Having outperformed the world in containing coronavirus, Australia’s lack of action on climate change will precipitate a much greater crisis.If the Morrison government were really answerable to the Australian people rather than vested interests, it already would have agreed to a more ambitious climate response. That’s what the overwhelming majority of people have long wanted.
Westpac, the Perth Mint, and hundreds of Australians have been ensnared in a major global tax evasion investigation into an offshore bank linked to organised crime syndicates. The J5 taskforce made up of the tax chiefs of Australia, the US, UK, the Netherlands and Canada are investigating Euro Pacific Bank in Puerto Rico, fronted by celebrity business commentator Peter Schiff. An investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, 60 Minutes and The New York Times found that simultaneous raids around the world in January could lead to about 100 Australians investigated and jailed over tax evasion. The customers of Euro Pacific are advised to create accounts using front companies in other tax havens, creating a web of arrangements that are difficult to trace. Westpac facilitated the Puerto Rican’s bank’s dealings with its Australian customers, while Perth Mint partnered with Euro Pacific to allow wealthy customers to buy gold. Euro Pacific’s Australian clients have included Simon Anquetil, who was jailed for engineering Plutus Payroll, the country’s biggest tax scam.
Melburnians are waking up today to eased restrictions after more than 100 days of a hard lockdown. The five kilometre travel restriction has been extended to 25 kilometres, with two-hour time limits on gathering and exercising outside scrapped. The number of people gathering outdoors has been increased to 10 people, from two households. Residents will be able to get their hair done, play tennis, and sell their home at auctions, but are still not be able to dine out or go to a bar. Regional Victorian restrictions are also easing further. In a joint statement Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt welcomed the changes but urged the Victorian government to go further, highlighting job losses and mental health concerns. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he would not be rushed in reopening the state.
A class action will be lodged in the Federal Court today, seeking compensation from the West Australian government over decades of historic unpaid labour forced upon Indigenous people. More than 1000 people have registered for the claim, which could be expanded to cover up to 10,000 workers and their descendants, according to Shine Lawyers. The claimants include Lester Coyne, whose mother Jessie was kidnapped from her family at the age of nine and put to work in 1927 on poultry and citrus farms on the outskirts of Perth.
Dozens of travellers from New Zealand have flown into Western Australia, Victoria, and Tasmania, despite those states not being part of Australia’s international travel bubble arrangement. WA Premier Mark McGowan said that 23 people from New Zealand were now in hotel quarantine at their own expense, and criticised the Federal Government, NSW and the Northern Territory for allowing the breach. In Victoria, 55 New Zealanders arrived in the state, with border officers now patrolling Melbourne airports to prevent further international arrivals.
The United States remains the most powerful country in the region but registered the largest fall in relative power of any Indo–Pacific country this year, according to the Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index for 2020. Australia, Vietnam and Taiwan have seen their power in Asia rise partly due to their handling of the pandemic, with the trio’s efforts to shape the regional order through collaborative efforts among middle powers also of relevance. Australia surpassed South Korea on the index this year, to be listed as the sixth most powerful country, but ecological issues and a reliance on imported fuel threatens to halt this momentum.