Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Wyatt bemoans failure to close gap

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt has acknowledged failures to meet targets to address Indigenous childhood mortality, life expectancy, school attendance and employment, as detailed in the 2020 Closing the Gap report to be released today. Wyatt told The Age an Indigenous child mortality rate at twice the rate for non-Indigenous kids of 141 per 100,000 “shouldn't be occurring in a first-world nation”, and that a new community-led approach was needed. Only two of seven targets are on track: those for early childhood education and Year 12 attainment. The report is in danger of being overshadowed by Liberal infighting over a proposed referendum on Indigenous recognition in the constitution. The news comes as Aboriginal man Brendan Thoms was released from immigration detention on Tuesday after the High Court ruled that Indigenous Australians cannot be deported.

Coronavirus response: World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned a vaccine for coronavirus, now officially known as COVID-19, may not be available for another 18 months. Speaking at a conference of hundreds of health experts in Geneva, he said countries needed to be “as aggressive as possible” and view the virus as “public enemy number one”. The news comes as Australians left behind in the locked-down area of Wuhan say the Australian Government did not notify them of evacuation flights, despite having registered details with Australian consular officials in China. “Now they told us there won't be a third flight for evacuation,” said Shirley Xiang. “It is very unfair that the government decided to not evacuate my children.”

Emissions rising: Industrial greenhouse gas emissions in Australia have risen 60 per cent in 15 years, according to a new report by energy analysis firm Reputex. The report found emissions in sectors covered by the Coalition’s “safeguard mechanism” rose from 89 million tonnes in 2005 to 142 million tonnes in 2019, and were projected to reach 187 million tonnes by 2030. The news comes as incoming Resources Minister Keith Pitt says Australia will need to increase coal, gas and uranium exports to pay for essential services.

Nationals expenses: The office of Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, planned to allow MPs to bill taxpayers for flights and accommodation for the 100th anniversary dinner of the Nationals, according to a text message leaked to The Courier-Mail ($). A party-room meeting had been scheduled to coincide with the event at a five-star Melbourne hotel, which would have allowed MPs to deduct expenses. Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday urged McCormack’s office to get advice from the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority.


“Like the Lord, Clive Palmer giveth and taketh away. In 2016, when the price of nickel crashed, he mothballed his nickel operation and sacked his workers. In 2019, having failed to win a single seat in either the senate or house of representatives, he mothballed his party and consigned his candidates back into the obscurity from which they had come. The difference is that the refinery workers were angry at being sacked and stiffed for their entitlements by their billionaire boss … His former candidates, on the other hand, were not at all unhappy.”


“Can he elaborate? The living room we are in falls silent. The cries of peacocks waft up from downstairs. Collaery is the subject of a national security order preventing him speaking publicly about the prosecution of both himself and Witness K; he’s gagged from even repeating past public comments about it. He maintains that all he did was provide professional legal advice and has characterised the charges as a ‘determined push to hide dirty political linen under the guise of national security imperatives’.”


“In front of her appreciative home crowd, and with tears in her eyes and the job done, she was a soldier on her way to the medical tent while her team was en route to a premiership. ‘That audience really opened up a whole new era for women’s sport,’ Phillips tells The Saturday Paper. ‘Even though it was a football game, to have 50,000 people at Adelaide Oval for a women’s competition basically showed the importance of women’s sport and particularly how AFLW has impacted us as a society.’”


“The $51 billion National Broadband Network will be completed on time and on budget by June this year, the infrastructure project's chief executive Stephen Rue has confirmed, as the company's half-year loss soared past $2 billion.”


“However, experts told The New Daily it would be impossible for the rollout to be completed by June, and that taxpayers will have to stump up billions more to cover the cost of upgrading outdated technology used across much of the network ... There is ‘no way’ the NBN rollout will be completed by June, Dr Gregory said. ‘The areas affected by the fires will not be finished by the middle of the year,’ he said. He also claimed that NBN Co is ‘bypassing’ a ‘large number’ of ‘hard-to-complete’ properties in the rush to meet its deadline.”


“Area: 100 m², Border: square, 10m side, defined with rope tied to pickaxes arround a square of crushed rye, Population: 1 inhabitant, Location: 41.298691º, -3.400101º, Start: July 30, 2015, 19:15, End: July 31, 2015, 11:38.”

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