Scott Morrison at his church in Sutherland (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

‘STATEMENT OF BELIEF’

No child will be discriminately barred from school on the basis of their sexuality under legislation quite literally called the religious discrimination bill, said Attorney-General Michaelia Cash last week. Now that we are getting a first look at the third version of the bill, The Conversation delves into what’s changed this time.

The Australian ($) reports the bill was unanimously backed by the Coalition joint partyroom yesterday — several moderates, like Dave Sharma and Andrew Bragg, did ask whether students and teachers could be kicked out of schools and universities, though others like Matt Canavan and Ben Small backed it as is. Prime Minister Scott Morrison says it’ll go to a Senate inquiry to make sure they’re protected — the teachers and students, that is, not the politicians barracking for the bill, as Guardian Australia reports.

Interestingly, the bill includes a clause called the “statement of belief” — people can say whatever as long as it’s in line with their religion’s teaching and isn’t malicious or vilifying. This would actually excuse them from state anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws, as SMH reports. Canavan piped up that if this bill can override state laws, why can’t vaccine mandates do the same? To which Morrison basically said, can you please focus? The bill also lets religious organisations cherry-pick faith candidates over others when hiring. A religious discrimination commissioner will police it, ABC adds.

FOSSIL FUELLING THE FIRE

Environmentalists are livid after Woodside inked a massive deal with BHP which’ll see a gas field created off the coast of WA,  AFR reports. Greens Leader Adam Bandt called it “worse than Adani”, saying “five minutes” after Glasgow’s summit we’re making the climate crisis worse by launching a new fossil fuel project. But it’s got bipartisan support — Resources Minister Keith Pitt backed it, as did his shadow Madeleine King, who said gas keeps the light on in the west and east. Customers are keen, too — 60% of the project’s gas had already been sold, according to Woodside’s boss.

So is gas a friend or foe of the climate? BloombergNEF’s Khobad Bhavnagri says it’s complicated: he told the Fin that gas can help us get the emission trajectory down in the next decade, but we’ll need to switch it for clean hydrogen by 2030. Reuters reports Woodside has promised to cut their carbon emissions by 30% by 2030, too. But why delay the inevitable, The Australia Institute’s Mark Ogge asks? He told Guardian Australia gas is not a transition fuel — instead of replacing coal, it’s replacing actual green energy opportunities. See you in court, the Conservation Council of Western Australia says — they’re challenging WA’s approval without a full environmental review on December 20, as The West ($) reports.

AFFIRMATIVE CONSENT BILL PASSES IN NSW

NSW has passed pioneering new consent laws that require a person to say or do something to find out whether their partner consents to sexual activity, SBS reports. NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman says it doesn’t require a “written agreement or script, or stifle spontaneity” — moreso prompts people to simply check in with their partner before things begin, SMH says.

Speakman tweeted that it was thanks to the “extraordinary bravery” and “tireless advocacy” of Saxon Mullins, after she waived her right to anonymity to discuss her experience on ABC’s Four Corners back in 2018. The judge ultimately found that Mullins hadn’t consented to sex in her mind, but the man had no reasonable basis for believing she didn’t. To make sure the laws are enacted, judges, legal practitioners and police will receive education programs before the rollout mid-next year. But the battle isn’t over for Mullins: she told AAP her next goal is to see the trailblazing new law enshrined in other state legislature, too.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Perhaps the most awe-inspiring thing about Albert Einstein is not simply that his ideas kicked off modern physics, but that they continue to be correct after more than a hundred years of exploration and discovery. In 2018, Einstein’s theory that two items, no matter how heavy, will fall at the same pace was proven true on an astronomical scale using an experiment based on two far-away stars. In July of this year, we found that supermassive black holes are so immensely powerful that they can quite literally bend light around themselves, as ABC delves into. Einstein’s theory of relativity was right again.

Now a fragment of his zany brilliance is going on sale, showing a key stage of the theory of relativity — “one of the single most important ideas in modern science” and which is “often described as the most beautiful theory in physics”, according to auction house Christie’s. It’s a manuscript, written between June 1913 and early 1914 which shows oodles of calculations made by Einstein and engineer Michele Besso. Christie’s think it’ll probably go for between $3.1 million and $4.6 million. Because of a bunch of errors, Einstein cast it aside after it was written — but Besso pocketed it, and took it with him when he left Zurich. It’s now one of just two manuscripts showing how the theory of relativity came to be, and the most valuable ever. Good thinking, Besso.

Wishing you some wonder and awe this Wednesday morning.

SAY WHAT?

Probably by the end of this winter pretty much everyone in Germany … will be vaccinated, cured or dead.

Jens Spahn

The German health minister put it plainly as the country grapples with up to 15,000 new COVID cases a day amid a fourth wave sweeping Europe. Hospital intensive care units are at breaking point, and it’s mostly unvaccinated patients who are becoming critically ill. About 67.5% of Germans are double vaxxed.

CRIKEY RECAP

Morrison’s credibility crisis places his Cry Freedom reelection plan in danger

“It’s as if Morrison’s constant stream of lies and falsehoods has made others disinclined to believe him when he announces his latest position on an important issue, cognisant as they are that it’s merely five minutes since Morrison said something entirely different.

“This is the real cost of slowly but steadily acquiring a reputation as someone who says whatever is convenient at the time — no one believes you, and demands that you act rather than merely announce, which is what extremists like Rennick and Antic want from the PM.”


Dead man’s family driven to homelessness by a public trustee

“Shortly before his death from aggressive kidney cancer in 2006, [John] Munroe used the state’s public will service to organise his $440,000 in assets. But the state has been so reluctant to release funds to his family that his partner, Tania Hawting, and son, Ethan Hawting, are now homeless.

“As Crikey previously covered in the series Kidnapped by the State, Queensland officials are refusing to release all Munroe’s funds, squandering an estimated $100,000 in legal and administration fees.”


Forget the politics. We need a sensible debate on the pros and cons of vaccine mandates

“One merit of Hanson’s bill is that it flushes out an issue which many ignore: there are and will be a significant number of people whose unvaccinated status will be by necessity, not choice. For various medical reasons, for some it is simply not an option.

“Their hypothetical risk of catching or transmitting COVID will be the same as that of an anti-vaxxer, but it’s very hard to find an ethical justification for saying they should be the victims of permanent discrimination (for example, never being able to fly).”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Donated skateboards reconnect indigenous youth to country (The Advocate)

Jacinda Ardern told to apologise over Judith Collins jibe (NZ Herald)

Ethiopia’s PM Abiy Ahmed vows to lead army ‘from the battlefront’ (Al Jazeera)

Man accused of killing 5 at Wisconsin parade had lengthy police record (The New York Times)

Sudanese ministers resign in protest against deal with military (Al Jazeera)

Bulgaria bus crash: Children among at least 46 killed (BBC)

Turkish lira tumbles after Erdogan defends rate cuts (The Wall Street Journal)

US to release 50m barrels of oil to ease energy costs (Al Jazeera)

Meredith Kercher: Student’s killer Rudy Guede ends sentence (BBC)

Hong Kong activist Tony Chung jailed under national security law (The Guardian)

Why China can’t bury Peng Shuai and its Me Too scandal (The New York Times)

Judge orders pro-Trump attorneys who brought frivolous election fraud case to pay more than $180,000 to defendants they sued (CNN)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Forrest’s fossil fuel subsidy illogicMatthew Warren (The AFR): “Energy subsidies exist. Through a series of renewable energy target schemes, Australian governments have been successfully subsidising renewable energy investment for the past two decades. Usefully, the need for further support of this type is waning as the cost of wind and solar is now at or below its competitors.

“We have not really discussed whether and how we should formally subsidise the suite of supporting technologies needed to complete a renewables-based energy system, such as batteries, pumped hydro, green hydrogen and biomethane. Funding for this next stage remains piecemeal and ad-hoc, relying on one-off deals with state and federal governments.”

My pandemic puppy is ruining my hot vax summerA single Melbourne woman (Guardian Australia): “So after six lockdowns, my partner and I ended our four-and-half year relationship just before the (hopefully) final one lifted. After the initial grieving period, soothed by the very affectionate puppy I managed to keep in the breakup negotiations, I emerged like so many others in the words of that horrible T-shirt slogan ‘Vaxxed, waxed and ready to climax’.

“But suddenly the lockdown puppy who had been such a reliable companion during so much uncertainty became a reliable roadblock in a time of so much potential. Now, every date I bring home must first be accosted by the little bronze pooch who has no respect for personal space or dignity — his wet nose a heat-seeking missile drawn to crotches even more than his newly single owner and with considerably less decorum. His insatiable desire to always be on my lap, once endearing, is now a logistical challenge when I want to be in the lap of another.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • RBA’s Michele Bullock will speak about the future of payments and appear on a panel at the Women in Payments symposium, held online.

  • Climate Leaders Coalition’s David Thodey and John Lydon will speak about COP26 and Australian business, held online.

  • OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann will give the Owen Harries Lecture on growth, climate and a rules-based international order, held online.

  • Author Maxine Beneba Clarke will discuss her new poetry collection, How Decent Folks Behave, in a webinar for the Wheeler Centre.

  • Author Chelsea Watego will discuss her new essay book, Another Day in the Colony, in a webinar for Avid Reader.

Wurundjeri Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Lord Mayor Sally Capp and Circus Oz’s Penny Miles will launch the new Everything but the Circus show, with acrobatic displays, at Birrarung Marr near Federation Square.

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Chief Executive Women president Sam Mostyn will speak to the National Press Club about the post-pandemic economy and how it will affect women.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will address the Queensland Resources Council’s State of the Sector.