Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Irrigators bring on drought three years early

Irrigators pushed the lower Darling river into hydrological drought three years early by extracting 86 per cent of the water from the Barwon-Darling river system, a new report by the Australian Rivers Institute has found. Of 158 licence holders in the region, 10 irrigators control 86 per cent of the water, and four control 75 per cent - one of which, the Harris family, is facing prosecution for extracting during low flows. The report identifies sharing rules and the warming and drying of the basin as a “significant risk” in making sure there is enough water to support the river ecosystem. 

Hong Kong protests continue to spill over onto Australian soil with pro-Hong Kong protesters being targeted with harassment, death threats and “doxxings” — in which private details about a person are posted online — at universities and on social media. At University of Technology Sydney, posters with death threats aimed at pro-Hong Kong activists written in Chinese were on display for several days before they were removed by campus security. A Hong Kong student says she was doxxed after protesting without a mask at the University of South Australia on Friday — her photo was taken by a pro-China supporter and uploaded to Chinese social media app WeChat. Beijing’s ministry of foreign affairs spokesperson Geng Shuang, meanwhile, expressed the Chinese government’s support of pro-China supporters abroad, but urged the observance and adherence to local laws. It comes after Facebook and Twitter suspended more than 200,000 accounts believed to be part of a Chinese Government influence campaign.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has delayed the vote to decriminalise abortion in the state, as pro and anti-abortion activists protested outside Parliament on Tuesday night. Debate in the NSW upper house began yeesterday, and will continue today and tomorrow, but it is now likely the vote will take place in mid-September. Some Liberal MPs accused Berejiklian of rushing the bill through Parliament and causing a “crisis of government”.

Queensland Police have charged 80-year-old man Vincent O’Dempsey for murder in what they believe could be the oldest cold case to be solved in Australia. Vincent Allen went missing in April 1964, and was presumed dead, his body was never found. O’Dempsey, now 80, was charged after a $250,000 reward for information relating to the murder was posted in July. It’s believed Allen was killed because of knowledge about a number of robberies. 


Saving the birthing trees
As the Andrews government attempts to negotiate treaty with First Nations people in Victoria, it is proceeding with a plan to bulldoze hundreds of sacred Djab Wurrung trees. Lidia Thorpe on the campaign to protect her people’s heritage.


“Of course, it is a film about Adam Goodes, the Indigenous footballer booed out of the game. But Adam is all of us. When we – Indigenous people – heard that booing, we knew where it came from. It was the sound of Australia. This was an Australia for other people. It has never truly been our Australia.” 


“Careers Australia was emblematic of what went wrong with the training industry. Private colleges got paid upfront in full for delivering courses, despite abysmal completion rates by students – in some cases as low as 2 or 3 per cent. In 2016, the then education minister, Simon Birmingham, introduced three census dates to ensure colleges were not being paid the full course fee before students had finished the course. But Robertson says that Careers Australia worked around the requirement by operating very short units of study so there were regular census dates to maximise cash flow.”


“For some, the well-publicised danger of Guerrero is exciting. Media productions such as Netflix’s Narcos has added a certain recognisability to similar terrain across the country, with ‘narco-tourism’ now an option. But for most guerrerenses who find themselves facing a danger not of their making, risk and pleasure are lived in the more quotidian ways that most of us live them – regulated and mediated by intimacy, family and friendship, ancestral pride, the remaining beauty of the environment and objectively delicious food and drink.”


“The proportion of the population with basic hospital cover dropped to 44.2 per cent — its lowest level since 2007. That is an entire percentage point cent lower than the same time last year, and the equivalent of 28,000 people dumping their cover since March. The figures also revealed health insurance premiums rose almost 2.8 per cent over the June quarter, once again outpacing inflation and wage growth.”


“Average inheritances are growing by about 2 percentage points above inflation each year, which is a good deal faster than wages or gross domestic product.”


“Every writer knew the sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach. David Crane would enter the room, toting a script full of notes scribbled in the margins. He would sit down in his chair and begin drumming his fingers on the table before announcing, ‘All right, we’ve got a lot of really good stuff here.’ The assembled writers would silently groan, knowing that this was Crane-ian code for a full script rewrite. Everything was out, and it was time to start again.”


Quiz Night - September 20
State Library of NSW, Sydney

Love the weekly ritual of The Saturday Paper Quiz? Now trivia fans can come together for a grand night of quizzing in partnership with the State Library of New South Wales, Sydney.

Participants will enjoy a three-course meal designed by Annie Smithers and drinks will be available to purchase from A Wine Service bar, curated by Blackhearts & Sparrows. Plus, there are great prizes to be won.

Stay tuned for future Quiz Night events around the country.

Anna Horan
is a Melbourne-based editor and writer.