A fortnight of hard campaigning from Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was almost unwound yesterday when a federal minister said that the national roadmap (reopening when 70-80% of people 16+ were vaccinated) was flexible.
The federal employment minister Stuart Robert told David Speers on ABC’s Insiders that “anything could change [this] week” and “there will always be continued modelling and further work”. He made the comments when asked about the country’s strained health system — a strain which will intensify if modelling is right and cases surge in the reopening, as news.com.au reports. To make his point, Robert explained to Speers that his planned Insiders show next week could change between now and then.
The federal opposition’s treasury spokesperson Jim Chalmers called it a “rambling, train wreck of an interview”, as Guardian Australia reports, and said Robert has “torpedoed” Morrison and Frydenberg’s efforts to unite the country’s leaders under the rigid plan, which Chalmers called dishonest and destructive anyway. Premiers have been dictating their own terms about the roadmap — Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk made waves after saying she wanted to see kids under 12 vaccinated before opening up her state (excluding NRL stars and their families, however, as ABC reported).
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MOVING IN FOR THE SPILL
As the “coup capital of the democratic world“, we’re no stranger to spills (we had five PMs in eight years after all). And Victorian Liberal leader Michael O’Brien is reportedly the latest to face a challenge — from former leader opposition leader Matthew Guy, as the Herald Sun ($) reports.
Guy’s camp have been unsuccessfully trying to convince O’Brien to step down for a while, but now will seek a vote of 31 Liberal MPs on the party leadership on Tuesday, the paper says. It goes on to cite a rather brutal (self-commissioned) poll that suggests one in five Victorian voters hasn’t even heard of O’Brien — ouch.
Guy has been reportedly eyeing a coup all year, as The Age reports, but was still reeling from an emphatic electoral defeat to Premier Dan Andrews in 2018. Incidentally, the possible challenge comes after research presented on Friday to the party said O’Brien was in a “solid” position to win in the November 2022 state election.
COAL HARD FACTS
We’ve got fewer than 10 years to dump coal, a top UN official says, otherwise Australia’s agriculture, tourism, housing, construction, property, and services sectors will be decimated, The Australian ($) reports. The UN Assistant Secretary-General and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Climate Action Selwin Hart made the comments in a pre-recorded speech for the ANU leadership forum today (Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is among the speakers).
In his speech, Hart says he recognises the role the coal and other fossil fuels have played in our economy to date. But, he says, Australia has little choice but to retrain our 40,000-strong workforce and phase the industry out. “If the world does not rapidly phase out coal, climate change will wreak havoc right across the Australian economy: from agriculture to tourism, and right across the services sector”, as SMH reports. It’s a similar situation, he says, for “construction, housing, and the property sector, in a country where the vast majority live on or near a coastline”.
It comes as a rather mouthy deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said on Friday that Australia would not revisit our unrevised targets because of what he called “straight-out bullying”, as Guardian Australia reports. “I can say and think what I like,” he said. Australia’s long-time emissions reduction target is 26-28% — well short of the global reduction of 45% needed to stop warming at 1.5 degrees.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
If someone asked you what Yale University’s most popular course of all time is, where does your mind go first? Something to do with World War II perhaps, or maybe extraterrestrials and the secrets of the cosmos? Or some Shakespeare, many of whose troupes still dominate storytelling? It’s actually much less grandiose than such topics, but just as important: happiness.
Yale’s “happiness professor” Laurie R. Santos ran the course Psychology and the Good Life to such success that she rose to international fame. Despite the enduring stasis of lockdowns, she says burnout has surged in the pandemic. Santos says it’s time to re-learn fun — to stop feeling guilty about the things we think we should be doing (like a strict fitness regime) or the things we think make us feel good (scrolling social media) and instead audit our memories to work out where and when we feel genuine playfulness and joy. Interestingly, Santos says, it’s easy to confuse fun with relaxation or even hedonism, but it’s neither — it’s “a state of playful connection to flow”.
She says the secrets of your fun can sometimes be found in childhood — she remembers goofy singalongs which made her realise her fun is connected to music. Santos says start by infusing fun in “microdoses” during your day — it could be as simple as switching some background music on. And if you feel like a boogie — so be it. “The irony is, if we put more fun into our lives then we wind up becoming more productive,” says Santos, “because fun makes you feel alive by definition, gives you a little bit more energy. It allows you to take a real break.”
Have some fun today, folks.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
People want Clive Palmer to send fewer texts and pay more tax … The Greens are putting Gerry, Gina, Twiggy, and Clive on notice.
In the case of a hung parliament, the Greens leader says he’d use the balance of power to force Labor into a 40% tax on the super-profits of big non-mining corporations and a project-based tax for mining companies. Why the split? It could be because this sort of tax has a torrid history in Australian politics. Former PM Kevin Rudd wanted to introduce a 40% tax on mining’s super-profits in 2010, a policy so contentious that he was switched out for former PM Julia Gillard.
The American Taliban have had a big win. What next in the fight for abortion rights?
Sep 03, 2021
“Now Texas women must brace for bounty hunters on the lookout for a payday. America has seen this system before. In 1850, Congress enacted the Fugitive Slave Act. It granted authority to private individuals to hunt escaped slaves, including in free states, and imposed penalties on anyone who aided an escapee. Nicknamed the ‘Bloodhound Bill’, it was a provocation that helped spark the Civil War.
“Other states are expected to follow Texas’ blueprint posthaste. The effect will be to intimidate women out of exercising their constitutional rights. Rights that cannot be used are no rights at all. Soon women in large tracts of America will be living their own Handmaid’s Tale nightmare. Women as incubators, forced to give birth, will be a dark reality. The men involved face no sanction.”
We are living in two countries — and only one can be right
Sep 03, 2021
“You might notice — though no thanks to political journalists — that Scott Morrison isn’t promising to reopen borders even after the 80% target has been reached. There’s always been a strange double standard about reporting of state border closures without mentioning Scott Morrison has a much harder border closure round the whole country …
“This seemed to pass most of the press gallery by as it continued to push the Canberra perspective ahead of that of outlying states. Perhaps journalists really are trapped in a Canberra bubble. Perhaps they don’t understand the very different political dynamics of lockdowns and border closures. Perhaps they’re too focused on maintaining their inside access to the government to question what they’re told.”
Election primer (early version): the states and seats to watch
Sep 03, 2021
“Notably, the government’s sniping about closed borders isn’t directed at Liberal states like South Australia and Tasmania. But even in those states, current swings would deliver Labor three seats all up (Boothby in SA, along with Braddon and Bass in Tasmania).
“This is, of course, an absolute best-case scenario for Labor. Individual seats often buck state- and nation-wide swings. Well-known ministers like Dutton, Frydenberg and Hunt could easily hang on thanks to name recognition. Labor could blow it like last time. And Morrison has the immense strategic advantage of being able to call the election at the most politically convenient time between now and May. No wonder he’s already talking about better days ahead.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
No retreat in face of China threat: Josh Frydenberg (The Australian) ($)
New Zealand tried for years to deport Auckland knife attacker (Al Jazeera)
‘Fairytale ending’: Ellie Cole to carry Australian flag at Paralympics closing ceremony (SBS)
Afghanistan: Taliban accused of killing pregnant police officer (BBC)
The future of travel? Flights begin to Singapore for the vaccinated only (The SMH)
Crypto’s rapid move into banking elicits alarm in Washington (The New York Times)
Fears of violence on Brazil’s streets as millions rally to back Bolsonaro (The Guardian)
Guinea in turmoil as soldiers claim they have taken over (Al Jazeera)
Making the (conservative) case for vaccine passports (Quillette)
Crisis looms as key Southwest river dries up (CNN)
Montenegro clashes as Serb Orthodox Church leader installed (BBC)
Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty stunned at US Open (CNN)
A father-daughter trip on a cruise for gay men (The New Yorker)
We need to talk about death so we can live with COVID-19 — Rodney Allan (The SMH): “COVID-19 needs to be thought of as endemic, and not as a pandemic. It is very likely COVID-19 will lead to a significant increase in deaths — it is not the flu or a common cold. It might be there is a 10% or even 20% increase in the number of deaths per year. Of note, however, is that we had only 37 deaths from influenza last year and none this year, so the outcome may eventually be even. Are we prepared to accept a trade-off in death from different causes? It would be a significant tragedy if young people who have curable diseases such as cancer or even mental illness succumb to these in years to come because of lockdowns and COVID-19 …
“In our society we do not talk about every death as a tragedy. Our politicians do not talk about the 25-year-old who died from a ruptured aneurysm two weeks ago under my care. I am not suggesting they should, but equally we must stop talking about every death from COVID-19. I call on our political and health leaders to start talking rationally about how we can survive with COVID-19 rather than trying to eliminate a disease which cannot be eliminated.
Morrison forces women to keep playing ‘whack a mole’ — Kristine Ziwica (The Age): “Is this what women marched for? Is this what the countless expert advocates, women’s organisations and victims imagined, when they spent weeks preparing all those submissions and attending all those consultations for the Respect@Work inquiry into sexual harassment?
“Surely not. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins made 55 recommendations after that inquiry to make workplaces safer for women. But last week, the Morrison government ensured that only six of those recommendations made their way into law and scuppered attempts by Labor and the Greens to implement the centrepiece of Jenkins’ report — a positive duty on employers to prevent sexual harassment from happening in the first place.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
It’s day one of the National Summit on Women’s Safety, with speakers including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner June Oscar, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins, Australian of the Year Grace Tame, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
NSW Digital and Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello will speak about building trust in technology via webinar with Edelman’s Natasha Brack, Salesforce’s Gisele Kapterian and Google’s Lucinda Longcroft.
ABC Coronacast’s Tegan Taylor will be in conversation with author Lucia Osborne-Crowley discussing the latter’s book, My Body Keeps Your Secrets.
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Head of Structural Policy Analysis at the OECD, Dan Andrews, will speak about firm productivity and employment during the pandemic at a seminar hosted by QUT.
Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)
Curtin Fuels and Energy Technology Institute’s Craig Buckley, and WA Minister for Regional Development Alannah MacTiernan will discuss the pitfalls and benefits of hydrogen in our energy mix.