(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

POLITICAL DONATIONS DATA SHOWS ‘HIDDEN MONEY’ IN POLITICS

A hefty 40% of all political donations — that’s $68.3 million — were donated by anonymous sources last financial year, The Age reports. The electoral commission found almost 36% of the Coalition’s $2 billion reported income from political donations is “hidden money”, while for Labor, 24.5% of $1.8 billion equally goes unexplained. This isn’t against the rules — and barrister Geoffrey Watson told the paper that shows a gaping “transparency void” in our system. The problems are threefold, he reckons — too much money is thrown around, rich people influence politicians, and voters don’t know squat. In the federal system, donors can be kept anonymous if they give less than $14,500 at a time — that’s way higher than the $1000 limit in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT.

Speaking of big bucks — the AFR reports we’ve got $245 billion in household savings stashed away during the pandemic, but 85% of Australian businesses say staff shortages are holding them back from capitalising on it, while almost half say they can’t even get the material they need to trade. Both results were a record high in the NAB quarterly business survey’s 32 year history, the paper says. Writing in The Australian ($) this morning, Labor Leader Anthony Albanese says there does not need to be a trade-off between wages growth and jobs if we can improve the nation’s productivity. The solution? Increased access to childcare, free TAFE courses, cheaper electricity, and improved workforce participation, he says. But Jobs Minister Stuart Robert retorts that the government is already getting people into better jobs, pointing to a record 220,000 apprentices now in the workforce.

A G7 ‘CARBON CLUB’ PROPOSED

Australia will be penalised by the G7 if a new climate alliance between the world’s advanced economies is formed, The Conversation reports. Germany’s new Chancellor Olaf Scholz wants the G7 countries to create a “carbon club” that would make others pay hefty costs for not meeting climate standards (Scholz is the new G7 president). At the moment, as the only developed nation to not up our climate pledge at Glasgow, Australia is seen as a “free rider” Griffith University’s Wesley Morgan points out, and says we could cop “economic and diplomatic costs” from the alliance for years to come — naming carbon border levies, as well as lost investment capital and the economic gains in clean industries.

Plus, we’re already in the bad books on the national stage after our French exit over the submarine deal — that’s according to former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, who called it a “diplomatic debacle of the first order” continuing that it “undermined Australia’s honour, security and sovereignty”. He made the comments on ABC last night after an email seemed to show we led the French on by implying all was fine before we bailed for AUKUS. “I will ensure that the good progress to date is part of the advice we take to government, and you will hear that message repeated in the 2+2 with France and in other engagements,” the email says. Turnbull says it shows we lied to the French — something President Emmanuel Macron says too, as Guardian Australia reported — considering French officials say they were blindsided by our decision.

‘RIGHT TO DISCRIMINATE’

Today two parliamentary legislation and human rights committees will hand down reports on the religious discrimination bill, AAP reports. Yesterday Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a Brisbane radio station it had been his view “for years” that the religious discrimination bill would stop schools discriminating against same-sex attracted and gender-diverse students. Can you tell Attorney-General Michaelia Cash then? Last year she said protections for students would have to wait at least a year, apparently reneging on a deal she struck with moderates, as the SMH reported.

In related news, Citipointe Christian College is back in the news this morning, this time for lobbying the government to get the “right to discriminate” against the LGBTIQ community, Guardian Australia reports. It says principal Brian Mulheran, a Pentecostal pastor who incidentally has no teaching credentials, gave evidence to a Senate hearing on sexuality discrimination in 1996. “We have children whom we love and care about, and we do not want to allow them to be taught wrong morals and be influenced by wrong moral behaviour,” he says in a recording of the hearing. Yikes. Mulheran has since withdrawn his school’s enrolment contracts, ABC reports, that asked parents to concur that homosexuality was on par with bestiality.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Manifestation — woo-woo poppycock or genuine strategy for happiness? Loosely defined as willing your goals into existence, the concept seems to have gripped people during the pandemic — Google says searches for the term hit an all-time high last July. The Guardian’s Ammar Kalia was like — what the hell, I’m going to try this. He was approaching 30 and feeling existential about the state of the world, and figured he could try bringing some “good stuff to myself”. So how does one manifest? He spoke to psychotherapist Denise Fournier who says she writes down 10 things she’s grateful for each morning, takes a moment to visualise her goals, and then writes some steps in her journal. Easy enough.

But what should one manifest? Kalia says he’d love to be a published author but was feeling nervous about approaching publishers. An entrepreneur who uses the technique tells Kalia “you really have to live in the 3D reality of what you want to achieve and change how you think”, so Kalia starts picturing himself in tweed jackets and “grandly declining an OBE for services to literature”. But manifestation isn’t just fantasising, Fournier warns. You’ve got to show up for yourself — that is, put the work in. A few actionable steps, like editing, shortlisting agents, and emailing, seal the deal. Two weeks later, however, Kalia has heard zip from any agents. But, he says, during this time he genuinely “felt my confidence about my creativity grow” — so while it may not have been a silver bullet for success this time, “visualising has been fun and helped me to realise that I can hope for more from my life”, Kalia says.

Wishing you a little hope today too, folks, and have a restful weekend ahead.

SAY WHAT?

I wasn’t surprised by the content. I was a little bit surprised they found their way into the public domain.

Malcolm Turnbull

The former PM says text messages purportedly between former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and an unnamed Liberal minister calling his successor Morrison “a complete psycho” and “a fraud” are not surprising. Turnbull says the Morrison government is “in plenty of trouble” citing the recent Newspoll that puts the Coalition several points behind just three months out from the election.

CRIKEY RECAP

What’s happening in NSW? The Liberals’ factional civil war explained

“It’s not clear who the party will run in Labor-held Eden-Monaro (0.8%); there’s still no candidate in Parramatta, held by Labor on a 3.5% margin and where MP Julie Owens is retiring; and there’s no replacement for Liberal MP John Alexander in Bennelong (6.9%), or in Greenway, held by Labor on 3.5%.

“Since last year, Morrison’s political enemies have dubbed him ‘the prime minister for NSW’, so great was his perceived favouritism for the state most crucial to his reelection. But the Liberals’ factional debacles and internal politicking might end up sealing his fate.”


A linguist parses the PM’s press club talk and spells out what he’s actually saying

“He spoke in passing about how the handling of aged care, a federal responsibility, ‘could have been done better, between both the states and ourselves’. He also fudged about who had ultimate responsibility for buying RATs: ‘We’d agreed at a meeting of the national cabinet about how they’d be funded and who had to go and get them.’

“Swipes were also taken at the Health Department (‘… We had the challenges that we had with the Health Department’) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (‘The rapid antigen tests had only actually been approved for use by the TGA earlier in November’).”


Aged care nightmare worsens while the government insists all is well — in fact ‘exceptionally well’

“I’ve seen a lot of shabby things from all sides of politics in my time, but Morrison and Hunt trying to wave away hundreds of deaths — usually cut off from their loved ones and spending their last hours alone — because they would have died in a few months anyway is one of the most nauseating things I’ve ever heard. It borders on eugenics.

Crikey will continue to focus on this unfolding horror story. And we feel we owe it the victims and their families that we move beyond the numbers, grisly as they are, and tell the stories of those who have passed and those who continue to suffer in locked-down facilities that can’t find enough staff.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Biden: Raid in Syria has taken ISIL leader ‘off the battlefield’ (Al Jazeera)

Putin, facing sanction threats, has been saving for this day (The New York Times)

COVID: Europe set for ‘long period of tranquillity’ in pandemic, says WHO (The Guardian)

Jeff Bezos’ superyacht will see historic [Rotterdam] bridge dismantled (BBC)

New Zealand is reopening its borders from 27 February. Here’s what you need to know (SBS)

Afghan universities reopen with strict rules for female students (The Guardian)

NZ sending lone official to Beijing Games (Stuff)

Who is the shadowy Iraqi militia that attacked the UAE? (Al Jazeera)

Rudy Giuliani unmasked on The Masked Singer prompts judges to walk out (CNN)

Why boycotts should not be imposed on the arts (Quillette)

THE COMMENTARIAT

As a disabled person trying to ‘live with’ COVID in Australia, every day is a game of figuring out who is least likely to kill meGeorge Taleporos (Guardian Australia): “But in March 2021, as the royal commission report showed, the vaccination of disabled people was deprioritised. I was expecting disabled people living in residential settings to be at the front of the queue, but no. Ten months on, the latest figures show vaccination rates of disabled people still fall 10% behind the rest of the population and the booster program for people is failing.

“And now we’ve had Omicron ripping through our nation, causing mayhem for disabled people who rely on others for daily assistance. January has been a nightmare — battling to get our hands on RATs and N95/P2 masks, rearranging shifts because staff have tested positive, and playing the ‘who hasn’t got COVID’ shuffle. Trying to do the staff roster in January has been a game of figuring out who is least likely to kill me. My lungs aren’t strong enough to blow out a candle and the possibility of dying from this virus is real.”

Why I’ve decided to take my podcast off SpotifyRoxane Gay (The New York Times): “Every day, I try to make the best decisions possible about what I create, what I consume, and who I collaborate with — but living in the world, participating in capitalism, requires moral compromise. I am not looking for purity; it doesn’t exist. Instead, I’m trying to do the best I can, and take a stand when I think I can have an impact …

[Joe] Rogan hosts a wildly popular podcast on Spotify, The Joe Rogan Experience, for which he claims he often does little preparation. Episodes are long and meandering, as Mr. Rogan muses on whatever is on his mind — including false claims that COVID vaccines are ‘essentially a gene therapy,’ for example. His guests are often people hovering on the intellectual fringes, purveying dangerous misinformation about COVID and other topics. Sometimes, racism is sprinkled in his conversations, just to keep things interesting.”

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The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Members of NSW’s Tibetan Community will join members of the Uyghur community and others outside the Channel 7 studio in Martin Place to protest against the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics amid human rights abuses in China.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Writer Amanda O’Callaghan will chat to author Fiona Robertson about the latter’s short story collection called If You’re Happy at Avid Reader bookshop — or catch this online.

Muwinina Country (also known as Hobart)

  • Band Icehouse is playing at By The C Festival at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens, with special guests James Reyne, Killing Heidi, and Jay Jarome.