Nations agree to ‘loss and damage’ fund

The COP28 summit has kicked off with a major deal, as countries agree to adopt a new fund to help poor nations cope with climate disasters.

What we know:

  • On day one of the UN climate talks in Dubai, countries have agreed on a “loss and damage” fund long sought by poorer countries disproportionately hit by climate disasters despite contributing little to the problem in the way of emissions (Time); 
  • The arrangements had been hashed out by a transitional committee over five meetings in the past year, with COP28 president Sultan Ahmet Al-Jaber hailing the decision as “historic”;
  • His country, the United Arab Emirates, will contribute US$100m to the fund, as did Germany, followed by the UK’s US$50.5m;
  • Climate and aid groups welcomed the establishment of the fund, and called on Australia to join major nations in making an initial $100m pledge (AFR $); 
  • The US$550m committed by rich nations however is a long way short of the estimated US$400bn annual cost of climate change to developing countries, a figure expected to grow as climate disasters worsen (The Guardian);
  • The World Bank will host the fund for four years, despite strong resistance to its involvement from developing countries, and it is unclear what the criteria will be for countries to benefit from the mechanism (Climate Change News); 
  • It follows leaked documents that reveal Al-Jaber, who is also the chief executive of the national oil company Adnoc, planned to use his position as COP28 host to promote deals for the United Arab Emirates’ national oil and gas companies (CCR);
  • Meanwhile Australia’s national emissions increased in Labor’s first full year in office, rising by 0.8% in the year to June (The Guardian); 
  • In a separate assessment, the independent Climate Change Authority found Australia risks falling short of its 2030 climate target and time is running out for it to make a prosperous transition to net zero emissions on its own terms.
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Inquiry says axe jobs system

The privatisation of Australia’s employment services system has failed and should be ended, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

What we know:

  • The inquiry, chaired by Labor MP Julian Hill, called for the re-establishment of a Commonwealth job agency, an overhaul of the mutual obligations regime and a new watchdog to monitor the job services system (SMH); 
  • Hill said: “It’s harsh but true to say that Australia no longer has an effective, coherent national employment services system; we have an inefficient, outsourced, fragmented social security compliance management system that sometimes gets someone a job against all odds.”
  • Among its 75 recommendations, the inquiry backed rebuilding the Commonwealth Employment Services system abolished in the late-1990s, which would oversee the connection between job seekers and employers but use the private sector to provide certain services;
  • Welfare advocates have had a mixed reaction, with some welcoming the suggested changes and others calling for an immediate pause to payment suspensions and mutual obligations (The Guardian); 
  • It follows revelations that a feature in the welfare system is allowing private businesses to suspend hundreds of thousands of welfare payments (The Saturday Paper). 
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Higgins cross-examined

Brittany Higgins has vehemently denied fabricating her allegation of being raped by Bruce Lehrmann, in an emotional day of testimony at the Federal Court.

Under cross-examination by Lehrmann’s lawyers, who accused her of making it up, Higgins became so emotional that the court adjourned for a time in the middle of her questioning (ABC). 

Lehrmann, who has consistently denied the allegations, is suing Network Ten and journalist Lisa Wilkinson for defamation over a report on The Project where Higgins was interviewed.

Lehrmann's barrister, Steven Whybrow, SC, questioned Higgins over changes to her “narrative” about the evening, such as whether she was naked or her dress was around her waist, and a false claim that she’d seen a doctor afterwards.

Higgins responded that: “As I was being raped, it wasn't my primary concern where my dress was.”

She was also accused of having a financial interest in the outcome of the defamation proceedings, on the basis she had a book deal.

“If I ever actually finish the book, I will donate all $200,000 whatever to charity. I don't care about the money,” Higgins said.

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

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Euthanasia telehealth advice illegal

Telehealth consultations about voluntary assisted dying are illegal, the Federal Court has ruled in a landmark judgement.

The court ruled that federal laws which outlaw using a carriage service to counsel or incite another into committing suicide applied to doctors using telehealth for voluntary assisted dying support that was otherwise now legal under state laws (SMH). 

In classifying voluntary assisted dying as suicide under criminal law, doctors who give patients information about euthanasia using telehealth, email or phone calls could face charges.

“This finding is sad and frustrating and will impede provision of best-practice care for terminally ill individuals,” said MP and doctor Monique Ryan.

It comes just two days after NSW became the final state in Australia to allow terminally ill people to choose the timing of their death (The Conversation). 

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Call to ban pre-mix health claims

The alcohol industry is targeting health-conscious younger Australians with nutritional claims to sell pre-mixed alcoholic drinks, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at the George Institute for Global Health analysed 491 pre-mixed products from Dan Murphy’s, Liquorland and BWS in Sydney, and found terms such as “low calorie”, “low sugar” and “gluten free” appeared on half of all pre-mixed drinks (The Guardian). 

The most common claims related to “naturalness” (32%), calories (32%), sugar content (31%), gluten (23%), carbs (20%) and a product being vegan (13%).

The study found 52% of products made at least one of these nutrition-related claims, despite research showing alcohol is inherently unhealthy.

Packaged beverages sold in Australia that exceed 1.15% alcohol cannot display claims suggesting they are beneficial for health, but can make claims about energy, carbohydrate and gluten content.

Peak health organisations including the Cancer Council have called for “low carb” and “low sugar” labelling on alcoholic drinks to be scrapped.

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We also have to respect our forebears that have built this great nation, there are many people who’ve put blood, sweat and tears, sacrificing their lives for this nation.

Councillor David Kerrison explains why Playford Council has become the second SA council in a week to scrap Acknowledgement of Country at most meetings. Removing the ceremony will perhaps avoid any awkward discussions about whose lives exactly were sacrificed in order to build the colony of Australia (ABC).

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Postscript: Henry Kissinger, War Criminal Beloved by America’s Ruling Class, Finally Dies

The Yale University historian Greg Grandin ... estimates that Kissinger’s actions from 1969 through 1976, a period of eight brief years when Kissinger made Richard Nixon’s and then Gerald Ford’s foreign policy as national security adviser and secretary of state, meant the end of between three and four million people. That includes “crimes of commission,” he explained, as in Cambodia and Chile, and omission, like greenlighting Indonesia’s bloodshed in East Timor; Pakistan’s bloodshed in Bangladesh; and the inauguration of an American tradition of using and then abandoning the Kurds (Rolling Stone).

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