Thursday, July 30, 2020

New targets for Closing the Gap

A national agreement will today commit Australia to reducing rates of Indigenous imprisonment, suicide and removal of children by welfare agencies. Prime Minister Scott Morrison will reveal all state and territory governments have signed up to 16 targets as part of a new Closing the Gap agreement to improve the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The ABC reports the agreement will include the target to have 30 per cent fewer young Indigenous prisoners and 15 per cent fewer Indigenous adults in detention by 2031, cutting the number of Indigenous children in out-of-home care by 45 per cent by 2031, and educating 70 per cent of young Indigenous people to achieve tertiary qualifications by 2031. Other target areas to be introduced for the first time include language preservation, housing and land rights. It comes as Western Australia records its third Aboriginal death in custody in less than two months on Wednesday, with authorities claiming a 47-year-old prisoner at Roebourne Regional Prison took his own life. The man's death will be subject to an inquest and an internal review. Lifeline: 13 11 14

Locals have queued at testing sites in Brisbane after at least three new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on Wednesday, the first recorded in the state outside quarantine since May. One of the women suffering from Covid-19 visited businesses from Browns Plains to Southbank over several days including popular eateries, prompting health officials to begin extensive contact tracing. Two of the cases were identified after the return of travellers who visited Melbourne via Sydney in defiance on a travel ban to Victoria. A third case is believed to have been detected in sister of one of the first two travellers. In Victoria, Covid-19 sceptic Eve Black has been arrested and had her vehicle’s window smashed by police, days after a video of her attempt to evade a Melbourne checkpoint went viral. ABC News Breakfast co-hosts Michael Rowland, Lisa Millar and Nate Byrne have decided to self isolate after the wife of a crew member tested positive.

Legal advice obtained by the Australian Conservation Foundation indicates records of the national cabinet may not be exempt from freedom of information disclosures as claimed, reports Guardian Australia. The advice also finds it unclear whether or not the national cabinet can be set up as a cabinet office policy committee of the federal cabinet, as it includes state and territory leaders. It comes as the prime minister’s department refused freedom of information requests to release 1100 documents linked to the National Covid-19 Coordination Commission’s deliberations of gas projects and 690 documents about potential conflicts of interest, and redacted its meeting minutes on economic and national security grounds.

The Emergency Leaders for Climate Action are today calling on the federal government to impose a levy on the fossil fuel industry to pay for the impact of natural disasters. It is one of 165 recommendations by a group of more than 150 experts and affected community members after the ELCA National Bushfire Summit in June and July. ELCA said its recommendations would cost billions of dollars to implement, including greater funding for firefighting and land management to ensure faster identification and dousing of new fires. ELCA co-founder and former Fire and Rescue NSW commissioner, Greg Mullins, told the ABC Australia could no longer rely on assistance with aerial firefighting from overseas due to “overlapping bushfire seasons”.  


“The Morrison government is being warned that its changes to the JobKeeper wage subsidy have only delayed the country hitting an economic cliff, with a growing number of now unviable businesses facing bankruptcy in coming months.... small business ombudsman Kate Carnell says JobKeeper will still be propping up unviable businesses that probably should close. ‘We’re going to just end up with this huge wave of businesses that the insolvency practitioners just won’t be able to deal with,’ she says.”


“Australia’s official advice to all would-be travellers abroad is blunt: ‘Do not go overseas.’ But Australian foreign minister Marise Payne and defence minister Linda Reynolds decided not to heed their own government’s warning ... The Americans reportedly asked for a face-to-face meeting and Payne and Reynolds agreed. The pair have presented their decision to attend the summit in person as a response to increasing international instability, but it is also a sign that the US–Australia alliance is currently in a state of flux.”


“I recall many years ago my grandmother sipping on Vegemite stirred into a mug of hot water. I also recall that despite it being a daily occurrence I always reacted with shock and mild disgust. But now I can see that Nan was a visionary.”


“Thousands of university staff jobs could have been saved if the government had not cut the sector out of JobKeeper wage subsidies. University management and union representatives have separately told senators ... the sector is on track to shed 21,000 full-time equivalent jobs by the end of the year, which could mean up to 30,000 people.”


“More than 600 academics from 36 Australian universities and members of the academic community have signed an open letter to federal and state education ministers calling for a return to a more democratic, cost-effective and functional structure ... We argue the problems Australian universities are facing have largely been produced by a profound transformation over the past several decades, which has morphed them into organisations that mirror the hierarchical corporate structures of the commercial sector.”


“To underscore just how lavish and extravagant pineapples were, consider the pineapple rental market ... Before selling them for consumption, pineapple merchants rented pineapples to people who couldn’t afford to purchase them. Those who rented would take the pineapple to parties, not to give as a gift to the host, but to carry around and show off their apparent ability to afford such an expensive fruit.”

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