A GREEN TO DISAGREE
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare have hugged, ABC reports, perhaps thawing some of the tension that had been climbing between the previous Coalition government and the archipelago ever since the latter signed a security pact with an increasingly aggressive China. But Albo says climate action is the main thing Pacific leaders want to talk about. Why? Pacific nations are among the world’s most vulnerable countries when it comes to the impacts of climate change, including increasingly dangerous storms and rising tides — indeed, changed oceanic currents could simply swallow up entire islands. Palau’s President Surangel Whipps told The Age that the Australian government should at the very least match the 50% emissions reduction by 2030 target (our current target is 43%).
Greens leader Adam Bandt wants Albo to be more ambitious on climate goals too. “The Greens want to see a stop to new coal and gas projects, as do the Pacific Islanders, the UN, the International Energy Agency and the world’s scientists,” he says. Just look at Beetaloo — it’ll lift our greenhouse pollution by up to 13%, Bandt says. But the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) has warned the Greens not to block Labor’s bill enshrining a 43% reduction in emissions, The Australian ($) reports. The ACF says the government should ensure it’s scalable, however, so the target can increase over time. It should be “a floor, not a ceiling”, the ACF boss clarified. Likewise, Greenpeace also got behind the 43% target, but qualified it was only an “important first step”.
Former prime minister Scott Morrison says Australia’s experience of the pandemic was “no fluke” but there were tough times where he had to take “a hit for the mission”, AFR reports. Morrison is speaking to the Asian leadership Conference in Seoul, Korea today — former US first lady Michelle Obama and former US vice president Mike Pence will be there too. Morrison’s speech, which was leaked to several papers, boasts we have the third lowest mortality rate in the OECD, we vaccinated 95% of our population twice, and our economy grew 4.5% since December 2019, The Australian ($) continues. But it wasn’t easy, he says. Morrison says many people questioned why he personally couldn’t just make the decisions — but that the middle of a pandemic “was no time to engage in a political debate about our federation”. Overall, the former PM said, the national cabinet was good — even when the state and territory leaders didn’t agree among themselves about rules and restrictions. “I am yet to hear of a better alternative”.
Speaking of national cabinet — Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wants to have a meeting of leaders sooner than the next one slated sometime around October (before the federal budget), The Courier-Mail ($) reports. She says COVID’s third wave is putting her state’s health system under massive strain — some 859 people are now in hospital with the virus in Queensland. Health Minister Mark Butler admitted yesterday it could get worse — he says “millions” of people will be infected in the coming weeks, Guardian Australia reports, and urged people to get their booster. It comes as the $750-a-week pandemic leave payment has been scrapped, and the subsidised RAT program for concession card holders will finish at the end of July. Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the government just doesn’t have the money to extend “every program, even good ones, indefinitely”.
THE LENGTHS OF THE BORDER
A Queensland woman who had stopped over in the US on her way to Canada says she was asked whether she’d recently had an abortion before being deported back to Australia, Guardian Australia reports. Madolline Gourley was headed to the Great White North for a holiday — but to save money, she was planning to house sit (and cat-sit) a Canadian home via a website called TrustedHouseSitters. US border officials got weird about it. They said she was on a visa waiver program, and that didn’t allow any “type of employment or get compensation for services rendered”. But even weirder was that she was asked several times if she was pregnant, Gourley says, and then asked if she’d had a termination.
It comes as Crikey’s Amber Schultz is delving into Marie Stopes, the leading provider of abortion services in Australia and the sole provider of RU-486 (now known as mifepristone). At the moment a person pays out of pocket $42.50 for the drug, while the government pays pharmacies a hefty $353.84. The centralised market is concerning — one abortion clinic founder claimed having just one supplier meant the Australian government paid more than was necessary for the subsidy. Australia isn’t the only one with a “mifepristone monopoly”, Schultz says: New Zealand has just one brand available too. It’s good reading.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
A dog who had escaped from home ended up winning a ribbon at a dog show. It all began when British woman Paula Closier was pottering around her home in West Sussex on the weekend when she suddenly noticed things were quiet. A little too quiet. After a brief search through her home she realised Bonnie, her five-year-old beagle cross, was missing. Closier was so worried: Bonnie was a rescue dog from Crete — what if she had become confused and tried to find her way back to the idyllic Greek island?
Meanwhile Bonnie was padding along a nearby road when a guy named John Wilmer spotted her. Wilmer was rushing to get to a dog show nearby, but he couldn’t just leave Bonnie behind with no owner in sight. So Bonnie jumped into the car with him and his two dogs, and they drove off. He posted about the found dog on social media when he arrived at the dog show, but when he looked at her big almond eyes, “she was such a lovely dog, I thought it’d be good to enter her”. The next minute, a proud Bonnie was having a bright yellow ribbon fastened to her collar — she’d won third place. “I was so pleased she did so well,” Wilmer told the BBC. And Closier, who was reunited with Bonnie shortly after, was thrilled about her win. “You couldn’t make this stuff up,” she said.
Wishing you a little spring in your step today, folks.
The new government should do more than be slightly better than Scott Morrison and slightly better than business as usual.
The Greens leader wants Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to be way more ambitious in the fight against climate change, pointing out the science is clear: Labor’s 43% emissions target falls short of the Paris agreements temperature goals.
“But interestingly, and ironically, very often the problem is not that the translation is not accurate, but that it is wilfully too accurate. Too often what is delivered as a figure of speech intended for domestic Chinese audiences who are versed in revolutionary language ends up being translated verbatim. Such ‘faithful’ translation is too tempting for journalists not to use — when it suits their purposes — even though some are well aware of the proper cultural context in which the hyperbolic statement was made.
“A good example is a speech to commemorate the centenary of the Communist Party of China by President Xi Jinping last year. Addressing the party, Xi was translated in the West as saying: ‘The Chinese people absolutely will not permit any foreign power to bully, oppress or enslave us. Those who vainly attempt to do so will bloody their own heads when they collide with a great wall of steel composed of the flesh and blood of over 1.4 billion Chinese people’ … By contrast, the official Chinese translation was effective and truer to the intended meaning…”
“While they were pressing their case, White House counsel Pat Cipollone learnt of the meeting. He bolted to the Oval Office with deputy counsel Eric Herschmann and staff secretary Derek Lyons. Over the ensuing hours, amid shouting and insults, the White House officials vehemently rejected allegations that the election was fraudulent. Cipollone shot down their claims with a simple question: ‘Where is the evidence?’ They had none, because there was none. He told the plotters: ‘At some point you have to put up, or shut up.’
“Trump heard every word. When the meeting ended after midnight, Trump was left alone. Then he pressed the button. At 1.42am he tweeted ‘Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!’ As multiple witnesses have testified, backed up by emails, text messages, and videos, this was the spark that summoned the mob.”
“A question that’s been lingering since those images came out — apart from the existential ones — is why the hell is it still named after James Webb? Webb was, among other things, the administrator of NASA during most of the 1960s, that golden era leading up to men setting foot on the moon. He was also (at best) complicit with what has come to be known as the ‘lavender scare’ — the purging of hundreds of LGBTIQA+ employees from government service.
“It started at the US Department of State around 1950, when Webb was the second in charge, and continued while he was at NASA. Some historians have sought to exonerate him, saying he wasn’t a “leader” of the policy — and perhaps the most depressing element would be trying to find a high-profile government official whose record is completely clean during a period where technically everyone was complicit with a policy of firing people based on suspicions of homosexuality.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
‘It’s just been hell’: life as the victim of a Jan. 6 conspiracy theory (The New York Times)
How to woo back the women’s vote — Peta Credlin (The Australian) ($): “The first thing to note is that the Liberal Party’s problem with women is not a function of some alleged lurch to the right. The party’s biggest recent share of the female vote was in 2013, to make Tony Abbott prime minister; three years later, under self-proclaimed ‘lifelong feminist’ Malcolm Turnbull, the party’s share of the female vote had dropped from 43 per cent to 38 per cent, and it has gone further downhill since …
“It’s not often said but needs saying: another part of the Liberal Party’s problem is that despite recent record numbers of women in ministerial positions, many of these senior women didn’t really make a mark. This arises from insufficient organisation at the grassroots level to get more capable candidates generally, but more capable women in particular, ready for party preselection. I would argue that the Liberal Party’s problems going into the recent election had far less to do with a relative lack of female candidates than with a lack of strong policies and strong candidates across the board. A dud is a dud regardless of gender.”
Melbourne has lost its status as Australia’s place to be. But there is hope — dressed in denim overalls — Anna Spargo-Ryan (Guardian Australia): “Until 2020, we had been steadily enticing newcomers with our strong job market and world-class universities. It wasn’t just that, though; Melbourne wooed out-of-towners with international festivals, quite good phone reception and way more late-night doughnut shops than anyone could ever need. Like other global cities, we offered a compelling hub for startups, tech bros and wellness bloggers, all within easy driving distance of snow, surf, wineries and other things that sound like a tourism brochure. I can sometimes be cynical about Melbourne, but almost everyone I went to school with in Adelaide has eventually moved here in search of a better — or at least more interesting — life.
“Those vibes faded under the threat of infection and fines. By the end of the year, we had earned a reputation as the country’s most policed city, ground to a halt by extreme disease-control measures, however well-founded they might have been. And while yes, we were recently named Australia’s most livable city, perhaps our trains are only running on time because no one is on them. The uncertainty is still hard to bear in Melbourne. Even as governments ignore health advice to reintroduce mask mandates, we all remember how quickly it can change. We now know a city of this size (+/- 30,000) can be shut down in an instant. And when the cost of living is this high, one lost shift can have serious repercussions. Maybe it will take the end of COVID, whatever that means, to see our population flourish once more. While we wait, there is a glimmer of hope.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)
Griffith Review contributing editor Teela Reid, Uluṟu Statement from the Heart architect Megan Davis, and historian Henry Reynolds will chat about how we can confront our colonial history and move forward, held at The Wheeler Centre.
Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)
NASA’s Pamela A Melroy and SA Deputy Premier Susan Close will discuss the future of Australia’s space industry at an event held at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
Muwinina Country (also known as Hobart)
Economist Angela Jackson explains how we can achieve gender equality in this lifetime, at the 2022 Giblin Lecture held at the Sir Stanley Burbury Lecture Theatre.
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Poet Pamela Asai will launch her second anthology, Uneven Verse, at Avid Reader bookshop. You can also catch this one online.