MAKING A GOOD CASE
Following news that Victoria hit just 14 new cases yesterday — its lowest daily figure in almost three months — the ABC reports that Dan Andrews “is ‘confident’ Melbourne’s restrictions will be eased in a week” (when step two is set to start) and flagged “significant announcements” for Sunday, September 27, ahead of Melbourne’s “second step”.
The Age notes that nine of those new cases emerged from the Casey postcode, although Andrews is adamant not to penalise people at the centre of the outbreak who admitted during contact tracing to having breached restrictions; the logic, supported by legal and infectious disease experts, being that honest information for contact tracing purposes far outweighs the benefit of fining people and risking them not coming forward.
In more worrying news, the paper also reports that supplies of N95 masks for Victorian health workers have fallen to “alarmingly low” levels, forcing protective gear to be rationed and prompting the government to encourage local manufacturers to modify their machinery and produce more.
PS: In other state news, the ABC reports that a NSW man in his early 70s has died of COVID-19, while Queensland has recorded two more cases including a returned traveller and a known contact of a case from the Wacol corrective services cluster.
SOME CUTTING REMARKS
As the Morrison government eyes bringing forward tax cuts for high income earners in the October 6 budget, the ABC reports that former Reserve Bank governor Bernie Fraser and former secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet Michael Keating have joined an ad campaign from The Australia Institute in denouncing the move as a largely pointless form of stimulus.
Elsewhere, a Grattan Institute report leaked to The Guardian ahead of a November release suggests that Scott Morrison’s “gas led recovery” would benefit fewer than 1% of Australian manufacturing jobs currently in gas-intensive industries; for context, two-thirds of the gas used in manufacturing is consumed by 15 facilities that together employ just over 10,000 people.
Relatedly, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Energy Minister Angus Taylor will use a speech at the National Press Club on Tuesday to unveil an update on the Morrison government’s “technology roadmap”, which reportedly embraces hydrogen as a new export but again leans into (widely discredited) carbon capture and storage systems to develop the fuel from gas and/or coal.
Finally, with the government determined to slash JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments despite the economic and social impact, The Australian ($) reports that Morrison is considering wage incentives for businesses to take on extra workers as part of the October 6 budget.
PS: The government’s public standing is, as far as opinion polls go, holding strong, with the latest Newspoll ($) putting the Coalition back in front of Labor 51-49.
Finally, following Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death over the weekend, CNN reports that Senate Democrats are canvassing strategies to prevent Donald Trump and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell tipping the court to 6-3 Republican before the November election — either by convincing four Republicans not to support the move (they now have two), grounding the Senate to a halt, or, failing any of that, pledging under a potential Joe Biden administration to expand the court’s numbers.
The news comes after McConnell successfully blocked the Obama administration from filling Antonin Scalia’s seat for the 11 months up until Trump’s win, and USAToday reports that protesters have flocked to the Senate leader’s house with placards of his excuse: “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”
PS: In just the latest big, red warning sign from the States, CNN also reports the president mocked MSNBC journalist Ali Velshi for being shot with a rubber bullet during the George Floyd protests in May, calling his injury a “beautiful sight” during a political rally in Minnesota on Friday.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Gas has chosen itself.
The prime minister pushing a “gas-led recovery” cooked up by a gas-stacked committee set to benefit a slew of gas donors believes that, while any energy source could meet his ultimatum for 1000MW of “dispatchable” power NSW will almost definitely not need, only one is more equal than others.
“In what is an increasingly febrile and tribal debate about pandemic restrictions, maintaining a nuanced position on the impact on basic freedoms of government lockdowns is a risky endeavour.
“The version from the right and the government, backed by News Corp and The Australian Financial Review, is that Victoria’s lockdown and state border closures are a disastrous left-wing assault on the economy.”
“Three years before an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigation found former University of Adelaide vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen guilty of sexual misconduct, he addressed a report on sexual harassment at Australian universities.
“‘We believe that one incident of sexual harassment is one too many,’ said Rathjen, who was vice-chancellor of the University of Tasmania at the time.
“Just a few years prior to this, he had been investigated for sexually harassing or abusing a student at Melbourne University — a fact he later tried to conceal from ICAC.”
“The latest twist and turn in the Dan Tehan higher-ed funding boondoggle stuff-up saga is that Uni of Tasmania vice-chancellor Rufus Black has signed up for it. Which is of course an attempt to get the vote of Jacqui Lambie.
“In a submission to the Senate inquiry, Black noted that the funding scheme would help UTAS ‘pursue its goals’ by which he meant — surrrrprise — make it an overseas student destination.
“Tasmanians wanting to do an arts degree in the lowest median income state? They would have to saddle themselves with $50k of debt. Which in terms of salary expectations is more like $75k, given the absence of regional adjustments.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Power-hungry Premier Andrews must consider partyroom views on coronavirus — Adem Somyurek (The Australian): “Fast-forward to last week where after months of incrementally stripping Victorians of their basic freedoms, I was incredulous to hear Daniel Andrews casually admit the curfew was not based on expert advice or empirical evidence, it was about ‘operationalising’ the Chief Health Officer’s directions. Removing freedom of movement cannot be dismissed simply as “operationalising” a CHO directive — it is a major public policy decision in its own right and must be supported by expert advice and that advice must be based on robust evidence. It must also be a proportionate response to the problem.”
An emissions target without a deadline isn’t much of a target — David Crowe (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Scott Morrison has made a big pledge to Australians about cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but there is one thing missing: a deadline. The Prime Minister says it is “absolutely achievable” for Australia to reach net zero emissions, but will not put a hard date on that goal. His best estimate is it will happen in the second half of this century — in other words, a window of five decades to try to deliver an outcome.”
Ruth Bader Ginsburg forged a new place for women in the law and society — Kcasey McLoughlin (The Conversation): “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death has generated an outpouring of grief around the globe. Part of this grief reflects her unparalleled status as a feminist icon and pioneer for women in the legal profession and beyond. There is already considerable interest in what her departure means for the future of the US Supreme Court, and indeed, the wider political landscape. But to understand that, we must reflect on her legacy.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Inquiry will conduct its final week of public hearings, with Department of Premier and Cabinet Secretary Chris Eccles set to appear today.
Extinction Rebellion protesters will conduct a “Cycle Against Social Collapse” protest beginning in Kurilpa Park South Brisbane this morning at 7.30am, before crossing the Victoria bridge, looping through the CBD and ending in King George square.
Los Angeles, USA
Comedian Jimmy Kimmel will host the virtual 72nd Emmy Awards.