The big news is that Turnbull finally came through on an energy policy, but it’s not the one any of us were expecting. The ‘National Energy Guarantee’ – which has the rather unfortunate acronym ‘NEG’ – does not include a clean energy target, despite the recommendation of Australia’s chief scientist. But the Turnbull government swears this new policy will not only help us get to targets we shook hands on in the Paris agreement, it will guarantee cheaper and more reliable Aussie power. Labor aren’t so sure. Their main argument is that the shiny new policy is just eight pages long, absent of any economic modelling and short on detail. Plus, the Turnbull government has to deal with the state governments to get everybody on board. We’ll do a deep dive into NEG on Tuesday. In the meantime, re-acquaint yourself with Aussie Energy Policy and climate change.
The government’s plans to cut university spending has stumbled in the Senate. Nick Xenophon joined Labor and the Greens in opposing the move. The government wants to put in place an ‘efficiency’ measure that would lift the average student’s share of their uni fees from 42% to 46%. For the student, it would mean a 7.5% increase in fees by 2021. The Nick Xenophon team didn’t oppose non-controversial elements of the bill, such as raising funding for work experience programs and reforming university entrance equity programs. Still, it’s back to the drawing board for the Turnbull Government on higher education policy.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton received a blow this week after his new citizenship test laws were knocked back by the Senate. He’s trying again, lowering the standard of English required from ‘component’ to ‘modest’. Labor argues that the bill is still fundamentally racist, however, as immigrants from the UK, Ireland, Canada and the US are still exempt from needing to take any citizenship test.
As I write on early Friday morning, the Victorian Parliament has been debating legislation on euthanasia (or ‘assisted dying’) for almost 24 hours. It’s unclear at this stage when a vote will take place. The new law states that anyone over 18 who has suffered for more than 12 months from a painful, terminal illness may request lethal medication from their doctor. The Premier and the Deputy Premier are on opposite sides of the issue, and the Liberal and National Parties have just spent all night stubbornly refusing to let a vote be called to the floor. Proposed amendments have included lowering the eligibility time to six months, publicly disclosing euthanasia statistics, and criminalising the advertisement of euthanasia as an option to patients.
In Queensland, Townsville and Rockhampton local councils announced they’d be paying just over $15 million each to help build an air strip for the Adani coal mine project, in a deal to secure Adani’s promise of over 2,000 construction jobs for the region. While Adani has broad support in Queensland’s affected regional communities, ratepayers aren’t too happy that they’ll have to help foot the bill.
Polling suggests that the ‘yes’ vote on Aussie marriage equality has won. Today is the final day that you can send your form into the ABS for your vote to be counted. Polls of those who say they voted show that the majority voted ‘yes’. Attention and commentary is slowly turning to how the government will legislate the move. The pollies have been warned they may have to stay at work until Christmas Eve to make sure the bill is passed before the end of the year.
In a twist ending, Jacinda Arden has become New Zealand’s latest (and youngest in 150 years – she’s 37) Prime Minister, almost a month after elections took place. Neither of the major parties won enough seats to form government, but Arden’s opposition won more. Nevertheless, Arden formed a partnership with the New Zealand Greens and the New Zealand First Party to claim enough seats to get her the top job. She’s New Zealand’s third female Prime Minister, and famously campaigned on many progressive issues, including free tertiary education and legalising medical cannabis.
Things are only get more tense in Spain. It’s complex – we did a deep dive here – but basically a whole region of Spain, Catalonia, wants independence. Spain has refused to even enter into talks on the possibility. In fact, Spain has announced that it will impose direct rule on Catalonia, stripping it of the autonomy it holds at the moment. This effectively does Catalonian President Carles Puigdemont out of a job, officially. With neither side backing down, it looks as though the situation will only worsen in the weeks to come.
The refugees fleeing Myanmar (deep dive here) now number in excess of over 500,000, with most fleeing to Bangladesh. International pressure continues to descend on the Myanmar government – but not much is happening.
There was a major win in Syria this week, as Syrian democratic and US military forces took back the city of Raqqa from ISIL. Around 50% of the city has been destroyed, and there are reports of up to thirty citizens dying in the conflict. Still, it’s a win against ISIL, who are under continued pressure in Syria and neighbouring Iraq. The one at the top is by Youssef Rabih Youssef and the one below is by Chris Huby.
In Somalia, citizens of the city Mogadishu are reeling after the country’s most horrific terrorist attack ever recorded. 300 people died and another 300 were injured when a truck exploded in a busy street. It is presumed that the al-Qaeda link al-Shabaab extremist group is responsible. Their previous bombings have claimed the lives of over 4,000 Somalians. Below, children help to clear up wreckage. Photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh.
Tropical Storm Ophelia battered Ireland this week, killing three people and decimating power lines. Over 300,000 homes were without power. It’s the worst storm to hit Ireland in over fifty years. Photo below by Ben Birchall.
For the first time, scientists have tracked gravitational waves to their source: a pair of colliding neutron stars. The dying stars are so massively dense (holding a HUGE amount of weight in a very SMALL space) that their collapse into each other causes ripples in reality (as in space AND time). The discovery solves the mystery of where gold and gamma rays come from and provides a more accurate means to measure the size of the entire universe.
The Wildlife Photography of the Year awards took place in London this week. The picture below is my favourite from the winners. Taken by Ashleigh Scully, who won in the 11-14 year olds category.
See you next week.
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