Australian Politics 2020-09-17 17:09:00

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Australia singled out for mammal extinction in UN’s dire global biodiversity report

LOL. The good ol’ Bramble cay melomys again: A small rodent that has actually gone extinct in recent years. The Greenies love it so we keep hearing about it.

The whole thing is a beat up. It is only the Melomys on Bramble cay that has gone extinct. There are tons of them on the nearby mainland.

And their extinction has NOTHING to do with global warming. One of the cyclones that bedevil the far North blew most of the vegetation and a lot of the sand away that formed its habitat. Any that survived the big blow died of starvation, not of any temperature rise

The Greenies will of course say that the big blow was caused by global warming but that is nonsense. Big blows have always been a frequent occurrence in the Far North. Where they hit is random however. Bramble cay and its inhabitants just got unlucky on one occasion

The extinction of Australia’s Bramble Cay melomys has been singled out for criticism in a United Nation’s report on the state of biodiversity across the world.

The fifth Global Biodiversity Outlook, released last night, warned that biodiversity is declining “at an unprecedented rate [while] the pressures driving this decline are intensifying”.

Australia was named alongside Cameroon, the Galapagos and Brazil as countries having suffered at least one extinction in the last decade.

The Bramble Cay melomys — a native rodent found on a coral cay in the northern Great Barrier Reef — was officially declared extinct by the Australian Government in 2019, although it was last seen in 2009.

It is believed to be the world’s first mammal extinction due to climate change.

Today’s report is an update on the world’s progress with the Aichi biodiversity targets — a set of 20 conservation targets set out in 2010 to be achieved by 2020, and signed off on by 194 countries including Australia.

Those targets include the elimination of “incentives, including subsidies harmful to biodiversity”, and halving “the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests”.

“At the global level, none of the 20 targets have been fully achieved,” the report stated, “though six targets have been partially achieved.”

Strengthening and enforcing environmental protection laws is outlined as a key lever to help stop the loss of biodiversity — a warning that Australian Conservation Foundation spokesperson Basha Stasak said the Government needs to pay attention to.

“The Australian Government’s own report to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity in March 2020 revealed the Government failed to meet or measure the majority of its [Aichi] targets,” Ms Stasak said.

“Yet the Morrison Government is trying to further weaken nature protection in rushed changes to the national environment law due to be debated in the Senate next month.”

Australia’s environment laws have come under scrutiny since the interim report into the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, released in July, found that the Act is failing to curb our loss of habitat and species.

The report’s recommendation for an independent “cop” to oversee the enforcement of environment protection laws was rejected by the Government.

Instead the Government is moving to introduce changes to the EPBC Act which would shift environmental assessments for major development projects to the states — a move critics say will further weaken an already failing system.

In a statement to the ABC, a spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment said that the Government was aiming to strengthen environmental protection.

“The Government continues to work on delivering both short- and long-term change that will make the Act more efficient and result in clearer, stronger protection for the environment,” the spokesperson said.

Australian species at risk of extinction without change
Australia currently has 21 species listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list — a globally recognised database of flora and fauna conservation status.

A further 24 Australian animals are listed as endangered, with 19 of those having decreasing populations.

One of the biggest failings of our environment protection laws is the self-assessment criteria, according to David Chapple, who heads up Monash University’s Evolutionary Ecology of Environmental Change Laboratory.

Under the self-assessment guidelines, people are required to decide for themselves whether they think their activity needs to be referred to the Federal Government for approval.

Yet, researchers have found that 93 per cent of the over 7 million hectares of threatened species habitat cleared since 1999 (when the EPBC Act came into effect) were not referred for assessment.

More than 3 million of that 7 million hectares was koala habitat.

“Self assessment and whether you actually refer yourself to the Act in the first place is an area where there’s a lot of improvement to be made,” Dr Chapple said.

“The [EPBC report] recommendation for an independent panel to oversee the Act is one thing that most conservation biologists think is a key element to [improve] it.”

In research published earlier this month, Dr Chapple and colleague’s assessed the conservation trajectory of just lizards and snakes in Australia.

They found that there are at least 11 species of lizard and snake at significant risk of extinction by 2040.

The biggest driver of species loss in Australia and globally is habitat loss, according to Associate Professor Chapple.

He said he wasn’t surprised by the poor outcomes in the UN’s report today.

“There wasn’t anything in there that surprised me. It’s a reinforcement of what we already know,” he said.

“In terms of the Samuel’s review of the EPBC Act, it’s very timely. It remains to be seen how many of those things [the Government] do take on.”

A Department spokesperson told the ABC the Government has made “significant progress” across its Aichi targets.

“The Australian Government is investing in dedicated threatened species strategies, national environmental science programs, practical on ground action to reduce threats from feral predators and pests and $200 million in bushfire wildlife and habitat recovery strategies that focus heavily on threatened species impacts.”

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More police excess

Canberra player Curtis Scott has had his allegations of police assault thrown out after a magistrate declared his arrest on the Australia Day weekend “unlawful”.

Scott was handcuffed and arrested by police at Moore Park while sitting under a tree before he was pepper-sprayed and Tasered. He was originally charged with seven offences as a result, including the assault of two police officers.

Body-worn police footage was played in Central Local Court on Wednesday, revealing the moment officers found Scott under the tree about 2am on January 27.

The 72-second clip showed Scott asleep under the tree with his arms folded in a floral blue shirt as officers tried to wake him.

The vision showed one officer grabbing at his earlobe three times to rouse him before Scott reacted by lashing his arms out towards police. This was considered one of the allegations of police assault.

Scott can be heard telling the officer in question: “Come on, get off me c—.”

Police then put Scott in handcuffs before telling him to “stop resisting” and to “get up” despite his intoxicated state.

Scott’s lawyer Murugan Thangaraj SC argued in court that Scott was not told he was under arrest when handcuffed, which is unlawful, and that the rest of the case could not go ahead.

Police allowed only 72 seconds of the entire incident to be played to the court and requested that no other parts be shown, believing that the charges in question were limited to the short clip.

Mr Thangaraj argued the request was an attempt by police to “shield themselves from scrutiny”.

He said that later in the full-length clip, a part that was not shown in court, a female officer stood on Scott’s foot on purpose and twisted his ankle. “She clearly applies pressure and twists his ankle,” Mr Thangaraj said.

He said that later in the full-length clip, Scott is seen “writhing in tears” after being pepper-sprayed by police before an officer tells him it is “not that bad [being pepper-sprayed]”.

Police prosecutor Rebecca Becroft told the court the officers used handcuffs for Scott’s protection and their own as he appeared to be “heavily intoxicated with alcohol or drugs”.

After viewing the shortened clip three times, Magistrate Jennifer Giles ruled the act of Scott being handcuffed while asleep “unlawful”. She described the first allegation of police assault as Scott “dreamily” using his arm to brush one of the officers away.

As a result, police withdrew the five charges in contention.

“I have to say it is drawing a very long and frightening bow to argue that the police can handcuff someone they are trying to wake up who is sleeping under a tree that is not under arrest,” Ms Giles told the court.

Outside of court, defence lawyer Sam Macedone said he was eager for the full clip to be played during the cost hearing on Thursday.

Mr Macedone also said that due to the police’s persistence of the case the cost to the taxpayer would likely amount to more than $100,000.

When Mr Macedone was asked outside court whether the police in question should be charged he said he would be not making that comment “at this stage”. “Not publicly anyway,” he said.

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‘States doing the heavy lifting’ repatriating Australians: Palaszczuk

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has called on the federal government to use its resources to bring Australians stranded abroad home, claiming the states are doing “the heavy lifting”.

Ms Palaszczuk confirmed her government was willing to accept repatriated Australians currently trapped abroad, stating it was “imperative” Australians be allowed to return home.

“I think it is imperative we get back to Australia as many Australians as we can,” she said.

“The federal government can utilise its aircraft to bring people back and set up accommodation.

“I said to the Deputy Prime Minister that I would be more than happy to look at taking more Australians here where we have the capacity to do so.”

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Surprise fall in jobless rate as 111,000 people find work in August

A tribute to the flexibilty of a capitalistic economy. The USA is performing similarly

More than 110,000 jobs were created across Australia in August, delivering the nation a surprise fall in unemployment even as Victoria went into coronavirus lockdown.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday reported the national jobless rate dropped to 6.8 per cent from 7.5 per cent. Markets had been expecting an increase in unemployment to around 8 per cent.

The bureau said 110,000 jobs were added in the month, taking total employment above 12.5 million. It is back to where it was in July 2018.

Of the jobs created, 74,800 were part-time positions. And despite the large jump in jobs, total hours worked only lifted by 0.1 per cent.

There were huge falls in jobless rates in many areas. The Northern Territory’s jobless rate fell to 4.2 per cent from 7.5 per cent, in Western Australia it fell to 7 per cent from 8.3 per cent while in Queensland it went to 7.5 per cent from 8.8 per cent.

In NSW, the nation’s biggest jobs market, the jobless rate dropped to 6.7 per cent from 7.2 per cent.

Analysts and the government had been expecting a spike in unemployment in Victoria due to its lockdown. But even there, the jobless rate only moved up to 7.1 per cent from 6.8 per cent.

The bureau’s head of labour statistics, Bjorn Jarvis, said there had not been a substantial change in the participation rate, which measures those in work or looking for it.

“The large increase in seasonally adjusted employment coincided with a large decrease in unemployment of 87,000 people, around 55,000 of whom were female,” he said.

While jobs lifted in most areas, Victoria’s lockdown did have a major impact there with total employment down 42,400. It is just above the low point reached in May in the wake of the first coronavirus lockdown.

The bureau said nationally there were now 215,300 people who worked zero hours through August. This had been 766,900 in April.

Victoria, with 113,000 people on zero hours, accounted for more than half those who held a job but did not work through the month. Victoria’s zero hour workforce peaked in April at 229,800.

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Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don’t forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here