Thursday, June 11, 2020

Broker leak reveals Adani insurers

Leaked invoices reveal four global insurers are underwriting the Adani coal mine in Queensland, despite all of them promoting climate policies that restrict coverage of new coal projects. Global firms Liberty International Underwriters, HDI, XL Australia, and Aspen Re have provided insurance cover to the mine and rail project, reports The Sydney Morning Herald, after climate activists successfully pressured local institutions to shun the project. Adani employed insurance broker Marsh McLennan to secure the coverage. A Marsh McLennan employee released the invoices on the condition of anonymity. “It’s kept under lock and key,” the employee said. “Colleagues are finding out about Marsh's affiliation via the protests and articles in the news. Departments have lost domestic clients over this already and colleagues are concerned about where Marsh stands on climate change and what we represent.” 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has responded to requests to extend JobKeeper support for Virgin Australia employees by ramping up calls for state leaders to open borders for travel in July. “If we’re concerned about Virgin employees, it is very important that we open up the domestic borders in this country,” Morrison told parliament on Wednesday. Deloitte administrators overseeing bids for Virgin Australia are concerned buyers may not proceed without guarantees of continued support. Labor’s transport spokeswoman Catherine King called for the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to be extended beyond the September cut-off. “We’re now almost in the 11th hour and we’re yet to see any response from the government at all to the Virgin administrators, let alone to the 16,000 workers and their families who rely on Virgin,” she said. A move to extend JobKeeper to university workers failed in the Senate on Wednesday evening, defeated by 31 votes to 30.

Chinese education agents have threatened to divert thousands of students to the United Kingdom, in the wake of a warning delivered by China's Ministry of Education against studying in Australia due to racism. Education agents have accused Australia of discriminating against students and using them as a cash cow, reports The Age. Austlink chairwoman Amy Mo, who sends 2000 students to Australia a year, said: “If Australian politicians don't regret and keep being the running-dog of the United States in the name of so-called values, Chinese tourists and students will not go there.” About 110,000 Chinese enrolments were worth approximately $3.1 billion to 10 Australian universities in 2018. Chinese students told the ABC that racism had increased during the pandemic but the government warning was “over the top”.

A bill that could see pedophiles jailed for life is set to pass federal parliament. Attorney-General Christian Porter says pedophiles were too often given short sentences. “Sexual crimes against children destroy lives,” he said on Thursday. The new laws would see pedophiles face mandatory minimum sentences under the bill and restrict bail for those charged.  New offences would be created targeting those who administer websites that distribute child sex abuse material. It would also create offences for when someone subjects a child to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. While Labor has concerns about mandatory minimum sentencing, senators won't oppose the bill on Thursday if its amendments are not supported. 


“Prisoners say that within weeks of the visitation ban, serious incidents broke out at Wellington, Cessnock and Goulburn prisons. Last week, in Lithgow, 12 prisoners were injured in a brawl. In the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre near Kempsey, a prison officer was held hostage for several hours ... While some countries have responded to the Covid-19 threat by releasing low-level offenders, Australia has instead tried to create ‘bubbles’ inside its prisons.”


“The protests seem to have had some effect. The Morrison government has reportedly scrapped a draft Closing the Gap agreement to reduce by 19 per cent the rate at which Indigenous people are being locked up, because it wants to take a more ambitious target to state and territory leaders in July. The signalling of that intention represents just about the first glimmer of interest any government has shown in decarceration in decades. Of course, targets are meaningless without substantive action.”


“Just as a grateful nation thought Cory Bernardi, the former pub keeper, former Liberal and former Australian Conservative, had stumbled off into that special pantheon reserved for ‘unrepresentative swill’, we find he’s back, looking to put his hand in your pocket. Yes. Cory Bernardi Confidential has been launched – a special website with intriguing gems behind a paywall, including ‘Who’s been swimming naked?’ and ‘Is this the new normal?’”


“BHP Billiton is poised to destroy at least 40 – and possibly as many as 86 – significant Aboriginal sites in the central Pilbara to expand its $4.5bn South Flank iron ore mining operation, even though its own reports show it is aware that the traditional owners are deeply opposed ... a BHP archaeological survey identified rock shelters that were occupied between 10,000 and 15,000 years ago and noted that evidence ... showed ‘occupation of the surrounding landscape has been ongoing for approximately 40,000 years’.”


“As statues around the world are being toppled amid anti-racism protests, Australia is being urged to once again look at its own colonial-era monuments … Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt told SBS News that these statues should not be removed. ‘I don't believe removing statues contributes positively to this conversation,’ he said. ‘These statues should remain as a reminder of a point in time in our lives – even when detrimental. They serve as prompts to encourage people to talk about history.’”


“Punters had to book to get into Doornroosje nightclub to watch a short set in the afternoon. There was a max of 30 people on the dancefloor, and they had to remain seated the entire time, appropriately distanced from each other. ‘It’s still very cool,’ promoter Jonatan Brand told Reuters. ‘People are still dancing, although they are on the chair, they’re fist-pumping, they’re moving their bodies, so — it’s great.’”

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