DOLLARS AND SENSE
The gender pay gap amounts to almost $1 billion a week, according to a new report — and discrimination is the leading cause, accounting for one-third of the gap. Other factors include career interruptions (including care for family members) and part-time employment, The Australian ($) continues. But the gap is baked in from the start. Incredibly, there’s a 6% difference between men and women when they launch into their careers, and the chasm can grow to 18% as they climb the ladder. The average national gap (6.5%) is nearly double when we zone in on female-dominated industries like healthcare and social work (11.3%), and education and training (13.8%). At the moment, full-time women face a pay gap of 16.4% or $316.80 a week, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency found.
Meanwhile a new Treasury analysis shows Australian mothers earn less than half of their pre-baby wage (a 55% hit) in the five years after having a kid. It means women are worse off here than in the US (34%), UK (36%), Denmark (25%) and Sweden (40%), The Age reports. Babies have a big impact on the careers of women only — new dads are unaffected, the study found. What’s the solution? More equitable childcare mostly, the Grattan Institute’s Danielle Wood says. She reckons men need to take a far more active role in caring for the kids. And government reform will help too — the government pledged to raise the household income threshold to $530,000 so loads more people can get childcare subsidies, ABC reports, and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will look at regulating prices.
WATER, FIRE, AIR, EARTH
Dubbo has now lived through a week with no drinkable water, Guardian Australia reports. The central-western NSW region is suffering through the aftereffects of a deluge that flushed a whole lot of animal waste into the catchment, but it has dealt with a compromised water supply for years now because of fires, storms, floods and droughts. Dubbo mayor Mathew Dickerson said the message is clear: we need to make the water supply more secure in the face of climate change.
And it’s not just the security of our resources that’s at risk from climate change — it’s our national security too. Energy Minister Chris Bowen said we need to move faster on renewables because no conflict can put the sun or wind at risk, the ABC reports. But stable renewable energy relies on a local supply chain — and at the moment, China dominates the solar panel manufacturing industry, making about 80% of the world’s panels. To that end, we actually just signed a new agreement with the US to accelerate net-zero technology, Guardian Australia reports. Bowen says the world’s reliance on Russian gas is a case in point that we need to stick with nations who share our values (or make our own stuff at home) in transitioning to renewables to slow the onset of climate change.
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Do it for them: a bunch of female whales popped up to say hello yesterday as stand-up paddleboarders made their way through the water in Warrnambool. The pics are spectacular.
IN THE TOILET
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s $19 million Sydney home has been egged and toilet-papered, news.com.au reports. The roof of the Mosman mansion was littered with debris, as the national airline battles through perhaps the most turbulent time in its history. Nearly daily there are damning new headlines throwing light on traveller chaos: one baggage handler said one in ten bags were not making flights at Sydney’s domestic terminal, Guardian Australia says, while more than half of all passengers copped delays or cancellations this week, The Daily Mail reports. Indeed in the Top End, travellers have been stranded for a week because of Qantas and Jetstar flight cancellations, ABC adds.
So what is going on? A shortage of workers, at least partly: Qantas received $855 million in JobKeeper during the pandemic, but stood down roughly two-thirds of its 30,000-person workforce anyway, news.com.au continues. There are also fewer baggage handlers around after the 2020 decision to outsource about 1700 jobs. The lay-offs were a tough pill to swallow for many considering Joyce took home a $2 million salary during the pandemic, Yahoo says, though it was way down from his $24 million pay package in 2018.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Between the cost of living, the pandemic, climate change and war, we sure are living in a tricky time. Or are we? The New York Times’ Max Fisher says, in some ways at least, we are better in 2022 than ever before. Life expectancy, literacy and standards of living are at historic highs. War is rarer today than in the past 50 years, and much less deadly. Hunger, child mortality and extreme poverty are declining.
So why does it feel like everything is getting worse? Fisher says it could be a few reasons: firstly, good things tend to happen slower. Hundreds of millions are living healthier, safer lives, but it can sometimes only feel noticeable over generations. It could be because we often compare ourselves to our peers rather than measure ourselves against our own gains, Fisher thinks. As Baz Luhrmann famously reminds us, “The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself”. Fisher also says it’s less intuitive to be grateful for what didn’t happen — it’s not common to randomly think, “Jeez, I’m glad I don’t live in a warzone”, for instance (though, considering the power of gratitude practice, perhaps we ought to more often).
What’s more, Fisher says, is that news consumption is so much more widespread in the digital era. We get live updates of conflict happening the world over. We are more informed, but our capacity for doom seems to fill up much faster. Managing the amount of disaster we observe in a day (unfollowing, clicking differently, or simply closing our laptops for a walk) is proving to be an increasingly important act of self-care. And doing so in the short term can make us feel a little better in the long term. As my mother always says, what we think expands. “People naturally look for patterns in the world,” Fisher continues. “Experience something once, especially if that experience is traumatic, and you will start to see it everywhere.” On the flipside, if we experience something positive, and we’re conscious of the good fortune of that moment, we may well start to see good fortune everywhere, too.
Hoping you see the good in your world today, folks.
Yet we are told a new coal-fired power station would worsen climate change and create more bushfires, floods and all manner of other natural disasters. These arguments are nonsensical yet go unchallenged in polite society.
The IPCC report, which was the accumulation of the combined knowledge and data of 234 of the world’s top climate scientists from 66 countries, universally concluded that if we don’t rapidly phase out coal, we will encounter a climate change-driven armageddon that will leave to massive loss of life across the planet. But the senator from Queensland probably knows better.
“I got a lot of free advice online about solving my problem. People told me to phone, to email, to line up, to tweet at Penny Wong, and to chant incantations at the moon. I did all of these except bother the foreign affairs minister.
“The best advice though came quietly: call your MP. So I phoned my MP for the first time in my life. I spoke to a staff member in his electorate office who told me something I didn’t know: it has an ‘escalation line’ for raising issues and getting them solved. Not only with DFAT but with many major institutions: NDIS, Centrelink, even Telstra. My MP is a Labor member, a government backbencher — would a Coalition MP have such powers? I don’t know, but I certainly hope so.”
“If Perrottet is the cleanskin he wants us to believe — the one who defended ICAC from Scott Morrison and who committed to end pork-barrelling — he should be far more front-footed in dealing with the stench left over from a darker and more corrupt time in NSW politics, one when allocating taxpayer money for political purposes and jobs for the boys were standard Macquarie St practices.
“An ICAC investigation would be welcome. It has far more evidence-gathering powers than a Legislative Council inquiry. And it would address a crucial point: just because something isn’t a criminal offence doesn’t mean it isn’t corruption and abuse of public office. If the New York gig was a ‘present’, then that’s a perfect case of corruption that doesn’t break the law.”
“The pain of the crisis, however, is perhaps being felt most clearly in Germany, which has been forced to turn to a number of energy-saving measures, including rationing heated water and closing swimming pools. To cope with the crunch, Berlin has already entered the second phase of its three-stage emergency gas plan; last week it also moved to bail out its energy giants that have been financially slammed by Russian cut-offs …
“The potential outcomes that European nations are grappling with reveal how this crisis is occurring on a scale that has only been seen in times of war, Munton said. In the worst-case scenario, ‘we’re talking about rationing gas supplies, and this is not something that Europe has had to contend with in any other time than the wartime,’ he said. ‘That’s essentially where things have got to now. This is an energy war’.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Half of GOP voters ready to leave Trump behind, poll finds (The New York Times)
Switzerland, playground of Russian oligarchs, emerges as sanctions weak link (The Wall Street Journal) ($)
When it comes to Covid, Australia must confront reality — not choose between extremes — Peter Lewis (Guardian Australia): “While the Covid-zero mindset that the majority of Australians held in August 2021 has been mitigated somewhat, there are still only one in 10 of us who say we are prepared to accept the truth we now objectively confront. This mismatch in what we say we are ready to accept and what we are actually confronting speaks to a broader ennui in our engagement with the most significant global event of our collective lives. This silence is not just applied to the dead; so much of ‘post-pandemic’ life smacks of denial – the city precincts open but empty of people, hospitals in terminal logjam, airlines operating but not really flying.
“Much like my own Covid experience, we appear stuck in a dream-like state: somewhere between the fairytale that life will simply go back to normal and the nightmare of ongoing cycles of emergency lockdowns. Surely part of the problem lies in the very extremes of these two totally unrealistic propositions: absolute freedom or ongoing state control of physical movement. Of course, the only way to deal with Covid is to embrace the space between these extremes, otherwise known as ‘confronting reality’.”
Australia is getting a wellbeing budget: what we can — and can’t — learn from New Zealand — Stephen Bartos (The Conversation): “The standard Australian budget since the 1980s has included an economic outlook, official estimates of likely revenue and expenses, and details on proposed changes to taxes and spending. There are sections on risks, estimates of debt, and much else besides. Preparing the budget is a mammoth undertaking by bureaucrats, ministers, and ministerial offices. Nevertheless government decisions actually only affect the budget at the margins. The bulk of spending is locked in to programs that roll on year after year – such as aged pensions, health and defence.
“Budgeting is incremental. Cabinet’s key budget decision-making body, the Expenditure Review Committee, will work for months to shift just 2-3% of spending. There are exceptions. When a major new tax such as the GST is introduced, for example. Or when a government spends big in response to a global financial crisis or pandemic. But these are rare. Government budget decisions at the margin are, however, what the media and political debate focuses on, because they show the government’s priorities. These priorities typically change each year, reflecting political imperatives.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)
Climate 200’s Byron Fay will speak to the National Press Club.
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Writer Rae White will discuss their compelling second poetry collection, Exactly As I Am, at Avid Reader bookshop. You can also catch this one online.
Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)
Author Louise Omer, Buddhist monk and scholar Sunim BomHyon, writer Jessica Knight, and LGBTQIA+ and Islam researcher Aisya Zaharin will all speak at Broadly Speaking, held at the Wheeler Centre.