NSW Treasurer Matt Kean (Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

A KEAN INTEREST

NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean can now force coal and logistics companies to deliver fuel to electricity generators, the SMH reports. The “extraordinary development” came after Kean visited the governor late last night, amid worries our coal stockpiles are low at some generators. It’s rare for the governor to greenlight a power-grab such as this, The Australian ($) says.

But it seems the energy crisis is passing (for now) — coal-fired plants that were offline (or were expected to be, like Bayswater) are booting up again, and the icy weather is easing, according to the former head of the Energy Security Board, as Guardian Australia reports. She added that Wednesday’s electricity market suspension shouldn’t last longer than a week. The AEMO said electricity supplies across the country stabilised yesterday (though warned Victoria could have a shortfall ($) between 7:30am and 10:30am this morning). It comes as BHP has announced it will shut NSW’s largest coal mine by 2030 — the Mount Arthur coal mine in the Hunter Valley. It operated at a loss in 2020 and 2021, The New Daily reports, and BHP has failed to find a buyer. It’s been trying to sell the coal mine since 2020, reminiscent of another failed selloff, as Crikey reports — its Nickel West operations in Western Australia.

Hey, if you live in NSW, might I suggest you switch off your appliances this weekend and get out for a breakfast or lunch date using your $25 Dine and Discover voucher courtesy of the state government? There’s $326 million in unspent dollars out there and they expire on June 30, Guardian Australia says, so use ’em or lose ’em.

PHONING IT IN

Australian Border Force (ABF) has searched 41,410 phones, computers and devices in five years, an FOI from ITNews has revealed. Officers don’t even need a warrant to look at them — meaning travellers have to reveal their passcode or passwords so the devices can be searched, as Guardian Australia explains. Sure, travellers can say no, as ABF told the Senate in April — but it means ABF can hold onto your device indefinitely. Plus, if you don’t reveal your phone passcode, officers can hold any computer you have too.

Speaking of tough border measures — Russia has blacklisted 121 Australians who promote a “Russophobic agenda”, preventing them entering the country indefinitely — including former Crikey politics reporter Kishor Napier-Raman, who is erroneously (and somewhat humorously) listed as a journalist at “Krayki”. Check out the full list here. Other names on the list include Defence Force Chief General Angus Campbell, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, News Corp columnist Andrew Bolt, journalist Liz Hayes, and AI researcher Toby Walsh, the Herald Sun ($) reports. It comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has invited PM Anthony Albanese to visit Kyiv in a show of solidarity. France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Olaf Scholz, Italy’s Mario Draghi and Romania’s Klaus Iohannis are all in Kyiv surveying the damage with Zelenskyy, as The New Daily reports. Macron told reporters the “barbarism” was gutwrenching.

TARGET PRACTICE

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has told the Greens he will not negotiate on his electoral promise of a 43% reduction in emissions by 2030, as AFR reports — take it or leave it. The Coalition is against legislated targets (and, one might even say, meaningful climate action) so Labor needs the Greens in the Senate (who hold the balance of power) to legislate the target. They’ve got ’til July to make their minds up, which is when Parliament resumes. It comes as Albo told the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 43% is our new target, up from the dismal Morrison target of 26-28% — which made international news, as NPR reports. Greens leader Adam Bandt didn’t show his cards yesterday about whether he’d veto the to-be-legislated, target but did say Labor has got to stop opening new coal and gas projects — like Beetaloo, as Guardian Australia reports.

Speaking of rallying support, former attorney-general Christian Porter has hosted a dinner in Perth to introduce his “good friend” Opposition leader Peter Dutton to powerplayers in WA, The West ($) reports. Porter, who was accused of a historical rape (which he vehemently denied) as a Liberal minister, is now working as a criminal lawyer in Perth. Dutton is looking to rebuild the Liberal Party’s shattered reputation out west — May’s election was the party’s worst-ever result in WA with five seats falling in Perth (including Porter’s former seat of Pearce, which had the biggest two-party swing in the whole entire country. Yikes).

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Quiz aficionado Brydon Coverdale has been a contestant Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? opposite Eddie McGuire, Million Dollar Minute, and now, a chaser on The Chase Australiabut it’s pub trivia that has made him sweat the most. He was a cricket journalist for a decade, so naturally everyone expects him to be the sport guy. You know, the one everyone looks at when the obscure question pops up? Every group has their ministerial portfolios at pub trivia — the arty-farty one, the geographer, and the sports fanatic. And “a minister for Kardashians is just as valuable as a minister for science,” he writes. Recently Coverdale was asked which state finished last in the Sheffield cricket comp this year, and he drew a blank. He knows which question he failed because his fellow teammate Cheryl (a lawyer) keeps notes and sends out terse emails with a list of questions each person answered wrong.

It actually works great, he says — questions do come up more than once at pub trivia. He says there are other easy ways to get the upper hand as a team. For instance, if you’re not sure of a question, guess the “percentage answer” — for instance, if you’re asked about oceans, try The Pacific, because it’s the biggest. If you don’t know the US city, try New York. Which rubbish state cricket team? “I should have known it was South Australia, the perennial wooden spooners,” he writes. Ouch. He says it’s good to listen closely (one time he answered Britain’s biggest carnival with Notting Hill, before learning the answer was actually the “badger” — the question was the landmass’s biggest carnivore). And go easy on the cheap beers, he says — or expect a terse email listing your mistakes.

Hoping the answers come easily today — and have a restful weekend ahead.

SAY WHAT?

Scott Morrison went to the Glasgow Conference last year and gave an empty speech to an empty room with no changed position.

Anthony Albanese

As the kids say, “rekt“. The PM has confirmed our new target of a 43% reduction in emissions by 2030 to the UN, up substantially from 26-28% under the Morrison government, something that made Australia an international embarrassment — and our former leader a forlorn yet barefaced pariah — at Glasgow’s climate summit last year.

CRIKEY RECAP

A market not worthy of the name: state capture to blame for energy crisis

“Those nine years of failure, ameliorated only by Malcolm Turnbull’s desperate attempt to drag the Coalition closer to reality — an effort that cost him his prime ministership — were fully bought and paid for by fossil fuel companies. The coal miners, the gas exporters, the coal-fired power generators, the crackers.

“They bought delay and obstruction of decarbonisation, the killing of the highly effective carbon price the Abbott government inherited, the Coalition’s war on renewables, the defeat of Turnbull’s energy plans, the ‘gas-led recovery’ and the ‘CoalKeeper’ tax. The result is a ‘market’ not worthy of the name, which operates to gouge households and small businesses while gas and coal exporters make out like bandits — in the case of gas exporters, while paying virtually zero tax.”


Lettuce prices romaine high — here are some tips on beeting the costs

“Frozen vegetables came up as well — most veggies sold in the freezer section are snap frozen and so retain their nutrients often better than produce on the shelves. But Ritchies IGA chief executive Fred Harrison told the ABC recently that suppliers of frozen vegetables haven’t yet recovered from the pandemic, so prices will be higher in the freezer section too — though definitely still a good budget option.

“As is soil, if you have the garden space. Several readers suggested sowing some seeds; leafy greens (particularly Asian greens) grow well in the winter, as do beetroot, beans, leeks and spring onions, among others.”


Call for ban on facial recognition following claims retailers are using it illegally

“Yesterday, consumer advocacy group CHOICE released a report investigating how Australia’s top 25 retailers are using facial recognition technology. Their major findings were that three of them — Kmart, Bunnings and The Good Guys — admitting to using the technology …

“Additionally, the consumer advocacy group also surveyed 1000 Australians and found that three quarters of them were unaware that retailers were using the technology. Two-thirds of them said they were concerned that profiles created using facial recognition could harm them.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Qatar Airways posts record $1.5b profits before World Cup (Al Jazeera)

Apple battery row: Millions of [UK] iPhone users could get payouts in legal action (BBC)

Revlon, the pioneering cosmetics brand, files for bankruptcy. (The New York Times)

More than two thirds of Auckland’s $59m light rail spend is on consultants (NZ Herald)

UN rights chief warns of ‘unprecedented’ exodus from Nicaragua (Al Jazeera)

Russian spy caught trying to infiltrate war crimes court, says Netherlands (The Guardian)

Jamal Khashoggi: Saudi embassy street in US renamed after murdered journalist (BBC)

DNA analysis reveals source of Black Death (CNN)

[US] mortgage rates hit 5.78%, highest level since 2008 (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

Colombian mayor who called Hitler ‘great German thinker’ could be country’s next president (The Guardian)

THE COMMENTARIAT

‘Interstate bromance’: How Dom and Dan became Australia’s power pairingJordan Baker (The SMH): “On paper, they are an odd couple. One is a factional hardman from Victorian Labor’s Socialist Left who has stamped his authority over eight years of leadership. The other is a conservative from the right of the NSW Liberal Party who is new to the job of premier … Both also face elections within nine months …Soon after Perrottet became premier, he and Andrews worked mostly in lockstep as they eased COVID-19 restrictions in their states. They have signalled an intention to band together on health. And on Thursday, both announced an intention to introduce a year of universal pre-kindergarten, complete with a joint statement about ‘two great states working together’ …

“The alliance will shake the traditional power dynamics in Australia; Canberra has been accustomed to what Perrottet late last year described as a ‘divide and conquer approach’ to federation (former prime minister Tony Abbott described federalism as beset by ‘rancid partisanship’). Prime Minister Anthony Albanese may want to muscle in on the bromance, too (before the election, he said there needed to be a ‘clearer delineation of who is responsible for what’). Albanese’s first national cabinet meeting is on Friday.”

Yes, Crypto Is Crashing Again. Blockchain Will SurviveMaria Bustillos (The New York Times): “At the same time, the marvels of the internet multiplied, magic that by now seems unremarkable: a map of the world, street by street, in your pocket; instant translations from almost any language; a look-up service for every branch of knowledge; global, near-instantaneous news. Today’s internet is deeply woven into the world’s economies, media, politics, industry and social life, in good ways and bad. A similar evolution is in the works for crypto. Blockchain, the technology that makes cryptocurrency possible, has the potential to be just as transformative as the internet innovations on which we depend every day, and industries like supply chain management, finance and pharma have already begun to find uses for it.

“It’s possible to imagine a future where you might look up the fate of every tax dollar you’ve paid, and government corruption becomes all but impossible; where beautiful and important stories and music, games and art would never disappear from the internet; where, instead of being forced to rely on a big power company, you might buy and sell surplus solar energy from or to your own neighbors, and never face another blackout. Wherever tamper-proof, independent record-keeping is needed, Blockchain could keep all the receipts, available and safe, for anyone to see.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Writer Mandy Curties Partridge will speak about her new novel, Wizz Fizz: Mirella Castle Investigates, at Avid Reader bookshop. You can also catch this one online.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Writer and commentator Jane Caro will speak about her book, The Mother, at Montalto.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)