virgin-australia-plane
(Image: AAP/Darren England)

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA GOES INTO ADMINISTRATION

According to The Australian ($), international shareholders have officially put Virgin Australia into voluntary administration, after the Coalition government rejected a last-minute call for a $100 million grant.

At least two major equity consortia — including Australian-run private equity firm BGH and a second group involving Etihad Airways — are now eyeing the company. The move throws into question the future of Virgin’s 10,000 staff, AFL sponsorship (Sydney Morning Herald($)), and velocity points (News.com($)).

ACROSS THE POND: The Guardian reports that, after the UK government rejected a £500 million bailout of Virgin Atlantic, billionaire Richard Branson has offered to put Necker Island — his tax-free home in the British Virgin Islands — up as collateral in a blog post. Charitable!

ELECTIVE SURGERY COULD RESUME WITHIN A WEEK

According to The Herald-Sun ($), the National Cabinet will meet tonight to lock in a plan to resume elective surgeries within the week, with a reported priority on low-risk, high-benefit procedures such as IVF treatment.

The news comes as Australia recorded just 26 new cases yesterday. That handy Financial Times graph has Australia at a seven-day average of below 50 new cases. Both Western Australia and South Australia have recorded zero new cases for the third day in a row.

NEW ZEALAND LOOSENS UP A BIT

Yesterday, Jacinda Ardern announced that New Zealand would officially move from Alert Level 4 to 3 by Tuesday, April 28, for at least two weeks before a further review and Alert Level decision on May 11.

As the ABC explains, New Zealanders will still have to work and learn from home, if they can — and only leave for work, school, exercise or essentials — but the loosening of restrictions will mean:

  • Early learning centres and schools will be physically open up to Year 10;
  • Industries like construction, manufacturing, forestry and retail will be allowed to open as long as they are “COVID safe”;
  • Parks and beaches are open to exercise but people are encouraged to “stay local” and keep 2 metres away from one another; and
  • People can expand their bubble of social contacts to include close family, isolated people or caregivers.

TRACING RAMPED UP: As The New Zealand Herald reports, Ardern’s announcement coincided with a $55 million boost to the contact tracing system after an independent audit of the sector found that tracing units in regional areas were “beyond capacity”.

WHAT IS THE COST OF FREE, FALSE AND DANGEROUS SPEECH?

Salon reports that Fox News has moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a Washington state action group — that’s seeking a court order barring the network from “interfering with reasonable and necessary measures to contain the virus by publishing further false and deceptive content” — by arguing in a motion that the First Amendment protects “false” and “outrageous” speech.

Cited legal experts argue the breadth of the amendment means the lawsuit would “have to show actual malice or reckless disregard” and, therefore, is unlikely to succeed.

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO HARM: Over the weekend, the New York Times ($) reported that a Brooklyn bar owner died after believing scepticism from the network, regarding the virus as a “hoax” and then taking a cruise. The network, along with radio personality Rush Limbaugh, has also drawn fire from TV host John Oliver for supporting protests again national lockdown measures.

STATE WRAP: INT’L STUDENT SUPPORT, RENTAL RELIEF & RACING

  • According to The Advertiser ($), the South Australian government will today announce one-off payments for international students, worth between $500 and $1,000, as part of a new $13.8 million fund.
  • The Age reports that the Victorian government will pass a massive “omnibus” bill on Thursday covering housing support, judge-only criminal trials, virtual meetings for state and council politicians, WorkCover extensions and new regulatory powers over justice processes.
  • The state Coalition opposition took a minute from arguing about golfing rights to complain that the 305-page piece of legislation covering fourteen portfolio areas, which was only provided to other parties three days ahead of the debate, which, fair.
  • The NSW government will recall a scaled-back Parliament on May 11 to pass a $440 million rental relief package for tenants who have lost at least 25% of their income or businesses with revenue down at least 30% (The Sydney Morning Herald($)).
  • Because not even the pandemic could end horse/dog racing, the Darwin Cup Carnival has been cleared to go ahead with or without crowds in July (The NT News).

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[on whether privacy concerns would prevent her from downloading the tracking app]:

Most union leaders assume the Government is spying on everything we’re doing… They tap phones.

Sally McManus

Speaking on last night’s Q+A, the ACTU secretary makes the wild, completely unfounded, simply preposterous claim that the government would encroach on a political enemy’s privacy.

CRIKEY RECAP

Corporations are working to mould the post-pandemic economy in their interests

“A battle to shape the nature of the economic settlement that will follow the virus crisis is now underway. There’s a powerful push from business interests and their political and media agents to use the crisis to renew a push for company tax cuts, a return to WorkChoices and deregulation, despite many commentators suggesting a new era of government intervention will inevitably unfold in the wake of COVID-19.”


Do we have the political will to write a new social contract?

“In politics, as in life, there’s an eternal struggle to comprehend what might have been when we lived through what was. As this decade ends, there will be a vigorous debate about what would have been had the Morrison government not acted as it has.”


Leaks upon leaks: how the Libs ‘gleefully’ shared Turnbull’s book

Turnbull’s book was due to be published today, with exclusive write-ups being promised to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age over the weekend. But The Australian national affairs editor, Simon Benson, got his hands on a copy last week, scooping the Nine papers. Now Barnaby Joyce says he won’t bother buying a copy because there are so many floating around.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Australia to use coronavirus suppression to push diplomatic weight

Fossil fuel lobby to use Covid-19 to push for weaker climate laws

RBA warns business might not recover without reforms ($)

Pressure mounts for JobKeeper changes as firms rush to enrol

Coronavirus restrictions give people on bail temporary reprieve from reporting to Victorian police stations

Lost in isolation: last drinks for NRL chief ($)

Flu season that looked like ‘a big one’ beaten by hygiene, isolation

Indonesia’s health system is vulnerable to COVID-19. Why was it late to adopt social distancing?

Air pollution may be ‘key contributor’ to Covid-19 deaths – study

THE COMMENTARIAT

Indigenous women face particularly high risks in this crisisShawana Andrews (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Even without COVID19 Aboriginal families face additional stressors such as overcrowded housing, inequitable healthcare access, trauma and racism. With so many intersecting issues, the psychological impact of quarantine and lockdown measures will be significant.”

Five lessons from Virgin’s collapseChanticleer (Australian Financial Review): “Much of the blame for Virgin’s parlous debt position, which is split $3 billion to secured creditors and $2 billion in unsecured creditors, must rest with the company’s major shareholders.”

Notes from a Black SummerBrigid Mullane (Kill Your Darlings): “I smell smoke. Wherever it is coming from is close. It’s exactly a month since we moved in. The RFS’s Fires Near Me app tells me a fire has just ignited at Woodford, around 15 kilometres west of our home.”

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