Monday, November 16, 2020

Morrison, Andrews meet over recovery

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today meet Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews in person for the first time since February, to discuss recovery from lockdown and the fast-tracking of major infrastructure projects. Morrison will tour CSL’s Broadmeadows facility, which last week began manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine. The tour coincides with the announcement of a $1 billion deal to build a new vaccine manufacturing plant in the city to safeguard domestic production, although it will not be fully operational until 2026. Morrison and Andrews will also discuss the potential reopening of Victoria’s airports to repatriated Australians from overseas. It comes as the first Covid-19 outbreak in South Australia in months has prompted Western Australia to reimpose quarantine requirements on its eastern neighbour, just a day after opening its borders to most of Australia.

Sociologist Dr Samantha Crompvoets, the author of a secret 2016 report that sparked Australia’s biggest war crimes probe, has spoken out for the first time about her months of interviews with Australian special forces soldiers. Crompvoets told 60 Minutes and The Sydney Morning Herald that the interviews revealed a “killing as a sport” culture among those deployed in Afghanistan. Crompvoets said it was not isolated. “This is deliberate repeated patterns of behaviour,” she said. Crompvoets also learned some soldiers allegedly kept “kill boards” on their walls to keep tally of the number of people killed — including civilians and prisoners. The allegations come ahead of the release this week of a public summary of a report into war crime allegations levelled against Australian special forces soldiers. 

Australia has joined with 15 countries in signing the largest free trade agreement in the world, covering 30 per cent of the global economy. The countries involved in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership are Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and the 10 members of ASEAN, including Indonesia and Vietnam. The United States did not join the agreement, in what analysts suggest is a coup for China’s influence in the region. In welcoming the deal, Trade Minister Simon Birmingham again voiced concern over China’s trading behaviour, urging Beijing to “focus on evidence” when making decisions about imports of Australian products. Australian Council of Trade Unions president Michele O’Neil said the Morrison government didn’t know if the deal would “create a single job in Australia” and called for an “independent assessment of the value of this deal for Australian workers”.

United States President Donald Trump appeared to briefly acknowledge he lost the election in a tweet attacking President-elect Joe Biden, before. “He won because the Election was Rigged,“ Trump tweeted. Shortly after however he followed up by tweeting that “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING!” It comes as several thousand supporters of President Donald Trump protested the election results in Washington DC and marched to the Supreme Court, after which clashes with counter-demonstrators led to fistfights, at least one stabbing and more than 20 arrests.

Rudd, Turnbull and the Murdoch cancer
Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp is under assault, with two former Prime Ministers, from opposite sides of politics, uniting in their criticism of the media company. Today, Mike Seccombe on whether the world’s biggest media empire might actually be under threat.

“Biden has endured many fallow and uncertain spells in his 47-year career in politics. None are as dangerous as the strange pre-presidency weeks he must see out before his January 20 inauguration … Asked about the transition preparation by the State Department, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said ‘there will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration’. It was best interpreted as a joke ... but at the Pentagon a mass firing of civilian leadership suggests the possibility of a darker intent.”

“It is striking that this week, NAIDOC Week, the most substantial government discussion of Indigenous rights was the New South Wales premier proposing we change the word ‘young’ to ‘one’ in the national anthem, as if the legacy of colonial theft could be solved in half-rhymes.”

“There’s nothing quite so enjoyable as seeing lecherous, hypocritical politicians squirming in the Four Corners spotlight. Alan Tudge, whose name comes straight out of Dickens, expressed ‘regret’ – most likely he regretted being a family-values man who got sprung. To have a former lover complain of bullying and intimidation also requires special skills. Christian Porter, the bag vomiter and attorney-general in charge of the stage-two defamation law reforms, said he was ‘considering legal options’.”

“Solar and wind are squeezing gas out of electricity generation not just on the east coast but also in Perth, Darwin, the Pilbara and other mining areas. Electric heat pumps will push gas out of air and water heating in buildings. Soon, solar and wind will directly compete with gas for industrial heating.”

“Far from fuelling the recovery from the COVID recession, natural gas will inevitably decline as an energy source for industry and homes in Australia, according to a new Grattan Institute report … the report shows that eastern Australia faces inexorably more expensive gas. If the Government tries to swim against this tide by directly intervening in the market, taxpayers will pay the price via big subsidies.”

“He’s actually a great little Australian success story. He was a country boy from Cootamundra. Straight out of school he joined the Reserve Bank, started now in a pretty humble clerical role and put himself through university at night.”

“The Lamborghini Huracan they used, which was specially modified for such tasks with a refrigerated frunk, was obtained by the Italian police back in 2017 … it’s somewhat bizarre to see a Lamborghini Huracan, exhaust popping and V10 screaming, flashing police lights and speeding down the highway, but that’s Italy for you.”

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