Written by  //  April 12, 2021  //  Australia  //  No comments

Future Directions Research Institute
New York Times Topics: Australia ;
BBC Australia country profile ;
Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

Michael Mann slams Murdoch press for “horrifying” misinformation on climate and bushfires
One of the world’s leading climate scientists has told a senate hearing into Australian media diversity that the Murdoch press has served as a “megaphone” for climate disinformation and has done so to aid the agendas of Donald Trump and Scott Morrison. … The senate committee is investigating the current state of media diversity in Australia generally, but has given significant attention to the dominant role of News Corp outlets in some segments of the media and how it as used this dominance for influence.
Ex-Australian PM: Murdoch and Trump Did Putin’s Job For Him

9 March
Australia’s Ex-PM Turnbull Renews Calls To Sever Ties With British Monarchy Following Meghan-Harry Interview
(Forbes) A referendum on Australia becoming a republic was defeated in 1999, despite being favored in opinion polls. The 1999 referendum, however, only proposed to replace the British monarch with another figurehead with limited powers, instead of a president with executive powers.

25 February
Australia passes law to make Google, Facebook pay for news
(AP) — Australia’s law forcing Google and Facebook to pay for news is ready to take effect, though the laws’ architect said it will take time for the digital giants to strike media deals.
The Parliament on Thursday passed the final amendments to the so-called News Media Bargaining Code agreed between Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday.
In return for the changes, Facebook agreed to lift a ban on Australians accessing and sharing news.
Rod Sims, the competition regulator who drafted the code, said he was happy that the amended legislation would address the market imbalance between Australian news publishers and the two gateways to the internet.
The legislation was designed to curb the outsized bargaining power of Facebook and Google in their negotiations with Australian news providers. The digital giants would not be able to abuse their positions by making take-it-or-leave-it payment offers to news businesses for their journalism. Instead, in the case of a standoff, an arbitration panel would make a binding decision on a winning offer.
Facebook last week prevented Australians from sharing news, but also blocked access to pandemic, public health and emergency services.
Australian scientists warn urgent action needed to save 19 ‘collapsing’ ecosystems
A ‘confronting and sobering’ report details degradation of coral reefs, outback deserts, tropical savanna, Murray-Darling waterways, mangroves and forests
(The Guardian) A groundbreaking report – the result of work by 38 scientists from 29 universities and government agencies – details the degradation of coral reefs, arid outback deserts, tropical savanna, the waterways of the Murray-Darling Basin, mangroves in the Gulf of Carpentaria, and forests stretching from the rainforests of the far north to Gondwana-era conifers in Tasmania.
The list of damaged ecosystems extends beyond the continent to include subantarctic tundra of world heritage-listed Macquarie Island and moss beds in the east Antarctic.
The study’s lead author, Dr Dana Bergstrom from the Australian Antarctic Division, said 19 out of 20 ecosystems examined were experiencing potentially irreversible environmental changes, including the loss of species and the ability to perform important functions such as pollination.

19 February
Australia’s ABC News shot to the top of the App Store charts following Facebook’s news ban
(The Verge) Facebook’s ban was in response to an expansive Australian regulatory measure that will force tech platforms to pay Australian media companies for the content users share (and that platforms earn ad revenue from). Facebook took issue with the change and prohibited Australian news and media organizations from sharing news posts, and Australian users from seeing news from international sources as well. The ban also seemed to accidentally wipe out the posts from government pages and some other sites.

10 February
A Chinese City on Australia’s Northern Border?
Plans for the city on the PNG Torres Strait island of Daru are unlikely to come to fruition. It does, however, underscore ongoing interest from China for infrastructure projects in PNG and Australia’s political concerns.
(Future Directions) Reports on a leaked document detailing a proposal to build “New Daru City” on the Papua New Guinean Torres Strait island of Daru, circulated across Australian media on 5 February. The proposal was put forward in April 2020 by WYW Holding Ltd. (WYW), a private company registered in Hong Kong. A spokesman for Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister, however, told media that the Prime Minister was unaware of the proposal while adding that PNG would welcome multi-billion-dollar foreign investment projects, as long as they comply with PNG laws and bring benefits to the local populace.
While the New Daru City Project looks unlikely to go ahead, its proposal does highlight ongoing strategic concerns for Australia. Such concerns were already raised in December 2020 when the PNG Government agreed for China to undertake a feasibility study to build an industrial fisheries complex on Daru Island. Sitting atop the Torres Strait and within 200 kilometres of the Australian mainland, there are concerns that Beijing’s interest for infrastructure projects on that island are more geopolitical than economic, especially if those projects were to include any kind of port facility.

9 February
Why Australia’s ‘world-class’ quarantine system has seen breaches
(BBC) Australia’s hotel quarantine system has been an extremely effective first line of defence against Covid-19. … But a series of isolated local cases in recent months – all from hotel quarantine leaks – have caused alarm.

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