THEMS FIGHTIN’ WORDS
Former prime minister Paul Keating has made some strong comments about the Morrison government “needlessly and irresponsibly pushing Australia towards a headlong confrontation with China”. Speaking to the AFR, Keating said the Australian government is provoking China as a “fawning acolyte” of the US, and pointed the finger at Australian ambassador to the US Arthur Sinodinos.
It follows comments from Sinodinos in which he said the threat from China is now greater than “another 9/11”. Keating said such strong comments create “the risk of self-fulfilling prophecy” — and besides, it’s the foreign minister’s observation to make, not Sinodinos’.
The former PM went on to say that comments from Defence Minister Peter Dutton about defending the waters to the north of Australia implied China is a military aggressor, a claim which “wantonly lead[s] Australia into a strategic dead-end”. Keating said we would be better to define our relationship with China as one of competition and collaboration, as Washington does — a view shared by former PM John Howard, as The Geelong Advertiser reports.
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A CLIMATE OF CONCERN
At least 28 people are dead in the US after Hurricane Ida ripped through New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, The New York Times reports. A state of emergency has been declared. There has been widespread flash flooding — including across five boroughs of New York City — while hundreds of thousands remain without power in Louisiana (where Ida made landfall earlier this week).
President Joe Biden called Hurricane Ida’s warpath a sign that “extreme storms and the climate crisis are here”, constituting what he called “one of the great challenges of our time”. Photos show the extent of the damage.
It comes as WWF Australia chief Dermot O’Gorman says Tasmania’s salmon industry is not environmentally sustainable, The Australian ($) reports. Salmon farmers Huon and Tassal each use certifications from WWF Australia, the RSPCA and industry body ASC to show their operations are sound — but WWF just commissioned a report which claimed ASC’s certification doesn’t cut the mustard.
In some more positive environmental news, we are one step closer to the first offshore wind farm in Australia. The federal government has introduced legislation that would see the farm built off the Gippsland coast in Victoria. It could power 20% of the state’s energy, ABC says.
MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD
It’s day 10 of the Paralympics, and it’s been an incredible run for Australia so far. World records have tumbled and 17 gold medals have been won, though our athletes have shined in more ways than that.
Australian cyclist Stuart Jones was already disgruntled by his ninth place in the pouring rain, but as he approached South Africa’s Toni Mould, something switched. Mould, who has cerebral palsy, appeared to be struggling — she was a lap behind her competitors. “Keep going,” Jones reportedly told her. “You’re going great guns. You have only got a lap to go.” Both had smiles on their faces as they peddled on. Earlier this week, tennis player Dylan Alcott, who had just triumphed over Dutch rival Niels Vink, went straight around the net to embrace Vink, 18, for several moments. “He wouldn’t let go,” Alcott said, “and I just said I was so proud of him, how well he played,” the Courier-Mail reports.
Australian Paralympian medallists will now receive the same cash prize that Olympian medallists receive, SBS reports. Olympians can get up to $20,000 for reaching a podium, but Paralympics Australia said it just doesn’t have the funding. Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed yesterday the federal government would provide funding so it could.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Advice columns are one of those things that have really endured as the centuries tick on. Historian David Gudelunas reckons the first recorded one appeared in 1690, and since then even people like Benjamin Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt have answered the unanswerable for readers. There’s something about the format — always anonymous, sometimes polarising, and on occasion, heart-wrenching in their exploration of the quandaries of the mind, body and soul.
Guardian Australia advice columnist Eleanor Gordon-Smith received a question that perhaps many are struggling with amid lockdowns: how can I feel joy inside when there’s so much suffering? Her response is a rather lovely permission slip for all of us. She says that, like lighting a fire in the drizzle, we have to imagine the possibility of sparks rather than the roaring blaze.
“Those sparks can show up flinty and bright inside all kinds of torrential misery,” she writes. “Under every oppression there are people being brave. Noticing that they’re there is some kind of spark”. Once you’ve caught a little spark, “a little more doesn’t seem so unimaginable”, she continues. “The tiniest stir of optimism or love for a stranger reminds us what those sensations are like, and feeling that thaw is exciting.”
I thought you might appreciate a relatively-COVID free Worm today. The truth is, there’s so much news around at the moment and it’s easy to miss other stories when one issue is so consuming. Tell me what you think — [email protected].
Hope you can catch a little spark this weekend.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
For 30 years my children & I have had to put up with your lies & fabricated stories – well not anymore. You should not be allowed to just make things up. You are going to apologise to the Aust public for your continual lies & my family as this is an absolute disgrace — AGAIN!
Warnie was fired up about a Woman’s Day’s story about how he and actor Elizabeth Hurley had supposedly rekindled their relationship.
“… We simply told people where they could respond to his spam texts, and encouraged them to do so politely. And for the person who claimed releasing his number is a breach of privacy laws: nope. It’s no more a breach than his spamming people with texts.
“But that wasn’t the end of the legal statements. ‘The putrid scumbag coward who messed with Craig Kelly should be tried for treason.’ Well, that escalated quickly. I’m happy to own ‘putrid scumbag’ (Paul Keating, is that you?) but treason would seem to be a bit of a stretch. But an even longer bow awaited me with: ‘What the press and media have done in this country is crimes [sic] against humanity and be assured you will be brought to justice.’ I can definitely see myself sittin’ in a dock at the Hague, as Otis Redding so famously sang, for revealing Craig Kelly’s phone number.”
$112k on printing and flights to the Goldie: what Craig Kelly’s expenses tell us about his bid for re-election
“Craig Kelly’s biggest expense by far was $111,654 on printing and communications. He had spent less than $40,000 for each of the three quarters prior to this. This expenditure was second only to Labor NSW MP Justine Elliot, who spent $126,000 on printing and communications.
“Kelly, member for Hughes — an electorate in Sydney’s south — also expensed two trips to the Gold Coast’s Coolangatta Airport for a total of $906.28 in fares. One was a same-day return trip on April 26, the second from the May 3 to May 5. As part of his travel allowance, Kelly claimed $552 for two nights in Southport for ‘Parties Duties & Outside Electorate Duties’. He didn’t claim anything else for the April 26 trip.”
“US-Australia relations are unusually open. As a general principle, polls show that Australians like Americans and Americans like Australians (when they think about us, that is). But the personal links between a president and a prime minister are a carefully curated box, with the actual relationship a Schrodinger’s Cat. Are relations great? Are they terrible?
Hard to tell, because the only journalists listening for sounds of life coming out the box are the Canberra gallery. What the US president thinks about the PM is a big question for Australian politics. But for Washington and the US press corps? Not so much.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Victoria to become first Australian state to ban public display of Nazi symbols (Guardian Australia)
Can NZ ever reopen the bubble with Oz? (NZ Herald)
Six Aussie unis among world’s top 100 (The Australian) ($)
Why Bitcoin’s Price Got Stuck at $50,000 (The Wall Street Journal)
Mayor of Rome sues local region over wild boar ‘invasion’ (The Guardian)
I don’t want to play: new song highlights racism in AFL – Eelemarni Bundarn Close-Brown (IndigenousX): “‘Lean on Me’ is not just another song, it is our people’s long-standing experiences of racism which are deeply rooted into our sporting arenas in Australia. We constantly hear about the experiences of our people on and off the field, and the effect this has on mob.
“This song gives a voice to those experiences and the opportunity to hear the truth behind them. It is a creative stance against racial vilification in the game of AFL. It is a reflection of how we as First Peoples are constantly targeted and vilified because of who we are. The song’s key takeaway is that our mob who play football are often forced to bear the burden of addressing the issue of racism alone, and the song highlights how it should not be this way.”
Some say low interest rates cause inequality. What if it’s the reverse? – Neil Irwin (The Age): “It’s not that the high earners increased their savings rates. Rather, they were winning a bigger piece of the economic pie; by the researchers’ calculations, the share of income going to the top 10% of earners rose to more than 45% in recent years, up from about 30% in the early 1970s.The result of high earners making more, and thus saving more, amounts to trillions of dollars in additional savings over the years — accounting for 30% to 40% of private savings from 1995 to 2019.
“So whatever the causes of rising income inequality — most likely a combination of technological change; decline in union power; globalisation; changes in tax policy; and winner-take-all market dynamics — it has set in motion skyrocketing asset values for those wealthy people.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Melbourne Writers Festival kicks off online, with authors and other speakers to feature under the 2021 pandemic-inspired theme, “Tell Me How It Ends”.
Terror bombing survivor Gill Hicks speaks at the Unpacking Trauma symposium held by the Australian Psychological Society.
Nipaluna Country (also known as Hobart)
The Australian High Commissioner to Singapore Will Hodgman speaks at the 2021 Insights Breakfast about Tasmania’s opportunities in Asia.
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
The Brisbane Festival kicks off, a city-wide program of arts, entertainment, music and cultural events.
Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)
Aged Care Workforce Industry Council’s Libby Lyons and CEDA’s Cassandra Winzar address a CEDA lunch on solving the problems facing the aged care workforce. This is also streamed online.