Floods in NSW at Windsor Bridge on the outskirts of Sydney, July 5 2022 (Image: AAP/AP Photo/Mark Baker)
Floods in NSW at Windsor Bridge on the outskirts of Sydney, July 5 2022 (Image: AAP/AP Photo/Mark Baker)

A RUDE AWAKENING

A decade of “government inaction and wilful ignorance” has left us with a “shocking” environmental crisis in Australia, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek says, as one of the most important scientific documents about the Australian environment has been released. The State of the Environment Report is a loud wake-up call for the nation, Plibersek says, but it could’ve come a lot earlier — Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley actually had the document since December (!) but chose not to release it (!!) before the election, news.com.au reports. A spokesperson for Ley said there was no legal requirement for her to do so. Truly dismal stuff.

Highlights of the report: at least 19 of our ecosystems are showing signs of collapse or are near collapse, and Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent, Guardian Australia reports. A further 8% of our species are also threatened, and just two gigalitres of water of the 450 promised under the Murray-Darling Basin have been delivered, ABC adds. From 2000 to 2017, some 7.7 million hectares were cleared, 93% without government approval within threatened species habitats, the SMH says. By category, our climate, extreme events, land and soil, inland water, and coasts are categorised as “poor and deteriorating”. We are at the “rescue” end of the situation, the broadcaster continues, which has patchy success and is very costly. Check out these five graphs from The Age that delve into more.

The report is the product of five years of research — to this point, researchers have spoken about the danger of climate change in the future tense. In 2021’s report, ominously, it’s in the present tense. “We are now documenting widespread impacts of climate change,” lead author Emma Johnston told ABC. Now is the time for government investment, better data collection and monitoring, and solutions developed with Indigenous and local communities, the report concluded. Plibersek has promised action. It comes as Climate Minister Chris Bowen says he’s open to a change that would allow Labor’s 43% emissions reduction target to increase if that’s what it takes to get the Greens to back the target in the Senate, AFR reports.

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COVID AND THE COLD

More than 8500 healthcare staff across four states are in COVID isolation, Guardian Australia reports — 2650 in NSW, 2477 in Queensland, 1873 in Victoria, and 1557 in WA. One nurse in WA said some mental health patients who needed to be in psychiatric wards have had to stay in the emergency department due to a lack of beds, calling it “cruel”, “very unsafe” and “very scary”. Another nurse said double shifts — that’s 16-18 hours straight — are normal now, while staff are working in wards outside their specialty, making mistakes more likely. It comes as Australia’s peak medical body will look into slashing the COVID-19 isolation requirements from seven days down to five at the end of September, The Age reports, but now is not the time. In Victoria, there are 64,000 reported active cases at the moment.

Back to school for term three is also seeing education officials urge staff and students to consider donning masks, Guardian Australia reports — NSW is pumping 9 million RATs into schools, after 30% more staff are absent at the moment compared to last term. There’s no time like the present to get your vaccine booster if you’re over 30 — ABC has a great story that breaks down, state by state, how and where to get your winter shot, especially with a cold snap hitting Tassie and Victoria at the moment. But Victoria is also facing a gas shortage that could plunge the nation’s electricity market into a fresh ­crisis, The Australian ($) reports, as gas demand is now three times higher in winter compared to summer.

NOT WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE

Former NSW Labor ministers Eddie Obeid, Joe Tripodi and Tony Kelly have been charged with misconduct, The New Daily reports, after the corruption watchdog’s investigation into dodgy dealings involving infrastructure company Australian Water Holdings. The ICAC concluded corruption in 2017, and now the trio, plus Kelly’s former chief of staff Laurie Brown, have been charged by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Obeid isn’t exactly a stranger to the law, as SMH continues — he’s in prison for at least three years over a coal exploration licence. Before that, another three years for separate business dealings in Sydney. Yikes. So what happened this time? The ICAC said Tripodi, who was a backbencher, was “doing Mr Obeid’s bidding” in supporting efforts from Australian Water Holdings to enter into a public-private partnership with the NSW government in 2010. The watchdog said the contract could have meant a hefty payday for the Obeid family, the ABC adds.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

British woman Joyce Faulkner will be 70 next January — it’s “a big number when you write it down”, she says, “but in my head, I’m 30”. Joyce tells The Guardian ageing is a funny thing. “I still feel the same person, I still have the same enthusiasm for life, the same interest in people and things,” she continues. But it wasn’t always like this. Joyce recently lost her husband of 36 years, Jim. She says she fell in love with him the minute she first spoke to him in 1983, but she recalls being nervous and hesitant. He told her that even if they only got six months out of this relationship, it was six months worth having. Jim’s philosophy, to Joyce, was clear: “You have to take the opportunity when it presents itself.”

A while after Joyce said her final goodbye to Jim, she decided to take herself on a quiet trip away, and began exploring some home-swap sites. One interesting prospect didn’t quite line up, but the owner, an Italian woman named Rachele, asked if Joyce knew anyone who would possibly nanny her children. Two months later, Joyce was on the way to Bergamo with a job, not a holiday, ahead of her. Her duties included giving the kids English lessons, playing chess and tennis with them, hanging at the park and chipping in on the housework. For some reason, Joyce muses, it never feels like work, even 18 months on — she and the family are a perfect match, she says. Before Joyce left the UK, her sister asked, well, what if it doesn’t work out? Thinking of her Jim, Joyce responded, “I’ll make another decision.”

Wishing you the courage to make another decision, if you need to.

SAY WHAT?

We trust in Him. We don‘t trust in governments. We don’t trust in United Nations, thank goodness. We don‘t trust in all of these things as fine as they might be and as important as the role that they play. Believe me, I’ve worked in it. But as someone who’s been in it, if you are putting your faith in those things, like I put my faith in the Lord, you are making a mistake. They are fallible.

Scott Morrison

A rather pious Morrison has told a congregation that governments and the United Nations should not have our trust. It’s more than a little bit eyebrow-raising, considering two months ago he was, ya know, the head of our government…

CRIKEY RECAP

The very rich are different from you and me. Is Jerry Hall destined to join them?

“Billionaires have the freedom to indulge their wildest fantasies — to, say, take over Twitter (or perhaps just upturn the company with an attempted takeover). Or they can astroturf their own political party (although, as Clive Palmer discovered in May, it can’t guarantee that many people will vote for it), or drive a takeover of an existing party. So how much money are we talking about? Manning’s sources tell him there is a ‘firm pre-nuptial agreement’ that, according to earlier Daily Mail speculation, means Hall ‘may be entitled to tens of millions of pounds [that] is more likely to be paid to her in the form of day-to-day expenses’.

“Sounds more like an opening bid for a severance payout of a family retainer than a divorce settlement between the hyper-rich. With Fox’s entertainment assets being sold to Disney, Murdoch has a lot more readily accessible cash than your average billionaire. And, like all billionaires, he’s a lot richer post-COVID. (Hall apparently received nothing from the sale to Disney. According to Manning’s sources, this was the original source of the tension.)”


Scott Morrison is once again free to be himself, praise the Lord

“So it seemed significant that his last speech as PM was to his Horizon church group. And, further untethered from public approval, Morrison was out west over the weekend, helping the Pentecostal Victory Life Centre church open its ‘Perth Prayer Tower’. He joined churchgoers in song, high-fived delighted children, and announced that it was God’s plan that he lose office after a single term rife with scandal, corruption and incompetence. All of which wouldn’t be all that surprising, even if he’d done it while more was on the line, politically.

“Except this has a few less voter-friendly elements. First, Victory Life is the church founded by tennis legend/bigoted aunt from a sitcom Margaret Court, who was in truly hilariously retrograde form during her address to the crowd, lamenting the number of Wimbledon attendees who were on the ‘highway to hell’. Yep, she’s moved on from a visceral distaste at same-sex attraction and gender diversity; now the general skylarking, tomfoolery and carousing she saw at Wimbledon is enough to get one sliding down the tunnel to Satan’s living room.”


Scott Morrison’s deceased estate: just what has Labor inherited?

“It’s been two months since Anthony Albanese came into office and he is still working his way through what was left by the previous inhabitant. At any given press conference, the PM is apt to say something like ‘My government has not made this decision; this is a decision that was inherited,’ but it’s starting to wear thin — even if true. To help with Labor’s spring cleaning, Crikey has put together an inventory of the policies in Scott Morrison’s ‘deceased estate’, as told by the PM and his team …

“The balance sheet is being leveraged left, right and centre in the hope that the numbers will do much of the talking. Albanese’s debt doorman, Treasurer Jim Chalmers, has been keen to remind voters that inheritance to the tune of $1 trillion has really hamstrung the government … On June 30 patient access to more than 70 GP and non-GP specialist telehealth services was cut in line with a decision by the Morrison government. National cabinet announced a temporary telehealth item for Medicare-backed consultations with GPs to access COVID-19 antivirals.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

At least 20 killed, 30 missing after boat capsizes in Pakistan (Al Jazeera)

Parkland school shooting: gunman faces death penalty as trial opens (BBC)

Foreign purchases of US homes fall to new low (The Wall Street Journal) ($)

Libyan PM makes alliance with ex-enemy to cement ceasefire (The Guardian)

Russian journalist who denounced invasion of Ukraine live on air detained again (SBS)

[Canadian] court approves sale of 42 Catholic church properties to settle abuse victims claims (CBC)

Wildfires rage in France and Spain amid heat wave, while the UK faces its hottest day ever (CNN)

Ghana confirms first cases of deadly Marburg virus (BBC)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Albo, Bowen in denial on looming energy meltdownJudith Sloan (The Australian) ($): “The mainstream media has been kind to the new Albanese government, excusing the Prime Minister’s lengthy overseas absences as being necessary and in the national interest. But being overseas does not prevent the domestic challenges from piling up, not least growing cost-of-living pressures and higher energy prices. These are in addition to the most recent resurgence of the coronavirus and its implications for a stretched health system. When it comes to electricity, the situation on the east coast has become quite dire, with wholesale prices in the June quarter nearly 170% higher than in the corresponding quarter last year. The gas situation is worse, with recently recorded prices about four times higher than levels that prevailed early in the pandemic.

“A climax of sorts occurred recently when the Australian Energy Market Operator was forced to suspend the national electricity market and dictate to suppliers the quantity and timing of electrons required. We are finding out only now the cost of this exercise, with the first of several large bills being sent to retailers. At the same time, several retailers have exited or are about to exit the market. It is clear the price trigger point for AEMO – $300 a megawatt hour – to suspend the market is too low, with the operating costs of many suppliers above this level. It simply is not plausible to order providers to supply electricity while making substantial losses.”

Putin thinks he’s winningTatiana Stanovaya (The New York Times): “Everything is going according to plan. That’s the line from President Vladimir Putin. The war in Ukraine, in its fifth month and with no end in sight, may be grueling. But senior Kremlin officials keep repeating that Russia, gaining the upper hand in Ukraine’s east, will achieve all its goals. That might seem hard to believe. After all, Russia has been forced to retreat from Kyiv, experienced several military reversals, faced sanctions on an unprecedented scale and been subjected to a chorus of international condemnation. To call such a litany of difficulties and outright failures a success may be to court the charge of propaganda, hypocrisy or even self-delusion.

“But it’s what the Kremlin seems to believe. Over two decades I have closely followed Mr. Putin’s words, behavior and decisions, forming a comprehensive picture of the president’s calculations. Based on public rhetoric, policy moves and informal discussions with insiders, I have been able to work out — as far as is possible — the contours of the Kremlin’s current thinking. What is very clear is that in late May, the Kremlin came to the firm conclusion that it is winning this conflict in the long run. And Mr. Putin, in contrast to the early chaotic months, now has a clear plan.”

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  • Businessman Warwick Fairfax will be in conversation with Family Voice’s Greg Bondar about faith.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)

  • Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek will give a State of the Environment Address to the National Press Club.

Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)

  • WA Minister for Innovation & ICT Stephen Dawson will discuss an update on his department at a fireside discussion at the Melbourne Hotel.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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