Leader of the National Party Barnaby Joyce (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

NATS ZERO

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has just five weeks to convince the stubborn Nats on the benefits of committing to a policy of net zero by 2050 before he heads to Glasgow, The New Daily reports. It comes as he told The Australian ($) he will take a climate plan, “not just a number and a date”, to the United Nations COP26 climate summit.

Tensions are brewing in the fractured National Party over climate action — yesterday coal fanboy Matt Canavan tweeted he was “deadset against net zero”, saying it “would just make us weaker”. Conversely, as Reuters reports, Australia faces an imminent risk of global ostracisation if we don’t act on net zero, with the trickle-down to be copped by households and small business, as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg explained last week. After Nationals 2IC David Littleproud said the party would need to fall into line behind Morrison’s approach, Canavan rather ominously told the Guardian Australia he hasn’t “even begun to fight” against net zero.

Things have boiled over for moderate MP Darren Chester who’ll take a break from the party, citing “disrespectful and offensive views” from some colleagues, as ABC reports. Chester also mentioned a “failure of the leadership” in the party — though he was a close ally of dumped leader Michael McCormack and has been both sacked and usurped by Nats leader Barnaby Joyce in the past. It seems Joyce has shifted somewhat on net zero — he did defend fossil fuels on ABC’s Insiders, claiming we’d have to accept “a lower standard of living” without them, but said he had “no problems with any plan that does not leave regional areas hurt” on Friday, as The Conversation delves into.

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EASE-Y DOES IT

Well, it’s not quite freedom day, but Victorian Premier Dan Andrews confirmed his state can spend more time outside and travel a bit further from Wednesday, as the AFR reports. Victoria is on track to have administered at least one vaccine dose to 80% of its over-16 population by Tuesday, allowing for Melburnians to travel 15km from their home and be outside for four hours a day. Wondering what falls within 15km of you? Check out The Age’s handy interactive. Training sessions outdoors in groups of five (plus a trainer) are okay now too, as are playdates at the playground of up to five people — as long as everyone is fully vaxxed. Melburnians can now boat, play golf, and play tennis, while people in Greater Geelong and the Surf Coast areas are waking up to their first day out of lockdown.

The Herald Sun reports that trials for vaccination passports across parts of Victoria will begin October 11, with hospitality, hairdressing, and tourism businesses in six regional areas to participate, before the wider rollout in the state. It’s not without risk — and that’s the point, epidemiologist Catherine Bennett says. “You need to do it in areas that have some exposure … to understand how risk management works”.

A MODEST ASK

Should Indigenous Australians have the same pension age as non-Indigenous Australians, considering the former lives on average nine years fewer? That’s the question put before federal court last Thursday, led by 64-year-old Wakka Wakka man Dennis, who asked Guardian Australia to not use his last name. The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and the Human Rights Law Centre, who put forth the case, argued that the uniform pension age (currently 66 and six months) was inequitable and in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act considering the difference in life expectancy.

Yorta Yorta woman and senior adviser at the Human Rights Law Centre Meena Singh says it’s about restoring dignity to a generation who lived through the after-effects of the Stolen Generation, as well as segregation, the 1967 referendum, and an ongoing governmental failure to close the gap. Singh says the case will ask to reduce the age by three years, a “modest ask”, which could also lead to better long-term funding and monitoring of Indigenous issues.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Rob Zwartendijk, then aged in his 20s, knew his father, a Dutch radio salesman, was in Lithuania during WWII. But it wasn’t until Rob entered his 30s that he learned the truth about him. Jan Zwartendijk — who became an “accidental diplomat” in the war — went on to help as many as 10,000 Jewish people flee Nazi-occupied Europe, saving them from certain imprisonment — or death.

Jan’s incredible feat has gone relatively uncelebrated until the release of The Just, which tells the story of him and his accomplice, Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara. The pair improvised an incredible escape from Lithuania to Japan by issuing “visas” to 2139 people over 10 days in 1940. But as many as 10,000 probably got out, as women and children often travelled with documented male relatives. Japanese students learn about Sugihara’s feat, and there are three museums dedicated to his life, but there were no Hollywood epics or even history chapters devoted to Jan. Rob, now 81, says his father didn’t expect anything in return. “Whenever it cropped up, he said: ‘Ah, that’s not very important, everyone would have done those things if they had been in this position’. Which you and I know is not true,” Rob says.

Hope your day includes a little bit of bravery, too.

SAY WHAT?

There’ll need to be a lot of demonstrated performance from the Taliban before Australia starts moving in a direction that could give them any sort of legitimacy.

Scott Morrison

The prime minister indicated that he could be convinced to recognise the Taliban as an official government but said there were no plans underway to see a Taliban representative in Afghanistan’s embassy in Canberra. It comes as the Taliban, who are trying to get their official spokesperson to become Afghanistan’s ambassador to the UN, hanged a dead body from a crane parked in a city square on Saturday. The Taliban claim the person had died by police gunfire after attempting to abduct a man and his son.

CRIKEY RECAP

As Frydenberg peddles net-zero, it’s still all about… coal

“… we have yet another round of the “inching towards 2050” game, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg — the man who used to be the next prime minister — making the anodyne observation that capital markets are moving more quickly than the government on climate (and being applauded by press gallery journalists for doing so) and speculation that the Nationals will agree to a deal on a 2050 net-zero target, doubtless in exchange for yet more billions of taxpayer dollars.

“In the real world, Energy Minister Angus Taylor is still trying to push through his ‘CoalKeeper’ tax — which would require every household to pay up to $400 a year to keep coal-fired power stations going — in a meeting with state energy ministers today. 2050 in the streets, CoalKeeper in the sheets, as it were, with the press gallery dutifully averting its collective eyes.”


The seedy rise and fall of John Elliott’s tottering empire

“The inevitable eulogies are flowing thick and fast for former corporate titan John Elliott, with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and newly returned Victorian Liberal leader Matthew Guy taking pole position. But most testimonials have conveniently ignored Elliott’s criminal past, instead focusing on his ‘larger than life’ personality, leadership of the Carlton Football Club and brief time as a potential prime minister. But while the eulogies ignore or gloss over Elliott’s many misdeeds, Crikey certainly won’t …

“He lost millions on a Russian pie investment before his calamitous chairmanship of rice company Water Wheel, which culminated in the bankruptcy of the 127-year-old firm. (Elliott and fellow directors were banned after the Victorian Supreme Court found they had allowed Water Wheel to trade while insolvent.)”


Real Rukshan: the live streamer who took Melbourne’s protest to the world stage

“But tweets from his account from 2019 and early 2020 show a much more partisan Fernando than he lets on in his videos. He’s a steadfast Donald Trump supporter who believes the United States election was stolen. He’s an avid fan of Jack Posobiec, Mike Cernovich, and Andy Ngo, right-wing American creators who have peddled conspiracy theories and platformed white nationalists.

“He doesn’t believe that climate change is real. He called Supreme Court Justice Brett Cavanaugh accuser Christine Blasey Ford a ‘fake victim of nonexistent events’. He promoted a conspiracy theory that US politician Ilhan Omar married her brother. He called Alexander Downer a foreign spy for his involvement in a meeting with George Papadopoulos that led to the US Russiagate investigation. In short, he was fully immersed in the Trump media ecosystem.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Sydney cafe’s extreme move to support unvaccinated customers (news.com.au)

Steven Miles slams ‘master of distraction’ Scott Morrison’s border comments (The Australian) ($)

Victoria names its first Indigenous LGBTIQ+ commissioner (SBS)

Erdogan: Turkey could buy more Russian S-400s despite US warnings (Al Jazeera)

Affluent, Anxious and Almost Normal: A Journey Through Merkel’s Germany (The New York Times)

Women win majority of seats in Iceland’s election (Al Jazeera)

Swiss vote overwhelmingly for same-sex marriage in referendum (The Guardian)

Italy frees Catalan separatist leader from jail. Here’s how the case has gone. (The New York Times)

Bitcoin miners eye nuclear power as environmental criticism mounts (The Wall Street Journal)

Man arrested over killing of London schoolteacher Sabina Nessa (The Guardian)

Lewis Hamilton takes 100th win in Russian Grand Prix as Lando Norris spins in rain (BBC)

My life as a ghostwriter (Quillette)

THE COMMENTARIAT

We Did the Research: Masks Work, and You Should Choose a Surgical Mask if PossibleJason Abaluck, Laura H. Kwong, Stephen P. Luby (The New York Times): “Our research, which is currently undergoing peer review, was conducted with 340,000 adults in 600 villages in Bangladesh and tested many different strategies to get people to wear masks … This change led to a 9% reduction in COVID-19 overall. In communities where we promoted surgical mask use, COVID-19 cases dropped by 11 percent.

“People over age 50 benefited most, especially in communities where we distributed surgical masks. In these communities, Covid-19 cases fell by 23% for people aged 50 to 60 and by 35% for people over age 60. Our study does not suggest that only older people need to wear masks, but rather that widespread community mask wearing reduces COVID-19 risk, especially for older people … Let us put this in concrete terms. Our best estimate is that every 600 people who wear surgical masks in public areas prevent an average of one death per year given recent death rates in the United States.”

Paul Keating is wrong, AUKUS doesn’t turn Australia’s back on AsiaMarise Payne (The SMH): “The claim by some commentators, including former prime minister Paul Keating, that AUKUS orientates us towards an anachronistic Anglosphere, shows a deliberate disregard of the many relationships that through hard work we are deepening and enriching. We can have friends in more than one linguistic sphere, on more than one continent, of more than one political persuasion. It is not one or the other.

“We must and will seize every opportunity, whether that is AUKUS, the rapid and positive evolution of the Quad, our strategic partnership with ASEAN, our energetic work as a member of the Pacific Islands Forum and with the European Union on the Indo-Pacific, or the strong bilateral friendships we have forged across the region. Why must we do this? … China as a major power is asserting itself and pressuring the system of rules that enjoys broad international support and provides broad international benefit.”

 

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Emerging authors Sinéad Stubbins, Wen-Juenn Lee, Paige ClarkGrace Yee, and Lauren Taylor will chat about the topic of belonging, in a webinar for the Wheeler Centre.

  • Authors Jay Kristoff and C. S. Pascat will chat about the latter’s new sci-fi book, Dark Rise, in a webinar for Readings.

Nipaluna Country (also known as Hobart)

  • Arts Law Centre of Australia’s Suzanne Derry will host a workshop for Aboriginal artists, arts workers, and organisations that explores legal issues like copyright, contracts, and insurance.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Poets Ella Jeffery and Sarah Holland-Batt will discuss the latter’s new collection, Fishing for Lightning, at Avid Reader. You can also catch this one online.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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