Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Today by Paddy Manning

Not that Kean
The Coalition has a woeful track record on climate and energy, and NSW is the worst

Matt Kean. © Joel Carrett / AAP Images

The wrong way to react every time a Liberal Party politician says they accept climate science is to congratulate them as though they’re being welcomed into a club or, worse still, they’ve found religion. The right way to react is to ask, “Where the bloody hell have you been?” and “What are you doing to help?” On both scores, NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean, who merely stated the obvious on the climate and bushfire emergency yesterday and today, is on shaky ground and a long way behind. The NSW government he is part of, which in 2014 declared it wanted to be “Australia’s answer to California”, is mired in climate denial and inaction. The latest figures show New South Wales is lagging behind South Australia, Victoria, Queensland and even Western Australia in terms of renewables uptake. Premier Gladys Berejiklian, as soon as she took over from Mike Baird in 2017, dumped plans to develop an overarching policy to cut the state’s emissions. Like Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Berejiklian refuses to even acknowledge the climate crisis. Not yesterday, not today, not ever.

To be fair, Kean found some fine words yesterday, telling the National Smart Energy Summit in Sydney: “We cannot allow ideology and politics to get in the way of our clear path to economic prosperity, let alone the health of our planet to future generations of Australians. To those with vested interest and ideologues that want to stand in the way of this transition. I say, enjoy your Kodak moment, because the energy iPhone is on its way.” He said “no one can deny” that climate change is to blame for the smoke haze choking Sydney as bushfires burn across the state, adding “this is not normal and doing nothing is not a solution”. But that was to a friendly audience – let’s see how Kean goes on 2GB, where Steve Price and Mark Latham hopped into him today. Let’s see how he goes convincing his Liberal colleague, Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor – whose office is about to get a visit from the police – to take some serious action on the emissions reduction side of his portfolio. On that front we’ve seen lazy posturing from a NSW energy minister before, when Don Harwin got a lot of media coverage for telling Taylor he was “out of touch” and calling for an end to the climate wars, but subsequently Harwin delivered… nothing.

As Katharine Murphy wrote in Guardian Australia, the Coalition has a shameful record of wrecking, delaying and obfuscating on climate, and it goes right to the top. The latest bit of absurd denial from our prime minister was yesterday refusing to properly fund the volunteer brigades already worn out from fighting unprecedented bushfires before the season gets underway. In some cases they are crowdsourcing masks, food and drinking water. “The fact is these crews, yes, they’re tired, but they also want to be out there defending their communities,” Morrison said, adding that “in many cases, you’ve got to hold them back.” Calls for a national bushfire emergency summit are likely to fall on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, Liberals and Nationals are tripping over themselves trying not to acknowledge the reality that climate change and the bushfires and smoke are all linked: Berejiklian blames “a combination of factors”; NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell says we can have that philosophical – sorry, policy – debate another time; federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher tries to duck the question entirely; Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack distances himself from Kean and blames arsonist “little lucifers” for lighting them all; and Angus Taylor in Madrid tells the UN that Australia is counting on new technology to solve the problem while begging to be allowed to use dodgy carbon accounting to avoid diong the hard yards.

If he’s serious – and that’s a very big if – Matt Kean has his work cut out. Perhaps he should talk to South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.

“We are at the end of a very long process, a momentous process for the West Australian parliament and West Australian public … It’s not a time for jubilation. Everyone knows what this legislation is about. It’s about reflection. And to reflect that we’ve chosen compassion and the right to choose.”

Health Minister Roger Cook, speaking as Western Australia becomes the second state to pass voluntary assisted dying laws.

“The manufacturer has advised that this is a commercially sensitive matter, and so I would ask that there is no speculation on the make and model of the vehicle in question … [BMW is concerned there is] a chance that info will make its way into the public domain.”

An internal document obtained by Crikey suggests that both the federal department of infrastructure and the ACCC knew of dangerous incidents involving the defective Takata airbags, months before a compulsory recall was ordered, but kept it quiet at the behest of industry.

The big wedge (Or: How Murdoch lobbies government)
Following an inquiry into digital platforms, the government finds itself wedged between News Corp and the tech giants. Both sides are lobbying heavily. Rick Morton on the battle to regulate the internet — or not.

The national shortage in rental properties for low- and very-low-income households, according to a 20-year study by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute.

“Harmful material must be taken down faster. Attempts to send terrorist attacks viral must be stopped in their tracks. Industry needs to step up and take more responsibility. We need smart new approaches to getting harmful content down when fringe gore sites want it glorified. This act will put pressure on industry to prevent online harms and will introduce important new protections for Australians.”

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, unveiling new draft proposals for an Online Safety Act, in a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra today.

The list

“It’s time for their sharing circles. At Menergy, sharing circles are sacrosanct. The annual three-day retreat is supported by the Queensland­-based non-profit organisation Mens Wellbeing … Sharing thoughts and emotions is its cornerstone activity, and nothing is too immediate or too engulfing to be expressed in a circle: experiences and traumas, physical sensations, long-held behaviours and intentions for the future.”

“No doubt the royal commission will make worthy recommendations about the need to increase funding and reform funding models; to improve staff training, conditions, support (and no doubt incomes); and to encourage greater accountability and, ultimately, better care. One question that may not be asked, however, is whether it’s even possible for institutions in this system to provide ‘care’ of the kind that people need?”

“David Savage returned to Australia with shrapnel in his limbs, buttocks and torso. For now, he has lost the ability to walk unaided, though he hopes to regain it. As well as the mild brain injury he suffered from the blast’s pressure wave, he undergoes psychological counselling for trauma. He has struggled with the knowledge that traces of the child attacker’s body are embedded in his own. Savage’s request for medical support and compensation was batted around governments for seven years. Now that an agreement has been reached, his story can finally be told.”

Paddy Manning

Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is the author of Inside the Greens and the unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born To Rule?


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