Friday, August 16, 2019

Australia stands against Pacific coal phase-out

Australia has prevented a statement of unanimous regional support for the phasing out of coal at the Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu. In a marathon meeting with 17 regional leaders that lasted nearly 12 hours, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was the lone voice of dissent ($) on issuing a statement supporting the Funafuti Declaration, which acknowledges a climate change crisis, encourages countries to revise emissions reductions targets, and calls for a rapid phase out of coal use. Instead a communique was passed with a qualification saying not all countries supported the statement. Climate change poses an existential threat to Pacific Islands facing sea-level rise, including the host nation of Tuvalu. The meeting included New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Arden, who earlier in the week said Australia “must answer to the Pacific” on climate change.  Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones yesterday responded to Arden’s comment by saying the Australian PM should “shove a sock down her throat", sparking widespread condemnation, including from Morrison. The controversy comes as five climate protesters have been arrested after storming the WA Parliament at an Extinction Rebellion rally in Perth on Thursday.

From one Parliament to another: The lower house of Victorian parliament has voted 56-27 in favour of a bill allowing transgender and intersex people to change their birth certificates without having surgery. The legislation will likely move to the upper house for debate in the final week of August. The Liberal-National opposition is expected to oppose the bill, meaning the Labor government requires the support of three crossbench MPs to pass the bill into law. The bill would allow applicants to choose their birth certificate gender as male, female or a non-binary option. “A birth certificate is the first document a person has — it says who you are, and where you belong,” Equality Australia's chief executive Anna Brown said in a statement.

Speaking of equality: African women in garment factories sewing blue jeans for a range of major labels including Levi’s faced widespread sexual harassment and gender-based violence, with some coerced into having sex with supervisors to keep their jobs, according to labour rights groups. In a report produced by the Worker Rights Consortium and a range of partners, a range of abuses were uncovered at Nien Hsing Textile Co. Ltd factories employing 10,000 people in Lesotho, a small country in southern Africa. “All of the women in my department have slept with the supervisor,” WRC quoted one female worker as saying. “For the women, this is about survival and nothing else.” In response to the revelations, the brands have agreed to bring in outside oversight and enforcement.

In sport: Australia has dismissed England for 258 on day two at Lord's, following a washout on the first day of the second Ashes cricket Test. Australian captain Tim Paine won the toss and elected to bowl first, with Pat Cummins, Nathan Lyon, and the recalled Josh Hazlewood picking up three wickets apiece to put the visitors in the box seat. England opening batsman Rory Burns top scored for the home side with 52. Australia was then left to face a challenging 20 overs at the end of the day, making it to stumps on 1-30 with David Warner once again getting out to Stuart Broad.  

Hastie and Morrison
As the Morrison government begins its inquiry into press freedom, there is concern about the bipartisanship of the committee hearing it. At the centre is Andrew Hastie.


“‘I think if you look again at the figures, more people are being displaced now within their own country by the impacts of disasters than by conflict,’ says McAdam. ‘The scientists will say it’s impossible to link a particular event – this flood, or that drought – to climate change ... what we do know is that we’re seeing more frequent disasters and more intense disasters and those things are consistent with climate change. We are going to see disaster on steroids. There’s an assumption that “one day” people will be fleeing climate change, but it’s already happening. It’s happening right now.’” 


“Yunupingu’s threat to throw the Constitution into the sea is obviously a metaphor, but from the leader of the Yolngu saltwater people it is a powerful one. And not only is support for the demands of the Uluru statement gaining traction – the opponents are being rebutted from all sides. Even Barnaby Joyce has backed down from the untrue assertion that a voice would be a third chamber of parliament.”


“The Sydney-born playwright Oriel Gray didn’t particularly like journalists but enjoyed journalists’ banter and their constant search for a scoop. When her ABC reporter partner, John Hepworth, joined the Canberra press gallery prior to the 1949 federal election that ousted her beloved prime minister Ben Chifley, Gray discovered journos went to lots of great parties. ‘Your head spun from unbelievably believable gossip, suppositions and innuendos both political and sexual, as much as it did from the variegated liquor,’ she marvelled decades later.”


“Taxpayers paid $140m for failed private companies’ unpaid wages bills in the first nine months of the last financial year, with the cost expected to rise to $882m over the next four years. Australia’s corporate regulator is also yet to use its powers to disqualify directors who misuse the unpaid wages safety net because new penalties introduced in April are not retrospective. ”


“Clive Palmer outspent McDonald’s, Toyota and Coles spruiking his United Australia party in the year leading up to the federal election, and spent more than $8m on saturation advertising in the final week of the contest, according to new analysis obtained by Guardian Australia.”


“Hundreds of ‘disgusted’ Aussies walked out and booed loudly when a supposedly high-octane Sydney show from some of the world’s best daredevils fell disastrously flat. A 6500-strong crowd gathered to watch the world-famous Crusty Demons motorbike stunt show at the Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Saturday, and they were promised death-defying stunts, pyrotechnics and scantily clad women. However, attendees — paying up to $139 each for tickets — were left sorely disappointed at almost every aspect of the show, which was called off after five minutes of tame jumps and a burnout.”


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