MELBOURNE’S AGED CARE COVID CRISES
As Melbourne reels from Australia’s most deadly day of the pandemic — 10 deaths, including seven people linked to aged care clusters and one man in his 40s — the city is battling a number of crises across nursing homes, including:
- Mounting miscommunications at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged, where The Age reports Nicholas Barboussas was told his father — 79-year-old Paul Barboussas — was isolated and safe on Saturday despite having been moved to Northern Hospital with the disease, where his family reports he died yesterday afternoon
- An apparent lack of personal protective equipment, with The Herald Sun ($) reporting that more than 1300 providers had asked for access to federal PPE stocks by May, and
- Serious delays — and outright refusals — over requests to transfer sick residents to hospitals (The Saturday Paper $).
Melbourne’s spike of 459 new cases yesterday also makes it unlikely the city will escape lockdown within the current six week timeframe.
GLOBAL WRAP: According to the ABC’s daily updates, global cases have exceeded 16 million, with the US leading the count (4.1 million) followed by Brazil (2.3 million) and India (1.3 million). In one of the more horrific developments, The Guardian reports that a surge in rural Texas has forced Starr County Memorial Hospital to set up a “death panel” to ration capacity.
SMALL SILVER LININGS
In relatively positive state news, the ABC reports that NSW recorded just 14 cases yesterday, although, in Sydney’s latest update, a Thai restaurant in Potts Point has been closed for cleaning after a staff member tested positive.
On the other side of the country, the broadcaster also reports that the WA government has effectively doubled their economic response with a $2.7 billion stimulus package, this time focused on renewable energy, building maintenance, health, tourism and more.
WILL SYDNEY’S BLM PROTEST GO AHEAD?
Sydney’s Black Lives Matter protest could still go ahead tomorrow despite NSW Police securing another supreme court win, with news.com.au reporting that Paul Silva — whose uncle David Dungay Jr’s 2015 death in custody has drawn immediate comparisons with George Floyd’s — intends to appeal their revoked authorised assembly status and, failing that, march in groups of 20 with COVID-19 safety protocols including masks, hand sanitiser, collected contact details, etc.
Since then, The Guardian reports that Silva announced the family will consider cancelling the protest if Premier Gladys Berejiklian commits to asking SafeWork NSW and the director of public prosecutions to investigate whether charges should be laid against the guards involved Dungay Jr’s death.
HOW BAD COULD IT GET? In news that makes those videos of NSW police macing and herding (perfectly legal) protesters in June look like Brooklyn Nine-Nine, CNN explains how heavily armed, unidentifiable border agents are rounding up BLM activists in Portland under a scheme Donald Trump plans to expand into other Democrat-controlled cities.
Get Crikey FREE to your inbox every weekday morning with the Crikey Worm.
ALL ABOVE BOARD
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Energy Minister Angus Taylor has replaced the chair of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency with close friend and energy investor Justin Punch, and appointed former political adviser John Hirjee for a two-year board stint.
The body, which has funnelled roughly $2.5 billion into solar, wind and other clean energy tech since 2012, is currently sitting on less than $70 million. Will Angus succeed where Tony Abbott failed, not by gutting the clean energy accelerator but starving it?
In other very above-board energy news, The Guardian reports that Labor’s climate spokesman Mark Butler has requested an auditor-general investigation into how Shine Energy secured $4m for a feasibility study into the Collinsville, north Queensland coal-fired power station. This comes after the publication revealed the grant was announced two days before Shine even made an application, under, coincidentally, specific “grant guidelines for Shine Energy”.
RESHUFFLE CORNER: The Advocate ($) reports that South Australian Premier Steven Marshall will announce a new cabinet either today or tomorrow, after three state ministers and the Legislative Council president resigned from the front-bench over the state governement expenses scandal.
RAISE THE AGE ALREADY
According to The Age, federal, state and territory attorneys-general will meet today to consider the result of a two-year review into raising Australia’s age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 14 — a reform that, going off 2018-19 figures, could act as a lifeline to almost 600 kids, more than 60% of whom are Indigenous.
NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman is yet to declare a stance on the issue, even with Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy slamming that overrepresentation of Indigenous children and committing to the results of the review. The Conversation also cites support from Indigenous communities, legal and human rights bodies, and child development experts; today’s Age editorial even lays out a strong economic case for not jailing 10-year-olds.
PS: The Council of Attorneys-General will also consider creating a new public interest defence within Australia’s notoriously repressive defamation laws, although The Australian ($) reports that the reform would rely on judges determining reasonableness in a system akin to an existing (and entirely toothless) qualified privilege defence.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Thatcher and Reagan are figures of hate for the left because they were so successful. One got two terms, which was the maximum that you can get in the United States. Margaret Thatcher got 11 and a half years.
Facing both a global recession and pandemic exacerbated by insecure working conditions, the treasurer finds inspiration in the (electoral) success of Ronald ‘Trickle Down’ Reagan and Margaret ‘No Such Thing As Society’ Thatcher.
“When we talk about the second wave, we need to change our conversation. We need to abandon the scolding and the rush to point fingers. Rather than ask why so many Victorians ignored the tickle in their throats and went to work, we need to take a long look at how we’ve built a society where so many people had no other choice.”
“Someday I will tell you about my past involvements in both sides, Sir John Kerr writes of left and right politics in one of his absurd, toe-curling letters to a Buckingham Palace private secretary who could not care less.”
“It’s the type of media coverage most would-be mayors could only dream of: a story on the front page of the city’s best-read newspaper full of glowing praise for your love of the city.
“Lucky for Basil Zempilas he doesn’t have to dream. This is the reality for the sports presenter and TV personality, whose long affiliation with WA’s powerful Seven West Media, run by billionaire Kerry Stokes, has made broadcasting his ambition to be the mayor of Perth easy.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Daniel Andrews’ hardest day, until the next ($) — John Ferguson (The Australian): “Daniel Andrews looks drained and in genuine emotional pain. Each day, in a small theatre at the back of his office block in Melbourne’s Treasury Place, the Victorian Premier goes through the lengthy but necessary details of how the pandemic is unfolding. With staff and media distanced five or six seats apart in the blackened room, he and others talk for the best part of an hour about the hits and misses of the campaign to turn around the infection rates.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s masterclass speech busted a myth we should all reject — Kirstin Ferguson (The Sydney Morning Herald): “That a man is a father or husband is not a prophylactic against them being an abuser of women. It doesn’t even guarantee they will respect women. Ocasio-Cortez’s speech was a masterclass in why we should reject this myth. It would make life a lot easier for women if it were.”
Offer of weak, voluntary CO2 standards means Australia will remain dumping ground for dirty cars — Giles Parkinson (RenewEconomy): “The Australian car industry has finally admitted that it needs to clean up its act – but the voluntary scheme it outlined on Friday is so weak that it will barely cause a change from business as usual. And business as usual in Australia, unfortunately, means it is a dumping ground for dirty engines that car manufacturers can not sell in other markets.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Hearings will be held for parliamentary inquiries into the class action industry, farm runoff along the Great Barrier Reef, and proposed amendments to empower law enforcement and security agencies to request/compel assistance from telecommunications providers.
2020-21 Children’s Laureate Ursula Dubosarsky will present Do Teens Still Need Books? at a Wheeler Centre event for secondary teachers and librarians.