After years of careful manoeuvring, the Coalition government is readying to make radical changes to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The revised system will force new assessments and tighten eligibility.It is hard to understate the seismic nature of this shift for the NDIS – and the decision-making power it has concentrated in the hands of the federal government.
Australian environmental scientists are experiencing widespread and worsening suppression of their work by industry and government, according to a new study. A survey by the Ecological Society of Australia of 220 scientists found roughly one-third reported undue modification of their work on topics including the impact of the climate crisis, mining, and land clearing. About half the government scientists and nearly 40 per cent of those working for industry claimed to have been blocked from releasing or discussing what they had found either publicly or internally, and slightly more than half said constraints were becoming stricter in recent years. Lead author Don Driscoll said the study indicated policies on issues such as bushfires may not be informed by the best science. “In reality, these findings may be the tip of the iceberg,” he told Guardian Australia. “It reflects on a type of corruption that’s going on in the system.” It comes as an injunction was filed in the Federal Court on Tuesday as part of a class action to stop approval of the Vickery coal mine expansion, arguing it would harm young people by exacerbating climate change.
An inquiry into Victoria’s hotel quarantine system has heard how returned travellers wandered into public spaces and visited convenience stores. The inquiry also listened to accounts of how private security guards worked multiple jobs and lived in “crowded, dense accommodation”, and that some did not tell contact tracers that they worked in hotel quarantine. Hand hygiene and the use of personal protective equipment by the guards at the hotels was “below the appropriate standard”. It comes as The Age reports that 531 elderly Victorians have died in aged-care homes during the pandemic, with many of the facilities hit hardest given a clean bill of health by the federal regulator months earlier.
Australian journalist Cheng Lei's detention in Beijing is related to “carrying out criminal activities endangering China's national security”, the country's foreign ministry claims. It is the first official explanation of why Cheng was detained by authorities last month. Cheng remains under “residential surveillance at a designated location” in Beijing, which can last up to six months before a suspect is formally arrested or charged. It comes as the last two other Australian journalists in the country, Bill Birtles from the ABC and Michael Smith from The Australian Financial Review, were evacuated from China.
The 2021 Tamworth Country Music Festival has been cancelled, after a vote by local councillors to suspend all council-run events due to Covid-19 restrictions. “Today is a sad day, not only for Tamworth, but for the artists, and the country music industry,” festival manager Barry Harley said. The annual Country Music Awards of Australia as well as the Golden Guitar Awards will proceed via livestream events.