Friday, April 30, 2021

Taylor reveals plan to save coal

Energy Minister Angus Taylor will today detail his plan to pay coal, gas and hydro plants for their capacity rather than the energy they actually produce, in a radical shake up of electricity markets. The plan, which will also cover batteries, would see retailers like Origin and AGL pay on the basis of how much dispatchable power is available rather than merely how much energy is used, reports The Australian. Taylor says this will extend the lifespan of coal-fired power stations, which he supports to improve grid stability despite coal’s leading role in driving the climate crisis. The plan is part of the government’s response to a shortlist of options from the Energy Security Board to redesign the electricity system as more renewables enter the market, and also includes consideration of a government-built new 660MW gas plant in the Hunter Valley. The chair of Australia’s Energy Security Board told Guardian Australia that the taxpayer-funded gas-fired power plant is unlikely to be commercially viable given the abundance of cheaper green energy.  

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a warning that identity politics and social media are forces seeking to undermine society. In a speech to the United Israel Appeal NSW donor dinner in Sydney on Thursday night, Morrison claimed that identity politics commodified human beings. “You are more than your gender, your sexuality, your race, your ethnicity, your religion, your language group, your age,” he said, adding that the Jewish community understood better than other groups what happens when people are “defined solely by the group they belong to, or an attribute they have, or an identity they possess”.

The former Liberal staffer sacked for masturbating on a female politician's desk has filed a police complaint alleging he is the victim of revenge porn. The staffer was sacked on March 22 after footage of the incident was provided to the media and aired on television. ACT police on Thursday confirmed that officers were looking into the matter. “ACT Policing received a report on 30 March 2021 in relation to the unauthorised sharing of intimate images at Parliament House,” the statement read. “At this time, officers are engaging with a complainant and completing an assessment of the report.”

More allegations have been made of inappropriate behaviour by government MP Andrew Laming towards women. The ABC reports a detailed account by Professor Gemma Carey of how Laming made her feel uncomfortable on a flight, while Megan Lewis, former assistant secretary of the ALP in Tasmania, says Laming persistently asked local female staff on an overseas delegation for their phone numbers. It comes as Laming revealed that his “empathy training” ordered by the Prime Minister was only an online course, and that he emerged from the training believing he actually had too much care for others. He claimed that his behaviour was attributable to a recent ADHD diagnosis, which experts say may partly explain but does not justify it. The claim has prompted others with ADHD to come forward, including writer Anna Spargo-Ryan with her Meanjin piece ‘Why I Do Not Routinely Act Like A Knob Even Though I Have ADHD’.

After four years of The Briefing, it is being put to rest and we are returning with a fresh newsletter format in Post, which will land in your email inbox from Monday. Thanks so much for reading along, and I look forward to mailing in your morning updates via Post.

A sermon from the Church of Morrison
At a recent appearance at the Australian Christian Churches conference Scott Morrison referred to social media as evil, and said he believed he was doing God’s work as Prime Minister. Those comments have ignited debate over the role of faith in political leadership.

“If we are what we eat, what our food has eaten in turn matters. Yet it’s easier to find out what you’re feeding your dog than what you’re feeding yourself when you eat Tasmanian salmon. Should you search the murky filth of a salmon pen to discover what constitutes the millions of feed pellets that drift down, you would quickly find yourself enveloped in a growing darkness. A veil of secrecy, green-washed and flesh-pink-rosetted, was long ago drawn over the methods and practices of the Tasmanian salmon industry ... but the biggest secret of all is what the industry feeds its salmon.”

“Australia’s mismanaged vaccination program has delivered another multibillion-dollar hit to the nation’s university sector, as plans to bring back existing international students face further delays or outright rejection ... Covid-19 gutted the university sector last year, but there was hope that at least some students could begin their courses in Australia this year. Those hopes were dashed by the Morrison government’s bungled vaccination program and confusing commentary about when or how Australia’s borders will reopen.”

“It’s my first Christmas back home and I’m greeted with a cheer as I turn into the backyard, always the last to arrive. They’re all sitting on plastic chairs around a coffee table dragged from inside and bottles of VB are being shared between ornate crystal glasses that are glinting in the sun. Rebetiko is playing from the ancient radio in the kitchen, the sound scratchy, blownout and perfect as it streams through lace curtains. Yiayia is offering around a plate of kefalograviera cut into tiny tiles, but suddenly she makes a beeline for me. I’m already in trouble.”

“Call out to Australia’s media to attend Ben Roberts-Smith defamation court hearing tomorrow. Critical issues at stake. Be ideal if reporters also set aside 8 weeks for trial starting 7 June. A difficult, vital search for truth in (and after) war for Australia and Afghanistan.”

“Federal police have been told a key witness in a major criminal investigation and the looming Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial felt intimidated after being followed by a photographer outside his home ... also on Thursday, Nine, the owner of The Age and the Herald, received questions from Sydney’s Daily Telegraph newspaper detailing several false claims about the witness. A Nine spokesman said: ‘Every aspect of these questions is simply false.’”

“The real government, the one run by the pokies industry under the Federal Group and the Farrell family, has now been confirmed as the successor of the dynasty of rent-seekers who actually manage the Apple Isle. It was ever thus. Partly because of the smallness of the place, and partly because of the ruthlessness of the rulers and the apathy of the voters, corporations have held the real power for more than 40 years, which is as long as I have taken an interest.”

“Want to make beer drinkers more conscious of climate change? Give them a foul-tasting brew and call it the future of America's favourite fermented beverage. That’s what New Belgium Brewing Co. — maker of Fat Tire Amber Ale and Voodoo Ranger IPA — did last week with its release of Torched Earth, a limited-edition ale brewed from smoke-tainted water, dandelions and drought-tolerant grains. ‘The future of beer is here. And it tastes awful,’ the company crowed in a sardonic print ad for its unpalatable brew. The Torched Earth Ale logo features the company’s iconic red bicycle in a denuded landscape, its rubber tires melting.”

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