Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Berejiklian refuses to resign

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is set to face a motion of no confidence in her government today, following revelations she ignored potentially corrupt behavior from former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire. On Monday Berejiklian admitted to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation into Maguire that she was in a secret “close personal relationship” with Maguire for five years. In phone calls and text messages between the two, Maguire bragged about receiving commissions for brokering property deals, including for rezoned land near the site of the new western Sydney airport, to pay off debts, and Berejiklian would congratulate him and ask not to be told of key details. Backed by her cabinet colleagues, Berejiklian has vowed to stay on, but she faces a potential backbench revolt. NSW Labor leader Jodi McKay is set to move a motion of no confidence today, and One Nation and Greens Upper House crossbenchers told The Daily Telegraph they may no longer support government legislation because of the scandal. 

Rio Tinto lawyers warned traditional owners trying to save the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge rock shelters that they were gagged from speaking publicly about the issue, an inquiry has heard. Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Carol Meredith also claimed they were told they could not apply for a federal emergency halt to works without first giving Rio Tinto 30 days’ notice. “We were hamstrung and we were reminded that we were not to speak about this publicly, that we had the gag clauses and we needed to remain compliant,” she said. The caves were destroyed for an iron ore mine expansion on the traditional lands of the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people. 

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham says he is aware of media reports several Chinese state-owned steel mills and energy providers have been told to stop importing Australian coal. Global commodities newswire platform S&P Platts on Monday reported that four utilities had received a “verbal notice” to stop using Australian thermal and coking coal imports “with immediate effect” on October 9. Shares in Australian energy companies dipped by 1.3 per cent late on Monday on the back of the news. Birmingham told SBS News: “Australia will continue to highlight our standing as a reliable supplier of high grade resources that provide mutual benefits.”

European countries including Italy and England are mulling new restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19, as a second wave of cases continues to sweep the continent. Italy is expected to impose new rules this week, including a potential ban on consuming alcohol outside bars and stores and a ban on private parties or a limit on numbers of attendees. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to announce a new system of alert levels. Each area of the country will be placed under “medium” “high” or “very high” alert levels. Liverpool in north-west England is expected to be in the highest tier, which will see restrictions tightened, and gyms, pubs and casinos closed. The middle tier is expected to involve restrictions on households mixing indoors. The UK government reported 12,872 new cases and 65 deaths on Sunday, while Italy reported a total of 5456 new cases and 26 new deaths.

The people the government left behind
Experts have accused the government of failing to properly fund the aged care sector in this year’s federal budget. Advocacy groups are also concerned about the lack of support for young people, women, the unemployed and migrants.

“The billionaire gambling tycoon James Packer once said he measured his success in ‘toys’. The person who accumulates the most toys in life, he claimed, was the winner. And on that score, he was a winner before he uttered a single word this week to a public inquiry by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) ... Packer gave his evidence from aboard his big new toy, a sleek 108-metre Benetti gigayacht, acquired last year for more than $200 million.”

“Following Mathias Cormann’s long and successful run in the provinces, Scott Morrison believes his retiring finance minister is ready to take on the world, nominating him for the prestigious role of secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This is the big one: the OECD is where the real movers and shakers strut their stuff. So it would be a giant leap for a man who has never come higher than third in the hierarchy of Australia’s Liberal–National Coalition.”

“For nearly a decade, Australia’s government has been allergic to this fact. The 2020 budget proves that not even our own Black Summer could shake loose the calcified denial. Instead, there is more funding for coal power – a sum not yet disclosed – with Energy Minister Angus Taylor offering to help maintain the Vales Point Power Station on the New South Wales Central Coast.”

“See if on short notice you could come up with something to set a post-war record for being un-Australian ... I have it! Why not hive off a bit of the iconic Bondi Beach for the exclusive use of the rich? Well, how funny I should say that because such is the precise proposal put forward by a mob called Amalfi Beach Club, which wants to have a European style ‘beach club’ on the sands this summer as the exclusive preserve of those who can afford to pay for it.”

“Making the beach difficult to get to via public transport is a time-honoured tactic to keep the western Sydney undesirables away. Any attempt to improve public transport access to the northern beaches (not called the ‘insular peninsula’ for nothing) is met with ferocious opposition from locals. Even the state government’s relatively modest attempt to boost bus services via the B-Line a few years ago was resisted by the likes of the former Mackellar MP Bronwyn Bishop, who said the quiet part loud when she argued the beaches’ lifestyle would be ‘threatened’ by more people ‘coming into the electorate’.”

“Greens leader Adam Bandt says this is the moment for Australia to be ambitious in its thinking about the recovery ... He is confident that a sweeping ‘government-led plan of investment and action to create a clean economy and a caring society’ is still possible – perhaps even more viable in the wake of Covid-19. ‘A three-decade-old neoliberal rule book has been thrown out the window,’ he says.”

“‘It’s a lot,’ planner influencer Desiree Perez tells me after explaining how involved she is in the planning community, what I call Planner World. She decorates multiple spreads a week, runs popular Instagram and YouTube channels, promotes for Happy Planner, one of the largest planner brands, works a full time job as an administrative assistant, and presumably sleeps at some point.”

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