Scott Morrison coronavirus
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

SPORTS RORTS, SPIES AND CORONAVIRUS

Yesterday saw another packed day at Senate estimates.

  • Sport Australia admitted to misleading the sports rorts Senate inquiry over a second set of government instructions sent during caretaker mode, The Sydney Morning Herald reports
  • The Australian Signals Directorate admitted to already spying on Australians in “rare circumstances” over the past year, The Guardian reports, making that whole journalist raid just a little bit more redundant.
  • Reserve Bank deputy governor Guy Debelle warned the impact of coronavirus on the education sector will wipe up to half a percentage point from GDP growth in the current March quarter, The Australian ($) reports, noting Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy will today reiterate the same warning ($).
  • The Department of Industry confirmed government funding for Australia’s only dedicated bushfire research centre will end next year, The New Daily reports.
  • ADF chief Angus Campbell confirmed defence has a coronavirus plan in the works, The Australian ($) reports, and described talking with Scott Morrison about the “discomfiting” use of ADF personnel, without permission, in that bushfire video, The Guardian reports.
  • Climate denialists forced world-class scientists to justify, ad nauseam, science.
  • Fair Work Commission deputy president Gerard Boyce admitted he removed about 20 figurines, including “scantily clad” anime characters, after complaints from colleagues, ABC reports.

We’ve said it before, but it is, really, the most wonderful time of the #auspol calendar.

SECOND CORONAVIRUS-RELATED DEATH

A 95-year-old woman has become the second person in the country to die after contracting the novel coronavirus, according to the ABC. The woman was a resident at a northern Sydney nursing home where an aged-care worker was also diagnosed.

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The Sydney Morning Herald reports that, in response, aged-care facilities found to be at risk of the virus will be audited by the national regulator ahead of an expected increase in cases.

But the fallout doesn’t end there…

AGED CARE COSTS SPARK TENSION

Aged care workers collectively called in sick following the resident’s death, forcing the NSW health department to cobble together a new workforce of nurses, The Australian ($) reports.

These extra costs have, in turn, created a rift between the state and federal governments — with NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard today claiming that federal counterpart Greg Hunt deflected his snap funding request to the Independent Hospital Pricing Authority.

PM’S SPELLING BEE AIN’T ALL O-K

In just slightly less depressing news, ABC journalist Jack Snape has chronicled via Twitter how the Prime Minister’s Spelling Bee website — which came courtesy of a tidy $340,000 grant to News Corp — had the alt-right “OK” hand symbol hidden in its source code.

In a response to Snape’s discovery, News Corp said the symbol was included in an old template devised by a third-party developer, not by an employee, and was removed as soon as they became aware of it.

A BRIEF BLOOM

After a disappointing showing on Super Tuesday, which left him with only a single victory, Michael Bloomberg has dropped out of the 2020 US presidential race. In the past few months, the billionaire has spent at least US$409,000 million on his own campaign, BBC reports.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

So Senator the uncertainty principle applies at the quantum level, if we move into the classical level, the macro world that we all live in… it’s not really relevant to th—those uncertainties are so tiny they’re irrelevant to the world that we live in.

Dr Larry Marshall

With truly superhuman patience, the head of the CSIRO explains to LNP Senator Gerard Rennick why you can’t just apply quantum theories of microscopic particles to things you don’t like… such as climate science.

CRIKEY RECAP

In the name of the virus: here are the government’s new security powers

“It’s never real until it affects you. First, there was a panicked stampede for toilet paper and I’m wondering whether my domestic stockpile will suffice.

“Now I’ve had to do something really traumatic: I’ve read the Biosecurity Act.”


Is racism spreading faster than the coronavirus?

“While representatives from the Human Rights Council don’t generally release information on the specifics of complaints lodged, Crikey understands there has been a spike in coronavirus-related complaints.”


Nothing to see here: Coalition senators reject AAT stacking allegations

“The process of making appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) remains opaque, and subject to significant ministerial discretion, despite assurances from the Attorney-General Christian Porter it would be re-evaluated and shaken up.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Biden’s delegate lead is small, but could be hard to overcome

Coronavirus: Italy to close all schools as deaths rise

‘Outrageous’: Funding cuts to leave domestic violence victims vulnerable in court

Medicine shortage fears as India limits exports amid spreading coronavirus outbreak

John Holland wants taxpayers to cop the risk of a blowout on North East Link

‘Paid less for producing more’: Mining, public sector props up struggling economy

Peter Dutton mate singled out in Border Force scandal ($)

Premier League matches to help kick-start Qld tourism

UNSW to jettison fossil fuel investments by 2025 ‘at the latest’

The Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger went on ‘The Project’ only to endure a woeful interview

Kyoto carry-over credits ‘baseless’ in international law, experts say

THE COMMENTARIAT

Virus weakens Labor attack on Morrison’s integrity ($) — Niki Savva (The Australian): “The coronavirus may yet deliver a killer blow to the Australian economy, but in its early manifestations, at least, it has definitely provided a lifeline for a prime minister beset by questions about his integrity, his use of the dark arts of politics, and his competence.”

Generational rift exposed as Joe Biden stages a comeback for the agesMatthew Knott (The Sydney Morning Herald): “It’s not yet guaranteed that Joe Biden will become the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. But, regardless of the eventual result, the former vice-president has staged one of the speediest and most stunning political comebacks in modern American history.”

Australian police are using the Clearview AI facial recognition system with no accountabilityJake Goldenfein (The Conversation): “Australian police agencies are reportedly using a private, unaccountable facial recognition service that combines machine learning and wide-ranging data-gathering practices to identify members of the public from online photographs.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Senate estimates will hold hearings into social services; treasury; education, skills and employment matters; and foreign affairs and trade.

  • Labor MP Dr Anne Aly will help launch the Institute for Economics and Peace’s “2019 Global Terrorism Index” at the Australian National University.

Melbourne

  • The 2020 International Women’s Day march will be held outside the State Library of Victoria.

  • Economist Yanis Varoufakis will discuss “Debt, Disobedience and Democracy Today” with ABC journalist Nassim Khadem at the Wheeler Centre.

  • The Royal Children’s Hospital will launch their Good Friday Appeal.

  • Writers Hannah McCann and Whitney Monaghan will launch their book Queer Theory Now: From Foundations to Futures at Reading Carlton.

Brisbane

  • The French-Australian Chamber Of Commerce and Industry will host forum event “New Caledonia Energy projects: from Coal to Renewables” with New Caledonia Minister for the Economy, Foreign Trade and Energy Christopher Gyges.

Sydney

  • Writer Bem Le Hunte will launch her latest book, Elephants with Headlights, at the University of Technology Sydney.

Perth

  • WA Premier Mark McGowan and WA tourism brand ambassador Adam Gilchrist will speak at a “Business Pathways to India” forum organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA and the Australia India Business Council.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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