Wednesday, May 15, 2019

CSIRO pressured to greenlight Adani

The federal government pushed the CSIRO to sign off on approval for the proposed Carmichael coalmine’s use of groundwater, despite a lack of information to make a final assessment. Emails between the CSIRO and the federal department of the environment, obtained by the ABC under Freedom of Information laws, reveal environment minister Melissa Price’s office pushed CSIRO scientists to send Price a letter giving “our formal assent that Adani have responded to the issues raised”. The scientists were given a single afternoon to send such a letter, and CSIRO research director Warwick McDonald stressed in an email that he had “been careful not being categoric about the degree these [sic] responses will satisfy the recommendations (the devil is in the detail we do not have)”. Despite that warning, Price later used the letter to claim that the CSIRO had “confirmed the revised plans meet strict scientific requirements”, allowing her to approve the Carmichael mine’s groundwater plans a day later.

A Tamil family held in detention for over a year has lost a final appeal for asylum, paving the way for their deportation to Sri Lanka. Members of the family were detained by immigration authorities in March last year and transported from their home in the central Queensland town of Biloela to a detention centre in Melbourne. The family, who assert they will be persecuted if they are sent back to Sri Lanka, attracted support from Biloela locals, who organised the #HomeToBilo campaign. Advocate Angela Fredericks appealed to immigration minister David Coleman to “have some compassion, use a level head and know that pretty much this family's safety and their future is directly in the palm of his hands”. Earlier this month the family claimed authorities had failed to provide adequate medical care to one of their children, Tharnicaa, resulting in several rotting teeth.

More than a dozen environmental activists have been arrested after staging a protest on the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Three protesters from environmental group Greenpeace abseiled from the bridge early on Tuesday morning, bearing signs urging politicians to declare a “climate emergency”. Others were detained before they could unveil a larger banner, and were questioned by police. In a statement, Greenpeace Australia Pacific chief executive David Ritter said the protesters included “Australians who have survived climate disasters [who] have come to the centre of Sydney to demand action because they are sick of being ignored”.

And a Labor candidate for a marginal Liberal-held seat has accused Liberal volunteers of making racist remarks to Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking Labor volunteers at voting booths. In a Facebook post on Monday, Sam Crosby, Labor’s candidate for the Sydney seat of Reid, accused Liberal volunteers of saying “you’re not allowed to speak [their] language, English only” and “how long have you been in Australia?” to Labor volunteers speaking to voters in different languages. “These childish taunts have not been said to any of our Caucasian volunteers”, Crosby said. Adam Pulford, the Greens candidate for the inner-Melbourne seat of Wills, accused a volunteer for Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party of telling a Muslim voter “‘her people’ are responsible for extremism and terrorism”. “She stood her ground firmly, and the Victorian Socialist volunteers and candidate and I stood by her side”, Pulford said on Twitter.


“As co-founder and executive editor of the Manila-based news service Rappler, she has angered Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte and found herself facing not only 11 charges of libel and tax evasion but also an organised campaign of ‘violence’ on social media ... Ressa believes the election is the most important in the Philippines’ recent history. The country will change after this, she says, and it may take a generation ‘for the world to turn right side up again’.”


“After more than a decade of stop-start attempts by governments and all manner of committees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians had finally been asked to come up with a solution, and they had not held back. Minimalist proposals for constitutional recognition had been dismissed, and substantive change was now on the table. The agreement that would be known as the Uluru Statement from the Heart was within grasp.”


“A hundred years removed from their historical moment, these objects now appear as fresh, thoughtful and poetic works with little shock value. If their impact remains great, it is, increasingly, in the inherent richness of the objects, rather than the irreverent provocations they once stood for.”


“Nearly every country in the world has agreed upon a legally binding framework to reduce the pollution from plastic waste – but not the United States, United Nations environmental officials say ... Even the few countries that did not sign it, like the US, could be affected by the accord when they ship plastic waste to countries that are on board with the deal.”


“An American undersea explorer has completed what is claimed to be the deepest manned sea dive ever recorded – returning to the surface with the depressing news that there’s plastic trash down there ... As well as four new species that could offer clues about the origins of life on Earth, Vescovo observed a plastic bag and candy wrappers at the deepest point on the planet.”



“Some people are lucky enough to be able to smoke weed and just get high like a normal person, but there’s always a risk that someone you care about will end up like Tyler and wind up becoming the kind of person who tells you a meandering, 20-minute story that isn’t interesting to anyone but them about how they once went to the movies after taking edibles.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.