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With so many warning lights on the dashboard, it's easy to overlook a couple. But we should be paying attention to two flashing amber right now - the coming European winter and Sri Lanka.
Let's start with the European winter. In less than a week, the northern hemisphere will enjoy the summer solstice as we shiver through its winter counterpart. Imperceptibly at first, but gaining a good clip in no time, their days will get shorter. Then, in eight weeks, autumn will arrive. And then winter. If the war in Ukraine keeps going - and all indications are that it will - the global energy crisis is only going to deepen, as European demand surges and gas and coal fetch giddying prices in the absence of supplies from Russia. It will be the first full European winter during the Ukraine war.
Let's not be lulled into thinking the intervention in the domestic energy market will fix everything. It won't. It's a short-term measure to stop energy generating corporations withholding power as they pursue greater profits. Or, as NSW Treasurer Matt Kean says, to stop them gaming the system. The bewildering rules which govern the energy market need to be rewritten so, as one of the world's largest gas exporters, Australia always has enough domestic reserves to ride out supply shocks like the one we're enduring now. And someone, anyone, who said privatisation would be the answer to all our energy woes needs to step forward and tell us how that argument stacks up today.
Now to Sri Lanka. Until election day, when Border Force oddly announced the turnback of an asylum seeker boat from Sri Lanka, the teardrop shaped island off the Indian subcontinent was hardly front of mind here in Australia. Had we been paying attention, though, we would have noticed the complete collapse of its economy. Think we have it bad? In Sri Lanka, the lack of food, medicine, fuel and jobs is so chronic, desperate people are again taking to leaky boats in search of a future. Some of those boats are headed our way. And when they arrive, old and ugly sentiments about "boat people" and "illegals" will likely resurface.
It's in our interests to do what we can to help Sri Lanka before this happens. One way is to join the international efforts to right the island's economy, which took a hammering when Covid stopped tourism and has been plagued by corruption, cronyism and bad policy. Another might be making it easier for families with skills we need to migrate legally. It seems absurd that we are screaming for more workers when there's a ready supply willing to risk all to get here by boat. If the legal path to entry was easier to navigate, we might just put another dent in the people smugglers' business model while addressing our own labour shortages.
HAVE YOUR SAY: How should we rewrite the rules about exporting our resources? Has privatisation of the electricity grid worked? Will immigration help us overcome our chronic labour shortage? Email us: email@example.com
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IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
- In case you were wondering about the future of coal, BHP has announced it will close its Hunter Valley Mt Arthur mine in 2030 after failing to find a buyer.
- Australia has submitted more ambitious climate targets to the United Nations, with the government declaring the country has turned a corner on the issue. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the updated submission for a 43 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 would provide certainty and point the country in the right direction.
- The official unemployment rate remained stable at 3.9 per cent in May, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. While 61,000 gained work during the month, a significant number worked reduced hours because of illness.
THEY SAID IT: "The happy and powerful do not go into exile, and there are no surer guarantees of equality among men than poverty and misfortune." - Alexis de Tocqueville
YOU SAID IT: "I'll be happy not to have to hear the whingeing from the Opposition for a while. At this stage, who really cares what they have to say? Not me, for one. My hope is for civil discourse once parliament resumes, but expect that the Opposition will be their petulant selves whenever they get the opportunity." - Jennifer
"I'm not giving up. I just want Adam Brandt, Chris Bowen, the Editor of Echidna or anyone else to explain to me how anything Australia does will make any difference to global warming." - Ross
"The electricity and gas market was damaged by the Greens' influence on Labor. Starting in the 1980s the Greens were able to stop advertising to balance load and boiler refits to dramatically increase efficiency. In Victoria the State Savings Bank was damaged by enormous fraud and the electricity and gas system was sold to cover debt. Privatised energy has only one goal: to make a profit without regard for the community." - David
"If the last nine years are anything to go by, it's going to be interesting to see how long the civil tone we're experiencing lasts. Albo has talked about 'respect', but once parliament resumes, it's hard to see it being maintained. Respect has to be earned. The current opposition has certainly trashed that right. It's going to be fascinating to watch." - Ces
"Really, politicians only get a 2.75 per cent pay increase, while the low paid worker gets 5.2 per cent. Am I sorry for the much maligned politicians? According to my calculator, the MPs who are given at least $280,000 a year get an extra $7700, while the worker gets about $2080. So who is better off? While LNP politicians decry pay rises for the worker they indeed love to keep their noses in the trough." - Ian
"Has the tone of Australian politics changed for the better? Let's hope so. It was a sigh of relief when Labor got in (I didn't vote for them but my preferences did), the lesser of two evils, almost an anticlimax. Now the proof is in the pudding. Is it the calm before the storm (can't think of any more euphemisms atm)." - Lynne
"While ever we have a two-party political system, it will be adversarial. We won't know if the tone of Australian politics has changed until parliament resumes in late July, So far, Albo is making all the right noises, and hopefully that will be contagious, but time will tell. I suspect that in opposition, Dutton will make life difficult for Albo, just as Abbott did for Rudd and Gillard." - Bob
"The tone of politics has changed. The Morrison megaphone has been silenced and the LNP survivors have gone away to lick their wounds. The new government has got bigger issues to contend with and if our politicians can focus on resolving the issues facing our country, instead of their own political fortunes, perhaps the conversation can be more civil. But the cynic in me says it's just the calm before the storm and why wouldn't they focus on their own political fortunes anyway?" - Ian
"I shudder every time Anthony Albanese and Chris Bowen open their mouths, AA looking like a tiny tot receiving his/her first toy and CB looking as though he has no idea what the problem is. Remember, the wretched unions wrecked our industry and forced manufacturing overseas. Considering our lives increasingly rely on electricity and gas to maintain our existence, renewables will never be sufficient to provide this source. By the way, when are the wind and solar-powered units going to be installed in the Heights of Dover? Wentworth screamed for renewables!" - Billie
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