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.
The Morrison government will immediately examine whether to scrap Victoria’s Belt and Road infrastructure agreement with China, after the federal parliament passed powerful new foreign veto laws on Tuesday. The Foreign Relations Bill gives Victoria three months to explain to the federal government why the deal is in Australia’s national interest. The laws grant the federal government the authority to cancel state, territory, local council and public university deals with other countries. Independent senator Rex Patrick failed to get enough support for the upper house to insist on an amendment making the foreign minister’s decisions subject to judicial review. It comes as a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry referenced China in consideration of new proposed laws giving the federal government the power to ban human rights abusers from entering or investing in the country. Chinese state media criticised the proposal, with the Global Times pointing to Australia’s immigration detention camps as evidence it is in no position to judge other countries on human rights.
Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter will unveil industrial relations legislation today that includes changes allowing the Fair Work Commission to disregard the “better off overall test” when considering enterprise agreements for businesses hit by Covid-19. Agreements that leave some workers worse off would be allowed if it’s in the “public interest” to do so. A two-year time limit will apply for such agreements. Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus described the proposal as “dangerous and extreme”. It comes as the Transport Workers Union today launches a Federal Court action over moves by Qantas to outsource more than 2000 jobs.
The Independent Planning Commission of New South Wales has approved Wollongong Coal’s application to expand its mining operations above Sydney’s water catchment. The expansion of Russell Vale colliery is predicted to generate approximately 1.5 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The approval comes despite the company recently voting to delist from the Australian Securities Exchange as it struggles with more than $1 billion in debt. It comes as ICRA Rolleston, a coal company controlled by the brother of former Federal resources minister Matt Canavan, has gone under after mining giant Glencore called in receivers over a $24 million dispute at the Rolleston thermal coal mine in Queensland.
Human Rights Watch director Elaine Pearson has written to prime minister Scott Morrison urging him to meet Australia’s obligation to compensate Afghan victims revealed in the recent Brereton war crimes report. In the letter Pearson says she is “troubled” by the federal government indicating it is not currently considering reparations for Afghan families allegedly victimised by Australian soldiers. She also called for the Attorney-General’s Department to drop the prosecution of war crimes whistleblower David McBride, and to probe the potential criminal liability of senior commanders for the alleged atrocities.