Australia

Crikey Worm: On a power trip

WATTS GOING ON

As Australians face record-high prices for power, energy companies have been accused of price gouging according to The Australian ($). Companies have been accused of “cartel-like behaviour” by forcing domestic manufacturers into accepting year-long contracts at high prices, and have been reported to the consumer watchdog.

Guardian Australia reports that power could be tight for the next few days with a shortfall of energy in NSW, Victoria, and Queensland. Shortfalls are set to hit Queensland from this morning and NSW from 7pm tonight with residents urged to turn down heaters and switch off appliances. Queensland managed to avoid forced blackouts yesterday after the state’s biggest consumers agreed to cut their power use, while the Australian Energy Market Operator declared a price cap for NSW yesterday afternoon.

The shortage is caused by breakdowns and maintenance outages affecting around one-quarter of the east coast’s coal-fired power stations, according to The Sydney Morning Herald, causing price spikes.

Queensland currently has the highest power prices in the country, according to SBS, with 70% of the state’s generation coming from fossil fuels. Despite supply increases in the first quarter of 2022, the AFR ($) reports, prices still spiked even as Australian gas exports slowed thanks to a significant increase in demand across the country.

FROZEN OR THAWED?

It’s not clear whether Australia’s relationship with China is on the mend or getting worse, with media outlets reporting both sides of the coin as leaders met to talk about trade freezes for the first time in years.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles will turn to Japan for support during his trip to Tokyo. Marles said Australia would continue to fly over the South China Sea near disputed territory and would request more military exercises with Japan and a strengthening of the two countries’ military ties.

But while we’re performing a strong-man show with Japan things were rosier over lunch, The Sydney Morning Herald reports with a breakdown of the infamous dinner at a Shangri-La hotel in Singapore on Friday. The dinner signalled a thawing in Australia’s diplomatic relations with Beijing. Marles and China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe sat opposite one another, forced to choose between conversation and awkwardly staring at one another. They chose conversation.

But a glass of pinot gris can’t fix everything, Foreign Minister Penny Wong has warned. As reported in The Australian ($), Wong has said Australia won’t compromise its values to convince China to end its trade strikes.

STAMP OF DISAPPROVAL

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet will meet with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this Friday to request federal help to scrap stamp duty, Guardian Australia reports, with Perrottet calling it an “inherently terrible” tax.

Under his proposal, buyers will be able to choose to pay an annual land tax instead of a lump sum on purchase to help stimulate home ownership and boost the annual incomes of NSW residents, according to the ABC.

As The Sydney Morning Herald ($) reports, the move is set to be a key element of next week’s state budget — though NSW opposition treasury spokesman Daniel Mookhey warned scrapping the tax would put extra pressure on working families who can’t afford annual fees.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

TikTok and Instagram influencers might be turning to Bunnings for the big bucks after the hardware retailer revealed it’s trying to “reimagine” its business to cater to Gen Z, according to The Australian ($)

It’s hard to believe those born at the turn of the century are now adults thinking about decorating their homes — or their parents’ homes — but Bunnings believes they’re an untapped market for DIY projects despite record-low levels of home ownership.

Speaking at the Global DIY Summit in Denmark, Bunnings CEO Michael Schneider said he planned on helping younger people reimagine their parents’ living spaces for them.

May your projects today be seamless and successful.

SAY WHAT?

The mayor was definitely intoxicated but I do not know his level of intoxication when he spoke with the president.

Jason Miller

The US House Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots heard from the former Donald Trump campaign staffer that the then-president listened to drunken advice from Rudy Giuliani instead of his professional campaign advisers.

‘Our reputation is trashed’: Sydney Morning Herald staff email blasts management in Rebel Wilson fallout

“The email, obtained by Crikey from multiple sources, lambasts Nine’s editorial decisions, ongoing enterprise bargaining agreement negotiations, and management.

“‘In March, with the ‘strike’ fiasco, we were a national laughingstock — but now we’ve attracted international attention,’ the email reads.

“‘Our reputation is trashed. Management silence us on social media and treat our audience with contempt. And we’re not even paid in line with inflation. What’s the point?’”

The ABC speaks a mistruth to power, and Buttrose takes control

“On a practical level, an independent ombudsman adds to an already rigorous — if not onerous — set of demands on ABC journalists who are attempting to hold power to account. There is already an established complaints process. If a complainant is unhappy with that, they have a right to appeal to the Australian Communications and Media Authority. Apart from that, there are the defamation courts. There is the ABC’s Media Watch. And on top of all that there is the relentless hounding from News Corp seeking to amplify any perceived slight or error.

And yet the ABC board considered more was needed — a sign either that it has truly gone off the rails or has overreacted, perhaps swept along by a climate of crisis that escalated over the term of the Morrison government.”

Rebel Wilson, Bevan Shields and the art of the Twitter (non) apology

“It’s a strange assertion, given the fact that the SMH‘s intention of outing [Rebel] Wilson was literally in the first line of the article. [Andrew] Hornery opens with: ‘In a perfect world, “outing” same-sex relationships should be a redundant concept in 2022. Love is love, right? As Rebel Wilson knows, we do not live in a perfect world.’ He then goes on to describe how the paper outed her.

“‘I had made no decision about whether or what to publish,’ Shields goes on to state in his non-apology. ‘And the Herald’s decision about what to do would have been informed by any response Wilson supplied.’”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Rape activist Jo Dyer’s secret Christian Porter sex history (The Australian) ($) 

Star Entertainment strife sparks new inquiry, licence under scrutiny (The Australian) ($) 

What you should know about bear markets (The New York Times) ($) 

S&P 500 opens in bear-market territory as stocks fall about 2% (The Wall Street Journal) ($) 

Global stockpile of nuclear weapons expected to rise: SIPRI (Al Jazeera)

Buzz Lightyear film banned from cinemas by UAE (BBC)

Ukraine fears defeat in East without surge in military aid (The Wall Street Journal) ($) 

High-ranking Afghan officials escaped to luxury homes abroad (The Wall Street Journal) ($) 

The diplomatic freeze between Australia and China has ended. Here’s what it means (SBS)

Wikipedia appeals Russian court order to remove information on war in Ukraine (ABC)

‘Immunity is waning’: Andrews seeks fourth shot for hospital workers (The Age) ($) 

THE COMMENTARIAT

Team Albo builds on Morrison’s workGreg Sheridan (The Australian) ($): “The Albanese government’s success in gaining this ministerial dialogue owes a lot to the Morrison government’s resolve in not bending to years of Beijing’s intimidation.

“We don’t know all of Beijing’s calculations but we can surmise it has worked out that trying to coerce Australia on issues such as Chinese interference in our politics, investment in our critical infrastructure, Huawei’s participa­tion in our 5G network, media and political criticism over Chinese human rights, and national positions on the South China Sea, Hong Kong and the persecution of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang won’t work. The Morrison government was strong on this stuff and the Albanese government has continued that strength in slightly moderated language. So let’s not forget Scott Morrison’s achievements.”

What it took for a country with a strong gun culture to give them upAaron Timms (The New York Times) ($) : “Australia loses as much as it gains from this constitutional deficiency — a point that’s often lost in American media coverage of gun policy in the emotional days that follow a mass shooting. Compared with the herculean effort that would be required to repeal the Second Amendment, Australia’s gun reforms entered into law relatively easily. But without a Bill of Rights, there’s no constitutional framework in Australia to prevent the mandatory and indefinite detention of asylum seekers, or to insulate free speech from the chilling effect of defamation suits.”

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Place of originCrikey Worm: On a power trip

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