jacinda ardern
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

AUCKLAND RETURNS TO STAGE THREE

New Zealand has ended its 102 day COVID-19-free streak. The ABC reports that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern confirmed that four members of a south Auckland family have tested positive, none of whom had recently travelled internationally or otherwise been in contact with a known transmission source.

Ardern has subsequently put Auckland back into stage three restrictions for three days from today — meaning travelling into the city is prohibited for non-residents, people will be asked to stay home from work and school, bars and many businesses will be closed, and gatherings of more than 10 people are again restricted — while the rest of the country re-enters stage two social distancing restrictions.

PS: While Ardern again called on residents not to panic buy, Stuff reports that supermarkets had become packed even before she had finished the lockdown announcement.

GETTING DEFENCE-IVE.

As The Age reports, Federal Defence Minister Linda Reynolds has rejected Dan Andrews’ suggestion that Australian Defence Force personnel were not offered during the rapid-fire March 27-28 hotel quarantine announcement and rollout.

In one of the first public federal-state disputes since the pandemic began, Reynolds has argued that Scott Morrison made an offer to all states on March 27 and that Victorian authorities responded a day later advising the state was not seeking ADF assistance with quarantine arrangements.

PS: As the Victorian government continues to face a grilling from the state opposition over the hotel quarantine outbreak and prepares for the independent inquiry, the Herald Sun ($) reports that legal firm Phi Finney and McDonald has fielded inquiries by companies suffering under stage four lockdown over a potential class action lawsuit into the program.

LOCKDOWN ROUNDUP

Victoria has recorded its second consecutive day of 19 new deaths, and, while daily cases fell to 331, the ABC flags that healthcare workers now make up more than 15% of new cases.

Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services has refused to hospitalise infected aged care residents who have the additional risk of “wandering”, instead opting to sedate these residents with medications including morphine, midazolam or the anti-psychotic risperidone.

Finally, on the enforcement end of stage four, news.com.au reports that a Victoria Police officer has been filmed grabbing a woman without a mask — which she had an exemption for — by the throat, who subsequently kicked at officers and has been charged with “resisting police and assaulting police”.

The arrest has also been referred for an internal review by Victoria Police, which, if it’s anything like SA Police’s investigation into that officer filmed punching an Indigenous man in June, is sure to be damning.

WE’VE GOT A CLIVE ONE

As WAToday reports, the West Australian government has introduced emergency legislation governing Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy iron ore operations in order to thwart a damages claim it says could top $30 billion.

The Queensland billionaire — who is engaged in a separate border war with the WA government — is seeking compensation following former premier Colin Barnett’s 2012 refusal to formally assess a proposed Balmoral South iron ore mine, 80km south west of Karratha in WA’s Pilbara region, which Palmer claims breached a state agreement inked in 2002.

RUSSIA VACCINE: GOING TOO FAST?

Finally, the ABC reports that Russia has become the first country in the world to grant regulatory approval to a COVID-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, with President Vladimir Putin revealed that the vaccine — which is still undergoing clinical trials to test safety and efficacy — had already been administered to one of his daughters.

While Putin hopes Russia will soon start mass producing the drug, which was developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Institute, the World Health Organization has urged caution and an understanding of the difference between “finding or having a clue of maybe having a vaccine that works, and having gone through all the stages”.

Nonetheless, President of the Philippines — and alleged instigator of extrajudicial violence as part of a war on drugsRodrigo Duterte has offered to take Russia’s drug.

STATE WRAP: BEWARE STUDY AND PRAYER, SYDNEY

  • The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a growing cluster linked to Tangara School for Girls may have been sparked by a study and prayer retreat, while Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned against camps and excursions
  • According to The New Daily, the Northern Territory government intends to keep its border closed for at least another 18 months, with the closure remaining indefinite for Victoria
  • Finally, the AFR ($) notes that federal politicians have been allowed to cross the NSW-Victoria border on their way to the ACT, while at least 100 Canberrans remain stranded following Berejiklian’s decision last week to reinstate the ACT-NSW border.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

There has been a lot of conceptual discussion around renewables and their role in the recovery, but there has been a lot less specific projects put forward.

There were a number of other areas that were looked at, around the advantages of using gas as a firming fuel to assist the introduction of renewables. Australia has a very large pipeline for investment in renewables, but a very small pipeline for investment in shortage and firming, because those technologies are not as well advanced.

Nev Power

The former Fortescue Metal boss, ongoing board member of Strike Energy, and head of the gas-stacked National COVID-19 Commission argues that renewables are both too vague and too popular to examine as part of Australia’s economic recovery.

The obvious solution? The green energy Million Jobs Planmore taxpayer money for gas!

CRIKEY RECAP

Overwhelmed disability watchdog routinely dismisses abuse and neglect

“The National Disability Insurance Scheme’s (NDIS) regulatory body, the Quality and Safeguards Commission — often, the last line of defence for people with disabilities — is so overburdened with complaints and reports, that allegations of abuse, neglect, sexual assault and rape go un-investigated.

“The commission is overwhelmed. More than 10,000 cases are submitted every month on average and staff are walking off the job in tears.”


Andrews fronts inquiry, ducks on quarantine, says lockdown is working

“For weeks, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews has promised to be held accountable for errors in hotel quarantine that led to Melbourne’s devastating second wave.

“Today, we got some of that, as he copped a lengthy grilling from state MPs at the public accounts estimates committee, interrupted briefly, of course, by microphone troubles.”


Melbourne’s closure brings the people together despite political inaction

“With the stage four lockdown of Melbourne grinding on amid the grey skies of winter, the city’s glum acceptance of a new ‘normal’, and no sign yet that other states will succumb to the same predicament, the ideological right is getting frisky once again. The Australian is foaming at whichever part of it is the mouth, raring to take a bite out of the much beleaguered Andrews government.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Developer lobbied Frydenberg to de-list area of wetland for Queensland’s Toondah Harbour complex

Network Ten axes high-profile presenters in sweeping job cuts

NSW makes pitch for hydrogen leadership

‘Hack back’ powers to repel cyber attack under proposed national security laws ($)

Facebook and other tech giants ‘too big to fail’

Coalition woos Rebekha Sharkie and Stirling Griff ($)

Nationals revolt over the government’s proposed university fee changes

Australia’s defence industry needs to triple output to keep up with arms race

Indigenous architects, artists to lead redevelopment of Cook’s landing place

Papua New Guinea is walking a tightrope on coronavirus so it’s abandoned lockdowns

Belarus president cuts off internet amid widespread protests

THE COMMENTARIAT

Australian primary private schools should be fully funded by governments — but banned from charging fees — Rachel Wilson and Paul Kidson (The Conversation): “Fully funding primary schools would enable parents to access neighbourhood non-government schools at no cost. It would provide welcome relief for parents who now send their children to non-government primary schools, but who are facing difficulties paying fees due to the COVID-19 recession.”

Beirut explosion: Iran-aligned Hezbollah is destroying my old home ($) — Jamal Rifi (The Australian): “Lebanon’s descent into madness was almost complete before massive explosions at the Port of Beirut ripped the heart out of the country. The country of my birth. For many Lebanese, it was the last straw. In October last year, mass protests swept across Lebanon. Tens of thousands of peaceful protesters from across the religious and class divide took to the streets, accusing the political elite of corruption and calling for social and economic reforms.”

The art of class warLech Blaine (The Monthly):Peter V’landys is a man with a plan to make Australia sane again. His straightforward vaccine for the financial stress and social isolation of COVID-19? The Greatest Game of All: rugby league, which, with his unapologetically bogan persona, he pronounces rugba league, a sure-fire source of amusement for smug southerners.”

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Canberra

  • Chief Executive of the CSIRO Dr Larry Marshall will present ”Mission possible — A vision for Australia’s recovery and future resilience” at the National Press Club.

Peter Fray

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