THE HOTEL NEWS CONTINUES
According to news.com.au, the Victorian government has admitted that police, cleaners and medical staff working at Melbourne’s “hot” COVID-19 hotels contracted the virus after the original quarantine scheme was shut down and the new, optional system for confirmed cases wishing to self-isolate was enacted.
The government insists that nine confirmed cases — none of whom are reportedly still active after testing positive from July 27 — more likely contracted the virus outside the hotel, but have provided no substantiating evidence. News of the cases was broken by The Saturday Paper over the weekend, as they were not publicly disclosed.
The news also comes as The Age reports that Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services may have broken The Public Health and Wellbeing Act by failing to conduct adequate daily checks if thousands of returned travellers needed to remain under detention.
PS: Elsewhere, the ABC reports that Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan will allow interstate travellers from Victoria and New South Wales to self-quarantine rather than pay for hotels from October 5, a measure The New Daily notes Scott Morrison is currently considering for international visitors.
A FRUITFUL ENDEAVOUR
Following news of a workforce gap in Australia’s harvest trail, The Australian ($) reports that Scott Morrison will offer visa extensions to backpackers, Pacific Islanders and seasonal workers and will offer financial incentives for welfare recipients as incentive to pick fruit.
The age limit of 30 on the working holidaymaker visa will be scrapped to enable those aged 31 and older to continue working in agriculture, while JobSeeker and Youth Allowance recipients would be able to earn up to $300 per fortnight from a farmer before welfare payments are reduced. News of the measures, which will be funded in next Tuesday’s budget, comes as Ernst & Young predicts that the horticulture industry could face a workforce gap of 26,000 people by March.
On the other side of federal politics, The Age reports that Anthony Albanese will today outline an alternative budget agenda including more generous welfare support, a bigger infrastructure and manufacturing plan, new spending on social housing and an end to “neglect” in education.
PS: Note that the government’s welfare measures have been announced just days after the Morrison government slashed JobKeeper and JobSeeker, a decision ANU researchers at The Conversation predict will push roughly 740,000 Australians into poverty.
A COAL LOT OF DESTRUCTION AWAITS
A month out from the Queensland election, The Brisbane Times reports that the Palaszczuk government has signed off on the $1 billion Olive Downs mining project projected to create 1000 jobs but destroy 5500 hectares of koala and glider habitat and extract 15 million tonnes of metallurgical coal each year.
Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that Sport Minister Mick de Brenni faces his very own sports rort controversy after a new Queensland Audit Office investigation found he overruled his department’s recommendations on 32 occasions, resulting in the number of grants for female facilities being awarded to Labor electorates increasing to 68% while LNP electorates’ share fell to 28%.
PS: According to The Guardian, the federal Auditor-General’s office — aka the one agency that’s appeared to hold the federal government to account i.e. sports rorts, Home Affairs’ abuse of power, the Leppington Triangle affair — has been forced to write to Scott Morrison calling for a funding boost amid audit shortfalls.
MOMENT OF TRUTH: THE FUNNIEST OF ALL DEBATES?
Finally, get ready for maybe the one silver lining in a truly nightmare election year: the first of three Trump v Biden debates!
America’s finest will duke it out today in a Fox News event from 11am-12.30pm AEST, with CNN reporting that the president has done less than two hours prep ahead of expected questions on: “The Trump and Biden Records”, “The Supreme Court”, “COVID-19”, “The Economy”, “Race and Violence in our Cities”, and “The Integrity of the Election”.
Trump is also facing new pressure over his tax record, after The New York Times reported that The Apprentice threw him a “financial lifeline” as he faced near bankruptcy in 2002.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
While we can’t probably go to conscription, can we apply a little more heat and pressure and do it urgently, because the crops won’t wait.
In 2020’s latest big red warning sign, the Liberal backbencher floats a compulsory farm labour questionnaire for JobSeeker recipients, who would then have their capacity to survive cut off if they refused to sign.
“While much has been turned upside down in 2020, and we now talk of the pre-COVID world as one we will never return to, the abandonment in a matter of months of one of the central narratives of Australian economic history, the evil of budget deficits, is remarkable. Nearly as remarkable is how little reflection its abandonment has occasioned.”
“October’s state election will mark the first time Queenslanders have been asked to determine who should govern since the state introduced set four-year terms. In a state of traditions, that will take time to bed in our psyche.
“Another tradition up for grabs in this poll is that Queensland voters have, for most of the past 30 years, elected state Labor governments while giving the conservatives the federal seats they need to run the country.”
“President Donald Trump has selected Amy Coney Barrett to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the US Supreme Court, and Senate Republicans are committing to support him, despite taking the opposite stance when Barack Obama attempted the same thing in 2016.
“It’s already become a flashpoint — US$1.8 million has been spent on political ads about the Supreme Court in the 10 days since Ginsburg’s death, according to Advertising Analytics.
“The question then becomes: what, if anything, can the Democrats do in response?”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Budget 2020: Tax cuts will spark debate, but it’s a trap for Labor ($) — Paul Kelly (The Australian): “Every sign points to next week’s budget being a tax-cut budget, with the likelihood of the Morrison government bringing forward the legislated stages two and three of personal income tax cuts in the three-stage package that was worth $158b as put at last year’s federal election. While the aim is to boost activity and demand in a COVID-damaged economy, the budget is sure to trigger debates over the utility and fairness of these income tax cuts.”
We can build a more inclusive government and economy out of the pandemic — this blueprint shows us how — Amanda Tattersall (The Conversation): “With the country facing an uncertain economic future, the University of Sydney’s Policy Lab has brought together community and climate groups, unions and business groups to identify strategies for creating a different way of making policy and building a new economy coming out of the crisis. The product is our ‘Real Deal’ report released this week.”
Does Joe Biden really want to be president? ($) — Gerard Baker (Wall Street Journal): “You get the sense that deep down Joe probably knows that if he wins he won’t really be president at all. He’ll be a kind of masked hostage who issues reassuring bromides from a gilded cell somewhere in the White House family quarters. Popping up every now and then with a copy of that day’s newspaper to remind us he’s still OK and if we do what his captors tell us, everything will be fine.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Pat Turner, CEO of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and head of the Coalition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community-Controlled Peak Organisations, will present the 2020 ANU Australia and the World Annual Lecture, “The Long Cry of Indigenous Peoples to be heard — a defining moment in Australia” at the National Press Club.
ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr will debate opposition leader Alistair Coe at the National Press Club
Malcolm Turnbull, Mike Cannon-Brookes and UN Special Envoy on Climate Mark Carney will present at the Global Smart Energy Summit 2020’s online event.
The Australia Institute will host webinar event “Edge of Chaos: How to Build Resilience into our Democracy” with Robert Elliott Smith, author of Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms, and How to Stop the Internet Making Bigots of Us All; and Shadow Minister for Innovation, Technology and Future of Work Clare O’Neil.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack will deliver a pre-Budget address in a webinar hosted by Regional Australia Institute chief Liz Ritchie.