ARE WE FLATTENING THE CURVE?
As Australia reconciles with a truly nightmarish March, and prepares for an even longer six to twelve months, it’s important to note that social distancing, testing and tracing measures are beginning to work: new cases hit just 139 in the 24 hours between Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, a massive improvement from a six-day period of between 350-400 new cases in late March.
Yesterday, chief medical officer Brendan Murphy expressed confidence that the country has and can continue to flatten the curve, while Financial Times data journalist John Burn-Murdoch notes, in his latest global comparison graph, Australia is “a rare example of an Anglophone country on a gentle trajectory”.
The challenge, unfortunately, will be keeping a version of all this up for the rest of the year.
MORRISON’S POPULARITY GROWS
The Australian ($) reports that Prime Minister Scott Morrison has seen a surge in both personal approval — jumping 11 Newspoll points in three weeks to lead Labor leader Anthony Albanese 53 to 29 — and seemingly universal support for the JobKeeper package.
WHAT OF THE WORLD? The approval bump comes after The Guardian noted other global leaders saw a “rally around the flag” effect. This has included, despite ignoring his problem for well over a month, Donald Trump, although NBC notes that he enjoyed a much smaller bump relative to other leaders.
PARLIAMENT’S BACK, BABY
As the federal government readies to pass its JobKeeper package this Wednesday, the ABC reports that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has announced charities will only need a 15% revenue loss, rather than the 30% for business, in order to claim the $1,500-a-fortnight wage subsidy.
According to The Age, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has also called on state governments to exempt telcos, postal services and media organisations from travel restrictions during the shutdown.
Finally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that parliament is set to authorise at least one, and possibly two, new committees to monitor the Morrison government’s decisions amidst the pandemic, by questioning ministers and officials over community shutdowns, financial assistance, and more.
WHAT ABOUT THE HOMELESS?
Last Friday, the Centre for Social Impact released its second version of “Homelessness and COVID-19”, an explainer of the risks facing people experiencing, and at risk of, homelessness amid the pandemic, as well as recommendations for new and existing challenges.
The report recognises some welcome state and federal progress on the issue — including stimulus measures, the six-month eviction moratorium, and Western Australia’s “Hotels With Heart” pilot program, where over 20 people sleeping rough have moved into Perth’s Pan Pacific hotel — but points to significant gaps, including:
- People on temporary and expired visas — specifically international students and refugees and asylum seekers — who are excluded from both JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments;
- Lack of targeted support for Indigenous people currently experiencing homelessness, and young people at increased risk amid the spike in family violence and school shutdowns; and
- Loopholes to the eviction moratorium, which does not yet include rental relief and, as recent reports have demonstrated, is not absolute and does not stop threats of ultimate eviction once the six months are up.
DETHRONING THE RUBY PRINCESS
Finally, after 11 passengers from the Ruby Princess died — more than 30% of Austalia’s total deaths and easily our single largest source of infection — The Guardian reports that NSW Police commissioner Mick Fuller has announced a criminal investigation into the fiasco.
PS: Is regicide still a thing?
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
What [Alan Tudge would] do well to remember is that if they wish for Australia to be in a position to gear up in the aftermath of the outbreak, they now need a workforce to do that. New Zealanders make up that workforce.
Because not even a global pandemic can stop Australia from pissing off our neighbours, the New Zealand prime minister had to handle the Coalition’s “time to go home” advice for temporary visa holders.
“If you thought lack of political leadership was a problem, the dearth of business leadership is exposing the difference between self-interest and the national interest.
“Surprisingly it’s not the usual suspects. With the exception of profiteering petrol companies, perhaps.”
“It was the early 1990s. Our fledgling publishing company had launched a new kind of glossy weekly newspaper, in the suburbs of Melbourne.
“It was doing really well. We’d taken big slabs of advertising away from the fat, rich suburban newspapers owned by News and Fairfax. They weren’t happy.”
“As well-worn paths of daily life disappear, it can feel like a familiar world is crumbling around us. Everything is in flux and nothing is certain.
“Yet the coronavirus reveals fundamental truths about the human condition that can help us find our feet and point us towards a fairer future.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
PM prepares nation to live with the virus ($) — Phillip Coorey (The Australian Financial Review): “The government will on Tuesday release the latest modelling of how the virus outbreak may play out, which is underpinning its decision-making. As Morrison alluded to on Friday, it will be a better outlook than that he released on March 15, before we all began social distancing, and which showed up to 4 million Australians could be infected over the next six months.”
Mobile phone tracking should be used to stop virus — Editorial (The Sydney Morning Herald): “It is difficult to think of anyone more irresponsible at this time of coronavirus crisis than those people who returned from a skiing trip to Colorado with COVID-19 a couple of weeks ago and then insouciantly wandered around Melbourne, infecting dozens of people. Yet Prime Minister Scott Morrison has decided that he is not ready to adopt a technology — based on mobile phone apps widely used in other countries such as Taiwan and Singapore — which could have kept track of people who are in isolation but who refuse to do the right thing.”
Time to ponder eternity as daylight saving clocks off — Catherine McGregor (The Australian): “I have no expertise in economics or epidemics. I have no responsibility for the lives of my fellow Australians beyond washing my hands and not sneezing and spluttering on others during my forays into supermarkets. What do writers do in isolation? Write.”