Scott Morrison covid-19
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

‘AUSTRALIAN WAY’ LACKS DIRECTION

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s long-awaited climate plan, called “The Australian Way”, has no detail and no modelling (it’ll be released “eventually”, he says), Guardian Australia reports. Further to this, it includes no new policies, The Australian ($) adds. The “technology not taxes” motto is little more than sophistry, Michelle Grattan writes for The Conversation, as taxpayers will foot the plan’s $20 billion bill. Besides, economists told The Age this morning, a technology approach risks wasting public funds on technology that might not pan out into industry use.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese called the plan a “scam”, saying that there was “net zero modelling, net zero legislation and net zero unity”, Sky News reports, while Greens Leader Adam Bandt accused the government of “climate fraud”. Labor’s plan will be released in the coming weeks, shadow climate spokesperson Chris Bowen says, after they abandoned last election’s 45% reduction by 2030 promise following their shock loss, as The Guardian reported at the time. But times have changed, and perhaps so have the voters — The Age found about 51% of respondents to a poll said they’d be willing to fork out money to help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Morrison leaves for Glasgow tomorrow with his mid-century commitment his only card, at a historic climate summit where, as the SMH’s David Crowe puts it, “net zero by 2050 could be seen as a minimum pledge for an advanced economy”. The UN has publicly called on nations to bring a 45% reduction target for 2030, but Morrison will show up the same old 26-28% reduction target, though says we are on track to beat that with about a 30-35% reduction, as ABC reports. Yet the UN says the world is on track to see a 2.7C rise in temperature this century under current commitments, the SMH says.

SOUR GRAPES

The World Trade Organization is stepping in to solve our squabble with China over our wine exports, The New Daily reports. They’ve set up a dispute settlement body after China blocked our initial effort to get one. Basically, all wine exports to China now have a 200% tariff on them, as the BBC says — but wine exports used to have no tariffs at all, under our 2015 China-Australia free trade agreement brought in by the Abbott government.

The 200% spike was retaliation for our sour-grapes relationship with the Chinese. First, we banned big tech company Huawei from our 5G network over security worries — we were actually the first country to do so, and many followed suit, the SMH says. Then, Foreign Minister Marise Payne told ABC’s David Speers in April last year that she supported an inquiry into the origins of COVID-19.

And our plonk isn’t the only export suffering — there are tariffs on barley, cotton, red meat, seafood, sugar, timber, and coal exports too. China is actually facing its worst power crisis in years because of a major coal shortage, as CNBC reports, but it’s pretty unlikely Beijing will come to us — an unofficial ban on Aussie coal imports has been in place since last year.

I’LL BE MACK

Former Nationals leader Michael McCormack is furious that coal fanboy Senator Matt Canavan was edited into a Terminator video, the SMH reports. The frankly unsettling video, posted to George Christensen’s Facebook page, shows a Canavan-Terminator shooting at people — including a cop. The problem? McCormack’s son is a cop. He posted in the junior Coalition partner’s group chat — called Nats Chat — that “As the father of a police officer, I find this abhorrent”. Canavan replied that the cop was actually a shapeshifting bot sent back to kill the protagonist, and “he deserved to get smoked for the good of humanity”. But Nats Leader Barnaby Joyce told the paper he sided with McCormack, who had “every right to be angry” and that the video was not acceptable. How do we know all this? The group chat messages were leaked to news.com.au — probably by Canavan, McCormack reckons.

Christensen posted the video with a caption, “This is pretty much Senator Matthew Canavan dealing with the disastrous net zero push today”. It’s the latest in the politician-provocateur’s wheelhouse — he has compared mandatory vaccines to apartheid, said masks do not work, and is about to launch his own “patriotic” “pro-freedom” news site, as The New Daily reports (anyone else hearing Trump bells ringing?). Christensen is not contesting the next election.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Scientists may have discovered — for the first time ever — a planet outside the Milky Way galaxy. The planet, which is about the size of Saturn, is tucked into the arm of the gorgeous Whirlpool galaxy, about 28 million lightyears away. This number is mind-boggling, but that’s 28 million multiplied by 9.5 trillion kilometres. It was discovered using the NASA Chandra Space Telescope, BBC reports, but how the heck can a telescope can see that far?

Well, they use something called the transit method — basically where a planet’s passage in front of a bright star blocks some of that star’s light. The dip in brightness can be detected by a telescope. They could tell the planet’s size resembles that of Saturn, because the passage of the planet across the star lasted about three hours, as ABC delves into. But even so, scientists can’t be sure it’s a planet at all — like an unsettled tot, it could just be gas — and the next time it’ll pass in front of the star will be in 70 years. The scientists say the planet is a big call — but that’s showbiz, baby. “We know we are making an exciting and bold claim so we expect that other astronomers will look at it very carefully,” Princeton University’s Julia Berndtsson says. “This process is how science works”.

Hope you feel a little wonder and awe in your Wednesday, too.

SAY WHAT?

We won’t be lectured by others who do not understand Australia. The Australian Way is all about how you do it, and not if you do it. It’s about getting it done.

Scott Morrison

The PM wrote an op-ed for News Corp papers yesterday — which some pundits pointed out was hidden behind paywalls but you can read it here — where he defined “The Australian Way” in just-vague-enough terms that it neither made sense nor was it arguable, an incredible balance to strike. Adelaide Writers’ Week’s Jo Dyer put it bluntly when she tweeted that “The Australian Way” used to be the “acute capacity to see through the type of specious contrived bullshit that Scott and his ilk habitually put forward as serious policy and analysis”.

CRIKEY RECAP

Scott Morrison’s net zero pivot is about winning an election, not getting serious on climate change

“Most voters support it. Most regional voters support it. Most Nationals voters support it. Big business supports it. This is why the government had to move, and the Nationals had to fall into line, even as people like Matt Canavan (in public) and Barnaby Joyce (in private, at least now) opposed a net zero target.

“That move comes with a tacit acknowledgement that the next election will see a very different fight on climate from the one we had in 2019. Then, the spotlight was all on Labor, treated too often as a government-in-waiting. Forensic scrutiny was placed on the cost of their climate plan, rather than the cost of inaction under the Coalition. The perception Bill Shorten (and somehow Bob Brown) would destroy the coal industry, egged on by Morrison, helped drive massive swings against Labor in regional Queensland.”


A child is missing. Can we do more to find Cleo?

“Police, no doubt, are doing their very best. But can’t we help too? Why aren’t the big corporates digging deep to add to the million-dollar reward, or charter search planes, or offer to fund ground walkers? Facebook says it wants to work for the good of our children. It’s got an almighty opportunity now. And it’s silent.

“What technology might help track her movements, or the movements of every single person in the area that evening?What have we learnt from the William Tyrrell investigation that we might do better this time? Could our politicians do more, rather than blather on about issues that don’t mean much to any of us?”


Nine lives? Crown thrown another lifeline despite scathing royal commission report

James Packer’s Crown Resorts has managed to hold on to its Victorian licence despite a scathing royal commission report that found it was unfit to run its flagship Melbourne casino due to a litany of ‘illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative’ conduct.

“Commissioner Ray Finkelstein said the casino should ‘not be in control of its own destiny’, but stopped short of recommending Crown be stripped of its licence. Instead he recommended a special manager should oversee the casino for two years before the licence gets ripped up — something the Victorian gaming minister endorsed.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Police arrest 150 people globally in dark web sting: Europol (Al Jazeera)

Aung San Suu Kyi defends herself during ‘show trial’ in Myanmar (The New York Times)

Defiant anti-coup protesters block roads in Sudan (Al Jazeera)

Businesses in Thailand urge government to reverse alcohol ban (The Guardian)

Billionaire tax faces likely constitutional challenge (The Wall Street Journal)

Donald Trump Jr slammed for selling ‘tacky’ Alec Baldwin T-shirts (NZ Herald)

China locks down city of 4m people after 6 COVID cases detected (The Guardian)

Biden’s refusal of executive privilege claim ignites new firestorm with Trump (CNN)

Tesla surpasses $1 trillion in market value as Hertz orders 100,000 vehicles (The Wall Street Journal)

[Dave] Chappelle slams cancel culture amid Netflix transgender furore (BBC)

Major US airlines, travel industry leaders donate more than 20,000 flights for Afghan evacuees (CNN)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Labor says bring on an election about the economy’s future Tanya Plibersek (The AFR): “If you ever thought the Liberal Party could manage an economy, that idea should be ‘dead, buried and cremated’. At best they don’t understand the needs of a complex, modern economy; at worst they’re actively hostile towards those needs. And now that they’re a trillion dollars in the red, they can’t talk about fiscal discipline either.

“The Labor Party is happy to make this election about our duelling economic visions for the future. The choice is clear. It’s either a stale, tired, eight-year-old government, with its outdated reliance on low wages, rationed education and opposition to renewables, or a fresh and hungry alternative, determined to rebuild industry, increase productivity and wages growth, and invest in the Australian people once again.”

Australia’s inflation genie is not out of the bottle, yetTicky Fullerton (The Australian) ($): “Australia’s inflation number on Wednesday is hotly anticipated, after New Zealand’s surprise 4.9% annual jump in inflation last week and a hint of concern from Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell that inflation pressures in the US might not be a transitory as first thought.

“Market consensus for Australia’s September quarter is 0.8%, pulling the annual headline inflation down from 3.3% to 3.1%. But whatever the final figure and whatever pressure the bond market throws at the Reserve Bank to bring forward its 2024 guidance for a first rise in the cash rate, the inflation genie in Australia will almost certainly remain in the bottle … Economist Saul Eslake says the figure that matters is underlying inflation, which should come in around 1.75%.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Immunologist and Nobel laureate Peter Doherty and Business NSW’s Daniel Hunter will take part in a panel about how we can co-exist with COVID-19, held online.

  • Author Hannah Kent discusses her new novel, Devotion, held online.

  • Google’s Dominick Ng is among the speakers on a panel discussion on empowering women leaders in STEM and entrepreneurship, held online.

  • Lech Blaine, who wrote Quarterly Essay’s ​​Top Blokes: The Larrikin Myth, Class and Power, is among several speakers who’ll discuss whether the stories we tell about men help or hinder them, held online.

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Climate experts Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, Mark Howden, and Frank Jotzo will deliver a National Press Club address on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.

Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)

  • UWA’s Meredith Blake is among the speakers at a panel discussion held by the university’s Law School and the Australian Association of Constitutional Law about whether restrictions coexist with our constitutional rights.