Chinese President Xi Jinping (Image: Li Gang/Xinhua via AP)

IN HOT WATER

China is about to open its first offshore naval facility in the Indo-Pacific in a move Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has called “concerning”, Sky News reports. The base is in Cambodia (on the Gulf of Thailand, about 500km from Malaysia), The Washington Post ($) says, and a part of it will be reportedly for the exclusive use of the Chinese military. Both countries are keeping it super quiet, but an unnamed Chinese official confirmed it to the WaPo over the weekend. Albanese says we’ve known about it for a while and continued that the Cambodian government had sworn no foreign military will get “exclusive” access. China’s only other military outpost is in Djibouti, an east-African country (though there’s an airbase in the Paracel Islands).

Speaking of, a frosty Beijing has warned of “serious consequences” if we don’t respect its territory, The Australian ($) reports. China’s defence ministry claimed one of our RAAF jets got too close to the Paracel Islands last month, which Beijing says is theirs (Vietnam and Taiwan both claim the islands too). Our plane was confronted by the Chinese People’s Liberation Air Force at the time, but Defence Minister Richard Marles retorted that we were within our rights as per international law. It comes as Canadian pilots nearly had a collision after Chinese planes tried to redivert them, AP News reports. The Canadians were monitoring whether North Korea is sidestepping international sanctions by getting fuel for missile and nuclear tests. Yikes.

BAD PR

The Federal Court has ordered Twitter to hand over information about an account known as PRGuy17 in the next 14 days, The Age reports. The rather twee account garnered more than 77,000 followers during the federal election for its ardent support of Labor, lockdowns, and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, though it attracted the ire of right-wing commentator Avi Yemini, who wants to sue the user for defamation. Perhaps Yemini has suspicions about the account being Labor-affiliated — he says the account “controlled the entire conversation” about Labor and Andrews (Labor lobbying firm Hawker Britton says it’s not theirs). The court also told Twitter to hand over the IP addresses used to log into the account — that’d show which internet provider it uses.

But all of this still may not reveal PRGuy17’s true identity — the email address and name used to make the account might be intentionally vague, and the account may use a VPN to log in (a VPN hides your IP address) as Guardian Australia continues. So what do we know about this Labor fanboy account? He signed off as J.M. in an online fundraiser and has before said he worked in a cafe. It’s actually not the first time a tech titan has been ordered to unmask an anonymous user — in 2020, an incensed Melbourne dentist who received an anonymous negative review successfully gained access to the person’s details (they settled out of court). But it’s kind of a chilling prospect nonetheless, Digital Rights Watch program lead Samantha Floreani told Guardian Australia — she says anonymity online protects privacy, freedom of speech, and our access to democracy.

BREAKING THE CYCLE

Melbourne’s ambitious bike lane rollout in the Hoddle Grid is on hold for a year after a marathon council meeting last night, despite nearly 50 supporters asking to speak on the issue, the Herald Sun ($) reports. Keen cyclists love the idea, but some city traders, residents, and motorists are against it — Exhibition Street is kind of at the heart of the polarising issue, where traffic was reduced to one lane by pop-up cycling lanes during the lockdown. Supporters told the meeting it was a no-brainer — cycling is better for our health and better for the environment.

Speaking of — our methane pledge snub is again under the spotlight after a new report said our methane emissions are double what the government says they are, Guardian Australia reports. We were one of a handful of countries who sat out the methane pledge at the Glasgow climate summit, but methane actually has 82 times the global heating power of carbon dioxide (over 20 years). Queensland and NSW coal mines emit 90% of our methane, The New Daily continues, and our yearly spew is nearly double the pollution of all Australian cars.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

A Canadian man searching for his biological father has discovered that the pair had unknowingly worked together for about four years. For two years, Jordan Solomon’s bedroom floor was covered with papers as he pored over family trees and online genetic matches to find his blood-related dad — it was “very rough”, he says, but he was a father himself and was determined that his young son grow up knowing this man, even if he hadn’t been able to. Solomon reached out to one of his online DNA matches who provided him with her family tree. “The hair on my arms stood up,” Solomon says, as he gazed at one name: Roger Arsenault. It had to be him.

Spellbound, Solomon scrolled through Arsenault’s Facebook photos, gazing at the man’s features. The same features, Solomon realised, as his own face. But something else was familiar, Solomon realised. He knew this guy. They had both worked at the same shopping centre years back when Solomon was younger — him as a security guard and Arsenault as a store owner. So he sent Arsenault a nervous Facebook message saying, remember me? I think you’re my dad. Incredibly, the pair both recalled the time when Arsenault had given Solomon a pat on the back and told him he was doing a great job. It had stuck with them both for a reason neither understood — until now. Arsenault turned out to be the dad Solomon hoped he would be, he says. And Solomon’s son recently asked if he could call Arsenault “Grampy”. Of the moment, Arsenault says, “I just lit up like you wouldn’t believe”.

Wishing you a little miracle in your Wednesday, folks.

SAY WHAT?

It is the universal expectation across economists and government and the Reserve Bank that this inflation challenge will get harder before it gets easier.

Jim Chalmers

Get ready to tighten the belt, folks — it’s going to be a bumpy ride to Christmas after the Reserve Bank raised the interest rate to 0.85%, the first of many rate hikes on the way. This one means someone with an $800,000 mortgage will pay $320 more a month.

CRIKEY RECAP

Albo’s new politics faces old challenges, as Plibersek demotion shows

“But if the environment portfolio is that important to give to one of his most experienced MPs, why not put ‘climate change’ in there too — because that’s where the power lies, and that part of the portfolio doesn’t sit in Plibersek’s new in-tray. Why wouldn’t Albanese do that? Or why would he ignore the enormous work she has done in education, in preparation for government? Why would she be stripped of the women’s portfolio, a responsibility she held — and built — in opposition? Why ignore her popularity during the campaign, and ensure limited media coverage for one of his party’s biggest electoral assets?

“The answer keeps drifting back to politics, and the old way of doing things. Plibersek and Albanese have had tense relations over two leaderships — in 2013 and 2019. One political pundit remembers being mystified, in 2013, when he saw both alight a plane at Sydney airport. Despite having neighbouring electorates, and despite being part of the same state party for decades, they went in separate directions, without any hint of acknowledgement.”


Labor majority is a gift to Greens and teals — they can become the real opposition

“But the very worst thing would have been Labor falling short of a majority by one or two seats. Bad for the community independents and the Greens, because Labor could have shopped around and played them off against each other, forever, until the movement was destroyed by parliamentarian. Now, by being denied a slice of power, the community independents have the opportunity to develop a movement without the fragmenting effects of it. They were always going to have to do this if the movement was to develop, expand, and be able to have a chance to replace its members as they leave (and some won’t want much more than a single term).

“History is clear on this. Independents don’t survive unless they are diligent local members, available for very local issues and individual voter needs. But in the distinctive case of the CIs — and this is a pretty special occurrence in the realm of Westminster-system parliaments and all electoral systems currently — there is a need for something more.”


Barnaby Joyce wants to be able to do whatever he likes with your money

“The Nationals, in particular, can’t be trusted, because unlike the Liberals, they don’t even pretend to adhere to the idea that taxpayer money belongs to taxpayers and not governments. For Nationals, the entire point of politics is to take money from taxpayers and use it to pork-barrel, rort and look after their mates. For Joyce — who once boasted (perhaps perfectly seriously) that he used Productivity Commission reports as toilet paper — politicians need to be able to ignore officials and do whatever they like.

“The interest of taxpayers in seeing their hard-earned money spent wisely by governments is a distant second to what Joyce risibly calls ‘a vision for a greater Australia’. As we know from the past nine years, ‘greater Australia’ consists of car parks where there are no train stations, sports grants based on seat margins, a pointless rail line that will subsidise only wealthy coalminers, advertising contracts handed to mates, land sold for wildly inflated prices to donors, infrastructure projects that state governments don’t want …”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Australian passport office delays extend to 12 weeks amid application rush (news.com.au)

UAE joins Muslim nations in slamming India over Prophet remarks (Al Jazeera)

Global growth will be choked amid inflation and war, says world bank (The New York Times)

Rebel Tories plan ‘vote strikes’ to capitalise on PM’s weakened position (The Guardian)

Netflix, BlackRock CEOs among those newly sanctioned by Russia (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

Russian MPs vote to quit European Court of Human Rights (Al Jazeera)

Israel’s coalition on brink of collapse after losing settler law vote (The Guardian)

Apple iPhone charging port faces threat of EU Ban (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

Shell, the oil giant, will sell renewable energy to Texans (The New York Times)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Boris Johnson vote: Deeply wounded, PM faces the beginning of the endJaquelin Magnay (The Australian): “The Tories are also braced for electoral backlash in two upcoming byelections. In Wakefield, a traditional Labour seat that the Tories won in the 2019 campaign, Labour is expected to wrest it back with a 20 percentage point swing. The Tiverton and Honiton byelection could go the same way. Families who were banned from visiting loved ones in nursing homes, who had to organise funerals with just six attendees and who suffered loneliness and high anxiety throughout the most brutal deprivations of social life in 2020 and 2021 cannot forget Johnson’s government for their seeming indifference to the harsh laws they created …

“So far the Labour Party has been unable to convert this fury into support for their cause. Nor has the Tory party come up with a possible leader with the intellect and depth to be considered a rival to Johnson’s lightweight bonhomie. Under the current rules, which can be changed, having survived one no-confidence vote Johnson is immune from another Tory vote of confidence for 12 months. He has responded to the vote result with buoyant enthusiasm, trying to get the country to look forward and not back. He claims is he undeterred by the numbers, pointing out he had far less support when he first challenged for the Tory party leadership.”

How Gen Z can get more out of their moneyJohn Collett (The SMH): “It costs thousands of dollars a year just to keep a car on the road. There are a number of ride-sharing services, including those that allow you to hire of a car, should you want to escape the city for a day … You can choose who manages your super, and you should check how your fund’s performance stacks up, says Tim Manwaring, a 26-year-old financial planner at Eureka Whittaker Macnaught. The Australian Taxation Office has a website where super fund returns can be compared …

“Buy now, pay later (BNPL) services are proving popular with the young, many of whom have never had a credit card, or have ditched them … Buying cryptocurrency is not a way to get rich overnight, as the risks are too great, says Travis Schindler, partner and adviser at Hewison Private Wealth … Many young people have not experienced market cycles. Interest rates have been low for more than a decade, and young people have never experienced a period when rates are rising. Rising property values have left many younger buyers wondering if they would ever own a roof over their heads, but property prices — at least in Sydney and Melbourne — are on their way down.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)

  • South Australian Treasurer Stephen Mullighan will give a state budget address about the government’s priorities at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Specialist burns surgeon and 2004 Australian of the Year Fiona Wood will speak to the National Press Club about trauma and research about recovery.

Muwinina Country (also known as Hobart)

  • The Dark Mofo midwinter festival kicks off, running June 8-22 with loads of quintessentially weird performance art and music — check out the program here.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore, and NSW Arts Minister Ben Franklin, are among the speakers at Sydney Film Festival’s opening night. It runs June 8-19 — check out the program here.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Journalist Antoinette Lattouf will talk about her book, How To Lose Friends and Influence White People, at Avid Reader bookshop. You can catch this one online too.