Playing with fire

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Earth is close to an “irreversible” climate breakdown, according to several new UN reports. The UN environment agency has found there is “no credible pathway to 1.5C in place”, Guardian Australia reports, and our pledges for action by 2030 would see the earth warm by at least 2.5C — and that’s only if we manage to meet them. That would see us enter into a catastrophic climate breakdown, including a sea-level rise of more than 50 centimetres on average. The UN’s meteorological agency found all top heating gases hit record levels this year, and methane surged. The UN Secretary-General António Guterres warns we’re headed to “economy-destroying levels of global heating”, the ABC continues, pointing out countries have barely increased their emission reduction pledges since Glasgow last year. OK, so what do we do? Australia has to reduce emissions by 76% below 2005 levels by 2030 to limit warming to 1.5C — nearly double the Albanese government’s 43% goal — and start right now.

It comes as about 2000 NSW homes in flood-prone areas posing “a catastrophic risk to life” could be bought back by an $800 million state-federal scheme to be announced today, the SMH reports. Homeowners in the Ballina, Byron, Clarence Valley, Kyogle, Lismore, Richmond Valley and Tweed areas will also be able to apply for up to $100,000 to help cover the costs of having their houses raised, retrofitted (up to $50,000) or repaired, Guardian Australia reports. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese put it plainly: disasters will become “more frequent, and more severe due to climate change” and the government is working to mitigate the risks. It comes as Australia’s east is battling its fifth major wave of floods in 19 months, New Scientist reports, with extreme rain flooding 43 towns in NSW, 24 in Victoria and three in Tasmania.


Labor will probably win the Victorian state election on November 26, but a third of voters say they’ll ditch the big parties to vote Greens, minor parties and independents, according to a survey commissioned by The Age. By the numbers, 38% of respondents said they’d vote Labor, 31% for the Coalition and 31% for the miscellany above — with preferences, Labor’s still in a great position, but it’s not exactly shaping up to be a “Danslide” like 2018’s state election, even though Premier Dan Andrews is way ahead of Liberal Leader Matthew Guy on a preferred premier basis, commanding 49% to Guy’s 29% (the rest didn’t know). Look, “Dan might be a prick, but he’s a prick who’s delivering for construction workers”, new Victorian-branch CFMMEU posters read (they really do, as AFR ($) reports). The posters are splashed across construction sites in Melbourne and read “Labor will keep you in work for another 30 years”, highlighting Andrews’ $100 billion in infrastructure investment.

Speaking of preferred Victorian leaders, Travis Auld is a leading candidate to become the Bombers’ new CEO, the Herald Sun ($) reports, after the resignation of former NAB boss Andrew Thorburn who turned out to be chairman of a church organisation that compared abortion with the Holocaust. Auld has been with Essendon since 1996 — his most recent gig is general manager of the AFL’s clubs, finances and broadcasting. Auld was considered heroic for redrawing fixtures on the run as the pandemic hit.

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Queensland Coalition MP Michelle Landry accused Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of “bullying” her after the PM yelled “Queenslander!” in the chamber, a Maroons footy reference. Landry had asked the Albanese a question about funding in her electorate, as the ABC tells it, and Albo mentioned the Yeppen floodplain in his response, to which Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and others interjected that it was pronounced “Yeppoon”. Erm, no, Albo responded — Yeppoon is an entirely different place on the coast, and Yeppen is in the south. Landry says she was “distressed” by being “screamed at” and “humiliated”, though Speaker Milton Dick watched the footage and said he didn’t see any disrespect. Just a failed attempt to catch Albo out on Queensland geography, it seems. Guardian Australia reports Landry was “laughing” during the PM’s retort on a video feed, though to be fair it might’ve taken her a beat to process how she felt. Albo called her afterwards to say he didn’t mean to upset her.

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Speaking of Dutton, he’s still spruiking nuclear energy. The opposition leader delivered his budget reply yesterday, the SMH reports, saying Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US were all investing in small modular nuclear reactors to secure their energy. He blamed Labor for the 56% forecasted surge in our electricity bills and boasted that the Coalition could’ve kept prices down, to which Albanese was — again — ready with receipts: the PM retorted that Dutton’s party vowed to cut wholesale electricity prices by a quarter in 2019, but the Australian Energy Market Operator’s data shows the average price in the eastern states rose a disturbing 240% since. Albanese’s treasurer was not as on the ball, however, as writes — Jim Chalmers told the National Press Club he stood by a promise to slash our bills by $275 a year, telling the questioner it was in this week’s budget. Except, well the opposite was. Chalmers corrected himself in the House of Representatives later, saying he “misheard” (after ringing the journo up to ‘fess up for the mistake). Hey, we all make them, which leads me to…


Folks, a correction: your Worm yesterday read that Rod Sims’ idea about threatening to limit gas exports was in regard to Origin Energy, AGL and EnergyAustralia. Not so. The trio is known as the “Big Three“, but let the record state it is not the three largest Queensland gas exporters in question, which are in fact Shell, Origin, and Santos. Your Worm editor regrets this error.


Is this the Haile Gebrselassie of the bird world? A young bar-tailed godwit has flown from Alaska to Tasmania non-stop, some 13,560 kilometres, setting an incredible record for long-distance migration. It’s made cooler by the fact the little godwit was only five months old — the young ones actually migrate separately to adults, taking off up to six weeks earlier than their mum and dad. But first, the 400-gram bird had to pack on the pounds to sustain itself for its journey — even shrinking its organs to make room for the flub — because it goes on to shed half its body weight during the marathon continuous coast. And when I say continuous, I mean it: godwits can’t land on water because their feet aren’t webbed — meaning they wouldn’t be able to take off again.

So how did the trip unfold for the little guy? He took off in the sprawling wetlands of the Yukon–Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska, flew southwest to the Aleutian Islands, across the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii, down to New Caledonia and through the Tasman Sea. Usually they drop by New Zealand, but this one fancied a Tassie trip instead and landed on the gorgeous shores of Ansons Bay. “I hope he went through customs and got clearance,” BirdLife Tasmania convenor Eric Woehler quipped. We know this because the godwit had a tiny 5G tracker on it over the 11-day journey, and researchers could not believe their eyes. It beat the previous record — also held by a godwit — by about 560 kilometres. “This record is for continuous flying and it’s just incredible,” Sean Dooley, of BirdLife Australia, added.

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If that bird can coast across the world, you can make it through today — and have a restful weekend.


Dom Perrottet and Dan Andrews can have their bromance but what we want to see, both myself and Dom Perrottet, is a Liberal government here in Victoria.

Matt Kean

The NSW treasurer swears Liberal blood is thicker than water, though somewhat fittingly, the adage by some interpretations can mean the opposite. Kean made the comments while doing PR for Victorian Liberal Leader Matthew Guy, who is somewhat of the underdog this election.

If you’ve had COVID, does it raise the chance of your heart giving up?

“Was the death of Shane Warne earlier this year a forewarning of a wave of post-COVID heart attacks in men who’d rather grow old enough to meet their grandchildren? With the release of official Australian Bureau of Statistics data on causes of death in 2021, we finally have information on what is happening in Australia.

“It looks concerning. The standardised death rate from heart diseases rose in 2021 compared with 2020. It rose for men who are particularly prone to severe COVID infections due to the higher prevalence of ACE-2 receptors in their body. But the standardised death rate for women rose even more … While heart disease is up, acute heart attacks are down. (Myocardial infarction is just a fancy phrase for a heart attack.)”

In the Philly Senate battle, it’s the sinister doc v the stoned robot

“Pennsylvania is gripped — well, half of it is gripped — by politics at the moment. The other half is gripped by sport, with the Phillies baseball team playing three days in a row, and a football match between the Eagles (Philadelphia) and the Steelers (Pittsburgh), a sort of State of Origin on steroids. The place is sports mad, a product of its status as a grimy, steel-town, happy-clappy dirt patch in the shadow of New York and Washington DC.

“The Senate debate had something of the same scrappy underdog feel. It’s a Republican seat the Democrats had high hopes of winning. Retiring Senator Pat Toomey was one of the last centrist Republicans, a lifelong steel-town pol. The new Republican candidate is Dr Mehmet Oz, who, in the standard US manner, was a pioneering heart surgeon and a relentless publicity hound who got spots on Oprah’s show, then landed his own program on which he promoted a range of largely dubious and ineffective herbal treatments for major diseases.”

Dutton’s doomsday debt and deficit warning 

Dutton has repeatedly hammered the government over that discrepancy and is likely to bring it up during his budget reply. He has repeatedly dubbed it a ‘broken promise’ and said Russia’s war on Ukraine is not an excuse, because the war started before the May election. In recent media interviews, Dutton has said Labor mentioned the $275 price reduction goal no less than 97 times during the campaign.

“He’s also brought up a projected 40% increase in gas prices which he says will heap more pressure on family budgets. So what would the Coalition have done differently? Dutton has said the solution to the gas price problem would be to bring more of the product online. That way the supply could be increased to ‘meet international commitments’, plus ‘provide support domestically’. Taylor called it ‘Economics 101’ in a recent interview with Bloomberg.”


Climate crisis: UN finds ‘no credible pathway to 1.5C in place’ (The Guardian)

New crisis brewing on Cyprus after US lifts arms embargo (Al Jazeera)

US economy returned to growth in third quarter (The New York Times)

Russia strikes Ukrainian infrastructure, says it may destroy Western satellites (Reuters)

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European Central Bank announces new super hike of interest rates to tame inflation (EuroNews)

Mormon Church in Canada moved $1b out of the country tax free — and it’s legal (CBC)


Cost of living goes from a winner for Albanese in May to a weapon for Dutton in OctoberMichelle Grattan (The Conversation): “Jim Chalmers’ budget was, as the treasurer argued, responsible and restrained. But it contained alarming numbers on the potent issue of surging power prices. They’re not Labor’s fault, and of course when it comes to energy policy the Coalition has dirty hands. But dealing with the crisis, driven by the Ukraine war, is now Labor’s problem, and that gave Dutton something substantial to latch on to.

“Aside from the budget, the government this week introduced its workplace reforms, which include extending multi-employer bargaining, and business is critical, fearing a rise in strike action. Industrial relations is traditional core ground for the Coalition (not that it has always gone well politically). The legislation provided some more fodder for Dutton. In Thursday’s reply, Dutton sounded nervous and fluffed some lines. Without the troubles Labor faces, he probably would have struggled. In the event, it was a comprehensive effort that touched many bases. Chalmers had pre-billed his budget as ‘workmanlike’, and so was Dutton’s reply. Neither indulged in the ‘flashy’.”

Labor heads back to the future on industrial relationsJennifer Hewett (AFR) ($): “Tony Burke says the primary purpose of the industrial wages bill is to “get wages moving”. That’s even though wages of workers he argues are most in need of protection are paid for — or heavily influenced — by government funding, state and federal. Burke also rarely articulates the reality that higher wages in a female-dominated workforce in the care industry, for example, will come from taxpayers or consumers of those services, or a combination of both. Higher wages may be fairer, particularly to women, as well as a good and necessary means of attracting more people into those crucial jobs.

“But try telling parents their promised higher subsidies for childcare from next July that have been announced with such fanfare are likely to be promptly swallowed up in higher wages at childcare centres. Or that many aged care providers will also have to charge their residents higher fees for their services. Or that government subsidies will have to increase considerably despite the treasurer’s sense of fiscal caution and ominous warnings about debt. Instead, the bill hands many of those contradictions to the Fair Work Commission to sort out while the government claims political credit for a magic pudding policy of higher pay rises and conditions for all workers. And, of course, without doing anything to worsen inflationary pressures.”


The Latest Headlines



  • The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss, Eliza Littleton, Matt Grudnoff, and Ebony Bennett will unpack this week’s budget in a webinar.

Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)

  • Western Australia Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development, Jobs, Trade, Tourism, Commerce and Science Roger Cook will chat about creating secure, quality jobs, growing and diversifying the economy and attracting investment, in a talk held by CEDA.

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • Journalist Sarah Malik is in conversation with SBS’s Farah Celjo and illustrator Amani Haydar about Malik’s new book, Safar: Muslim Women’s Stories of Travel and Transformation, at Better Read Than Dead bookshop.

Read More

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