FIRST NATIONS FIRST
One of 17 mostly Indigenous boys held inside a maximum security Perth prison has swallowed glass, Guardian Australia reports. It was safety glass, and doesn’t cause the sort of gruesome harm normal glass would, but he was rushed to hospital. National Suicide Prevention and Trauma Recovery Project said it was “gravely concerned” for the boys, some of whom are as young as 14. “I’m worried there will be a suicide involving a young person for the first time ever in a Western Australian prison,” project director Megan Krakouer said. She added “many” of the boys have a disability. It comes as a 32-year-old Indigenous father of two died at the prison after a suspected suicide on Sunday, as Perth Now reports. He had reportedly been held in solitary, known as the SHU — the special handling unit — in the lead up to his death.
Meanwhile, an $11 million commitment to reducing Indigenous incarceration in the ACT has been welcomed as a “huge stress relief” by legal groups, the National Indigenous Times reports. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said his government is determined to slash the detainment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and reduce recidivism by a quarter by 2025. The money will bolster culturally safe support in custody, and includes funding for a yarning circles program for ex-detainees to reconnect with community and Country, increasing sites for bail reporting, and a one-on-one approach for people with cognitive disabilities, as well as reducing wait times for court dates and making bail more accessible. “The ACT justice system is significantly more likely to arrest, prosecute and jail First Nations peoples than non-Indigenous people,” Attorney-General and ACT Greens Leader Shane Rattenbury said, adding it was high time to rebuild trust. It comes as One Nation’s Pauline Hanson has announced she will spearhead the “no” campaign against an Indigenous Voice to Parliament, claiming it would lead to apartheid in Australia, The Courier Mail ($) reports.
CLIVE GETS THE COAL SHOULDER
Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek wants to block billionaire Clive Palmer’s proposed coalmine, saying it would do “unacceptable” damage to the Great Barrier Reef, Guardian Australia reports. It’s just 10km from the reef, and would dig up 18 million tonnes of coal. It’s the first big decision from Plibersek in the portfolio — she’ll use the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) but asked the public to weigh in with submissions closing on August 18. It comes after Labor’s climate bill passed in the lower house with flying colours yesterday, 89 votes to 55 (four amendments from the independents passed too). But Greens Leader Adam Bandt says we’ve got to look at a climate trigger for the EPBC Act, the SMH continues. It would mean all fossil fuel projects have to pass a global warming check (and, the paper says, most wouldn’t). Prime Minister Anthony Albanese waved that away yesterday, saying environmental and economic reasons are important (which reminds me of my favourite New Yorker cartoon).
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However, The Australian ($) reports somewhat pointedly, soaring coal and gas exports drove the nation’s trade surplus to a record $17.7b in June, which means our trade balance for 2021-22 is 54% higher at an unprecedented $137.4 billion. Why? The war in Ukraine, mostly — world markets are disrupted by a shortage of grain, coal and gas, according to the CBA. But new players looking to edge in on the market might run into trouble — last week Westpac said it would slash lending to coal, oil and gas companies by a quarter in the next decade, joining NAB and Commonwealth Bank in the push to defund the projects, Reuters reports.
We’ve finally got a look at a letter the Australian Federal Police (AFP) wrote to then home affairs minister Peter Dutton in June 2018 about George Christensen, former senator for SA Rex Patrick writes, some three years after the freedom of information (FOI) request was lodged. What gives? “With Mr Christensen having now left the Parliament, the release of the letter now is moot,” Patrick writes for Michael West Media. The letter advised Dutton that Christensen “undertakes extensive international travel to South-East Asia during non-sitting periods and has engaged in activities that could potentially place him at risk of being targeted for compromise by foreign interest”. Rex says he’ll steer clear of musing on what Christensen’s “activities” were, but did say it shows how the AFP delaying FOI requests — unintentionally or not — fails constituents.
Speaking of the AFP, there’s an interesting case playing out in the courts about the legality of a phone that tricked alleged criminals into conducting their allegedly illegal business without realising they were CC-ing in the cops. Crikey reports the AFP took over a real company that was selling “secure” phones and intercepted all the messages being sent. How? “A source arrested for his involvement in another encrypted app, Phantom, was given immunity and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to give the master keys to the app to the FBI,” reporter Cam Wilson explains. It worked a treat: 383 alleged offenders were charged with 2340 offences, relating to things such as drugs and firearms. But was it legal? A growing number of senior defence barristers are sceptical, Guardian Australia writes, and the matter will be heard in a Sydney local court in September.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
It’s one of the critical pillars of health, we spend a third of our lives in pursuit of it, it’s where we get to live out our wildest fantasies, and yet as a species we just can’t seem to get enough dang shuteye. Whether it’s an upstairs neighbour who likes to tapdance to KORN at 3am, a canine bedfellow who is somewhat of a manspreader, or a partner sounding more like the honking of an oncoming freight train than a tranquil sleeping beauty, sleep can be infuriatingly tricky. Fortunately there are quick ways to look and feel perky, even if you lucked out the night before. First, The Guardian’s Helen Hawkes says, de-puff. Place an icepack on the face, or go full Paul Newman by dunking your face into iced water for 30 seconds. If that sounds a bit much in the morning, cold teabags will do in a pinch.
You might be tempted to squeeze in every possible minute of snoozing, but don’t skip the skincare regime — moisturiser and sunscreen will boost and refresh your face. But more long-term, it’s worth looking at the root cause of sleeplessness. For instance, that 3pm coffee might help make the afternoon more bearable, but the caffeine is likely still stimulating your system that evening. Try decaf or tea instead. Equally, exercising or even eating within a couple of hours of bedtime increases your core body temperature, and may prevent you from dropping off. Finally, the same bedtime every (or at least most) nights will help you feel more rested, because you’re working with your natural circadian rhythm, rather than against it.
Hoping you care for yourself like you care for others, folks, and have a restful weekend.
Managerial roles such as human resources managers, diversity officers, sustainability consultants, social media managers, communications officers, sensitivity readers and, more recently, gender affirmation advisers enable an entire class of university graduates to proselytise their values while working in roles that are largely insulated from market forces.
The commentator says Treasurer Jim Chalmers should “take a red pen to woke jobs” — including, for some reason, HR and social media — to save money in the federal budget. In fact, her op-ed for The Australian ($) mentions the word “woke” no fewer than 14 times, proving again that conservative Australia doesn’t quite have a grasp on the meaning of the word. It’s just eight months since sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins found half (51%) of the people working in Parliament and parliamentary workplaces had been bullied, sexually harassed or sexually assaulted.
“These are political professionals, whose whole career is based on understanding the electoral mood, who have at their disposal a wide array of tools for reading that mood. But a public servant knew better than them that Barilaro was toxic. In fact, any random person pulled off Macquarie St could have told them that.
“This is what happens when you’ve been in government for a long time, when no one is around who remembers not having the comforts and ease of incumbency, when being in power seems the natural state of affairs that will never change, when taxpayer resources and the offices of state come to seem assets to be disposed of as a political party sees fit, without reference to the public interest.”
“Dutton, who took a unilateral decision to oppose Labor’s climate bill, thereby dealing himself out of any efforts to amend it, is now ‘estranged’ not merely from big business but from key fossil fuel donors with whom the Coalition has closely worked for over a decade to stymie climate action.
“Without big fossil fuels, who does Dutton have left in his corner? Only the denialist rump of the Liberal and National parties, and News Corp. His opposition to climate action will make the already difficult task of winning back ‘teal’ seats even harder — imagine a Liberal candidate running in a metropolitan Sydney or Melbourne seat on a climate policy that even our biggest fossil fuel companies don’t support? All the News Corp cheerleading in the world won’t be able to get them over the line.”
“Turned out, it was a trap. Through Foxtel, News Corp is the NRL’s cable and streaming broadcaster, reportedly paying over $200 million a year for the rights. Sure, any controversy is good for ratings, but paying those bills calls for an audience well beyond the right-wing culture warriors who read their pay-walled masthead.
“Within 48 hours, News Corp found it struggling with the old question: what if you started a culture war and nobody came? It started off okay for News. Although NRL boss Peter V’landys brushed the issue off with ‘we’re inclusive’, he stumbled with enough both-sidesing to give space to News’ jersey critics. It was left to Manly’s rival on the night, Roosters coach Trent Robinson, to clean up for the code’s leadership in his pre-match interview.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
India withdraws a proposed law on data protection (The New York Times)
No one can afford further delays to meaningful climate action — Paul Sinclair (The Age): “Have you ever stopped to think about becoming extinct? Possibly not, and I’m not sure it occurs to mountain pygmy possums either, but it is one of the most vulnerable native animals to extinction because of climate change. You won’t find pygmy possums in India, Indonesia or Ireland. They’re unique — one of the creatures that make Australia like nowhere else on Earth. Now that it’s confirmed the Albanese government’s climate bill will receive enough support to become law, let’s be clear about what’s at stake if our politicians don’t work together for much greater action: there will be many extinctions in the next 20 years, and the mountain pygmy possum could be among the first to go.
“No one, in fact, can afford further delays to meaningful action on climate change. The national State of the Environment report released last month documented how climate change is worsening pressures on every Australian ecosystem, as well as harming our health. Too few Australians are aware that Australia already has the worst mammal extinction record on the planet, but the report also warned us that extinctions in Australia were rising and accelerating, driven by climate change, tree clearing and invasive species … Scientific evidence says a 75% reduction within the decade is needed to limit temperature rises of more than 1.5 degrees. It’s nowhere near enough for our wildlife or for us.”
For a big idea that leads opposition to power, go nuclear — Bob Carr (The Australian) ($): “As NSW planning minister between 1984 and 1988 I began to understand how fiendishly difficult it would be to locate a nuclear power plant. Australia had never been able to locate a high-temperature waste incinerator. And not even that modest proposal for a nuclear waste repository in the desert of South Australia — free from earthquakes or floods — could win support from either side of SA politics or, even after the full airing of the idea by a royal commission, a respectable share of public opinion. But what about sites that for 40 years had supplied big slabs of NSW and Victorian power? If ever there were an opportunity to solve the big question of locating nuclear plants the closure of the coal-fired fleet was going to provide it.
“Calling for expressions of interest would clarify commercial prospects. Right now there is no consortium of superannuation funds, private equity, merchant bank and construction company volunteering to make the investment. Overseas partners? South Korea under an anti-nuclear president folded up its one nuclear power company even after a successful construction of a plant in the United Arab Emirates. There would be no American bidder for Hazelwood. Westinghouse, historically the largest builder of nuclear plants in the world, was sent bankrupt by plants in Georgia and South Carolina. The delays and cost overruns that brought Westinghouse to its knees are customary for a sector in which 175 out of 180 projects exceeded their initial budgets by an average of 117% and took 64% more time than projected. Currently in the US there is one plant under construction and six being decommissioned. Britain and Finland offer sorry examples.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Independents Zali Steggall, Helen Haines, and David Pocock will speak about community participation in politics at the Next Steps Convention, held by the Community Independents Project.
Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)
Paul Atherton, the man behind “That Wall Street Guy”, will speak at an event called Empowering Women With Finance held at the Benjamin on Franklin Hotel.