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Tag Archives: Australia

Chart: Australia Central Bank Hiked Rate by 50 Points

The expected rate hike is 25 points.

Source : Bloomberg

Australia’s New Prime Minister Came from Humble Beginnings

Rod McGuirk wrote . . . . . . . . .

Australia’s Prime Minister-elect Anthony Albanese is a politician molded by his humble start to life as the only child of a single mother who raised him on a pension in gritty inner-Sydney suburbia.

He is also a hero of multicultural Australia, describing himself as the only candidate with a “non-Anglo Celtic name” to run for prime minister in the 121 years that the office has existed.

His friends pronounce his name “Alban-ez,” like bolognese. But having been repeatedly corrected over the years by Italians, the nationality of his absent father, he introduces himself and is widely known as “Alban-easy.”

He shared the stage during his victory speech with Senator Penny Wong, who will become foreign minister. Her father was Malaysian-Chinese and her mother European Australian.

“I think it’s good. Someone with a non-Anglo Celtic surname is the leader in the House of Representatives and … someone with a surname like Wong is the leader of the government in the Senate,” Albanese said.

Australia has been criticized for its overrepresentation in Parliament of offspring of British colonizers. Britain is no longer the major source of Australia’s immigrants since racist policies were dismantled in the 1970s. Around half of Australia’s multicultural population was born overseas or has an overseas-born parent. Chinese and Indians are now immigrating in large numbers.

Albanese has promised to rehabilitate Australia’s international reputation as a climate change laggard with steeper cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. The previous administration had stuck with the same commitment it made at the Paris Agreement in 2015: 26% to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030. Albanese’s Labor Party has promised a 43% reduction.

His financially precarious upbringing in government-owned housing in suburban Camperdown fundamentally formed the politician who has led the center-left Australian Labor Party into government for the first time since 2007. He is still widely known by his childhood nickname, Albo.

“It says a lot about our great country that a son of a single mom who was a disability pensioner, who grew up in public housing down the road in Camperdown can stand before you tonight as Australia’s prime minister,” Albanese said in his election victory speech on Saturday.

“Every parent wants more for the next generation than they had. My mother dreamt of a better life for me. And I hope that my journey in life inspires Australians to reach for the stars,” he added.

Albanese repeatedly referred during the six-week election campaign to the life lessons he learned from his disadvantaged childhood. Labor’s campaign focused on policies including financial assistance for first home buyers grappling with soaring real estate prices and sluggish wage growth.

Labor also promised cheaper child care for working parents and better nursing home care for the elderly.

Albanese this week promised to begin rebuilding trust in Australia when he attends a Tokyo summit on Tuesday with U.S. President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Albanese said he will be “completely consistent” with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s current administration on Chinese strategic competition in the region.

But he said Australia had been placed in the “naughty corner” in United Nations’ climate change negotiations by refusing to adopt more ambitious emissions reduction targets at a November conference.

“One of the ways that we increase our standing in the region, and in particular in the Pacific, is by taking climate change seriously,” Albanese told the National Press Club.

Biden’s administration and Australia “will have a strengthened relationship in our common view about climate change and the opportunity that it represents,” Albanese said.

Albanese blamed Morrison for a “whole series of Australia’s international relations being damaged.”

He said Morrison misled the United States that a secret plan to provide Australia with a fleet of submarines powered with U.S. nuclear technology had the support of Albanese’s Labor Party. In fact, Labor wasn’t told of the plan until the day before it was announced in September.

Albanese also accused Morrison of leaking to the media personal text messages from Emmanuel Macron to discredit the French president’s complaint that Australia had given no warning that a French submarine contract would be canceled.

In November, French Ambassador to Australia Jean-Pierre Thebault described the leak as a “new low” and a warning to other world leaders that their private communications with the Australian government could be weaponized and used against them.

Labor also has described a new security pact been China and the Solomon Islands as Australia’s worst foreign policy failure in the Pacific since World War II.

As a young child, to spare Albanese the scandal of being “illegitimate” in a working-class Roman Catholic family in socially conservative 1960s Australia, he was told that his Italian father, Carlo Albanese, had died in a car accident shortly after marrying his Irish-Australian mother, Maryanne Ellery, in Europe.

His mother, who became an invalid pensioner because of chronic rheumatoid arthritis, told him the truth when he was 14 years old: His father was not dead and his parents had never married.

Carlo Albanese had been a steward on a cruise ship when the couple met in 1962 during the only overseas trip of her life. She returned to Sydney from her seven-month journey through Asia to Britain and continental Europe almost four months pregnant, according to Anthony Albanese’s 2016 biography, “Albanese: Telling it Straight.”

She was living with her parents in their local government-owned house in inner-suburban Camperdown when her only child was born on March 2, 1963.

Out of loyalty to his mother and a fear of hurting her feelings, Albanese waited until after her death in 2002 before searching for his father.

Father and son were happily united in 2009 in the father’s hometown of Barletta in southern Italy. The son was in Italy for business meetings as Australia‘s minister for transport and infrastructure.

Anthony Albanese was a minister throughout Labor’s most recent six years in power and reached his highest office — deputy prime minister — in his government’s final three months, which ended with the 2013 election.

But Albanese’s critics argue that it’s not his humble background but his left-wing politics that make him unsuitable to be prime minister.

The conservative government argued he would be the most left-wing Australian leader in almost 50 years since the crash-or-crash-through reformer Gough Whitlam, a flawed hero of the Labor Party.

In 1975, Whitlam became the only Australian prime minister to be ousted from office by a British monarch’s representative in what is described as a constitutional crisis.

Whitlam had introduced during his brief but tumultuous three years in power free university education, which enabled Albanese to graduate from Sydney University with an economics degree despite his meager financial resources.

Albanese’s supporters say that while he was from Labor’s so-called Socialist Left faction, he was a pragmatist with a proven ability to deal with more conservative elements of the party.

Albanese had undergone what has been described as a makeover in the past year, opting for more fashionable suits and glasses. He has also shed 18 kilograms (40 pounds) in what many assume was an effort to make himself more attractive to voters.

Albanese says he believed he was about to die in a two-car collision in Sydney in January last year and that was the catalyst for his healthier life choices. He had briefly resigned himself to a fate he once believed had been his father’s.

After the accident, Albanese spent a night in a hospital and suffered what he described as external and internal injuries that he has not detailed. The 17-year-old boy behind the wheel of the Range Rover SUV that collided with Albanese’s much smaller Toyota Camry sedan was charged with negligent driving.

Albanese said he was 12 when he became involved in his first political campaign. His fellow public housing tenants successfully defeated a local council proposal to sell their homes — a move that would have increased their rent — in a campaign that involved refusing to pay the council in a so-called rent strike.

The unpaid rent debt was forgiven, which Albanese described as a “lesson for those people who weren’t part of the rent strike: Solidarity works.”

“As I grew up, I understood the impact that government had, can have, on making a difference to people’s lives,” Albanese said. “And in particular, to opportunity.”

On election day, before the vote counting started, he spoke of an advantage from his upbringing.

“When you come from where I’ve come from, one of the advantages that you have is that you don’t get ahead of yourself. Everything in life’s a bonus,” Albanese said.


Source : AP

Charts: The Reserve Bank of Australia Raised the Cash Rate by 25 bps in the May 2022 Meeting

Larger than the market consensus of 15 bps

Source : Trading Economics

A Secret Australia: Why Julian Assange’s Own Country Ignored Him and WikiLeaks’ Exposés

Benedetta Brevini wrote . . . . . . . . .

As a journalist, scholar and media reformer, I have been following the activities of WikiLeaks for over a decade, assessing the disrupting force of new radical platforms for disclosure. WikiLeaks is a crucial example of a digital platform that exposes the contradictions of the internet as a tool for openness and secrecy, freedom and surveillance, free speech and censorship. But it is much more. I don’t think that anyone would dispute the incredible impact that WikiLeaks revelations have had, not just to disconcert and embarrass power elites, not just to expose crimes in the public interest, but also for bringing renewed debates on free speech, digital encryption and quests for better protections for whistleblowing to the mainstream.

When I moved to Australia about six years ago, with the first academic book on WikiLeaks hot in my hands, I genuinely expected to find Julian Assange hailed as patriotic and a global, tech-savvy freedom of speech star. After all, how could liberal Australians possibly not be proud of a citizen who exposed war crimes and human rights violations?

Assange was by then the winner of The Economist New Media Award 2008, the popular vote for Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ 2011 and Le Monde’s ‘Man of the Year’, as well as receiving the Sydney Peace Foundation’s Gold Medal in 2011.

Surely, I thought, most Australian media outlets, if not regular citizens, would be grateful for the huge reserve of leaked documents providing an immense treasure for Fairfax newspapers leading to an array of major exclusives for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

I also distinctly remember reading an essay in 2011, when living in London, by Australian emeritus professor of politics Robert Manne, reassuring readers that ‘if Rupert Murdoch, who turns 80 this month, is the most influential Australian of the post war era, Julian Assange, who will soon turn 40, is undoubtedly the most consequential Australian of the present time’

During the months spent editing an early collection, Beyond WikiLeaks, I became even more convinced of the incredible importance of WikiLeaks for journalism, international relations, transparency activism, human rights and social justice. I was sure the Australian public and leaders would share a similar understanding.

WikiLeaks was founded in 2006 as an online platform for whistleblowers and the publication of information censored by public authorities and private actors. Its goal was to harness the speed, interactivity and global reach of the internet to provide a fast and secure mechanism to anonymously submit information that would then be accessible to a global audience.

WikiLeaks: Background

In its first few years of existence, WikiLeaks electronically published a range of documents of varying significance in mixed media. The revelations included: secret Scientology texts; a report documenting extensive corruption by the family of former Kenyan President Daniel Arap Moi; proof that British company Trafigura had been illegally dumping toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire (a story that the British media was legally barred from reporting); the financial dealings of Icelandic banks that led to the collapse of the country’s economy (a story the local media, too, were banned by court order from reporting); the private emails of then US Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin; member lists of a British right-wing party; the internet filter lists of several countries; and many other disclosures of information that were previously hidden from the public eye.

These releases, occurring between 2006 and 2009, were only the warm-up acts for the torrent of information that WikiLeaks unleashed in 2010, the year when the global interconnected public sphere discovered the disruptive power of the platform. On 5 April 2010, WikiLeaks published a video online evocatively titled ‘Collateral Murder’. It was an edited version of a classified US army video taken from an Apache helicopter depicting a controversial 2007 US Baghdad airstrike that resulted in the deaths of Iraqi civilians and two Reuters employees. On 25 July – in collaboration with established newspapers The New York Times, The Guardian and Der Spiegel – WikiLeaks published the Afghan War Diary before releasing the Iraq War Logs on 22 October.

Altogether, the two dispatches comprised almost 500,000 documents and field reports, providing a comprehensive and unprecedented account of the two wars, and revealing thousands of unreported deaths, including many US army killings of civilians.

Finally, on 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and its partner newspapers began publishing select US diplomatic cables in what became known as ‘Cablegate’. Taken from a pool of over 250,000 cables, the communications offered a fascinating perspective on international diplomacy. They revealed many backroom deals among governments and between governments and companies, as well as US spying practices on UN officials, cover-ups of military airstrikes and numerous cases of government corruption, most notably in Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) countries, where the revelations fueled the population’s growing anger towards their national elites.

Nine months after the first releases were published in its partner newspapers, WikiLeaks made the full tranche of cables available on its website. It has since published other materials, such as the ‘Guantánamo Bay Files’, information about the digital surveillance industry (Spy Files) and emails from political figures and companies tied to Syria (Syria Files).

As I was editing the collection, due for publication in 2013, it became clear how 2010 was the critical turning point that changed the fate of WikiLeaks and the dominant narratives about it.

In fact, precisely in the wake of Cablegate, WikiLeaks’ operations became increasingly hampered by government investigations into its staff (particularly founder and Editor-in-Chief Julian Assange), internal frictions, and extralegal economic blockades that have choked WikiLeaks’ access to financial resources. As I detailed in an essay on the political economy of WikiLeaks, WikiLeaks’ then funding model had at its core a German foundation, the Wau Holland Foundation, which processed personal donations to WikiLeaks.

Julian Assange faced sustained attempts to shut down WikiLeaks and calls for his assassination. Photo: Getty
As Cablegate brought WikiLeaks to the mainstream, the platform has seen constant attacks from both public and private actors, sustained attempts to shut down its operations and even calls for Julian Assange’s assassination. WikiLeaks clearly enraged Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables that exposed critical US appraisals of world leaders, from Russian President Vladimir Putin, to the then UK Prime Minister David Cameron, to members of the Saudi royal family. Senator Joe Lieberman, Chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, famously declared that ‘Wikileaks’ deliberate disclosure of these diplomatic cables is nothing less than an attack on the national security of the United States, as well as that of dozens of other countries’.

WikiLeaks’ activities resumed after a prolonged financial struggle, exacerbated by the legal difficulties of Assange who from 2012 had to take refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, fearing extradition to the US.

Disclosures had another major peak during the US election campaign, on 22 July 2016, when WikiLeaks released over 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee (DNC), the governing body of the US Democratic Party, including key DNC staff members. Later in October the same year, WikiLeaks began releasing emails from John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. In 2017, WikiLeaks published internal CIA documents concerning sophisticated clandestine hacking programs, and spy software targeting cell phones, smart TVs and computer systems in cars.

US and UK media responses

As we discussed in Beyond WikiLeaks, it was not just politicians who were disgruntled with the platform; it was also the media organisations most openly associated with the WikiLeaks exposés that quickly became its primary critics. As Benkler recalled:

It was The Times, after all, that chose to run a front page profile of Assange a day after it began publishing the Iraq War Logs in which it described him as ‘a hunted man’ who ‘demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own the way other men change shirts’ and ‘checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends’.

And the UK press, following Cablegate, was certainly overall unsupportive as well. After very successful collaborations with him at The Guardian, for example, many editors fell out with him, with David Leigh and Luke Harding describing him as having a ‘damaged personality’. They continued by explaining that ‘collaborators who fell out with him – there was to be a long list – accused him of imperiousness and a callous disregard for those of whom he disapproved. Certainly, when crossed, Assange could get very angry indeed.’

However, although Assange could not count on sympathetic media support in the UK and in the US, I was not fully prepared for what I thought was extraordinary of Assange’s own country: the striking absence of a solid debate on WikiLeaks in Australian mainstream public discourses, especially in light of the growing legal complications following his granted asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Surely, I thought, there would be a discussion of his request for asylum?

Surely, the Australian government was negotiating behind the scenes to avoid an extradition to the US, to make sure that an Australian citizen had adequate legal protection, also in consideration of the global relevance of the leaks?
While I could not make sense of the blackout then, I am now sure there are two major factors that contributed to this silence.

Firstly, Australia’s strong political ties to the US: politicians and civil servants have considered Assange a problem, rather than a facilitator of US/Australia diplomatic relations. Additionally, Australia’s membership in the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance on intelligence cooperation between Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States adds to the hostility towards activities that challenge state secrets. Five Eyes countries have notoriously built one of the most sophisticated international systems of mass surveillance and intensification of government secrecy: Australia is no exception in this rush to intensify its surveillance capabilities. After WikiLeaks and the Snowden leaks challenged the status quo, the Australian government hurried to implement new metadata laws through three major pieces of new national security legislation in 2014 and 2015.

As Attorney-General George Brandis explained during the reading of the bill amending the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (ASIO Act) and the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (IS Act), the reform was justified by a clear intent to curb whistleblowing activities:

As recent, high-profile international events demonstrate, in the wrong hands, classified or sensitive information is capable of global dissemination at the click of a button. Unauthorised disclosures on the scale now possible in the online environment can have devastating consequences for a country’s international relationships and intelligence capabilities.

The second and crucial factor explaining the lack of a thorough and sustained debate on WikiLeaks and Assange is the fact that Australia has one of the most concentrated media markets in the world.
Without even considering the recent upheaval of the Australian media markets, with the takeover of Fairfax Media by Nine and the planned closure of 100 local and regional newspapers (although owned by the same company, News Corp), the biggest study on media ownership and concentration in the world conducted by Eli Noam at Columbia University found that Australia has the most concentrated newspaper industry out of any country studied, with the exception of China and Egypt which are not liberal democracies.

Excessively concentrated media power in the hands of few owners does not just entail unchecked ties between political and media elites, as the UK Leveson inquiry demonstrated.

The exercise of such power also entails the establishment of a system of control that does not allow space for dissent, for resistance, for minority voices.
This is why it has been so difficult for Assange’s supporters to bring the debate to the mainstream, to generate an informed public discussion, to question political leaders on their inaction.

As Barnett explains, ‘The fewer owners or gatekeepers, the fewer the number of voices and the more damaging the consequences for diversity of expression’. As a result, ‘the powerful are able to fix the premises of discourse, to decide what the general populace is allowed to see, hear and think about, and to “manage” public opinion by regular propaganda campaigns’.

With the few notable exceptions of Crikey, The Saturday Paper and The Guardian (due to its UK ties), and the relentless efforts of Philip Dorling, Phillip Adams, Geoffrey Robertson and Mary Kostakidis, an informed public sphere discussion about Assange and WikiLeaks failed to materialise in his own country.

The request for Assange’s extradition to the US and the global debate on the violation of freedom of speech safeguards
When Assange was removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in April 2019, in violation of political asylum, the global debates about Assange and his arrest picked up again. Lawyers, politicians, freedom of speech advocates and activists saw his arrest, pushed by the Trump administration, as a clear attack on press freedom. A year later, we are becoming accustomed to the harassment of journalists by police and authorities of the Trump administration. Police brutality and racism in the US are rightly challenged with protests that have spread across the globe, starting with the demands for justice for the murder of George Floyd. Continuous arrests and persecution of journalists are occurring during the protests, and US Press Freedom Tracker has registered at least 74 reports of journalists being physically attacked, with 21 arrested and many more targeted by police using rubber bullets.

In April 2019, Assange was indicted by the US Justice Department of the same Trump administration with 18 charges, of which 17 are under the Espionage Act, for his role in receiving and publishing classified defence documents both on the WikiLeaks website and in collaboration with major publishers. Not even the Obama administration, notoriously rapid in making use of the Espionage Act, dared to cross the line of free speech protection to prosecute a non-American citizen for his activities as a journalist.

Clearly, if Assange is extradited to the US for espionage, it will establish a worrying precedent that could then be used against reporters and editors of major publications, generating a chilling effect for any news organisations that dare to publish classified US government documents in the public interest, regardless of their country of origin.
Reporters Without Borders has written that the arrest would ‘set a dangerous precedent for journalists, whistleblowers, and other journalistic sources that the US may wish to pursue in the future’. In January 2020, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe voted to oppose Assange’s extradition to the US. Both Agnes Callamard, the United States human rights expert, and Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, spoke of severe risks of human rights violations if Assange were extradited to the US. In particular, there are new disconcerting aspects of the UK hearing and possible US extradition that make it hard to believe in the possibility of a fair trial for Assange in the US. In a Spanish court at the end of last year, it was alleged that a Spanish security firm hired by the Ecuadorian Embassy illegally recorded Assange’s meetings with his team of lawyers and passed these recordings on to the US intelligence services. During those meetings, Assange prepared his legal defence against an extradition request to the US, so any such recording would be in breach of legal professional privilege.

In the months before the June 2020 hearing, politicians from the UK and Europe also joined the fight against the extradition of Assange, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who said that Assange had revealed ‘atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan’ and that his extradition ‘should be opposed by the British government’.

Australian media response to extradition hearings

One would have expected that considering the gravity of the recent developments, and the documented health problems of Assange, this animated international discussion would have been reflected by Australian mainstream media. However, it is rarely featured in mainstream news outlets, being mainly covered by outlets that have a small audience share compared to the colossal News Corp, Fairfax and the ABC, which have been spasmodic in their coverage of WikiLeaks.

Despite the unfavourable media landscape, in October 2019 eleven federal MPs created a cross-party group to put pressure on the Australian government to intervene in defence of Assange. Additionally, just before the extradition hearing of June 2020, over 100 Australian politicians, lawyers, activists and journalists wrote to Foreign Minister Marise Payne asking her to request the UK government to have Assange released on bail, because of his serious and ongoing health issues.

Why do I need to follow Assange’s mother on Twitter to hear about these crucial debates? Why aren’t the major television news shows more willing to engage with a topic – protecting freedom of speech – that should be top priority for the Australian public, especially in light of the recent AFP raids against ABC and News Corp journalists?

For Australia the combination of this anti-democratic media concentration and the old colonial habit of passivity to the (now declining) US empire is perhaps too arduous to overcome.


Source : The New Daily


Read Also at The Sydney Morning Herald

Australian MPs call on US President Biden to drop charges against Assange . . . . .

Australia Aims to ‘Live with Virus’ Instead of Eliminating It

Renju Jose and Jonathan Barrett wrote . . . . . . . . .

Australian authorities on Wednesday extended the COVID-19 lockdown in Melbourne for another three weeks, as they shift their focus to rapid vaccination drives and move away from a suppression strategy to bring cases down to zero.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews flagged a staggered easing of the tough restrictions once 70% of the state’s adult residents receive at least one dose, a milestone he hopes to reach at least by Sept. 23, based on current vaccination rates.

“We have thrown everything at this, but it is now clear to us that we are not going to drive these numbers down, they are instead going to increase,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne, the state capital, after a lockdown for nearly a month failed to quell the outbreak. The lockdown was due to end on Thursday.

“We got to buy time to allow vaccinations to be undertaken all the while doing this very hard work, this very painful and difficult work, to keep a lid as much as we can on cases.”

New local cases jumped to 120 in Victoria from 76 a day earlier. Of the new cases, 100 have spent time in the community while infectious.

Neighbouring New South Wales state, home to Sydney, on Wednesday brought forward its target date to fully vaccinate 70% of people above 16 to the middle of next month from the initial target of the end of October, as outbreaks spurred a surge in inoculation.

“No matter where you live, life will be much, much better, much freer, as long as you’re vaccinated at 70%,” Berejiklian told reporters. So far 37% are fully vaccinated in the state, while 67% have had at least one dose, slightly higher than the national numbers but well below most comparable nations.

A total of 1,116 new cases were detected in New South Wales, down from 1,164 a day earlier. NSW reported four new deaths, taking the total number of deaths in the latest outbreak to 100.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament on Wednesday Australians ultimately needed to be released from lockdowns.

“Australia can live with this virus,” he said in Canberra.

LIVING WITH COVID

Australia is trying to get a handle on the third wave of infections that has locked down more than half of its 25 million population. Sydney and Melbourne, its largest cities, and capital Canberra are in weeks-long strict stay-at-home orders.

Despite the recent flare-ups, it has managed to keep its coronavirus numbers relatively low, with just over 55,000 cases and 1,012 deaths.

Among the Group of 20 big economies, Australia was the last to record 1,000 COVID-19 deaths, a grim but modest marker by global standards reached this week. read more

Several major Asia-Pacific economies have fewer COVID-19 deaths, with New Zealand recording just 26.

While Australian authorities had been able to douse past outbreaks through lockdowns, the highly infectious Delta variant has forced the country’s two biggest states to plan for a reopening even as infections rise.

Australian Medical Association vice president Chris Moy told Reuters that Delta’s high infectivity, short incubation and asymptomatic spread had meant the “old playbook did not work”.

“Your window of opportunity at the start to eliminate it is so much smaller and basically once you’re passed that, Delta decides its destiny,” Moy said.

The federal government is pressing the states and territories to stick to a national reopening plan once vaccination rates reach 70%-80% although some virus-free states said they may delay given the rapidly rising Sydney cases. read more

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg urged the state leaders to follow the national reopening plans.

“Stick to the plan … a plan that allows businesses to reopen and plan for their own future … a plan that takes Australia forward to living safely with the virus,” Frydenberg said.


Source: Reuters

Charts: Australian Beef Prices Hit Record High

Benchmark Eastern Young Cattle Index soaring to A$10.082 ($7.26) a kilogram

Beef export slumped

Source : Bloomberg and Zerohedge

Australia’s Seasonally Adjusted Unemployment Rate Dropped in July 2021

Source : Trading Economics and Tweeter

Australian Government Tears up Victoria’s Belt and Road Agreement with China

Tim Callanan wrote . . . . . . . . .

The Commonwealth has used its powers to tear up Victoria’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) agreements with China, along with two other, much older agreements with Iran and Syria.

The scrapping of Victoria’s BRI arrangement came before the agreements were even fully formed, and certainly before they delivered any real benefits for either party.

The Chinese Embassy described the decision as “unreasonable and provocative”, but Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Paine said the arrangements were inconsistent with Australia’s foreign policy.

What is the Belt and Road Initiative?

China’s BRI began life in 2013 as the One Belt One Road initiative, with the goal of building a vast network of trade routes across the globe.

In early 2017, China hosted 28 world leaders, as well as representatives from another 70 countries, to a two-day summit in Beijing to spruik the initiative.

Among the delegates was Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

China has been involved with hundreds of projects under the BRI, ranging from hydroelectricity projects in Uganda to rail links in Malaysia.

Victoria signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with China in October 2018 to be part of the BRI which, by that stage, already involved more than 100 countries and international organisations.

What was in Victoria’s Belt and Road deal?

The initial MOU in 2018 was short on detail, but promised trade, financial and policy cooperation.

The framework was laid out in more detail in October 2019, with a working group formed to be co-chaired by Daniel Andrews and China’s National Development and Reform Commission Vice Chairman Ning Jizhe.

Infrastructure was a key part of the agreement, which promised to “increase the participation of Chinese infrastructure companies in Victoria’s infrastructure construction program.”

That involved encouraging Chinese infrastructure firms to establish a presence in Victoria and bid for major projects.

Victoria agreed to send regular delegations of Victorian Infrastructure firms to China to “better understand opportunities”.

The agreement also raised other potential areas of cooperation, including manufacturing, biotechnology, and agriculture.

There was also an agreement to develop trade and market access “especially for agricultural products, food, nutraceuticals and cosmetics”.

None of the agreements under the BRI are legally binding.

What stage was the agreement at?

Victoria and China were yet to agree on a ‘Cooperation Road Map’ which would have further fleshed out the BRI deal.

This was supposed to have been signed by March 2020, but the COVID pandemic led to delays in finalising the plan.

Daniel Andrews last year defended the agreement, saying it was important for Victorian jobs.

The Victorian Premier came under more pressure to cancel the deal, amid escalating tensions between China in 2020.

Mr Andrews condemned an inflammatory tweet by a Chinese government delegate in the wake of a landmark war crimes inquiry, but refused to back out of the BRI arrangement.

“This relationship is far too important to farmers, to manufacturers, to workers, to profits for Victorian companies and therefore prosperity for our state,” he said.

How can the federal government cancel a state deal?

The deals were quashed under the federal government’s Foreign Arrangements Scheme, which came into force in December, 2020.

The scheme gives the Commonwealth the power to veto deals between states and territories and foreign entities which “are not consistent with Australia’s foreign policy.”

Foreign Minister Marise Paine said the move was not intended to target China.

“It’s about ensuring that we have a consistent approach to foreign policy across all levels of government, and it isn’t about any one country, most certainly not intended to harm Australia’s relationship with any countries,” she said.

There have been concerns about China potentially using the BRI to gain power and influence across the world, in what’s been dubbed “debt-trap diplomacy.”

The most striking example of this was in Sri Lanka, where China took control of the country’s second-largest port on a 99-year lease after the country failed to pay off a $1 billion debt linked to its BRI agreement.

What exactly were the deals that were cancelled?

The federal government cancelled four arrangements, of which two were related to Victoria’s BRI agreement with China.

They include:

  • The Memorandum of Understanding between Victoria and China which was signed on October 8, 2018.
  • The Framework Agreement between Victoria and China signed on October 23, 2019.

The two other agreements that were cancelled relate to the Kennett and Bracks governments, and include:

  • A Memorandum of Understanding between the Victorian Education Department and Iran’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, signed on November 25, 2004.
  • A Protocol of Scientific Cooperation between Victoria’s Ministry of Tertiary Education and Training and Syria’s Ministry of Higher Education, signed on March 31, 1999.


Source : ABC News

In Pictures: Australia’s Historic Flooding from Above

China Emits More Carbon in 16 Days Than Australia Does in One Year

Cian Hussey wrote . . . . . . . . .

Every 16 days China emits more carbon than Australia does in an entire year, according to new research released today by free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs. This means the annual effect on global emissions from Australia mandating a net zero emissions target would be cancelled out by China in just over two weeks.

“The complete de-industrialisation of Australia would have no discernible impact on global emissions but would inflict significant and irreparable economic and social damage,” said Cian Hussey, Research Fellow at the IPA.

The analysis identified that Australia’s carbon emissions per capita have declined by 15.4% since 2004, while China’s emissions per capita over the same period have increased by 83.5%.

China is responsible for 63.3% of the increase in global carbon emissions since 2004, while Australia is responsible for just 0.35% of the increase.

In absolute terms, China’s annual emissions have increased by over 5 billion tonnes since 2004, while Australia’s annual emissions have increased by only 27.4 million tonnes.

“It is reckless and futile for the political class to impose on Australians further severe cuts to emissions which costs jobs and livelihoods, while China – the world’s largest emitter– continues to rapidly increase its emissions without consequence,” said Mr Hussey.

“Calls for Australia to adopt a net zero emissions target ignore the significant economic, social, and humanitarian costs which would inevitably be the result of such a target,” said Mr Hussey.

The analysis also shows that China operates 57 coal fired power stations for each one currently operating in Australia.

This figure will increase in coming years as China is currently constructing 92 coal-fired power stations, with a further 135 in the pre-construction phase, while Australia has none in the construction or pre-construction phase.

The analysis also identified that Australia’s share of global carbon emissions declined from 1.3% in 2009 to 1.1% in 2019. Despite Australia’s negligible share of global emissions, under the Paris Agreement Australians are subject to the deepest per capita emissions cuts in the developed world, as identified in previous IPA research.

The IPA also analysed the most recently available information about the Paris Climate Agreement, and found that only 0.4% of countries (eight of 196) that signed the Paris Agreement are on track to meet their emissions reduction obligations.

Gambia, Bhutan, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Philippines, and India are the eight countries on track, and represent only 7.9% of global carbon emissions.

“Not only should Australia not proceed with a net zero emissions target, but we should withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement,” said Mr Hussey.

IPA research released on 10 February found that a net zero carbon emissions target would place up to 653,600 jobs at direct risk of being destroyed, and that those job are concentrated in industries such as agriculture, heavy manufacturing, and coal mining.

Previous IPA research estimated that the Paris Climate Agreement would cost over $52 billion over the period 2018-2030. This equates to $8,566 per Australian family.

$52 billion is the equivalent to building 22 new hospitals or paying for 20 years’ worth of the Gonski 2.0 education funding.


Source : Institute of Public Affairs