Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Morrison cooking with gas

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today detail plans to open up new gas reserves and offer to back the construction of a gas-fired power station, as part of his plan to drive a fossil-fuel led economic recovery. In a speech to business and industry in Newcastle, Morrison will announce federal government support for a gas plant in the New South Wales Hunter Valley if energy company AGL does not replace its Liddell coal-fired power station. He will also announce initial funding of $52.9m to support planning for five new gas fields and pipelines to transport gas to Australian cities. The move comes despite growing scientific evidence around fugitive emissions that indicates the carbon footprint of gas is much larger than previously thought. It comes as The Australian reports that Labor’s draft policy platform has dropped specific climate change targets for 2030, but earmarks investment in the clean energy sector as part of its Covid-19 economic response plan.

An internal police investigation has been launched after a man was allegedly kicked in the head by Victorian police. The man is now in a medically induced coma in hospital.  Footage shows an officer kicking down on the prone man's head before a group of police pin him down in Epping, in Melbourne’s north. Other angles of the arrest show a police car ramming the man before he runs away and trades blows with an officer. Police say the 32-year-old man became aggressive and damaged a police vehicle as he attempted to avoid arrest. The man’s father says he suffers from bipolar disorder and had been seeking treatment at the Northern Hospital Epping, but went outside to meet a work colleague, which prompted hospital staff to call police.

Friends and colleagues of Australian academic Kylie Moore-Gilbert have held a vigil in Sydney to mark the two-year anniversary of her detention. The scholar was first arrested in Tehran after speaking at a conference, and sentenced to 10 years in prison on espionage charges. Supporters of Moore-Gilbert have used the anniversary of her arrest to renew calls for her release. A day earlier, people around Australia and the United Kingdom, where Moore-Gilbert is also a citizen, marked the anniversary by participating in a “Run for Kylie” campaign. SBS reports that Moore-Gilbert has been doing laps of the small jail yard she has access to, despite only being issued plastic prison slippers. 

Shinzo Abe's chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, is set to become Japan's next prime minister, after winning support from 377 out of 534 MPs and regional delegates in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The 71-year-old is expected to be formally declared prime minister on Wednesday after a vote in parliament, where the LDP has a ruling majority. Abe resigned as prime minister last month due to ill health.

“We aren't saying it's a 100 per cent robust detection of life, but what we can say is that we've opened it up to the possibility that it is that. We don't know any other process that can explain the phosphine detection that we see.

The politics of a coronavirus vaccine
A coronavirus vaccine is the best chance the world has of returning to some kind of normal, but the stalling of one of the most viable candidates last week was a reminder that nothing is guaranteed.

 
 

“Sutton said the recent decision by the state government to upgrade the technology powering the tracing effort ‘should have been part and parcel of our response for years’. To underscore this, he said: ‘We still get notified of cases by fax’ … But Sutton made another comment during the briefing that alluded to much deeper, structural flaws with the state’s contact tracing team.” 

“Shakespeare wrote: ‘For ’tis the sport to have the engineer hoist with his own petard.’ And, indeed, there is some satisfaction in seeing the petard that hoisted the Juukan Gorge also sending some of Rio Tinto’s top brass flying out of the executive wing for overseeing the destruction of the ancient rock shelters.”

EDITORIAL

“It’s been rightly said the arrest of Cheng in August, closely followed by Smith’s and Birtles’ departure, marks a new low in the mercurial relations between China and Australia. But the tit for tat of diplomatic bickering has also taken on a new quality: the focus on fickle trade tariffs has fallen away; now people have become the bargaining chips.”

 
 

“Nor does either document refer to the issues that prompted the royal commission in the first place: chronic understaffing, skills shortages, ineffectual regulation, endemic neglect and basic failures of care, overreliance on chemical and physical restraints, sexual and physical abuse, malnutrition, dehydration, preventable injuries and premature deaths.”

 
 

“Former prime minister Paul Keating has laid out a HECS-style loan plan aimed at covering home care costs for elderly Australians who do not want to go into a nursing home. Giving evidence to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety today, Mr Keating said a Commonwealth-run post-paid system could reduce wait times for home care packages and ease the financial burden on families.”

 
 

“The Olympics are about our position in the world. Our mythology does not have us topping the medal tally. But it does have us doing better than we should, which is why silver is fine, but gold is, at some point, necessary. The thought that an Aboriginal girl from Mackay could go on to be the best in the world (note how often we mention the small-town origins of our champions) is irresistibly intoxicating. It feeds our mythology that we are the little nation that could, vanquishing bigger, older, more powerful foes against the odds.”

 
 

“As a thunderstorm boils up into the mountains of central New Mexico, the researchers at Langmuir Laboratory are checking their rockets, climbing into a steel bunker below the launch pad, and waiting for the right moment to fire into the clouds, hoping that lightning will strike back. From the glass cupola of a control tower about a mile away, Langmuir staff scan the nearby trails for hikers, and signal a five-minute window to the bunker crew.”

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