The Great Barrier Reef now has a record amount of coral across its 2300-kilometre length, making up about a third of the expanse, The Australian ($) reports. It’s the findings of a monitoring program from the Australian Institute of Marine Science — one scientist said although bleaching has occurred this year (for the fourth time in seven years), the findings were “good news”. The goal now is to protect the new growth from global heating, the reef’s biggest threat, Guardian Australia continues. The bleaching earlier this year was a result of unusually hot temperatures off our coast — it was actually the first mass bleaching during La Niña, a typically cooler weather pattern. Mike Emslie, who is the lead on the institute’s monitoring program, said that’s “really concerning”. So why is heat bad for the reef? Not only do corals experience heat stress, but if they end up bleached they starve. If they do survive, it’s harder for them to reproduce, grow and withstand coral disease.
Meanwhile, outspoken Liberal Bridget Archer confirmed she will cross the floor to back Labor’s climate bill enshrining a 43% reduction in emissions, Guardian Australia reports, but will not back the amendments bill. Archer said climate change is an issue that “transcends age, gender, political beliefs and socioeconomic circumstances”, confirming her status, on this issue at least, as a conservative on the right side of history. The legislation will pass the lower house this morning — a major milestone — and go before the upper house in September. The Greens and independent David Pocock will support it there too, meaning the path is clear for the bill to become law. Greens Leader Adam Bandt told the National Press Club the fight begins now to ban all new coal and gas mines.
AYRES’ DIRTY LINEN
Another one bites the dust: yesterday Stuart Ayres became the second minister to resign from the Perrottet ministry after a draft report “raised a concern as to whether Mr Ayres had complied with the ministerial code of conduct”, Premier Dominic Perrottet said. The New Daily writes that Ayres will step down as enterprise, investment and trade, tourism and sport, and western Sydney minister, as well as deputy Liberal leader, though will remain the member for Penrith. Read Ayres’ statement here. He says no breach occurred but he will go anyway. It’s the latest — and perhaps inevitable — development in the John Barilaro trade role saga, and comes just three days since fair trading minister Eleni Petinos was sacked over bullying and workplace harassment allegations.
Between this and the drama unfolding in Victoria’s Coalition and it can feel like we are living through a bit of an integrity crisis. The Conversation has a great story about how we can restore the public’s faith in government appointments, which comes after a slew of handpicked Coalition-aligned political appointments extremely late in the Morrison government’s reign to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) earlier this year, as Crikey reports. Last week, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus introduced a bill into Parliament that would require senior leadership appointments at the Australian Human Rights Commission to be publicly advertised, based on merit, and with a seven-year hard ceiling. It’s a great start, but the Convo says why not use the model across all political institutions?
AGE OF CONSENT
New laws to introduce affirmative consent, criminalise stealthing and tackle deepfake porn will be introduced today in Victoria, Guardian Australia reports. So what are they? Affirmative consent means getting an enthusiastic yes from a sexual partner — it can be in the form of language or body gestures like a nod or removing one’s clothing. Silence, for instance, or one’s partner being passive or still, requires a check-in. Stealthing is a term for secretly removing the condom without the other person being aware it is no longer on, and deepfakes is kind of a creepy way of superimposing someone’s face on another’s body — check out this deepfake of former US president Barack Obama created by Jordan Peele. But when deepfakes are used to make porn, it takes a sinister turn.
Meanwhile a former executive at Ambulance Victoria has brought a landmark legal action against her workplace over alleged sexism and discrimination, The Age reports. Tracey Tobias was the only female when she was appointed among the emergency service’s seven directors of clinical operations and said the experience destroyed her mental health, self-confidence and professional self-esteem. When she complained about sexism, her lawyer said, her contract was not renewed. It comes off the back of the second half of a Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission inquiry that looked into the culture at Ambulance Victoria, as ABC reports, which found a culture that considered senior people should be “white, male … confident, stoic and are the family breadwinner” which holds women back.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
In a remarkable tale of survival that speaks to the indelible strength of the human spirit, a man has been rescued from a capsized sailing boat after surviving for 16 hours in an air bubble. The Frenchman departed on his summery trip aboard his 12-metre boat from Lisbon in Portugal on Sunday, but ran into major trouble as he sailed near the Sisargas Islands north-west of Spain. The 62-year-old sent out a distress signal on Monday at 8.30pm, and began his long wait. On dry land, his signal was heard loud and clear — a rescue ship with five divers quickly set sail, while overhead three helicopters powered through the skies to work out his exact location. But one helicopter pilot’s heart sank when he spotted it far below: an upturned boat, the white underside facing the sky, bobbing nonchalantly in the endless sea.
Nevertheless, a diver dutifully approached the hull, though it wasn’t easy in the rough sea conditions. That’s when the diver heard an incredible sound: knocking. Someone was in there. Someone alive. But the weather was too wild and woolly for the rescue mission that night, so they told the man to sit tight, attached buoyancy balloons to keep him afloat and promised to return first light. When the divers went in early on Tuesday, they found the man encased in a neoprene survival suit in the boat’s air bubble, with water only up to his knees despite being below the ocean’s surface. But he was anything but frail, jumping into the icy water “of his own initiative”, one rescuer said, swimming down and then breaking the surface nearby. They took him to hospital but the medical staff said he was perfectly healthy. He was discharged shortly afterwards.
Wishing you a little strength and resilience this morning too.
This is not a barbecue. This is question time in the Australian parliament. What next? Board shorts and thongs? Maybe a onesie in winter.
The Nationals MP was affronted, nay outraged, that a young whippersnapper Green MP by the name of Max Chandler-Mather dared front Parliament during question time wearing a collared shirt and jacket but no a tie ensconcing his millennial neck. The horror! Chandler-Mather says he finds it “bizarre” that he needs to dress like a businessman when politicians are meant to represent the people.
“Brown also admitted that while she pursued discrepancies in West’s CV, she did not pursue a glaring omission in Barilaro’s CV about his claimed directorship of a board that did not exist. Brown also failed to appoint a probity adviser for the recruitment process, despite potential conflicts of interest in relation to candidates.
“Brown spoke at length about the behaviour of West, who had set up the recruitment process for the trade commission jobs, then applied late for the New York position, saying she had to tell West to recuse herself from the recruitment process for the other trade commission roles. Yet even then no probity adviser was appointed for the process, even after John Barilaro, the former departmental minister, applied for a role — an astonishing failure given the circumstances.”
“ANOM was altered to share unencrypted copies of the messages and the location of the sender with law enforcement to a server in Romania, where it was re-encrypted and sent to law enforcement servers elsewhere. In effect, ANOM app users were unknowingly CC-ing everything they sent through the app to the police. (In a strange little side note: months before the sting was revealed, an anonymous blogger publicly wrote that the app seemed to be communicating with a Romanian server).
“Informants then seeded the app to organised crime circles — first in Australia, and then throughout the rest of the world. By the end, it had reportedly more than 11,000 users globally who were allegedly using it to coordinate international crime rings, murders, drug trafficking and other crimes.”
“Pelosi’s visit to Taipei is thus not quite the inflammatory provocation or unprecedented insult that China or its Western supporters suggest. But once her visit was mooted, and China reacted ferociously with threats of retaliation, both sides were locked in to a course of escalation.
“Pelosi couldn’t withdraw from the visit for either domestic political reasons (being seen to back down to China) or for sound foreign policy reasons (giving Beijing evidence that the US will back down might encourage further aggression). Beijing was locked into treating the visit as a major event, far in excess of its offended reaction when US senators make their periodic visits to Taipei.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
How the CIA tracked the leader of Al Qaeda (The New York Times)
Senate plan would put Bitcoin, Ether under commodity regulator’s watch (The Wall Street Journal) ($)
John Howard’s climate doubts reveal more about conservative identity politics than anything else — Graham Readfearn (Guardian Australia): “Even without specifics, Howard’s position tells us plenty about his understanding of the science, his regard for the risks from global heating and how he wants to frame the issue. During the interview, Howard made a philosophical point about the state of political discourse saying there was ‘too much of an obsession with identity politics and single issues like climate change’.
“Expressing scepticism about the causes of climate change, its impacts or the motives behind calls for action, has become a part of the political identity of many conservatives, particularly in the US and Australia. Howard was trying to pin the ‘identity politics’ label on progressives. But by continuing to express scepticism on climate change only seconds later shows how a politician who reached their heights well before the term ‘identity politics’ was invented, can still engage in it.”
Dutton’s Liberals must have guts to speak out against Indigenous voice — Peta Credlin (The Australian) ($): “It would put into our body politic a new entity that only members of one race can vote for and stand for. It would gum up government because both the legislative and the executive arm would have to take this voice very seriously indeed, as Albanese himself has acknowledged, and as activist courts would insist on, once it’s there in the constitution, with unspecified authority to make representations about any matters relating to Indigenous people. And this would just be the start, and could be followed by the other elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart that launched the Voice: namely a ‘truth-telling’ commission and a treaty. A treaty means compensation payments, or reparations, to be paid by taxpayers for decades to come.
“Don’t believe it? Ben Wyatt, former West Australian treasurer, talks about a ‘national compensation fund’, and the ABC’s Indigenous affairs editor, Bridget Brennan, says ‘it has to be about reparations’. And a ‘truth-telling’ commission here wouldn’t resemble that in post-apartheid South Africa — a chance for people to ventilate race crimes committed against them, in their lifetime — but would involve rewriting our history from the time of settlement into a story of racial exploitation and oppression. If you think the assault on the school curriculum is one-sided now, wait until these new bodies flex their muscles.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)
It’s the opening night of the Melbourne International Film Festival held at the Hamer Hall. Check out the program here.
Author Holden Sheppard will talk about his new book, The Brink, at the Wheeler Centre.
Ngunnawal Country (also known as Canberra)
Academic David Blackbourn will give a seminar about how Germany has changed environmentally, culturally, and politically in recent history.