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(Image: Unsplash/Marcelo Leal)

SPECIAL ATTENTION

Victoria’s aged care crisis has led to a wave of support, the Herald Sun ($) reports, with a specialist medical team alongside nurses from Victorian, NSW and South Australian hospitals being deployed to help “try to stem the deadly spread of COVID-19 in more than 80 aged-care homes”.

The crisis, as news.com.au notes, has also led to a relatively rare fracturing of mid-pandemic relations between the federal and state governments, with Premier Dan Andrews and Health Minister Greg Hunt — both of whom, it should be noted, have become visibly distressed amidst the ongoing tragedy — trading barbs over privatised facilities.

Significantly, Andrews noted that while the 769 cases have been identified across more than 80 aged care homes, just five cases were from state-owned facilities, a contrast federal Labor MP — and former nurse and ACTU president — Ged Kearney has linked to the historic lack of federal regulation of staffing levels and ratios.

On the federal side of things, Scott Morrison was reportedly frustrated with Andrews waiting until yesterday to suspend elective surgery at hospitals in order to redeploy nurses.

PS: According to The Age, the Australian Medical Association is calling for all homes to undergo urgent risk assessments, amidst claims from a senior AMA official the organisation has made repeated requests since late June for assessments to be included in the state government’s Coronavirus Plan for the Victorian Aged Care Sector.

PPS: The Australian ($) reports that just one in five aged care workers had completed the federal government’s personal protection training module by June 4, the eve of Victoria’s spike.

ARRESTS AT SYDNEY’S BLM PROTEST

According to NITV, NSW Police yesterday arrested six Black Lives Matter protesters in Sydney, including Indigenous activist Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts and event coordinator Paddy Gibson who both received $1000 fines.

While organisers reportedly both observed 1.5 metre social distancing requirements and complied with move-on orders, police easily outnumbered protesters and arrested Gibson before the protest event began.

As The Guardian reports, the family of David Dungay Jr then delivered a nearly 100,000-strong petition to NSW parliament calling for the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions and SafeWork NSW to investigate criminal charges, for the guards involved in his death to be stood down, and the complete implementation of all 339 recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

PS: Footage released by Nine reporter Andrew Rickert yesterday appears to show dozens of anti-CCP protesters — apparently from the “New Federal State of China”, a separatist group backed by Steve Bannon — marching outside Sydney’s Chinese consulate. Protesters also appeared masked and social distanced, but no arrests or fines have been reported.

POURING GAS ON THE FIRE?

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the final report of the National COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission (NCCC) manufacturing taskforce recommends “cutting red and green tape” for the gas industry, creating tax incentives for the construction of gas infrastructure, and letting pipeline owners charge higher prices.

That a body dominated by gas interests would push gas as a recovery option should surprise exactly no one, especially after their draft proposal for a west-east gas pipeline leaked shortly after the NCCC formed in May.

PS: In related news, The Age reports that Melbourne’s lord mayor Sally Capp has come under fire from her deputy Arron Wood for creating an unofficial “captains of industry” recovery group that includes family member of two financial donors to her previous town hall campaign.

BANNED IF YOU DO, BANNED IF YOU DON’T

Finally, because COVID-19’s capacity to exacerbate political hypocrisies is officially beyond parody, separate laws in Hong Kong now both ban the wearing and not wearing of masks.

STATE VIRUS WATCH: NSW’S EXTENDED WARNINGS

  • As the ABC reports, the NSW government has extended its Potts Point coronavirus alert following the discovery of a case link between restaurants Thai Rock and Apollo, and the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia has also been closed for cleaning as the two new cases reportedly also visited there
  • The Victorian government has announced a $150 million From Homelessness to a Home package designed to both:
    • Extend COVID-19 crisis accommodation for 2000 rough sleepers currently supported in hotels and motels until April, and then
    • Help transition people into long-term housing with 1100 guaranteed leases for private rental properties, tailored assistance to new tenants — i.e. mental health, drug and alcohol and family violence support services — and additional funding through the Private Rental Assistance Program and metropolitan and regional homelessness agencies.
  • From today, South Australians will be banned from returning home from Victoria, and the government will tighten exemptions for essential workers
  • Although no official bans have yet been implemented, ongoing reports of community transmission in Sydney prompted Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to warn Queenslanders against travelling to NSW.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

There will be people in green T-shirts attending Labor Party branch members, preaching their gospel to all those prepared to listen. Those green T-shirts of course represent the colour of choice of one of our main political opponents, the Australian Greens.

It’s the wrong image for the party and it’s the wrong way to approach policy development by running around the branches … infiltrating the branches I might say. In fact I suspect some of these people have probably infiltrated the party.

Joel Fitzgibbon

The Labor frontbencher and co-founder of the parliamentary Friends of Coal Exports with Coalition MP Craig Kelly explains why a Labor Environment Action Network event undermines the party’s identity.

CRIKEY RECAP

Aged care clusters are a national shame years in the making

“It’s an awful death too many Australians are facing: losing the battle to breathe against a relentless disease, alone but for medical staff, prevented from seeing and touching family and friends, unable to say farewell.

“That’s been the fate of 71 people so far in aged care facilities, and likely many more before the Victorian outbreak is finally suppressed. It’s a number that represents over 40% of Australia’s COVID-19 death toll.”


Conflict of Interest: Morrison’s COVID Commission just got a whole lot more secretive

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s powerful COVID-19 commission, tasked with charting a way out of the coronavirus economic crisis, has been granted a new mandate that will see much of its work remain a secret.

“In changes announced yesterday, the prime minister said the commission, dominated by company directors, would now work ‘within government’ as an advisory board to cabinet, meaning much of its advice would fall under cabinet confidentiality rules.”


Tips and Murmurs: Albo-nomics … Palmer on the border … Foster the people

“Ready, aim, shoot yourself in the foot Crikey has been pointing out, for a while, the hypocrisy of coverage of the Coalition’s (eminently affordable and entirely necessary) COVID-19 spending spree as compared to the vitriol and bluster that greeted Labor’s equally important response to the global financial crisis.

“But it turns out, we shouldn’t have bothered, because according to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese a focus on debt and deficit is an entirely correct and sane way to assess government response to a financial and public health crisis the likes of which we haven’t seen in a century.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

China suspends Hong Kong extradition treaties with Australia, UK, Canada

School shelves plan to reopen amid mix-up over contact tracing

Small business ombudsman calls for new and simpler award for employee pay and conditions

Attorney-General Christian Porter launches stinging attack on Westpac chairman John McFarlane ($)

Australian government has no modelling on effect of university fee hikes, official reveals

Victoria mourns job losses, prolonged recession ($)

Dust-up looms as NSW Nationals seek to cut environmental oversight

Senior Queensland police promotions may be invalid after flawed appointment process, review finds

Payments to members of expert panel tasked with reviewing push for Teddy Sheean to be awarded a Victoria Cross revealed ($)

NSW to cut land tax for 20 years in ambitious build-to-rent scheme

Two years of sexual assault complaints up in the air after WA Police email bungle

Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman nominated for Emmy Awards as Netflix dominates

THE COMMENTARIAT

Justice for Tane ChatfieldNat Cromb (IndigenousX): “Leaving aside the hypocrisy of the power brokers to advocate for a return to work, school, sport, shopping and church — the media is directing the vitriol of the masses at the Black Lives Matter protest. They pay lip service to the purpose of the protest with words to the effect of ‘I sympathise, but now is not the time.’ They’re right, now is not the time — the time has been and gone and yet the community is still calling for justice. To call for justice in the midst of a pandemic demonstrates how essential to our survival justice is — the institutions responsible must be held to account in addition to the individual perpetrators.”

Aged care crisis reflects poor preparation and a broken systemMichelle Grattan (The Conversation):Scott Morrison wasn’t going to be caught out twice. In Hawaii during the bushfires, the prime minister had hesitated before returning (slightly) early. On Tuesday he wasn’t on holiday but starting a tour of several days in Queensland, where there’s a state election in a few months.”

Pax Americana is still our best hope to deal with China ($) — Jennifer Oriel (The Australian): “Escalating hostilities between China and the US are reaching a point of no return. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has delivered his most damning indictment of the Chinese Communist Party to date. Rumination about war developing between the two nations has been superseded by concern over whether the US is prepared to defend itself as well as allied states should relations deteriorate.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell and COSBOA CEO Peter Strong will discuss small business recovery at the National Press Club.

  • Public hearings will be held for parliamentary inquiries into the Greens’ Packaging and Plastics Bill 2019, homelessness in Australia, the 2019-20 bushfire season, and the class action industry.

Sydney

  • The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre and youth mental health service, Orygen, will host a panel event with four young people discussing their lived experience of the mental health care system.

Perth

  • Julia Gillard will speak at a Business News lunch event on her co-written book Women and Leadership.

Peter Fray

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