“The risk of misunderstanding is high”.
Said Yun Jiang, the author of a Lowy Institute report that’s flagged concerns about the low number of Aussie diplomats who are proficient in Mandarin or Cantonese. So maybe China has been returning the government’s calls, but we couldn’t translate the message?
GOOD RIDDANCE TO CYCLONE SEROJA
Western Oz’s mid-west coast has experienced a once-in-50-years cyclone on Sunday night, and the Wheatbelt region through to Esperance on the south coast went through an extremely rare weather event yesterday as the system that was Cyclone Seroja cut diagonally across the state. Worst affected was Kalbarri (population 1,400, 580km north of Perth). Reports say 70% of the town’s homes and buildings experienced damage – 40% are severely damaged. And that’s just the start…
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE?
Premier Mark McGowan will inspect the area today. Phone and internet comms across the regions were limited yesterday making it hard to get the full picture, but it’s thought that hundreds of homes and buildings have been destroyed or damaged. Seroja made landfall as a Category 3 cyclone on Sunday night with winds of 170km/hour to devastating effect. Areas to the north, including Carnarvon and Monkey Mia, and inland of Kalbarri were hard hit – the good news is there are no reports of injuries. Seroja was then downgraded in severity as it moved across the state, but it still packed a 75-100km/hour wind speed punch until it departed via the south coast yesterday afternoon. Seroja has been hugely concerning for the state because Category 3 cyclones usually don’t hit the west coast so far south. That means homes and other structures aren’t built to sustain those sorts of winds as they are further north. And winds of that strength aren’t common across that stretch of wheat and sheep farming land either.
A lot of assessment, clean up and rebuilding. The Australian Defence Force will be on the ground today – reports say 40 rapid assessment teams will start arriving to provide support. And if you’re wondering where Seroja came from, meteorologists knew it was trouble when it walked in… It was responsible for the flash flooding that killed more than 220 people in Indonesia and East Timor more than a week ago. And it was in a spin-off with another cyclone last week thanks to the Fujiwhara effect. That’s a lot of death and destruction for something whose name means ‘lotus’ in Indonesian…
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COVID VACCINATION QUESTIONS PERSIST
…and concerns about the lack of a timetable emerged from the business sector yesterday. Margy Osmond from the Tourism and Transport Forum said her sector needs “certainty around state borders, a fast and efficient vaccine rollout and the reopening of the international border” to survive. But PM Scott Morrison said targets were not practical as COVID “writes its own rules” as the government ruled out another vaccination option. Reports say officials have looked at the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and decided against it. It’s been an effective part of other nations’ vaccination programs because it requires one shot, but a spokesperson from Health Minister Greg Hunt’s office said it’s based on the same technology as the AstraZeneca vaccine. The government “does not intend to purchase any further adenovirus vaccines at this time,” they said Regulators in Europe are investigating links between the J&J vaccine and blood clots.
FRESH INVESTIGATIONS FOR BEN ROBERTS-SMITH
Fresh investigations were launched yesterday by the Federal Police after new allegations against one of Australia’s most decorated soldiers, Ben Roberts-Smith, were aired on Sunday night. He’s previously been accused of committing war crimes in Afghanistan – reports he’s denied and is suing Nine over. This time, the media company aired and published accusations that the Victorian Cross winner attempted to silence witnesses. Reports say evidence has already been seized by police, including letters he planned to send to SAS soldiers he feared would testify against him in a future war crimes inquiry. At least 5 burner phones, multiple SIM cards, and USB sticks with images his critics say incriminate him were also seized, they say. An employee of Seven West Media with support from chairman Kerry Stokes, the ex-soldier accused Nine of attempting to bully him into dropping his defamation case. Seven continues to stand by him despite his disdain for the biz.
A NEW CHIEF POSTIE AS FIREWORKS SET FOR TODAY
Former boss Christine Holgate is set to appear at a parliamentary inquiry into her controversial departure today – which is why Australia Post’s announcement that it will appoint Woolworths Group executive Paul Graham as its new CEO drew a bit of attention yesterday. The timing’s as fishy as a ‘you weren’t home’ card being left at your front door when you were clearly inside, critics said yesterday… The circumstances surrounding Holgate’s exit are bitterly disputed. She says she was “unlawfully” stood down from her job in the wake of Cartier-watch-gate, but chairman Lucio Di Bartolomeo has rejected her claims. The inquiry today will also hear from Bartolomeo, who yesterday said Australia Post undertook a “thorough global search” for Holgate’s replacement – believed to cost about $500,000. Graham will start in September, and the Irishman with big company logistics experience said he was proud to lead “such an iconic Australian brand”.
WILLS AND HARRY PAY TRIBUTE TO PHILIP
The princes might have been at odds in recent times, but they agree on one thing – their “grandpa” would want everyone to “get on with it”. In separate statements overnight, Prince William said Prince Philip was “an extraordinary man”. “I feel lucky to have not just had his example to guide me, but his enduring presence well into my own adult life – both through good times and the hardest days.” And Prince Harry said he was “authentically himself, with a seriously sharp wit, and could hold the attention of any room due to his charm – and also because you never knew what he might say next.” Harry arrived in London yesterday – his first visit since he and wife Meghan left for Canada and then the US after stepping down as senior royals. There’s a lot of commentary about how this week could be an opportunity for family bridges to be mended…
GREEN IS MATSUYAMA’S COLOUR...
It was a day of firsts at the 85th US Masters golf tournament yesterday. Hideki Matsuyama’s victory marked his first major win, and it was the first by a Japanese bloke. He did so in dramatic fashion, scoring 10 under par – just one shot ahead of American runner-up Will Zalatoris who was coming home strong. And while we’re on the theme of firsts, it was Zalatoris’ Masters debut at 24yo – and the first time he became a viral meme… Right there with him was Matsuyama’s caddie Shota Hayafuji who also became internet famous. And how collaborative is Matsuyama? “When I saw my caddie, Shota, and hugged him, I was happy for him because this is his first victory on the bag,” he said.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
Talk about a drop shot off the old block – the Hewitt genes are strong…
Picture Brazil’s Rio, and you might think of Christ the Redeemer standing 38 metres tall. Almost 100 years later, the statue has finally met its vertical match: an even taller Jesus statue coming in hot in southern Brazil.
Not great if you are claustrophobic but great if you are trying to find a car park in a tight spot – these tiny vehicles that are aiming to out-cute SUV culture. Maybe just limit your shopping…
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ABS Data Releases – Crime and Justice Statistics (disability and violence); Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia
Judy Nunn’s birthday (1945)
• Christopher Hitchens’ birthday (1949)
• Apollo 13 announcing “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here”, as Beech-built oxygen tank explodes en route to Moon (1970)
• Tiger Woods becoming the youngest golfer to win the Masters Tournament at 22yo (1997)
• Winx ending her racing career with a 3rd Queen Elizabeth Stakes win in Sydney (2019)
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