Plots and Prayers
Malcolm Turnbull (Image: AAP/Dean Lewins)


Because not even a global pandemic can get in the way of Liberal infighting, a staffer for Scott Morrison has publicly apologised for sending an advanced digital copy of Malcolm Turnbull’s new book to 59 friends, The Guardian ($) reports, after Turnbull and publisher Hardie Grant sent them a letter of complaint on Saturday.

While the book, A Bigger Picture, officially launches today, roughly every other outlet has run extracts since The Australian ($) leaked Turnbull’s version of his deposition last Thursday. This includes his view of News Corp as a “political party” (The Guardian ($)) to opinions on everyone from Scott Morrison (“control freak”) to George Christensen (“the hypocrisy made me sick”) to Barnaby Joyce (“How could I confirm the deputy PM lied to the prime minister?”).

Today, we can add revelations that Tony Abbott dismissed advice from a Defence secretary to admit the government could not meet its deadline over the submarine fleet.

As The Australian ($) reports, this has all led to members of the NSW Liberals circulating an email calling for Turnbull’s expulsion from the party. Call me crazy, but I’m not sure how much the former PM would care, at this point, about burning that bridge.


In a move federal ministers say has been accelerated by the pandemic-induced collapse in media advertising, the ABC reports that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been ordered to develop a mandatory code of conduct between tech giants such as Facebook and Google and news media companies.

While the ACCC’s negotiations over a voluntary code were meant to run until November, the competition watchdog warned that voluntary measures were unlikely to be agreed to. Already, the move has been welcomed by The Australian’s Editor-At-Large Paul Kelly.

PS: The move follows last week’s announcement of a package including $50 million for regional journalism, 12-month waiver of spectrum tax and a suspension of content quotas, as well as $150 million in support through NBN Co announced last Friday.

PPS: The federal government, however, refused earlier this month to reverse funding cuts to the ABC despite increased bushfire and pandemic coverage.


According to The Age, 35 of Australia’s major economists, including current RBA board member Ian Harper, have called on Scott Morrison not to wind back social distancing laws too early lest the country suffers even greater medical and financial damage.

The news comes after the Grattan Institute yesterday released, “Shutdown: estimating the COVID-19 employment shock”, projecting that between 14-26% of Australian workers could lose their job because of the pandemic. The paper unpacks which industries will be hit worst, and explains how some of them will be “disguised” by JobKeeper keeping Australians technically employed or older Australians abandoning the job hunt completely.


According to The Brisbane Times, the Queensland government has announced a framework for “fair middle ground” rental measures. This follows a campaign from the Real Estate Institute of Queensland over complaints that the original plan favoured tenants.

While the original plan meant tenants were able to request rent reductions without proving financial hardship, deny entry to properties and gain automatic six-month lease extensions, new measures include:

  • Threshold criteria to qualify for the application of the COVID-19 rental response, that includes a 25% reduction in income, or where the rent exceeds 30% of the tenant’s income;
  • Tenants can be asked to provide the same proof of finances to property managers “just as they would when starting a tenancy”;
  • Clear guidance on access for the sale of the property, virtual rental inspections and access for essential repairs and maintenance;
  • A 75% income loss threshold before a tenant can end a tenancy with a 7-day cap on breaking lease fees; and
  • Limiting any extension on the term of a tenancy agreement during the COVID-19 period to September 30, 2020 unless agreed otherwise by the owner and tenant, or there is an appropriate ground to end the tenancy.

IS HOUSING A RIGHT?: As The Conversation ($) unpacked last week, Australia had rent control during the Great Depression and World War II.


  • The Victorian government, on Friday, announced both a $260.8 million package for the state’s TAFE and training sector and $3 million over two years for 12 women’s health services working to prevent family violence;
  • According to the NT News ($), the Northern Territory government has waived eight-week waiting requirements on all building approvals as well as March gaming machine taxes for community clubs, pubs, hotels and casinos;
  • NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has told The Sydney Morning Herald ($) that the second wave of mega transport projects, and the sale of assets to reinvest in new infrastructure, will form a “silver bullet” to reviving the state’s economy post-pandemic.
  • The ABC reports that cases in West Australia dipped to just one on Saturday through Sunday, while SA Health has urged young people to get tested after South Australia recorded its second day of zero new cases.


With great power comes great responsibility, and I think, beyond the culture wars, [the ABC] need to reflect on the disparity in power between this giant corporation and a single individual they attack.

Greg Sheridan

In the closing minute of Insiders, the foreign editor of a paper that helped run Yassmin Abdel-Magied out of the country wants the ABC to consider the power structures when reporting on child sex abuse allegations against Australia’s highest-ever ranking Vatican official.

PS: Sheridan also cited Tim Minchin’s “Come Home (Cardinal Pell)” as evidence, despite that song premiering on The Project.


How Turnbull underestimated the ambition and stupidity of Peter Dutton

“The history of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership might have been very different were it not for an extraordinary blind spot that he claims prevented him from seeing the threat of Peter Dutton.”

It only took a killer virus for us to start caring about the elderly

“So now we care about the elderly. Now, we are prepared to take whatever drastic action is required to prevent a virus that is primarily killing older Australians.”

We hate to say this, but for once, Trump might be on the right track

“For US President Donald Trump, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has become a target in the wake of the COVID-19 disaster unfolding in America — a disaster which has revealed a dysfunctional system and an administration reluctant to recognise the warning signs.”


‘Kick them into action’: Fire group takes EPA to court over climate

Coronavirus: 38 days when Britain sleepwalked into disaster

Unverified antibody tests ‘risk increasing coronavirus infections’

Canberra must save Virgin if no one else can, says Liberal MP Falinski ($)

Thousands of council workers stood down or terminated as virus hits

Councils’ plan for 14,000 new jobs amid COVID-19 downturn ($)

Marise Payne calls for global inquiry into China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak

China ‘bars lawyer from going home’ after prison release

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warn US navy after ‘provocative’ encounter


Here’s news — we’ll hold Facebook and Google to account ($) — Josh Frydenberg (The Australian): “When the First Fleet landed on our shores in 1788, stacked on board was a second-hand printing press. It soon became the centre of a busy operation. But no one could have imagined that almost 250 years on, the printing press would have given way to the digital age. We now live in a world of instantaneous communication where everybody with a digital device is connected and empowered.”

Coronavirus sparked a diplomatic spat between Wagga Wagga and China that holds a lesson for us all Jieh-Yung Lo (ABC): “When Wagga Wagga City Council announced last week that it would end its sister-city relationship with the Chinese city of Kunming after 30 years — citing concerns over coronavirus and Communism — it didn’t take long for the Chinese Government to respond.”

Morrison’s cash stimulus worked, but households will likely need moreAndrew Charlton (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Over the past fortnight, $750 stimulus cheques started to arrive in the bank accounts of 6.5 million Australians. Using real-time economic data, we can already rate the success of the stimulus in fighting the economic downturn. The short answer is that the cash handouts did their job at boosting consumer spending quite well, but we may need more support for households before this crisis is over.”


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