Anatomy of a non-event One faintly off-putting side story in the ongoing crisis in Victoria has been the sight of journalists falling over one another to be the first to release their leaked daily number of new infections. This same impulse reached a bizarre and hilarious peak yesterday, with the brief saga of the quitting chief health officer.

It all started at 4.01pm, when people started tweeting that Sky’s Kieran Gilbert had reported Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton had stood down. Cue a flurry of journos trying to get their own tweet out on the matter:

Some, though, waited for confirmation, which promptly came: Sutton wasn’t quitting.

The whole neck jarring episode lasted 15 whole minutes. But because the wretched content beast is never sated, Seven and Nine were able to spin an item out of the denial.

For his own part, Sutton had a bit of fun with his reputation as the current affairs crumpet of choice for a disturbing chunk of Victoria, just responding to one tweet: the one observing that the only other news that could have upset so many middle aged women would be the break up of Nickelback:

Youth group Is the government quietly reinstating a national peak body for youth? The youth advocacy support grant — being offered through the Health Department — “aims to provide support to youth peak bodies with an advocacy role for youth to improve engagement with government and coordination of government programs targeting young people from 15-24 years of age”.

Crikey has long cataloged the multi-front war on the young in this country, a matter not helped by the defunding of national peak body the Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) under the Abbott government. So it says something that this modest grant ($1 million), which essentially replicates the work AYAC did, is being offered with so little fanfare.

Can’t see the Forrest This morning brought the announcement that mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest would be presenting the 2020 Boyer lecture.

In an admirable commitment to giving a platform to voices who normally would never get to influence the national conversation, the ABC tell us that Forrest will use the speech to “call on ethical entrepreneurs to help ‘reboot Australia'”.

Speaking of ethics, we’re hoping Twiggy can clear something up for us: We asked him four days ago how he reconciles making a fortune in his deals with China with the horrifying human rights abuses against the Uygher minority — particularly given his admirable commitment to human rights elsewhere.

Back in July last year, he told The Australian Financial Review he wasn’t in possession of enough facts to make a judgement. His people told us he’s currently too busy to do any interviews, so we’re left wondering: has he found time in the last year to ask a few difficult questions?

Ich bin kein Berliner Yet more misinformation from the COVID-19 conspiracy theorists. In the last few days, an image purporting to be of a staggering number of Berliners opposing masks (usually accompanied by “why don’t we do this in Australia?”) was spread around Facebook and Twitter.

But, of course, it wasn’t. For one thing, this picture clearly contains a lot more than the (already worrying) 20,000 people who turned up to the actual protest. And second, as the AAP fact check unit points out — this isn’t even a picture of Berlin. As it turns out, this was taken in Zurich in August last year, during the street parade techno festival.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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