In the week when Australia’s greatest political observer Mungo MacCallum put down his pen, it would have been nice if the nation’s politicians had given up their shenanigans momentarily, out of respect. Alas, it was not to be.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian discovered the rumours were true and there was more to NSW than Sydney and Wagga Wagga when she went to Nyngan for a photo opportunity at the Big Bogan, followed by having her face painted at Cobar and ‘handing back’ 15,000 hectares to Aboriginal owners to form the new Mt Grenfell National Park. Welcome news, apart from the fact that her government is right behind PM Scott Morrison’s ludicrous ‘gas-fired recovery’, no matter how many sacred sites and aquifers have to be destroyed along the way, starting with the Pilliga Forest near Narrabri.
Gomeroi traditional owners took their fight directly to Parliament House in Canberra, loudly saying ‘Gamil Means No’
Gomeroi traditional owners took their fight directly to Parliament House in Canberra, loudly saying ‘Gamil Means No’, but the Prime Minister was busy with his ongoing personal marketing campaign, constructing a series of stage-managed photographs from quarantine, including everyone’s favourite, top half by Armani, bottom half by Big W. He emerged just in time to see 1,000 new police officers being sworn in at the SCG, then made it home to be photographed with an inflatable Santa riding an inflatable shark. How good is Christmas?
Also good was the investiture with the Victoria Cross, 78 years after his death on HMAS Armidale of the heroic Teddy Sheean. Of course it was only a coincidence that the timing was perfect to take the focus off war crimes in Afghanistan by Australian soldiers.
As the war of words with China worsened, lobsters died, wine stopped moving and coal ships continued to bank up outside Chinese ports. The absence of anyone with serious diplomatic credentials in the Morrison government is becoming dangerously clear, with our Spinner-in-Chief being out-manoeuvred by people who have been doing this sort of thing much longer than he has.
Mathias goes green
For the last month, the former Australian finance minister Mathias Cormann has been on a personal campaign to become the next boss of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development). In spite of the Terminator-like powers of persuasion he would undoubtedly bring to the job, it seems he needs a personal jet costing $4,300 an hour, plus eight full-time staff, to make the right impression; all of them flying round the world to help talk up his case. No Zoom meetings for Mathias, despite the claim in his job application that ‘undertaking global action on climate change is a must, and we must get to zero net emissions as soon as possible’.
The ALP is right behind Cormann’s candidacy, apparently convinced that this man with a record of deep climate skepticism is a perfect fit for the OECD.
Speaking of the environmentally unsustainable, Adani, or whatever they’re called this week, received a $26,000 slap on the wrist for forgetting to do any surveys before destroying more of the fast-dwindling bushland of central Queensland
Speaking of the environmentally unsustainable, Adani, or whatever they’re called this week, received a $26,000 slap on the wrist for forgetting to do any surveys before destroying more of the fast-dwindling bushland of central Queensland. Photographer Dean Sewell captured the moment two gutsy activists interrupted the cricket test between India and Australia to urge the State Bank of India not to approve a $1 billion loan to Adani for their Australian mine. This action was viewed by millions of people around the world, including on the sub-continent.
In other environmental news, the Great Forest Case was heard this week in the Federal Court, brought on by the Bob Brown Foundation to challenge the ‘rush to extinction’ caused by destruction of Australia’s forests and woodlands. If this case is successful, it will have major repercussions in Tasmania and nationally.
Victoria’s first Indigenous representative to the Senate, Lydia Thorpe, used her maiden speech in the national parliament to discuss the destruction of sacred trees in Djab Wurrung country and Rio Tinto’s demolition of 46,000 year old heritage in Western Australia. ‘We have watched in real time the full horror of the climate crisis and what happens when you stop caring for country,’ she said. ‘We can’t separate climate justice from First Nations justice.’
Unfortunately the chamber was mostly empty, apart from her supporters.
Having a go and getting a go
In a week when Rupert Murdoch’s editors got nastier in response to former Prime Ministers Rudd and Turnbull’s attempts to hold their overlord to account, it was revealed that taxpayers shelled out $5,000 for the current PM and his treasurer to attend Lachlan Murdoch’s Christmas Party last year, in the midst of the bushfire crisis.
Sadly, this pales in comparison to the many millions spent incarcerating the Murugappan family on Christmas Island, who this week notched up 1,000 days of being incarcerated after being taken, in a dawn raid, from their home in Biloela.
The way is now open for fifty people seeking asylum to take legal action against the federal government
Justice fans did have one reason to celebrate this week, with victory for the National Justice Project at the High Court. This comes after twelve months of expensive obstruction from the Minister for Home Affairs and Giving Potatoes a Bad Name, Peter Dutton. The way is now open for fifty people seeking asylum to take legal action against the federal government.
Finally, after the New Zealand government officially declared a climate emergency a few days ago, an attempt by the Australian Greens to do something similar in our federal parliament failed, with the ALP, Nationals and Liberals finding themselves unable to acknowledge scientific reality in the Senate, even though Labor supported the idea initially in the House of Reps. Perhaps they thought it might hurt the prospects of Joel Fitzgibbon’s new gig at the Daily Telegraph.
Meanwhile fires have engulfed half of Fraser Island, and they’re still burning.
Welcome to summer.
Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and technology. He’s known for his work with Cloudcatcher Media as a campaigner against unconventional gas and coal.
David has also written about Australian history. Many years ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum. David has lived off-grid in the Northern Rivers since 2008.