covid-19 scott morrison business
(Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS

Scott Morrison has announced a $1500 fortnightly “disaster payment” for workers forced to quarantine in Victoria in a move The Guardian reports has received a qualified welcome from the ACTU’s Sally McManus, who notes the figure still falls short of most full-time salaries.

The de facto paid pandemic leave comes as The Age and the Herald Sun ($) report that new stage four rules for Victoria are set to stand down 250,000 workers — which would bring the total workers either stood down or working from home to roughly 1 million.

As the ABC explains in a summary of yesterday’s many policy announcements, Dan Andrews announced three new categories for Melbourne and select regional businesses:

  • Remain open: This includes supermarkets, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagencies, post offices, bakeries, butcher shops and health businesses; similarly, cafes and restaurants will operate with takeaway/delivery only
  • Reduced output: From midnight Friday, meat and food production, construction, manufacturing and waste collection will have to enact COVIDSafe plans and operate “under significantly different conditions” i.e. two-thirds workforces at warehouses and all state abattoirs
    • Construction will be further split into three categories: large-scale government construction will continue but look to further shed workers; large commercial projects above three storeys will be restricted to 25% of their workforce onsite and; residential construction will only be allowed five workers onsite.
  • Closed for six weeks: Some retail, manufacturing and administration businesses will have to shut for the next six weeks by Thursday, unless they have specific circumstances that mean they need longer to shut down safely. Retail stores will be permitted to operate contactless “click and collect” and delivery services with safety protocols, while hardware stores can remain open onsite for tradespeople only.

The Victorian government will also offer $5000 “Business Support Grants” to regional businesses that have to shut under stage three restrictions and $10,000 for affected Melbourne and Mitchell Shire businesses “in recognition of spending longer under restrictions”.

PS: It’s worth noting that federal payment will only cover citizens and permanent residents, and will for the most part will replace Victoria’s existing scheme, which will continue to operate for excluded residents such as temporary visa holders.

A SOFTER, WEIRDER WORKING WORLD

On top of the business restrictions, Andrews announced that Melbourne workers will receive a “piece of paper” explaining their employment situation for police inquiries; it’s unclear if this will be mandatory, and Andrews noted he will have more to say about this shortly — as will, I’d hazard, groups like the Police Accountability Project.

As Victorians begin to adjust to the new normal, Andrews is set to outline further details today on new penalties, door-knocking, and compliance, particularly for positive cases and close contacts.

Finally, according to the ABC’s latest FAQ, Andrews seems to have walked-back a Sunday announcement over closing all childcare centres — save for vulnerable children and the children of “permitted workers” — following talks with the Morrison government, and will have an update on Friday.

PS: For a solid bookmark of definitive answers on other issues — i.e. escaping violence at home, moving house, bathroom breaks for pets, whether or not there’s a bonk ban etc — check out the Department of Health and Human Services’ FAQs.

PPS: Ahead of a decidedly grim six weeks, Seven reports that the Morrison government has topped up Medicare so that residents in lockdown areas will be offered up to 20 subsidised sessions with a psychologist.

Lifeline: 13 11 14; Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636.

LIBERAL SENATOR SLAMS GOVERNMENT

Finally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Liberal Senator and former minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has slammed the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments for bucking calls to reform Australia’s aged care sector in a 52-page royal commission submission.

Fierravanti-Wells — who worked as Coalition spokeswoman on aged care for four years and developed reforms taken to the 2013 election only to be moved to multicultural affairs by Tony Abbott — specifically calls out Abbott for dumping proposed reforms in favour of a new committee and, along with his “then-powerful chief of staff, Peta Credlin” developing a “revolving door” of ministers. These included Scott Morrison, who Fierravanti-Wells names as one of the relevant social services ministers.

The news come as COVID-19 continues to work its way through Victorian aged care homes and the NSW and Victorian sectors call for further federal funds.

STATE WRAP: NEW SA RESTRICTIONS

  • Following the confirmation of two more cases linked to two Adelaide school clusters, The Advertiser ($) reports that South Australia will cap the number of people allowed at home gatherings to 10 — down from a 50 — and only allow patrons to drink alcohol in licensed premises while seated
  • According to The Guardian, Gladys Berejiklian has again stopped short of calling for masks to be mandatory even after the state recorded 13 new cases yesterday.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

There are some significant animal welfare issues if you were to try to turn that industry off and take those animals out of training — there are some very significant animal welfare challenges there.

Dan Andrews

In a reassuring sign of a sustainable, humane industry, the Victorian premier explains that suspending thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing for six weeks would somehow harm the animals. But gun to our head, we couldn’t say how.

CRIKEY RECAP

Why did James Murdoch quit?

“When a public company director unexpectedly resigns with immediate effect, shareholders deserve an explanation, particularly where there has been boardroom disagreements or a major incident around governance, business decision-making or policy.

“On this score, James Murdoch deserves credit for insisting that News Corp file a copy of his two paragraph resignation letter with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).”


Feds sniff the western winds and back away from Palmer’s WA border case

“The federal government’s sudden reversal of its support for Clive Palmer’s High Court challenge to West Australia’s border closures was ostensibly related to safety fears and the health of the nation. But Scott Morrison’s political health was at risk as well.

“As the angry backlash escaped the borders of WA to the rest of the country, the prime minister belatedly realised that Palmer is almost as toxic as the virus itself.”


Myths, facts and theories around Victoria’s unknown COVID-19 sources

“There are more than 3000 coronavirus cases in Australia still under investigation, with many of Victoria’s cases coming from unknown sources.

“Without knowing the source of the virus, little can be done to halt the source of the cluster. Crikey takes a look at some common myths and theories around where people are picking up COVID-19 infections.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Unisuper dumps coal assets as sector turns its back on fossil fuels

‘Breach of trust’: landmark study delves into sexual misconduct complaints made against Australia’s health professions

Liberal MP’s ‘dangerous’ hydroxychloroquine claim asks if Vic premier should be jailed

Greg Combet calls on Canberra to halt early super access scheme by end of year ($)

Liberal National Party elects Cynthia Hardy as Queensland party’s first female president

End of an empire: Hutt River to rejoin Australia after 50 years

Party-affiliated candidates is embodiment of democracy in action, Premier Peter Gutwein says ($)

July rainfall across Australia dips to 43% below average, BoM reports

Norway bans passengers from large cruise ships, Spain hails COVID app

Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner John Hume, architect of Good Friday Agreement, dies aged 83

Zimbabwe opposition and activists arrested in Government clampdown, say rights groups

US relief bill remains up in the air as negotiations resume

THE COMMENTARIAT

Millions of children may never return to school after lockdownJulia Gillard (The Sydney Morning Herald): “About 1.5 billion young learners — 90% of the world’s schoolchildren — are or have been locked out of school. About 810 million are in low and middle-income countries, where even before COVID-19, there were significant barriers to learning, especially for the poorest and most marginalised children. The pandemic continues to make life difficult in Australia. Millions are experiencing economic hardship due to job losses and business closures.”

Coronavirus: Fallout from this to be felt for years ($) — John Ferguson (The Australian): “A nuclear bomb has been detonated under the Victorian economy and the fallout will be dreadful. Daniel Andrews’ strategy to beat COVID-19 will break the finances and crudely tear the state’s social fabric. It is quite likely the damage to the national economy will outstrip anything that occurred under the Cain-Kirner Labor governments in the early 1990s, and for that Scott Morrison must privately be filthy.”

Australia won’t recover unless Victoria does too. The federal government must step upBrendan Coates and Matthew Cowgill (The Conversation): “The federal government should reconsider its plans to begin winding back JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments after September. JobKeeper is set to fall from A$1,500 to A$1,200 for full-time workers, and to A$750 for part-timers. And JobSeeker falls from $1,215 to $815 a fortnight. These income-support programs were absolutely necessary in March when stage three restrictions were imposed. They are even more necessary now…”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Labor Deputy Leader and Shadow Minister for Defence Richard Marles will present “Why the Coalition’s ongoing mishandling of the future submarine program should be of concern to every Australian” at the National Press Club.

Sydney

  • RBA will meet to discuss the official cash rate.

Adelaide

  • South Australia’s Remuneration Tribunal is due to consider MPs’ allowances following the resignation of three ministers. The state’s COVID-19 transition committee is also due to meet.

Australia

  • Crikey reporters Amber Schultz and Kishor Napier-Raman will be in conversation with Gillian Triggs, Assistant High Commissioner for Protection at UNHCR, tonight at 6pm AEST. This event is for our Inside Access members — you can upgrade here or become an Inside Access member here.

  • Paul Keating will speak in the next Industry Super Australia webinar with ISA Chair Greg Combet and former ABC radio host Jon Faine.

Peter Fray

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