The Monash Forum
Twenty Federal Coalition backbenchers, including Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews, have joined something called the ‘Monash Forum’ – a group designed to advocate for coal, and warn against the ‘demonisation’ of coal. The forum’s ideals are not friendly with government’s official energy policy – the National Energy Guarantee. (This is happening as Turnbull is approaching his 30th negative poll, the number he used as justification to kick out Tony Abbott a couple of years ago – gossip abounds about potential mutinies.)
Several claims from the Monash forum have been disproven by data. Renewable energy is now cheaper than coal. There are no technical barriers to a wind and solar power grid. And there’s no such thing as clean coal.
At the front of this debate is the Liddell power station. AGL wants to close the ageing coal plant, but Turnbull wants them to keep it open. Turnbull’s worried about an east coast power shortage without Liddell. The board of AGL and Turnbull are apparently approaching a compromise to keep the plant open for a few years until Snowy Hydro 2.0 (a massive upgrade to the hydro-powered plant that will see a significant boost to power capacity along the east coast) has been completed.
The Victorian Police has had a crap week for publicity. Footage emerged of an officer violently handling an Indigenous man in a Bendigo holding cell. More footage showed up of police beating a mentally unwell pensioner. And yet more footage emerged of a police officer stomping on the back of a handcuffed African-Australian man who was having a psychotic episode. The Victorian Police Minister Lisa Nevill has defended police as investigations commence from the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption group. All officers involved in the incidents are still on active duty.
The Trade War Has Begun
Trump’s ‘America-first’ mentality properly hit global markets this week. His tax on steel and aluminium imports hurt China, and China’s hit back with around $50 billion worth of tariffs on American soybeans, cars and chemicals and over a hundred other American goods. The tariffs will most directly hurt American farmers, the heartland of Trump’s support. Investors and financial analysts suggest the tit-for-tat isn’t nearly done.
Last week we did a deep dive into the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which saw Facebook share the private data of over 50 million of its users. (The number is now up to 87 million.) Facebook has now admitted that around 300,000 Australians personal data might have been ‘improperly shared’ with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook has begun major re-developments on how users interact with third-party apps that may access their data.
In the recent South Australian and Tasmanian elections, legislation around pokies has become a contentious issue. For good reason. Recent numbers reveal Australians are some of the worst gamblers in the world, losing more than $1,200 every year on a per-capita basis. That’s more than double that of the United States. Woolworths is the biggest operator of pokies in Australia, generating more than $1 billion in revenue last year. Pokie legislation is regulated by State law, not Federal, so there are differences depending on where you live. West Australia is the only state that bans pokies outside of casinos.
The Community Support Program is one element of Australia’s humanitarian refugee efforts. It offers a 1,000 places this year. It allows community groups, businesses, families and individuals to sponsor and support a refugee to come to Australia. But leaks this week revealed the program is essentially being limited to just eight “priority resettlement” countries, with several other countries being told that their applications are “highly unlikely” to be considered. Somali, Sudanese and Iranian refugees are excluded from the list. The Refugee Council of Australia has said the private sponsorship scheme was “the most expensive in the world”. It costs around $48,000 to sponsor an individual. For every refugee sponsored, the government takes that as credit, so to speak, against their own commitment to settle a certain number of people every year. There’s no public explanation behind the prioritised countries.
It’s been fifty years since Martin Luther King’s assassination. In his final days, King’s main targets were poverty, income inequality, structural and legislative racism and segregation. From the New York Times: “It is no surprise that Americans remember the man who focused on demolishing the legal underpinnings of Jim Crow. Holding on to the memory of the earlier Dr. King allows us to focus on our nation’s progress, not on the deeply entrenched problems that remain.”
In Australia, similar (although, importantly, not at all identical) problems remain. This week alone, troubling figures out of Western Australia suggest that over 33% of young indigenous people would not go to police in an emergency. A review is ongoing in Western Australia to investigate how an Indigenous woman was left to give birth alone in a Perth prison cell last month. Channel Seven is being formally investigated after the Sunrise program aired a panel discussion featuring all-white presenters discussing white families adopting abused Indigenous children.
The Commonwealth Games opened on the Gold Coast this week. Musical performances at the opening ceremony included Christine Anu, Delta Goodreem, Ricki-Lee, Emma Dean, Mau Power and more. Indigenous protestors made an impact, with three detained by police after trying to force entry into the ceremony.
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