Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Peaceful rallies mark Invasion Day

A small number of people have been arrested at largely peaceful and socially distanced Invasion Day rallies, with protesters defying bans in order to call for Indigenous policy reform and the abolishment of Australia Day on January 26. In Sydney, organisers reached a last-minute deal with police that no arrests would be made if physical distancing was observed and attendees did not march, after NSW health authorities had earlier denied an application to protest. Up to 4000 protesters congregated in groups of fewer than 500 as per Covid restriction limits, according to Guardian Australia, but there was a clash between officers and a small group, with NSW police reporting five arrests. The ABC said at the Melbourne rally police briefly detained two far-right ‘Proud Boys’ who clashed with protesters. The Greens senator and Gunnai Gunditjmara and Djab Wurrung woman, Lidia Thorpe, told the Melbourne rally “a war was declared on the first people of this land” in 1788 and “that war has not ended”.

Australia’s economy stands to lose tens of billions of dollars every year due to climate change, according to a new report by the Climate Council. The report found the cost of extreme weather in Australia had already almost doubled since the 1970s, and totalled $35 billion over the past decade. The Climate Council said the impact of fires, floods, droughts, storms and sea level rise linked to climate change could skyrocket into the future, potentially costing the country’s economy up to $100 billion every year by 2038. The report’s lead author, Professor Will Steffen, told SBS News that last year’s Black Summer bushfires showed what happened when the climate reached a “tipping point” and that events would not necessarily “increase in a smooth, linear fashion, they could jump up at an extremely fast rate at any time”.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said she told her Australian counterpart Scott Morrison she was disappointed by the decision to reinstate quarantine travel in the wake of New Zealand's latest community Covid-19 case. “I certainly shared my view that this was a situation that was well under control,” she said. On Sunday, New Zealand health officials identified a first case of the virus in the community in two months, prompting the Australian Government to shut its border for 72 hours. Contact tracing has yet to identify any evidence of Covid-19 spreading to anyone else in the community.

Senators are set to be sworn in for the second impeachment trial of former US President Donald Trump, after an article of impeachment was sent to the Senate for trial. Republican Senator Rand Paul, however, intends to force a procedural vote on the trial on Tuesday afternoon Washington DC time. Several Republican leaders said on Tuesday they planned to vote with Paul that the trial was not constitutional because Trump was no longer president. While the test vote will likely be defeated, it will provide more clues about how many Republicans are open to voting to convict Trump, even if that number is short of the 17 necessary for the two-thirds needed to convict and bar him from running for office again. 

When are we getting the vaccine?
Last year Scott Morrison announced Australians would be first in line for the Covid-19 vaccine. But with 50 million people now vaccinated around the world, the rollout here is yet to begin. Today, Rick Morton on when Australians can expect to be vaccinated, and if it’s happening fast enough.

“The report by the Centre for Public Integrity (CPI), released this week, crunched the numbers on donations disclosed between 1999 and 2019 in an effort to track the biggest donors in Australia by industry. The mining and resources sector, it found, was by far the most active, depositing $136.8 million into the pockets of politicians and political parties – outstripping the donations from its closest competitor, the property industry.”

“You have to squint hard to spot an Australian in Shirley Hazzard’s collected short stories … The denizens of upscale, upstate 1960s New York are well represented in Hazzard’s fiction. So too are elegantly faded postwar Italian aristocrats in Sienna and mid-Atlantic bureaucrats at international organisations in Geneva. Even smart young Englishmen living in country houses that date back to Racine’s time rate mention. But the compatriots of Hazzard’s formative years are missing: an omission eloquent in itself.”

TELEVISION

“Regency romance, onscreen and on the page, has hitherto been blindingly white, and Bridgerton tackles that head-on with a high society ton full of people of colour, ruled by the gloriously haughty Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel). There is a gradually developed narrative context for this, and the show cleverly binds together this foundational backstory – based on love – with the heady love story between Daphne and Simon.”

“The acclaimed artist Peter Kingston will return his Australia Day award, joining notable recipients who say the elevation of former tennis champion Margaret Court to the country’s highest honour undermined the award’s intention to foster community unity … Their stand ramps up pressure for an overhaul of the award’s system that has been criticised as favouring Australia’s political and social elites and male recipients. Governor-General David Hurley himself has suggested the system, introduced under Gough Whitlam in 1975, needs to be overhauled.”

“Court hit back at the criticism, saying that the honour was for her 24 Grand Slam wins as a tennis player and ‘was a long time coming’. And despite the likes of journalist Kerry O’Brien rejecting his OAM ... the tennis legend said she wouldn’t reject the honour. ‘I wasn’t one who looked for it, I didn’t know I was getting it, I was very honoured when I was told I was,’ she told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell ... ‘No (I won’t give it back), because I loved representing my nation.’”

“In 2001 – the year I was elected MP for New England – another National Party leader and the minister for transport, John Anderson, grasped the project with enthusiasm during the election campaign … a number of feasibility studies followed during the next decade, considering the ‘viability’ of such a project and ‘looking into the possible route options’.”

“There’s been a fair bit of talk about moving the date of Australia Day recently ... But buggered if you’ll stop me celebrating Cooko’s triple century against a full-strength Japanese attack on a deteriorating Gallipoli wicket in ’44-’45. It was the making of this country. Bob Hawke gave the nation a day off to celebrate ... Gallipoli is one of the toughest grounds to play in the world. They don’t call it ‘The Kokoda Track’ for nothing.”

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