Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Government fails to protect endangered species

The federal government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has warned that the government’s plan for protecting endangered species is failing. In its submission to the senate inquiry into Australia’s faunal extinction crisis, the committee said that while current law provided “significant capacity for action”, the government has recovery plans for just 40 per cent of Australia’s 1775 endangered animal species, and more than half of those plans are a decade old. The committee also warned that authorities were underestimating the scale of the crisis, as “there are large numbers of other poorly known but imperilled species at risk from extinction but they are not protected because we know so little about them”.

The chief executives of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ANZ, Westpac and NAB will appear before the royal commission into the banking and financial service industries. The commission’s seventh round of hearings, which will run in Sydney and Melbourne later this month, will focus on “causes of misconduct and conduct falling below community standards and expectations by financial services entities”. The “big four” banks have been asked to appear alongside Macquarie Bank, wealth manager AMP, the Bendigo Bank and representatives from financial regulators.

The Australian Electoral Commission has officially declared independent Kerryn Phelps as the winner of the Wentworth byelection. After more than two weeks of counting, Phelps holds the seat with a two-candidate-preferred margin of 1.22 per cent against the Liberal Party, or roughly 1800 votes. At a press conference on Monday, Phelps said her first priorities included establishing “a foundation for business to invest in renewables for our future and to protect our environment”. Phelps also sought legal advice about the constitutional eligibility of government lower house MPs Peter Dutton and Chris Crewther to sit in parliament, given their business interests that may constitute an indirect financial benefit from the Commonwealth. Phelps’ election will make it more difficult for the government to block Labor-led questioning of MPs’ eligibility, as it now controls just 75 seats on the floor of the House of Representatives.

And doctors who work with refugees have urged high-profile Labor candidate Brian Owler to continue opposing offshore detention for refugees and asylum seekers. While serving as president of the Australian Medical Association, Owler was a prominent critic of offshore detention, saying in 2016 that “keeping people in such locations when they are sick places these people at risk of death”. Since being announced as Labor’s candidate in the Sydney seat of Bennelong, Owler has modified his stance, telling Fairfax that “we don't want to see people drowning at sea and we need to have a strong border policy”. Doctors for Refugees founder Barri Phatarfod urged Owler not to “be cowed down by the Labor political machine”. Labor leader Bill Shorten has committed to maintaining offshore detention if the party wins the next federal election.


“The Longstaff review was commissioned by Cricket Australia after the exposure of the Australian Test team’s cheating in South Africa. Perhaps it’s more accurate to say that the review was commissioned after the Australian public’s convulsions on hearing news of that cheating.”


“It was not one of those Australian weddings where the best man is in love with the groom. Not by a long shot. But who has not heard stories of what goes on between grooms and best men on their last nights together in bush motels? Who has not noticed sidelong glances at the altar as best men and grooms wait for the intrusive arrival of the bride? Not for us. I was standing there in an old tweed jacket at St Mary’s Montville to set things straight.”


“I have come to speak with António about Parque metro station in Lisbon, an immense subterranean work of art that doubles as a train station. António has been, at various times, an actor, a scholar, a local historian, a radio broadcaster and a human rights activist. If we are charging by the letter, it might make sense to simply call him a storyteller.”


“Virgin Australia’s move to give war veterans priority boarding and public acknowledgement during in-flight announcements has been described as ‘embarrassing’ and ‘tokenistic’ ... The move received a lukewarm response from some veterans and politicians, while rival airline Qantas declared it would not be following suit.”


“The architects behind the Australian War Memorial’s Anzac Hall have pleaded with the memorial to abandon what they believe are plans for its demolition. Denton Corker Marshall director John Denton has written to the memorial and the federal government asking them to consider alternatives to demolition, after he was tipped off that it was being considered as part of a proposed $500 million redevelopment.”


“Democrats are ‘confident’ in the blue wave coming to vote in the midterm election.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.