Michael Gunner
Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Michael Gunner speaking to media ahead of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting at Bankwest Stadium in Sydney, on Friday, March 13, 2020. (AAP Image/James Gourley)

IS HE GUNNER DO IT?

The ABC reports that Indigenous health groups, specifically the National Community Controlled Health Organisations, have called for Defence to contain the Northern Territory and Central Australia as special control areas.

With cases in Australia rising exponentially, NT News ($) reports the Gunner government has not ruled out closing its borders. Australia has gone from about 19 cases this time in February to over 500 now, The Australian ($) reports, and going off a new Science report on undetected cases, we could be about to see something akin to Europe.

PS: Overnight, NT News ($) reported that territory hospitals are postponing elective surgeries and restricting visitors in an attempt to prevent infection.

MORE STIMULUS A-BREWING

The major banks are negotiating a multi-billion-dollar business rescue package with the Morrison government — to potentially include a loan guarantee or cash payments (to prevent staff lay-offs) for small and medium businesses — which could bring the government’s total spend to more than $40 billion, according to The Australian ($).

The news comes as the government readies an industry package aimed at the airline, tourism and hospitality sectors — and as unions and employers of the latter call for bailouts, The Guardian reports.

WHAT OF THE ARTS? According to The Age, federal arts bodies will meet with Arts Minister Paul Fletcher today to discuss their own support package. Meanwhile, the National Gallery of Victoria has announced a virtual art workaround.

PANDEMIC NO MATCH FOR HUMAN GREED

TechDirt has unpacked two frankly gobsmacking legal threats over pandemic-related medical equipment. First, how “patent troll” Fortress used patents it bought from failed medical testing firm Theranos to sue a company making COVID-19 tests, and even demanding the court block the firm from manufacturing them.

Second, an Italian technician who 3D-printed breathing equipment to save the lives of local coronavirus patients was apparently not only refused the relevant file by the valve manufacturer — meaning he effectively had to make it up himself — but apparently threatened with legal action over intellectual property theft.

IN MUCH LESS DEPRESSING SCIENCE NEWS: The Guardian reports China has declared favipiravir, a Japanese antiviral drug developed for new influenza strains, appears to be effective in treating coronavirus patients.

AMID PANIC-BUYING

Although retail and agriculture experts told the ABC our food supply is basically fine, Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci has told The Age supermarkets are now effectively serving “50 million Australians, not 24 million” and, while agreeing with the government to not undertake war-like rationing, the balance is getting trickier.

Also, according to The Daily Telegraph ($), panic-buying-induced violence means cops will now patrol supermarkets, which is just great.

(SUPER)MARKET REFORM: Queensland has announced emergency laws allowing supermarkets to stay open 24/7 when necessary, while South Australia will implement similar deregulated trading for 30 days from Saturday, according to The Brisbane Times and The Advertiser ($) respectively.

ABC, AAP WORKING ROUND THE BLOODY CLOCK

According to The Australian ($), the ABC has delayed announcing its five-year plan and jobs response to federal funding cuts, as the national broadcaster focuses on staff welfare and news reporting amid the coronavirus ­pandemic.

Relatedly, Australia’s Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has written to AAP shareholders asking them to keep the newswire going throughout the crisis.

PS: Yesterday, for the first time in its 189-year history, The Sydney Morning Herald published its edition remotely.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Wow. 12 days ago I began a silent meditation in the desert. We were totally isolated. No phone, no communication etc. We had no idea what was happening outside the facility.

Jared Leto

The Joker star and aspiring cult leader guru comes back to reality.

CRIKEY RECAP

Ombudsman investigates AFP over failing to investigate Angus Taylor

“The Commonwealth Ombudsman will scrutinise the Australian Federal Police (AFP) over its own investigation into how federal minister Angus Taylor put his name to an allegedly forged document to discredit Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore.”


Stimulus Watch: how much are countries throwing at their economies?

“While the number may seem like a hefty sum, Australia’s stimulus package of $17.6 billion only represents 0.9% of our annual GDP. This is a paltry percentage compared to other nations’ response to the impending economic crisis, many of which have been unveiled this week.”


The world is confronting some radical notions: firstly, that society does exist…

“The sensation of suddenly feeling one is in a dystopian science fiction is fairly common these days, but it really got a workout last Friday in the US when Donald Trump appeared for a press conference with a crack anti-virus team.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Stolen Generations redress scheme announced in Victoria

Catholic system scraps shutdowns after PM’s call ($)

Barrister calls for elderly prisoner release to limit coronavirus risk

‘I just want to go home’: thousands of Australians stranded overseas amid coronavirus chaos

Scott Morrison to take part in ‘extraordinary’ G20 summit next week

‘I’m outraged’: Secrecy over plan to dig up Sydney Harbour’s toxic sludge

Coronavirus deaths in NSW rise to five as City of Sydney closes gyms, pools

It’s a tumbleweed town, with data showing CBD getting emptier each day

Donald Trump wages Twitter fights in midst of virus crisis

Coronavirus update: More than 200,000 cases worldwide, Putin protected at all costs

THE COMMENTARIAT

Navigate the swirling currents with grace ($) — Scott Morrison (The Australian): “Life is changing in Australia, as it is changing all around the world. Life is going to continue to change as we deal with the global corona­virus. This is a once-in-100-years event, we haven’t seen this sort of thing since the end of World War I.”

How are countries ‘flattening the curve’ of coronavirus?Sherryn Groch (The Age): “You can’t see the virus behind the world’s latest pandemic with the naked eye but, plotted on a graph, it looks like one side of a mountain, climbing skyward as case numbers soar past 197,000 people in little more than three months. Eventually, epidemiologists say, that trajectory will start to fall.”

Australia’s economic victims of coronavirus, just like the health victims, need help now Richard Denniss (The Guardian): “The median full-time wage in Australia is $68,000 a year. A person who is laid off from their job will land in a Newstart safety net of almost $14,500 a year. How many weeks could you pay for food, rent, mortgage or car payments on $280 a week?”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • The joint select committee will hold a video conference hearing about the implementation of the national redress scheme.

Sydney

  • The TWU and Australian Transport Industrial Organisation will hold a roundtable with workers, transport operators, industry associates, retailers, politicians and economists to come up with solutions to the impact of the coronavirus on the industry.

  • Members of the Opera Australia orchestra will perform outside the offices of Opera Australia to call on the company to reconsider its decision to stand down musicians without pay.

Victoria

  • A total fire ban has been declared for central and northern parts of Victoria for the first time in months, with authorities warning fire danger still remains.

Peter Fray

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