FREE PRESS? FLEE, PRESS.
According to the ABC, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has accused detained Australian journalist Cheng Lei of “endangering China’s national security”, a serious but nebulous allegation over an apparent investigation of Cheng’s that, according to University of Technology Sydney associate professor and former detainee Feng Chongyi, essentially “means they haven’t decided which direction they want to go and what kind of accusation or charge they want to lay later.”
The allegations were announced on the same day Australian correspondents Bill Birtles and Mike Smith were pulled out of China, after a five-day diplomatic standoff in which Birtles reports being primarily questioned over Cheng’s national security investigation.
PS: Both Birtles and Smith have since published recollections at the ABC and AFR ($) respectively from their experience being woken up after midnight by China’s intelligence, security and secret police agencies.
New analysis of the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s accreditation process shows the federal regulator passed several Victorian homes just months before they experienced a wave of COVID-19 cases and deaths. The report from The Age also includes a full list of deaths and overall cases in the state’s aged care homes.
The news comes amidst the ongoing inquiry into the hotel quarantine program, where Nine reports photos were revealed of overseas travellers appearing to breach quarantine about three weeks after the program began.
Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that, as Victoria upgrades contact tracing with a new digital system, Dan Andrews will embed five new public health and contact tracing teams in suburban Melbourne and send health officials to Sydney to “double and triple check” whether further changes can be adopted from NSW.
Finally, amidst debate over the state’s lockdown plan, researchers who worked on the modelling confirmed to The Age that they were not asked to consider those contact tracing upgrades nor the inevitable improvement in tracing as overall case numbers fall.
PS: As the aged care sector gears up for a lobby campaign led by John Howard’s former media adviser, note that, according to The Age, a study by international consulting firm BDO submitted to the royal commission shows income has risen faster in for-profit companies than its expenses over the past 10 years, but there is a weak relationship between the level of revenue and quality of care.
ASSANGE WARNED AFTER BEING HEARD AT HIS HEARING
Finally, in the latest from another Australian political prisoner, Nine reports that Julian Assange has been warned after (inaudibly) interrupting defence witness and founder of non-profit rights organisation, Reprieve, Clive Stafford Smith.
A US lawyer, Stafford Smith told the extradition trial that not only has WikiLeaks helped expose alleged US war crimes in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, but, as The Australian ($) reports, that leaked documents from the Joint Prioritised Effects List of assassination targets proved Australia was involved in the US assassination program against 669 targets in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr has also alleged that the Morrison government would set a precedent that allows any Australian living abroad to be extradited to other countries if it allows the US to take Assange.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
People seem, for whatever reason, a little bit too comfortable with the current circumstances to be chasing those jobs down. At some point it’s going to be weaning people off one system and basically getting the economy back into a more normal footing.
Teys Australia’s corporate and industry affairs manager wants to “wean” roughly 1.6 million job seekers off their soon-to-be-slashed welfare payments because, despite there being just 111,000 jobs on Seek, some people don’t want to work in an abattoir mid-pandemic.
“The message from central bankers here and abroad on balancing the management of the pandemic versus the economy is now very different to that put forward by the Morrison government.
“It suggests either that the latter have allowed partisanship and a desire to shift responsibility for the recession onto the Victoria government, or they don’t understand that the framing of lockdown versus the economy is deeply flawed.”
“The revolving door is apparently well-oiled in Queensland.
“Since leaving Annastacia Palaszczuk’s office just over a year ago, former chief political adviser Evan Moorhead has already drummed up some serious business through his new lobby firm.
“His agency, Anacta Strategies, now boasts an enviable client list, including mining giant Glencore, law firm Maurice Blackburn and engineering group Downer.
“The treatment being handed out to Julian Assange would be called a farce if there were anything the least bit funny about it.
“The WikiLeaks founder has returned to a UK court for the beginning of extradition proceedings against him by the US government. This was initially on 17 charges under the US’ Espionage Act and one computer charge, carrying a total of 175 years prison. Other accusations have since been added to round out the indictment, some very recently.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Hostage diplomacy a pressing concern ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “That Australian journalists and diplomats in China have been reduced to acting out a John le Carre cum James Bond series of late night emergency pick-ups by embassy cars, days of uncertain shelter in the fragile security of diplomatic compounds, tense and secret negotiations over an exit path, ritual interrogations and finally diplomat-supervised flight from China is evidence — more dramatic than anything else we have seen — of the profound crisis that confronts Australia/China relations.”
Critics of Victoria’s contact tracing system misunderstand some key facts — Raina MacIntyre (The Age): “Contact tracing is bread-and-butter public health for all health departments around Australia — they do it for meningococcal disease, TB, measles and many other infections. It is not rocket science – and they all do it the same way, manually, and all use whiteboards. Yet this standard practice has become the controversial new flashpoint in the war of words over Victoria’s handling of its second wave of COVID-19.”
TikTok suicide video: it’s time platforms collaborated to limit disturbing content — Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández and D. Bondy Valdovinos Kaye (The Conversation): “A disturbing video purporting to show a suicide is reportedly doing the rounds on the popular short video app TikTok, reigniting debate about what social media platforms are doing to limit circulation of troubling material. According to media reports, the video first showed up on Facebook in late August but has been re-uploaded and shared across Instagram and TikTok — reportedly sometimes cut with seemingly harmless content such as cat videos.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Retailers Association CEO Paul Zahra, ACOSS chief Cassandra Goldie and Deloitte partner Chris Richardson will speak on “Rebuilding from crisis: the economic & social case for household & business certainty” at the National Press Club.
Perth Lord Mayoral candidates will speak at an Events Industry Association forum.
Senator Penny Wong will speak on her new Australian Foreign Affairs essay The End of Orthodoxy: Australia in a post-pandemic world in an online Wheeler Centre event with journalist Laura Tingle.
Labor MP Andrew Giles, former politician Anna Burke and academic Janet McAlman will discuss reforms to Victoria Labor in an online forum from Open Labor.