While the Biden presidency pushes forward international climate action, both the Morrison government and its Labor opposition are fractured over emissions policy.After a hiatus caused by coronavirus, the twin issues of climate change and energy have resumed their place, secured over two decades, as the most intractable and dangerous in Australian politics.
The Australian military is reeling after a landmark war crimes inquiry recommended 19 current and former soldiers be investigated by police over the alleged murders of 39 civilians in Afghanistan. The inquiry pointed the finger at non-commissioned officers of the SAS who allegedly demanded junior soldiers “blood” themselves by executing unarmed prisoners, some of whom were handcuffed at the time, and then planted weapons and falsified reports to cover up incidents. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that consequences include the disbanding of The Special Air Service Regiment’s second squadron, the potential stripping of medals from soldiers, and the payout of compensation to Afghan families. Writing in The Conversation, journalist Michelle Grattan questioned how the inquiry could have found that senior leadership in the military was unaware of what was taking place or of the need for safeguards against such misconduct. The Australian Financial Review meanwhile reports ($) that former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith has used his Victoria Cross and other medals as collateral for a loan from his current boss at Channel 7, media billionaire Kerry Stokes, to fund a defamation case against Nine. Stokes' spokesman said the medals would be donated to the Australian War Memorial if the loan could not be repaid.
The koala land management bill that prompted the Nationals to threaten to leave the NSW Coalition has been scrapped, after the Upper House voted to subject it to an inquiry. Liberal MP Catherine Cusack crossed the floor and voted with Labor and the minor parties in favour of the inquiry into a proposed compromise version of the bill negotiated between the Liberals and Nationals. In response the NSW Government decided to dump the legislation altogether. Premier Gladys Berejiklian subsequently sacked Cusack as a parliamentary secretary over the move. The NSW Government will seek to develop a new plan next year.
The federal government’s quadrupling of the cost of bringing a migration case before the Federal Circuit Court will undermine refugee and asylum seeker access to justice, according to the Law Council of Australia and the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Law Council of Australia president Pauline Wright told SBS it was “unconscionable” for the government to be imposing such an “exorbitant" price rise, with migration case fees to jump from $690 to $3330. “This change will help the court with this workload, and allow migration applicants to have their matters resolved faster,” a spokesperson for Attorney-General Christian Porter said.
Japanese MPs have declared a climate emergency in a symbolic vote on Thursday aimed at increasing pressure for action to combat global warming. The emergency, non-binding declaration cites “unprecedented damage” from hurricanes, flooding and fires, exacerbated by climate change. It comes after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last month announced Japan would aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison refused to match during a visit to Japan this week.