Brett Sutton
(Image: AAP/James Ross)

WINTER ROLLS ON IN VICTORIA

The news from Victoria continues to sound grim. There were 374 new cases of COVID-19 and three more deaths from the virus on Tuesday.

Six Victorian prisons have gone into lockdown after a prison officer at Ravenhall Correctional Centre — who had contact with at least five prisoners who were then transferred to the other facilities — tested postive.

Infections were reported in three more aged care homes, while the existing clusters have grown to 51 cases at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged, 42 linked to Estia Health, and 31 to the Glendale Aged Care facility in Werribee.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, however, insists there are signs the second lockdown is containing the virus, saying that, based on “the modelling of a couple of weeks ago, if we had been on an exponential curve [it] would have been thousands of cases … We’re on 374. I’m not satisfied with that, but it’s much better than 1000”.

Meanwhile, a woman has been fined $1652 for travelling to East Gippsland and visiting a series of shops (which have all now had to close) while awaiting the results of a test which, you guessed it, turned out to be positive.

Elsewhere, a security guard for the Melbourne coronavirus quarantine hotel what started all this trouble has told the ABC’s 7.30 that guards were recruited via WhatsApp, provided no training, limited sanitiser and were “told to bring their own masks”.

GETTING THE LOWE DOWN

At the annual Anika Foundation address in Sydney yesterday, Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe rejected the idea that the RBA should print money to help cover governments debts.

“The reality is there is no free lunch. The tab always has to be paid and it is paid out of taxes and government revenues in one form or another,” he said.

He did, however, give the government the green light to lock in a budget deficit of more than $200 billion to support the economic recovery, and welcomed the extension of the (albeit reduced) JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes until March.

“The biggest policy mistake to make at the moment would be to withdraw support too early,” Lowe said. “The government can play an important role here by using its balance sheet to smooth things out and reduce the severity of the downturn.”

EXTRA! EXTRA! INSURANCE IN POOR HEALTH

Consumer group Choice have savaged the performance of private health insurers during the pandemic, who saved hundreds of millions of dollars on unused extras policies like physiotherapy and elective surgeries during the lockdown.

Medibank and Bupa, Australia’s two largest funds with more than 7 million members combined, fared the worst in Choice’s report, scoring 1 out of 5. Choice cited the funds’ refusal to roll over unused extras, freeze premiums or offer blanket discounts, and the difficulty of finding their hardship policies.

Meanwhile, former Australian Medical Association secretary-general Bill Coote points out in The Australian that despite these massive savings (he puts the figure at $1 billion), insurers appear to pushing forward with increased premiums from October 1.

Further, he argues that “older people are accessing an increasing range of effective but expensive modern medical interventions. Younger people pay increasing premiums to cross-subsidise older members, creating a vicious cycle as younger people dropout”.

Of course, long time readers of Crikey will already know all this.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[Rupert] Murdoch is a proper danger to liberal democracy, if liberal democracy is your thing.

Hugh Grant

The actor and winsome mid-’90s dreamboat doesn’t hold back in BBC2’s new documentary Rise of The Murdoch Dynasty.

CRIKEY RECAP

Could COVID-19 be the start of a positive revolution in everyday life?

“So much of what was hitherto required now seems absurd and unnecessary. So much was so easily abolished. They could still put it all back in place right now. They are desperate to do so. But that presumes no second wave, no third wave, no rolling series of interruptions. It presumes no COVID-25 in five years. Or COVID-21. Or an entirely different virus borne on a single global system.”


Government moralising delayed help for the economy, but we finally got there

“After an inexplicable wait that has allowed worries about a ‘fiscal cliff’ to undermine business and consumer confidence, the government has belatedly unveiled its plans for JobKeeper and JobSeeker as the Victorian outbreak continues and the employment market struggles to regain even a fraction of the massive losses of March and April.”


A guide to how (and when) the governor-general terminates an Order of Australia honour

“Governor-General David Hurley has wide discretion to terminate an honour without fear of it being challenged in the courts. There’s just one catch: the governor-general would be taking on people with powerful friends in conservative politics.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

WA Health information so insecure it was published for months by teenage ‘script kiddie’

Call out cyber criminals, security panel warns ($)

Vivienne Westwood leads protest supporting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in London

Melbourne council rejects injecting room site

‘Thousands’ of cracks found at Chevron’s $76 billion Gorgon LNG project off the Pilbara coast ($)

Sports rorts: Coalition approved at least six grants without an application form, documents reveal

Fox News faces allegations of sexual harassment, rape

Lloyd Rayney sues forensic investigator for telling seminar he ‘got away with murder’

Today’s coronavirus special: cooked goose seasoned with false hope ($)

British government ‘lacked curiosity’ to see if Russia meddled in Brexit election

Ipswich City Council protecting former councillors ‘to avoid being sued’

WA councils back Premier’s push to wind back interstate FIFO work

THE COMMENTARIAT

Morrison strives to get balance right on recovery, JobKeeper and JobSeeker ($) — Paul Kelly (The Australian): “The ethos is that Australia must learn to live and work with COVID-19 but not abandon hope. Without hope, there is no enduring recovery. The government’s three pivotal assumptions are a steady economic recovery, success in containing virus outbreaks and significant ongoing temporary support for businesses and ­individuals well into 2021 but tapering as recovery develops.”

We’ve got to stop locking up kids as young as 10Rodney Dillon (The Sydney Morning Herald): “One of these seemingly intractable issues we need to reckon with is the over-representation of Indigenous people in Australian jails. It should shock people to know that we lock up kids as young as 10 in prison — though we try to minimise this fact by calling it ‘juvenile detention’. Australia is among a shrinking number of countries in the world that does this.”

Scott Morrison wants people weaned off Covid-19 income support. But this strategy carries risksKatharine Murphy (The Guardian): “The centre-right ‘debt and deficit disaster/budget emergency’ faction within the government and the commentariat will be clutching their pearls once these new Treasury forecasts are produced. So the prime minister and the treasurer were intent on sending a message that income support was on the way out.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Darwin

  • A state funeral will be held in Darwin for former minister John Ah Kit, the Northern Territory’s first Indigenous cabinet member, who died last week aged 69.

Canberra

  • A public hearing of the Road Safety inquiry into measures to reduce road accident rates in Australia.

  • Head of the prime minister’s department Phil Gaetjens tops a list of senior public servants talking to the sports rorts inquiry.

  • Preliminary ABS data for June retail trade.

Melbourne

  • Trial begins between Mick Gatto and the ABC. Gatto has launched defamation proceedings against the public broadcaster.

Brisbane

  • Appeal judgment to be delivered in Brisbane in the matter of James Cook University appealing a $1.2 million finding against it over the dismissal of Peter Ridd in 2018.

  • Case management hearing for Clive Palmer‘s challenge to Western Australia’s constitutional right to keep its borders closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sydney

  • The Federal Court will deliver its judgment on Gomeroi woman Dolly Talbott‘s challenge against the minister for the environment’s decision over Shenhua Watermark open cut coal mine on the Liverpool Plains.

Leeds

  • Trophy presentation to the Leeds United men’s first team, following their victory in the 2019-20 season championship.

Peter Fray

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