SOMETHING IN THE AIR
If we greenlight the 30 coal and gas export projects asking to proceed, Australia will have caused 22 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, Guardian Australia reports, which is about 40% of global annual emissions. Newsflash Energy Minister Chris Bowen, says Greenpeace’s Shiva Gounden: we all live in the same world, and exporting our fossil fuels is still going to harm Australians. Vanuatu’s Climate Change Minister Ralph Regenvanu says the government told him many of the projects would not go ahead — I hope so, he adds. Resources Minister Madeleine King has said before that Australia has to keep exporting, otherwise it’ll lose its voice in the region. Wait ’til she hears about how much more we’ll lose if we don’t urgently act on climate change — right now, almost all of Queensland is battling a storm supercell with flash flooding, The Courier-Mail ($) reports, while record-breaking rain has seen 12 people rescued from floods in NSW and Victoria, Guardian Australia says.
Meanwhile King was pissed off after at least seven Labor MPs snapped a photo with environmentalists in Canberra who want Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to knock back two approvals from Woodside’s Burrup Hub project. We need gas to transition to renewables, King told The West ($), and so do Japan and Korea. As for the endangered whales, turtles and thousands of coral species in Scott’s Reef? This comes as former Rural Fire Services commissioner Greg Mullins told The New Daily we may face a Black Summer-level bushfire season every two years, bringing smoke inhalation threats (40 deaths in 2019-20), heatwaves (which see a 12% increase in deaths), and bushfires (33 people dead in 2019-20, as well as more than 1 billion animals). Some good news at least from COP28 — a new fund that’ll help poor nations with disasters, Reuters reports, with $100 million pledged by the UAE, $51 million from the UK, $17.5 million from the US, $10 million from Japan, and $245 million from the EU.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has slammed the Coalition for sending overseas its largest delegation since Federation to a “cooker convention” (slang for a conspiracist with far-right views, The New Daily rather helpfully explains). This would be the Alliance for Responsible Citizenship conference, where John Howard said he had always had trouble with multiculturalism, and Tony Abbott said climate change was implausible. (Guardian Australia notes Howard’s hardline policies on asylum seekers occurred at the exact time as Australia was experiencing a “boom” in migration that bolstered our economy.) Fifteen Coalition figures went to London to “bag multiculturalism and to bag climate change”, Albanese said.
Meanwhile the states are badgering Albanese for at least $5 billion in annual GST top-up payments to become a permanent thing, the AFR ($) reports, after the PM told national cabinet to fund the treatment of “early developmental disorders and mild autism”. There are more than 200,000 Aussies with an autism spectrum condition, the ABC reports, which has increased by 25% between 2015 and 2018 as awareness has led to better public understanding. The life expectancy of an autistic Australian is 20 to 36 years shorter than that of the general population right now — dismal. Treasurer Jim Chalmers is meeting the state and territory purses today about the Morrison-era payments, which are due to finish in 2026-27 because they were supposed to cost $6.7 billion, but are now fives times that at $33.9 billion.
The 12 people who arrived in a remote part of WA were flown to Nauru within 41 hours, according to The Australian ($), the second since September after 11 people were diverted at sea to the Pacific nation. It’s the first time Nauru has been used in nine years, the paper adds. Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) has created 29 videos so far to deter people seeking asylum in South and South-East Asia from coming here by boat, translated into 16 languages. “You will never settle in Australia,” a steely OSC commander Justin Jones says in the video. This comes as an Iranian who came here by boat and had been held for 10 years without a criminal conviction (10 years!) has been released, The Australian ($) reports. Yesterday a Federal Court judge found Ned Kelly Emeralds was “not lawfully detained and is entitled to be released immediately”, but the government says it’s considering appealing. Emeralds said yesterday he came here 10 years ago to “seek protection from torture in my country, and instead I was tortured”, having “no way to escape”.
Meanwhile, our top-heavy military is like a “satire”, the Greens’ David Shoebridge told the ABC. For every star-ranked officer in the Australian Defence Force, there are just 260 personnel beneath them — compare that with the US where there’s one for every 1,526 personnel, and the UK’s one for every 1,252 personnel. The number of star-ranked officers has nearly doubled in 20 years, while overall troop numbers have dwindled, and stars don’t keep Australia safe, Shoebridge says. Incidentally, the broadcaster notes, the chief of defence gets more than $1 million a year, while the US counterpart gets $329,304 and the UK counterpart $534,509.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Wonderful news, folks — a giant rat that can chew through coconuts is alive and well! Measuring 45 shuddering centimetres from nose to tail, the Vangunu rat is actually critically endangered and was feared lost forever considering one had never been documented alive. But the Indigenous people on Vangunu, which is in the Solomon Islands, swore they scurried among them. So researchers from the University of Melbourne got together with counterparts at the Solomon Islands National University and told locals in the village of Zaira we simply must see evidence of the giant horrifying rat, although we appreciate spotting perhaps the world’s rarest rodent is no easy feat. One of the Aussie researchers had done surveys for five years, laying camera traps, spotlights and searching hollow trees. The rat had remained elusive.
Pffff, Zaira locals said, leave it to us. Their precise instructions to researchers about where to set the cameras up proved dead on — over six months, the team snapped no fewer than 95 photographs of rattus giantus. “The knowledge is with the people. They are the custodians of the local knowledge,” one of the study’s authors said. It turns out the Vangunu rat has a more delicate palate than they realised, as switching peanut butter (which goes off fast) for sesame oil proved useful for bringing them out too. The confirmation that the rat lives is great news for Zaira locals because they’ve been pushing for the government to protect their patch of forest — and this could really strengthen their case, The New York Times reports. Just don’t go to bed without washing those dinner dishes, one might think.
Hoping you can see knowledge in all sorts of places, and have a restful weekend.
We let convicted Australian criminals who have served their terms back into the community all the time, and there is no argument for why foreigners with nowhere else to go should be treated differently that isn’t deeply racist/dehumanising.
The Monthly journalist put it plainly after the government rushed through legislation forcing ankle monitors and 10pm-6am curfews on at least 142 stateless detainees.
“News Corp remains News Corp — although its Middle East coverage, once substantial and balanced under Chris Mitchell and John Lyons at The Australian, is now a continuing screed of anti-Palestinian propaganda, part of the 9/11-isation of the Hamas atrocities, designed to polarise, portray anything less than the annihilation of Palestinians as softness on terrorism, and thereby facilitating the very process that will create more radicalisation and extremism.
“And its free speech warriors, quelle surprise, have been silent on — or supportive of — Nine gagging its journalists. Also rather quiet at Seven and News Corp are the cheerleaders for Bruce Lehrmann and the relentless critics of Brittany Higgins as Lehrmann was dissected into small parts by the Ten Network’s barrister in his defamation case.”
“[Ben] Roberts-Smith has filed to appeal the decision to the full bench of the Federal Court, set down for early next year. The fight over costs in the case concluded this week, with an order from Justice Anthony Besanko that Roberts-Smith pay indemnity costs assessed from the beginning of proceedings, which date back to August 2018.
“[Journalist Chris] Masters has previously said it took around $30 million to defend the case, although later estimates sit around $25 million. The courts have also made orders requiring Roberts-Smith to pay almost $1 million in security for costs before his appeal.”
“[Daanyal] Saeed and Crikey are seemingly drawing an assumption about these trips to Israel — that it is about undue influence. This is concerning … When Australian politicians visit Israel, some in the media see this as being influenced and taking sides. Yet when Australian and other politicians travelled to Ukraine, the media and public welcomed this as essential in understanding the war and the crisis it brought.
“…I worked for MPs who undertook paid trips to communist countries, including Cuba (under Fidel Castro’s dictatorship), Vietnam and China. If there has been an outcry from Crikey or others that communist forces are trying to influence Australia, I must have missed it.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
No more dry burgers: McDonald’s overhauls its biggest item (The Wall Street Journal) ($)
Henry Kissinger dies celebrated, but why? His achievements have long since crumbled — Simon Tisdall (The Guardian): “His support for the murderous military coup in Chile in 1973 that overthrew the elected government of Salvador Allende, and ushered in the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet, still stands out as a dreadful monument to the myopic, destructive American neo-imperialism of that era. US support for violent Cold War nationalist groups amid proxy wars with the Soviet Union, such as Unita in Angola or later the Contras in Nicaragua, and Washington’s propping up of the worst kind of African and Middle Eastern dictators — because it supposedly suited US geopolitical interests — were policies that owed much to Kissinger’s thinking.
“And then there was Vietnam. Although Kissinger is credited with helping to end the war, what he bequeathed, not unlike Donald Trump in Afghanistan, was a broken, shattered country that swiftly succumbed to a totalitarian takeover, rendering previous sacrifices futile. For some who can remember it, Kissinger will never be forgiven for the secret carpet-bombing of neutral Cambodia in 1969-70, as part of the Vietnam campaign. Kissinger reportedly told the US air force to strike ‘anything that flies or anything that moves’. About 50,000 civilians were killed.”
Peter Dutton’s time to strike is now as Anthony Albanese bungles policy — Peta Credlin (The Australian) ($): “Peter Dutton’s decision to oppose the Voice back in April when it still had 60% support showed a rare disposition to do what’s right rather than what’s merely politically expedient. And his success in out-arguing and out-campaigning the prime minister should have given the opposition leader the confidence to create a clear and compelling contrast on other issues, too. We can see he’s the one driving the mop-up of the government’s detainee mess, but it’s more than that. There’s a push inside the opposition for a bigger, bolder version of Morrison’s super for housing policy.
“There’s a growing understanding that it’s now legal rather than illegal immigration that’s out of control, driven not by our national interest but by universities’ business model. And last week the Coalition energy spokesman flagged a policy centred on no further retirements of coal-fired power, rapid development of new gas fields and an end to the nuclear ban. What’s not to like in policies that turn renters into owners, put the government rather than unaccountable institutions back in charge, and make it affordable to keep the lights on? If Dutton can get these policies into voters’ minds without much internal dissent, Labor really will be in trouble.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)
The Young Diplomats Society will present the 2023 Year In Review at The Clyde Hotel.
Yuggera and Turrbal Country (also known as Brisbane)
Author Katrina Meynink will join cooks Caitlin Stager and Kelly Griffin for a Christmas cookbook chat at Avid Reader bookshop.