GOODBYE CURFEW, HELLO FINES
Fines for “unlawful gatherings” have increased under Victoria’s accelerated roadmap to nearly $5000, the ABC reports. Other changes include Melbourne losing the curfew, primary school students returning to classes from October 12 and — with its next step dependent on caseloads rather than dates — potentially hitting the “third step” by October 19 as cases fall to a 14-day rolling average of 22.1.
Both Premier Dan Andrews and chief health officer Brett Sutton have warned that home gatherings remain a key concern even as cases drop, although it is yet to be demonstrated if the pre-existing, relatively-high penalty system actually substantially increased social distancing.
Further north, the ABC reports that Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has made an election pledge of $624 million for an additional 2025 police officers over the next five years. The LNP, meanwhile, has promised $33 billion for a 15-year plan to improve Bruce Highway from Cairns to Gympie.
PS: News of Victoria’s new fines comes a day after FOI documents obtained by The Sydney Morning Herald revealed that young men from poor suburbs and towns with high Aboriginal or immigrant populations were more likely to be fined for breaching NSW’s lockdown rules.
STITT TO REPLACE MIKAKOS
According to The Age, former trade union leader Ingrid Stitt will assume a vacancy in Victoria’s cabinet after former health minister Jenny Mikakos resigned. The paper also reports that as the race for pre-selection begins for Mikakos’ upper house seat, the party could have its first Indigenous woman in state parliament with AFL executive Sheena Watt and Labor staffer Prue Stewart among the potential contenders.
The Herald Sun ($) notes that a handful of Labor MPs have (anonymously) hit out at Dan Andrews for instigating Mikakos’ resignation by telling the hotel quarantine inquiry he considered her responsible for the program from April 8 — before which she shared responsibility with Jobs Minister Martin Pakula — until July 8, when his “crisis council of cabinet” approved the transfer of accountability from Mikakos to Attorney-General Jill Hennessy.
PS: Curiously, Andrews’ statement does not diverge dramatically from public updates on the program — he announced on August 13 that Hennessy would take over from Mikakos — nor does it allege that the health minister made the decision to use private security on the “front tier” of hotel quarantine. Which, as news.com.au unpacks, appears to have been influenced by Victoria Police’s preference to assume a “second tier” (i.e. backup) role.
SEEING (THE BENEFIT OF) RED
Finally, The Guardian explains that a new Deloitte Access Economics report calls on the Morrison government to reject austerity policies and spend more despite the government debt — currently at $200 billion — as joblessness is expected to hit 7.9% this financial year, rise to 8% the next year, before easing to 6.8% in 2022-23.
According to the ABC, the report drops ahead of an announcement today by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack that the government will extend subsidies for regional and domestic routes.
It also comes after the Conversation-Economic Society of Australia pre-budget survey found the vast majority of Australia’s leading economists want the government to boost social housing and JobSeeker rather than bring forward personal income tax cuts.
PS: Today also marks the reintroduction of mutual obligation penalties for welfare recipients, after the coronavirus supplement was slashed last Friday in what advocates called “poverty day“.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
At least I wasn’t responsible for the death of 760 people.
In a good reminder of just what Victorian Labor lost this year, the former minister takes pride in the fact branch stacking is still better than severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.
“After more than three years of his presidency, and under the campaign scrutiny of an election less than two months away, there is no longer any surprise in describing Donald J Trump as a narcissist.
“He is widely considered a self-centred and unempathetic figure who obsessively craves attention; a man who has profoundly distorted America’s responses to domestic and international challenges, and who has produced many policy failures, most notably in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Books and essays by clinical psychiatrists and psychologists chronicle his narcissistic personality (despite the so-called ‘Goldwater rule’, the ethical obligation mandated by the American Psychiatric Association that clinicians not make diagnoses of public figures they had not formally examined or evaluated).”
“Inq’s reporting on a federal government contract awarded to labour-sourcing platform Mable Technologies has drawn a ‘disappointed’ response from Mable’s PR company, which has asked us to point out that individuals we referred to as shareholders of Mable are not shareholders at all. The individuals include three with Liberal party links.
“So when is a shareholder not a shareholder? One such is leading Sydney investment banker Mathew Playfair. Playfair, Inq reported, was publicly acknowledged by Liberal MP Dave Sharma for his help in Sharma’s 2019 election campaign in Malcolm Turnbull’s old seat of Wentworth. Sharma bracketed Playfair with members of the Liberal party in his thank you speech in parliament.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Budget cannot rely on construction alone to boost economy — Elizabeth Hill (The Sydney Morning Herald): “With the International Monetary Fund warning the economic fallout from COVID-19 will be ‘the worst since the Great Depression’, there is no play book to guide Treasurer Josh Frydenberg as he uses the federal budget to chart our recovery. However, high unemployment and the crash in working hours experienced by millions of Australians during the first six months of the crisis means an employment-rich recovery strategy is essential. The budget must deliver the maximum number of jobs for every dollar of recovery spending”
Trump’s Supreme Court call will influence American life for decades ($) — George Williams (The Australian): “Australians cannot miss President Donald Trump’s determination to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the US Supreme Court. His decision to nominate Amy Coney Barrett is attracting more attention than the search under way to make two appointments to our own High Court. This says much about the role of the US Supreme Court as a political body compared to our more low-key institution.”
Vale Susan Ryan, pioneer Labor feminist who showed big, difficult policy changes can, and should, be made — Chris Wallace (The Conversation): “The politician who achieved equal rights legislation for women in Australia, Hon Susan Ryan AO, died unexpectedly yesterday in Sydney aged 77, still fighting for fairness in a country challenged by deep inequalities. In 1983, new Prime Minister Bob Hawke appointed Ryan Minister for Education and Youth Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women. She was the first woman to be appointed to cabinet in a Labor government.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Australian Capital Territory
Polls open today for the 2020 ACT election and close Saturday October 17.