Brett Sutton
(Image: AAP/Stefan Postles)

WEAR A MASK, VICTORIA

Following yesterday’s 75 case spike, The Age reports that Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has warned the state’s outbreak “will get worse before it gets better” and that a second shutdown for hotspot areas — while difficult, and complicated by the fact advanced notice might spur infected people to leave and relocate elsewhere — is “absolutely an option”.

Nine schools were shutdown yesterday, and the majority of new cases were picked up in the testing blitz across the 10 hotspot suburbs — Maidstone, Albanvale, Sunshine West, Hallam, Brunswick West, Fawkner, Reservoir, Pakenham, Keilor Downs and Broadmeadows.

Finally, speaking to 7.30 last night, Health Minister Greg Hunt did not rule out the prospect of mandatory face masks across Melbourne hotspots and public transport. The suggestion follows multiple studies and meta-analyses of studies demonstrating the overwhelming, but not absolute, efficacy of masks in preventing symptomatic and asymptomatic spread.

AND NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS

The newswire responsible for roughly every second piece of breaking news in Australia, AAP, has been sold to a not-for-profit investment consortium led by led by sustainable investment manager Nick Harrington, philanthropist John McKinnon and former News Corp chief executive Peter Tonagh.

As The Guardian explains, the group signed off on a deal last night to buy, and officially save, AAP four days after the wire was originally planned to shut for good, and just one day before News Corp and Nine’s subscription ran out. The organisation will re-launch on August 1 with a reduced team of 85 — down from 180 at the start of the year — based in Sydney’s CBD.

TWO GOOD NEWS NEWS STORIES? Speaking on last night’s Q&A, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher announced a last-minute reprieve for two community TV stations —–Melbourne’s Channel 31 and Adelaide’s Channel 44 — that will now get another year on air to transition to digital-only content.

A CASUAL $1.3 BILLION EARMARKED FOR THE CYBERWAR

Scott Morrison will today announce a 10-year, $1.3 billion boost for the Australian Signals Directorate to recruit 500 cyber spies and build “offensive capability” for cyber-warfare, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

The announcement comes after Morrison earlier this month announced there had been cyber attacks against state and federal governments as well as other critical infrastructure, which, although he would only name a “state-based” perpetrator, security agencies speaking with The SMH later linked to China.

It also comes a week after Defence Minister Linda Reynolds confirmed to the AFR ($) that the government plans on spending $200 billion over 10 years on new military hardware and systems.

CULTURE WAR: POVERTY EDITION

According to The Guardian, a new paper by the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Nous Group has found nearly a third of people who lost work or had hours cut due to the pandemic are aged 51 to 65. Separately, an ANU analysis has found the proportion of Australians not able to meet their housing costs jumped from 6.9% in April to 15.1% in May and overwhelmingly hit younger generations.

COMPARE AND CONTRAST: A front-page story at The Australian ($) today jumps on board Morrison/The West Australian’s recent line about JobKeeper/JobSeeker being too far above poverty rates that some people are refusing to work.

IRAN WANTS TO ARREST DONALD TRUMP

According to Al Jazeera, the Iranian government has issued an arrest warrant for Donald Trump and more than 30 others it believes carried out the January 3 assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

The call to arrest Trump — which Tehran prosecutor Ali Alqasimehr said the government will pursue even after his presidency ends — also came with a request to assist from Interpol, which has politely noted that its constitution forbids, “any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character”.

GLOBAL WATCH: In a packed night for international news:

  • The Guardian reports that India has banned TikTok following the deadly clash with Chinese troops across the Himalayan border
  • An AP investigation has found the Chinese government systematically forces birth control on Uyghurs to suppress their population
  • Gunmen have opened fire on Pakistan’s stock exchange in Karachi, killing three people
  • Israel’s alternate prime minister, Benny Gantz, has thrown a spanner in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to illegally annex the West Bank this week by suggesting it may have to wait until after COVID-19 has been controlled.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[following repeated allegations by Communications Minister Paul Fletcher that the ABC’s funding is increasing]:

Minister I am going to move on, I’ve got the figures here though. You’re ignoring the fact in what you’re saying, and talking about that 2019-2020 budget: ‘In the first year of the three year period, the funding fell from 1097 million to 1084 million for the total budget, and from 916 million to 900 million for the general operational activities budget. And even with the continued increase in transmission and distribution’ — and I think that’s where we get cute about the funding rising — ‘the total budget will still not recover to the 2018-19 level as far off as 2022-23. The operational budget barely moves from 2019-20 and remains lower than 2018-19 for four years’. That’s what I call a cut.

[Fletcher: Virginia, that is not true. Funding in 2019-20 is higher, and is higher than when we came to government…]

Well the figures are taken from the budget and we can’t waste any more time on this. We’re going to our next question, you’ve made the point several times minister.

Virginia Trioli

In a very good, very dense fact-check, last night’s Q&A hots puts a cork in that manufactured “$84 million cut vs $84 million not-a-cut?” debate.

CRIKEY RECAP

Porter’s Collaery cover-up gets legal blessing, but is Labor starting to do its job?

“It seems as though Attorney-General Christian Porter will be successful in maintaining his cover-up of the Howard government’s crime of bugging the cabinet room of Timor-Leste in 2004 to benefit political donor Woodside, with an ACT magistrate granting Porter’s application that parts of the prosecution of Bernard Collaery be held behind closed doors for national security reasons.

“That also means that, in a Kafkaesque absurdity, Porter will be allowed to use documents against Collaery that Collaery and his legal term are prohibited from seeing.”


Two for one: company gets two directors on COVID commission

Andrew Liveris is co-chairing the Northern Territory’s economic reconstruction commission, as well as being special adviser to the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission. He’s also on the payroll of engineering and resources firm Worley and the Saudi Arabian multinational petroleum and gas company Saudi Aramco, one of the most profitable companies in the world.

“But Crikey readers have pointed out that there’s another high-profile figure on the NT commission with similar vocational interests: former Treasury secretary turned secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Martin Parkinson.”


A thicker blue line: why tabloid media is standing up for the cops

“In the weeks since Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd, the cultural shift in America has been swift. The TV show Cops was pulled off the air after 32 years. Police abolition, once a far-left pipe-dream, is now an argument given a serious run by establishment outlets like The New York Times. And there’s been a seismic change in public opinion, both on Black Lives Matter and attitudes to the police.

“But in Australia, where our public discourse so often swims downstream from the United States, sympathetic media outlets have quickly tried to blunt that narrative shift.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

‘Nowhere to hide’: South Pole warms up with climate change a factor

Senior Liberal Terry Stephens has paid no land tax on Adelaide property, document shows

Eden-Monaro Liberal candidate says reducing fuel is the only way to manage bushfires

Inspector during Anglo methane scares now an executive at miner ($)

Poker machines used to launder cash and avoid tax

ABC’s fake ‘anonymous youth worker’ promoted to High Commissioner to Ghana

No increase to super rate would hurt those who drew down on funds during crisis, Greg Combet says

‘Athletes shouldn’t be silenced’: Peris joins call for Olympic protest ban to go

Premiers sky high as Andrews’ halo slips ($)

ACT government backs push for truth in political advertising in lead-up to poll

Gilead’s coronavirus treatment remdesivir to cost $3,120 per U.S. patient with private insurance

Australian reporter testifies about police beating outside White House

THE COMMENTARIAT

I’d cover my face to preserve the freedoms we’re regainingAubrey Perry (Sydney Morning Herald): “They’re mandatory in more than 50 countries, and a handful of states in the US mandate the use of them in public, too. Experts here, too, are now echoing the call to wear masks and face coverings in enclosed public places and on public transport. ‘The effectiveness of masks reducing transmission is now really clear,’ Professor Michael Toole of the Burnet Institute said last week, citing a review published in The Lancet this month that found wearing a mask could reduce the risk of passing on an infection by 85%.”

Time’s up for silence on what happens in chambers ($) — Kathleen Foley (AFR): “On June 24, 2020, as news of the findings of an inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment by Dyson Heydon rocked the legal community, the Victorian Legal Services Commissioner sent a mass email under the heading ‘It’s time to end the culture of silence on sexual harassment’. Yet at the same time, the person who headed the High Court for the first five years of Heydon’s tenure — former chief justice Murray Gleeson — was reported as saying only this: ‘I have nothing at all to say’.”

Kean says NSW can be renewable energy superpower, or stick its head in the sandGiles Parkinson (RenewEconomy): “It’s a theme that is catching on in the conservative side of politics in Australia, not that you’d notice from reading the mainstream media. Kean, of course, is a Liberal MP in the conservative Berejiklian government in NSW, and his views are shared by the Tasmania Liberal government, which has an aim of reaching 200% renewables within 20 years so it can export the surplus to the mainland, or attract clean industries to its state; and the South Australia Liberal government, which wants to reach net 100% renewables by 2030, and also become a renewable export superpower, exporting to neighbouring states and other countries.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • The Senate COVID-19 inquiry will hear from arts organisations, including the Australia Council for the Arts, BlakDance, and Australia’s “Office for the Arts,” currently run out of the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

Queensland

  • Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is expected to announce when Queensland will reopen its hard border.

Perth

  • The Joint Standing Committee on the National Disability Insurance Scheme will hold a teleconference on general issues around the implementation and performance of the NDIS, the NDIS workforce and planning, Individual Disability Advocacy Service WA, Carers WA, People with Disabilities WA and the Sexuality Education Counselling and Consultancy Agency.