OPPOSITION LEADER OPPOSES
Victorian Liberal leader Michael O’Brien says that stricter border controls could have prevented Victoria’s fifth lockdown and has called for quicker lockdowns, The Age reports. It’s quite the departure for the state opposition, who has been outspoken about knee-jerk public health measures from the Andrews government. Two weeks ago, former leader and Liberal frontbencher Matthew Guy asked “Is this 1901 or 2021, I mean hard state borders, are we colonies or a country?”. Hmm, considering 107 cases have been recorded in nine days, that comment didn’t age so well.
But not everyone is getting the message about lockdowns, it seems. Authorities caught a new crew of removalists attempting to travel across the border to Mildura, ABC reports. They were fined and sent back to NSW. It comes in the wake of a trio of removalists travelling to regional NSW from Sydney after one was told he had COVID. In Perth, a woman from the US will remain in prison for at least the next nine days, the Herald Sun reports, after she went shopping and visited a cafe while she was supposed to be in hotel quarantine. She’s been charged with five counts of failing to comply with a direction. As Justine Toh writes in the SMH this morning: “Lockdown reminds us that we’re all players in a moral drama and watching the consequences of our actions, intended or not, unfold in real time”.
With half of Australia’s population locked down across NSW, Victoria, and South Australia, Guardian Australia have a useful explainer that tells you how much cash you can get and how you can get it. As a general guide, people who lost more than 20 hours of work a week are eligible for $600 per week, while anyone who lost between eight and 20 hours per week is entitled to $375.
RINGING IN 2032
The Olympics is coming to Brissy, after it was confirmed last night the Queensland capital will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2032. A new-look Gabba, with its own underground rail stop, will be the official Games hub. It’ll be the third time the Olympics have been held in Australia, after Sydney (2000) and Melbourne (1956). And Brisbane is positively psyched this morning, ABC reports.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says she is not guilty of “double standards” over her travel overseas, news.com.au reports. Palaszczuk was celebrating Brisbane’s successful bid when she was asked whether it was right for her to leave the country while Australians were locked down or waiting to return home. Palaszczuk pointed out that Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and Sports Minister Richard Colbeck, who both travelled with her on the Olympics pitch, had not been similarly scrutinised.
“Can I just say, I am staying in a hotel, I’ll be functioning as premier. It is the same for the minister and the same for the mayor, but you don’t seem to ask them the questions,” Palaszczuk said.
The successful bid, which will bring $17 billion in economic benefit, could also get Aussie kids moving again, ABC says. Statistics from AusPlay show the number of young people competing in organised sport over the past 18 months has dropped, but the 2032 event is likely to see an uptick in sport participation.
A total of 350 students and academics at the University of Melbourne are revolting against a Liberal-aligned research centre that has Peta Credlin on the board. The Robert Menzies Institute is going to have a library dedicated to the eponymous former PM, run public lectures, and research liberal democracy, but the student union president says it won’t fairly scrutinise immigration and education, among others.
The Morrison government contributed $7 million of the $7.5 million used to establish the institute, The Age says. Scott Morrison has been criticised for writing the cheque amid a tumultuous period of slashed public funding for universities and leaving tertiary education workers out of JobKeeper. Incidentally, not all education institutes suffered the same fate — Guardian Australia reports the Hale private boys’ school in Perth received more than $7 million in JobKeeper.
The Robert Menzies Institute’s CEO, Georgina Downer is a former liberal candidate and the daughter of former foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer. In 2018, she was accused of being parachuted into South Australia to run for the Adelaide seat of Mayo, but twice failed to win as ABC reported at the time, before returning to Victoria in 2019.
Western Australia is trailing in the county’s vaccine rollout, with 11.8% of the population vaccinated so far, ABC reports. That’s three points behind the national rate of 14.5% which makes the state vulnerable to more lockdowns. The ACT, NT, and Tasmania lead the way, having vaccinated around 20% whereas in NSW, SA, Victoria and Queensland it’s around 14%.
There is a waning uptake of AstraZeneca in Sydney’s hotspot areas, after 8295 Pfizer and just 50 AstraZeneca vaccinations were given yesterday at Sydney Olympic Park in Parramatta, the SMH reports. The paper says the state is struggling to keep up with the demand for Pfizer and say tens of thousands in high-risk areas could wait months for the jab. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had been making a “constant appeal” to the ATAGI to change their advice to make AstraZeneca the preferred vaccine
Australia really could be getting on track in the rollout — or closer to it, it seems. A million doses of vaccine have been delivered within seven days for the first time in the past week, bringing the total number of vaccinations administered to 10,470,033, Guardian Australia reports.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
As video of Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket firing into space was watched by people around the world yesterday, it was hard to not notice one thing: the shape. As it was more delicately put in the iconic comedy Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me: “I don’t know, sir, but it looks like a giant…” before cutting to a different scene with jet pilot named Dick.
The Guardian delved into the “anthropomorphic” shape, quizzing an astronomer, a space analytics boss, and an astrophysicist to reveal more- wait, no — to explain the long and short of i- oh, gosh. To tell us more. New Shepard’s upper bulbous shape was likely designed to “maximize the interior volume” to hold six passengers, while it needs a “big flat bottom” for stable re-entry, Astralytical owner Laura Forczyk told them. Also, “it is easier to balance a long and skinny cylinder than it is to balance a thicker, fatter cylinder,” she said.
Still, “they can’t not have noticed,” admits Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Well, the internet certainly did.
Hoping the laughs come easy today.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
We are about two months behind where we otherwise would have been. It may be less than that by the time we get to the end of this year. Those delays are regrettable.
Yesterday’s comments at a press conference were probably about as close as we’ll ever get to an apology from the prime minister, who rather infamously called the vaccine rollout “not a race” before the deadly Delta variant sent half our population into isolation. He told an Adelaide radio station that he wishes he didn’t say it.
“Try as he might, though, [Paul] Kelly can’t break free from News Corp’s climate denialism. “What is the price paid and who pays it?” Kelly demands — echoing a question News Corp journalists were instructed to bark and scream at Bill Shorten during the 2019 election campaign. What Kelly will never ask, because News Corp remains staunchly denialist, is what the cost will be of inaction.
“Maybe ask the Germans and the Belgians, Paul. Or the Americans and Canadians. Or thousands of Australians in regional communities that still haven’t been able to rebuild after the summer of 2019-20. They can start giving you an idea of the cost. Or better yet, ask insurance companies that are now refusing to provide insurance in north Queensland. Ask the world’s reinsurance giants, who have to work out how to cover the financial risk posed by catastrophic weather events caused by global warming. They haven’t been captured by ‘green utopianism’, they’re terrified of losing money.”
“The two most powerful remaining billionaire media moguls in the Australian market, Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Stokes, don’t say much in public these days but this year both have declared their opposition to a world that has gone too ‘woke’. In the case of Stokes, it happened yesterday when he appeared on his own Seven Network to celebrate the life of the late David Leckie and declared: ‘He was a rock star. No, we won’t see anything like him again. We are too woke today. No company would have the sort of flamboyance that David brought’.
“This declaration, of course, came just two days after Stokes, who is personally spending millions funding defamation action brought by former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith against several newspapers, was forced to drop notorious UK racist Katie Hopkins from Seven’s latest iteration of Big Brother.”
“But there’s been too little focus — and what there has been was mostly by way of Steve Cannane’s ABC Four Corners report — on the systems that enabled that behaviour: the close relationships between the Andrews government, and Andrews himself, and Crown; the gutting and undermining of the regulator; the role of political donations in locking Crown into relationships with the major political parties; the role of employment of former staffers and politicians in those relationships.
“All these have been traversed in Crikey before, but I mention them again because [Adrian] Finanzio’s recommendations were incomplete — understandably so given Andrews made sure the royal commission couldn’t examine the performance of the regulator. A more comprehensive recommendation would be that not merely is Crown unsuitable to hold a casino licence, but that the political system that enabled it is unfit to wield power — that Crown was merely the symptom of a political system that encourages pervasive soft corruption.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
First COVID-positive athletes ruled out of Games (The New Daily)
NDIS founders lash ‘mishandling’ of scheme (The Australian) ($)
US life expectancy dropped 1.5 Years in 2020, largely from the pandemic (The New York Times)
How nations are learning to ‘let it go’ and live with COVID (The New York Times)
Texas stops teaching that Ku Klux Klan was morally wrong (The Australian) ($)
Morrison offers microaggression and deflection, when all we want is an apology — and a solution — Katharine Murphy (Guardian Australia): “In the space of 10 minutes, Australia’s prime minister said very clearly he was engaged in a constant appeal for ATAGI to change the public health advice. He wanted the guidance to be different. But he couldn’t possibly do anything other than passively follow “independent” ATAGI advice, because #experts.
“In this story the prime minister was intent on crafting — the story of how Australia’s very obviously suboptimal vaccination rollout was ‘challenging’ but the problems, fundamentally, were not his fault — Morrison wanted to be both active and passive. A plucky persevering hero and a victim: apparently not comprehending that both logic and confidence could be a casualty of this self-serving narrative.”
We need to talk about immigration policy — Peta Credlin (The Australian) ($): “Routinely bringing in a city the size of Canberra every 18 months, especially with economic growth sluggish post-global financial crisis, has always struck me as putting downward pressure on wages, upward pressure on housing prices, and massive congestion on to our roads and public transport, and pressure on hospitals and schools.
“The reality of our immigration program has never matched the rhetoric about skills. As every Australian who has ever tried to book a tradie knows only too well, our real skills shortages are for plumbers, electricians, carpenters, welders, builders and mechanics, as well as aged-care workers and other service industries. We’re chronically short of people who can make things and who can make things happen.”
Why do I hate nightclubs? They are for beautiful people and good dancers only — Adrian Chiles (The Guardian): “What’s the opposite of a bucket list? I have a fast-growing list of things I’m more than happy to live out my days without ever doing again. Top of this list is going to a nightclub. I will never go to a nightclub again. I hate nightclubs; I have always hated nightclubs. If I were in my teens now, I would have hated this week’s reopening. After more than a year of having an excuse not to go clubbing, I’d have been forced back into it. I’ve been scanning the pictures of nightclub scenes, looking for the young me standing awkwardly to one side, making a poor job of disguising his desperation for the evening to end.
“No, it’s never going to be my thing. Writing this, I found myself wondering if it would have helped if I’d ever taken drugs. And with that thought, suddenly everything made sense. This is what I was missing; the very reason drugs are so widely taken by clubbers. I get it now: the clubs themselves are such dreadful places that drugs are the only way of enjoying them.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Royal Darwin Show kicks off today, with animal and livestock exhibitions, live music, sand sculptures, and ute competitions.
UNSW Medicine & Heath will host a panel about our future after COVID with Head of the Biosecurity Program at the Kirby Institute Raina MacIntyre, CEO of Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network Cathryn Cox, Chief Medical Officer of Ramsay Health Care Edward Byrne, and Dean of UNSW Medicine & Health Vlado Perkovic.
Voices of Wentworth hold a panel discussion via Zoom about how Australia can recover from COVID with epidemiologist MaryLouise MacLaws, Macquarie Bank chief economist Ric Deverell, and Older Persons Advocacy Network CEO Craig Gear.
Author Bri Lee and British journalist Laurie Penny are in conversation via webinar for The Wheeler Centre, discussing power and fury in a gender-imbalanced world. This event is Auslan interpreted.
The Art of the Possible, a four-day student-led festival, is hosting a panel discussion about the Open Music Initiative, with experts from Berklee College of Music and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.