unemployment-to-double
(Image: AAP/Julian Smith)

UNEMPLOYMENT TO DOUBLE

According to the ABC, new Treasury figures forecast that the unemployment rate will double in the June quarter from 5.1% to 10% — a number that could have jumped to 15% without JobKeeper — with 1.4 million Australians now expected to be out of a job and a recession effectively guaranteed.

On that note, the World Economic Forum has argued that the government can prevent a recession turning into depression by:

  • Foregrounding public health and suppressing the virus (rather than hoping for ‘herd immunity’) until a vaccine is developed and rolled out next year;
  • Cooperating with businesses, specifically in the global hunt for a vaccine. Businesses, meanwhile, will need to eliminate ‘competition’ mindsets throughout the pandemic; and
  • Taking ‘on large and unprecedented roles in securing business continuity and jobs’, with public debt afforded to those ‘companies and individuals most able to take it on.’

WHAT AUSTRALIA CAN DO POST-CRISIS: According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the federal government will aim to centre agriculture and consider diversifying supply chains post-crisis, while The Saturday Paper reports that the Greens will push for an injection of renewable investment and a Green New Deal.

AUSTRALIA CAN TAKE A SMALL, ISOLATED POST-EASTER BOW

Social distancing and quarantine measures have meant that, after daily peaks of almost 500 cases in mid-March, Australia has averaged around 100 daily cases since last Monday, with weekend figures even dipping below 50.

However, Health Minister Greg Hunt announced yesterday that any easing of shutdown measures would require the following:

  1. A sustained decrease in cases;
  2. Rapid response capabilities (specifically around tracing infrastructure, now that confidence is building over ventilator supplies); and
  3. An exit plan balancing business reopening with at least six months of maintained social distancing measures.

SQUASH IT, SQUASH IT FLAT: In an analysis of new modelling, the Grattan Institute explores how Australia could feasibly follow New Zealand’s plan to ‘eliminate’ the virus by bringing total new daily cases close to zero by the second week of June and mitigate future outbreaks with contact tracing and border quarantines.

PELL FACES NEW SEXUAL ABUSE CLAIMS

Less than a week after his High Court acquittal, The Herald Sun ($) has revealed that George Pell is being investigated over new child abuse allegations.

The paper has revealed that Victoria Police began investigations prior to the High Court appeal over an alleged incident that, reportedly, dates back to the 1970s.

AHRC, CRAIG FOSTER CALL FOR IMMIGRATION RELEASE

Both Australian Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow and former Socceroos captain Craig Foster, in an interview with the SBS and debate on last night’s Q+A respectively, have called for a release of all immigration detainees who pose no significant security or health risks into the Australian community.

While Home Affairs rejected similar calls on March 26, Santow and Foster’s concerns follow medical recommendations for community releases from the Australasian Society for Infectious Diseases last month; specific concerns from detainees in onshore centres, Christmas Island, Nauru and Manus Island; and a joint-statement for global measures from the UN and WHO earlier this month.

COULD NATIONAL CABINET SURVIVE COVID?

According to The Australian ($), Scott Morrison has expressed support for a call from Western Australia’s Labor Premier Mark McGowan to maintain national cabinet meetings between federal and state leaders beyond the pandemic and replace the less-frequent, more politicised Council of Australian Governments system.

NSW EXPANDS TESTING TO COVID HOTSPOTS

Following similar expansions to testing eligibility last week, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that NSW will now test anyone with even mild flu-like symptoms in either at-risk areas or sites with unexplained transmissions, including but not limited to Sydney’s inner west, Waverley, Woollahra, Randwick, Ryde, Penrith, Liverpool, Blacktown, Cumberland and Westmead.

HOW THE RENT PACKAGE WORK: The ABC reports that a $440 million rental package, will be directed towards commercial and residential landlords in NSW and — as NSW Fair Trading’s new guide explains — a six-month eviction moratorium and negotiation guarantee for tenants experiencing financial distress.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

For only $14,990 less than Pete Evans’ harmonic subtle energy machine, you too can be protected from COVID-19. Just stay home.

Professor Brett Sutton

Who are you going to trust, Victoria’s chief health officer or the ‘gaze into the sun’ chef peddling a magic noise and lightbox currently under investigation by the TGA?

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THE COMMENTARIAT

Coronavirus: Champion of the left has plaudits for conservative PMBen Oquist (The Australian): “I did not vote for Scott Morrison. But like so many Australians I am willing for him to succeed in the fight against COVID-19. And he is. The squashing of the curve to date has been one of the great public policy successes of our time.”

The poor bear the burden of the coronavirus downturn, but inequality is not inevitable in AustraliaAndrew Leigh (The Guardian): “The best cure for discrimination is a low jobless rate. This means that if the unemployment rate spikes upwards and then takes some time to recover, then it will be marginalised workers who pay the price.”

Life and death in the ‘hot zone’Nicholas Kristof (The New York Times): “Terror, pain and loneliness mingle in the air with the coronavirus in the ‘hot zone’ of the emergency department at Jack D. Weiler Hospital in the Bronx. The room is jammed with patients whose frightened eyes peer above their oxygen masks as they struggle to breathe, feel that they are drowning, wonder if they will ever again see loved ones.”

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