Flood NSW
Flooding in Northern NSW, March 1, 2022. (Image: AAP/Jason O'Brien)

IN DEEP WATER

A “one in 1000-year” flood is hitting NSW, Premier Dominic Perrottet says, with Queensland’s deadly storm cell hitting Sydney and the central coast today, the SMH reports. The SES went door to door yesterday in Marrickville to warn people to prepare, and also say major flooding could be coming for the upper and lower Nepean rivers, Hawkesbury and the Shoalhaven regions. The New Daily has a good story on how you can prepare for flooding. Already some 350,000 people have been affected by evacuation orders or warnings, while more than 1000 have been rescued. Scott Morrison has commented that the impact could soon be felt in East Gippsland and as far down as Tasmania, The Australian ($) reports — and Tasmania is already battling unprecedented flooding in the north and north-east, as news.com.au reports.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Peter Dutton‘s flooding fundraiser could be in breach of Queensland regulations, Labor’s Andrew Leigh says. According to the Queensland Office of Fair Trading, organisations and individuals can do “one-off charitable appeals”  but must apply for a sanction. Leigh says it points to a larger issue of our outdated fundraising laws — the subject of a bipartisan Senate report and a royal commission yet the Coalition hasn’t done anything about it, Guardian Australia reports. An expert also told The Brisbane Times that it is “very unwise, if not dangerous” for politicians to set up fundraising, saying it leaves Dutton vulnerable to favouritism allegations.

TESTING TIMES

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has COVID-19. He tweeted last night that he was feverish on Tuesday evening, and received a positive result last night, ABC reports. It comes after the PM attended a meeting of the National Security Committee earlier on Tuesday with senior ministers, and after a press conference in the courtyard of Parliament House. Morrison says he has “flu-like symptoms” and will continue with his duties while in isolation at his Sydney home, Guardian Australia adds. He’s got a fair bit on his plate, with the PM naming the flooding crisis, the upcoming budget, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict as his preoccupations.

It comes as Kyiv residents have been warned to leave the capital by Russia’s defence ministry as it plans more strikes on the capital, Reuters reports. Some more quick updates overnight, courtesy of the ABC live blog: Russia fired two missiles at Ukraine’s TV tower; the US says Russia’s “human rights abuses and violations of humanitarian law are mounting by the hour” as schools, hospitals and residential areas are attacked; Ukraine’s president is asking for the country’s membership to the European Union to be fast-tracked; and Prince Charles has broken with royal neutrality and expressed solidarity with Ukraine following Prince William and Kate‘s similar move at the weekend.

HITTING THE BRAKES

United Australia Party chairman Clive Palmer has been told he will face the full force of the law if he imports Adolf Hitler‘s Mercedes, The West ($) reports. Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews made the warning after Palmer purchased the vintage car from a Russian billionaire. Andrews told the paper the government condemns any glorification of Nazi history — but Palmer may be stopped from bringing it in for another simple reason: asbestos — the importation of which carries a $900,000 fine.

Meanwhile, the battle between the Liberals and Goldstein challenger, newcomer independent Zoe Daniel, is getting ugly. First, Liberal Tim Wilson — who campaigns on classical liberal ideas like the freedom to choose and the right to private property — went to Bayside Council to complain about signage supporting Daniel, as The Age explains. Then, Senator Andrew Bragg tried to drag up dirt on Daniel, a former ABC journalist, in Senate estimates. He asked whether any bullying allegations had been made against her in the ABC Washington office — or if anyone had actually resigned from the ABC over it. ABC’s reply? “No”. Nice try, I guess.

Speaking of election drama — the NSW Liberals are frantically trying to work out a compromise before Friday to stop the federal Liberals intervening in their preselections. Some of the state executive wants a fast-tracked plebiscite in all remaining seats where there’s a challenger — which would include two cabinet ministers: Environment Minister Sussan Ley in Farrer and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke in Mitchell — and factional powerbroker Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney, Guardian Australia reports. If they can’t decide, there’ll almost certainly be fresh legal action, sparking even controversy for the party ahead of the May election.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Hank the Tank, an incredibly large bear in Lake Tahoe, was framed. Residents of the California region have called the cops on Hank 100 times since July 2021, because he keeps popping up at people’s houses to score some food. And he’s no teddy — Hank is a black bear and weighs in at about 225kg. After he hit his 30th house to ransack fridges, pantries, garages and bins to score some nosh, locals were fed up. Hank’s hunger was not deterred by paintballs, tasers, beanbag rounds or sirens. Finally, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said that it was considering euthanising Hank the Tank.

Then, an incredible twist in the saga. New DNA evidence has proven that Hank the Tank is actually three bears — including two girls! The trio had been responsible for the havoc wreaked among the residents in the sunny holiday spot. Thankfully the new evidence means Hank will not be killed, nor will the other two females — they’ll just tag them and relocate them into a more “suitable habitat” so they may continue their incessant foraging. The BEAR League welcomed the news of Hank’s exoneration, saying Hank had taken the blame “probably due to his size … and extreme handsomeness”. I guess chivalry isn’t dead, folks.

Hope the smiles come easily today.

SAY WHAT?

We are very happy to learn that our comrades-in-arms are alive and well.

Spokesperson for the Ukrainian navy

Audio emerged last Friday of Ukrainian soldiers on Snake Island telling a Russian warship who commanded they surrender: “Russian warship, go fuck yourself”. The 13 soldiers were thought to be killed afterwards, but the navy says they are all alive — they surrendered after running out of ammunition — and are being held in captivity by Russians.

CRIKEY RECAP

Ukraine’s ‘new world order’: a throwaway line about Russia goes viral with conspiracists… again!

“The phrase ‘new world order’ is a term regularly used to describe a time of change. It’s also the name of a longstanding conspiracy theory about a global totalitarian government run by shadowy forces like the illuminati or Freemasons. The theory often carries anti-Semitic undertones.

“As soon as it was uttered, some expected it would garner some attention. And it did. There were hundreds of posts — many explicitly endorsing conspiracy theories — about the MP’s comments on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A similar throwaway line made by Australia’s NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant went viral when she was talking about contact-tracing.”


Russia’s war is rational, NATO is screwed. Deal with it

“Did Zelenskyy imagine that NATO would come to Ukraine’s aid if the situation escalated after he signed the NATO technology cooperation agreement? If he did, why did he imagine the situation would be anything different from the plight of Georgia, when Russia launched a quick corrective invasion in 2008?

“The Georgian leaders — a bunch of 30-something, Economist-reading kids — appealed to the world, and the world turned its back. Two months later, the Russians were out, having made their point and secured Russian ethnic enclaves as self-declared republics.”


Putin’s puppet: Donald Trump takes bootlicking to a whole new level

“February 2022 after Putin invades Ukraine: ‘This is genius. Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful… How smart is that? And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper.’

“And this: “He’s taking over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart. He’s taking over a country — really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in’ … Saner Republicans might reconsider. War forces people to choose sides. The free world stands with Ukraine. Trump stands with Putin.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

What U-turn on defence, energy policy means for Germany (Al Jazeera)

The Munich Philharmonic fired its chief conductor, a Putin ally, after he refused to denounce the Russian invasion (The New York Times)

Israeli top court suspends Palestinian evictions in Sheikh Jarrah (Al Jazeera)

Nearly 20,000 new community cases, 373 people in hospital — Ashley Bloomfield (NZ Herald)

Wildfires send giant cloud of ash across southern Paraguay (The Guardian)

ALDI and Coles are the latest companies to boycott Russian liquor. More are set to follow (SBS)

Syria shopping centre blaze kills 11 (BBC)

US says it is realigning its China trade policy (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

How ‘multiculturalism’ became a bad word in South Korea (The New York Times)

Asian woman attacked last year in New York by man with rock has died, family says (CNN)

Ukraine conflict: How to help yourself, your kids, and others (BBC)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Albo’s smart target election strategyCraig Emerson (The AFR): “Our review recommended that while Labor’s policies for the next election could be bold, they should form part of a coherent Labor story, be limited in number and easily explainable, making them less capable of misrepresentation. Rather than being a big target, we recommended that Labor should release a limited number of “signature policies” that signalled the sort of government Labor would form if elected. Labor leader Anthony Albanese has assiduously followed the review’s recommendations.

“This is frustrating for many in the media, who would prefer a new policy release almost daily, and for the Coalition, which wants to re-run scare campaigns about ‘death tax’, ‘housing tax’, ‘retirees’ tax’, and ‘carbon tax’. But Albanese is sticking with the plan with a smart-target approach that makes good political and economic sense … On the eve of the 2013 election, Tony Abbott promised no cuts to health, education, the ABC or the SBS and no changes to pensions. In his government’s first budget he broke every one of those promises, a big contributor to his removal by his party room just two years later.”

Want to help people affected by floods? Here’s what to do — and what not to Nicole George (The Conversation): “Rather than ‘What can I do?’, it was much easier if people said things like ‘Can I do such-and-such for you?’ … This means a more mundane and less public approach to assistance can be very valuable. For example, you might offer to: empty people’s kitchen cupboards, take those items back to your own home (wheelbarrows, if you live close by, or plastic crates are great for these tasks)[or] wash those things and see what can be saved.

“Please do not ‘donate’ your old junk and expect gratitude in return. In 2011, I struggled with how much stuff people gave us that was unusable, ranging from rotten food and clothing that did not fit to broken kitchen goods and toys … In the longer term, let your flood-affected family and friends talk about this event as long as they need to. People will be traumatised long after the clean-up ends. They need time, and to share struggles. Some may prefer to keep things to themselves. Others take comfort in talking. If they do, be generous.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Online

  • International & Security Affairs director at the Australia Institute Allan Behm will discuss how we can change our national security settings to deal with global disruption in a webinar for the Australia Institute.

Muwinina Country (also known as Hobart)

  • There’s a small business seminar about how businesses can deal with COVID-19 matters at the C3 Convention Centre.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Sydney Community Climate Talks is hosting a community meeting at Darlinghurst’s The Leela Centre to discuss how we can act on the collective threat of climate breakdown.