Thursday, November 29, 2018

Fire and flood as PM rejects NEG

Thousands of people have fled the central Queensland town of Gracemere as more than 130 bushfires burn across the state. Catastrophic fire warnings were issued for the Central Highlands, Capricornia and Coalfields regions for the first time on Wednesday, with premier Annastacia Palaszczuk calling conditions “unprecedented [and] uncharted”. In Sydney, three people died in the city’s wettest November day since 1984. Several suburbs recorded more than 100mm of rain in only a few hours, more than the city’s average monthly rainfall. In completely unrelated news, prime minister Scott Morrison disavowed the National Energy Guarantee policy he championed as recently as September on the grounds that federal Labor’s carbon emissions reduction target of 45 per cent was too high.

New migrants will be forced to wait four years to access Newstart welfare payments under new laws due to pass through federal parliament. In a House of Representatives vote on Wednesday, government and Labor MPs passed a bill establishing a four-year residency period before migrants can access the unemployment benefits. Labor supported the bill after securing amendments enshrining one or two-year wait times for other welfare measures such as paid parental leave and carers’ payments. Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen said Labor negotiated with the government to avoid “[opening] the door for parties like One Nation and Fraser Anning to negotiate with the government on it”. Greens immigration spokesperson Nick McKim said the deal was unnecessary, as “we could have prevented this bill from passing through the parliament at all if Labor had held firm”.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has cancelled a planned trip to the G20 economic summit in Argentina as the federal government tries to head off a parliamentary push to question the eligibility of home affairs minister Peter Dutton to sit in Parliament. The defection of Chisholm MP Julia Banks to the crossbench on Tuesday left the government with just 73 votes on the floor of the House of Representatives, increasing the likelihood that Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers would ask the High Court to review Dutton’s eligibility to sit in parliament due to a potential fiduciary conflict of interest. Leader of the House, Christopher Pyne, threatened on Wednesday to refer independent MP Kerryn Phelps and two Labor MPs to the court if they voted for Dutton’s referral. Phelps responded by saying she “won’t be intimidated” by the government and that she would “make my decision when it comes to parliament”. Dutton is absent from parliament this week after being injured while repairing a fence.

Matthew Guy has resigned as Victoria’s opposition leader after the state Liberal Party fell to a crushing defeat at Saturday’s election. In a statement, Guy congratulated premier Daniel Andrews and said “now that the parliamentary party has been called together, they will elect a new leadership team”. While counting is still under way in several seats, the Liberals suffered a swing of almost 6 per cent, losing a swathe of seats in rural areas and its eastern Melbourne heartland. The state Coalition also looks to have lost several upper house seats to various micro-parties.

Former New South Wales Labor leader Luke Foley has withdrawn his threat to sue the journalist who accused him of groping her. Foley resigned as state opposition leader earlier this month after reporter Ashleigh Raper released a statement through the ABC saying Foley touched her inappropriately at a parliamentary Christmas function in 2016. Foley denied Raper’s allegations when he resigned, saying at a press conference that he intended to launch defamation proceedings in the Federal Court and recontest the next state election as the member for Auburn. In a statement, Foley said “it's in nobody's interest for this matter to be the subject of long running court proceedings and I won't put everyone through this”.

And Gurrumul Yunupingu, Amy Shark and Courtney Barnett have won big at the 2018 ARIA awards. Yunupingu, who died last year aged 46, posthumously won best male artist and best independent release for Djarimirri, with his daughter Jasmine leading a musical tribute. Shark, who won album of the year, best pop release and best female artist for her album Love Monster, said in her acceptance speech that “the sex of a human doesn’t define their worth or ability”. Speaking backstage after winning best original soundtrack, Jimmy Barnes said he wanted his memoir, Working Class Boy, to draw attention to Australian families “struggling with poverty, with alcoholism, domestic violence. Sixty-odd women have been killed this year and we’re worried about terrorism?”



“The initiative has been hailed by the government and Victoria Police as a significant step towards improved police accountability and transparency. However, a number of community and legal groups say the way the plan is being implemented may actually exacerbate these issues.”


“The organisation’s oligarchs are predicting that they will have a million members in time for the federal election, but are coy about how they plan to recruit these hordes. Perhaps they are assuming that sheer weight of money, of which they have plenty, will suffice, much in the way that Malcolm Turnbull bought his Wentworth preselection and, before then, Kerry Packer bought Australian cricket.”


“You are immersed. The room is dark, the carpet green and soft. Ornate chandeliers hang from the ceiling. There is a line of blue benches inviting you to sit. Five screens, playing a complex multichannel story, wrap around you. Russian art collector Sergey Shchukin is on the left screen, French painter Henri Matisse on the right. From silence come the glassy notes of a violin.”


“School students protesting climate change have arrived in Canberra after the prime minister told them to be less activist and go back to school. Hundreds of students lined up outside Parliament House on Wednesday wanting to speak to Scott Morrison and government ministers about taking emergency action against climate change.”


“On the eve of the most important global climate meeting in years, a definitive United Nations report has found that the world is well off course on its promises to cut greenhouse gas emissions - and may have even farther to go than previously thought. Seven major countries, including the United States, are well behind achieving the pledges they made in Paris just three years ago, the report finds, with little time left to adopt much more ambitious policy measures to curb their emissions..”


“Ignoring something important

Leaning forward in the driver’s seat so I can ‘see farther’ down the road

Opening a Google Document and typing ‘To-Do’ and today’s date in bold”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.