Friday, September 13, 2019

Brown coal plummets, renewables rise

The dirtiest form of coal energy is on the decline in Australia, with renewables sharply up, according to statistics to be released by the Morrison government today. Brown coal use dropped 17 per cent in the 2018 financial year, now meeting roughly 13 per cent of demand. Renewable wind and solar energy grew 10 per cent, contributing 17 per cent of total generation. Coal – mostly black –  still caters to 60 per cent of demand. Energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor said fossil fuels remained an “important part of meeting our energy needs”. On Thursday the minister for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, backflipped on his claim that he did not know if climate change was linked to human activity. The news comes as the ACT goes to tender for a large-scale solar or wind farm with battery storage.

Gladys Liu controversy: The Liberal MP did not disclose her membership of organisations linked to the Chinese Government's foreign interference operations when she ran for preselection for the seat of Chisholm, according to the ABC. In paperwork filed before running, Liu disclosed membership of groups including the Box Hill Chess Club and the Australian Dancing Society, but did not mention her membership of the contentious China Overseas Exchange Association. Prime Minister Scott Morrison accused Labor of “casting a smear on Chinese Australians” in criticising Liu. She also faces a legal challenge to her eligibility due to misleading election advertising, as does treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who in addition faces a Section 44 challenge about his Hungarian heritage, an issue Liberals have linked to a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism across the country.

Australia pushes for release of Iran trio: Foreign minister Marise Payne has revealed ($) she flew to Bangladesh last week to meet her Iranian counterpart to lobby for the release of three detained Australians. Two of the three have been named as travel bloggers Mark Firkin and Jolie King, who were arrested about 10 weeks ago for flying a drone in Iran. The third is a university lecturer who reportedly faces a 10-year sentence. Details have emerged about cases of inhumane treatment, including torture, in the jail where they are detained.  

Trade war condemnation: In a joint statement published in The Australian, the treasurers and finance ministers of Australia, Canada, Indonesia and Singapore have called ($) for the end of the trade war between the US and China. “We must not resort to unilateralism and protectionism,” the statement read. “Pursuing confrontation over dialogue will only exacerbate risks, erode confidence and weaken the prospect of global economic recovery.” The statement comes as the US reportedly considers removing some of its tariffs on Chinese goods in return for commitments on increased farm purchases, and changes to intellectual property rules.

In sport: Allrounder Mitchell Marsh took four wickets on the opening day of the fifth Ashes men’s Test at The Oval. England had a promising start after being sent in to bat as Australia dropped several chances, before Marsh turned the match around, leaving the hosts at 8-271 by the close of play.

Holding onto Gladys Liu
As some backbenchers express doubt that Gladys Liu can stay in parliament, Scott Morrison is digging in behind his MP. Paul Bongiorno on the foreign influence scandals engulfing Canberra.


“A short video clip from a prime ministerial news conference is doing the rounds among some conservative religious groups. Scott Morrison is being asked about the GoFundMe website’s decision to take down rugby player Israel Folau’s fundraising page. The page had been established to fund Folau’s legal challenge after Rugby Australia sacked him for expressing religious views on social media condemning homosexuality, in breach of his contract. As Morrison wound up the June 24 Perth news conference, he was asked: ‘Do you support GoFundMe’s decision?’ The response was brief.” 


“It may seem the push–pull tensions between the East and the West are at the crux of the distinctive lie that cuts through director Lulu Wang’s tender, soft-hued sophomore feature, The Farewell. But carve out this central lie and its tougher logistics, and the film unfurls in gentler emotional waves – opening up unexpected truths. Wang’s interest is in those rich complexities of living in between worlds: where one’s hybrid immigrant identity leaves in its wake conflicted feelings of nostalgia, estrangement and a longing for connection.”


“There’s no doubt the populist backlash has caught the government by surprise. All of a sudden the perceived advantage for the Coalition in the areas of national and border security was slipping from its grasp. This was all the more of a shock to Dutton, who has been assiduously attacking Labor on the issues since the election. Some colleagues suspect it is a sign he is working on realising his failed leadership ambitions.”


“A not-for-profit Aboriginal medical service, the Indigenous Wellness Centre in Queensland, had to pay $2,200 to WAM Clothing last month for giving out T-shirts with the Aboriginal flag design to patients. WAM clothing claims it is the ‘exclusive worldwide licensee for the use of the Aboriginal flag on clothing, physical media and digital media’. The terms of the deal have not been disclosed, with the company citing confidentiality.”


“Air New Zealand's attempts to trademark a logo of a common Māori greeting has sparked anger and threats of a boycott from the Māori community. The Māori phrase ‘kia ora,’ which translates literally as ‘be well,’ is widely used across the country to mean ‘hello.’ Air New Zealand said that it wanted to trademark a logo of the phrase, which is also the name of its inflight magazine. Matthew Tukaki, a spokesman for the The Māori Council, called the ‘harebrained’ idea ‘an absolute disgrace’ in a video statement posted online.”



“Though Lizzie Magie patented The Landlord’s Game in 1904, Charles Darrow presented a bastardized version as his own invention and went on to make millions from the sale of Monopoly to game company Parker Brothers. The video posted on Hasbro’s Twitter account promoting the existence of Ms. Monopoly starts by noting ‘women hold just 10% of all patented inventions,’ which is ironic considering that Darrow got all the credit—and all the profit—for Magie's idea.”


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