Foreign Minister Marise Payne says a lack of consulate staff, as well as travel restrictions, is stifling government efforts to evacuate more than 100 Australian children still under lockdown in China’s Wuhan area, the epicentre of the coronavirus.
As the global death toll exceeds 80 and confirmed cases hit 2,744, the ABC reports that Payne is stressing limitations to what Australia can do, while the United States and France are reportedly attempting to charter flights for evacuations.
Worryingly, according to The Australian ($), a handful of Australian schools plan to segregate, test and ban Chinese students — as well as pupils who have visited China over the summer — as a means of precaution. The virus and China’s contagion program are expected to land a $2.3 billion blow to the global economy, The Age reports.
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Social Services Minister Anne Ruston will today announce a revamp of Centrelink’s payment system, aimed at cutting $2.1 billion across four years in “overpayments” to 1.2 million working welfare recipients.
According to The Australian ($), the Coalition will introduce legislation in the first sitting fortnight that will replace the current system — where recipients manually submit shift numbers and hourly rates — with pre-filled information based on online payroll data. The data will, however, be editable, and there is, at press time, no explanation of how this translates to $2 billion in cuts.
Ruston, at least, should be wary of the last, borderline-illegal time the Coalition tried to recover alleged welfare rorts.
A NEW KYRGIOS
Nick Kyrgios went down in one hell of a fight against Rafael Nadal, forcing the world number one into a tight fourth set marked by an edge-of-your-seat tiebreak.
Nadal won 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/4) after three hours and 38 minutes on the court, and will now go on to play fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals, the ABC reports.
Kyrgios — who went into the Australian Open pledging to donate $200 per ace to bushfire relief — paid tribute to Kobe Byrant after the match, and spoke of his personal growth throughout the tournament, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Business is business and politics is politics.
On joining political “rival” Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy group as a property consultant, Queensland’s Liberal National Party president splits a few largely-theoretical hairs ($).
CRIKEY QUICKIE: THE BEST OF YESTERDAY
“The Saudi crown prince’s alleged hacking and blackmail of the world’s richest man over a secret lover is truly a Bond movie-style plot. But, if you can get past the initial ‘WTF!’ reactions, this recent news story demonstrates how close the dark side of the internet lies to its surface, and how easily it can be utilised by malevolent state actors.”
“The success of any foreign film or television show immediately puts it on Hollywood’s radar. If a concept worked, if it made money and won awards, it’s highly likely to soon be eyeballed by big studios seeking to not merely recapture lightning in a bottle, but to turn a comparatively small success story into a bona fide blockbuster.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Toxic patriotism is not the answer, change is — Luke Pearson (IndigenousX):”Some people have struggled to see a connection between Australia Day and the current concerns over Australia’s refusal to embrace climate change. The last Guardian article I wrote was met with countless people failing to understand how I could draw a connection to the colonial experiment that is Australia and the current situations that we find ourselves in. For me however, they are intrinsically linked.”
It’s only natural we have affordable gas ($) — Adam Creighton (The Australian): “It’s dreadful the extent to which we’ve sacrificed cheap energy, one of our key economic advantages. Unprecedented increases in electricity and gas prices during the past two decades have all but snuffed out any prospect for a thriving manufacturing sector, for instance, which has shrunk faster than that of any other rich country.”
How can a woman who supports a convicted male paedophile be rewarded? — Jenna Price (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The decision to appoint Bettina Arndt a member of the Order of Australia for “significant service to the community as a social commentator, and to gender equity through advocacy for men” demeans the awards and degrades the concept of rewarding those who work in the public interest. Worse, it makes clear these awards are not based on merit.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus will present “The Assault on Truth and Accountability in Federal Politics” at the Wheeler Centre.
Education Minister James Merlino will visit Leongatha Children’s Centre to celebrate the first day of funded three-year-old kindergarten in the state’s history.
The Australian’s Paul Kelly will help launch former chief economist Andrew Stone’s book Restoring Hope: Practical Policies to Revitalise the Australian Economy, at the Centre for Independent Studies, to be followed by a panel discussion with Tony Abbott and CIS executive director Tom Switzer.
Royal Automobile Association patrol workers will attend a stop-work meeting over a new enterprise agreement.
The “greenest” school in South Australia, the McAuley Community School at Hove, will open with a coveted 6-star green rating issued by the Green Building Council Australia.
Scott Morrison will attend the first official meeting of the drought and flood advisory board.
The ABS will release the latest In Focus: Crime and Justice Statistics for Partner Violence report.