Morrison deflects climate duty

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has pushed back against the warnings of a new climate report to end investment in fossil fuels, instead ascribing blame to developing countries for emissions.

What we know:

  • In response to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, Morrison on Tuesday said, “We cannot ignore the fact that the developing world accounts for two thirds of global emissions and those emissions are rising” (Nine); 
  • Morrison defended the desire of developing countries to access fossil fuels, which Australia is a major exporter of, and repeated his slogan that technology rather than taxes would solve climate change;
  • The IPCC report warned that “every additional 0.5°C of global warming causes clearly discernible increases in the intensity and frequency of hot extremes, including heatwaves (very likely), and heavy precipitation (high confidence), as well as agricultural and ecological droughts” (Renew Economy); 
  • Australia Institute analysis found Australia is one of the worst in the OECD on climate action, with energy emissions continuing to rise; 
  • Climate campaigners said the IPCC report findings should prompt the Coalition and Labor to immediately end support for new fossil fuel projects such as the Beetaloo gas basin and Adani coalmine (The Guardian);
  • Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief David Ritter accused the Coalition of “sacrificing the future of our kids and our country” to protect “coal and gas corporations”;
  • Eight protesters were arrested for spray painting climate change slogans outside Morrison's Canberra residence and setting a pram on fire in front of Parliament House (SBS); 
  • The Nationals have launched an attempt to lift Australia’s ban on nuclear power, pushing for a reactor in regional Queensland (North Queensland Register). 
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Inquiry into car park rort

A Senate inquiry will investigate a $4.8bn urban congestion fund that largely funnelled money into marginal and Coalition-held seats.

The upper house on Tuesday agreed to a Greens motion for the inquiry (Nine).

It follows an auditor-general’s report that found a $660m car park fund went to projects handpicked by the Coalition government.

The inquiry will also examine whether the prime minister’s office was involved in determining which projects received funding.

Former infrastructure minister Alan Tudge denied knowledge of a top 20 marginal seats list used to allocate money to projects, which Morrison refused to answer questions on.

It comes as a regional Victorian tennis club denied funding pushed on Tuesday for the release of documents to shed light on Senator Bridget McKenzie’s role in the “sports rorts” program (The New Daily). 

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Chant rues late lockdown

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has told an inquiry into the Sydney Covid-19 crisis that “with the benefit of hindsight” it would have been better to lock down the city sooner.

Questioned by a NSW parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday, Chant said the government was not fully aware of the extent of the outbreak stemming from a “superspreader” party in West Hoxton when it decided to hold off from locking down (news.com.au). 

“It was thought that cluster had been identified very early but there were issues around containment of that that weren't appreciated,” she said.

Just over 30 people attended the party on June 19, before the eastern suburbs were subsequently locked down on June 25. 

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, who also fronted the inquiry, frequently jumped in to reply to questions that were directed at Chant. 

Hazzard complained about the inquiry asking for testimony while he and Chant were busy dealing with the outbreak, and described one question challenging Chant’s health advice as
“inappropriate”.

Chant disagreed, responding that “it is appropriate”.

The CHO was previously pressured by members of the NSW cabinet over restrictions, with Treasurer Dom Perrottet having pushed for a cut to Chant’s pay if lockdowns were imposed (The Saturday Paper). 

The hearing began just over an hour after Chant announced NSW’s worst-ever daily Covid-19 numbers, with 356 new local cases on Tuesday.

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Chronic gambler sues Crown

A problem gambler who asked to be banned from Melbourne’s Crown casino is suing the gaming giant for almost $4.6m.

Ahmed Hasna filed a suit in the Federal Court alleging Crown knew, or should have known, he had a gambling addiction (The Age). 

He says he gambled at the casino almost every second day between 1993 and 2019, sometimes for 26 hours straight.

Instead of encouraging him to gamble responsibly, Hasna says Crown enticed him back to the casino with gifts, dinners, holidays and free tickets to events.

Victoria’s royal commission into Crown heard how the casino invited him back to gamble on credit even after he lost $100,000 of chips bought with a cheque that later bounced.

Staff also ignored pleas from his mother to stop her son from gambling away “all of the family’s money”.

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Biden’s trillion dollar building fund

US President Joe Biden has secured the passage of a $1tn infrastructure bill in a rare instance of bipartisanship in Washington.

The Senate voted 69-30 for the package, with $550bn in new spending, following months of negotiations (NPR). 

It includes $110bn for the US’s crumbling roads and bridges, $73bn for power infrastructure, $25bn for airports, and $15bn for electric vehicles.

The 19 Republicans who voted for the bill did so despite pressure from former president Donald Trump, who called it “the beginning of the Green New Deal”.

Many of Biden’s priorities, including for climate resilience, schools, public housing and childcare centres, were cut from the plan, and will instead be included in a $3.5tn, Democrats-only budget reconciliation package proposal (Politico). 

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Hi Pastor Brian. I raised this issue with Gladys and Brad this morning and Brad has just issued an exemption to permit two singers in Greater Sydney … please get the word out.

Following a complaint by controversial Hillsong founder Brian Houston, NSW Liberal MP Tanya Davies in June successfully lobbied to allow singing in church during a Covid-19 outbreak. Just in case you were wondering if there was any harm in mixing politics with religion (ABC).

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Postscript: ‘This Is Going to Change the World’

The Segway did not change the world. It was not bigger than the PC. It ended up a joke, the province of mall cops ... The Segway flopped so badly that one of its first boosters still keeps his in the garage, “to remind me,” he said, “of my own fallibility”. The Segway also reminds me of my fallibility. To this day, thinking about it fills me with dread (Slate).

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Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.