New concerns surround the government’s increased use of legislative powers to bypass the parliament and create laws that cannot be amended or overturned. The federal government has embedded special powers in new Covid-19 laws to make unilateral changes to non-pandemic-related legislation, using what are known as ‘Henry VIII clauses’ – named for the unchecked power they involve.
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.