Monday, February 10, 2020

Floods trigger Sydney evacuations

The heaviest downpour in decades has prompted evacuations in Sydney, as New South Wales suffers flash flooding and mass blackouts. In the most severe rains for coastal NSW since 1998, thousands were ordered to evacuate from low-lying suburbs, with the Hawkesbury River, Georges River, and the Narrabeen Lagoon flooding over. There was also flooding in south-east Queensland. More than 137,000 households and businesses were without power at 9pm on Sunday night, and gale force winds blew a tree onto a car in the Sydney CBD, resulting in the hospitalisation of four people. The rain has extinguished many of the state’s bushfires, including the Currowan fire that burnt through nearly 500,000 hectares. The downpour has also replenished dams, with Warragamba Dam set for an inflow of nine months of water supply in less than a week. Monday’s forecast promises more heavy rain and wild winds, with dozens of schools closed for the day. The news comes as former tropical cyclone Damien dissipates after hitting north-west of Western Australia with winds topping 200km/h ($).

Crossbench climate push: Independent MP Zali Steggall and fellow crossbenchers Rebekah Sharkie, Helen Haines and Andrew Wilkie are today releasing the climate change national framework for adaption and mitigation bill. “The bill will be circulated to all MPs as well as business, environmental and relevant stakeholder groups on Monday,” Steggall said. The crossbenchers are calling for a March 23 conscience vote on the plan, which establishes a framework for climate action that is independently monitored. The news comes as Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor tells The Age that Australia will take a new, unspecified long-term emissions reduction target to November's UN climate summit. More than 80 countries have committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said he would “never make a commitment like that if I couldn’t tell the Australian people what it would cost them”.

Widodo in Canberra: Indonesian President Joko Widodo will today address a joint sitting ($) of the Australian parliament, as he visits Australia to announce a 100-day action plan to ­implement the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said building a stronger trade relationship with Indonesia would hedge against Australia’s economic reliance on China. 

AFLW: The Western Bulldogs defeated St Kilda 6.3 (39) to 2.2 (14) in front of a crowd of 8000 people at Moorabbin on Sunday, while Collingwood defeated West Coast 5.8 (38) to 1.5 (11). The results cap off a first round of the AFL’s women’s league that saw all four expansion clubs suffer defeats, with Gold Coast and Richmond beaten by GWS and Carlton, respectively.


“This is a love story. It ends, at least to public view, at a dinner party in a glass-fronted room above the botanic gardens in Sydney. The venue was the American Club, now closed. Susan and Isaac Wakil had invited their closest friends. The couple were famous for their hospitality. They were reclusive and shy, but almost always they were described as elegant. ‘Nobody knew it was their last dinner party, they didn’t tell anyone,’ a long-time friend says.”


“It’s significant, though, that a militarised border regime designed to punish and deter foreign arrivals and admired by Donald Trump ... has now been extended to capture Australian citizens. And it’s crucial to understand how we arrived here, with little debate or backlash, and what it means for future crises or shock events like the coronavirus outbreak.”


“There is no mistaking that our moment in history has provided Adam Bandt with a considerable opportunity. Where once the Greens’ dual intuitions – addressing wealth inequality and environmental crises – were seen as disparate, conflicting even, public consciousness of their interconnectedness is growing.”


“The Australian Coalition government has announced a new $4 million grant to pursue a new 1GW coal fired generator in north Queensland in one of the first acts of the new pro-coal resources minister Keith Pitt ... who has campaigned relentlessly for coal and nuclear, against renewable energy targets and last year called for the Queensland grid to be separated from the rest of the national grid so it could burn more coal.”


“Marles maintained public funds should not be used to subsidise coal and the market should be allowed to make its own decisions, but if a private company decided to push forward with a mine and gained the necessary approvals Marles said Labor would not stand in its way.”


Moral masturbation: You know exactly which parts of the story make you experience your moral superiority most acutely, which vistas from the high ground have the best view. Fondly you rehearse the same plot points, imagine slight variations and hypotheticals, cherish the knowledge that the ending will always be the same — it’s you, now, irrefutably right. Afterward, you feel a little gross.”

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