In February, the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) was warned at 11am the day before that the Lismore flooding could be about to get much worse — and that it’d be harder to alert residents at night — but the SES didn’t warn the public, the SMH reports. Chillingly, later that night, emergency services and soldiers were driving around Lismore with “sirens blaring” trying to wake up residents — but the sound of the rain drowned out the noise, the paper says. So they went door to door, some 300 homes in total. The next day marked the worst flooding Lismore has ever seen — peaking at 14.4 metres, some three metres higher than what the public was told the day before. Four people died in the floods. Lismore Mayor Steve Krieg said a lot more people would’ve moved earlier if they’d been properly warned.
February’s floods are now the third most expensive natural disaster Australia has ever seen, ABC reports, costing us nearly $5 billion (!). And the IPCC report explicitly states natural disasters will intensify if we do not act meaningfully on climate change — including breaking up with coal for good. The Australian Energy Market Operator is calling for just that this morning, The Australian ($) says, saying we need to embrace renewables faster. It says 14 gigawatts of coal will close by 2030, AFR adds — for perspective, 8GW have closed so far, so there’s a lot more to come, and if we aren’t ready, more blackouts and price surges will happen.
What do we do? Invest in transmission in the short term — that’s schemes like the HumeLink, which connects the Snowy Hydro to southern NSW, and the VNI West interconnector between NSW and Victoria, The Australian ($) says. And remember, to meet our target of net zero by 2050, we need a nine-fold increase in wind and solar capacity in the medium term, the AEMO says.
SEEING THINGS THROUGH, AND SEEING THROUGH THINGS
A Morrison-era scheme to bring 2000 doctors and nurses to Australia has seen just 24 health workers hit our shores, Guardian Australia reports. The scheme was discontinued after just two months, according to FOI’d documents, even though then health minister Greg Hunt said it would be a big boost to the health system amid the pandemic stranglehold on our hospitals. A spokesperson responded borders opened and it wasn’t needed anymore.
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To another question of transparency now and Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth has ditched the inaugural Family Domestic and Sexual Violence Commissioner, former banking executive Catherine Fitzpatrick, the day before she was meant to start work. Fitzpatrick was given the gig by the Morrison government, The Age reports, but people in the sector were like, que? Since when were we recruiting for this job? Rishworth says she can reapply, but it’ll be a transparent recruitment process this time.
Meanwhile, NATO has, for the first time, declared China is a security threat amid the government’s continual obfuscation, The Australian ($) reports. The 30-country group said China has malicious cyber operations, is too close to Russia, trying to control supply chains, and building nuclear might. Put plainly, it said, China challenges “our interests, security and values”. Plus, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the country has us over a barrel: he says Australia is a victim to Chinese “economic coercion” because our trade relationship was too needy.
A BIT SKETCHY?
A Queensland council that was debating how to discipline one of the councillors was left with a table of near-empty seats after half the room excused themselves under a conflict of interest. It’s not known what the matter was, The Courier-Mail ($) said, but the mayor and deputy mayor were among those who left. In what sounds increasingly like some sort of Monty Python sketch, the remaining councillors were like, what do we do now? They had four choices — ask the mayor to decide (but he had left), delay the matter (a conflict of interest remains), take no action (not ideal), or write to the state government to ask what to do (they went with this one). It’s “one of the most intriguing decisions I’ve seen in my life,” one long-term councillor said.
To more council drama now and City of Melbourne boss Justin Hanney now makes more than Premier Daniel Andrews, the highest-paid state leader in the country, the Herald Sun ($) reports. Hanney just got a pay rise of 6.8% bringing his salary to $534,000 — but what are ratepayers and business owners getting for that, Ratepayers Victoria’s Dean Hurlston asked. “The answer is not much,” he says, continuing that council staff deserved that money more. Lord Mayor Sally Capp says Hanney kept the city running during lockdown.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Is everyone you know — including your now infuriatingly happy ex — in Europe at the moment? Sometimes social media makes it seem so, and Guardian Australia’s Sinéad Stubbins says it’s okay to wish ill-health (some very mild food poisoning, say) on them. “Sometimes our noble impulses are overwhelmed by our own bitterness … If we thought good thoughts all the time, what would Johnny Cash have had to sing about?” she asks. So dodge the weary airport crowds and bring a little Europe to you, she says. For instance, spend a few hours airily floating through food markets, smugly smelling fresh produce. “Act like the produce has just told you a delicious secret. Don’t bother buying it,” she says. Or take a walk down memory lane by lookings at old photos of your trips. Do think: what was my favourite piece of art? Don’t think: hey, did that girl ever pay me back for that souvlaki?
Stubbins says it can help to remember the downsides of travel, something Alain de Botton writes poignantly about in The Art of Travel. Memories can blend into an idyllic movie montage but the truth is plane rides are squashy, money belts are bulky, and losing items is a bit of an emergency. If you’re romanticising that list (“oh, but it’s all part of it…”) may Stubbins suggest sitting in a small chair to watch a bad rom-com while eating reheated mashed potato? Or play tourist in your own city — there are plenty of tourist traps willing to take your cash, or just join any random long line, she recommends sagely. Finally, she says, log off social media. Seeing your ex drinking a mojito on an island is not good for your health — plus, a peeing stray dog, brewing storm clouds, and a beachside sewage plant are probably just out of frame.
Wishing you a bit of wanderlust anyway, folks.
Our democracy, for instance, rests on the notion that everyone is equal in rights and dignity, something that’s come down to us through the Christian gospels. It’s on this very principle, as an example, that I reject the idea of a race-based body in our Constitution in the form of the Indigenous voice to the parliament …
The news commentator is bummed out ($) everyone is becoming more godless, according to our 2021 census, and claims that the complex political system of democracy was made possible by a guy named Jesus who walked the earth 2000 years ago. But no equal representation for Indigenous Australians, she says, missing the irony completely.
“And politically, large parts of the GOP remain in thrall to Trump. Despite claims that his influence has downgraded from outright control to merely being the most potent voice, and the rise of an even more extreme ‘MAGA’ movement that doesn’t take its direction from Trump, his endorsement is still eagerly sought by Republicans and his criticism feared. He remains, far and away, the preferred choice of Republican voters for the 2024 presidential election …”
“He thinks nothing of the destruction of American democracy itself. Far from avowing ‘I’m not a crook’, Trump boasted he could murder people in broad daylight and his supporters would still love him. His election loss didn’t bring to an end the crisis he inflicted on the American political system, it simply propelled it into a new and perhaps just as dangerous phase.”
It’s valued in the billions, but Atlassian is losing money. And it’s not keeping up in a fast-paced industry
“In its most recent earnings report released in April, Atlassian announced that revenue for the past nine months grew from US$1.5 billion to US$2.04 billion (or around 24%). Subscription revenue grew faster, but that was offset by losses in legacy businesses. Even with the near 60% share price calamity, Atlassian is trading on a multiple of more than 19 times sales. If you’re trying to work out what its price-earnings (or EV/EBITDA multiple) is, good luck with that — Atlassian doesn’t make money these days.
“In fact, it loses money — lots of it … But Atlassian’s major problem isn’t only that it’s not profitable (Jeff Bezos showed that lack of profitability over decades can be forgivable), but that its business is growing a lot slower than it used to, and that it now needs to spend a lot of money on marketing to achieve that growth.”
“The easiest way to stop this surveillance is to leave your phone at home. But as many people need their phones, other options include using a Faraday bag (a pouch that blocks radio signals), leaving it switched off or on airplane mode, or ensuring that Bluetooth and wireless functions are disabled.
“… Because there is very rarely any recourse to unwanted surveillance if you are in public, O’Shea advised using a mask or other methods to obscure your face … Mann said to be careful about sharing footage to social media, and to consider stripping data if you choose to and taking steps to conceal the identity of anyone captured in the footage unless they’ve also consented. Mann also suggested using encrypted messaging services such as Signal to contact others if you must.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
R Kelly sentenced to 30 years on sexual abuse charges (The Guardian)
Egypt destroys Nile houseboats, washing away a living lore (The New York Times)
Census exposes the forgotten Australians — Osman Faruqi (The Age): “We are a young, secular, increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse country, where the number of renters has caught up to the number of people who own their home outright, and with more non-traditional families than ever. That’s the picture of contemporary Australia painted by the latest census data, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this week.
“So what does Australia actually look like? Well, millennials now equal boomers in terms of share of the population, largely thanks to overseas migration. More than half the country is made up of first or second-generation migrants, increasingly from countries like China, India and Nepal. The number of single parents, renters, and those living in high-density urban areas has also shot up. But how often are the interests of these cohorts, making up larger and large chunks of the population, represented in our national conversations and policymaking?”
How can we reverse the vaping crisis among young Australians? Enforce the rules — Paul Grogan (The Conversation): “The use of all harmful substances in young Australians is declining — except for e-cigarettes and smoking in men aged 18-24. Lifetime use of e-cigarettes increased by 46% between 2016 and 2019 in non-smokers aged 18-24 — a huge spike in the use of a harmful substance in just three years. Last week, an updated statement from the National Health and Medical Research Council reflected increasing concerns from public health officials about the growing uptake of e-cigarettes, particularly by young people.
“Anyone using a nicotine e-cigarette without a valid doctor’s prescription has obtained the product unlawfully. Its importation was unlawful, as was its storage, sale and promotion. Yet, as the Four Corners program showed, this is happening on an industrial scale. Merchants with a profit motive are promoting addictive products, with no regard for the health of young people. Retailers and online entrepreneurs are clearly not complying with current laws. And these laws are not being enforced.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Writer and social advocate Yassmin Abdel-Magied will speak about her new book of essays, Talking About a Revolution, held online by Avid Reader bookshop.
Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)
NSW Minister for Multiculturalism and Seniors Mark Coure, refugee and former assistant manager of an Afghan Premier League team, Khorsand Yousofzai, and human rights activist Craig Foster will discuss how Afghans have been doing in NSW after being evacuated from Kabul, held at the Canterbury League Club.
NSW MP Felicity Wilson, Australian Energy Market Commission’s Anna Collyer, and Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s Darren Miller will talk about the NSW hydrogen industry, held at the Four Seasons Hotel.
Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)