Covid-19 school schools
(Image: AAP/James Ross)

SCHOOL’S OUT FOR SOME

While around 700,000 students across Melbourne and Mitchell Shire will return to remote learning for at least the next six weeks, The Age reports that today “students in Victoria’s lockdown zones in year 11 and 12, and in specialist schools, will return to face-to-face learning … as will year 10 students taking VCE and VCAL classes, the children of essential workers and vulnerable children” — a move that some principals and teachers have expressed fears about.

Conversely, the ABC reported yesterday that children in high-risk homes have been turned away from Victorian schools during lockdowns, and, separately, have been being handed fines of up to $1600 for social distancing breaches.

CLUSTER WOES

New clusters have emerged across Melbourne’s hospitals, abattoirs, public housing estates and more, after the state recorded its third consecutive day of over 200 cases. As usual, the updates are coming in thick and fast:

  • Federal Labor MP Anne Stanley has gone into isolation after dining at a Sydney hotel linked to nine coronavirus cases, as the state introduces $3000 hotel quarantine fees (ABC)
  • The Department of Health and Human Services has blamed a data entry error for mistakenly sending Victorians in self-quarantine text messages yesterday morning saying they were free to leave before their 14-day period ended (Herald Sun)
  • A 21-year-old US Marine tested positive to COVID-19 after arriving in Darwin via an Okinawa base (NT News $).
  • The Australian Medical Association Victoria has called for coronavirus testing stations to be set up at checkpoints across Melbourne’s lockdown border (The Age)
  • Community lawyers and advocates helped dismantle fences brought in by police at the North Melbourne public housing estate.

IS MANTRA NEXT? According to freelance journalist Rebekah Holt, Border Force staff called a meeting last night to confirm a positive case at Melbourne’s Mantra immigration detention hotel, a claim shadow minister for cities, multicultural affairs, assisting immigration Andrew Giles will follow up with the federal government today.

The report follows months of largely-ignored warnings from medical, legal and humanitarian groups over the danger COVID-19 poses to people in detention.

A TAXING ISSUE

As Melbourne’s outbreak forces businesses to shut down for the second time this year, The West Australian reports that the second round of $750 stimulus payment will roll out to welfare recipients this week.

The news follows analysis by The Guardian yesterday suggesting that plans to bring forward large tax cuts will increasingly benefit wealthier Australians. Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that the heads of Flight Centre, Australian Industry Group, and Business Council of Australia have all warned against national cabinet adopting a stop-start approach to reopening the economy.

TAX TIME: As to this year’s tax cuts, The Australian ($) reports that the ATO had received 991,000 individual tax returns by July 9, an 11% increase compared with last year.

CATHOLIC CHURCH WINS BIG

An investigation from the Associated Press has found that America’s Catholic Church used a special, unprecedented exemption from federal rules to receive at least US$1.4 billion (A$2.05 billion) in taxpayer-funded COVID-19 bailout funding, with millions going to dioceses that sought bankruptcy protection following clergy sexual abuse cover-ups.

CONTEXT CORNER: Last Wednesday, a survey at online rental platform Apartment List found that almost one third of American households have not made their full housing payments for July.

The news also comes as the state of Florida recorded a new daily record high spike for the US, with more than 15,000 new cases.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Craig Kelly is in detective mode. Crooks within data-altering government agencies should be worried. Very worried.

George Christensen

The Queensland MP shares his support for Kelly’s very serious investigation into the Case of the Bureau of Meteorology’s Record Hot Days of the Past. Happy hunting boys!

CRIKEY RECAP

Why a second lockdown will test governments to the limit

“A second lockdown will be much harder than the first.

“That’s because of a psychological quirk behavioural economists call the endowment effect, a cognitive bias related to the broader concept of loss aversion.

“In essence, people value things they have been given or purchased far more than things of similar value that belong to others or are sitting on the shelf.”


Foreign ownership and cut corners: hotel quarantine debacle leaves security firms with big questions to answer

“The failure of Victoria’s hotel quarantine effort has come at a high price. Citing genomic testing data, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said the impact is substantial, though the full story of the spread of COVID-19 through security guards is yet to be told and may yet be linked to infections in Melbourne’s high rise towers.

“And as Inq has discovered, one company at the centre of the debacle provides security services for Metro Trains Melbourne.”


‘People would have starved’: how young volunteers saved Melbourne’s towers

“Last week, many residents in Melbourne’s public housing towers only found out they’d been forced into lockdown when busloads of police began appearing outside their windows.

Nor Shanino, a youth worker who grew up in one of the Flemington towers said his phone lit up. The Ubuntu Project, an advocacy organisation for African-Australian youth he’d recently set up saw its Instagram follower count swell, and its inbox was soon flooded.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Victorian government to probe sexual harassment practices at courts, law firms

Australian government faces legal action over secret details of donor meetings

Anthony Chisholm breaks Labor ranks to back New Acland coal mine ($)

‘The richest poor people on Earth’: Aurukun locals sitting on $120m trust

Kearah’s law: Probe into case of jailed abuse survivor Kearah Ronan prompts call for new laws to protect victims ($)

There are two vacant properties for each homeless person in NSW

ABC’s Four Corners marks overdue milestone with Black Lives Matter episode

A plasma shot could prevent coronavirus. But feds and makers won’t act, scientists say

Coronavirus: Three generations of Bollywood Bachchan family infected

Immunity to Covid-19 could be lost in months, UK study suggests

Coronavirus update: Japan struggles with COVID-19 threat amid flood disaster

The life and times of Aboriginal rights champion and political trailblazer John Ah Kit, dead at 69

THE COMMENTARIAT

Disembarking in a deeply divided AmericaFarrah Tomazin (The Sydney Morning Herald): “But for all the angst back home, Australia’s COVID-19 response still looks pretty good from the perspective of someone who has just landed in Trump’s America. In this deeply divided nation, there’s nothing that resembles a coherent national plan to tackle a virus that has so far killed more than 134,000 Americans — representing almost a quarter of the global death toll.”

In battle to suppress a virus, suppressing information a disturbing trend ($) — Chris Mitchell (The Australian): “The media has got plenty wrong in the COVID-19 pandemic. Partly because we did not know what we did not know, many journalists over-estimated the disease’s risk to most people’s lives and underestimated the risk to economic health of government shutdowns. This column, on March 15, said economies would not ‘snap back’, and the economic damage of the pandemic could prove worse than the health effects.”

Don’t fall for the ‘cancel culture’ scamMichael Hobbes (HuffPost): “Every statement of fact in the Harper’s letter is either wildly exaggerated or plainly untrue. More broadly, the controversy over ‘cancel culture’ is a straightforward moral panic. While there are indeed real cases of ordinary Americans plucked from obscurity and harassed into unemployment, this rare, isolated phenomenon is being blown up far beyond its importance.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney

  • Julia Gillard will appear in a Q+A special to discuss, amongst other things, Women in Leadership, a new book co-written with Nigerian economist and international development expert Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Canberra

  • The parliamentary inquiry into litigation funding and the regulation of the class action industry will begin public hearings.

Brisbane

  • Human testing is set to start for the University of Queensland’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Australia

  • The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will release two new research papers about Australians’ attitudes towards ageing and aged care.