Nationals back net-zero ‘process’

The Nationals have given in-principle backing for a net zero emissions target by 2050, but have refused to detail secret conditions attached to their support.

What we know:

  • Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce said most senators and MPs were now on board with the “process” of developing the target, following a two hour partyroom meeting on Sunday (ABC); 
  • The deputy prime minister added that the support would depend on submissions to go before federal cabinet;
  • Joyce said regional people were in a “vastly better” position after negotiations over the target, but refused to specify what commitment the Nationals had secured;
  • The deal will see Resources Minister Keith Pitt elevated to cabinet, bringing the Nationals cabinet numbers from four to five (The Conversation); 
  • Nationals Senator Matt Canavan remains opposed to net zero, but will not have the opportunity to cross the floor as there is no legislation to enforce the target (news.com.au); 
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison — who leaves Australia in three days for the Glasgow climate conference —  welcomed the Nationals’ in-principle support;
  • Experts dismiss Australia’s 2050 net zero target as insignificant if it is not accompanied by stronger 2030 targets, which Morrison has ruled out (The Saturday Paper); 
  • It comes as five young Australians lodge human rights complaints with the UN over the risk of climate harm from the Morrison government’s 2030 target (The Guardian). 
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Melbourne set for further freedoms

Victoria is again accelerating its easing of restrictions as vaccine uptake surges, while two new national ad campaigns aim to further promote the vaccination drive.

In Victoria:

  • Premier Daniel Andrews announced the state is on track to reach its 80% double vaccinated milestone for over-16s almost a week ahead of schedule on Friday, October 29 (7News); 
  • The milestone will trigger the return of statewide travel as Melbourne restrictions ease to match regional areas;
  • Andrews also unveiled plans to ease virtually all restrictions for vaccinated people once the state hits 90% coverage, forecast for November 24;
  • Capacity and density limits will be scrapped, and masks will only be required in high-risk indoor settings such as public transport;
  • Unvaccinated people will be excluded from many workplaces, venues and major events through to 2022 at least;

Nationally:

  • The federal government has unveiled two new ad campaigns — one targeting unvaccinated Australians generally, and the other aimed at Indigenous Australia (The New Daily); 
  • 73.1% of Australians aged 16 and over are fully vaccinated, while just 50% of Indigenous Australians have gotten both jabs;
  • Doherty modelling warns that even with a high vaccination rate, if contact tracing falters and other safeguards are abandoned, up to 4358 Covid patients could end up in ICU and 4108 could die over six months (The Saturday Paper). 
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Coalition losing ground to Labor

Labor has extended its two party preferred lead to 54-46 in the latest Newspoll, with Coalition support falling to its lowest level in three years.

Primary support for the Coalition dropped two points to 35%, while Labor support rose one point to 38% (The Australian). 

The Greens remained steady on 11%, while One Nation gained a percentage point to sit at 3%.

The poll also found a four point increase in voters who believe emissions reduction targets should be prioritised over lower energy bills, at 47% to 40% (The Poll Bludger). 

Stronger emissions reduction targets do not mean higher energy bills.

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Covid boss charged with border breach

The resources sector executive picked to lead Australia’s economic recovery out of the pandemic has been charged with breaching WA’s border restrictions.

Police allege Neville Power and a 36-year-old man failed to complete G2G passes after arriving on a private helicopter from Queensland (ABC). 

Power was the head of the National Covid-19 Commission Advisory Board and is the former chief of Fortescue Metals Group.

The two men left Queensland on September 8 and flew by helicopter to Exmouth, stopping to refuel in Carnarvon and Geraldton before arriving at Perth's Jandakot Airport on October 9.

The maximum penalty for failing to comply with a direction under WA’s Emergency Management Act is imprisonment for 12 months or a fine of $50,000.

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New rebates for prenatal tests

Australians undergoing IVF will soon be able to claim a Medicare rebate for tests to help prevent passing serious genetic disorders on to their child.

From November 1, Australians will be able to claim a rebate for five items covering new pre-implantation genetic testing services (SBS). 

The Morrison government is providing $95.9m to make the tests eligible for Medicare.

Genetic disorders to be tested include cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, spinal muscular atrophy, fragile X, neurofibromatosis and Huntington's disease.

Also newly eligible for a Medicare rebate are non-invasive laboratory tests for patients with chronic bowel inflammation.

It comes as the federal government adds Verzenio (abemaciclib) in combination with fulvestrant as a treatment to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme for Australians battling a form of breast cancer.

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There are hundreds of thousands of kids growing up in poverty who … will never have surplus income to be throwing into investment accounts.

Economist Alison Pennington addresses research showing an estimated 270,000 “kidvestors” under the age of 12 across Australia hold active share portfolios. Brace for some volatility in the stock market if traders stay up well past their bedtime (AAP).

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Postscript: Supermarkets using cardboard cutouts to hide gaps left by supply issues

UK supermarkets are using cardboard cutouts of fruit, vegetables and other groceries to fill gaps on shelves because supply problems combined with a shift towards smaller product ranges mean many stores are now too big. Tesco has begun using pictures of asparagus, carrots, oranges and grapes in its fresh produce aisles, prompting ridicule on social media. “Mmmm, delicious photos of asparagus,” one commenter wrote on Twitter (The Guardian).

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