New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Image: AAP/Daniel Hicks)

OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is in Australia — she had dinner with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese last night, who described her as a “good friend” in a social media post showing a warm embrace between the pair. But their trans-Tasman friendship may be tested as Ardern remains strongly opposed to our Section 501 policy, as The Australian ($) reports — it deports criminals on visas to their country of birth, but most deportees so far have been drug offenders booted to New Zealand — and some haven’t lived there since they were young children, if at all. Without a support network of friends and family, the risk of recidivism can be higher. Cast your mind back to 2020 and you may remember the icy-cold press conference between then-PM Scott Morrison and Ardern, where she told Morrison “do not deport your people and your problems”, as RNZ reports. Yikes. But last month Albanese plainly stated that he supports Section 501, saying it was in Australia’s “national interests”.

Speaking of drug offences, the ACT government will support a private members bill that would see someone caught with cocaine (up to 2 grams), heroin (up to 2 grams), or MDMA (up to 0.5 grams) fined $100, instead of squeezed into the overwhelmed criminal justice system. If they can’t pay the fine, they can choose a drug program instead, The New Daily adds. It follows the ACT decriminalising cannabis for personal use in 2019. ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith says the research is unequivocal: criminalising drugs doesn’t reduce drug use, and it should be treated as a health issue.

In the Top End now and there have been 54 self-harm or suicide attempts at Don Dale juvenile detention centre since July, where almost all of the 35 inmates are Indigenous children and young adults. Guardian Australia reports the latest was a 16-year-old boy who went to hospital on Sunday night — while the NT News reports up to four children were hospitalised in total at the weekend. Barrister John Lawrence says it’s a “dystopian derelict adult prison” (Don Dale was built as a max-security adult facility and repurposed) and continued that seeing 11-year-olds there was “surreal and sick”. A 2017 royal commission recommended it be closed after ABC showed footage of restraints, strip searches, tear gas, and spit hoods used on children and young adults. Don Dale remains open, and things have gotten worse, according to the NT office of the children’s commissioner, amid staff shortages.

RENEWED INTEREST

The NSW government is going all-in on renewable energy infrastructure with its largest-ever investment — some $1.2 billion — the SMH reports. It’ll fast-track projects that should deliver the state cheaper and more reliable power and comes after Origin Energy confirmed it will call time on Eraring power station in 2025. Eraring is Australia’s largest coal-burning station and supplies a fifth of NSW’s energy. Earlier this year the government confirmed the southern hemisphere’s biggest battery, known as the Waratah Super Battery, would partly fill the gap, while this investment will too.

Meanwhile, NSW is hoping to lure the country’s windfarms to power the state’s steelmakers, Renew Economy reports, after the state government just opened up the registration of interest for the Illawarra Renewable Energy Zone just south of Sydney. Pundits hope it’ll create a clean industrial precinct in the Illawarra, and if history is anything to go on, it probably will — the Hunter and Central Coast Renewable Energy Zone got proposals from $100 billion worth of projects in February.

BULLYING CLAIM EXPANDED

Channel Ten political reporter Tegan George has expanded her bullying claim against the network, Guardian Australia reports, alleging that management didn’t stop political editor Peter van Onselen from tweeting about her in breach of its social media policy. George brought the case in February, as Women’s Agenda reported, accusing van Onselen of humiliating her — but ever since she did, she says she’s copped even more flak. In March, van Onselen tweeted that “accusations are not always accurate. Sometimes they say more about who points the figure without actual evidence” and “frivolous misuses of the Federal Court really do need to be stamped out” when commenting on the late senator Kimberley Kitching, as The Age reports. George’s wider claim also includes van Onselen’s reply to Brittany Higgins that read, “Your thoughts on if the hospitalised person is backgrounding journalists? Stoking attention. Very genuine question”. George says she was recently in hospital, and has suffered from insomnia, vomiting, and significant distress.

To another network in court now, and Nine Entertainment has been given the green light to broadcast an investigation into a cosmetic surgeon, Guardian Australia reports. Joseph Ajaka had taken Nine to court twice to try and get a copy of the program before it aired but the NSW Supreme Court has dismissed it. Check out the report in question, from Adele Ferguson, here — it’s a bit graphic but lifts the lid on the rapidly growing cosmetic surgery industry where patients can be left vulnerable by “cowboys” putting profit before safety. One woman who had a bum lift suffered multiple lacerations to her liver and was bleeding internally for hours. It’s very scary stuff.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

There was a very funny comic in The New Yorker recently. It was a happy, vacant-eyed pooch trotting along a pathway in a cozy turtleneck onesie complete with matching booties, its tongue half-poking out of its mouth. The caption read “Descendant of wolves walking in mildly cold weather”. There can be no doubt dogs are living rather different lives in 2022 than they were in centuries bygone — and dogs have taken this elevated lifestyle in their stride. US woman Julie Johnson was sleeping soundly in her bed last month when she woke up to a furry pooch snuggling next to her and her husband. Rolling over sleepily, she figured it was one of her three dogs bunking in with her. But it wasn’t. It was a random dog. A random dog belonging to someone in the area had got into her house and cuddled into bed with them. “She snuggled right into my husband, got higher up on the pillows, wanted to be covered up,” Johnson said. “I mean, you would have thought that we were in her bed instead of quite the opposite.”

And the indulgence of dogs goes far beyond where they rest their little heads. Recently Japan Railways hosted a special trip to a beautiful resort town that was exclusively for pooches (and their owners). A total of 21 dogs, including stately corgis, puff-ball pomeranians and grouchy-looking schnauzers boarded an iconic Shinkansen train (which travels up to 320km an hour) and were able to roam freely through the carriage. “We travel a lot together, but in the past I’ve felt bad about keeping my dog in a cage,” Yukari Seino, travelling with her pint-sized chihuahua Chobi, told AFP via the BBC. “We feel no stress today. Usually travelling on the bullet train is not so fun, and we get bored. But it’s really fun today”. Oh, for Pete’s sake.

Wishing you all the indulgence of a pooch in 2022 — and a restful weekend ahead.

SAY WHAT?

This is rank politics and is completely inconsistent with everything Peter Dutton was doing and saying in government. This outburst today, from someone so recently in the chair, is damaging to Australia’s national interest. The comments are loose and undermine the AUKUS agreement.

Richard Marles

The new Defence minister was livid about his predecessor’s comments that the Labor government was walking away from the submarine deal, saying Dutton’s “loose” comments actually serve to unpick the security pact between the UK, US, and us that he would’ve worked on.

CRIKEY RECAP

Treasury calls bullshit on company tax cuts, wages growth

“It’s a speech Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy wouldn’t have dared give under the previous government — and might be reluctant to give in six or 12 months. But his address yesterday to a meeting of Australian business economists questioned some of the standard refrains we’ve been hearing for the past nine years.

“In his discussion of fiscal policy, Kennedy confirmed something that Crikey has been saying for two years but that few others — including the Morrison government — admitted to: there’s been a permanent increase in the size of government spending: ‘Excluding temporary direct COVID-19 support, payments as a share of GDP are expected to average 26.4% over the decade ahead, compared with 24.8% in the decades prior to the pandemic.’.”


After nine years, Australia has something like an energy policy

“Coal and gas haven’t been explicitly excluded from the ‘capacity mechanism’ that forms part of the 11-point plan for the crisis — that’s the proposed mechanism through which energy retailers would pay suppliers for dispatchable power even if it wasn’t used — but the post-meeting communique hinted that it wouldn’t include fossil fuels …

“That’s exactly what the capacity mechanism should have always been, but the previous government twisted it into a plan to force households to pay up to $400 a year to keep coal-fired power plants operating even when their expensive output wasn’t needed. The meeting also outlined a way forwards on energy policy beyond a series of measures designed to address the current energy crunch created by the unreliability of coal-fired power.”


Perrottet acknowledges abuse and harassment in state Parliament

“Perrottet’s acknowledgement follows a review of policies and procedures for ministerial offices announced by former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and conducted by Pru Goward, released in April last year. As of last month, a respectful workplace policy along with respect-at-work training has been implemented. Elizabeth Broderick is also set to release an independent review into bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct in NSW Parliament.

“[Former Liberal staffer Dhanya] Mani alleged that, in 2015, while working as an assistant adviser to then speaker of NSW Parliament, she was sexually abused by a male colleague. She further alleged the party offered little support, that she wasn’t believed, and that one female party member said her complaints were unlikely to lead anywhere.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Algeria suspends trade ties with Spain over Western Sahara row (Al Jazeera)

The new abortion bans: Almost no exceptions for rape, incest or health (The New York Times)

Two tornados near Wellington in two weeks. What’s causing them? (Stuff)

Typical mortgage payment could be 30% higher in 5 years, Bank of Canada warns (CBC)

Huge mystery spill detected in Baltic off Swedish coast (The Guardian)

United Nations rights chief faces calls to resign after China visit (SBS)

Golf’s PGA Tour suspends participants in Saudi-backed LIV series (Al Jazeera)

Thailand legalises cannabis trade but still bans recreational use (BBC)

European Central Bank to raise interest rates for first time since 2011 (The Guardian)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Blak MPs give First Nations women hope we might be listened toAntoinette Braybrook (IndigenousX via The Guardian): “An unprecedented number of Blak politicians have been elected to federal parliament. The first Aboriginal woman, Linda Burney, has been appointed minister for Indigenous Australians. And the Labor party promised $3m to our family violence prevention and legal services peak body, the Forum, to carry out its crucial national advocacy. The Labor government has committed to ending the punitive and discriminatory cashless debit card, and made some (albeit, not enough) commitments to invest in more affordable housing in remote Northern Territory communities. They have promised to hand over the reins so we can design our own First Nations National Safety Plan — for and by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.

“This is cause for hope — but we are a long way from being able to celebrate. First Nations women are the fastest growing criminalised population in the country. Children are torn from families at the highest rates in recent history. First Nations women experience family violence at starkly disproportionate rates to the rest of the population. Decades of top-down, paternalistic, government decisions have made things worse, not better, for First Nations women, children and communities … First Nations women have yelled until we’re hoarse. We’ve protested and rallied, we’ve become academics and lawyers, presented our solutions over and over to previous governments but they have refused to hear us.”

Why don’t you just chill, Mum? (Apparently this is not jumper weather)Meena Evers (The SMH): “It’s an annual battle, come wintertime. My boy wants to wear shorts all year round. I buy him long pants. They don’t get worn. School jacket. Barely worn. I worry about him feeling cold or getting sick, and I wonder what people must think when they see him. Do they think he has parents who don’t care? Last year, we turned the corner with our daughter at least, thanks to the Oodie craze. For the uninitiated, an Oodie is an oversized, some might say overpriced, super-cosy (so I’m told) jumper with a hood. Usually, it has a playful pattern of food or animal characters, such as avocado and toast holding hands, or a French bulldog wearing a beret. In short, it looks like the kid has borrowed a hoodie from a fun-loving Sumo wrestler.

“Now I find myself saying, ‘take the jumper off’, having meanly implemented a ‘no Oodies at the dinner table’ rule. Aside from the sloppy dining aesthetic and the unappetising act of baggy sleeves dangling in communal food, once food gets on that thing, it needs to be washed, and boy is it a pain to wash. It takes up the entire washing machine and can take two days to line-dry. Other than that, it keeps the kid warm, so I have to concede it is a winter winner.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore will launch the new pedestrian boulevard on George Street, (which runs from Bathurst Street to Rawson Place in the CBD) where there will also be a dance performance and band.

  • Green Monday’s Angelica Leung, Addsum Accountants’s Sheldon Mak, and Hong Kong Trade Development Council Australia & NZ’s Bonnie Shek will chat about the end of the financial year and the latest updates on Hong Kong in a seminar.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Monash University, the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP), and the Australia-Korea Business Council will launch their 2022 policy brief called Australia and Korea: Building a Secure and Prosperous Asia at Monash Conference Centre.