The future is knocking on Australia's door

The letter from Australia is a weekly newsletter from our Australia office. This week’s issue is written by Damien cave , the head ...


The letter from Australia is a weekly newsletter from our Australia office. This week’s issue is written by Damien cave, the head of the Australia office.

When I sat down to write my essay on Australia’s bifurcated approach to contain the delta variant, I knew there would be insightful scenes and conversations that would never appear in the article. I had spoken to dozens of Australians across the country, looking for a mix of nuance and contemplation, and there are always moments you wish you could include. But a discussion came back to me this morning because it seemed to cover a range of issues that Australia now finds itself facing on the world stage.

I was in a winery in Margaret River at the time, having lunch with the CinefestOZ film festival, when I found myself talking to Miranda Otto, the actress currently featured in “The Unusual Suspects”.

She told me that she was one of the many Australians who left the United States last year and is now returning. Her daughter wanted to go back to school. It was time to leave Australia. And, she said, it was time for Australia to look outward, to the future, to the challenges that must be managed and cannot be avoided.

” It’s the past ; it can’t go on forever, ”she said as we sipped white wine on a sunny terrace in a state without any Covid cases. “It’s beautiful, it’s magnificent. But that will have to change. “

Australia appears to be reaching the same conclusion on several fronts.

First of all, of course, there is the Covid. New South Wales and Victoria – led by very different leaders from different parties who have spent far too much time shooting each other – have effectively landed on the same roadmap to move away from lockdowns as rates vaccination rates increase. For the first time since March 2020, many of us have started thinking again about traveling to see family abroad or showing around the ‘Australian Fortress’. And, already in Sydney and Melbourne, bursts of light are breaking through the darkness as some restrictions ease as vaccination rates continue to rise.

As Mayor Chagai, basketball coach and South Sudanese community leader in West Sydney, told me: “Things are going in the right direction.

Second, Australia seems to be moving away from a nostalgic and simpler past with geopolitics. For years, Australian leaders have insisted that the country does not have to choose between its biggest trading partner (China) and its most important security partner (the United States).

But with the announcement of a new security deal involving US-designed nuclear-powered submarines, Australia has made a choice: safety first.

Like my colleague Chris Buckley and I written this week, Australia has essentially bet the house on maintaining US power in the region with what Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called a “partnership forever.”

In the long run, this could become a major inflection point for US alliances around the world and for Australia’s future role. At the very least, it marks the start of a new phase in regional strategy and a recognition that the past (not just for zero Covids, but also for great power dynamics) cannot last forever.

Third and finally, there is the great kahuna of climate change. The Australian government continues to officially resist the growing push for some sort of net zero emissions target, and the country still lags globally. But this week, there have been a few signs of recognition that the resistance can no longer hold.

On Friday, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg officially came out in favor of the case to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, warning that Australia would be left behind in the global transition to a carbon-free economy if it did not commit to achieving such goal.

His suddenly ambitious and optimistic vote of support follows an investor revolt at Australia’s largest coal-fired power producer, where a majority of shareholders have demanded short- and medium-term emissions targets. And there was also the announcement that the project for the largest solar farm in the world, in the Northern Territory, would be expand plans up to 40 percent.

The change the whole world is making, albeit slowly, would still require a lot of catching up from Australia – which continues to subsidize fossil fuels. But there are signs of change as the Cop26 climate change summit approaches in November.

In this case, I don’t remember my conversation with Mrs Otto, but rather an iron ore miner I met last month in the Pilbara area of ​​Western Australia.

“We all know we can’t keep doing what we’ve always done,” he said when I asked him about climate change. “Our government has fallen behind.

Here are the stories of the week.



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Newsrust - US Top News: The future is knocking on Australia's door
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