RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT
According to the ABC, Premier Dan Andrews has flagged a “traffic light system” for reopening Victoria that, while set to be outlined on Sunday, would see people working from home where possible; physical distancing and “bubbles” in workplaces where not; and an end to carpooling.
As The Conversation reports, Andrews’ announcement — which follows intense criticism over the state’s plan from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg — coincided with two mea culpas from the Palaszczuk and Morrison governments over COVID-19 controversies; respectively, a public health unit to help NSW residents requiring medical treatment in Queensland, and a $563 million package to extend existing aged care support.
PS: As Victorians working from home settle in for the long haul, The Australian ($) reports that Fair Work president Iain Ross has released a draft award flexibility schedule that allows for a compressed working week in which employees work the same hours over fewer days.
AUSTRALIAN JOURNALIST DETAINED IN CHINA
According to the ABC, Australian anchor for China’s state-run English news channel CGTN Cheng Lei has been detained in Beijing.
Reasons for her detention are currently scant as Cheng has not been charged but is being held under what is called “residential surveillance at a designated location”, a form of detention in which investigators can imprison and question a suspect for up to six months while cutting them off from lawyers and the outside world.
PS: In domestic draconian news, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Australian Signals Directorate head Rachel Noble will today deliver a speech acknowledging that the agency has been collecting intelligence on Australians for at least 20 years, ahead of plans to lend its tracking capabilities to the AFP over suspected paedophiles and terrorists.
PHONING IT IN WITH HUMAN RIGHTS
SBS reports that the Morrison government will this week introduce a bill that would empower Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge to prohibit mobile phones, sim cards and other items in detention centres, and empower Border Force officials to conduct warrantless searches.
A modified version of a lapsed 2017 bill, the new legislation has been slammed by human rights organisations and refugee advocates, including former Socceroo Craig Foster, as quashing both a vital lifeline to the outside world and a means of holding detention staff accountable.
Home Affairs has argued that it is not proposing a blanket ban on mobile phones — just seeking the power to do that, which surely we can trust them not to use? — and that Border Force currently lack sufficient powers to search for contraband. The actual police, of course, do.
A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT
The Morrison government is expected to bring on a vote as early as today over their Streamlining Environmental Approvals Bill, a piece of legislation that, in the biggest federal shakeup in over two decades, would devolve federal environmental approval and assessment responsibilities to the states.
After the bill was introduced last week, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Environment Minister Sussan Ley has pledged to include national environmental standards for state departments in a future piece of legislation, which was proposed in an interim report for the ongoing, 10-yearly review into the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
Labor and the Greens have slammed Ley for both rushing the laws through before the final report in October and explicitly rejecting another recommendation for an independent federal regulator — Ley claims her department could create something down the track, despite the review calling for an apolitical body — but, with One Nation on side, the government will only need one other crossbencher to pass the legislation.
PS: Although it’s clearly, technically possible for the Howard-era laws to be watered down further, a 2019 study published by Conservation Science and Practice found that about 8 million hectares of threatened species habitat was cleared between 2000 and 2017, a whopping 93% of which was not assessed under the existing law.
HOTEL QUARANTINE IS AT IT AGAIN
Finally, The Age reports that dozens of requests for emergency accommodation from high-risk Victorians — including some who are homeless and others with complex medical needs — have been rejected from hotel quarantine, despite applicants testing positive to COVID-19 or being deemed a symptomatic close contact.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I don’t think it was a mistake because, again, the court only ruled the warrant invalid.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw
Speaking to the Senate inquiry into press freedom, the cop shrugs off criticisms over an “invalid” raid on journalist Annika Smethurst because officers “were acting in the best interests of protecting and serving the community and there was an offence identified”.
Who in the community was served by the raid over Smethurst’s story — an embarrassing leak of Peter Dutton’s plan to use the ASD to spy on Australians — was weirdly unspecified ($).
“Strange how business calls for “economic reform” are always aimed at everyone else, and never at the worst forms of rorts, incompetence and scandals, which cost millions of Australians billions in lost income.
“Take AMP. It was a corporate hero in the recession of the 1990s, coming to the aid of a near bankrupt Westpac. It helped in the float of the Commonwealth Bank. It owned 10% of Macquarie Bank (now Macquarie Group). It was perhaps the most important investor in the country, the bluest of blue chips, with more than $90 billion in total assets.”
“Both News Corp and the Morrison government have, arm in arm, circled back to where we were in the COVID-19 blame game just four months ago: China. Only now it’s been meshed with all the other priorities of the company and the government: attacking Dan Andrews, undermining universities and aligning with Trump’s rising trade war.”
“The Richmond Apartments — 107 homes built over eight storeys clustered around an atrium and with cascading plants — sits in Bowen Hills, a few kilometres from Brisbane.
“It was developed by the not-for-profit Brisbane Housing Company when many residents would struggle to afford a decent home in the private rental market.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
A law to deprive immigration detainees of their only contact: Australia’s shame before the world — Graham Thom (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The effect this amendment will have on those detained cannot be emphasised enough. The anguish these people endure is huge. Many have been locked up for years and have severe mental health issues as a consequence. The reason is lack of hope that their detention will ever end and they believe they will never be able to reunite with their families. Adding to their trauma is the significant curtailment of all visiting schedules due to COVID-19. The only way to communicate with loved ones and lawyers is through the use of mobile phones.”
Donald Trump breaks through with message on crime ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “Donald Trump has roared back into polling contention after the Republican and Democratic conventions, according to a slew of polls and analytical work in the US. The RealClearPolitics betting odds now have the contest at almost level, whereas 10 days ago they strongly favoured the President’s Democratic challenger, Joe Biden.”
Towards Wakanda – Chadwick Boseman’s passing and the power and limits of Afrofuturism — Clare Corbould (The Conversation): “If you’re not a comics fan, you may have been surprised at the extent of the heartfelt grief expressed following the death of actor Chadwick Boseman. One explanation lies in the extraordinary power of the 2018 movie Black Panther, in which Boseman starred as T’Challa/Black Panther, to address racist stereotypes about Africa and Africans.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Alice Springs, Northern Territory
The family of Kumanjayi Walker — an Indigenous man shot dead by police — will find out whether the officer who shot him will be tried at the Supreme Court.
Human rights advocates will conduct a phone protest over Alan Tudge’s plan to allow the confiscation of detainee’s mobile phones.