Politics

Crikey Worm: A significant boost

BOOSTING RIGHTS

COVID booster shots have been approved, The New Daily reports. Over 18s will be eligible for the Pfizer booster six months after their second jab, with the program to be underway by November 8. But it doesn’t matter which vaccine you got — TGA boss John Skerritt told the SMH there’s lots of research that shows mixing vaccines meant good protection. Kids as young as five could be receiving vaccines at the end of November too — the TGA is taking a look at some data about kids aged 5-11 getting the jab, the paper says.

Half a million Victorians have been given a warning: get vaccinated or get left behind. At 6pm on Friday all retail will reopen to the vaxxed and unvaxxed alike, but once the state reaches its 90% vaccine goal (around November 17 the Herald Sun ($) reports), Premier Dan Andrews has warned that rule will change. Indeed about 85%of Victoria’s new cases are people who are not fully vaccinated, The New Daily says, yet nearly 20% of people aged in their 20s haven’t even got their first jab yet.

It comes as 31,833 expired AstraZeneca vaccines have been destroyed, Guardian Australia reports, while more than 7 million remain unused. Some of the latter are going to our Pacific neighbours — so far we’ve donated 3.7 million vaccines to 12 countries. Labor MP Josh Burns says we should prioritise Indonesia — he said their “vacuum of need” is being filled by China, but it’s “in Australia’s interest” to be kind to the Indo-Pacific, as The Interpreter reports.

FEAT OF CLAY

Former NSW MP Daryl Maguire is fronting the corruption watchdog today, the SMH reports, as ICAC determines whether former premier Gladys Berejiklian breached the public’s trust when quietly dating him while she was treasurer and then premier. At the centre of the drama is a $5.5 million grant for a shooting range in Maguire’s then-seat of Wagga. The state government gave the range, the Australia Clay Target Association, $40,000 to make their business case for the hefty grant, ICAC has heard, and although the business case was not good enough, the $5.5 million was given anyway, as Sky News reports.

Then almost $30,000 in state funds was dished out to correct the business case, the SMH continues. Yesterday we heard that the shooting range didn’t go through a usual and competitive two-step process either. Then a senior bureaucrat — who was one of the people who handled the multi-million-dollar grant in question — told ICAC he believed Maguire “had [Berejiklian’s] ear” as someone who “understood the bush”, as Guardian Australia reports. But none of that is to say Berejiklian is guilty of any wrongdoing — indeed she has said before there was no favouritism and no corruption, as news.com.au says. Stay tuned.

MORRISON’S COP26 OUT

Prime Minister Scott Morrison heads to Glasgow today for the COP26 — and as David Speers writes for ABC, he’s taking a controversial plan filled with U-turns. Carbon credit schemes in the Indo-Pacific (despite imitating Borat when criticising Labor’s plan to do the same). Electric vehicle uptake (despite accusing then-Labor leader Bill Shorten of wanting to end the weekend with his electric vehicle policy). But at least Morrison has the support of former chief scientist Alan Finkel on green hydrogen, The Australian ($) reports, a dreamlike export opportunity for us. Finkel continued that the nuclear conversation was “worth having” too but acknowledged it was “socially unacceptable” in Australia.

But it’s not just Australians rebuking nuclear — Morrison has ruled it out too. Why? He says his support would be a free kick for Labor at the next election, he told Sky News. Earlier Morrison — who famously brought a lump of coal to Parliament just four short years ago to taunt Labor — yesterday brandished an iPhone instead, saying it would have never existed if Labor Leader Anthony Albanese’s assumptions were true. It was in response to Albo’s simple question, as Guardian Australia reports: shouldn’t we not gamble a chunk of our climate plan on technology that doesn’t even exist yet? You gotta imagine Morrison’s antics are testing well with someone. Bon voyage Morrison — and please try not to embarrass us in front of the world’s leaders.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Have you caught the new James Bond flick yet? No Time To Die is flashy and outlandish — everything we’ve come to expect from the Daniel Craig era. But have you ever wondered what it’d be like to live the highs and lows of Her Majesty’s Secret Service? Emma Hughes has — and she came closer than most. It was 2010 and the 23-year-old was feeling a bit lost. One day a pop up on her computer caught her eye — MI5 was recruiting. She delved into the application and heard back that afternoon. What followed was a blur of exams and probing interviews in anonymous London buildings, she says. Then came requests like her bank statements and even a lock of her hair. It was surreal but exciting.

Then one day a nondescript man sat next to her on the train. He asked her polite questions about whereabouts she lived and worked, before hopping off. “It was nice to meet you, Emma Hughes,” the nameless man said. But when had she told him her surname? Was he part of the recruitment process? She still doesn’t know. She writes that she was so “swept up in my escape fantasy I hadn’t given much thought to how it would feel to be watched myself”. Hughes discovered a few weeks later she didn’t make the cut — and found herself relieved. It was a thrilling brush with a Bond life, but perhaps all that is best left to the movies.

Hope you feel a little excitement today, too.

SAY WHAT?

Why we would want to insert US segregationist Jim Crow legislation to corrupt the ballot process I have no idea — you have totally lost your way.

Tim Ayres

New voting rules — understood to mandate either bringing ID to the polling booth, or bringing an enrolled person to vouch for one’s identity — have been criticised for making voting less accessible. The Labor Senator says it was the government throwing the “racist reactionary right a bone” — the new rules could disproportionally affect ethnic and racial minorities, those without a fixed home address, and young people who might not have ID yet, one expert suggests.

The making of a Liberal god

“The net zero plan is a piece of butcher’s paper with the words ‘do stuff’ written in crayon. There appears to be some spirit of gonzo joy in the way they do this, seeing what they can get away with. Most likely that’s just the view from the outside, as ScoMo’s team of desperate mediocrities, drawn disproportionately from the ranks of the happy clappies, try to measure up to the basic tasks of modern politics. But it sure looks like they’re having fun.

“Should they lose the election, the moment when they lost it was almost certainly when Barnaby Joyce was returned to lead the Nationals. Whatever he may do in warding off extra-right challenges in the bush, from One Nation to the Shooters, he is poison in the city.”

Taxpayers are paying this minister’s legal fees but we don’t know what it’s about

“Assistant Treasurer and Housing Minister Michael Sukkar is using taxpayer funds to defend a defamation action. But we don’t know who is suing him, and why … when asked by [Labor’s Murray] Watt who was suing Sukkar, [Attorney-General Michaelia] Cash said she didn’t recall the identity of the plaintiff or what the litigation was about.

“Sukkar was embroiled in controversy last year over reports he benefited from branch-stacking in the Victorian Liberals. An investigation by the Finance Department cleared him … There have been a few notable recent cases of the Coalition using government funds to defend legal action.”

Facebook has hurt the US. The real scandal is how it treats the rest of the world.

“Here are just some of the most egregious examples about how it treated countries around the world: Facebook sorts the world’s countries into tiers to decide where to invest content moderation resources. It was predominantly white, Western countries that were given the most attention.

“87% of the company’s budget for time spent on classifying misinformation was earmarked to be spent on the US, leaving 13% for the rest of the world. Facebook staff said the company has failed to stop the spread of posts inciting violence in Ethiopia, a country that has been in civil war for the last year.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Scott Morrison to reject pledge on methane emissions cut (The Australian) ($)

Islanders sue Australia for inaction on climate change (CNN)

South African cricketer’s refusal to take a knee renews debate about racism and sport (SBS)

Biden’s $500m Saudi deal contradicts policy on ‘offensive’ weapons, critics say (The Guardian)

African Union suspends Sudan over coup (Al Jazeera)

China’s weapon test close to a ‘Sputnik moment,’ US general says (The New York Times)

US issues its first passport with X gender designation to reflect ‘lived reality’ (The Guardian)

China’s ambitious climate goals collide with reality, imperiling global efforts (The Wall Street Journal)

Brazil senators back criminal charges against Bolsonaro over Covid handling (BBC)

How Benin’s new law ‘revolutionises’ safe abortion (Al Jazeera)

Israel set to approve 3000 new settler homes in West Bank (The Guardian)

Anonymity no more? Age checks come to the web. (The New York Times)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Coalition’s plan is to cut emissions the Australian wayAngus Taylor (The Australian) ($): “Whereas Labor’s policies are designed for international audiences, ours are grounded in the suburbs and regions of Australia. We won’t sign our country up to policies that undermine the prosperity of our regions or make life harder for everyday Australians. Cutting methane emissions by 30% by 2030, as some have called for, will do just that. At present, almost half of Australia’s annual methane emissions comes from the agriculture sector, where no affordable, practical and large-scale way exists to reduce it other than by culling herd sizes.

“What activists in Australia and elsewhere want is an end to the beef industry. Ged Kearney, the Labor member for the inner Melbourne seat of Cooper, has endorsed calls to reduce meat consumption and move Australians on to plant-based diets. In parliament on Wednesday, Labor voted in favour of legislating a 60% 2030 target, 15% higher than the economy-wrecking 45% target they took to the 2019 election.”

Amateur hour at Rugby Australia as star trio fly the coopGeorgina Robinson (The Age): “It was the players’ decision to withdraw from the tour. Let’s get that straight. Two sources told the Herald that Japanese club Suntory gave Sean McMahon and Samu Kerevi their blessings. In the Japanese way, it likely involved some ambiguity, which could have sounded something like ‘We’d like to have you involved in our pre-season, but we understand representing your country is a great honour and we are happy for you to go’.

Eddie Jones, England coach and Suntory consultant, makes a delightful villain but it is stretching credibility to brand him the puppet master on this occasion, despite having much to gain if Australia lost another two from their starting line up a fortnight out from a visit to Twickenham. Star centre Kerevi was tired after a long Japanese season, an Olympics campaign and a Rugby Championship. He picked up an ankle injury in the Test against Argentina and is three weeks off being back on duty in Japan.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • ABC Radio National’s Paul Barclay is in conversation with Lech Blaine discussing the latter’s Quarterly Essay: Top Blokes, The Larrikin Myth, Class and Power, held online.

  • Authors Cass Moriarty and Mark Smith will launch the latter’s new book, If Not Us, held online.

  • Author Rabih Alameddin will discuss his latest novel, The Wrong End of the Telescope, with poet Omar Sakr. You can catch this one online for the next seven days.

Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)

Wurundjeri Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Museum director Rose Hiscock will deliver the 2021 Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture, which is called “Why we need to tear down the borders between science, design and art in a post-COVID world”. You can also catch this online.

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Peter Fray

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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