OLIVE BRANCH OVER BRANCH STACKING
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says he’s sorry for the rotten culture in the state Labor Party, AFR reports, after the 236-page findings into branch stacking were handed down by the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) and Ombudsman. It found “MPs bullying staff, rampant nepotism, forging of signatures and attempts to interfere with government grants”, while former Labor ministers Adem Somyurek and Marlene Kairouz potentially breached two codes of conducts, The Australian ($) says. They were not referred on for criminal charges though. Andrews embraced all 21 recommendations to improve things, The Age continues, including a new parliamentary watchdog to keep one eye on pollies. There’ll also be a ban on MPs employing close family members, while parts of the code of conduct will be rewritten.
Meanwhile another state corruption saga is unfolding in NSW after former deputy premier John Barilaro’s chief of staff told a parliamentary inquiry that Barilaro claimed he was creating his own plum New York job for his post-politics life. The SMH reports the US trade role was allegedly described by Barilaro as “the job for when I get the fuck out of this place”. But Barilaro strenuously denied this recollection. It’s an explosive new chapter to the saga which kicked off when the former NSW Nationals leader was announced as the pick for the job, which pays half a million bucks, even though it was offered to (and then rescinded from) respected public servant Jenny West — though a NSW government lawyer disputes this, as SBS reports.
In a world first, incoming travellers must use foot mats to clean their shoes at Australian airports, ABC reports, which are doused in citric acid to deter foot and mouth disease. It comes as we found fragments of the virus in pork and beef products coming to Australia from China and Indonesia, SMH reports, though fragments are not live and can’t transmit the virus, an expert told the paper. We definitely don’t want it to get to that — one positive case could shut our $27 billion live export trade down for months or years while an outbreak could cost us $80 billion. Foot and mouth disease doesn’t affect human health, but we can bring it in on our shoes, clothes and even in our noses, where it lives for 24 hours.
To the handling of another virus now and the NSW government has suggested children as young as 10 can work off their $1000 COVID fines, Guardian Australia reports. About 3000 fines were given to kids aged 10-17 in the state for breaking the rules, and Revenue NSW told reporters that unpaid work was one way to pay up. Incredibly, the children’s fines came to a whopping $2.1 million in total, Redfern Legal Centre said. Compliance is certainly not the only part of the pandemic that’s dragging on, however — this morning the SMH reports one in 20 Australians will still have symptoms three months after being infected. Vaccination drives down the likelihood of long COVID but the numbers are still startlingly high.
GREEN AND GOLD
Banning new coal and gas projects, as the Greens are calling for, could potentially increase global emissions, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told The Australian ($). Albo says Australia’s trading partners would replace our resources with resources that are less clean — he says the government’s position is that new coal and gas projects can go ahead if they made good financial sense and passed environmental checks. The PM also said the Greens have scant detail about how reach their 75% reduction by 2030 target. It comes as the Australian Conservation Foundation has joined the chorus calling for legislation to allow our 43% emissions reduction target to go up over time, Guardian Australia says. The Greens have agreed they will negotiate with Labor over the climate bill, but the so-called “ratchet mechanism” is a non-negotiable, the party says. The bill to enshrine the target will be introduced to parliament next week.
And it’s not just Labor who are giving the Greens a hard time. Shadow Resources Minister Susan McDonald is calling on Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to “stand up” to the “extreme agenda” of the party, or ‘fess up about what industries will suffer for the Greens’ support in the Senate. The Opposition’s whole thing is that mining is producing critical minerals and metals that are used in businesses and households all over the world, as Sky News reports. But Plibersek has already said mining will continue to be an important part of the picture and argued that “we’re responsible for our domestic emissions”, as AFR reports.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
UK tourist Rory Fitzgerald had packed his bags for an adventure a world away. Landing in Australia, Fitzgerald was psyched — he was looking forward to diving into the waters of Sydney’s iconic coast, and dreaming of seeing all manner of brilliantly shaded aquatic life. But what he didn’t expect to find was a tiny memory card snugly encased in the thick sandy bottom of Balmoral Bay. He dug the treasure out of its resting place and found oodles of photos of an unknown person smiling back at him from their own Harbour City holiday. So he vowed to find the owner — that was in 2015. Posting on Facebook, he admitted, “This may be a long shot, but I am trying to reunite someone with a lost memory card which I found whilst visiting Australia”. He had some pretty good clues, admittedly — namely a picture of a driver’s licence — and mentioned the name in the post. But no one contacted him.
Until one day in 2020, when Lydon Lee Lisheng was googling himself (don’t pretend you haven’t done the same). He came across the post and messaged Fitzgerald out of the blue, shocked and overwhelmed that the photographic memories of his trip were safe and sound. Last week, Lydon and Fitzgerald finally met after the former was visiting the UK for a friend’s wedding — and Lydon finally got his memory card back. The photo of the pair is so sweet. Musing about the seven years, Fitzgerald said the adventure of the memory card was a lesson that what goes on social media stays on social media forever — and sometimes that’s not actually a bad thing.
Wishing you a little miracle today too.
This is it; this is the job for when I get the fuck out of this place. I don’t want to go to London, fuck that, I’m off to New York. I’ll get them to put one in New York, that’s where I’m off to.
John Barilaro (allegedly)
That’s according to the former deputy NSW premier’s chief of staff, who recounted the alleged comments during the parliamentary inquiry into Barilaro’s plum New York job appointment. Barilaro called the remarks “fictitious, false and only serves as a reminder as to why we had to part ways”, but NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said, if it’s true, it shows the position of the New York trade commissioner was “created by John Barilaro for him to fill”. Yikes.
“On a day when the stark decline of Australia’s environment was laid bare like scorched earth, Drake’s private jet spewed 11 tons of carbon dioxide into the air as the revered rapper flew from Barcelona to Ibiza. How do we know this? Celebrity Jets, a Twitter account powered by a bot that shows flight paths and — crucially — flight times of private aircraft belonging to musicians, sports stars, Hollywood heavyweights and more …
“Private jets emit two tonnes of carbon dioxide in just one hour — that’s about how much CO2 a normal person emits in one year. And private jets are far more ubiquitous than we might realise. Europe’s leading transport campaign group Transport & Environment found one in 10 flights leaving France in 2019 were private jets — and half of those travelled fewer than 500 kilometres.”
“But when little girls become pregnant people, and pregnant people are the ones at risk, the assault on abortion rights as a tool to degrade, repress, insult and ultimately enslave the female half of the species is lost …. How can we expect the global sisterhood to rally around the religious and racist assaults on American women as if their own status as full citizens depended on it if the best American women do to explain their plight is bleat about abortion as a medical procedure and ‘people’s’ rights.
“The assault on abortion rights is always and forever an assault on women. If Americans are too busy minding their pronouns to properly raise the alarm and repel it, then the rest of the world’s women can bet their bottom dollar that the same reactionary forces in our own countries will be coming for us, too.”
“But in our age, things cannot simply be fun viral content — an agent of the state has to get involved and, in so doing, kill the moment dead. In this case, it’s the NSW government putting a bullet the head of this craze with their video encouraging people in the state to mask up …
“The public servants cavorting in this video are gamely trying to make it work — for real, a shout-out to the dude in orange, who can clearly dance and was utterly let down by editing that doesn’t properly sync him with the beat. But the real victims are the older participants for whom this whole thing, rightly, would sound like gibberish. You can see one of them constantly looking off camera, maybe for directions, maybe to ask ‘So this is going to relieve the stress on our hospital system, is it?’”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Giuliani ordered to testify in Georgia criminal investigation (The New York Times)
Putin signals Russian gas will resume in a key pipeline but at a reduced level. (The New York Times)
The case for a global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty — from an island nation in peril — Simon Kofe (The SMH) “I was among politicians and national leaders from across the Pacific who gathered for the first time in three years to emphasise the importance of fighting the climate crisis and the necessity of declaring a climate emergency. The need to eliminate fossil fuels has become even more critical to our continued existence and at the Pacific Islands Forum we set a strong set of collective priorities as we move closer to the next United Nations climate summit to be held in Egypt, But the case is increasingly urgent for a mechanism to address the supply side of the problem, in the form of a global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty.
“When the world adopted the Paris Agreement in December 2015, it was a huge step in spurring climate action after decades of idling. The world finally had a singular agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions in pursuit of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees and to keeping it “well below” 2 degrees above pre-industrial times. Yet governments are planning to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels consistent with a 1.5-degree trajectory by 2030, and 10% more than their own climate pledges. In just the past decade, 86% of CO2 emissions have been caused by oil, gas and coal, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”
Overwhelmed by environmental disaster? Here’s a scorecard to inspire optimism — Claire O’Rourke (The Age): “Let’s take stock of some of the good news. RethinkX, a renowned think tank founded by Stanford University technology expert Tony Seba, predicted last year that disruptions in energy, transport and food production could eliminate 90 per cent of net climate pollution by 2035 by using technology already available, This could be our reality if we make the transformative choices now, shifting from an extraction-based, centralised system that exploits scarce resources and labour to a distributed, interconnected and generative system where we create what we need from what’s readily available.
After my own climate freak-out moment during the Black Summer fires, I decided to take a closer look at how individuals, families, communities, workplaces and industries are confronting the climate crisis and I found so many examples of people rising to meet the challenge that they filled a book. The marine scientist inventing a world-first plastic that’s made from seaweed. The fund managers guiding billions of dollars into credible, climate-positive investments. The retired scouts leader who is replanting Blue Mountains rainforest with his neighbours. The First Nations-owned brewery that operates on a philosophy of do less harm and do more good. Many of these stories were of progress and experimentation rather than perfection; others are complicated, just like every one of us. What it showed me was the sheer scale of what’s possible, right now.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)
Federal Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Jenny McAllister, Economist Ross Garnaut, and author Saul Griffith will speak at the First Nations Clean Energy Symposium held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
Author Geraldine Brooks, poet Flora Chol and musician Mindy Meng Wang 王萌 will share untold stories at the Wheeler Centre’s latest Salon Series, held at Hansen Hall and Conversation Quarter, State Library Victoria.
Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)
Environmental scientist Emma Johnston and her co-authors will speak about the findings of their 2021 State of the Environment Report and what we can expect moving forward, held at the University of Sydney.