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Australia politics live: questions surround timing of AFP decision to notify Dutton of alleged rape

Last night Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy interviewed Ross Garnaut at the ANU about his new book Reset.

While dealing with the challenges and opportunities of recovering from Covid-19, Garnaut was asked by the audience why Australia had handled coronavirus so well but climate change so poorly.

He responded that the threat from Covid is more immediate – death – whereas the harms from climate change seem more distant (and accrue to others); and secondly, that there were powerful vested interests in Australia in the fossil fuel lobby.

Kennedy then offered a third explanation: that Australia tends to do better with challenges that can be solved by unilateral action rather than global coordination.

He cited removing tariffs as an example of unilateral action that had “brought great return”. So far most countries’ responses to Covid have not been “globally coordinated” but each has acted out of self-interest.

He said:

I’m hopeful that in the vaccination stage we will see a more globally cooperative approach – that will be important for those [developing] countries you mentioned.

Kennedy argued that the best way to achieve our self-interest in the long term was to act in a globally coordinated way.

The NSW environment minister, Matt Kean, says the state government will hire 125 new firefighters for the National Parks and Wildlife Service to help protect important habitat and environmental sites during future fire disasters.

The announcement is in response to the state’s independent inquiry into the catastrophic 2019-20 bushfire season and is one of the items in a new five-year plan for fire management and ecosystem recovery released today.

The plan is the NSW government’s “medium-term” response to the disaster and includes proposals to help ecosystems recover from the fires and better protect wildlife and habitat from future fire threats.

They include continued assessment and monitoring of wildlife and habitats that were worst hit by the fires, developing tailored plans for fire-affected species, updating conservation policies to recognise fire as a major threat, updating the state’s maps of environmental and cultural assets, and protecting habitat that is likely to become even more critical to the survival of species in a changing climate.

Kean said:

We know from the best available science that, due to a changing climate, bushfires are likely to become more severe and more frequent.

This plan will help us to protect and support our state’s unique and precious biodiversity for the long term.

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