Friday, September 20, 2019

World goes on climate strike

Employers, unions and governments around the globe are urging people to walk off the job today to join students in what organisers claim will be the largest climate protest in history. For the first time adults are being asked to join the growing student strike movement, initiated in August last year when Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg began skipping school on Fridays to protest against climate policy inaction. More than 100 protests are planned in Australia, with thousands of Australian employers allowing their employees to attend. The Victorian and ACT governments have made arrangements for public servants to join. More than 250 Australian academics signed an open letter backing the movement, writing: “It is unconscionable that we, our children and grandchildren should have to bear the terrifying brunt of this unprecedented disaster.” Federal Liberal Party backbencher from New South Wales, Craig Kelly, urged students not to join the rally, telling them: “everything you are told is a lie. The facts are, there is no link between climate change and drought.” Human-induced climate change has been linked with droughts that occurred as far back as 1900

On the global stage: More than 4500 demonstrations in at least 130 countries are planned, with trade unions representing hundreds of millions of people backing the movement. The mass mobilisation takes place three days before Thunberg addresses an emergency climate summit at the United Nations in New York, which will feature about 60 heads of state. On Thursday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison flew to the United States to meet with US president Donald Trump, but neither have plans to attend the summit. 

Mental health: Former prime minister Julia Gillard has addressed CEDA’s State of the Nation Summit in Canberra on Thursday regarding the impact of mental health on the workforce. The Beyond Blue chair told the conference “eight million working days are lost due to mental ill-health in Australia each year”. She was speaking after the release of a key report that found mental health concerns were the main reason people visited their GP. A separate study released today found dementia was also a growing issue. The World Alzheimer’s Report 2019: Attitudes to Dementia, warns that the number of Australians living with the condition is predicted to double to more than a million by 2058. 

SAS murder allegations: Federal police detectives travelled to Afghanistan to gather evidence implicating Australian special forces soldiers in the murder of a handcuffed detainee, according to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. An ABC investigation in 2017 revealed details of alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers. Government investigators raided ABC headquarters for documents related to the stories. The story comes as Guardian Australia reports that the home affairs department told the parliamentary inquiry on press freedom that compiling information on the number of warrants sought to investigate journalists would be an “unreasonable diversion of resources”.

Bondage lawsuit: Entertainer and Silverchair frontman Daniel Johns has launched a defamation lawsuit against News Corp Sydney tabloid, The Sunday Telegraph, for claiming he regularly visited a Sydney BDSM brothel for up to 18 hours a day. In a Facebook post, Johns said the claims were “humiliating” and that he had not been to the club before and “never even knew of its existence”.

Scott goes to Washington
Tomorrow, Scott Morrison will be received in Washington on a state visit. It highlights his special relationship with Donald Trump and his difficulty with Beijing. Paul Bongiorno on Scott Morrison’s trip to Washington.


“In speech after speech, he has urged governments – state and federal – to invest much more in building infrastructure and to do it quickly. And told his political masters to move on structural reform of the economy. He has even ventured into the contentious area of welfare payments, suggesting boosting the dole as a means of stimulating the economy. Has Australia ever had a Reserve Bank governor as public and as publicly opinionated as Philip Lowe?” 


“This government is not serious about climate change. It treats the science as a punchline. Its policies are a joke. It will fail to meet its Paris commitments. On the latest United Nations models, climate change will be worse than was predicted even a few years ago. Whole ecosystems will collapse. Natural disaster will ravage half of Australia. Experts say the fires in Queensland and New South Wales will burn for weeks. More will come after that. There is no water to fight them.”


“Steve Schultze looks exactly like the kind of cop you’d see jumping a fence with his gun drawn. A former homicide detective with Victoria Police, he is a picture of machismo – heavyset and brawny – and rides a big black motorcycle. I’m on the street when he pops his head out the front door to say hello; the place is decked out with security cameras, and he saw me approaching on the security screens before I even arrived. This security is essential: inside, Schultze and his team host women and children who are escaping domestic abuse, many of whom are being tracked by their perpetrators.”


“The federal budget has returned to its best position in more than a decade on the back of soaring iron ore prices and a strong jobs market. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Thursday revealed the 2018-19 budget showed a deficit of $690 million, which in accounting terms is a balanced budget. In April, the government was expecting the 2018-19 budget to show a deficit of $4.2 billion.”


“Paralympian Dylan Alcott says he's ‘devastated’ the Government is championing a balanced budget while also confirming a $4.6 billion underspend on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). The nine-time wheelchair tennis major winner and disability advocate was speaking after Treasurer Josh Frydenberg released Treasury figures showing the budget deficit for the 2018-19 financial year was just $690 million, down from the $4.2 billion figure forecast in April. ‘Pretty devastated to read today that Aus went into ‘budget surplus’ today due to $4.6b ‘saved’ on NDIS funding due to delays,’ Alcott wrote on Twitter.”



“French officials have refused to change the death certificate of the oldest person on record despite claims of fraud by Russian researchers. Jeanne Calment died in 1997 aged 122 but a recent Russian study claimed she had in fact died in the 1930s. They claimed her daughter then assumed her identity in order to avoid paying inheritance tax ... A colourful character, she enjoyed the limelight, stating ‘I await death and journalists’ ahead of her 120th birthday. Calment also famously smoked and spoke of her fondness for port and chocolate.”



Max Opray
is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.