covid-19 vaccine clinical trial
(Image: AAP/David Mariuz)

A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK?

The Morrison government has signed an agreement with British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical AstraZeneca to produce a COVID-19 vaccine developed at Oxford University, if trials prove successful.

As The New Daily reports, Scott Morrison has pledged to make a successful version of the drug free for all Australians, but warned that there is no guarantee it or any other vaccines will be successful, and that the government is looking to make agreements with other global candidates.

The news comes as trials continue for 30 major vaccine candidates, including, as the ABC reported last week, six candidates in larger phase three trials. Russia has also begun manufacturing their candidate, a drug the government alleges, but has yet to demonstrate, has passed phase one and two trials.

PS: As The Conversation explains, the news also follows media hype over yet another potential COVID-19 treatment — this time head lice drug ivermectindespite the fact it has not passed any clinical trials.

HOTEL QUARANTINE STUFF-UPS APPARENTLY CONTAGIOUS

According to the ABC NSW health authorities are investigating how a security guard became infected while working at the Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay, after genome sequencing traced their infection to a quarantined overseas traveller.

There is no indication of any breaches, but NSW are still investigating how the guard became infected; they worked August 3, 4, 7 and 8, developed symptoms on August 11, and were diagnosed on August 15, while the traveller was swabbed on August 2 and received their positive result on August 4.

In an industrial lesson Australia apparently failed to learn from Melbourne’s outbreak, the guard also worked at Sydney Market Flemington while they were infectious; as The Guardian notes, the news has also prompted calls from infection prevention experts to replace guards with nurses.

Elsewhere, WA Police have charged two women after they flew into Perth on Monday night without a permit and then allegedly escaped hotel quarantine to attend a party.

PS: On the more draconian end of the spectrum, the Herald Sun reports that Ombudsman Deborah Glass has received more than 150 complaints from residents in the locked-down North Melbourne housing tower.

WHO NEEDS MONEY ANYWAY

As The New Daily reports, Department of Social Services officials have told a Senate inquiry that aged pensioners will not see payment boost come September, with the next possible chance for an indexation bump not due until March.

The pension’s link to the consumer price index means that, as economist Stephen Koukoulas notes, indexing in September would actually mean a lower rate.

At the same hearing, Minister for Social Services Anne Ruston again declined to confirm whether JobSeeker payments will return to the below-poverty rate of $40 a day by the end of 2020.

PS: According to the Australian Unemployed Workers’ Union, there are about 106,000 jobs advertised on Seek and roughly 1,621,500 Australian jobseekers. But who knows, maybe a little starvation really is what’s needed to beat those odds?

BOTTLED UP TENSIONS

Finally, the ABC reports that China has launched an anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine exports, an escalation of trade tensions that follows sanctions on beef and barley throughout the year.

While Trade Minister Simon Birmingham labelled the development “very disappointing and perplexing,” and noted that wine is not sold at below-market prices or subsidised to China, it hasn’t exactly come out of nowhere; Australia has, as Crikey noted back in May, launched nearly 170 similar investigations against Chinese importers since 2012.

PS: In a rare internal rebuke against the Chinese government, The Guardian reports that a former professor at the country’s elite Central Party School, Cai Xia, has accused Xi Jinping of “killing a country” and claimed many others want to leave the ruling party.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, travelling in a vehicle to exercise is not permitted. Examples of exceptions to this rule apply if it is not reasonably practicable to exercise without driving somewhere, such as mobility.

We understand that some people are unhappy with this restriction.

Victoria Police

In a very reasonable, very clear announcement, police are ensuring that Melburnians are either exercising within their 5km zones, or driving to shop and work, just not driving to exercise. Unless mobility is an issue.

CRIKEY RECAP

Humiliating backdown over media bill a lesson in fickle government

“Bad examples of government pop up routinely. Policy failures, for decades, have reached across energy and the aged care sector, reconciliation and health. The census didn’t work, The COVID app doesn’t, and NAPLAN never will.

“But Queensland’s Palaszczuk government — in announcing, boasting about and then withdrawing a bill targeting the media — has gifted the nation a lesson in fickle government. Reforms that were vital one day were in the bin the next.”


When it comes to the world of lobbying, words matter

“When is lobbying not lobbying? According to the government, it’s when someone is giving ‘strategic advice’.

“Saber Astronautics, an Australian space company, has been awarded $7 million worth of government grants to help develop Australia’s space capabilities. It also happens to receive strategic advice from former defence minister Christopher Pyne and has been a client of his lobbyist firm, GC Advisory, since 2018.”


The great cybersecurity fraud: government won’t comply with its own rules

“While the Morrison government harangues us about cybersecurity and uses it to offer more power and money to spy agencies to ‘protect’ us, it’s the biggest cyber-hypocrite of all. The great majority of government departments don’t comply with the most basic cybersecurity standards the government itself established years ago.

“In 2013, the government mandated that all agencies had to be compliant with the ‘top four’ mitigation strategies of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) by July 2014.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Supercluster confirmed as genetic fingerprint links two outbreaks 34km apart

Newspoll: Federal Labor stuck in a hole in mining states ($)

Investment in wind, solar and storage falls off cliff as grid and policy woes kick in

Threat of more mass fish-kills across Murray-Darling Basin

COVID-19 symptoms are most likely to appear in a specific order, research finds

Google urges YouTubers around the world to swamp Australian regulator with complaints

Electric vehicle policy attracts ‘dirty vehicles’ to Australia: report

Victoria’s coronavirus crisis traced back to seven travellers, as ADF official says hotel quarantine help was offered

What we learnt: Bullbars and JobKeeper prop up ARB’s payout ($)

Gunfire heard at Mali army base, warnings of possible mutiny

Israeli planes bomb Gaza for seventh straight night

THE COMMENTARIAT

Aboriginal flag’s absence from AFL’s Indigenous Round highlights ongoing issuesTony Armstrong (ABC): “Strange as it may seem, the AFL will not be displaying the Aboriginal flag on its grounds during its Indigenous Round this weekend. As an Aboriginal man, that stings. The flag means so much to me. It should be celebrated. It’s a copyright dispute. A company not owned by Indigenous Australians, WAM Clothing, has exclusive rights to use the flag on clothing.”

Australia-UK trade: The path’s easier with old mates ($) — James Patterson (The Australian): “The COVID-19 pandemic has fanned the flames of geopolitical tensions and highlighted the important distinction between trading partners and long-term friends and allies. Australia should trade with everyone, but to safeguard our freedom and prosperity we must strengthen our economic relationships with countries that share our values.”

Vaccine injury compensation is the moral thing to doNicholas Wood and Julie Leask (The Sydney Morning Herald): “With Australia’s hopes for a return to a normal life dependent upon wide take-up of a COVID-19 vaccine if and when it becomes available, it is no surprise that an argument for mandatory vaccination has been put forward. Philosopher Tim Smartt from the University of Notre Dame cites our acceptance of restrictions on our personal liberty, such as forced restrictions on our movement and quarantine, as a potential green light for governments to consider such a policy.”

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The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Our Watch chair Natasha Stott Despoja will present “Australia’s ongoing national emergency – violence against women. How we can eliminate it, through COVID and beyond” at the National Press Club.

Darwin

  • NT News/Sky News will host a leaders debate ahead of Saturday’s election with Chief Minister Michael Gunner, CLP leader Lia Finocchiaro and Territory Alliance’s Terry Mills.

Hobart

  • Greens leader Cassy O’Connor will speak on a petition of almost 12,000 signatures supporting a voluntary assisted dying bill to soon be debated in parliament.