WHAT’S NEXT FOR VIRGIN AUSTRALIA?
According to The Australian ($), Virgin Australia’s chief executive Paul Scurrah believes the company could have new owners in as little as 2 months, with Deloitte appointed as administrators, more than 10 potential buyers circling, and The Age reporting that even Victoria threw its hat in with QLD-NSW state offers.
Over at the AFR ($), the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has been tasked with ensuring Qantas does not abuse its market power to “crush” a restructured Virgin before it can re-establish itself.
The Australian ($) also reports that Australia’s largest airport ground operation company, Swissport, will axe more than 80% of its workforce within days and begin liquidating critical assets, creating yet another roadblock for a future return to the skies.
WHERE ARE YOUR BILLIONAIRE PHILANTHROPISTS NOW: Over at The Courier-Mail ($), you can cop a squiz at some of the British, UAE and Chinese billionaire stakeholders who refused to rescue the airline.
ECONOMIC DISASTER, CONFIRMED
According to the ABC, three separate bodies have delivered dire economic news and warnings within just 24 hours:
- New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, based on Australian Taxation Office Single Touch Payroll data, show more than 700,000 Australians lost their job in the first week of April following business shutdowns and social-distancing limits;
- Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe warned Australia is headed to our biggest contraction in national output since the Great Depression, with national output likely to fall by about 10% over the first half of the year and unemployment set to hit around 10% by June; and
- Modelling by Victoria’s Department of Treasury and Finance forecasts unemployment could hit as high as 11% in the September quarter, the gross state product could fall by 14% relative to previous forecasts, and property prices could drop by as much as 9% by the end of the year.
VICTORIA BORROWS BIG: With the Victorian government planning to take out a $24.5 billion loan to address the latter, The Age reports that the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has written to ministers warning against “ad-hoc spending” that does not address “structural” challenges.
POOP OF CONCEPT FOR EARLY WARNING SYSTEM
Science of The Total Environment has released the first pre-proof study — that is, a peer-reviewed, formatted version of a report that’s not quite the definitive product — regarding the virus that leads to COVID-19, SARS-CoV2, in untreated wastewater in Australia.
Examining two Brisbane-adjacent treatment plants over the course of six days from March 20 to April 1, CSIRO and University of Queensland researchers estimated that, given early uncertainties and variation, a median range of 171 to 1090 infected people.
The team, which now aims to build national collaboration, explained ahead of publication that the study acts as a proof of concept for a potential early-warning system — particularly for vulnerable populations where testing may otherwise not be feasible — as well as monitoring during the recovery phase.
WILL QUEENSLAND EXPAND EVICTION POWERS?
Ahead of Queensland Parliament voting on rental measures tonight, Greens MP Michael Berkman has claimed in a Twitter thread that the Palaszczuk government, in limiting criteria for the eviction moratorium, has actually created new grounds for landlords to evict tenants on fixed-term leases if they want to sell a property with vacant possession.
The news comes after the state government spruiked new measures on Sunday as a “fair middle ground” between tenants and landlords, following a concerted campaign by the Real Estate Institute of Queensland last week.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Why wouldn’t Australia put forward Tony Abbott as a nomination to head the World Health Organisation?
Even accounting for some expected clap back against Malcolm Turnbull’s new book, this one feels like a stretch ($).
“Not unlike what happened to Australia’s car manufacturing industry, Virgin Australia has been allowed to collapse into administration thanks to a conscious decision from the Coalition government. It was formally announced to the ASX at 8.51am this morning.”
“The national cabinet has been made a subcommittee of the federal cabinet, Anne Twomey, former solicitor and professor of constitutional law at the University of Sydney told Inq. One reason for doing this, she said, is to keep the information presented during cabinet meetings secret.”
“There is no conscience in our treatment of these people. No morality, ethics or humanity. It is passionless, gruesome officiousness, grinding them to dust in the name of the rule of a law that is bad.
“It is past time to say enough. Let them return to the good lives they had made, in the community that wants them back.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Uncertainties abound as Lowe paints grim picture ($) — Paul Kelly (The Australian): “Lowe’s speech was about certainties and probabilities. The certainty is the bad news — output down by 10 per cent, mainly in the June quarter, total hours worked down by 20 per cent in the first half of 2020, unemployment scaling 10 per cent and the worst economic hit since the Great Depression. Nothing will stop this crunch.”
COVID urgency and calls for release — Dr Hannah McGlade (IndigenousX): “The COVID 19 Pandemic has seen a raft of laws passed across all Australian states aimed at reducing the serious risk the virus poses, and while these new laws limit personal freedoms to protect health and safety, they also increase risk to Aboriginal people already face discrimination and racial profiling by the justice sector.”
We are living in a failed state — George Packer (The Atlantic): “When the virus came here, it found a country with serious underlying conditions, and it exploited them ruthlessly. Chronic ills—a corrupt political class, a sclerotic bureaucracy, a heartless economy, a divided and distracted public—had gone untreated for years. We had learned to live, uncomfortably, with the symptoms. It took the scale and intimacy of a pandemic to expose their severity—to shock Americans with the recognition that we are in the high-risk category.”
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Malcolm Turnbull will deliver a National Press Club address on his new memoir, A Bigger Picture.
The Australia Institute will host webinar event ‘Media Industry Crisis During Coronavirus’ with media executive and composer Kim Williams and journalist Quentin Dempster to speak in conversation with chief executive Richard Denniss.