(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

INVESTIGATING THE SOURCE OF COVID-19

According to the ABC, Scott Morrison has spoken to world leaders about empowering the World Health Organisation with “weapon inspector” style powers to investigate the pandemic.

While The Australian ($) reports that Labor leader Anthony Albanese  — who also hoped Morrison would bring up the whole defunding-the-WHO thing with Donal Trump — has welcomed the idea.  The ABC reports that Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson have emphasised suppression before investigating the source and spread of the pandemic.

IT’S NICE TO HAVE DREAMS: To unpack why this is probably a pipe dream, check out The Conversation’s guide (and podcast) on why China will never welcome an inquiry into the source of the pandemic.

STATES FILL IN VISA GAPS

With the bulk of visa holders excluded from the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs, states and territories this week have stepped up, including:

  • Tasmania’s $3 million support package for temporary visa holders, that, amongst other initiatives, expands eligibility for one-off Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants of $250 per individual or up to $1,000 per family;
  • Queensland’s $2.2 million package for international students, which includes both a new online hub, where counsellors will guide students through mental health, visa, crisis accommodation and other essential needs, as well as previously-announced tuition support, laptops, isolation care-packs, and pre-prepared meals;
  • South Australia’s $13.8 million ‘International Student Support Package‘, which includes a $10 million fund for the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and University of South Australia to distribute to impacted international students — which the Advertiser says translates to between $500 and $1,000 payments per student — as well as a $500 emergency cash grant for other students living in the state.

Additionally, ACT has joined Victoria and Queensland in setting up a new government job portal, the $20 million ‘Jobs for Canberrans’ fund, which specifically prioritises people who are “ineligible for any Australian Government support”.

DOES FORCED QUARANTINE FOR PRISONERS MEAN SOLITARY CONFINEMENT?

Barrister Greg Barns has flagged concerns over the Victorian government’s “COVID-19 Omnibus (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020” which is yet to appear online. Ahead of introduction tonight, the government announced that the bill will cover everything from housing support to new regulatory powers over justice processes. Mandated quarantines for new prisoners could amount to solitary confinement.

The news is especially concerning when, as the ABC reported yesterday, a string of errors led a vulnerable Indigenous man to be held in custody for two weeks, and twice denied bail, despite the warrant being issued contrary to the court direction.

COPS BARRED FROM TRACING APP: In related news, The Age reports that Attorney-General Christian Porter last night guaranteed that police would be barred from accessing the new tracing app’s metadata.

For why that’s probably a good thing, check out the unofficial COVID-19 Policing database.

TRUMP THREATENS IRAN MID-APOCALYPSE

Finally, because a pandemic that has infected at least 850,000 Americans hasn’t been enough to keep him occupied, the ABC reports that US President Donald Trump has ordered the US navy to “destroy” any Iranian boats that “harass” them at sea.

In case anyone has forgotten — and look, you’d be forgiven, it’s been a year — Trump ordered the assassination of Iran’s Major General Qassim Suleimani on January 3 this year, a move The Nation described at the time as a “colossal strategic blunder”.

STATE WRAP

Because it has, understandably, been another packed day for state and territory government announcements:

  • Today, The Age reports that Victoria will announce a $77.5 million family services package that creates a new model for early intervention child protection;
  • The Northern Territory has announced that 135 Home Improvement Scheme vouchers have been rolled out over just two days, with “thousands more in the pipeline” amidst a total of 19,584 applications in the first stage of the $30 million project which ended April 17; and
  • The ABC reports that South Australia will urge parents to send their children to school next week.

 

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I’m an activist.

Malcolm Turnbull

The prime minister that oversaw the creation of Robodebt, is only now reflecting on creating Dutton’s super-department, and, since 2019, sits as a senior advisor to investment giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co hints at a rosy future in commentary.

CRIKEY RECAP

Sacrifice the Virgin! Air travel should be nationalised and socialised

“What can you say about Richard Branson? Here’s this leonine, dazzling-eyed bloke with his striking goatee who arrives somewhere in a balloon — an actual goddamn balloon — asks for a pile of your money, throws it into the basket and takes off again. In his balloon. Over and over and over. How does this keep happening?”


Who are Australia’s essential workers? Short answer: women

“For decades women have fought to be equals in the workforce. Now they are emerging as Australia’s most essential workers. But as new job figures show, they might also be shouldering most of the economic fallout.”


Pump primed: why record low oil prices will end up spooking consumers

“The price of a barrel of West Texas Intermediate (a kind of crude oil) fell as low as negative-$39 a barrel. Sellers were paying buyers to take oil! The negative price came about because huge volumes of oil are flowing in this period of low demand, and America is running out of places to put it.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Four police officers killed in Eastern Freeway crash hailed by Premier as ‘heroes’

Retail property giant threatens action against tenants who close doors

Coronavirus restrictions likely to be eased in reverse order, political sources say

Business calls for urgent tax reform in wake of coronavirus crisis ($)

Shadow Treasurer rules out support for GST hike after RBA calls for reform

Commonwealth warns against ‘illegal’ water diversion sought by Barilaro

Ruby Princess doctor ‘surprised’ passengers allowed off cruise ship when crew member had high fever

Queensland Parliament passes new rental laws among string of Covid-19 measures ($)

Victorian government looking at fast-tracked pipeline and new projects to kickstart economy

THE COMMENTARIAT

German post-war miracle a lesson for usJames Patterson (The Australian): “The emergency measures put in place to control the spread of corona­virus are necessary, but history shows that radical econo­mic interventions imposed in times of crisis should be removed as quickly as possible once the crisis passes.”

Australia’s coronavirus relief exclusions prove we are not all in this togetherBen Doherty (The Guardian): “Far from being the great leveller it is asserted to be, Covid-19 has laid bare – as if it needed further exposition – the structural inequalities that exist in contemporary Australia. Those who are in Australia temporarily – to study, to work, to pick fruit, to be protected from persecution – have had their second-class status brutally exposed by the extremis of Covid-19.”

Our creative community’s collapse is without precedent: the case for a 40% funding boostKim Williams (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The government’s recent announcement on supporting Australia’s free-to-air networks, which included tax relief, support for regional journalism and the suspension of Australian content requirements, is stark confirmation we are facing a genuine emergency in the framework for the production of Australian content.”

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • The Senate Committee on COVID-19 will hold its first hearing this morning, with witnesses to include Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy and Department of Health secretaries.

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