THE NT EYES THE PRIZE
After a three-week stretch with no new cases in the Northern Territory, and with just five active cases remaining, the NT government has announced that territory-controlled parks will reopen from noon on Friday.
Police and park rangers will continue to monitor the 1.5 metre rule, but The NT News ($) reports that Chief Minister Michael Gunner is preparing for a 28-day countdown to “eradicate” the virus. This involves gradually loosening other restrictions, implementing longer-term border closures and following social distancing measures. The idea has been simplified as “trace, test and trap”.
THE STRESS OF TRANSITIONING: Gunner also said that the risk of a second surge (see, for example, Singapore) meant easing restrictions has become more stressful than implementing them.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Foreign Minister Marise Payne has accused China of “economic coercion”. This comes after ambassador Cheng Jingye warned the Morrison government’s pursuit of an external inquiry into the country’s original outbreak risks a boycott from students and tourists.
The campaign has yet to receive official backing from other leaders; the ABC reported at the time that, despite sympathy for the cause, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson are prioritising suppression before investigation. However, a senior WHO official backed plans to give the body more investigative powers.
Following a similar approval bounce for Scott Morrison, the latest Newspoll ($) suggests all state premiers are experiencing overwhelming approval for their handling of the pandemic.
At 94% approval amongst participants, West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has enjoyed the highest score of the six, while Queensland’s Annastacia Palaszczuk trails at 72%. However, unlike the other premiers, Palaszczuk’s still-sizeable approval rating has apparently not borne out in overall satisfaction. Her net approval rating was just 16%, compared to the next lowest, Gladys Berejiklian, at 46%.
IT COULD BE WORSE: US President Donald Trump has apparently bucked the global trend and slid in post-COVID polls. With more than 50,000 deaths in the US, this does not come as a surprise.
- Tasmania has called for residents to volunteer through EVCREW (emergency volunteers crew) and assist with delivering essential services such as community transport, meal delivery, social connection, and shopping. The state government also committed to an independent review into the North West coronavirus outbreak, just hours before reporting another two cases in the region.
- NSW is reportedly considering a $500 million property spending spree focusing on unsold apartments and fast-tracking construction. NSW also announced a $30 million boost to emergency energy bill support and a freeze on licence fees for community businesses that use school sites like canteens and uniforms shops up to the end of Term 2.
- Victoria has announced a two-week “testing blitz”, with a target of 100,000 including anyone with mild symptoms. Victoria’s state of emergency is currently set to expire on May 11.
- South Australia’s online learning system LearnLink crashed on the first day of Term 2 yesterday. The SA government also announced that an additional 1 million pieces of personal protective equipment have started arriving ahead of the recommencement of essential elective surgery this week.
- Western Australian TAFE courses will commence Term 2 today, and the state government has outlined a “blended” delivery of online and interactive learning. TAFE will also offer a fast-tracked infectious disease training program for disability and aged care.
SOME NON-COVID NEWS
Finally, in the first bit of non-COVID news in my lifetime, 10News reports that Energy Minister Angus Taylor refused interview requests from NSW Police throughout the investigation into the doctored documents scandal, with all requests instead directed to his solicitor.
As The Guardian reports, new answers from NSW Police to questions on notice reveal that police also found no evidence that the altered version of Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s travel expenses — first provided to the Daily Telegraph in an attempt to scold her climate advocacy — had ever appeared on the council’s website.
ANYTHING BUT WIND OR SOLAR: Following the Minister for Emissions Reduction’s win last week in securing a tonne of cheap US oil, The SMH reports that Taylor is today spruiking the Australian Renewable Energy Agency’s plan for a bioenergy roadmap.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I know that there will be many people looking now at our apparent success, and beginning to wonder whether now is the time to go easy on those social distancing measures.
The prime minister who waited until March to attend a national crisis meeting, took a swing at “herd immunity”, and has overseen at least 20,000 deaths — not counting care homes — gives his first national address since recovering from the virus himself.
“At that point, the question is no longer about the app, but about the government. What’s required for that isn’t a privacy impact assessment but a power impact assessment.
“A power impact assessment would examine this government and find it badly wanting in relation to the abuse of personal information.”
“When Australia announced it was developing a contact tracing app like Singapore, the city-state was leading the world in its fight against COVID-19. Now it’s well and truly not.
“The country has sunk deep into a second wave of cases, with the disease silently spreading through cramped dormitories occupied by foreign workers.”
The big nudge: here’s how the government could spread its coronavirus tracing app far, fast and wide
“The government’s tracing app, COVIDSafe, is off to a flying start, with over 1 million downloads within hours of launch. But what if the rate of uptake slows to the extent that the government’s 40% adoption rate looks unlikely to be achieved. What then?”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Eden-Monaro MP Mike Kelly’s retirement a loss for Labor and the nation ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “A former army colonel who served in Somalia, Bosnia, East Timor and Iraq, Mike Kelly was the highest ranked officer to represent the modern Labor Party in parliament. His departure accelerates a dangerous trend for the party to lose its few people with real national security gravitas.”
Between the ship and the shore: the Captain James Cook I know — Stan Grant (The Sydney Morning Herald): “I am reminded this week that we each have our Captain Cook, and how we see him tells us so much about how we see our country. Black and white Australians enter this modern nation Australia differently. My ancestors stood on the shore and watched the ships come. Between the ship and the shore is two centuries of history; history still untold and justice still denied.”
We still don’t know how the coronavirus is killing us — David Wallace-Wells (New York Magazine): “Over the last few weeks, the country has managed to stabilise the spread of the coronavirus sufficiently enough to begin debating when and in what ways to ‘reopen,’ and to normalise, against all moral logic, the horrifying and ongoing death toll — thousands of Americans dying each day, in multiples of 9/11 every week now with the virus seemingly ‘under control.’”
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy and other Treasury officials will appear at the Senate inquiry into the coronavirus.
VOICE Australia, Human Rights Network of Australia, will appear at an inquiry into targeted sanctions to address human rights abuses.
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