Australia underreporting emissions

Multiple investigations indicate Australia is significantly underreporting its emissions, as COP26 organisers ramp up pressure on the nation to strengthen its 2030 emissions target.

What we know:

  • Australia is among of a host of countries systematically underreporting emissions to the UN, including the removal of substantial emissions from megafires fanned by climate change (The Washington Post); 
  • Separate analysis of satellite imagery of land clearing indicates Australia is also likely understating emissions from deforestation (The Guardian); 
  • Resources Minister Keith Pitt made international headlines for his promise that Australia will continue exporting coal “for decades to come” (France 24); 
  • Analysis by Global Witness finds there “there are more delegates at COP26 associated with the fossil fuel industry than from any single country” (BBC); 
  • COP26 organisers are working out a plan to pressure countries like Australia that have not strengthened their 2030 targets at the summit to do so in 2022 (The Guardian); 
  • The Morrison government has unveiled a plan to partner with the private sector to fund 50,000 electric vehicle charging stations (ABC); 
  • Industry groups criticised the electric vehicle plan for failing to include subsidies, tax incentives, sales targets or minimum fuel emission standards.
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Branch stacking rife across parties

New revelations about branch stacking scandals in both the Labor and Liberal parties have highlighted the routine misuse of taxpayer resources in politics.

Liberal branch stacking:

  • Federal MP Michael Sukkar “completely rejects” allegations that he was aware close allies and factional supporters were paid by taxpayers to do internal Liberal Party work (The Mandarin);
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Department of Finance dealt with the issue a year ago and found “nothing further to investigate”;
  • The scope of the investigation has been questioned, following new revelations that a former public servant recruited by a Mormon church leader to work for Liberal MP Kevin Andrews helped recruit up to five new party members a day (The Age). 

Labor branch stacking:

  • In his first testimony to Victoria’s anti-corruption commission since resigning, former state minister Adem Somyurek blamed Premier Daniel Andrews and racism in the Labor Party for the practice of ethnic branch stacking (The Age); 
  • Somyurek, who resigned over branch stacking allegations, claimed Andrews had dismissed his concerns that electorate office staffers were being misused for Labor’s 2014 re-election campaign (ABC); 
  • He also said “Anglo-Saxon” MPs were also engaged in branch stacking, and that systemic racism in the party made ethnically diverse members believe branch stacking was a form of “affirmative action by stealth”.
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ADF ‘threatened’ families of murdered soldiers

The father of an Australian soldier murdered in Afghanistan has claimed the Defence Department threatened families to stay silent about a 2012 attack.

Hugh Poate, whose son Robert Poate and two other troopers were killed by a rogue Afghan soldier, made the claim in testimony to a senate inquiry into the war (ABC). 

“On the final day of the inquest, families were intimidated and threatened by the head of the chief of the defence force's personal staff that if we disclosed any of this contrived secrecy ... to the media we would face action by the attorney-general," Poate told the committee hearing.

Poate said defence kept the families in the dark and did not answer their questions or provide a copy of the internal investigation into the attack.

The allegation was referred to the ADF inspector-general, who concluded matters could have been dealt with better.

Poate claimed however that the brigadier involved in making the threat went on to win accolades for his service.

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Nurse charged for faking vaccine jab

A WA nurse has been charged by police after allegedly faking giving a Covid-19 vaccination to the child of someone she knows.

The nurse was granted bail, after being arrested and charged with gains benefit by fraud on Sunday (Nine). 

The Perth medical centre where she worked reported her to WA police, after allegedly observing the nurse filling a syringe with the vaccine and inserting the needle into the teenager’s arm, but not administering the vaccine.

She allegedly disposed of the syringe with the vaccine still inside, and recorded that it had been administered by another staff member.

The police prosecutor told the court the fact that up to 25 people came to the clinic specifically asking for the nurse suggested it was premeditated.

“I would say that's highly suspicious, your honour – I would say it can be inferred there's some level of co-ordination,” he said.

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Israel builds surveillance state

Palestinian human rights activists have been targeted by an Israeli company’s surveillance spyware, as Israel builds a facial recognition database.

NSO Group spyware was detected on the mobile phones of six Palestinian activists, according to human rights groups including Amnesty International (Al Jazeera). 

The spyware gives intruders access to everything a person stores and does on their mobile phone, including real-time communications. 

Among those hacked is Ubai Aboudi, a 37-year-old economist and US citizen who runs the Bisan Center for Research and Development — one of six groups controversially designated as a terrorist group by Israel last month.

It comes as the Israeli military held a competition for soldiers to take photos of Palestinians for a database of images described as a secret “Facebook for Palestinians” (Washington Post). 

The images are for a facial recognition phone app, which flashes in different colours to alert soldiers if a person is to be detained, arrested or left alone.

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It was always going to be awkward for the Treasury because a dog ate $7.3bn of their homework.

Brendan Lyon, a former partner at KPMG, claims he left the accounting firm after a NSW public servant pressured his bosses to change a report that found the state’s budget was billions worse off than official figures (The Guardian).

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Postscript: How Juanjo Cristiani made the genius decision to make RuPaul’s Drag Race into a tarot deck

For Drag Race fans, the cards really do have everything: from Pearl in a stare-off with Mama Ru, to Shangela throwing a drink over Mimi Imfurst, to the infamous Lil’ Poundcake reveal. That’s not to mention incredible renditions of runways from Violet Chachki, Gottmik, Raja, Valentina and more (It’s Nice That).

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