Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Wong seeks action on Uighur abuses

Labor’s foreign affairs spokesperson Penny Wong has called for targeted sanctions to be considered in response to Uighur human rights abuses, as a new report outlines the alleged torture and rape of women in Chinese “re-education camps”. In a speech in Hobart on Monday, Wong called for consideration of sanctions on “foreign companies, officials and other entities known to be directly profiting from Uighur forced labour and other human rights abuses”. Wong called for reform of the Modern Slavery Act, while Labor and Coalition MPs are lobbying for the federal government to legislate a Magnitsky sanctions regime to target Chinese officials. The call comes as a report by Human Rights Watch and Stanford Law School provides dozens of disturbing accounts of alleged abuse. The report details women being crammed into underground cells and subjected to rape, electroshocks, beatings, forced abortions and the implanting of intra-uterine contraceptive devices. Chinese authorities have dismissed estimates of one million Uighurs being detained in the camps as a fabrication. The United States is considering a boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line: 1800 737 732   

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has declared that net zero emissions in Australia will not be achieved “in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities”. He told a Business Council of Australia dinner in Sydney on Monday night that it would instead be achieved by the “factories of our regional towns and outer suburbs” and the energy, industrial, agriculture and mining sectors, citing the example of Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals trying to develop green hydrogen. Morrison reiterated that his plan was to achieve net zero emissions via “the best technology and the animal spirits of capitalism”, not “taxes”, and did not commit to a target date. It comes ahead of a virtual summit of world leaders this week where the US is expected to announce a new 2030 target. Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese will give his own speech today reframing climate action as an economic opportunity. It comes as a former Australian defence official comes forward about how she was repeatedly told by the government not to use the term “climate change” in her risk assessment work as it was “politically unacceptable”.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will today provide more detail on Brisbane’s plan for the 2032 Olympics and Paralympic Games, including a redevelopment of the Gabba that would cost at least $1 billion. The works would increase the stadium’s 42,000-seat capacity to host 50,000 people for the opening and closing ceremonies. A new plaza would be built for medal presentations and concerts. The announcement comes after Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates spoke with state ministers at a Cabinet meeting in Brisbane yesterday, where the Cabinet officially endorsed the position to support the 2032 Olympics. A final decision on Brisbane's bid is expected to be made as early as July.

NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter has become the first aircraft to achieve powered flight on another planet, taking off from the surface of Mars and hovering for 30 seconds on Monday before touching back down safely on its four legs. NASA, which framed the 3-metre high flight as the 21st century equivalent of the Wright brothers pioneering aviation efforts on Earth, plans to send the 1.8kg solar-powered helicopter on progressively more ambitious flights in the weeks ahead. Success could pave the way for new modes of exploration on Mars and other destinations in the solar system, such as Venus and Saturn's moon Titan.

The fight to overhaul Australia’s vaccine rollout
Federal and state governments are locked in a high stakes battle over the future of Australia’s vaccine rollout. On Monday, Scott Morrison held an emergency meeting of the national cabinet to develop a new vaccine strategy. Today, Karen Middleton on where Australia’s rollout went wrong.

“The revelation that politicians and judges are not subject to the Sex Discrimination Act dawned slowly on the public … The SDA does not, in fact, exempt politicians and judges. Rather, they slipped through the cracks in legislation largely built around employers and employees back when the law was conceived in the early 1980s. Politicians and judges, in the normal sense of the law in Australia, are neither employers nor employees. Nor were they considered a problem when the original bill was drafted, a time when women could be legally sacked simply because of their sex, marital status or pregnancy.”

EDITORIAL

“The end of John Pat’s life was not captured on film. There was only the testimony of the horrified witnesses, which contrasted so starkly with the pleas of self-defence made by the police who beat the 16-year-old to death. But description of the officers’ brutality catalysed growing unrest about Indigenous deaths in custody into a national movement.”

“When the fish work runs out, Ponthus moves on to an abattoir, where the situation is grim. He spends his days cleaning blood and shit, and pushing carcasses – a Sisyphean labour of ‘an eternal round of cows to be broken down’. The effects on his body are ruinous, and in his suffering Ponthus questions the situation: ‘I’m only / Earning a living / No / Earning a few bucks / No /Selling my labour’ … ‘My life no less / It all weighs so heavily’.”

“George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road prequel Furiosa has been added to Australia’s list of high-profile productions, with filming on the origin story to commence in NSW in June. Set to be shot across multiple locations in Western Sydney and regional NSW, the film is expected to be the biggest ever made in Australia, creating 850 jobs and injecting at least $350 million into the local economy. Star Chris Hemsworth, Miller and producer Doug Mitchell joined NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian ... in announcing the location for the project.”

“The New South Wales government is simultaneously committed to a net-zero emissions target for 2050 at the same time as new coalmines in the Hunter Valley with the capacity to produce 10 times more coal than Adani’s Carmichael mine are being proposed … If we build another 23 coalmines or mine extensions across NSW then we will either tank the world’s emission reduction goals or be left with stranded assets, ruined communities and a moonscape on which farming and tourism jobs will be impossible to create.”

“The town of Derby in the West Kimberley held a basketball carnival and hoop-shooting contest on what happened to also be World Suicide Prevention Day ... As the carnival wound up, the children were seated to listen to a visiting government-funded social worker. The fun had ended so people as young as six could be lectured about self-harm. Professor John Mendoza, a suicide prevention consultant who happened to be in Derby, was appalled.” Lifeline 13 11 14

“A woman smears a milkshake all over her boyfriend’s face with no mention of consent or sex at all. I guess the milkshake is supposed to represent a woman forcing her boyfriend to have sex with her?? I think??? Genuinely how can anyone, let alone children, even tell at this point??? … Another one of these nonsensical videos feature a spear gun-wielding man convincing a woman to swim at the beach even though she’s fearful of sharks, while another focuses on a boy eating a taco that doesn’t give consent.”

Enjoy a night at the theatre from home with Melbourne Theatre Company’s new on-demand streaming service.

Simply use the code SATPAPER when booking to get 20 per cent off the very first MTC Digital Theatre production, Sexual Misconduct of the Middle Classes, a timely exploration of power, truth and desire starring Dan Spielman (The Code) and Izabella Yena (Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears).

Limited time only. Promo code expires 11.59pm Sunday, April 25.

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