ALBO GETS THE THUMBS-UP
Anthony Albanese has the highest satisfaction rating of any new prime minister, according to The Australian’s ($) latest Newspoll, with 61% of respondents giving him the thumbs up. Albo has a whopping 34-point lead on Opposition Leader Peter Dutton when it comes to the preferred PM, 59-25. Yikes.
Hey, speaking of reportedly unpopular Liberals, Eleni Petinos has been sacked as NSW small business minister over serious allegations of bullying, The Australian ($) reports. The paper says it saw a complaint from a former staffer accusing Petinos of calling staff “retarded”, “stupid”, and threatening to “kill” them, in what the staffer described as “a sustained barrage of belittling and invidious comments”. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet says further issues had come to light, and Petinos’ “service as a minister will cease with immediate effect”, The Age continues. It’s a grim irony that Petinos was the minister responsible for work safety. (Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello will take over the portfolio.) In a statement, Petinos said “if” she offended someone or made them uncomfortable, she was “truly sorry”.
To more NSW state politics drama now and today we’ll see confidential emails, reports, John Barilaro’s CV and his selection report as 71 documents are made public in the inquiry into the former Nationals leader’s NY trade gig, the SMH reports. (He has since quit the post.) The paper says it saw an index of documents that showed Barilaro was told bureaucrat Jenny West had got the job six weeks before he lodged an urgent cabinet submission to make the role a ministerial appointment.
IT’S NOT JUST GAS
More businesses could close and households could cop even bigger bills when Australia faces an “alarming” gas shortage next year, according to a new report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Guardian Australia reports the gap is about 10% of our yearly demand — no small slice of the pie. The watchdog urged our big three exporters (who control 90% of the east coast’s supply) to keep some of their natural gas on home soil. We export most of it — about three-quarters in 2018-19 — but the thing is there’s enough gas to look after overseas customers and us.
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The problem is that the trio — Santos-controlled Gladstone LNG, the Shell-controlled QCLNG, and Origin Energy-operated Australia Pacific LNG — are selling up to 70% of their excess gas (that’s gas not bound by a contract) to overseas buyers instead of keeping it here, as The Courier-Mail ($) explains. Treasurer Jim Chalmers says ACCC’s findings are “deeply concerning” and appealed to exporters to “do the right thing by Australians”. The report also gives Resources Minister Madeleine King reason to trigger the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism (which controls exports) and to rethink a “gentleman’s agreement” over domestic supply, the AFR continues. OK, so what does the east coast do in the meantime? Pinch some of the Northern Territory’s gas via the Northern Gas Pipeline mostly, and top up reserves from the coast’s gas fields — though both will only have a “small impact” on the gap, the ACCC warned.
RAISING A VOICE
We won’t learn the nitty-gritty about the Indigenous Voice to Parliament before we vote in the referendum on whether it should exist, the Brisbane Times reports. Albanese told the Garma festival at the weekend that releasing too much detail could spell failure, and anyway, it’s up to federal parliamentarians to debate that — if we vote yes. The PM said the referendum question would be: “Do you support an alteration to the constitution that establishes an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice?” But first the referendum proposal has got to get through the Senate — if the Coalition decides to vote against it, the Greens and crossbench Senator David Pocock will hold the balance of power.
Predictably, Murdoch columnist Andrew Bolt is already swerving all over the place in his steadfast opposition ($), saying Albanese “demanding an Aboriginal-only parliament is a disgrace”. Actually it would be an advisory body, not a third chamber, as has been frequently clarified over the years. As Thomas Mayor writes in the SMH, it would be “three sentences, recognising over 60,000 years of continuous connection to country. The provision maintains the supremacy of Parliament to make decisions for all Australians, including by determining the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Voice, while recognising our right to speak for ourselves”.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney says it shouldn’t be be rushed, however — she says the first step would be consultation with Aboriginal leadership, with the Labor government, and with the Australian community, as Guardian Australia reports. “Our job is about talking to people, listening to people, listening to different ideas and coalescing those ideas, and [to] look at the work that has already been done — more than 10 years of expert work,” she said. ABC’s Stan Grant wrote rather beautifully on the issue, and on Garma festival more broadly — really worth a read.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Are you part of the Great Resignation, a lustful bystander, or just ready for a big change? Either way, a rather alluring job is going in the Maldives at the moment. Basically they’re looking for a bookworm who doesn’t like to wear shoes to recommend books to guests on a luxury island. You’d be paid the equivalent of about $1073 a week to run the island of Kunfunadhoo’s bookshop solo, including handling accounting and stock management. Oh, and you’d have to unsubscribe from your Worm, my beloved reader, as there is a strict “no news” policy — along with the barefoot policy — on Kunfunadhoo. But you’d receive free accommodation and meals, as well as access to a spa and your own private beach in the Maldives. Not too shabby.
Whether it be a pub landlord sought for a remote island, a cat whisperer wanted for a Greek island’s 55 feline inhabitants, or an artist required for the happiest place on earth, sometimes these jobs can seem a little more like a publicity stunt that a genuine opportunity. But The Guardian spoke to the Maldives’ barefoot bookseller who is vacating the post, a Londoner named Georgie Polhill, 27. She says it was tough at first to shake off the hustle culture of her city life and fall into an island pace, but it really reaped rewards for her. “I came back a very different person,” she says. Putting on shoes again, however, was tricky. It “definitely felt weird. I was so unused to wearing anything around my toes and my heels.”
Wishing you a dash of that island serenity this morning, too.
I’ve had Twitter farts saying I wasn’t as decisive this time. There’s a lot of people with opinions who get critical when they think you’re not being decisive. But there was a lot happening at this particular federal election.
Twitter whatnows? The ABC election oracle told his social media critics to pipe down after he was criticised for his performance during May’s federal election. Green said this election was the hardest ever to call and that he may work only one more before handing the reins over — possibly to fellow boffin Casey Briggs.
“There is background noise to the inquiries under way into the Barilaro appointment, which is who knew what and when about the then deputy premier’s relationship with his media adviser at the time, Jennifer Lugsdin. As we reported this week, Lugsdin moved from her role in Barilaro’s office to a senior job at Investment NSW around the time the agency’s head, Amy Brown, told Jenny West she had the New York posting.
“That was August last year. Investment NSW told Crikey that Lugsdin was appointed via an arm’s-length process. By October Barilaro had left his marriage and also left politics. By December it was reported that he and Lugsdin were together. Perhaps Barilaro and Lugsdin were doing their best to manage an awkward situation. But the timing matters.”
“A few months after he made his way into the Lodge, we cast an eye over Scott Morrison’s pre-politics CV and said it ‘casts doubt over his strategic campaigning abilities, his management skills and an apparent tendency towards a lack of transparency’. Little did we know.
“And now, having ditched Parliament this week to address a ‘global leaders summit’ and letting loose some of his less voter-friendly views at his church, the former PM seems less enamoured with the idea of facing voters again. As such, he’s surely soon to return to the private sector — and we’re here to help with his forthcoming job search, getting some advice from professional recruiters and marketing specialists. Firstly, let’s sort out this LinkedIn of his …”
“In a strong field, we may have a new contender for the biggest National Party rort yet — the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has found that 65% of a $1.1 billion set of grants made under five rounds of the Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) weren’t the ones that should have been awarded under a fair and open process. And, of course, they went to National Party and Liberal electorates — all in a program that, like the sports rorts grants, was meticulously designed to bypass safeguards against pork-barrelling and hide it from scrutiny.
“The auditor-general’s report details the lengths to which the Coalition government went to create a program that pretended to be about objective assessment of applications, but was mostly decided by a National Party-controlled committee, which rejected departmental advice and instead based decisions on electoral considerations, particularly ahead of the past two elections.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Biden tests positive for COVID again in ‘rebound’ case (The New York Times)
The inflation fix: protect profits, hit workers and consumers — Ross Gittins (The SMH): “There’s a longstanding but unacknowledged — and often unnoticed — bias in mainstream commentary on the state of the economy. We dwell on problems created by governments or greedy workers and their interfering unions, but never entertain the thought that the behaviour of business could be part of the problem.
“This ubiquitous pro-business bias — reinforced daily by the national press — is easily seen in the debate on how worried we should be about inflation, and in the instant attraction to the notion that continuing to cut real wages is central to getting inflation back under control. This is being pushed by the econocrats, and last week’s economic statement from Treasurer Jim Chalmers reveals it’s been swallowed by the new Labor government.”
One visa, one training place is a smart fix for worker shortages — Daniel Walton (The AFR): “Australian jobs should be filled by Australians wherever possible. If you find that position xenophobic or unacceptable, you can probably get off here. But if you, like the vast majority of Australians, agree with the basic premise then it also follows that this moment demands real reform.
“The unprecedented border closures created by the pandemic have made the gaping hole in Australia’s skilled workforce impossible to ignore. But COVID-19 didn’t create the hole. It has been gently teased open since the turn of the century, when employers began persuading governments to free them of their traditional responsibility to take on apprentices and trainees. Simultaneously, Coalition governments at the federal and state level started ripping huge chunks from TAFE funding. And, lo and behold, skills gaps started to open across the land. So what did we do in response?”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)
The Lowy Institute’s Michael Fullilove, Natasha Kassam, Jessica Collins, and Daniel Flitton will unpack the findings of the 2022 Lowy Institute Poll of Australian attitudes to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China, our alliance with the US, immigration, and the rise of authoritarianism. It will be held at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)
The Australian Government Solicitor’s Tim Begbie will examine how public interest immunity operates — in a seminar at the ANU College of Law.
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Writer Katerina Gibson will speak about her anthology of short stories, Women I Know, at Avid Reader bookshop. You can also catch this one online.