THE COST OF SHUTDOWN
New Treasury figures put the cost of maintaining national shutdown measures at roughly $4 billion a week, the ABC reports. Treasury estimates the shutdown will plunge gross domestic product by 10% in the June quarter — the equivalent of $50 billion wiped from the economy.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will provide details on the report at a National Press Club address today. This will then be further considered by National Cabinet as states discuss loosening restrictions. New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern will also attend National Cabinet today amidst talk of a Tasman travel bubble.
GET BACK IN THE GREEN? As The New Daily reports, the analysis coincides with a plan from the Clean Energy Council to bring forward the current pipeline of wind and solar projects. The CEC says this would create more than 50,000 jobs, and inject $50 billion worth of investment into the economy.
US POINTS THE FINGER
According to the ABC, a US Department of Homeland Security intelligence report has suggested China “intentionally concealed the severity” of the pandemic in an effort to stock up on medical supplies. However, as the broadcaster notes, there is no public evidence that the early censorship of doctors had anything to do with buying up equipment.
The news comes as both Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo argued that private evidence suggests COVID-19 came from a Wuhan laboratory. According to Nine papers, Australian intelligence officials have knocked back the claim and said a document shared in Five Eyes political circles was mostly based on news reports.
DAILY DEATH COUNT: As Donald Trump urges states to re-open, American cases exceed 1.1 million and, according to The New York Times, new government modelling suggests the US will see up to 3000 deaths per day by June 1.
SYDNEY ARTS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that iconic Sydney cultural centre Carriageworks has been forced to call on administrators after the sudden cancellation of six months of activities caused an “irreparable loss of income”. Unlike Victoria last month or South Australia and Tasmania back in March, NSW is yet to announce a targeted arts package.
EMPTY VENUES: Y/N? HAVE YOUR SAY! This news comes as the NSW state government calls for community feedback on the second stage of their liquor law reforms and a plan to “kickstart Sydney’s night-time economy post COVID-19 and beyond”.
- Victoria has tested more than 55,000 samples in the first week of its testing blitz.
- The Northern Territory government revealed it sent body bags (among other supplies) to remote Indigenous communities, after early modelling suggested more than 2000 people would die across the territory if the virus had spread unchecked.
- Adelaide city councils have started reopening playgrounds, following advice from SA Health.
- The NSW government has now purchased almost $1 billion of personal protective equipment.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I quit in dismay at Amazon firing whistleblowers who were making noise about warehouse employees frightened of COVID-19.
In a post on his personal blog, the now-former senior engineer and vice-president at Amazon hits out at his former employer’s “chickenshit” decision to fire and disparage workers protesting over unsafe conditions.
“Since March, Australians have been in lockdown, told to observe strict social distancing guidelines and maintain good hygiene. But for thousands of migrant farm labourers, whose essential work is what keeps our supermarket shelves stocked, none of this is possible.
“Instead, they must keep working, often for below the minimum wage in crowded, unsanitary conditions without any protective gear, hoping the virus doesn’t reach them.”
“Even their political foes would concede that Victorian Premier Dan Andrews and WA Premier Mark McGowan have had a very good virus. A combination of strong wills and good luck have meant that their states (along with South Australia) have led Australia’s COVID-19 response.
“But as most of Australia starts to emerge from economic hibernation, Andrews’ Victoria continues to double down, in particular with school reopenings.”
“Disability support workers have been ‘dangerously overlooked’ in the pandemic response and should be paid an extra hourly rate for looking after clients infected with, or suspected of having, COVID-19, unions say.
“The Fair Work Commission this morning heard an application from the Australian Service Union, Health Services Union and United Workers Union asking for an extra $4.94 an hour for carers with clients who had contracted COVID-19 or were waiting for test results.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
We can and should bring Australians home from Syrian refugee camps — Kamalle Dabboussy and Clarke Jones (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The Australian government’s COVID-19 evacuations of Australian nationals from Peru, Argentina, Lebanon, India, the Philippines, and South Africa required overcoming incredible challenges. Its swift response, particularly amid border closures and global restrictions on movement, should be commended.”
Kristina Keneally is wrong to lecture us about immigration ($) — Troy Bramston (The Australian): “Keneally’s approach is not only wrongheaded policy but also dangerous and divisive politics. To call it a dog-whistle would ascribe a degree of intelligent strategy to it. Labor’s Home Affairs spokeswoman has used the same degenerate language that Trump does by aping his ‘America First’ mantra. It is demeaning and disrespectful to all migrants.”
Missing Melbourne’s music scene — Celeste Liddle (Eureka Street): “I do note that the Victorian government has since committed to a $16.8 million package with monies both for arts organisations and individual creatives. Given, however, that Victoria’s creative industries make up about 8% of the economy here, I wonder if this pledge is even going to touch the sides of the problem, particularly since many in the industry feel the federal government has done almost nothing.”
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Senate inquiry into COVID-19 will hear from Border Force, Home Affairs and the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will present “Paving a path towards reform and recovery” at the National Press Club.