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Coal hard facts

3 weeks ago 487

A COAL NEW WORLD

COP26 is all wrapped up, and the results are … predictably mixed. President Alok Sharma broke down during the last day of the conference, reports the ABC, apologising over after a last minute alteration to the text of the agreement: “May I just say to all delegates, I apologise for the way this process has unfolded and I am deeply sorry,” he said. “I also understand the deep disappointment but, I think as you have noted, it’s also vital that we protect this package.”

The change, which was lead by India and China, watered down the commitments regarding coal, committing the nearly 200 nations at the conference to “phase down” rather than “phase out” the resource. As a Guardian explainer on the outcomes of the conference puts it: “Coal is the dirtiest fossil fuel and the International Energy Agency has made clear that if it is not rapidly phased out the world has no hope of staying within 1.5C of global heating”. Climate activist Louise Mitchell writes in The Sydney Morning Herald that while the agreement had “some good outcomes” it was “subpar” and ultimately a “betrayal to the millions of people who are suffering around the world today”.

True to form, Australia has welcomed this watered down agreement, with Resources Minister Keith Pitt calling it an economic win and saying it meant Australian mines wouldn’t have to close. Within hours of the agreement, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne issued a defiant statement making it clear the government would be committing to nothing more ambitious than its existing 2030 goal.

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PUSH TO END EXPLOITATION

As reported in The Australian, New South Wales Greens MP David Shoebridge is pushing to amend the state’s modern slavery act to empower the anti-slavery commissioner to investigate the exploitation of seasonal workers and require labour hire companies to produce documents like pay slips.

“If you’re creating an anti-slavery commissioner and you don’t have it look at the sector that is currently the most notorious for having slave-like conditions then what are we doing it for?” Shoebridge said. “It’s not just in the interest of the seasonal Pacific workforce that these powers are in place; it’s also in the interest of the agricultural sector and the overwhelming majority of ethical farmers who see the sector’s reputation tarnished.”

The exploitation of workers in the horticulture industry, particularly of temporary workers from the Pacific has been well known for years — there have been years of reports by workplace regulator the Fair Work Ombudsman illustrating widespread and systemic exploitation. That was before the pandemic appeared to accelerate the issue — earlier this month The Australian reported that more than 1200 Pacific Island workers abandoned their workplace over the past year, more than five times the number the previous year, and the Fair Work Commission delivered an utterly withering assessment of practices in the industry.

None of which have stopped the government backing the industry, producing a scare campaign aimed at Pacific pickers, warning them they may “bring shame to their families” if they run away from their jobs and risk having their visa cancelled.

WHO WILLOUGHBY?

The fight for preselection in former New South Wales’ premier Gladys Berejiklian‘s seat of Willoughby is well underway. Berejiklian announced her resignation from NSW Parliament last month, ahead of her flambéing at the hands of the the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).

As the process of selecting her replacement ramps up, the Nine papers report that former treasurer and US ambassador Joe Hockey is endorsing former journalist Kellie Sloane. Sloane is one of three candidates currently seeking preselection, and has previously been asked by moderate Liberals to withdraw to save the party a messy battle for the safe seat. In giving his endorsement, Hockey joins Federal Wentworth MP Dave Sharma and former deputy PM Michael McCormack.

She’s up against Willoughby mayor Gail Giles-Gidney, Berejiklian’s own pick, also favoured by federal communications minister Paul Fletcher. Rounding out the trio is right-winger Tim James.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Once again, an elected representative has chosen to threaten the ABC’s independence at the expense of the integrity of this irreplaceable public service. Any incursion of this kind into the ABC’s independence should be seen by Australians for what it is: an attempt to weaken the community’s trust in the public broadcaster.

Ita Buttrose

The ABC Chair leaves us in no doubt as to what she thinks of the Senate inquiry, led by Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg, into the ABC’s complaints handling process.

A rudderless government needs one thing: a new leader

“Last week demonstrated Scott Morrison’s lack of judgment and reputation for mendacity on the international stage. This week served to put a spotlight on those same qualities domestically. What was supposed to be a reset week to take the initiative on climate, start the unofficial election campaign and wedge Labor turned into a further exposé of Morrison’s incessant lying and his lack of policy.

“Morrison’s choice of electric vehicles (EVs) as the standard to raise on climate policy was bizarre. He trashed the Coalition’s own EV policy in 2019 in the quest to damage Bill Shorten, ridiculing and demonising EVs along the way. He was always going to be challenged as to why he’d backflipped, and he was, right off the bat. The PMO hadn’t even prepared a good response to that. It was a ‘Labor lie’ that he’d ever campaigned against EVs; technology had changed, Labor wanted to mandate EVs and increase petrol prices.

“All of those were lies.”

Promises, policies, steak knives — have we got some lies for you …

“So is it on? Are they now going to pivot to a mix of post-COVID anti-government messages combined with a renewed and redoubled culture war? With a bipartisan position established that net-zero is the goal, the politics around it are reduced to questions of means and method — i.e. no politics at all.

“Could the Morrison government really now let it all rip? Just ignore its own statism, bang the anti-big-gov message and throw a series of dodged-up culture war conflicts into the mix, aided and abetted by News Corp?

“You know it can, and you know that the idea being absurd is not a disqualifier per se — it’s all about the ratio. Can it pivot again without falling over or looking like it’s a modern dance? It seems like it’s going to have a go.”

Once a leader, Australia drags its feet on the world stage

“Among wealthy countries on the world stage, Australia looks increasingly backward. At the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, the government’s response to the climate crisis was ranked last out of 60 countries. After fronting up with a net zero pledge — the bare minimum required to get some tepid praise from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson — Australia continued to act as a climate laggard.

“The climate story is a telling example of Australia’s abrogation of international leadership. But it’s not the only one. Our history is littered with examples of Australia taking a proactive, positive role on the world stage. Now, Australia leads the world for all the wrong reasons.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Newspoll: Coalition claws back primary support from right-wing parties (The Australian)

Newspoll: Labor maintains election-winning lead over Coalition (The West Australian)

Queen Elizabeth sprains her back and misses Remembrance Sunday service (ABC)

‘Complex reasons’: Vax-hesitant Blue makes $500,000 retirement call (WaToday)

KPMG partners, former Transport chief to be grilled at inquiry (The Australian Financial Review)

At COP26, nations speed climate action but leave world still headed for dangerous warming (The Washington Post)

Green drought’: water restrictions by December if dam levels fall further (Brisbane Times)

Up to 300 SA Police employees forced on leave over jab stance (The Adelaide Advertiser)

Morrison condemns attempted beheading of Gandhi statue in Melbourne (The Age)

The Kid Laroi named artist of the year at 2021 National Indigenous Music awards (Guardian Australia)

Guy distances Liberals from protesters who hurled death threats (The Age)

Son of former Libyan ruler Gaddafi runs for president (Reuters)

How the US hid an airstrike that killed dozens of civilians in Syria (The New York Times)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Good COP, bad COP: Climate wins and losses from GlasgowLesley Hughes and Wesley Morgan (The Sydney Morning Herald): “So who were the bad COPs in Glasgow? There is one that consistently stood out. Australia. Perhaps nothing was more symbolic of Australia’s lack of commitment to the goals of the Glasgow COP than the pride of place at the Australian pavilion given to Santos, one of our largest gas and oil companies. Multiple assessments of Australia’s commitment and actions to reduce dangerous climate change have ranked us at the bottom of the international pack.”

Coalition needs to fast-track its electric vehicles planZali Steggal (The Australian): “Australia is still at the starting line when it comes to electric vehicles while the rest of the developed world is well in the race. The Morrison government’s Future Fuels Strategy put a welcome pinky toe on the accelerator last week but if it’s truly serious about the positives that no-emissions vehicles represent for Australians, they would floor it. Federal government rhetoric to date would have a casual listener thinking they stand to lose something in this transition to EVs, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The net zero modelling that only the Nationals could loveSteven Hamilton (The Australian Financial Review): “I’ve now twice read the government’s 100-page net zero modelling document, which it put out with the trash at 3pm on Friday. Lying behind the document is no doubt some good work by hard-working public servants relying on open-source modelling frameworks. But as with any such exercise, you get out what you put in. And they had a job to do.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Australian Cyber Conference 2021 is to be held online.

Eora Nation (Also known as Sydney)

  • NSW Parliament inquiry hearing into the Public Interest Disclosures Bill 2021.

  • NSW’s nominees for Australian of the Year will be announced at an evening ceremony at Luna Park.

Ngunnawal country (also known as Canberra)

  • Public hearing of a committee inquiry into housing affordability and supply.

Kulin Nation (also known as Melbourne)

  • Inquest to begin into the COVID-19 deaths of residents at St Basil’s Home for the Aged in Fawkner during Victoria’s second wave outbreak.

Whadjuk Country (also known as Perth)

  • WA inquiry into sexual harassment against women in the FIFO mining industry.

  • Neville Power faces Perth court, accused of breaching WA’s quarantine laws.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Queensland parliamentary hearing on Greens bill to raise criminal age.

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