Supermarkets profit from end of plastic bags

Plastic shopping bags create huge amounts of waste and environmental damage. So the move by major supermarkets Woolworths and Coles to ban them could be a big step forward. But instead it looks set to do even more damage.

Shoppers are being encouraged to buy reusable plastic bags or “green bags” at supermarkets to carry their shopping instead. But Associate Professor Karli Verghese from RMIT has told the ABC that each green bag needs to be used 104 times, that’s once a week for two years, for there to be any environmental benefit.

The supposedly environmentally friendly reusable bags are made of polypropylene, another plastic. Like other plastics, it doesn’t degrade. “Green bags” can be recycled—but only through taking them into collection bins at Coles and Woolworths.

Clean up Australia’s Ian Kiernan has admitted, “It was designed for people to keep reusing them, but people forget to take them to the supermarket and either buy another one or take a plastic bag”. Millions of green bags are already piling up unused, and end up polluting the environment. Instead of doing all they can to encourage re-use, supermarkets are profiting from selling more and more bags.

Gary Mortimer, of Queensland University of Technology, has also pointed out in The Conversation that the supermarket giants will save $171 million a year through ending the practice of handing out plastic bags for free. To make matters worse, they will make money selling new 15 cent “reusable” plastic bags. Mortimer estimates this will net them another $71 million a year. Coles and Woolworths have claimed they will donate some of that money to charity.

The supermarkets could do the obvious thing—and allow shoppers to drop off excess “green bags” so that other customers can use them for free. But that would cost them money.

Pay for Turnbull’s team up 32 per cent

There was widespread anger on 1 July as Malcolm Turnbull’s pay as Prime Minister went up $10,000 while thousands of low paid workers saw penalty rates reduced again.

But it’s not just Turnbull cleaning up—the average pay of Turnbull’s 58 staff soared by 32 per cent in the last two years. His staff’s average pay is now $233,000. That compares to anaemic wage growth of around 2 per cent a year for the rest of us.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s office was well looked after too, with their pay up 32 per cent in two years to an average of $193,000 each.

That’s not included travel expenses, which rose to another $22,000 each on top of pay.

Australia cuts aid to Palestinians after Gaza massacres

At least 130 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli snipers during the mass demonstrations in Gaza since March.

Another 13,900 have been hospitalised with injuries, many from sniper fire. According to Doctors without borders, “most of the wounded will be condemned to suffer lifelong injuries”.

Israeli troops have killed journalists and medics wearing well-marked uniforms, and at least a dozen children.

Yet the Australian government has responded by cutting its $10 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority. The money will be redirected through a UN agency.

Announcing the move in July, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop claimed it was designed to make sure money did not fund “politically motivated violence”.

This refers to payments to victims of Israeli violence. The families of some Palestinians killed or imprisoned by Israel receive a living allowance from the Authority.

It follows a similar move by Donald Trump earlier this year, when he cut $65 million in aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Handouts to private schools exposed again

THE AMOUNT of government money flowing to private schools has been exposed again, as the federal government looks to amend its funding model.

Melbourne’s elite Haileybury College faces an annual cut of $12.9 million, Caulfield Grammar a cut of $6.1 million and Sydney’s Trinity Grammar $5.7 million, an assessment by the Catholic Schools Commission in Victoria found.

The government is considering changing the current Social Economic Status score used to determine private schools’ funding to one directly based on the income of parents. The current formula looks at the income of the area a family lives in, rather than their actual personal income.

567 handbags seized from former Malaysian PM’s wife

Rosmah Mansor, the wife of ousted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was notorious for her expensive overseas shopping trips.

Now 567 handbags along with 12,000 pieces of jewellery valued at up to $300 million have been seized from her home. Her Hermes brand bags alone were valued at $17 million in retail prices.

Najib is accused of diverting $900 million from the IMDB development fund into his personal bank account. He has been barred from leaving the country and now arrested.

Single gas plant’s emissions cancel out solar panel savings

A single gas mining project in Western Australia has produced enough greenhouse emissions since 2016 to cancel out what’s saved by all the solar panels installed across Australia in a year.

Chevron’s Gorgon gas plant promised to bury 40 per cent of the carbon dioxide emissions created in the production of the gas. But the date for beginning its carbon capture and storage process, has now been pushed back to 2019, due to technical problems with seals and corrosion issues.

The federal government tipped in $60 million to the process, promoted for years as a way to deal with the emissions from coal-fired power plants. Instead up to eight million extra tonnes of carbon dioxide have been poured into the atmosphere.

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