The emission at hand

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The emission at hand

SEEING GREEN

The Albanese government will rewrite the climate bill to ensure 43% reduction in emissions is a floor — not a ceiling — to win over the Greens, SMH reports. It comes as the 47th Parliament opens today for the first time since the May 21 election and both houses will sit for two weeks. Climate Minister Chris Bowen said the message is clear: 43% is the minimum commitment and will get higher in the coming years, The Australian ($) continues. Greens leader Adam Bandt was happy with the concession (the Greens want to slash emissions by 75%), and said he’d work on getting a ban on new gas or coal projects next. It comes as the government’s approval for a mine expansion in Tasmania has been ruled invalid by the Federal Court because impacts on a rare owl weren’t properly considered, The New Daily reports. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese hasn’t been receptive to a blanket fossil fuel project ban so far, but  yesterday he acknowledged climate change was a national security issue, as Sky News reports.

The 43% reduction in emissions bill will go before the Senate in September — and it needs the Greens and a crossbencher to pass. So what’s in the bill? It will give the Climate Change Authority the power to advise on emissions and to craft a 2035 objective under the Paris Agreement, it will compel Bowen to report annually to Parliament on our progress, and it will drive decision-making in key government bodies such as Infrastructure Australia, Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, Export Finance Australia, The Oz ($) continues.

What else will we see today? A total of 18 bills, Crikey reports, with climate change, cost of living, aged care, and “a constant reminder of the government’s $1 trillion  debt” on the legislative agenda this week. How does it compare with former PM Scott Morrison’s first week in 2019? Undoing medevac, barring animal activists from farms, tax relief, broad new power for ASIO, anti-terrorism legislation and stricter rules for re-entry to Australia were the dominant items that week. Oh, how times have changed.

SOARING ADMISSIONS

Hospitalisations for COVID in Australia have never been this high, Guardian Australia reports, with 5429 people receiving care at the moment. That’s 39 more than at the height of January’s outbreak. But the number of people in intensive care right now (161) is a little over a third of what it was in January (420). NSW has the lion’s share of COVID patients in hospital at 2300, but the ACT (162) and Tasmania (183) have large chunks — too considering their population sizes. The numbers are “massive”, the Australian Medical Association says — most public hospitals have just 600-700 beds, so that’s the equivalent of eight major hospitals full. Indeed Australia’s COVID-19 cases and death rates were the third highest in the world per capita during the past week, ABC reports. More than 12,625 Australians have died with COVID, and 95% of reported cases have been reported this year.

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Speaking of clinical issues, ABC’s Four Corners has a rather chilling story this morning about a woman who participated in a traumatic MDMA clinical trial while seeking treatment for PTSD after surviving sexual assault. The final trial data found 67% of the 107 participants no longer had PTSD two months after they were treated with a combination of MDMA and therapy, but Meaghan Buisson was not one of them. Now she wants others to be aware of the risks of treating using “a drug like MDMA, that may have healing properties, but it can also be intensely traumatic”, she says. “It can actually make things worse.” Worth the read.

CALLS TO EXTEND NT ALCOHOL BAN

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney will meet with Northern Territory Chief Minister Natasha Fyles over the latter’s decision not to extend an alcohol ban that covers 400 Indigenous communities affecting 7000 people, The Australian ($) reports. The ban was introduced by the Howard government in 2007, and a coalition of Indigenous organisations, welfare and justice groups and the police union all slammed the NT government’s refusal to continue the restrictions. But Fyles and her Indigenous Attorney-General Chansey Paech both say the policy is “raced-based” and targets Indigenous Territorians with “with little or no engagement [or] consultation”.

Meanwhile WA Premier Mark McGowan has defended the use of shackles when 17 mostly Indigenous children were moved from Perth’s Banksia Hill detention centre to Casuarina maximum-security prison, WA Today reports. The family of the boys — who were as young as 14 — say they were chained by their hands and feet while being put on the bus. McGowan said authorities had no choice because the boys had “extreme” behaviour. Banksia Hill is undergoing repairs. In April, the independent inspector of custodial services found boys at the facility were spending one hour outside their cells a day. About 600 detainees are part of a class action over allegations of inhumane treatment, the paper adds.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Aussie guys Gary Bell, David Tymms and Tim Rowlinson are preparing to go where no one has gone before. The trio will paramotor from Western Australia across to the east coast to smash the world record. A paramotor is a powered paraglider, and the guys use a harness and an engine to fly. They go pretty fast — up to 60km/h — so the trip should take two months. The expedition is made more special by the fact that Tymms is a paraplegic — he told the ABC all the barriers of life drop away when he’s flying.

The expedition is also special for Bell, who survived a brain tumour nine years ago. “Everybody thought I was going to die … and I lived, and I learnt to fly these things … Now I’m living an exceptional life,” he said. He said too many people keep their “dreams in the shed”.

It will be an extraordinary adventure for the guys, who are raising money for men’s mental health and well-being charity Grab Life By The Balls, but they’re not looking for accolades. “People just see us and think we’re an inspiration for what we do,” Rowlinson says. “We’re just three regular blokes, just living life.”

Wishing you a little adventure in your Tuesday too.

SAY WHAT?

Ninety-five per cent of reported cases have been reported this year, 2022. In the past seven days, Australia has ranked number three in cases per million population. We [also] ranked number three for deaths per capita, so much higher than the US, UK, France, Germany.

Mike Toole

The epidemiologist from the Burnet Institute laid out the grim reality of the government’s let-it-rip approach, saying Australia is in the worst phase of the entire pandemic right now.

Disproving 9 myths about Russia’s economy shows it’s built on quicksand

“First, the Kremlin’s economic releases are becoming increasingly cherry-picked — partial and incomplete, selectively tossing out unfavourable metrics. The Russian government has progressively withheld an increasing number of key statistics that, prior to the war, were updated on a monthly basis, including all foreign trade data.

“Among these are statistics relating to exports and imports, particularly with Europe; oil and gas monthly output data; commodity export quantities; capital inflows and outflows; financial statements of major companies, which used to be released on a mandatory basis by companies themselves; central bank monetary base data; foreign direct investment data; lending and loan origination data; and other data related to the availability of credit. Even Rosaviatsiya, the federal air transport agency, abruptly ceased publishing data on airline and airport passenger volumes.”

Buy Aussie: Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest eyes off yet more Australian icons

“The Bega Cheese investment seems a little different to other private investments that have more than a touch of quintessential ‘Australianness’ about them. In 2017 Forrest saved the Western Force rugby team from collapse when it was axed by Rugby Australia, and he’s also the owner of Indiana Teahouse in Cottesloe, WA. On top of this, Forrest and his wife also spent $42 million on Lizard Island, a little patch of paradise on that iconic Australian landmark and UNESCO world heritage site, the Great Barrier Reef.

“Adding to his portfolio of iconic Australian imagery, the mining magnate has a history of snapping up outback cattle stations through his agribusiness Harvest Road. Earlier this year he bought the Springvale Aggregation in the East Kimberley for approximately $70 million. The stations cover more than 600,000 hectares with 35,000 head of cattle, adding to his already incredibly extensive property portfolio.”

No matter who wins Hunted, Channel 10’s new surveillance game, we all lose

“We all have something to fear from increased surveillance, regardless if we have something to hide, and what is considered to be the ‘wrong’ side of the law is determined by those in power. We need only look to the criminalisation of protest across Australia, or the fall of Roe v Wade in the US, to consider the arbitrary nature of criminality. By design, surveillance is about control, and a real ‘big privacy advocate’ wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss how much it’s creeping into every aspect of our lives, nor the merit of practising good digital security.

“This incongruity is reflected in the show itself, which simultaneously glorifies law enforcement’s use of digital surveillance while also portraying it as a harmless, playful game. From the outset, the show frames the hunters’ techniques as similar to those used to apprehend terrorists, priming us to accept the justification for such invasive measures and to assume that we would never become real-life targets.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Pope Francis apologizes for forced assimilation of Indigenous children at residential schools (CBC)

Sixth teenager charged in Central Park jogger case to be exonerated (The New York Times)

International condemnation after Myanmar executes activists (Al Jazeera)

Disney VIP world tour will produce 6.2 tonnes of carbon for each guest (The Guardian)

NRL: Seven Manly Sea Eagles players to stand down over club’s pride jersey (NZ Herald)

Canadian police say multiple homeless people shot in Vancouver suburb (The Guardian)

Japan’s police to take measures after wild monkey rampages (BBC)

David Warner, who played villains in ‘Titanic’ and ‘Tron,’ dies at 80 (CNN)

THE COMMENTARIAT

ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle’s court case a ‘Shakespearean tragedy’ — Adele Ferguson (The AFR): “The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions versus Richard Boyle is being billed as the most significant test of public service whistleblower protection laws since they came into force almost a decade ago. It is the first time a provision under the federal whistleblowing law, the Public Interest Disclosure Act, will be tested in a criminal case. The first part of the case was due to begin on Monday, with Boyle using the defence that his whistleblowing was consistent with public interest disclosure laws, and he should therefore not be subject to criminal prosecution. However, on Friday evening Kieran Pender, a senior lawyer with the Human Rights Law Centre, tweeted that the case had been delayed 24 hours ‘to give the parties time to prepare argument about nature of jurisdiction and burden of proof in relation to the PID Act defence.’

“If Boyle loses this first part, part two of the case will commence before a jury in October, with the spectre of decades in jail if he loses that. Against this backdrop, the Human Rights Law Centre, independent politician Andrew Wilkie, Greens senator David Shoebridge, Ken Phillips from Self Employed Australia and others, including former senator Rex Patrick, are calling on Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to intervene and dismiss the case, as he did with lawyer Bernard Collaery, who was charged with conspiring to release protected information about an alleged spying operation in East Timor. Shoebridge said Dreyfus recognised whistleblower protections needed renovating, but their inadequacy had left Boyle without protection.”

We can’t afford not to prosecute Trump — Charles M Blow (The New York Times): “He has learned from his failures and is now more dangerous than ever. He has learned that the political system is incapable of holding him accountable. He can try to extort a foreign nation for political gain and not be removed from office. He can attempt a coup and not be removed from office. He has learned that many of his supporters have almost complete contempt for women. It doesn’t matter how many women accuse you of sexual misconduct; your base, including some of your female supporters, will brush it away. You can even be caught on tape boasting about sexually assaulting women, and your followers will discount it.

“He has learned that the presidency is the greatest grift of his life. For decades, he has sold gilded glamour to suckers — hawking hotels and golf courses, steaks and vodka — but with the presidency, he needed to sell them only lies that affirmed their white nationalism and justified their white fragility, and they would happily give him millions of dollars. Why erect a building when you could simply erect a myth? Trump will never willingly walk away from this. Now with the investigation into his involvement in the insurrection and his attempts to steal the election, he is learning once again from his failures. He is learning that his loyalty tests have to be even more severe. He is learning that his attempts to grab power must come at the beginning of his presidency, not the end. He is learning that it is possible to break the political system.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Online

  • Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy and Essential Media’s Pete Lewis will unpack the fortnight’s political news in a webinar for The Australia Institute.

  • HMRI’s Peter Wark will speak about the ongoing impacts of COVID in a webinar.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Former National Security Agency director Mike Rogers will discuss the global security environment in cyber and real spaces in an event held by CEDA.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Scholar Joseph Torigian will discuss Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s early years, rise to power, worldview, and agenda in a Lowy Institute event.

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