Thursday, December 12, 2019

NSW Liberals mutiny over climate policy

New South Wales Environment Minister Matt Kean plans to introduce targets for a 35 per cent cut in emissions by 2030, breaking ranks with Liberal Party colleagues on the link between bushfires and climate change. After a climate rally in Sydney attracted thousands on Tuesday, The Sydney Morning Herald reports the target has been signed off by state cabinet. “We've got to stop making climate change a matter of religion and we've got to start making it a matter of science and the science says that we need to reduce the impact of global warming by 2 degrees and to do that we need to achieve zero emissions by 2050," Kean said. He specifically ruled out using carry-over credits, an accounting loophole his federal counterpart Angus Taylor is defending in the face of objections of at least 100 countries at the UN climate talks in Madrid. A new report by Climate Analytics finds that the use of carry-over credits, which would allow Australia to claim credit towards its Paris emissions target due to beating an earlier target set at Kyoto, has no legal basis. Activist Greta Thunberg, speaking at the Madrid conference on the day she was recognised as TIME person of the year, accused politicians at the event of “clever accounting” and “creative PR”.

Volcano victims named: More Australians have been confirmed dead from the volcanic eruption on Whakaari/White Island in New Zealand. The bodies of Coffs Harbour couple Richard Elzer and Karla Mathews are believed to be still on the island, while their friend Jason Griffiths died in hospital on Wednesday after suffering burns to 80 per cent of his body. In addition, Knox Grammar School in Sydney has reported that students and siblings Matthew and Berend Hollander are also dead. The first Australian victims identified on Wednesday were Brisbane mother and daughter Julie and Jessica Richards, and Adelaide man Gavin Dallow, 53. Dallow’s 15-year-old stepdaughter Zoe Hosking is believed to have died on the island. New Zealand healthcare providers imported 120 square metres of skin from the United States and Australia to treat burn injuries.

Corporate tax report: Roughly one third of large companies paid no tax in 2017-18, according to the Australian Tax Office's latest corporate tax transparency report. ATO deputy commissioner Rebecca Saint noted that $7 billion of sales income was now being booked in Australia due to the Federal Government's tougher anti-avoidance laws. The Australian Financial Review ($) reports that oil and gas companies were highlighted by the ATO as “systemic non-payers” of tax.

Bougainville referendum: Australia may soon have a new neighbour, with the region of Bougainville overwhelmingly voting in favour of independence from Papua New Guinea. A regional referendum counted 176,928 votes for independence out of 181,067 ballots. In other world news, Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Tuesday, where she described accusations of genocide against the Rohingya community as “incomplete and misleading.” In contested comments, the Nobel Peace Prize winner said the country was dealing with an armed conflict in Rakhine state that challenged the “sovereignty and security of Myanmar”.

What happened to David Savage
Seven years ago, David Savage was injured while working for the Australian government in Afghanistan. He has fought since to have his compensation settled and to have what actually happened to him acknowledged. Karen Middleton on one man’s long fight for the truth.


“In practice, public education is not free. Parental and other private contributions have become the norm as public schools attempt to fill government funding gaps. ‘Australia has one of the most inequitable, opaque and dysfunctional education funding regimes in the world,’ says Alan Reid, emeritus professor at the University of South Australia and author of Changing Australian Education. ‘In the past 20 to 30 years, the dominant purpose of education has been the economic purpose … We should include democratic, social and cultural purposes to develop young people to have a valid role in our democracy.’”


“Residential facilities for the old and the young follow the principle Marx first identified in factories, where both production of goods and surveillance of workers was more efficient: these places make economic sense, because they group people together. But they also group their disadvantages, sever accountabilities and slip easily into dens of despair. Can that be prevented?”


“The closure of parliament seems an apt moment to consider Morrison’s actions this year. His scattergun approach that saw little more than the country’s revenue base undermined in a moment of economic uncertainty, and vegan activists likened to terrorists under the law. Politics is always obsessed with victories – winning the vote, winning the news cycle. But lacking any coherent plan, the Morrison government has spent the year in a blinkered push towards a nebulous unknown.”


“A home and a petrol station have been razed by an out-of-control bushfire as another bout of extremely hot weather sweeps over Western Australia. An evacuation centre at Quinns Rock Sports Club at 17 Tapping Way has been set up for people affected by two fires burning north of Perth on Wednesday as firefighters continue to battle the blazes.”


“A climatic phenomenon of near-record intensity has contributed to two extremes on opposite sides of the Indian Ocean — torrential rain in East Africa and exceptionally dry conditions fuelling bushfires in Australia ... the parched and hazy landscape in Australia is in stark contrast to the rain-drenched terrain of east Africa, where severe floods, mudslides and landslides have killed nearly 300 people.”


“The prime minister was joining an early morning milk round in Leeds when he was confronted by Good Morning Britain’s Jonathan Swain about his ‘promise to talk to Piers [Morgan] and Susanna [Reid]’. ‘I’ll be with you in a second,’ Mr Johnson replied, before escaping into a large fridge. In a video of the incident, one of the prime minister’s aides can be seen mouthing ‘oh for f***’s sake’ after seeing Swain approaching the group.”

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