South Australia’s Australian of the Year finalist Tanya Hosch calls for Australia Day date change


South Australia’s Australian of the Year finalist says Australia Day should be moved away from January 26 so it can become a public holiday celebrated by everyone.

Tanya Hosch, a Torres Strait Islander woman who is the AFL’s executive general manager for inclusion and social policy, says it is time for a mature debate to permanently change the date.

“I’m definitely one of those Australians who think we’ve got an opportunity for a nation-building moment to change the date that we hold Australia Day on,” Ms Hosch told ABC News presenter Emma Rebellato in an Instagram Live interview yesterday.

“We haven’t celebrated Australia Day on this date for decades and decades and decades — it’s only been about 20 years — so we definitely have an opportunity, I think, to revisit that date.

“Because we have the conversation perennially — like every 12 months, we have the conversation — we have the same debates and the same ideas, but we don’t ever seem to resolve it.”

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Ms Hosch was adopted at three years old by an Aboriginal father and a white mother.

She grew up in the north-eastern Adelaide suburb of Gilles Plains and now lives in the same area.

She was the first Indigenous person, and second woman, on the AFL’s executive leadership team.

Tanya Hosch stands with AFL players, coaches and executives around the AFL’s Yes logo in support of same-sex marriage.(AAP: AFL House)

Unsure about accepting nomination

She said she debated about whether or not to accept the nomination as South Australia’s Australian of the Year.

“When I got notice that I had been nominated for this award, I really needed to think about whether I would accept this nomination,” she said.

“But I think as a mature nation there’s a whole lot of things we have the opportunity to do to build our nation — to make it stronger, to address the sorts of things that often create dissent and pain for people and tap into some significant trauma.

“I think as a country, if we want Australia Day to be a day that is truly unifying for all the stories that make up our nation, then reviewing the date — thinking about it differently — I don’t think there’s anything to fear in that, there’s jut some great opportunities.”

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Role in Adam Goodes documentaries

Ms Hosch championed the first statue of an Indigenous AFL player, Nicky Winmar, and instigated a review of anti-vilification policy within the sporting code.

Ms Hosch also helped to secure an apology from the AFL for former Sydney Swans player Adam Goodes, following the racial vilification he endured throughout the final years of his football career.

Goodes was criticised by some Aboriginal leaders for not pushing for Australia Day’s date to be changed when he was Australian of the Year in 2014.

Ms Hosch worked with the producers of the two 2019 films about Goodes, The Final Quarter and The Australian Dream.

She said the documentaries helped people — including footballers Goodes played against — recognise how long he had to endure the “horrible behaviour”.

“It was a real pleasure, privilege and a great opportunity to work with the filmmakers to say ‘how do I harness this moment?'” Ms Hosch said.

The 2021 Australian of the Year will be announced on January 25.

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Top investor says climate change is the biggest opportunity since the internet


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Mr Griffin said the push by governments in the European Union and China as well as major corporations such as Microsoft and BHP to be carbon neutral by 2050 meant companies engaged with climate change are a “great place to invest over the next 20 years”.

“We think there was a pandemic last year that got a lot of attention. But there was a quasi-epidemic occurring of countries, companies, councils, states, you name it, announcing zero carbon targets.”

Mr Griffin said Denmark was ahead of the curve when it came to green investments.

“Two of the biggest renewable companies in the world happen to be listed in Denmark, a country that’s tiny,” he told this masthead. “Those two companies make up $150 billion in market cap – one is bigger than our biggest company in Australia.

“It disproves the argument that focusing on climate is negative for the economy. It’s actually positive, you just should have done it first.”

Munro’s global fund is not invested in any Australian companies and while Mr Griffin said he was focused on international opportunities, he acknowledged Australia’s federal policy settings had not fostered innovation in this sector.

“If the best business was here, we would look at it, but we haven’t seen anything so far that rivals what we can find outside of Australia,” he said.

Mr Griffin said government policy on climate change had increasingly become irrelevant as the corporate world was moving independently to facilitate the transition to a low carbon future.

“The reality is most companies in the world recognise the problems in the world and working hard internally to solve them,” he said. “If you look at BHP, they’ve committed to a zero carbon target. The reality is, I don’t think the federal policy settings actually make that bigger difference here.”

Speaking at the same forum, Tribeca partners senior portfolio manager Jun Bei Liu said she would allocate a portion of her portfolio to growth stocks but was also seeking opportunities in old world companies that are set to benefit from the post-COVID bounce – including aviation, shopping centres and housing.

“We also look to make money out of the high quality players that are trading at a significant discount now,” she said. “In the next 12 months, we expect to return to pre-COVID levels.”

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Lake Torrens drilling approval by SA Premier prompts Greens calls to change heritage laws


A contentious minerals exploration project in outback South Australia, approved by the Premier, is prompting calls for a change to heritage laws.

Premier Steven Marshall, who is also the Aboriginal Affairs Minister, approved an application by exploration company Kelaray to explore for ore bodies on the surface of Lake Torrens.

The salt lake, part of a national park, is considered sacred by at least four Aboriginal nations but does not have any native title protections.

Kelaray, a subsidiary of Argonaut Resources, made the application under Section 23 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, which allows the minister to approve the damage or disturbance of sacred sites.

An email obtained by the ABC revealed almost every Aboriginal person consulted on the project opposed it, but Mr Marshall chose to prioritise the project’s potential economic benefits.

The State Government says the drilling will not cause permanent damage.(Supplied: Rebecca Tayler)

The approval has prompted calls from the SA Greens to change the act to give Aboriginal people a greater voice.

“If we’re really going to get serious about reconciliation in this state, I think that act needs to be revisited and done properly this time,” Greens MP Tammy Franks said.

“Not rammed through Parliament in a couple of days, but properly considered and Aboriginal voices heard.

“The review should really listen to Aboriginal people this time.

Government defends decision

Mr Marshall was not available for an interview, but a Government spokesperson defended the Premier’s decision.

“This follows extensive consultation with Aboriginal organisations and people claiming an interest in Lake Torrens,” the spokesperson said.

“The authorisation requires Argonaut to undertake its exploration in accordance with conditions to minimise impacts of the program and to keep interested Aboriginal parties informed on a regular basis of the progress of the company’s work.”

The spokesperson said Mr Marshall also took into account:

  • a history of mineral exploration activity on Lake Torrens and close to its shoreline, with government records indicating the first exploration hole was drilled in 1960
  • the granting of 282 exploration licences over areas of Lake Torrens since the early 1970s
  • Section 23 authorisations approved in 2010 and 2018 by the former government to permit exploration on and in the vicinity of Lake Torrens
  • a separate Section 23 authorisation would have to be sought by Kelaray if exploration led to any proposal to mine at Lake Torrens
A aerial shot of a large salt pan. There is a plane wing in the shot.
The SA Greens want changes to the state Aboriginal Heritage Act.(Supplied: Tony Magor/Department of Environment and Water)

Project on scale ‘never seen before’

SA Labor’s Aboriginal affairs spokesperson, Kyam Maher, defended the 2010 and 2018 approvals that were made when his party was in government.

Mr Maher said those projects were on a smaller scale.

“Very widescale drilling over a very large area and people are concerned that firstly, it is happening, and also what sort of conditions are on there to make sure it’s done sensibly?”

He said heritage concerns and minerals projects needed to be given equal weight.

“Once Aboriginal heritage is destroyed or damaged on such a large scale, you can’t reverse that,” Mr Maher said.

“I think people are more alive to some of the concerns that Aboriginal people and traditional owners have.”

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Positive ‘tipping points’ could help us mitigate climate change



One tipping point will come if we reach a point where coal isn’t just less profitable, but actually losing profits, write the authors of a new paper on these positive tipping points in the journal Climate Policy. Then, a series of environmental benefits will follow. It would pave the way for more renewable energy use, decarbonizing power generation around the world. With cheaper, cleaner power, it becomes even easier to decarbonize transportation, heating, and cooling.

Another potential tipping point is electric vehicle development. When EVs cost the same to manufacture as conventional-fuel cars, then EV production will go up, and as production increases, costs will get even cheaper. With more investment and production, electric batteries will become both better and more affordable (such economies of scale have helped drop the price of solar panels), benefiting the power sector and helping to decarbonize everything that relies on battery use.

Both of these tipping points feed into each other, notes Tim Lenton, director of the Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter and coauthor of the paper, via email. “Cheaper renewable electricity makes electrified transport even cheaper (as well as cleaner),” he says. “Going the other way, an EV revolution means batteries get much more abundant and much cheaper—and that helps with the renewable electricity revolution—to balance out uneven supply and demand for renewables. That’s a reinforcing feedback between the sectors and tipping points.”

These tipping points won’t happen on their own without policy interventions. But in some places, those policies are already in place, triggering “positive tipping points at national scales,” Lenton says. Norway has a tax system that makes EV models cheaper than similar gas-powered cars, sparking a national tipping point for EV manufacturing. Globally, electric vehicles account for about 2 to 3% of new car sales. In Norway, they make up 54%. If more governments—particularly China, the EU, and California, which together are responsible for half the world’s car sales—used similar incentives to boost EV sales, the resulting change in consumer behavior would push them over their own tipping points in manufacturing and battery advancements.

Similarly, the United Kingdom has a policy to prompt a power tipping point: a carbon tax. That, along with the carbon price set by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, has helped Great Britain cut its proportion of electricity generated by coal from 40% to 3% in six years. China, Japan, and South Korea finance most of the new coal plants globally, and right now there’s no incentive for them to stop, the paper notes, since if one pulls out of that market, another country will step in. But if they decide together to stop, the cost of coal could rise around the world, prompting more renewable energy use, and decarbonizing power globally.

It’s too late to tackle climate change “incrementally,” the researchers write (Lenton cowrote the paper with Simon Sharpe, a deputy director in the U.K. Cabinet Office’s unit preparing for the next global climate meeting, COP26). Instead, these tipping points offer a different approach to climate mitigation. “We need to go from a trend of increasing greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within about 30 years—that requires a massive acceleration in the rate of change of decarbonization of the global economy,” Lenton says.



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In Fast-Moving Pandemic, Health Officials Try To Change Minds at Warp Speed


 

Nine months into the pandemic that has killed more than 320,000 people in the U.S., Kim Larson is still trying to convince others in her northern Montana county that COVID-19 is dangerous.

As Hill County Health Department director and county health officer, Larson continues to hear people say the coronavirus is just like a bad case of the flu. Around the time Montana’s governor mandated face coverings in July, her staffers saw notices taped in several businesses’ windows spurning the state’s right to issue such emergency orders.

For a while, the county with a population of 16,000 along the Canadian border didn’t see much evidence of the pandemic. It had only one known COVID case until July. But that changed as the nation moved into its third surge of the virus this fall. By mid-December, Hill County had recorded more than 1,500 cases — the vast majority since Oct. 1 — and 33 people there had died.

When Larson hears people say pandemic safety rules should end, she talks about how contagious the COVID virus is, how some people experience lasting effects and how hospitals are so full that care for any ailment could face delays.

“In public health, we’ve seen the battle before, but you typically have the time to build your evidence, research showing that this really does save lives,” Larson said. “In the middle of a pandemic, you have no time.”

Public health laws typically come long after social norms shift, affirming a widespread acceptance that a change in habits is worth the public good and that it’s time for stragglers to fall in line. But even when decades of evidence show a rule can save lives — such as wearing seat belts or not smoking indoors — the debate continues in some places with the familiar argument that public restraints violate personal freedoms. This fast-moving pandemic, however, doesn’t afford society the luxury of time. State mandates have put local officials in charge of changing behavior while general understanding catches up.

Earlier this month, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams stood next to Montana’s governor in Helena and said he hopes people wear masks because it’s the right thing to do — especially as COVID hospitalizations rise.

“You don’t want to be the reason that a woman in labor can’t get a hospital bed,” Adams said, adding a vaccine is on the way. “It’s just for a little bit longer.”

He spoke days after state lawmakers clashed over masks as a majority of Republican lawmakers arrived for a committee meeting barefaced and at least one touted false information on the dangers of masks. As of Dec. 15, the Republican majority hadn’t required masks for the upcoming legislative session, set to begin Jan. 4.

And now a group opposed to masks from Gallatin and Flathead counties has filed a lawsuit asking a Montana judge to block the state’s pandemic-related safety rules.

Public health laws typically spark political battles. Changing people’s habits is hard, said Lindsay Wiley, director of the health law and policy program at American University in Washington, D.C. Despite the misconception that there was universal buy-in for masks during the 1918 pandemic, Wiley said, some protesters intentionally built rap sheets of arrests for going maskless in the name of liberty.

She said health officials realize any health restrictions amid a pandemic require the public’s trust and cooperation for success.

“We don’t have enough police to walk around and force everyone to wear a mask,” she said. “And I’m not sure we want them to do it.”

Local officials have the best chance to win over that support, Wiley said. And seeing elected leaders such as President Donald Trump rebuff his own federal health guidelines makes that harder. Meanwhile, public shaming like calling unmasked people selfish or stupid can backfire, Wiley said, because if they were to give in to mask-wearing, they would essentially be accepting those labels.

In the history of public health laws, even rules that have had time to build widely accepted evidence weren’t guaranteed support.

It’s illegal in Montana to go without a seat belt in a moving car. But, as in 13 other states, authorities aren’t allowed to pull people over for being unbuckled. Every few years, a Montana lawmaker, backed by a collection of public health and law enforcement organizations, proposes a law to allow seat belt traffic stops, arguing it would save lives. In 2019, that request didn’t even make it out of committee, squelched by the arguments of personal choice and not giving too much power to the government.

Main opposition points against public health laws — whether it’s masks, seat belts, motorcycle helmets or smoking — can sound alike.

When Missoula County became the first place in Montana to ban indoor smoking in public spaces in 1999, opponents said the change would destroy businesses, be impossible to enforce and violate people’s freedom of choice.

“They are the same arguments in a lot of ways,” said Ellen Leahy, director of the Missoula City-County Health Department. “Public health was right at that intersection between what’s good for the whole community and the rights and responsibilities of the individual.”

Montana adopted an indoor smoking ban in 2005, but many bars and taverns were given until 2009 to fall in line. And, in some places, debate and court battles continued for a decade more on how the ban could be enforced.

Amid the COVID pandemic, Missoula County was again ahead of much of the state when it passed its own mask ordinance. The county has two hospitals and a university that swells its population with students and commuters.

“If you have to see it to believe it, you’re going to see the impact of a pandemic first in a city, most likely,” Leahy said.

Compliance hasn’t been perfect and she said the need for strict enforcement has been limited. As of early December, out of the more than 1,500 complaints the Missoula health department followed up on since July, it sent closure notices to four businesses that flouted the rules.

In Hill County, when the health department gets complaints that a business is violating pandemic mandates, two part-time health sanitarians, who perform health inspections of businesses, talk with the owners about why the rules exist and how to live by them. Often it works. Other times the complaints keep coming.

County attorney Karen Alley said the local health officials have reached out to her office with complaints of noncompliance on COVID safety measures, but she has not seen enough evidence to bring a civil case against a business. Unlike other health laws, she said, mask rules have no case studies yet to offer a framework for enforcing them through the Montana courts. (A handful of cases against businesses skirting COVID rules were still playing out as of mid-December.)

“Somebody has to be the test case, but you never want to be the test case,” said Alley, who is part of a team of three. “It’s a lot of resources, a lot of time.”

Larson, with the Hill County Health Department, said her focus is still on winning over the community. And she’s excited about some progress. The town’s annual live Nativity scene, which typically draws crowds with hot cocoa, turned into a drive-by event this year.

She doesn’t expect everyone to follow the rules — that’s never the case in public health. But Larson hopes enough people will to slow down the virus. That could be happening. By mid-December, the county’s tally of daily active cases was declining for the first time since its spike began in October.

“You just try to figure out the best way for your community and to get their input,” Larson said. “Because we need the community’s help to stop it.”

This post was previously published on Khn.org.

***

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Photo credit: Kim Larson, health officer for Hill County, is still trying to convince many in her northern Montana county that COVID-19 is more than a bad case of the flu. As of mid-December, the county of 16,000 residents had recorded more than 1,500 cases of the illness and 33 deaths. (Tony Bynum for KHN)

 



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Belgium after Brexit: How the change will affect popular exports


The BBC has spoken to three companies that trade heavily with the UK, to find out what changes consumers can expect after Brexit.

These plant, beer and chocolate businesses say higher prices and less choice are on the cards as they grapple with the post-Brexit changes.

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EPL season 2021, FA Cup, Liverpool vs Aston Villa result, COVID cases, fixture change, Steve Bruce


Newcastle boss Steve Bruce questioned the morality of playing football during the worsening coronavirus pandemic as Aston Villa fielded a second-string team against Liverpool in the FA Cup.

There are growing concerns over whether the Premier League season can be completed on time as a new variant of COVID-19 sweeps across Britain.

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A record-high 40 positive tests were detected among top-flight players and staff in the week between December 28 and January 3 and four Premier League games have already been postponed.

The English Football League, which oversees the three divisions below the Premier League, reported 112 positive tests on Friday.

The resurgent virus has wreaked havoc with scheduling at all levels of the English game but Premier League bosses have remained adamant that the season will proceed.

Newcastle were the first Premier League team this season forced to postpone a match this season, when they asked for their match against Aston Villa on December 4 to be deferred.

Bruce questioned the morality of playing on as the pandemic tightens its grip. “The speed which it hit our club within a week, and ripped through, is something which all clubs will be looking at now,” he said.

“It’s difficult to contain and it leaves people sick. Financially it’s right to play on but morally, for me, it’s probably wrong.”

Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa agreed there was a moral argument for suspending elite-level football.

But Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said football should continue despite the “frightening” situation.

“Of course what’s happening outside and at different clubs and in the society is frightening and we have a responsibility and a duty to try to do our best to stay clear and keep within the bubbles and the guidelines,” he said.

“I hope that we can continue playing because I think it’s a positive impact for everyone in the lockdown now to watch.”

Liverpool survived a scare from coronavirus-ravaged Aston Villa to reach the FA Cup fourth round with a 4-1 win against opponents missing their entire first-team squad as the pandemic wreaks havoc on English football.

Villa fielded a raw side comprised entirely of youth academy players and were without boss Dean Smith after being hit hard by a COVID-19 outbreak earlier this week.

In all, 14 unnamed Villa employees — nine players and five staff — have tested positive, forcing the Premier League club to close their training base on Thursday because of the outbreak.

There are serious questions over Villa’s ability to fulfil the Premier League fixture against Tottenham next Wednesday and the following weekend’s game against Everton.

Spurs already face a punishing schedule due to European and other commitments plus the postponement of their recent match against Fulham, who suffered their own Covid outbreak.

Spurs boss Jose Mourinho said it would be “completely impossible” for any more of his side’s Premier League matches to be postponed.

Top-flight clubs were emailed details of tightened protocols on Thursday. These include allowing Covid compliance officers access to dressing rooms and making it mandatory for substitutes to wear face coverings when sitting n the stands.

League bosses know they are walking a tightrope in terms of the fixture list, with the rescheduled Euro 2020 due to start in June.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche believes footballers should be vaccinated to prevent the season being halted.

“The amount of money being spent on testing in the Premier League, if that money was channelled back into the NHS and the vaccinations system, surely that’s a better place to be than it is just continuing testing a load of footballers two, three, four times a week,” he said.

Southampton’s FA Cup match against Shrewsbury is off after a COVID-19 outbreak at the League One club.

Brentford will host fellow Championship side Middlesbrough in the FA Cup without manager Thomas Frank in the dugout after he tested positive for Covid, while Middlesbrough’s preparations were disrupted by a series of positive tests.

Wayne Rooney’s Derby will field a youth team in their cup tie against Chorley.

– AFP



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Date change for Australian Grand Prix


An owner of a Formula One team has confirmed that the Australian Grand Prix will be postponed until later in the year.

Aston Martin boss Lawrence Stroll told Reuters that the new season would now start in Bahrain rather than Melbourne as was originally scheduled.

“Melbourne has been – it’s not officially announced but it will be – not cancelled but postponed,” said Stroll, who suggested the Australian Grand Prix would now be held sometime in spring rather than March 21 because of current COVID-19-enforced travel restrictions.

A winter August date for the Melbourne race had been mooted earlier this week after initial reports of its postponement.

However, Stroll’s southern hemisphere spring prediction means a date between September and November is more likely.

The Bahrain race is currently set to take place on March 28 as part of a 23-race schedule.

Formula One great Alan Jones, one of just two Australians to have won the World Drivers’ Championship, this week told News Corp Australia: “Obviously if we can’t have the first one, which would be ideal, then any one is better than nothing.

“They all love coming to Australia. We always put on a bloody good show. It’s a great circuit so I’d be welcoming it no matter what month it was.”

The 2020 Australian Grand Prix was cancelled at the last minute due to the COVID-19 pandemic.



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Who should pick up the tab for the costs of climate change in north Queensland? | Queensland


Is it fair that young men pay more for car insurance than older women, or that we make young healthy people buy private health insurance to keep the price of health insurance low for older customers? How about the fact that those who live in far-north Queensland are paying far more for home and contents insurance than those in the southern states?

While there’s no right answer to those questions, there is a wrong person to ask: namely, an economist.

Economists, quite literally, don’t do “fair”. We didn’t learn anything about it in our degrees beyond the belief that democratic forces – not market forces – should answer questions of fairness.

But while economists have got nothing to say about fairness, we do have something very simple and very important to say about risks: someone has to pay for them.

So concerned are we with the expensive harm car crashes can do to people, we force them to buy third-party insurance when they register their car. But when it comes to insuring the car itself, if you resemble a person who crashes cars a lot, or your car resembles the kind that crashes a lot, it will cost you much more to insure your car. Is that fair? Again, don’t ask me, I’m just an economist.

Democratic notions of fairness play a big role in private health insurance as well. While most people can’t predict a car accident, people have a fair idea if they’re going to need a hip replacement, obstetric care or glasses. As a result, people who know they’re going to need expensive health treatment (particularly older people) are keen to buy insurance and those in good health (most often young single blokes) aren’t so keen. So in Australia, we have developed a range of carrots and sticks where we effectively force a lot of young people to take out private health insurance, even when they don’t think it’s good value. It means young people spend more on private health insurance than they’d like, and it keeps the price of insurance for older people down. Sound fair?

So, what about house and contents insurance in northern Australia? As we heat the planet, the risk to property of cyclones and hurricanes continue to increase. Likewise, as sea levels rise with our coal exports, the risks of storm surges and coastal erosion destroying beachfront property rise as well. Should the people who own houses in high-risk areas pay higher insurance premiums as global emissions and climate risks continue to rise? Should young renters who don’t own homes subsidise the cost of home insurance for those fortunate enough to own their own home up in north Queensland? The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission offers a defiant maybe.

A recent report by the ACCC, demanded by Scott Morrison back when he was treasurer, makes clear that just as it’s more expensive for young men to insure sports cars than for older women to insure a new sedan, it’s a lot more expensive to insure a house in cyclone-prone north Queensland than in the western suburbs of Sydney.

But unlike young sports car drivers, north Queensland homeowners have powerful political representatives and, in turn, the Morrison government is looking seriously at the idea of subsidising north Queensland homeowners. While the ACCC chose its words carefully when it recommended that “if governments want to provide immediate relief to consumers facing acute affordability pressures, subsidies [should] be used in preference to other measures”, headline writers typically dropped the “if” and reported, “ACCC recommends government subsidise insurance in top end”. Job done.

So assuming those north Queensland MPs, who rage against policies for climate action, succeed in convincing their southern colleagues to subsidise the costs of climate change up north: who should pick up the tab? Would less spending on other services fund it, or should a new levy be introduced?

Contrary to popular belief, economists love a good tax or levy. While we don’t know anything about fair, we do know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, so we tend towards “user pays” for the simple reason that it’s often superior to non-user pays. When people and companies have to pay for the things they use, it’s a good way to test if they really value them. Take buffets, for example: when the price of a return trip to the bacon and eggs is zero, people tend to eat a lot more breakfast than they ordinarily would.

While user pays is widely accepted as fair for bacon, eggs and most consumer goods, when it comes to things like vaccination and education, where there’s a public benefit associated with private consumption, the majority of the public, and economists, think subsidies are OK. While most people don’t mind if high insurance prices discourage young men from buying fast cars, most people do mind if high prices discourage parents from sending their kids to school, or from vaccinating them.

Which brings me back to the risky activity of owning a house by the ocean in tropical north Queensland. Queensland MP Peter Dutton once appeared to laugh at the impact of storms and sea level rise on Pacific Island nations, but when it happens to his own state, it’s clearly no laughing matter.

As an economist I’m in no position to determine what the fairest way to deal with the growing risks of climate change in north Queensland are, namely:

  1. Homeowners pay: Let insurers do their job and assess the risk of each property. If insurance for some properties is “too expensive”, then the price of those properties will fall as new buyers factor in expensive insurance to what seems like a “cheap house”.

  2. Taxpayers pay: Let the general public pay for the risks in north Queensland. While the costs will be small when spread across 25 million Australians, there will be no price signal to discourage people from building ever more expensive houses in ever more cyclone-prone regions. There’s also the question of whether non-homeowners in southern cities should fund the lifestyle choices of hom owners in north Queensland.

  3. Disaster levy: If we don’t want homeowners or the general public to pay, we could simply put a levy on the companies that profit from causing climate change. Such a levy could help not just homeowners, but local councils and other groups that will inevitably bear the costs that come with other people’s decisions to buy and sell coal.

Economists don’t do “fair”, but we do have a preference for user pays to change consumer behaviour, and levies to change producer behaviour. But somehow I reckon, when it comes to picking up the tab for the costs of climate change in north Queensland, the coal lovers in the National party will have no problem asking the “inner city elites” to pay. The interesting question is how long the Liberals from the southern states will let them get away with it.

• Richard Denniss is the chief economist at independent thinktank The Australia Institute

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No change in Queensland border controls as state boosts number of coronavirus testing clinics


Queensland Health has opened more coronavirus testing clinics to shorten long queues as authorities maintain a watch on virus outbreaks in southern states.

No change has been made to border restrictions even as more cases were reported on Monday in New South Wales and Victoria.

Five new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in Queensland overnight — all in hotel quarantine, which Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said highlighted the importance of maintaining strict quarantine measures.

She said authorities would continue to “keep a very close eye” on outbreaks further south, but for now there would be no change in Queensland’s border controls.

Meanwhile, Queensland authorities have boosted the number of fever clinics to cope with rising demand for tests.

On the weekend, health authorities urged anyone who’d been in Victoria since December 21 to get tested and quarantine until they received a negative result.

The call led to long queues at testing clinics, but Acting Premier Cameron Dick said on Monday that extra facilities had been added on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.

“There’ll always be some delays from time to time in getting testing, but we’re seeing those queues being reduced and we’re also getting test results back to people on average within 24 hours,” Mr Dick said.

There are now 83 public fever clinics operating in Queensland, with longer operating hours and more staff, he said.

“We’ve got many more in the private sector that are operating,” he added.

Dr Young thanked people for “persevering” amid lines at some fever clinics on Sunday, when more than 6,200 tests were conducted.

While there’s been no change to border rules, new restrictions came into effect on Monday limiting access to “vulnerable” facilities in Queensland.

From 1am Monday, anyone who was in Victoria on or after December 21 is no longer allowed to visit hospitals, aged care, disability accommodation and correctional facilities.

Police poised to act on any border orders

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said authorities were monitoring the interstate COVID-19 situation “day by day” and were ready to enforce any border changes if required.

“We’ve been shown to be very flexible and agile at putting together border closures very quickly,” she said.

A police officer stops a driver at a checkpoint at Coolangatta on the Queensland - New South Wales border
Anyone entering Queensland must fill out a Queensland Border Declaration Pass.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

She also said she was disappointed to see a tweet from Lyle Shelton, the former managing director of the Australian Christian Lobby, stating he had done a “sneaky run across the border and back”.

“He has been spoken to. He can cross the border, I understand he has a G Pass,” she said.

“It was a funny tweet, which in the end is not really that funny because what you’re doing is taking away resources that need to be in other places.”

Police minister Mark Ryan added it was “smart Alec behaviour,” which sidetracked officers’ time and created a sense of confusion in the community.

He was also asked whether Queensland authorities would consider easing COVID hotel quarantine restrictions for the Indian Cricket team.

“Whether you’re playing for India, or whether you’re coming back from visiting family in another state, the rules apply equally,” he said.

“The Chief Health Officer will be monitoring this situation; if she recommends a certain course of action then of course we will support that, but it is her call and we’ll be waiting to hear her advice.”

Thank you for spending your time with us on My Local Pages. We hope you enjoyed checking out this article regarding the latest Queensland News items titled “No change in Queensland border controls as state boosts number of coronavirus testing clinics”. This news article is brought to you by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our news aggregator services.

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