NSW Sydney COVID-19
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

ADDING FIRE TO THE FUEL

NSW has fully vaccinated 70% of the state’s 16+ population, meaning restaurants, cafes, and gyms will reopen to the fully vaccinated next Monday, as Guardian Australia explains. They can also have five people over and leave their 5km bubble. NSW should hit its 80% target on October 25, the SMH forecasts, which will unlock more freedoms — like regional travel outside Greater Sydney, as AFR says. Nine in 10 people (who are over the age of 16) have now had one shot, the paper adds.

Newbie Premier Dominic Perrottet says they’re done with daily pressers and will release COVID numbers at 9am instead of 11am, the SMH continues. It comes as former deputy Nationals leader Paul Toole succeeded John Barilaro as the new Nats leader yesterday and became the state’s deputy, Sky News reports, after the NSW Coalition lost both its leader and deputy in a matter of days.

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews says he will not do a Gladys and resign over reports the corruption watchdog is investigating his role in a firies dispute, as The Age reports. It began in 2014, when country firefighters were squabbling with the union about how much control it’d have over them in a proposed bargaining agreement. It turned pretty nasty, Guardian Australia says, so Andrews merged the country firefighters with the metro ones — now known as Fire Rescue Victoria. The Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (IBAC) is probing the Victorian government’s dealings with union secretary Peter Marshall to ensure they were “transparent” and not “favourable”, The Australian ($) explains.

A PRESSING ISSUE

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash is urging states to reform the nation’s strict defamation laws, The Australian reports. It follows a High Court ruling that left governments and publishers exposed to legal action if they did not moderate comments on their social media accounts — a “considerable liability”, Cash says, known as the Voller verdict. Cash wrote to attorneys-general in all eight jurisdictions this week saying the current laws are “not fit for purpose”.

Cash says there are plenty of solutions on the table to weaken the laws — which, according to the Oz, has even seen the Commonwealth seek advice on whether comments on their many social media pages could result in defamation proceedings. The Tasmanian government turned off comments on their social pages, Guardian Australia reported, while CNN even blocked Australians from its Facebook page, as Reuters reports. It all began with Dylan Voller suing News Corp Australia and Nine Entertainment over offensive comments posted on their pages, as ABC explains.

Speaking of taking a stand — after yanking ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault out of Canberra when we ghosted the French over the submarine deal, the French foreign minister confirmed he’s coming back, the SMH reports. He’ll have two rather chilly imperatives: to “redefine the terms” of the Franco-Australian relationship, and “defend [France’s] interests” as Australia weasels out of our $90 billion agreement.

MALARIA VACCINE APPROVED

In some happy news, the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the first malaria vaccine, the SMH reports. It’s a “historic moment”, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says, that will see children across Africa inoculated against the parasitic disease. Malaria is among the oldest known and deadliest of infectious diseases, The New York Times continues.

It’s not a perfect vaccine — it’s about 30% effective, and requires four doses, WHO says, but it is set to make a sizeable dent on the continent where there are more than 200 million cases a year and 500,000 deaths. Of those half a million dead, about 260,000 are children younger than five, CNN reports, making it one of the primary causes of childhood illness and death in the sub-Sahara. Director of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research Julian Rayner says he expects it will “stop hundreds of thousands of children from dying” — they’ll instead “grow into healthy adults” in what is “a glimmer of hope for the continent”, WHO’s regional director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti continues.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Good news! The results are in for Fat Bear Week. Alaska’s Katmai National Park runs a yearly battle of the bulk for a dozen of the world’s chunkiest brown bears. This year’s winner was the portly Otis, in a gut-to-gut competition that received nearly a million votes, as BBC reports. His weight is estimated to be around 1000 pounds, which means Otis doubled his body weight from July to September. Respect.

That’s because the bears of Katmai start madly binging on fresh sockeye salmon once the summer is done. The fatter they grow, the better — it sustains the bears through the winter hibernation and helps them come back healthier in the thaw. The win was made sweeter considering Otis, at 25, is no spring chicken compared to the other spritely sashimi-hunting bears. “The portly patriarch of paunch persevered to pulverise the Baron of Beardonkadonk in the final match”, the park announced on Twitter, adding that Otis was “still chowing down”.

Hope you have an appetite for life today, folks.

I’m taking a couple of days off and another terrific Crikey writer will be bringing you your Worm. Looking forward to chatting with you again on Tuesday.

SAY WHAT?

I know there has been a certain raucous, squawkus from the anti-AUKUS caucus, but AUKUS is simply a recognition of the reality that the world is tilting on its axis, on its economic axis, and our trade and relations in the Indo-Pacific region are becoming more vital than ever before.

Boris Johnson

The British PM went a little Dr. Seuss when affirming his steadfast belief in the trilateral agreement. He also called former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a “corduroy communist cosmonaut”. But Johnson’s speech lacked any policy announcements or solutions for the UK’s rising cost of living and energy prices, nor the food and fuel shortage causing havoc.

CRIKEY RECAP

Win for Collaery derails Porter’s attempt to cover up Timor-Leste bugging

“If details of those events are made public, the Coalition will face embarrassment and further questions about its vexatious pursuit of Collaery and Witness K, a former ASIS officer who in June was given a three month suspended sentence for his role in the revelation of the bugging, which he did so as part of a workplace dispute with ASIS.

“It is expected that current Attorney-General Michaelia Cash — who has her own links to the issue via her previous employment with major law firm Freehills, which worked with ConocoPhillips on Timor Gap matters — will appeal the ruling.”


Australia’s great fossil fortune a golden opportunity — or a nasty attack of Dutch disease

“Yesterday the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that Australia had recorded its biggest trade surplus in August — more than $15 billion. As recently as 2016, Australia recorded a trade deficit; in 2017 the surplus was just $8.9 billion for the whole year. And fossil fuels are responsible.

“No wonder Prime Minister Scott Morrison is reluctant to attend Glasgow — he’ll do so as one of the world’s biggest beneficiaries of the stuff the rest of the world wants to get rid of as quickly as possible.”


Can Dominic Perrottet help Scott Morrison over the line in NSW? An early form guide

“But have a look at recent polling to see how important NSW is to Morrison. In a result that presumably confounded the many press gallery commentators who were lauding AUKUS as a masterstroke, the most recent Morgan poll last week had Labor increasing its two-party-preferred lead to eight points …

“Labor’s huge lead in Victoria has come off quite a bit in recent months but it would still enjoy a swing there of nearly 3% and pick up a seat. In Western Australia Labor is sitting on a swing of 10%, and can probably count on at least two seats, maybe three, including Christian Porter’s in Pearce.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Australia to stop processing asylum seekers in PNG but government’s refugee policy unchanged (ABC)

Climate disaster costs to hit $73b by 2060: Deloitte Access Economics (The Australian) ($)

Auckland Hospital neonatal ICU transporting expectant mothers, staff ‘contingency plans’ after COVID case (NZ Herald)

Biden and Xi discuss Taiwan amid spike in cross-strait tensions (Al Jazeera)

Princess Haya: Dubai ruler had ex-wife’s phone hacked — UK court (BBC)

Why these New Yorkers stopped paying rent (The New York Times)

Scholz moves step closer to succeeding Merkel as German chancellor (The Guardian)

Taliban killed 13 Hazaras in ‘cold-blooded executions’, says Amnesty International (SBS)

Arnold Schwarzenegger says January 6 insurrection is what happens ‘when people are being lied to about the elections’ (CNN)

Nobel Prize in chemistry awarded to two scientists for work on molecular tool (The Wall Street Journal)

THE COMMENTARIAT

I backed Berejiklian’s right to power, but her fall is not a blow for feminismKristina Keneally (The SMH): “As it turns out, Berejiklian also has just as much capacity as any man to squander the job of premier. And that brings me to accountability. Women who seek power must never resile from accountability — to those we lead, to our consciences and to other women. Many people in NSW were confused, angry or disappointed by Berejiklian’s resignation in the wake of the Independent Commission Against Corruption naming her as a person of interest …

“Am I glad she has resigned for this reason? Hardly. It’s a blight on our democracy. And it risks being used as an example by those men who still want to deny women power. But power demands accountability, no matter who exercises that power. A female premier using sexist stereotypes about her gender risks unpicking decades of feminist progress. It does little for women’s empowerment. I said women must back one another’s claims for power as legitimate. Indeed, I backed Berejiklian’s. But solidarity does not mean blind or unconditional support. Power and solidarity must align with that other requirement — accountability.”

We need to get real about carbon offsets in Australia – they won’t stop climate changeRichard Denniss (Guardian Australia): “Australia is the third largest exporter of fossil fuels in the world, coming in behind Saudi Arabia and Russia. We are the world’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas and the second largest exporter of coal. And we aren’t transitioning away from fossil fuels, we are transitioning towards them, with plans to open enormous new gas basins and dozens of new coalmines …

” … now the energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor is proposing to pay the oil and gas industry for capturing some of the C02 that leaks out when they are extracting their fossil fuels which, when burned, will actually cause more climate change. What this means is that if we expand the oil and gas industry we can increase the number of these “offsets” produced, making it then possible for the government to simultaneously support the fossil fuel industry while assuring voters it’s doing something about climate change. It’s a very Morrison solution to a very real problem.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Arts Minister Don Harwin, Sydney Mayor Clover Moore, and festival director Nashen Moodley will launch the Sydney Film Festival, held online.

  • Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy will be in conversation with writer Lech Blaine about his Quarterly Essay, Top Blokes: The Larrikin Myth, Class and Power, held online.

  • Writer Mirandi Riwoe will be in conversation with author J.P. Pomare discussing the latter’s new book, The Last Guests, held online.

  • Journalist Bridget Brennan, and Indigenous health worker Chelsea Watego are among the panellists at discussion “Future Voices: Decolonising Australian Media”, held online.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Doctors Rhea Liang, Alex Markwell, and Mellissa Naidoo will discuss issues and topics surrounding women in medicine at the AMA Queensland annual Women in Medicine Breakfast.

Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)

  • Thrive by Five CEO Jay Weatherill will speak with CEDA chair Diane Smith-Gander about Australia’s early childhood development system.

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Peter Fray
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