While the Biden presidency pushes forward international climate action, both the Morrison government and its Labor opposition are fractured over emissions policy.After a hiatus caused by coronavirus, the twin issues of climate change and energy have resumed their place, secured over two decades, as the most intractable and dangerous in Australian politics.
A leaked draft report for the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission details plans for a taxpayer-supported investment into new gas fields and pipelines that would operate for decades. It recommends helping companies develop the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Basin and a $6 billion pipeline to connect Western Australian gas markets to the eastern states, according to Guardian Australia. The report was drafted by a manufacturing taskforce headed by the Dow Chemical executive Andrew Liveris, for a federal government-appointed commission dominated by fossil fuel executives. Other recommendations include that states subsidise gas-fired power plants to support a manufacturing sector that it says could support at least 85,000 direct jobs. The report does not mention climate change or the financial risk of investing in stranded fossil fuel assets. It comes as the Morrison Government unveils its “technology investment roadmap”, with Energy Minister Angus Taylor claiming gas would play an important part in “balancing” renewable energy sources.
A Federal Court court ruling on Wednesday found that “casual” workers who completed regular and predictable shifts with a firm advance commitment to work were not actually casuals, and therefore entitled to paid annual, sick and carer's leave. Mining union national secretary Tony Maher welcomed the finding, telling The Age “employers must now stop with the nonsense that calling a worker a casual makes them so”. The Australian Industry Group said the decision would discourage employers bringing on casual workers. The ruling bolsters class action lawsuits seeking hundreds of millions of dollars from employers.
Queensland’s chief health officer, Dr Jeannette Young, has backed Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on state border closures, warning they may remain shut beyond September. The state’s tourism minister Kate Jones said it depended upon when New South Wales and Victoria showed that community transmission was under control, reports The Courier Mail. Federal deputy chief medical officer Paul Kelly warned Queensland authorities to “take into account” that their benchmark of four weeks without a case was unlikely to be reached soon. Senator Pauline Hanson posted on Facebook that she had engaged a pro bono constitutional lawyer to represent Queenslanders whose business had been impacted in a court challenge over the “unconstitutional” closure. West Australian Premier Mark McGowan compared NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to a bully for calling on other states to scrap travel restrictions.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is considering the introduction of a four-day working week to help boost domestic tourism, productivity and employment. According to The New Zealand Herald, Ardern suggested a three-day weekend would boost domestic tourism to help tourism and hospitality sectors suffering from lockdown measures, which the country is beginning to ease, and the ban on international travel. Meanwhile, Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the country would open up to tourists again on June 15, as he announced financial support measures to revive the tourism sector. Greece has contained Covid-19 far better than its European neighbours, recording a total of 166 deaths as of Wednesday.