HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN, JIGGETY-JIG
The Victoria-NSW border closed at the stroke of midnight last night. Scores of suburbs, including those in metropolitan Melbourne and along the Mornington Peninsula, will tomorrow be placed into stage three restrictions for the next six weeks.
The Age reports schools will delay reopening for term three. Restaurants and cafes are restricted to takeaway and delivery services. Beauty and nail salons, along with entertainment and cultural venues will be shuttered. Supermarket shelves are once again being stripped bare.
It’s a blast from the past — though in this case, the past was mere months ago.
Yesterday, Victoria recorded 191 new cases of COVID-19, which as the ABC reports is “the largest single-day increase so far in the state”. Numbers are so high, the state’s 1000-plus contact-tracing team is struggling to reach out to everyone who came in contact with an infected person to tell them to isolate in time, according to the Herald Sun.
A COSTLY CONTAINMENT
Melbourne’s return to lockdown is expected to cost Victoria’s economy a tidy $6 billion, the Herald Sun reports — $1 billion for every week in stage three restrictions.
The Federal Government has made an emergency change to childcare funding in Victoria — again, from the Herald Sun — with operators allowed to waive the gap fee charged to Melbourne parents for children who can’t attend due to lockdowns. The free childcare initiative will end this weekend.
Banks are expected to announce another extension on loan deferrals today, The Australian writes, giving customers an extra four months from September before they have to restart payments. There are nearly 800,000 people on loan repayment pauses, worth $236 billion.
Meanwhile, early superannuation withdrawals have exceeded the Treasury’s initial forecast of $27 billion, with another three months still left on the scheme. According to The Australian Financial Review, more than 2.4 million people have been approved to access their super early.
To help bolster the rest of the country’s economy, the federal government will allow international students to arrive — even if states’ internal borders remain closed.
Melbourne isn’t alone in its economic woes: New York City has hit 20% unemployment, numbers not seen since the Great Depression.
CHINA KEEPS MAKING HEADLINES FOR THE WRONG REASONS
The Department of Home Affairs (DFAT) has upped its advice for those planning to go to China — not because of cases of COVID-19 or the suspected cases of bubonic plague that have popped up (which the World Health Organisation said it is “carefully monitoring”), but due to the risk of jail time.
“Authorities have detained foreigners because they’re ‘endangering national security’,” the update read. “Australians may also be at risk of arbitrary detention.”
Last week, DFAT updated its travel advice to Hong Kong, warning China’s new national security law “could be interpreted broadly: You can break the law without intending to … The maximum penalty under this law in Hong Kong is life imprisonment.”
The Australian reports plans will be finalised today by the federal cabinet to provide “a fast-track option for Hong Kong nationals to resettle in Australia … through a capped skilled migrant visa program intake”.
China has warned — or threatened — Australia not to go down the “wrong path” when providing its citizens with support.
A whistleblower has accused staff at the taxpayer-funded Migrant Workers’ Centre of forcing employees to campaign for Labor in the lead-up to the 2018 state election, the Herald Sun reports.
A former employee alleged workers were placed on a two-week campaign roster, tasked with doorknocking to get petition signatures and distributing anti-Liberal political pamphlets.
The centre advocates for the rights of migrant workers and international students and was opened with a $2.3 million grant in 2018.
Meanwhile, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has been accused of offering one council “funding from a community grants program” in order to settle a legal dispute with another, The Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Berejiklian is facing allegations of pork barrelling after it was revealed she “approved of more than $100 million in grants for councils in Coalition-held seats” in the lead up last year’s state election.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
We were waiting to s*** in his pool … My issue is not so much with Mr Morrison — I disagreed with Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull’s climate policies as well, it just so happens that Mr Morrison was the prime minister in January.
Dean Fletcher, climate activist
In early January, climate activist Dean Fletcher and a friend broke into Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Sutherland Shire backyard, releasing a video containing their defecation threat. On Friday, he was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to trespassing and inciting a criminal act.
“The key words are ‘these people’. As soon as Pauline Hanson starts a sentence with them, you know she’s about to say something racist.
“The other certainty about Hanson saying something racist is that it will happen shortly after she opens her mouth.”
“It’s a pretty big leap from that to the suggestion that the reoccurence of COVID-19 in Victoria is going to be a unique occurrence. That seems to be an expression of magical thinking — that this crisis will be brief, non-recurrent and easily subject to human will.
“None of these propositions have been remotely borne out by the last few weeks, in the world, or here.”
“When asked about Geoffrey Rush’s line, ‘…but I was thinking of you, as I do more than is socially appropriate,’ Helen Buday spontaneously broke out singing “Truly Scrumptious” from the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang …
“‘You can go stage left,’ Tom Blackburn quipped before Buday fled the courtroom and began crying loudly outside.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
How Mexico’s Drug Cartels are Profiting From the Pandemic — Ioan Grillo (The New York Times): “Gangs across Latin America have used the crisis to exert influence in their turfs. They hand out aid and enforce curfews even as they war against rival gangs and officials. In June, gunmen assassinated a federal judge in the state of Colima and, on July 1, massacred 26 people at a rehab clinic.
While restrictions brought by the pandemic have reduced the movement of certain drugs, demand has grown for others. United States Customs and Border Protection has nabbed significantly less cocaine. But seizures of heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, have remained steady, while seizures of crystal meth have increased, which coincides with a spike in overdose deaths in various United States cities.”
Welcome to the new police state of Hong Kong — Michael Smith (Australian Financial Review): “Many in the business community initially hoped the new laws would target a handful of troublemakers and so end the chaos of last year’s mass protests without hurting the city’s status as an international finance hub. But the events of the last 24 hours have shown there will be a price to pay for peace on the street.”
Let’s do better for our elders — Pat Garcia (The Australian): “But while the ageing ‘problem’ can be fiendishly complex in some respects, at its core it’s quite straightforward: if we want to treat elders with respect and dignity in their final stages of life, then we need much more money. Indeed, about $20bn a year more, according to a discussion paper just released by the Royal Commission on Aged Care Quality and Safety.”