editorial August 1, 2020

The turning point

It is difficult to better Tom Calma’s original formulation. In 2005, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social justice commissioner, he said this: “It is not credible to suggest that one of the wealthiest nations in the world cannot solve a health crisis affecting less than 3 per cent of its citizens.” Calma was pushing for targets to Close the Gap. Three years later, he would have them. Fifteen years later, none of the targets would be met. This is not credible. It cannot be.

editorial July 25, 2020

A hostile environment

When the government tapped businessman Graeme Samuel to undertake a year-long review of the nation’s foremost environmental law, it may not have foreseen such a candid appraisal. The task set for the former Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman was clear: “tackle green tape and deliver greater certainty to business groups, farmers and environmental organisations”, in that order. But Samuel’s interim review, released this week, is scathing. The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, he found, is not fit for purpose.

editorial July 18, 2020

Sharing the pain

Scott Morrison is right. Until there is a vaccine, we will have to learn to live with this virus. The human toll of pursuing herd immunity is not one the country is willing to bear. Victoria’s second wave, meanwhile, shows how the risk posed by the rest of the world can quickly become reality. For Australia, this risk can never be entirely shut out; Scott Morrison is right when he says this. The choice then is not whether we live with the virus, but how we choose to do so. And if suppression is the only viable option, its costs must be borne equally.

editorial July 11, 2020

A second chance

Re-entering lockdown, Victoria has an opportunity to correct the errors and overreach that marked its first failed attempt to contain Covid-19. The state was unlucky, no doubt, but its leaders were also unwilling to countenance any criticism. There was little patience for communities confused by mixed messaging, or the concerns of those who saw a law-and-order response when they hoped for one led by public health. Vital information was not shared in languages other than English until far too late, while Victoria Police issued fines in far higher numbers than any other state. It is not hard to imagine there was a relationship between the two.

editorial July 4, 2020

Of public interest

The facts of the case are unfathomable, when you lay them out: the real prospect a journalist could be charged for reporting on credible allegations of war crimes committed by Australian troops. But this is where things now stand, with the Australian Federal Police sending a brief of evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, detailing a case against ABC journalist Dan Oakes for his reporting on the “Afghan Files”.

editorial June 26, 2020

Fighting words

“This is a genuine offer,” Anthony Albanese said of his plea to Scott Morrison to join him in ending Australia’s energy wars once and for all. But it’s hard to call it a truce when one side concedes nothing. There’s another word for that kind of deal.

editorial June 20, 2020

No hope of help

In politics, some things are accidental. Some only start that way. Perhaps when they began designing JobKeeper, the government couldn’t remember what casual work entailed. Perhaps they simply forgot there were migrants here on temporary visas. It is only a million or so people between the two groups.

editorial June 13, 2020

History matters

It could be made no clearer that Australia needs a formal process of truth-telling than when the prime minister says “there was no slavery” in this country. Is it possible that he does not know? Could he truly be ignorant to the legacy of blackbirding, to the fact that Aboriginal people were forced into indentured servitude well into the 20th century? If we respect our history, it is time to tell the truth. But respect for history involves knowing what happened.

editorial June 6, 2020

Eight minutes in America

It’s my face, man.
I didn’t do anything serious, man.
Please, I can’t breathe.

editorial May 30, 2020

Reform agenda

First there was the ceasefire, ushered in by the pandemic. Now, Scott Morrison says, is the time for unions and the government to lay down their weapons and come to the table to negotiate the terms of the peace. As a show of good faith the prime minister has put away the stick – shelving the Ensuring Integrity Bill, for the time being. What’s being offered as a carrot is less clear.

editorial May 23, 2020

Losing our way

“This is all about balance,” Angus Taylor says of his long-awaited technology investment road map. In reality, it is all about delay, and distraction. After nine months of work, surveying 140 technologies, the road map has managed to tell us what was already known: that solar and wind, both of which produce zero emissions, are the cheapest forms of energy. But Australia will not be taking these findings and quickly decarbonising our grid with renewables.