AUKUS
(Image: EPA via AAP/Oliver Contreras)

PACT MENTALITY

China has slammed our new security pact with the UK and US, saying it could severely damage regional peace and intensify the arms race, BBC reports. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said AUKUS was “extremely irresponsible” and “narrow-minded”, accusing us of a “cold war … mentality” and hurting our own interests. The New York Times quotes one of Scott Morrison’s inaugural speeches where he said Australia didn’t need to choose between working with the US and being friends with China. “On Thursday”, the Times says “Australia effectively chose”. Morrison said yesterday of the pact, “I describe [it] as a forever partnership. A forever partnership for a new time between the oldest and most trusted of friends”, but held back from presenting best friend charms.

AUKUS — our most significant security development since WWII, Morrison reckons — will see Australia become one of seven countries with nuclear submarines (US has 68, Russia 29, China 12, UK 11, France 8, and India 1). So why nuclear submarines? They can stay underwater for months and shoot missiles further (not that we’ve said we’ll put nuclear weapons on them). Speaking of France — they’re livid we pulled out of our lucrative $90b sub deal. Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said it was a “stab in the back” and said he looks forward to hearing how we’ll get out of our contract with the French, Al Jazeera reports.

A SHOT IN THE ARM

Australia’s 16+ vaccination rate has officially passed 70% — of having the first dose, that is — the SMH reports. It comes as the paper says Australia has the second-lowest COVID-19 deaths per capita in the OECD (which is made up of 38 countries). We’re second only to New Zealand, where 27 people have died after contracting the virus.

Edinburgh Gardens is going to be buzzing tomorrow as fully-vaccinated Melburnians will be permitted to get together outdoors in groups of five, The Age reports. If you’re not doubled-vaxxed (that’s about three in five people in Victoria), you can get together in groups of two, Premier Dan Andrews confirmed. But “getting on the beers” outside — to quote an Andrews phrase so popular it was remixed into a song — will not be allowed. Alcohol outside the home is still prohibited, The Australian ($) says. Victorians can travel up to 10km from home and exercise for four hours daily now though, as The New Daily explains.

It seems six lockdowns have taken their toll. Victoria is now home to 43,000 fewer people than before the pandemic, making it the only state to see a drop in population, The Age reports.

TOO MUCH HORSING AROUND

Labor’s national secretary Paul Erickson has written to Google Australia to complain about Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly undermining our pandemic recovery, Guardian Australia reports. Erickson’s note to managing director Mel Silva included links to videos on Kelly’s YouTube page where he spruiks ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as treatments for COVID-19. Neither have been proven to treat COVID. The contents of some videos are reportedly under review. Kelly said he found it disgraceful that a political party would “ask a foreign oligarch to censor freedom of speech”. But Erickson said the UAP had been spending hundreds of thousands on political advertising and said misinformation in the lead up to the US 2020 election has ultimately cost people their lives.

In the US, Fox News hosts including Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham have all featured guests promoting the drugs on their shows, as NBC reports. Many conservative radio hosts have also peddled the unproven and perhaps dangerous drugs, including Denver radio host and vaccine boycotter Bob Enyart, who died this week after contracting COVID-19, as Forbes reports.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Van life has taken off during the pandemic. It’s a shorthand way of describing people who purchase a van and retrofit it with meagre living necessities which are, variably, a bed, sink, toilet, and sitting area, though the bed seems to be the only consistent feature. Then it’s time to hit the road. Rent or mortgage costs are replaced by the more economical expense of fuel, and every day can bring a new destination (and a heck of a lot of driving). The Conversation says the surge in popularity could be in response to rising house prices, while ABC says it’s bolstered by our closed borders.

But what’s it like to live in a car? Former corporate suit Stevie Trujillo was laid off amid the GFC in the US, and to make ends meet, she sold her things and moved in with her partner Tree — in his car. She writes rather beautifully in The Guardian about their five-year experience as driving nomads in Central America. The pair fostered between them what she describes as a “durable intimacy” (he even gave her a funnel for her birthday — you know, for her bathroom needs). But she says she most appreciated “the way our vulnerability put us in the way of strangers, seeding connection and a wider sense of belonging”. Trujillo, reflecting on her former life in the rat race, said van life taught the pair they could “forge a different dream, one with adventure, durable intimacy and a revised definition of what it means to be better-off”.

Folks, I’m taking a couple of days off early next week and your Worm will be coming to you from another excellent Crikey pen.

Chat to you Wednesday and have a restful weekend ahead.

SAY WHAT?

And I want to thank that, uh, fellow Down Under. Thank you very much, pal. Appreciate it, Mr Prime Minister.

Joe Biden

Oh man, that’s gotta hurt. The President of the United States appeared to not remember Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s name when announcing the new trilateral security partnership between the two countries and Britain. Morrison grinned sheepishly and gave a quick thumbs-up, while UK counterpart Boris Johnson chortled before restoring his composure.

CRIKEY RECAP

Exclusive: Morrison pre-emptively caves on new submarine local content

“The now-binned contract for the Attack-class boats to be built by France’s Naval Group required that 60% of the submarine be built in Australia in Adelaide — a requirement that Naval Group struggled with throughout the five years of the contract and which played a crucial role in the government’s decision to cancel the deal.

“By dropping the local build level to 40%, the government is de facto recognising that its local build requirement is inconsistent with a project within acceptable cost or outcome parameters. As Crikey flagged [Thursday] morning, trying to maintain local build with the new fleet simply kicked the local content problem with Naval Group down the road.”


Porter, the man with no judgment, breaks even this shabby government’s rules. How will Phil fix it?

“… it’s hard to see how Porter hasn’t breached [ministerial standards]. But Gaetjens understands the political needs of his boss and can work at lightning or glacial speed as required. Likely, this one will be an hours or days job, not the year-plus Brittany Higgins effort. And it will be determined by a simply political calculation: are the Liberals’ small chances of hanging on to the seat of Pearce in WA greater or smaller with Porter?

“The man is already damaged goods in a state with a rampantly popular Labor premier and a likely swing against Morrison — Porter opting to help Clive Palmer try to force open the state borders won’t be forgotten. His chances won’t be helped by being haunted by demands to reveal who his anonymous benefactor is at every campaign stop.”


Why women journalists are targeted in Twitter’s pandemic wars

“The frustration for journalists is the confidence of the Twitterati that political preferences can be read in the day-to-day decisions of stories covered and news-gathering techniques used in reporting the pandemic policy response, where all jurisdictions — state and federal — have operated within a narrow, largely consensual policy band.

“A criticism framed as a question should be understood as a retweet — it does not imply endorsement. Yet, on social media (and in the performance theatre of press conferences), the most minor of differences has triggered a life-and-death struggle for the ages, with more straw people than a scarecrow school reunion.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Queensland legalises voluntary assisted dying (ABC)

Piers Morgan to star on Oz TV in global media deal (The Australian) ($)

France says it has killed Islamic State leader responsible for deaths of U.S. Soldiers (The Wall Street Journal)

The battle for digital privacy is reshaping the internet (The New York Times)

Labour condemns new trade secretary for tweets rejecting climate science (The Guardian)

Understanding the Motivated Reasoning of Anti-Vax Refuseniks (Quillette)

Court of Arbitration for Sport clears Shayna Jack for return to swimming (The New Daily)

China faces a potential Lehman moment. Wall Street is unfazed (CNN)

Democrats Rethink Climate Measures, Consider Carbon Tax (The Wall Street Journal)

France suspends 3,000 unvaccinated health workers without pay (The Guardian)

The 2021 national book awards longlist: poetry (The New Yorker)

THE COMMENTARIAT

AUKUS alliance: PM has shown true leadership at a crucial timeTony Abbott (The Australian) ($): “It can’t be stressed too much that the problem here is the Beijing government, not the Chinese people. Chinese migration to this country testifies to the universal yearning for freedom and opportunity, and the flourishing of Chinese people in this country is an ongoing reproach to the totalitarians in Beijing … the communist dictatorship suffocated the freedom of Hong Kong in breach of its one-country-two-systems treaty, put a million Uyghurs into concentration camps, and implemented an Orwellian hi-tech-enabled surveillance system over its own people …

“[Australian] measures that could be completed in months, not years, include onshoring three months of fuel and doubling and tripling recruitment into the reserves to start to create the military manpower that we will need, especially for the navy. As quickly as possible, we need more effective defensive and offensive cyber capacity plus anti-missile defences, at least for military bases.”

I see no sign that ‘ugly Australia’ has learnt from its treatment of GillardAnne Summers (The SMH): “Gillard wants us to analyse what happened, not to be infuriated or even saddened, but to ‘glean the lessons that will help us shape the best tomorrow’. She is doing her bit, having established the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at Kings College London (with a branch in Canberra), employing academics to produce hard data on the barriers to women succeeding. Notably, she wants research on ‘the way negativity impacts the evaluation of women leaders’.

“Australia is not the only country that can’t cope with female leaders. Hillary Clinton copped a comparably crude and sexist onslaught. Indeed, some of the materials used against Gillard were direct imports from the United States. Notably, the infamous Liberal Party dinner menu featuring a ‘Julia Gillard Kentucky fried quail: small breasts, huge thighs and a big red box’, was virtually a carbon copy of a Clinton menu (minus the ‘red box’, Americans being somewhat puritanical when it comes to certain anatomical features it seems).”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Larrakia Country (also known as Darwin)

  • Minister for Northern Australia David Littleproud will discuss the future for the region and the role of the NT’s resource sector.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Narelle Hudson will launch her new book, The Baby Dream, at Avid Reader Bookshop.

Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)

  • Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre’s Mike Barber will discuss managing cybersecurity threats at a talk held by Flinders University.