Concerns over net-zero modelling

The Morrison government will reveal more details on its net zero plan today, which includes environmentally damaging concessions to the Nationals and a consultant’s inflated costings of climate action.

The net zero by 2050 plan:

  • Is based on modelling being “verified” by Brian Fisher, a consultant whose over-inflated cost analysis of Labor’s climate targets was used by the Coalition in the 2019 federal election campaign (Renew Economy); 
  • Will be subject to five-year reviews by the Productivity Commission to assess the economic impacts of the target (The Australian); 
  • Includes a guarantee that no action will be taken in pursuing a US-style methane target, despite methane’s significant role in fuelling global warming;
  • Was secured in exchange for the elevation of climate sceptic Keith Pitt to cabinet, along with commitments to fund the Inland Rail project, which is key to unlocking numerous coal projects;
  • Could see changes to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to cut “green tape” for farmers and miners (SMH); 
  • Is backed by policies on fuel standards, electric vehicles, and the use of hydrogen, to be detailed today;
  • Will deliver favourable tax treatment for carbon farming income (AFR);
  • Comes as climate scientists warn that the upcoming UN climate summit is unlikely to keep global warming to 1.5C, unless half of the emission cuts needed to reach net zero by 2050 are made by 2030 (SBS). 
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Social media sites on notice

Two new proposed laws would require social media firms to seek parental consent for minors to join, and be liable for defamatory content posted on their platforms.

What we know:

  • Under the Morrison government legislation, social media platforms could face fines of up to $10m if users younger than 16 were able to join without parental consent (AP); 
  • The platforms would also be required to take all reasonable steps to verify their users’ ages, and give primary consideration to the best interests of children when handling their personal information;
  • Nationals MP Dr Anne Webster separately introduced a private members bill that would allow the eSafety Commissioner to issue “defamation notices” to social media giants such as Facebook (InnovationAus); 
  • Late last year Webster shared a $875,000 defamation payout in relation to baseless Facebook posts linking her to a conspiracy theory;
  • It comes as a consortium of US news outlets release a fresh wave of internal Facebook documents, including evidence the company had conducted research confirming that the platform’s design fuelled hate speech and failed to act (Engadget). 
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Ugly truth at cosmetic clinics

An investigation of clinics run by Australia’s biggest celebrity cosmetic surgeon has uncovered serious safety breaches and botched procedures that left patients in extreme pain.

The allegations made against Dr Daniel Lanzer, a celebrity doctor who boasts millions of followers on Instagram and TikTok, were described as “dangerous” and “staggering” by other plastic surgeons (ABC). 

The claims include that employees were told to take home human fat – which was sometimes stored in kitchen fridges – in plastic shopping bags ahead of regulator audits and then to bring it back (The Age).

Video obtained by Four Corners shows staff and contractors dancing and singing while performing liposuction procedures, and images of equipment stored in unhygienic conditions.

Patients reported serious cellulitis infections and botched tummy tucks that required corrective surgery.

In leaked audio Lanzer instructs staff to “never tell a patient you haven't got gowns, gloves, this that, no! You say, 'this is how we do it' … You do not own up to nothing! Zero! … never, ever, ever, ever own up to anything.”

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Car park ‘to-do list’ disclosed

Coalition minister Alan Tudge had his staff organise meetings on nine marginal seats as early as September 2018, officials appearing before a Senate estimates hearing on car park rorts have revealed.

A probe into the fund by the Australian National Audit Office found the allocation of projects for the $660m car park fund to be “not demonstrably merit-based” (news.com.au). 

Tudge, who was the minister responsible, asked his staff to organise meetings on the marginal seats from which a “to-do list” was developed, according to ANAO executive director Brian Boyd.

“This isn't us, interpreting between the lines ... the tracking sheet was always organised by electorate,” said Boyd.

The tracking sheet was a Word document that listed 29 marginal seats.

Departmental officials have previously refused to table relevant spreadsheets, denying knowledge of any organised by marginal seats (The Saturday Paper). 

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Military coup in Sudan

Military generals in Sudan have launched a coup attempt, arresting political leaders and declaring a state of emergency.

Troops have been deployed across the capital Khartoum, the city’s airport is closed and the internet is down (BBC). 

In a televised address coup leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan blamed infighting between politicians, ambition and incitement to violence for the takeover.

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok is reportedly under house arrest, after resisting pressure to support the coup and instead urging people to protest against the move.

Protests have erupted in several cities, with at least three people reportedly shot dead by armed forces.

The unrest marks a breakdown in a proposed transition to a democratic government, with military and civilian leaders sharing power since August 2019 after Sudan’s long-term authoritarian president Omar al-Bashir was overthrown (PBS). 

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All the girls have won all the races so far.

Female jockeys in Toowomba win a clean sweep of seven races, in a moment celebrated as a milestone in gender equality — proving once and for all that women can flog a terrified horse just as well as any man (ABC).

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Postscript: Sydney couple resells townhouse nine weeks after buying it for $600,000 more than they paid

A Sydney couple has lucked into the real estate deal of a lifetime thanks to the insane rate at which property prices are climbing. The couple recently resold a Kensington house they bought only nine weeks ago for $600,000 more than the price they paid. They did no works or improvements to the property and sold off market to a buyer who didn’t even inspect the townhouse ... their agent Roger Wardy negotiated the deal before they had even settled on the property (realestate.com.au).

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