VAX AND WANE
Australia is just days away from reaching the 80% double vaccination target of our over-16 population, the SMH reports. It means we’re about to enter the “consolidation phase” — when our international travel bubble would get bigger, and all vaccinated Australians would be free of all domestic restrictions. In today’s national cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will reportedly offer the states cash to bolster their public health systems, some of which are at breaking point, but it’ll fall short of calls for the Commonwealth to pick up half the bill until 2023, The Australian ($) reports.
To mark the target, the border between NSW and Victoria has come down, allowing folks passage between the two states. Guardian Australia reports there’ll be no testing or quarantine required, though a permit from Service Victoria is still in play. NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Victorian Premier Dan Andrews released a joint statement saying it’s all part of “normalising living with the virus”. But Queensland has gone the other way amid a worsening border outbreak, as The Brisbane Times reports. Border community Moree was booted from the Queensland bubble (except for essential reasons) after 33 new cases were recorded there. Meanwhile, the Top End has recorded its first locally caught case — ever. ABC reports the Katherine region is in a snap three-day lockdown from today. The case, a man in his 20s, hadn’t left the NT recently — the source of his infection is a mystery.
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A CLIMATE CHANGE CHANGE?
All net zero pledges to date plus the global methane pledge could see global warming limited to 1.8C, analysis from the International Energy Agency says. Reuters reports that still exceeds the Paris Agreement of 1.5C, which is the upper limit after which the catastrophic and irreversible impacts of climate change will be felt. But it’s an “extremely encouraging” projection, IEA chief Fatih Birol says. Indeed there have been a few big-ticket achievements at the COP26 — The New Daily has a cracking wrap up of the major agreements, like the aforementioned methane pledge, phasing out coal, and deforestation commitments.
In some local climate news, South Australia has possibly set a world record. For the first time, the state generated more electricity from solar than it needed, five times during the past five weeks — and SA Power Networks called it a first for a gigawatt-scale power grid, ABC reports. The company’s boss says he expects the state will soon power the middle parts of the day only using rooftop solar, and applauded SA as a world leader in the renewable transition. The city of churches becomes the city of light.
Liberal dissident Matt Kean dunked Prime Minister Scott Morrison on national TV last night, as ABC reports. The NSW Treasurer said he supported us backing out of the French submarine deal, but said it was handled without respect or honesty, which “damaged” our reputation. On the topic of the leaked text messages from French President Emmanuel Macron, Kean continued that this brand of politics was inappropriate and “not in our national interest”, as it only “seeks to divide … push misinformation and play games”. But The Australian’s Greg Sheridan said Macron breached protocol by calling Morrison a liar at an international conference and continued that governments leak about each other all the time.
Meanwhile, federal Education Minister Alan Tudge is taking some hits from his state colleagues, too — but from across the floor this time. Tudge slammed the draft curriculum last month, saying it gave the “impression nothing bad happened before 1788 and almost nothing good has happened since” as he wrote in The Australian ($). He continued that we should “fiercely defend our Western liberal culture” just like Indigenous Australians do theirs. Victorian Education Minister James Merlino told the SMH that Tudge’s comments were “inciting culture wars”, while NT Education Minister Lauren Moss said being honest about “the ongoing impact of colonisation on First Nations Australians” was critical in education. Coincidentally, folks, all three Liberal state education ministers declined to comment.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
As if we don’t spend enough time looking down, smartphones have become even more embedded into our lives during the pandemic. We use them to check in at places, to read menus, to show our vaccine status — not to mention all the extra hours one clocks on them during lockdowns. But it wasn’t that long ago that photos were taken on cameras, emojis weren’t animated, and we didn’t walk around personally connected to the internet at all times. Lawyer Jen Wasserstein is living that experience now. She writes for The Guardian about the freedom and pitfalls of owning a “snazzy yellow” Nokia flip phone from the ’90s instead.
She says not owning a smartphone has made her realise they are everywhere. “I see couples in restaurants each staring lovingly into their hand-held device,” she says. She hails cabs and lugs a book in her bag for downtime (her excuse for not reading the hefty War and Peace). Wasserstein knows it makes her seem uppity, but other than this one thing, she promises she’s your average capitalist consumer. “I’m hooked on innumerable companies and products that I find morally offensive,” she says. She knows sooner or later she’ll need to get a smartphone, however. “There is no winding back the clock,” she concedes. “Clocks aren’t wound any more”.
Have a restful weekend ahead, folks.
[Jacinda Ardern] took the fucking press conference indoors because they were yelling out about the vaccine program in Israel … When they have power, they fucking like it, man. Those are the kind of people who run for governor and mayor in the first place, they enjoy telling people what to do.
The controversial podcaster, putting on a bad Kiwi accent, slammed the New Zealand PM after American anti-vaxxer Shane Chafin heckled her during a press conference to the point where Jacinda Ardern had to move inside. Chafin repeatedly demanded to know why Ardern was promoting the vaccine when it was “not working” in Israel. Israel is seeing a lot of cases at the moment, but as NPR explains, Delta is gnarly, immunity can dip over time, but boosters are helping.
“Nikolai Petrovsky is facing being laid off as director of endocrinology from Flinders Medical Centre because of its vaccine mandate. He has refused to take an approved vaccine and is seeking an exemption because he says he’s given himself two doses of COVAX-19, a candidate developed by his company, Vaxine.
“In other places, Petrovsky has said he believes mRNA vaccines like Pfizer are ‘gene therapy’, a fear-mongering claim pushed by anti-vaxxers disputed by other experts. Petrovsky argues that his type of vaccine, similar in development to vaccines for diseases like hepatitis that have been administered billions of times, is safer despite having not yet completed its clinical trials.”
“There’s really no good news for the Democrats in the results, especially as regards the 2022 midterms, which they are virtually certain to lose, and lose big in. Barring great reversals, both the House and Senate will revert to Republican control and that will give the increasingly Trumpified party free rein to cause mayhem.
“Whichever gutted Biden program emerges from current negotiations may well be as good as it gets. Biden has been left of Obama to date on a number of issues, but one suspects he is less likely than O to push the limit on executive powers, to get things done.”
“Where are the areas that need improvement? A few areas spring to mind — but there are likely others. First, the law gives the Health Secretary extensive decree powers when a pandemic declaration is in effect. Some of these are necessary.
“But others potentially go too far, including authority for the Health Minister to make pandemic orders that differentiate on the basis of ‘attributes’ included in the Equal Opportunity Act (165AK(4)). This allows a pandemic order to discriminate on the basis of ‘race’, ‘religion’, and ‘political belief or activity’. Is the ability to discriminate on these bases really necessary in a pandemic?”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Israel passes first budget in more than 3 years in lifeline for government (The New York Times)
Inflation watch: Global food prices hit 10-year high (Al Jazeera)
Google invests $1b in exchange giant CME, strikes cloud deal (The Wall Street Journal)
Indigenous Australians are controlled by the criminal system under the guise of protection — Carly Stanley (IndigenousX via Guardian Australia): “Understanding and truth telling about the nexus between racism, structured segregation, government modes of control and regulation is critical to addressing the hyper incarceration of First Peoples of Australia in the current criminal legal system … Currently, First Nations people are 17 times more likely to be under child protection supervision than non-Aboriginal families and the numbers of Aboriginal children in out of home care is projected to double in size by 2028. Not only are First Nations people arrested at unacceptably high rates, we are imprisoned at the highest rate in the world …
“Aboriginal people are much more likely to be questioned by police, more likely to come to the attention of police, more likely to be arrested rather than proceeded against by summons. If arrested, we are more likely to be remanded in custody than given bail and more likely to plead guilty than go to trial, and if we go to trial, we are more likely to be convicted. If convicted, we are more likely to be imprisoned, and at the end of the term of imprisonment we are less likely to get parole.”
Does climate change have us licked? — Waleed Aly (The Age): “Climate change confounds us because it demands political solidarity across time and space that we find deeply unnatural. That’s not to say we can’t learn to create them. Indeed, the nation state that we take so much for granted now, is an artificial creation that required humans to imagine a political structure different to empire and reimagine their ideas of political solidarity accordingly.
But here’s the thing: it took a monstrous crisis to do it. The nation state grew out of the Treaty of Westphalia, which was in turn designed to end Europe’s 30 Years’ War. That war killed about 20% of Europe’s population. That’s a pretty heavy incentive to unlock a new political imagination … Could climate change unlock something similar? … that is the last great demand climate change makes of us: to think and feel in a different way; to imagine the abstract as concrete and the future as now.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor will give a keynote address at a conference about reaching net zero through technology and innovation. You can catch this one online.
British High Commissioner to Australia Vicki Treadell and British High Commission Head of Climate Diplomacy Akhil Abraham are among the speakers at a Grattan Institute / UK government webinar about global clean energy. You can catch this one online.
Writer John Safran will discuss his new book, Puff Piece, which delves into “Big Tobacco” and the vaping industry. You can catch this one online.
Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)
WA Department of Transport’s Nicole Butler will speak at a networking event for ambitious leaders, held at the Duxton Hotel Perth.
The City of Belmont’s Big Light Out will see light, colour and sound displays lighting up Belmont Oval, with food trucks on offer too.