The Andrews government cannot identify any legislation it needed to override, but experts say that is the point.When Daniel Andrews signed a declaration for a state of disaster in Victoria at 1.43pm on Sunday, it was a part of a final salvo in a battle to control a resurgent and invisible enemy.
Sea levels are rising faster than previously thought, with a new UN report warning Australia's coastal communities are set to face massive disruptions from climate change unless rapid action is taken to cut carbon emissions. The report, compiled by more than 100 scientists, shows that accelerating melting of glaciers and ice sheets from Greenland to Antarctica means sea levels will likely rise by 10cm more than previously projected in 2100, to up to 1.1m, potentially impacting hundreds of millions of people around the world. Report co-author Associate Professor Nerilie Abram from the Australian National University said that once-in-a-century extreme flooding events in Australia would happen at “at least once every year by the middle of this century”. Abram said the worst impacts can still be avoided, but that plans to adapt should also be developed. “There are a range of possible options, from building barriers to planned relocation, to protecting the coral reefs and mangroves that provide natural coastal defences," she said. The report release comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivered his first address ($) to the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday, focusing on environmental issues beyond climate change. He said: “We need to take action on climate change, but there are actually issues like plastics in our oceans, which present even more immediate threats.”
Church child abuse: The Age reports that the Catholic Church is facing at least 800 new legal actions for child sexual abuse in Victoria, after the introduction of laws that allow victims to sue the church and revisit unfair settlements. The lawsuits include compensation sought for abuse by convicted paedophile priests, including Gerald Ridsdale and Paul David Ryan. At least one legal action has been filed against George Pell, who is seeking to appeal to the High Court against his conviction of abusing a choirboy. The lawsuits will have significant financial implications for the church, which is sacking staff and restructuring its head office in Melbourne, but also mean significant delays in processing the claims of victims.
Abortion decriminalisation: The New South Wales Upper House has passed a bill to decriminalise abortion following a debate that lasted nearly 40 hours. The bill passed 26 votes to 14 on Wednesday night, with the Lower House now to consider the amendments to the original legislation as the first order of business on Thursday, including a ban on sex-selective abortions and stricter regulation of late-term abortions. Independent MP Alex Greenwich, who first introduced the bill, said in a statement: “With the passage of this bill abortion will be decriminalised in NSW – I am sorry that has taken us so long.”
Trump impeachment: US President Donald Trump has authorised the release of a transcript summary of his phone call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The memo reveals that Trump urged Zelensky to investigate his political rival Joe Biden over the employment of Biden’s son Hunter with a Ukrainian gas company. Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry over allegations that Trump used the office of the presidency to attempt to damage a political rival, and that he withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to prompt an investigation into Biden. Trump had a one-on-one with Zelensky on Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, where the US President credited his Ukrainian counterpart for “strongly looking into all sorts of corruption”.