New laws proposed after Juukan destruction

A parliamentary inquiry into the demolition of Juukan Gorge has found legislation designed to protect cultural heritage has often “directly contributed to damage and destruction”.

What we know:

  • The inquiry’s final report into the destruction of the 46,000-year-old caves by Rio Tinto recommended that the Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians be made responsible for cultural heritage protection (NITV); 
  • The committee also recommended heritage legislation co-designed with Indigenous people set out minimum standards and, potentially, the right for traditional owners to veto the destruction of important sites;
  • It proposed that funding for native title bodies be boosted through money from mining companies and governments (AFR); 
  • WA Labor Senator Pat Dodson called for “a standalone piece of law” to bring in the changes, which should extend beyond protections for physical sites of significance to include more intangible aspects;
  • WA Liberal Senator Dean Smith and Nationals MP George Christensen rejected the need for stronger Commonwealth oversight, which they said could be used as “deliberate weapons against the resources sector”;
  • Instead they called for Rio Tinto executives to face a judicial inquiry and potential criminal charges.
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Berejiklian relationship a ‘conflict of interest’

A senior NSW public servant labelled Gladys Berejiklian’s secret relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire a “conflict of interest”, in the opening day of a corruption inquiry into the former premier.

NSW Office of Sport director Michael Toohey told the ICAC hearing of an “extremely unusual” request in 2016 to draft an urgent submission for a grant for the Australian Clay Target Association in Wagga Wagga (Canberra Times). 

Toohey said if he had known of the personal relationship between Berejiklian, who was treasurer at the time, and Maguire, he would have raised his concerns about funds being allocated to a local member “based on such scant and inadequate information”.

In an earlier interview, Berejiklian claimed she didn’t know Maguire had been engaged in corrupt conduct when she sacked him from his role as parliamentary secretary in July 2018 and that she was “in shock” (news.com.au). 

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Morrison pitches 2050 net zero plan

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told Liberal colleagues he will go ahead with a net zero by 2050 emissions plan that cannot be blocked by opponents in the Nationals party room.

What we know:

  • Morrison’s plan to decide the target by federal cabinet without legislation in parliament was supported in a Monday meeting of the Liberal party room (SMH); 
  • Morrison told the meeting Australia faced economic and geopolitical risks of being left behind as key allies moved to end fossil fuel use;
  • However, the PM told parliament the 2030 target would not be changed, despite Australia’s allies presenting much stronger targets;
  • The Liberals’ net zero plan allows for gas and resources ­exports to continue to grow and for “strong demand” for coal, according to confidential modelling (The Australian); 
  • A backended 2050 target allows for far more emissions than one paired with a strong 2030 target, and Australia’s plan relies heavily on controversial land use emissions (Tim In Climate).  
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Queensland to open for Christmas

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has guaranteed her state will be open to fully vaccinated people by Christmas regardless of outbreaks, prompting calls in WA for a similar plan.

Palaszczuk said it was “locked in” that fully vaccinated travellers will be allowed to enter Queensland without the need to quarantine from December 17 (Brisbane Times). 

The state is expected to hit an 80% vaccination rate by then, but Palaszczuk warned that borders would open regardless.

WA’s Liberal opposition has called on the McGowan government to follow Queensland’s lead and release a clear roadmap for reopening (ABC). 

Premier Mark McGowan has said he wants to reach a vaccination rate of 80-90% before deciding on a reopening date.

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Colin Powell dies of Covid-19

Colin Powell, the first black US secretary of state and top military officer, has died of Covid-19 complications at the age of 84.

The four-star general rose to national prominence overseeing the 1991 Gulf War, before going on to serve as secretary of state in the Bush administration (AP). 

Powell is best known for his role in instigating the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which he initially pushed back against.

Powell presented faulty intelligence to the UN Security Council that falsely claimed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had secretly stashed weapons of mass destruction, sparking a conflict that led to hundreds of thousands of deaths.

A moderate Republican, Powell broke from his party by endorsing Democratic candidate Barack Obama for president in 2008.

Powell was fully vaccinated against Covid-19, but had a compromised immune system having been treated for blood cancer.

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Seven West Media had an interest in receiving the report, because it was indemnifying the legal fees that Mr Roberts-Smith had been incurring for some time.

Lawyers for newspapers being sued by Ben Roberts-Smith say Channel 7 not only employed the former soldier and helped pay his legal fees — they also generously arranged for a journalist to secretly counter-investigate his alleged war crimes (The Guardian).

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Postscript: Vienna flaunts its assets on OnlyFans

Visitors to the tourist board’s page on the website (‘Are you daring enough to take a look at Vienna laid bare on OnlyFans?’) will find images of some of the most famous – and sexually explicit – works of art in the city’s museums, from Schiele’s contorted nudes at the Leopold Museum to “spicy masterpieces by Rubens and Titian” at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. You have to pay to subscribe – but dedicated ‘fans’ will also receive a Vienna City Card or an admission ticket to one of the featured museums (Apollo).

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