The Guardian • Issue #2016


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2016

At its Jobs and Skills Summit in September, the federal government will respond to staff shortages in nursing and aged care with a plan to expand the program that recruits these skilled workers from Pacific Island Nations. Rich Australia taking away workers trained at the expense of their Pacific Island governments. This in a world-wide shortfall of nurse health care professionals, the International Council of Nurses warning that the shortage since the COVID pandemic has doubled to 12-13 million. And now there’s another global surge of the virus. “Our workforce is crushed at the moment,” said Annie Butler, President of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, noting the increased hospitalisations, “I’m genuinely not sure our members can sustain that.” There has been no mention from the government of a long-term strategy to train nurses and other urgently needed health professionals, beginning now! But this is a cry-poor government, as evidenced by its failed attempt to scrap the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment. Money. There’s money. Let’s start with the $7 billion a year gift from taxpayers the government hands over to the private health insurance companies, lest the whole edifice of blood suckers collapses in a heap.

Providing an example of the historical arrogance that has eaten away trust with Pacific Island Nations, PM Albanese dismissed calls from the Pacific Island Nations Forum for Australia to bring an end to coal mining and gas extraction. Fiji’s PM Frank Bainimarama spoke of the existential threat of climate change to the island nations: “Most urgently, it requires that we end our fossil fuel addiction, including coal. That is our ask of Australia.” He stressed that “out of the duty I owe every young person in the Pacific, I have urged [Albanese] to go further for our [Pacific] family’s shared future by aligning Australia’s commitment to the 1.5 degree [global temperatures] target.”

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: The former Coalition government. The 2021 State of the Environment Report, a mandatory assessment conducted every five years, was released last week by the Albanese Government. The report found that Australia has lost more mammal species than any other continent in the world. More than 100 Australian species have been declared extinct or extinct in the wild. Ocean acidification is reaching a tipping point, threatening the existence of juvenile coral, with the Great Barrier Reef experiencing mass bleaching events in 2016, 2017, 2020 and this year. Sea level rise is affecting many low-lying coastal areas, including the important Kakadu wetlands in the Northern Territory. In the Murray-Darling Basin, one of Australia’s most important river basins, record low water levels were recorded in 2019. And much more. The report had been received by the previous Liberal-National Coalition government in December 2021 but not published, an act of political bastardry that sums up the Coalition’s entire time in government.

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