You probably got your same-sex voting card in the mail this week. The government also passed legislation to limit hate speech for the ‘no’ and ‘yes’ campaigns. The ABS – the body in charge of sending all the forms out and counting them – are warning social media warriors not to photograph their voting slip, as it has unique barcodes that make sure votes aren’t counted twice or copied. For the story on how Australia got to this moment, read our deep dive here.
About a fortnight ago, the Australian government let around a hundred refugees know that they’d be kicking them out of their accomodation and getting rid of their welfare payment. They had three weeks to become citizens or bugger off. The refugees had come from the off-shore detention centres on Manus Island or Nauru. They were transferred to Australia because they needed medical attention. It’s all part of the Australian governments zero tolerance for people smugglers and those who arrive by boat. This week, the Victorian government has swooped in to save the day, picking up the tab on the refugees.
The United Nations put North Korea in the naughty corner this week, after repeated warnings about their nuclear tests. In order to brutally harm their economy, the UN imposed sanctions on North Korea’s textile exports, and the import of crude oil. In response, North Korea has released statements that are sounding more and more like the work of a disturbed teenage poet. They have threatened to sink Japan and that the US should be ‘beaten to death like a rabid dog’, turning it into ‘ashes and darkness.’ For the history of North Korean relationships and a refresher on our chances for global nuclear war, check out our deep dive here. (Breaking: North Korea has fired a missile, and it’s heading East. That’s all we’ve got at the moment. US and South Korean militaries are investigating.)
It’s been a complex week for Australia and the future of energy. It started when AGL said they were moving away from coal towards cleaner energy futures. In particular, they want to shut down Liddell power station. It’s expensive to run and getting old. But Turnbull’s concerned that if the station closes too early, some Australians will struggle to get their power at peak periods. It’s put more fire under those in Turnbull’s party who want to keep steering towards a coal future – it’s good for jobs and is cheap – also, what do you mean ‘climate change’? This week, the National Party – which forms part of Turnbull’s ‘coalition’ government of the Liberal and National Party (the LNP) – voted to stop subsidising any renewable energy program. It’s not a policy that Turnbull is likely to pick up, but it was enough for him to start changing his language on the matter, saying he was considering all options and didn’t want to rule out coal completely. He suggested the government may not set a Clean Energy Target, despite recommendations by the government’s chief scientist. Turnbull wants to be seen to stand for affordable power, while still pushing renewables, all while keeping his party together. Maybe he should call for a plebiscite about it. We did a deep dive on Australia’s energy policy here.
The government is attempting to pass legislation through the Senate that would fiddle with HECS. It would force graduates to start paying back their loans once they start earning $42,000 (down from $55k) but at a lower initial repayment rate of one percent. It’s all about saving money. Education Minister Simon Birmingham suggested some students are trying to ‘game the system’ by not paying back their loan. Apparently, the government would make an extra $2.2 billion over the next four years that would have otherwise been lost. Labor has vowed to oppose the legislation – saying the governments trying to rip off students to pay big business and millionaires. So the government is trying to negotiate with One Nation and Nick Xenophon in the Senate.
The Senate had a late night session on Wednesday night to try and pass media reform laws. It’s a bill that updates the media laws for Australia. It scraps the restrictions such as the “two out of three” rule, meaning that now the same company can own newspaper, radio and TV stations in the same city. TV broadcasters are also now allowed to reach more than 75% of the population at any time. There was some fear around protecting Australian-made content, as the new rules will inevitably free up more space for big media giants to take up more of the market. As such, Senator Xenophon managed to secure an innovation package for regional and small publishers, worthier $60 million over three years. One Nation wants an investigation into the ABC being fair and balanced, and would like to see the salaries of high-profile ABC and SBS presenters published.
The refugee crisis in Myanmar has deteriorated, with over 300,000 people now fleeing from the country. There has been some criticism directed towards Myanmar’s unofficial leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, for her handling of the situation. Myanmar will be the focus of our deep dive next Tuesday.
Hurricane Irma has devastated parts of Mexico, the Caribbean and Florida this week. There have been over thirty fatalities. Clean up from Hurricane Harvey continues in Texas.
Last weekend Malcom Turnbull posted a photo on Facebook of him cradling his grand-daughter at the football. He was also holding a beer. The photo caused outrage amongst some people who had nothing better to be angry about on a Sunday afternoon. And then there was outrage about the outrage.
About 4,000 couples from over sixty countries were married in a mass ceremony for the Unification Church in South Korea this week. The annual ceremony is a fundamental part of the Christian sect, who follow the teachings of Sun Myung Moon. Moon believed world peace could be achieved through the creation of “true families”. So there.
We’ll be back on Tuesday with a deep dive into Myanmar.
Photo at the top is by Qing Ling, a finalist in the 2017 Wildlife Photographer of the year. Each of the fish in the photo has an extra pair of eyes inside their mouth – they’re a parasite that enter the fish through their gills as a larva, then move through the mouth and attach their legs to the base of the tongue.
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