘Well, what can I do’ act, Scott Morrison emerged in Canberra to offer a response to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. It was a response that could have been — and, like his ‘gas-led recovery plan’, very well might have been — written by his fossil fuel donors and supporters: Santos, Origin, Woodside, Whitehaven Coal, Adani, Gina Rinehart, Clive Palmer, Chevron, Energy Australia, Delta Energy, the petroleum explorers and the Minerals Council.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Germany, Netherlands halt Afghan deportations as war rages (Al Jazeera)

US government wins first appeal battle in fight to extradite Julian Assange (The SMH)

Double quarantine for South Australian Olympic athletes deemed ‘cruel and uncaring’ (Guardian Australia)

Hidden toll of the northwest heat wave: hundreds of extra deaths (The New York Times)

AFL must do better: North Melbourne boss (The Age)

Yet another record close for Australian sharemarket, benchmark index cracks 7600 points for first time (The Australian) ($)

Michael Spavor: Canadian jailed for 11 years in China on spying charges (BBC)

Golf star Tiger Woods sues ex-lover Rachel Uchitel over gag order (The Australian) ($)

Google may cut pay of staff who work from home (BBC)

Twilight of the Satyrs (Quillette)

Jan Fran: the funniest things I have ever seen (on the internet) (Guardian Australia)

THE COMMENTARIAT

When Byron Bay property gets so hot it’s infectiousVivienne Pearson (The SMH): “The greater irony is the report that the virus-carrier was ‘potentially using an exemption contained in NSW COVID-19 restrictions’. Service NSW and the Real Estate Institute of NSW confirm that looking for a property to live in is an acceptable reason to travel outside of Sydney, even for someone with stable accommodation. Even if they’re not allowed to travel to their next-door suburb for work, they can travel as far afield as Byron Bay — to inspect a potential home.

“This is a hurtful irony because this region is in an acute housing crisis, many forced to leave due to rental shortages and price rises. That Sydneysiders can travel to look for property during their lockdown is a failure of public policy. Surely video-conference inspections are a viable alternative. After all, properties here have sold with no inspection at all.”

It’s time Morrison paid a visit to IndiaGreg Sheridan (The Australian) ($): “India is a much smaller economy than China but it is, like China, a huge nation of global consequence destined to be a great power probably forever. Our relationship with it is necessarily asymmetric. We have to do clever things to get its attention. Yet we have never made even a tiny fraction of the effort with India that we made with China for 30 years. We do not even fund any serious study of India in our universities and the relationship has woefully lacked serious champions within Australian politics.

“By going to India at this time, Morrison can make just such a historic gesture, almost certainly gain a free-trade agreement as a consequence, grab India’s attention and make a lasting difference for Australia. Trade deals follow politics and the politics is right now if we have the wit to seize the moment. If it’s a choice between that trip to India and the climate wind-baggery of Glasgow later this year, it should be no choice at all.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Astronomer Alan Duffy will host a live forum on Facebook on Australia’s space industry helping NASA return to the moon.

  • The University of Melbourne will host a webinar about voluntary assisted dying with the director of the Centre for Palliative Care, Peter Hudson.

  • Contributors to Griffith Review 73: Hey, Utopia! Julian Meyrick, Amanda Niehaus, Hugh Possingham, and Amanda Tattersall will discuss the edition in a webinar.

Nipaluna Country (also known as Hobart)

  • The Salvos Sleep Out kicks off at the Grand Chancellor, the Glenorchy City Council, and the Kingston Beach Surf Life Saving Club.

  • A National Science Week event sees experts debate food waste, which accounts for 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions, at the Republic Bar & Cafe.

Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)

  • A Joint Academic Microbiology Seminar will take place at Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club, with University of South Australia’s Michael Short and University of Adelaide’s Gina Guzzo.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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