HOME AND AWAY
The number of New Zealanders living in Australia who have had their visas cancelled on character grounds — including criminal behaviour — has halved under the Albanese government, the Herald Sun ($) reports. The paper FOI’d documents that showed 129 New Zealanders were booted from the country in the 2022-23 financial year — which, one notes, is only nine and a half months through, but anyway. Compare that with 244 New Zealanders told to leave in 2021-22. Pearl-clutching opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan says it’s a sign “Labor [is] going soft on criminals, sex offenders and drug traffickers”. But former NZ PM Jacinda Ardern repeatedly (2019, 2020, 2021) slammed former PM Scott Morrison for deporting criminals who in many cases have lived, worked and raised families in Australia nearly their entire life.
Speaking of who gets to live where — NIMBY and YIMBY residents and politicians are coming to loggerheads over new apartments in Sydney’s inner west, the SMH ($) reports. NIMBY is an acronym for not in my back yard, and YIMBY is an acronym for yes, in my backyard. Inner West Council wants to rezone blocks near the light-rail station to meet the council’s housing targets. Leichhardt resident Kieran Ash (who worked on Labor candidate Philippa Scott’s Balmain campaign) spoke in favour of it, and angry audience members heckled him whether he represented a developer. He was told to sit down. Drama, drama, drama. Meanwhile, a Sydney investor who bought in March would be $207 a week worse off than if they had bought three years ago, Domain reports, as interest rate increases exceed rent growth.
WARRING, WARREN AND WARREN
Independent Senator Lidia Thorpe says Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying she should “get some help” is part of a “racist and misogynistic narrative” that is used to silence First Nations peoples, The Australian ($) reports. Albanese made the eyebrow-raising assessment on radio, calling Thorpe’s 3am argument not fit for a politician or even a regular person. But Thorpe said she was “harassed by racists”, and “stood up for myself”, adding it’s not like anyone was hurt. So why wasn’t the media story about a senator being accosted? “This is the racism Blak people deal with every day in this colony,” she said. One might speculate it’s quite the juxtaposition, Albanese campaigning for an Indigenous Voice and then smearing Thorpe for using hers to defend herself. Meanwhile, Indigenous organisation the Central Land Council’s 2IC Warren Williams said opposition Indigenous Affairs spokesperson Jacinta Nampijinpa Price “needs to stop pretending we are her people”, SBS reports, with him calling her people the “non-Aboriginal conservatives and the Canberra elite to which she wants to belong”.
An interesting story in the CBD column: leading No campaigner Warren Mundine, who has warned the Voice to Parliament could result in High Court challenges, is a director of a class action “bankroller” that received $6.5 million from a Stolen Generations settlement, the SMH ($) says. Litigation Lending Services (LLS) forks out the upfront legal costs, and then gets a commission from the court-ordered compensation. The paper is not saying there’s anything dodgy about that — it’s perfectly legal — but perhaps a little contradictory? Mundine called it a fair question, but said he thinks legal action righting past wrongs and legal action affecting future policy is totally different.
The emissions spewing out of a WA gas project that has the world’s largest industrial carbon capture system have surged by more than 50%, Guardian Australia reports. The amount of CO2 stored underground at Chevron’s Gorgon gas plant has fallen sharply in the past few years, its own data shows, even though the project was only greenlit because it said it’d store 4 million tonnes of CO2 a year. It hasn’t. Last financial year, it stored 1.6 million tonnes, down from 2.2 million tonnes in 2020-21 and 2.7 million in 2019-20. Meanwhile, record LNG exports and soaring commodity prices will see the oil and gas industry triple money paid to government: some $16.2 billion in taxes, excise and royalties, The Australian ($) reports. And all we had to give in return was the health of our earth and wads of cash for our soaring energy bills.
Meanwhile the International Energy Agency (IEA) has named and shamed Australia for not having a proper plan to ditch coal and decarbonise the power sector, the AFR ($) reports. The IEA says we should get a groove on with our renewable energy zones (they’re transmission hubs that connect new wind and solar farms) and speed up our grid approvals. Gas giants cheered when the IEA added we should make the price caps on domestic gas temporary. It comes as former ACCC chair Rod Sims writes for Guardian Australia that we will be rich as hell as a nation if we capitalise on our world-leading wind, solar energy and mineral resources — green hydrogen for ammonia and iron metal, as well as copper, graphite, lithium, the list goes on. It’s not just about saving the planet, Sims says, but cashing in while we do so.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Margaret Clougher recently lost her licence. Not from any hooligan street-racing, Fast-and-the-Furious-type behaviour, however — she’s 93, and the time just came. A crestfallen Clougher could think of only one thing: her beloved swimming. She’s a regular at the Hobart Dolphins swim club, but she told the president she wouldn’t be there every week any more because she’d have to come by taxi. The president wouldn’t hear it, immediately assembling a roster of people to drive her to the pool each week and pop her home afterwards. “The ethos of our club is friendship,” vice-president Annaliese Cousins told the ABC. Plus, Clougher is our “inspiration”, Cousins says: “She’s exactly where we all want to be when we’re her age.”
But Clougher’s swimming is serious stuff. She’s the oldest Tasmanian taking part in the Masters Swimming National Championships — on Saturday, she’s battling it out against nine other nonagenarians in the 90-94 age bracket in the 50-metre freestyle. Clougher’s swimming began as a kid in the creek which led to her competing for more than three decades in the pool. These days, Clougher relishes a cleansing morning dip in the ocean each day, and she’s got no plans to retire her aquatic habits. Next year, she’ll be bumped up to the 95-100 category, where she’s pleased she’ll be “young in my age group”. Swimming, Clougher adds wryly, is the “only sport where you look forward to your birthday”.
Wishing you the pep-in-your-step of Margaret Clougher today, and a restful weekend.
I’ve experienced politics being a kind of boys’ club and sometimes it literally is one. This is revealing about how power is really wielded in this country.
The Victorian Greens leader is unsurprised she didn’t make the powerful and influential invite list to trucking billionaire Lindsay Fox’s lavish birthday bash — even though her party holds the balance of power in the state’s upper house. Indeed not a single woman was in attendance at the party, though Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, TV personality Eddie McGuire, Westpac chair John McFarlane, and golfer Greg Norman all were.
“Given this, the media are unlikely to lift their game soon by giving space for ‘policy contestability’, by scrutinising political links to defence contracts, by getting to the bottom of what drove Wong to modify her tone on our foreign policy regarding China.
“Or by asking whether there is a conflict of interest in Professor Peter Dean’s co-writing the Strategic Defence Review since he, as a director at the US Studies Centre, concurrently leads two US State Department-funded public diplomacy programs on the US-Australia Alliance.”
“On the eve of a top-level meeting in Washington to seal the $368 billion AUKUS deal, Defence Minister Richard Marles took time out for a game of golf … The venue was the Baltusrol Golf Club in New Jersey — a fabulous championship course commonly ranked second only to Augusta National, the site of the US Masters.
“For a golf devotee like Labor’s Marles, the experience was priceless. (Marles is a member of the exclusive Royal Melbourne Golf Club, regarded as Australia’s finest and among the top five in the world.) But there is one key unanswered question: who paid for the minister’s round?”
“Australians in target states will be shown television advertisements opposing the Indigenous Voice to Parliament this week as the No campaign spends tens of thousands of dollars experimenting with different messages.
“Recognise a Better Way president Warren Mundine spoke to Crikey about the campaign’s early fundraising and advertising efforts following reporting of an advertising blitz from both his organisation and fellow No campaign Fair Australia.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Our way of life is poisoning us — Mark O’Connell (The New York Times) ($): “There is plastic in our bodies; it’s in our lungs and our bowels and in the blood that pulses through us. We can’t see it, and we can’t feel it, but it is there. It is there in the water we drink and the food we eat, and even in the air that we breathe. We don’t know, yet, what it’s doing to us, because we have only quite recently become aware of its presence; but since we have learnt of it, it has become a source of profound and multifarious cultural anxiety.
“Maybe it’s nothing; maybe it’s fine. Maybe this jumble of fragments — bits of water bottles, tires, polystyrene packaging, microbeads from cosmetics — is washing through us and causing no particular harm. But even if that were true, there would still remain the psychological impact of the knowledge that there is plastic in our flesh. This knowledge registers, in some vague way, as apocalyptic; it has the feel of a backhanded divine vengeance, sly and poetically appropriate. Maybe this has been our fate all along, to achieve final communion with our own garbage.”
The first Scots College kid who tried to shame me turned out to be gay himself — Hamish Macdonald (The SMH) ($): “I have always refrained from speaking publicly in any detail about my experiences at The Scots College, in part because I hold a range of memories both good and bad from that time. I am grateful for the solid education I received, and also because I have always hoped and believed that institutions, like society, can evolve and modernise. Sadly, this situation makes it difficult to remain silent about the school’s much mythologised ‘ethos’ and ‘Christian tradition’ and what those cryptic descriptions mean for people like me.
“I have spent the two decades or so since leaving high school reckoning with the verbal, psychological and sometimes physical torment meted out in the halls of this respected institution. I was 450 kilometres away from my parents and the safety of home. I was confused and occasionally petrified. Being schooled in an environment where being gay is considered thoroughly wrong, weak and sinful is that one is left with a deep sense of shame, that can take a lifetime to shake. The first kid who labelled me a ‘poofter’ turned out to be gay himself. And to my deep regret, I too occasionally joined in the taunting of other students suspected of being gay. Such is the strength of one’s desire to fit in and be accepted.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)
Climate Minister Chris Bowen; SA Premier Peter Malinauskas; SA Minister for Climate, Environment and Water Susan Close; and SA Minister for Consumer and Business Affairs Andrea Michaels are among speakers at the SA Industry Climate Change Conference at the Adelaide Convention Centre.
Yuggera and Turrbal Country (also known as Brisbane)
Author Kate Scott will talk about her new book, Compulsion, at Avid Reader bookshop.