Thursday, October 29, 2020

ANZ Bank pledges to quit coal

ANZ Bank today unveils plans to adopt a “net zero emissions” test for loans, and to set a 2030 exit date for all “direct” investment in thermal coal mines and power stations. Starting immediately, the bank will not take on any new business customers with thermal coal exposure amounting to more than 10 per cent of total revenue. By 2030 ANZ will only directly lend to renewables and natural gas projects, despite the latter’s role in driving climate change. ANZ is the last of Australia’s big four banks to set a date for exiting direct thermal coal investments, although it will continue to support metallurgical coal used for steel production. The bank will also adopt low-carbon deadlines for the agriculture, food and beverage, building, energy and transport sectors in a 10-year plan, sparking a backlash from senior Nationals MPs. It comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison was urged by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take more ambitious climate action, and with Australia’s major coal export markets Japan, South Korea and China all recently setting net zero targets by 2050 or 2060.  

The federal Department of Health rejected requests from more than 1500 aged care homes for masks, gloves and gowns from the national medical stockpile as the pandemic spread into homes where it killed hundreds of residents. Health Services Union president Gerard Hayes told The Age the federal government had been “reactive” in only providing PPE when facilities experienced outbreaks.  A Department of Health spokesperson said the stockpile was not the primary source of personal protective equipment, and the department “encourages all entities and people seeking access to the NMS to continue to purchase PPE through commercial means where possible”.

New South Wales and Queensland have been besieged by heavy rain, hail, thunderstorms, and damaging winds exceeding 125km/h as a number of storm cells converged. Late on Wednesday night, the Bureau of Meteorology issued severe thunderstorm warnings for Noosa, parts of Gympie and the Sunshine Coast council areas, with heavy rainfall threatening flash flooding. Energex was working overnight to restore power to thousands of homes in Queensland. The Queensland SES received more than 70 calls for help across the south-east, with rain flooding roads after storms on Tuesday saw 72mm of rain fall across Brisbane in just a few hours.

Former Socceroo Craig Foster and All Black and NRL star Sonny Bill Williams have called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to accept a deal to resettle refugees in New Zealand. The pair appeared outside Parliament House on Wednesday for an event aimed at raising awareness of the proposal. The Game Over campaign, organised by Amnesty International, aims to get all those currently detained in Papua New Guinea and Nauru to safety. Opposition and crossbench MPs also attended the event including, independent Zali Steggall, Labor’s Linda Burney, Anne Aly and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young. More than 65,000 people have signed a petition for the #GameOver campaign advocating to get refugees stuck offshore to safety.

Cutting down the Djab Wurrung trees
This week, the Victorian government began cutting down sacred Djab Wurrung trees to make way for a highway expansion between Melbourne and Adelaide. Today, Djab Wurrung woman and Greens senator Lidia Thorpe on the fight to save her peoples’ heritage.

“This week, Brooklyn O’Hearn, 17, will sit her year 12 exams in her home town of Townsville, just days after launching a legal request with her friend Claire Galvin, 19, to Environment Minister Sussan Ley to revoke federal approval for Adani’s controversial Carmichael coalmine. Flanked by climate lawyer Ariane Wilkinson, the pair is armed with a dossier of expert evidence detailing some of the most compelling arguments to date that emissions stemming from the project ... can be linked to disastrous impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.”

“Rose Matafeo has figured it out. After hours of talking, she’s confident she knows exactly what will be in this profile. ‘The bullet points for this interview,’ she says, readying her fingers for counting, ‘are that I’m obsessed with boys – and when I say boys I mean men because I’m 28 – I’m very insecure, feeling uncreative, often unhappy, very hormonal, and not currently wanting kids.’ She pauses, palm splayed, and makes sure she hasn’t missed anything. She hasn’t.”

Vesper Flights riffs on this beguiling notion: animals, studied closely enough, can reveal otherwise unknown aspects of ourselves …  ‘Undoubtedly people do eat swans,’ says an ornithologist. ‘It was a collision with the divine,’ a friend says of driving into a deer at night.”

“Children who experience poverty are more than three times as likely to be poor when they are adults, according to new research exploring socioeconomic disadvantage in Australia ... Researchers found that adults who experienced childhood poverty were 3.3 times more likely be poor, 2.5 times more likely to live in social housing, and 2.5 times more likely to experience financial stress than young adults who never experienced poverty.”

“Australia does not need an official poverty measure because its welfare system is ‘comprehensive’ and ‘targeted’, according to the social services minister. At a Senate estimates hearing on Wednesday, Anne Ruston faced questions about the government’s plans for the permanent rate of the jobseeker payment, temporarily set at $815 a fortnight, up from the pre-pandemic level of $565 ... in an exchange with Labor’s Katy Gallagher, Ruston dismissed the need for an agreed way to measure poverty.”

“It may well be that the most true claim Clive Palmer made during his whole campaign was that he won it for the Morrison government. And what does he stand to gain ... the billionaire has plans to build a massive new coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin – several times the size of the controversial Adani proposal.”

“The idea for the project was born when the team was visiting Boscastle, a village in England that’s home to the Museum of Witchcraft, the world’s largest collection of witchcraft and occult-related artefacts. They booked into the nearby Wellington Hotel but later checked its Tripadvisor page and discovered an eerie review describing a ‘chilling early morning visitation’ that ‘paralysed and scared the guest’. Unperturbed, they still ventured to the Wellington. Though disappointed to have a ‘deep and restful’ sleep with no ghosts in sight, the experience prompted a year-long internet trawl for the other accounts of hotel hauntings on Tripadvisor.”

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