FLYING THE FLAG
China says the Coalition government was the “root cause” of our frozen-over relations with the country, the AFR reports. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the Morrison government’s “irresponsible words and deeds” implied China was an “adversary” or “threat”. It comes as Wang met with our own Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who’s embarking on a fairly successful diplomatic tour of the region. But Wong reportedly made one thing clear: our national interests and policy settings have not changed, even though the government has. Incredibly, there are still trade sanctions against Australian exports to the tune of more than $20 billion — among them, wine, as CNBC reports.
Hey, speaking of efforts to repair things: the Aboriginal flag will replace the NSW flag flying on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, meaning that hefty $25 million plan for a third pole is kaput. The SMH reports that the $25 million, which was already earmarked in the budget, will instead go towards Closing the Gap initiatives. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says this plan makes way more sense while also acknowledging our country’s ancient history alongside its modern one. The Aboriginal flag is actually already flying on the bridge for NAIDOC Week, so it’ll stay there, as news.com.au continues. So why was it going to cost $25 million? The government would’ve needed to install a six-storey flag pole — and replace the two existing ones too.
THE WAY OF WA
Western Australia could house overseas workers in a huge quarantine facility to help ease the pressure of Perth’s rental crisis, The West ($) reports. The 500-bed Centre for National Resilience is still being built, reportedly costing the taxpayer $200 million, but may not be needed for the pandemic after all. Don’t blame me for the cash splash on the facility, WA Premier Mark McGowan added. “This was a decision of the Morrison government to build this,” he said, as AAP via Yahoo continues.
The labour shortage in the west, however, is acute. McGowan said his state has the lowest unemployment rate and the highest participation rate in the country, as the Daily Mail reports, with healthcare, hospitality and construction listing the most job vacancies. Complicating things, however, is that there’s nowhere for newcomers to live. There are just 2300 rental properties available in the whole city of Perth at the moment. The premier says they’re targeting the Irish with ads in newspapers and bus stops, boasting WA’s lifestyle.
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But it’s not exactly as easy as jumping on a plane. More than a quarter of student visa holders are still outside of Australia, according to the Department of Education, Skills and Employment, amounting to 109,773 people. Why are they still offshore? Could be a few things, The Age reports: delays in visa processing, passport renewal, local lockdowns, expensive flights, COVID hesitancy or just wanting to stay in their own country right now. About a quarter of our international students are from China, and Education Minister Jason Clare said we’ve seen the number of Chinese students starting degrees here drop by about 25% in 2022. Unis could lose $16 billion by 2023 if things don’t turn around, Universities Australia says.
Queensland’s Liberal-National Party will mimic the Greens to wrestle government from Labor’s Annastacia Palaszczuk at the state election, The Australian ($) reports. Labor has governed the Sunshine State for 28 of the past 33 years — and LNP leader David Crisafulli needs to snatch 14 seats (!) to win. He says the Greens and the teal independents have a heavily engaged membership by being “hungry and working”, and he’ll seek to copy that. He has also promised the Queensland LNP will have a net zero 2050 target, Guardian Australia reports. It’s a step forward (especially considering how anti-net zero its fellow Queensland federal National Matt “coal is cool” Canavan is), but environmentalists and the Queensland Greens were like, c’mon man. Climate science shows we need to get to net zero a lot faster than mid-century to keep warming to 1.5 degrees.
But state Labor isn’t much better, South Brisbane Greens MP Amy MacMahon pointed out. The Palaszczuk government and Queensland opposition now have the same net zero target by 2050. “It’s not science-based. And on our current trajectory, we’re not going to meet even this,” she said on Sunday. To that end, the federal government could rethink up to 27 coal developments, Guardian Australia reports. Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek says she would be “carefully considering” projects referred to the government under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, including Clive Palmer’s coal mine near the Great Barrier Reef and the Narrabri coal mines extension, dubbed Australia’s “dirtiest thermal coal project”.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Auckland boy Rylee Graham was wondering when everyone was going to arrive at his fifth birthday party. His mum, Rennae, looked around the nearly empty hall and couldn’t understand it — 60 people had RSVP’d, and she’d spent months saving the money to throw this party, catering and all. She’d even organised a mini-farm with animals for all the kids she expected would be there. But only 12 family members had turned up. So Rennae turned to Facebook, reaching out to her south Auckland community, as the NZ Herald tells it. “Anyone who would like to come to join in at a 5th birthday party is more than welcome! Most of our guests didn’t come and now I’m teary-eyed for our baby,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Almost immediately, families in the area started arriving at the local hall, ready to party down with little Rylee. Some had even brought gifts and cards for him. The hall was suddenly filled with the sound of children laughing and playing, but Rennae said the post saw folks “young and old” turn up to celebrate, while the birthday messages were pouring in on the Facebook post. Rylee was “ecstatic” about the massive turnout and felt very chuffed and popular. But the open invitation helped more than just one little birthday boy. “Since we had the mobile animal truck, many families approached me and thanked me, saying how hard it is these days to be able to afford to take your kids out for a fun day,” Rennae said. The cherry on top? People hung around afterwards to put the hall right again. The clean-up was a breeze with so many hands on deck, Rennae said.
Hope you feel the love around you today too.
Wimbledon security kept telling me how much sympathy they felt for my protest today while simultaneously demanding I remove my sign or face police arrest. Are their Chinese corporate sponsorship deals more valuable than Peng Shuai’s safety?
The Australian human rights activist was tackled to the ground and hauled out of the Wimbledon men’s final for holding a sign asking the whereabouts of former world no. 1 tennis star Peng Shuai and yelling the same question. It’s still not really clear where she is — or whether she is okay — after she accused China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli of sexual assault last November. Media appearances since have been, well, kind of weird.
“Collaery has borne the weight without bitterness, and always maintained his profound respect for the law. Recently he suggested, entirely against his own interests, that attorneys-general — and he’d been one himself in the ACT — should always be reluctant to ever no-bill prosecutions, given it amounted to political intervention in the prosecutorial process.
“But he and his legal team fought the efforts of Christian Porter and Michaelia Cash to prosecute him in secret, to use secret information against him, to block his efforts to defend himself — even to the extent of trying to prevent him from choosing his own lawyers.”
‘More than happy for them to underestimate me’: Greens MP Stephen Bates on being young, gay and unafraid
“Bates tells Crikey he had a good feeling about his chances based on his time spent door-knocking, often hearing from people that climate change was their top issue. The moment that sealed it was on the first day of pre-polling. He was at Brisbane City Hall.
“There was a queue of people lining up to vote early. Speaking to his volunteers, Bates told them that early voting traditionally favours the LNP and to not be disappointed if people didn’t want to take their how-to-vote cards. But when Bates looked at the line, he noticed something.”
“And in both cases, they thus squandered political success. Scott Morrison should have been able to convert a narrow 2019 win into a longer-term government off the back of a strong pandemic recovery and a comparatively low death toll. Johnson had survived any number of scandals arising from his handling of the pandemic. Both are now gone.
“… Morrison and Johnson used a playbook developed in conservative campaigns in Australia, the US and the UK, with a focus on micro-targeted pork-barrelling, culture war campaigns, coordination with News Corp to deliver attack lines and demonisation of opponents and their policies — all bolstered by, in the case of Johnson and Morrison, an enthusiasm for lying that far exceeded the realms of both political tradition and necessity.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Novak Djokovic Defeats Nick Kyrgios to Win His Seventh Wimbledon Title (The New York Times)
Goose Bumps Build for the Webb’s First Snapshots of the Universe (The New York Times)
It’s time to dump corporate vaccine mandates — Nick Coatsworth (AFR): “Like many health leaders during the pandemic, I’ve received my fair share of unsolicited communication. While some of it belongs in the gutter, most of it has been genuine and thoughtful even when it has come from people who haven’t been vaccinated. Increasingly, I’m contacted by Australians who have lost their jobs because of corporate COVID-19 vaccine mandates. To be clear, I was a supporter of vaccine mandates earlier in the pandemic. I do believe they served a function, particularly in the COVID-zero states where they assisted in overcoming natural human inertia towards getting vaccinated.
“Times have now changed. When arguably our most COVID conservative government, the Andrews government in Victoria, is removing its vaccine mandates for critical industries, corporations will find it increasingly difficult to justify terminating employees for non-adherence to vaccine policy. The ethics of vaccine mandates are tenuous at best. Zeb Jamrozik, who is now well known as Australia’s foremost infectious disease bioethicist, and colleagues wrote with regard to mandates: ‘There are worrying signs that current vaccine policies, rather than being science-based, are being driven by socio-political attitudes that reinforce segregation, stigmatisation and polarisation …’”
Too many Australian women are forced to make an intolerable choice — Anne Summers (The Age): “I am not sure what shocked me the most: the prevalence of domestic violence in Australia or the consequences for women deciding whether to leave violent relationships. I had decided to do a deep dive into the statistics in the 2016 Personal Safety Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics because it seemed to me that we were making little or no progress in reducing violence and that perhaps we needed more information.
“Many of us were familiar with the oft-quoted figure that 1 in 6 Australian women have suffered violence at the hands of a previous partner. That’s 17.3 per cent of Australian women aged 18 or over. Seems like a high number – until you realise that because it includes all women, including those who have never had a partner, it is not an accurate measure of the extent of violence in this country. If you look just at women who have, now or in the past, had a partner, the figure rises to a startling 22 per cent. That’s almost one-quarter of the women of Australia and is a very sobering figure indeed. But dig deeper and it gets worse. Much worse.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Former World Bank chief economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and the Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss will chat about expanding the role of governments, unions, and civil society in a webinar.
Siemans USA’s Barbara Humpton will speak about the outlook for US and global economies, and digital leadership in supply chain issues, renewable energy and sustainable infrastructure, in a webinar held by CEDA.
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Poet Jalal Mahamede will speak about his illustrated poetry anthology, My Tears Will Calm The Sun, at Avid Reader bookshop. You can also catch this one online.