ARE WE GOING TO SCARBOROUGH FAIR
New Resources Minister Madeleine King has confirmed Labor will support WA’s $16.5 billion offshore Scarborough gas project, saying gas had an “important role in the transition to a decarbonised world”, The West ($) reports. Labor will not back a ban on fossil fuel projects, she continued, even though that was one of the IPCC’s main recommendations for avoiding climate hell, as Guardian Australia puts it plainly. King said there’s a “misunderstanding” about the gas industry from people who “don’t really know about the industry, nor perhaps want to know”. It comes one day after Australian Industry Group boss Innes Willox described our reliance on gas and coal as “apocalyptic” and really bad for energy prices, Renew Economy reports.
Meanwhile, in one of the Coalition government’s dying acts, now-deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley binned the recovery plans for 176 threatened species — including the Tasmanian devil, Guardian Australia reports. Ley, who was the environment minister at the time, scrapped the plans despite receiving 6701 responses that disagreed. Perhaps the survival of the critically endangered Christmas Island flying fox wasn’t written in the stars. Thankfully, Labor’s Tanya Plibersek has taken over the portfolio, and dismayed advocates and experts are confident she’ll reinstate them. If not, it might fall under the purview of the new Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, as The Australian ($) reports, part of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s public service overhaul.
Hey — if you’re feeling a bit blah about the smorgasbord of reality TV dramas dominating our screens at the moment, may I suggest you tune in to some Platycam? It’s a 24-hour live stream of the wild habitat of our very own platypus, The Age reports, with the water-puppy spotted four times since the feed started on Monday. People were so excited the website briefly crashed.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has removed the Australian Federal Police (AFP) from the Home Affairs portfolio, Guardian Australia reports, replacing it with natural disaster response and mitigation (including the National Recovery and Resilience Agency). The AFP will now sit within Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’ portfolio, which the cops are probably happy — or at least happier — about, as the AFP Association has before said its independence and integrity were shaky under Home Affairs.
It seems like a big change, but it’s easy to forget Home Affairs is fairly new — it was established by Peter Dutton in 2017 to oversee Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), and cynics might say its establishment was, in large part, a bone thrown to Dutton by Malcolm Turnbull to keep him happy, as The Conversation reports (indeed Julie Bishop was among several high-profile politicians who raised the alarm about the super-portfolio, as SMH reports).
Years on, Dutton has ascended to his dream post at the top of the party and says he’ll show us a softer side — and across the floor, deputy PM Richard Marles is watching on proudly. He told Sky News yesterday that he was “very proud” of Dutton — during the campaign the pair referred to their “good friendship” as a “dirty secret”. Yikes. Even so, Marles told Today a couple of weeks back, “Peter has terrible politics”.
Eleven people are dying every day from COVID-19 in aged care, The Brisbane Times reports. In the first five months of this year alone, there have been 1572 COVID deaths in nursing homes, compared to 231 for the whole of last year. Of Australia’s 2650 nursing homes, there are 780 outbreaks at the moment. The figures are grim — and the industry says they need more staff; BaptistCare told the paper they need 400 home-care workers “tomorrow”.
Meanwhile Western Australia is the latest to ease vaccination requirements — Premier Mark McGowan cited a third dose rate of 81.8% when confirming only workers in healthcare and health support in hospitals and primary care, and those in residential aged and disability care will need to be vaxxed, ABC reports. And yet Australians are facing what Guardian Australia is dubbing “bed block” — when hospitals are so full that emergency departments get overwhelmed — with people reporting waits from 24 hours to several days to get a bed. It’s a combination of health worker shortages, surging COVID and flu cases, and pandemic backlog, experts say.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
You ever just get a bit lazy about mowing the lawn, trimming your plants, or pulling up the weeds? Well, scientists have discovered what happens when things get really out of hand. The largest plant on earth has been discovered in our very own Western Australia — or should I say off Western Australia — as it was found off the coast near Shark Bay. At first, scientists figured it was a big underwater meadow, and it really looks like one — a ghostly aquatic field with rich green blades occasionally tipped with a shade of brilliant indigo. You almost expect Julie Andrews to turn up and burst into song.
But then scientists took some tests to find out what sort of plants were in the underwater meadow and were astounded to realise: this is one big green plant, a seagrass plant, and not a young guy either. Scientists estimate it started as a single tiny seed some 4500 years back and has since grown some 180km down the coastline. Now the seagrass plant is the size of 20,000 football fields — or three times the size of Manhattan. It’s only growing by about 30cm a year, but it has been incredibly adaptable to the different temperatures and salinities over the distance. And yet my fussy monstera can’t even handle being watered twice a week.
Hoping you feel as resilient and unhurried as the giant seagrass today, folks.
There’s a risk that if nothing else changes in five years’ time, what we’ll see is a pattern where women have chosen, particularly in the family formation stage, disproportionately to work from home. And men, who have been much more regular attenders at the office … that very visibility, if nothing else changes, will show in who’s been considered for promotion, sponsorship, mentorship. The women will be kind of invisible behind the screen.
The former PM has warned women that working from home might seem like a great idea, but it could see them miss out on career advancement and widen the gap between them and their male colleagues.
“Despite ostensibly running a handful of companies and being in the midst of a maelstrom over sexual misconduct accusations, Musk responded to Palmer’s claims, which he presumably came across during his routine consumption of Crikey …
“Palmer quickly responded that he had in fact made this script public back in 2018. That didn’t deter the Tesla and SpaceX chief executive officer from continuing to mouth off about Palmer, calling him a “tool” and claiming that his children could write better code. The claim that Elon Musk couldn’t complete a basic programming task clashes with his carefully crafted public image as a visionary, hands-on technocrat.”
What happens when a loved one is consumed by anti-vaccine conspiracy theories? In Dyani’s case, she wrote a book
“Her messages at the start of the pandemic suggested she had already tapped into some questionable networks online. But I’d ignored those crimson-bright warning signs. YouTube and Facebook algorithms — combined with her own tendencies to mistrust Western medicine and government authorities — had taken her to the darker corners of pandemic denial and conspiracy.
“A week later, my brother contacted me again. Mum had sent him a link to a YouTube video, ‘MASS PSYCHOSIS — How an Entire Population Becomes MENTALLY ILL’, which cunningly portrays the COVID-19 pandemic as an episode of propaganda-induced society-wide madness, à la the 17th-century Salem witch trials in Massachusetts, without ever mentioning the pandemic specifically.”
“Among freshly sworn-in Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’ first priorities will be asking his department to justify the approval of the prosecution of Bernard Collaery. Doubtless there’s a note on the issue near the front of his incoming minister’s brief. Dreyfus’ position on the public interest in prosecuting Collaery and Witness K — whose trial ended with a guilty plea and a near-token sentence — has hardened over time as Collaery’s trial was deliberately dragged out by vexatious interference by his predecessors Christian Porter and Michaelia Cash.
“Far more time in the trial has been wasted by Porter and Cash’s representatives constantly interfering in proceedings than either the defence or the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions’ barristers, who have mostly been paid to sit in court and watch the AG’s barrister make ever more absurd secrecy demands.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Johnny Depp wins defamation case against Amber Heard (news.com.au)
Baby formula shortage worsens, hitting low-income families hardest (The Wall Street Journal) ($)
Biden administration begins trade dialogue with Taiwan (The New York Times)
Erdogan halts Turkey-Greece talks as rift widens (Al Jazeera)
There’s no use mincing words: our challenges are dire — Jim Chalmers (The Australian): “Australia’s future can be bright if we work together to navigate three defining challenges in our economy, which the Albanese government has now inherited from our predecessors. The first is skyrocketing inflation, putting extreme pressure on family budgets and increasing input costs for businesses, which the independent Reserve Bank of Australia has said is an important factor in its decisions regarding interest rate rises. The second, falling real wages, is a consequence of almost a decade of the deliberate undermining of pay and job security now coming home to roost in the form of a full-blown cost-of-living crisis.
“The third is a budget heaving with more than $1 trillion in debt, with almost nothing to show for it because it’s chock-full of rorts and waste. There is no use mincing words or tiptoeing around these challenges – they are serious if not dire, and they can no longer be ignored. All three can be traced back to before the pandemic – debt had already doubled, growth was below trend, productivity and business investment were weak, wages were already stagnant before COVID – and so it will take some time to turn things around. While Thursday’s National Accounts confirmed solid underlying demand and a tight labour market, they also confirmed that our economy is weaker than what was expected before the election.”
Is Australia’s election result a teal revolution or an old story of centre-right flight? — Van Badham (Guardian Australia): “It’s been almost two weeks since Australia parted ways with its nine years of conservative Coalition government. The new Coalition leadership fight for burnt scraps on a scorched landscape. Though the Nationals held their heartland, the Liberals lost more seats in 2022 than when John Howard was decimated by Kevin Rudd in 2007. Even with their own lowest primary vote since federation, preferences have flowed Labor into government with the largest parliamentary majority since Tony Abbott’s in 2013. The novelty of the federal election is not the seats that Labor won in the suburbs and the regions, but those the Liberals lost across its own old urban heartlands to non-Labor candidates from the ‘teal’ independents and the Greens.
“Even the impressive 10.94% primary swing that won the Greens the former Labor seat of Griffith tells this story. Labor’s Terri Butler lost a fatal 1.98% from her primary but it was Griffith’s Liberals who lost a whopping 10.04% from theirs. Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce and former prime minister Scott Morrison are both insisting voters merely wanted to ‘change the curtains’ after nine years of a Coalition government. Flames and floods lapping at such curtains strongly suggest that what drove old Liberal votes to teals and Greens was electoral desperation for action on climate said government refused to provide.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)
Health Minister Amber–Jade Sanderson will discuss WA’s health system at a breakfast held at Crown Perth.
Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)
The Australia-Korea Business Council’s Liz Griffin, Commissioner for the Victorian State Government for Korea and Japan Adam Cunneen, and Victorian Government Trade and Investment Seoul’s Haesook Chung are among the speakers at the Victoria-Korea Business Networking Event held at the International Chamber House.
Tender podcast hosts Bethany Atkinson-Quinton and Madison Griffiths will lead a workshop on consent at the Wheeler Centre.