Plibersek puts reef before coalmine

Environment minister Tanya Plibersek has proposed blocking a new coalmine backed by billionaire Clive Palmer, on the same day as emissions reduction legislation cleared the lower house.

What we know:

  • It is reportedly the first time a federal environment minister has set the wheels in motion to reject a coalmine in Australia (ABC); 
  • Plibersek proposed rejecting the Central Queensland Coal project based on threats to the nearby reef, which is just 10km away, as well as potential impacts to local water;
  • “I believe that the project would be likely to have unacceptable impacts to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park,” Plibersek said;
  • The final decision will be made after 10 days of further consultation, including public comment;
  • The potential climate change impact of the mine was not considered, but the Greens are pushing for a “climate trigger” to be added to the environmental approval process;
  • “That's now one down and 113 to go. There's 114 of these projects in the pipeline,” Greens leader Adam Bandt said;
  • It comes after the lower house on Thursday passed new laws setting a carbon emissions cut of 43% on 2005 levels by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050 — well short of what is needed to meet Paris climate accord objectives (The New Daily); 
  • Multiple amendments proposed by independent MPs were supported by the government, including for regional Australia to be explicitly considered in new laws;
  • The bill is being assessed by a senate inquiry, which is due to report on August 31, after which it will be debated and is expected to pass the senate;
  • It comes as a new study finds 71% of 500 extreme weather events were made more likely or more severe by climate change (The Guardian); 
  • The researchers found one in three deaths caused by summer heat over the last three decades was the direct result of human-caused global heating, implying a death toll in the millions.
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Inquiry into missing First Nations women

A parliamentary inquiry has been launched to investigate the elevated rates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and children in Australia.

What we know:

  • The Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee will look to identify concrete and effective actions to eliminate the causes of systemic violence as well as ways of honouring murdered and missing First Nations people (Crikey); 
  • The inquiry is expected to hold hearings in every state and territory and in particular to focus on regional and remote areas where Indigenous people are missing at higher numbers (The Guardian); 
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 11 times more likely to die due to an assault and 32 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than non-Indigenous women;
  • A motion for the inquiry was first moved by WA Greens senator Dorinda Cox last November, but progress stalled before the federal election;
  • “During that time we’ve had horrific, extensive and unacceptable rates of violence against First Nations women and children in this country and the missing cases and reports of our women keep mounting,” said Cox, a former police officer;
  • The Morrison government excluded the leading body supporting Indigenous women who have experienced domestic violence from involvement in a national plan to tackle domestic violence (The Saturday Paper); 
  • It comes as a separate inquiry finds police officers in the Torres Strait Islands have avoided applying for domestic violence protection orders even after observing victims’ “swollen faces” (The Guardian). 

National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732

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ACT makes abortions free

The ACT government is set to make abortions free, as advocates call for similar measures to be rolled out across the country.

Under a $4.6m plan, Canberrans will be able to access free medical and surgical abortions up to 16 weeks’ gestation from next year (SBS). 

The services will be available for residents both with and without Medicare cards.

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Women Yvette Berry said it means “an abortion can occur in a time-sensitive manner without being delayed due to an inability to pay”.

Activists called for the move to be replicated around the country, with out-of-pocket costs generally around $600 but as high as $8000 for some circumstances.

Access problems are compounded for those on lower incomes, in rural areas, on temporary visas without Medicare, and for Indigenous women and trans and non-binary people (The Monthly). 

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Regional Vic tops home ownership

Regional Victoria enjoys the highest home ownership rate in Australia, while regional areas of the NT lag behind the rest of the country, new analysis reveals.

Well over 60% of regional Victorians own their own home, roughly double the home ownership rate in regional NT, analysis of ABS census data indicates (Crikey). 

Greater Perth has the highest rate among urban areas, also well above 60%, with Darwin the lowest at just over 50%.

When it comes to home ownership with a fully paid off mortgage, rural South Australia is the national leader, while Darwin and Canberra are Australia’s mortgage capitals.

Among urban areas, Sydney has a higher share of homes paid off than Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane or Perth, but that lead is slipping.

Nationally, the proportion of Australian home owners has slipped only two percentage points from 68% to 66% between 1996 and 2021, but the proportion owning outright has dropped from 42% to 31% (The Conversation). 

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Players consider suing over Crows camp

Multiple Adelaide Crows players have expressed interest in pursuing a class action over the effects of the AFL club’s controversial pre-season camp, according to a lawyer acting for the footballers.

Lawyer Greg Griffin said he has discussed with players a potential class action against the AFL and the Crows, after now-retired Indigenous footballer Eddie Betts described distressing treatment at the “mind-building” camp (The Age). 

“I’ve spoken to a number of players over the past 24 hours. I think the release of Eddie’s book has intensified the feelings that players who attended the camp had,” Griffin said.

In a new book Betts claimed camp organisers culturally appropriated Indigenous traditions and used confidential counselling information during exercises.

In one exercise Betts said he was told by organisers in front of teammates that he would be a “shit father” because he had been raised only by his mother.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan and senior figures at the Adelaide Crows have apologised to Betts in the wake of the revelations.

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Things are not as dead as we previously presumed — we have demonstrated that we can actually initiate cell-repair on a molecular level. We can persuade cells not to die.

In a breakthrough ripped straight out of the prologue to a zombie apocalypse film, researcher Dr Zvonimir Vrselja announces that a pig’s organs have been revived a full hour after the animal’s death (BBC).

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Postscript: Would You Put Mayonnaise In Your Coffee?

While mayonnaise in coffee is always a surprising concoction, the pairing is not new. About every five years or so the great debate about whether or not to put mayo in coffee refreshes anew. eleven years ago a debate raged on Reddit and then again, five years ago on Twitter. The general consensus from both is that, no, you should not put mayonnaise in your coffee (Sprudge).

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

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