THE AUKUS TRUTH
The post-AUKUS fallout continues. The ABC reports that White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has talked up the importance of the three-way security pact that will provide Australia with nuclear submarines: “if you bet with us, we will bet with you”. But, as Guardian Australia noted, Sullivan (and the US) couldn’t be drawn on backing Australia’s way of handling the deal’s announcement. Sullivan confessed to dodging the question because he didn’t believe there was any point in looking back. Very convenient.
Sullivan’s comments come not long after United States Vice-President Kamala Harris met with French President Emmanuel Macron to mend fences over the AUKUS deal, AP and Reuters report. The two met in the Elysee presidential palace and seemed as thick as thieves by the end, both issuing statements about “a new era” of their diplomatic relationships.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Marise Payne has moved to soothe anxieties in South-East Asia that Australia’s nuclear submarines are not paving the way for nuclear weapons or a civil nuclear industry down under, the AFR reports. Payne has just visited Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Indonesia where she made the case for AUKUS to our neighbours while also reminding them that Australia has been planning on building its defence capacity for some time.
As COP26 begins to wrap up, a surprise pact between the world’s two most powerful nations has put Australia in an awkward position. Reuters reports that the United States and China have made a deal to work closer together to combat climate change by reducing emissions, stopping deforestation, and phasing out coal. The decision comes after China decided to skip the conference and refused to commit to a net zero by 2050 goal.
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This decision combined with the draft COP26 statement has ratcheted up the pressure on Australia to commit to substantive climate change action, News Corp reports. The inclusion of a call to “accelerate the phasing out of coal and subsidies for fossil fuels” and a promise to speed up their decarbonisation reviews and revisit them next year will be making people in Canberra a bit uncomfortable.
Victoria’s top cops knocked back a plan to arrest and prosecute up to 16 state government MPs for their involvement in the “red shirts” rorts, The Age reports. Documents from 2018 reportedly show that high-ranking officers told detectives not to arrest, photograph, or search 16 named members of the Dan Andrews government if they were interviewed.
This news comes amid ongoing investigations into the branch stacking that saw the anti-corruption commissioner Chris Carr call former Andrews minister Adem Somyurek “living proof” of the unethical culture within Victoria’s Labor Party, the Guardian reports.
It wouldn’t be a Cam-helmed edition of the Worm without a touch of Tech Time. A significant story that didn’t get a whole lot of fanfare was from ABC’s triple j Hack host Avani Dias who spoke to a former content moderator for TikTok, the Chinese-owned megapopular short video platform. Few journalists around the world have secured on-the-record interviews with former employees. What Gadear Ayed claims is that during her time as a TikTok staff member moderating content, she saw that videos depicting violence against Palestinian people were left up by moderators in spite of the platform’s policies against violence. As the new kid on the block, TikTok still doesn’t face enough scrutiny because of the platform’s opacity to outsiders.
Sport is terrific for morale, but you can’t win
The WA premier defended the decision to bend the COVID-19 rules by relaxing quarantine rules for international cricketers so that the Perth’s Ashes Test can go ahead. WA is waiting for 90% double dose vaccination rate before opening its borders for quarantine-free travel. McGowan reckons he’s getting a hard go from critics who would have slammed them if they didn’t make allowances to let the cricket go ahead. (Another group of people who haven’t won much later: those locked out of the state).
“Instead of calling for an end to inhumane treatment, the government has dug in behind the industry, responding with an aggressive campaign warning pickers they may ‘bring shame to their families’ if they run away from their jobs and risk having their visa cancelled. Even the Tasmanian government has spruiked ‘flexible pay’ and ‘good working conditions’ as part of its fruit picking program.
“It’s one thing for the industry to defend seasonal worker exploitation, but another for the government to claim there is no systemic problem. [David] Littleproud should tell the truth: seasonal worker exploitation is rife and must stop.”
“Vaccine efficacy is measured by how well it prevents a person from developing serious illness while a secondary benefit is reducing chances of catching or transmitting the disease. But with international borders opening back up, are cases going down fast enough?
“Experts have been warning for some time that we’ll have to shift our focus from daily case numbers to hospitalisation rates. COVID-19 is likely to continue circulating in the community, and rather than locking down, Australia is learning to live with the virus, only introducing restrictions if severe cases of the disease get out of hand.”
“’Climate change will ultimately be solved by “can do” capitalism; not “don’t do” governments seeking to control people’s lives and tell them what to do, with interventionist regulation and taxes that just force up your cost of living and force businesses to close,’ Scott Morrison announced Wednesday.
“‘”Can do capitalism”, not “don’t do governments”. I think that’s a good motto for us to follow not just in this area, but right across the spectrum of economic policy in this country.’”
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Evergrande averts default as it pays overdue interest but faces deadline on another US$366m before year-end (South China Morning Post)
Simply foul and morally vacuous: if Keating had his way, we’d cast aside 24 million free people — Senator James Paterson (The SMH): “Former prime minister Paul Keating has every right to express his long-held sympathies towards China and to share his views about how Australia should respond. But we should be equally frank about how misguided and dangerous they are.
“Our security and that of our partners in the region depends on an active and engaged US which is uniquely capable of shouldering the immense burden of upholding an international order. That order respects the rights of individuals and sovereignty of all states, no matter how small.”
Our walking, talking, weaving, wedging Prime Minister — Niki Savva (The SMH) “Risking their own credibility, Morrison’s ministers and MPs have dutifully defended every U-turn, but it has been especially excruciating watching them squirming under questioning about his leaking of Macron’s text message, which they know was wrong, whatever the provocation, because if Macron was a target so was everyone. Maybe even them.
“When all else fails, blame the media. Like Morrison seeking to belittle journalists by wrongly accusing them of taking selfies with Macron. Or like one of his senior staff, quoted by Nick Tabakoff in Monday’s Media Diary in The Australian, dropping sly hints about what happens to journos who fail to toe the line. ‘Those who complained loudest were the ones who didn’t get the leak,’ he said. Put it another way. Those who complain or criticise don’t get the leaks. A crude technique, often effective, until it blows up in your face.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)
The federal parliament’s joint committee on corporations and financial services will hold a public hearing on the Corporations Amendment (Improving Outcomes for Litigation Funding Participants) Bill 2021.
Senator Bridget McKenzie will outline the federal government’s plans for regional communities in her first national keynote address as minister for regionalisation for the Regional Australia Institute.
Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)
A former Victorian government minister Adem Somyurek will give evidence to an anti-corruption inquiry investigating his faction’s branch stacking operation for a final day.
A state funeral will be held for entertainer Bert Newton at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne. It will also be livestreamed in Federation Square.
The state’s environment ministers are scheduled to speak at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event on bridging the gap between climate targets from the COP26 climate summit and federal policies.