Morrison’s net zero plan ‘laughable’

The Morrison government’s plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 has been met with sharp criticism by Labor, climate experts, economists, entrepreneurs and the international media.

What we know:

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday unveiled a net zero by 2050 plan that includes no new policies, laws or mandates to reduce emissions (Renew Economy);
  • The net zero target relies on unspecified technology breakthroughs to deliver 40% of the emissions cut, along with 20% delivered through offsets and a heavy reliance on unproven carbon capture and storage;
  • Climate Council chief Amanda McKenzie derided the lack of a stronger 2030 target, declaring “net zero by 2050 is a joke without strong emissions cuts this decade”;
  • Labor leader Anthony Albanese, whose party has no 2030 emissions target of its own, declared the “prime minister announced a vibe today rather than a target”;
  • “What is truly laughable is that we have advanced to a net zero by 2050 target without a single change in policy,” said George Washington University economist Steven Hamilton (AFR), while billionaire green investor Mike Cannon-Brookes described the plan as “ridiculously embarrassing”;
  • International media said Australia’s “last-minute commitment” was “built on hope for new technology, and little else” (NYT)  and described as “the weakest climate plan among the G20’s developed nations” (CNN); 
  • The National Farmers’ Federation called for protections for the agriculture sector to be made public, as emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor revealed that some concessions made to the Nationals had yet to be approved by cabinet (The Guardian); 
  • It comes as a group of Torres Strait Islander people lodged the first climate class action against the federal government brought by Australia's First Nations people (SBS).
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SA and NT ready to open up

The SA and NT governments have revealed their respective plans to reopen to Covid-hit interstate and international regions, with WA flagging it may close itself off deep into 2022.

Across the country:

  • SA expects to ease border restrictions for double-vaccinated interstate travellers on November 23, when it hits a 80% vaccination target for over 16s (InDaily);
  • On that date the state will also halve its quarantine period for fully vaccinated international travellers from 14 days to seven;
  • Once 90% of over 12s are double vaccinated – predicted before Christmas – all fully vaccinated international arrivals will be allowed to enter the state without having to quarantine;
  • The NT announced a 14-day home quarantine, under strict app-based monitoring, will be introduced for fully vaccinated domestic travellers from November 23 (ABC); 
  • Fully vaccinated domestic and international arrivals to “high vaccination zones” in the NT will no longer need to quarantine from January 18;
  • WA Premier Mark McGowan said he may close the border to states that open up to Victoria and NSW, leaving WA isolated until some point in the first half of next year (WA Today); 
  • In Victoria there is concern about a pandemic management bill that would grant the state government expanded powers without key parliamentary safeguards (The Conversation). 
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Cosmetic surgeon’s cash for comment

Celebrity cosmetic surgeon Dr Daniel Lanzer has been accused of offering financial incentives to encourage patients to write positive reviews.

Lanzer offered his staff incentives to get patients to leave the reviews, and in one instance reportedly paid an unhappy patient $1000 to change their negative review to a positive one (SMH). 

Patient Mark Corbett said he wrote a scathing zero star Google review about a facelift he originally described as “horrifying to say the least and bleeding … not what I would call a bloodless procedure”.

After the payment the review was upgraded to five stars and changed to read: “It’s been a great result with Dr Lanzer his caring approach to the issues & hands on care and amazing after-care! I can highly recommend Dr Lanzer.”

It comes as the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery and Medicine launched an investigation into whether Lanzer had breached its constitution over serious safety breaches, and botched procedures that left patients in extreme pain.

“The college’s constitution includes a range of sanctions, which can include expulsion if a fellow is found to be in breach of the college’s standards,” a spokesperson for the college said.

Lanzer in a statement said he was “a victim of a terrible turf war between plastic surgeons and other surgeons in Australia”.

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Singapore opens door to Australians

Australians will be able to visit Singapore without needing to quarantine from November 8, after the two countries signed a travel agreement.

Singaporeans will not be able to visit Australia initially, though this is tipped to change by late December (Executive Traveller). 

Sydney and Melbourne, the first cities to scrap international travel restrictions for Australians, will be the first ports of call for passengers on direct flights operated by Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

Quarantine-free passage from Australia to Singapore will be limited to fully vaccinated travellers, who will need to provide proof of vaccination.

At first this will be a government-issued international vaccination certificate, but travellers should soon be able to use an app being developed by the airlines.

Travellers will also need to return a negative result from three  PCR tests, which will cost hundreds of dollars, download Singaporean tracing apps and travel passes, and take out Covid-19 medical insurance.

More than 80% of Singaporeans have been fully vaccinated.

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Bezos plans space station

Multibillionaire Jeff Bezos’s space company Blue Origin plans to launch a commercial space station into orbit by the end of the decade.

The “mixed-use business park” would house up to 10 people and host projects developed by governments and private users (The Verge).

“As the premier commercial destination in low Earth orbit, Orbital Reef will provide the essential infrastructure needed to scale economic activity and open new markets in space,” according to Blue Origin.

The companies involved refused to reveal costings, but analysis suggests that private space stations are unlikely to break even in the near term (Quartz). 

It marks the latest step in the privatisation of space, as countries look to replace the 23-year-old International Space Station.

Four other space stations are planned, including one developed by Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin called Starlab, which is planning to launch by 2027.

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The commission discovered that for many years Crown Melbourne had engaged in conduct that is, in a word, disgraceful.

The final report of a royal commission into Crown talks a big game, before folding its cards and concluding that the “illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative” operation should retain its casino licence, naturally (SBS).

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Postscript: Man announces he will quit drinking by 2050

A Sydney man has set an ambitious target to phase out his alcohol consumption within the next 29 years, as part of an impressive plan to improve his health. The program will see Greg Taylor, 73, continue to drink as normal for the foreseeable future, before reducing consumption in 2049 when he turns 101. He has assured friends it will not affect his drinking plans in the short or medium term (The Shovel).

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