HAVING A BIT OF AN AVERAGE TIME
With Melbourne’s 14-day rolling COVID average sitting at 9.3 ahead of the required October 19 threshold of five, the ABC reports that Dan Andrews has suggested the state could undertake reduced steps to reopening on select measures — i.e. outdoor group sizes and regional business restrictions — while, separately, introducing new rules. These include requiring fitted face masks, for close contacts to get tested on day 11 of quarantine or face a further 10 days on top of the existing 14 day quarantine, and for regional businesses to ensure customers are not from metropolitan Melbourne or else face increased fines of up to $9913.
As the state battles five non-aged care clusters — including Box Hill Hospital, Chadstone Shopping Centre, and a related outbreak at a Kilmore cafe, which inspired those increased fines for regional businesses — Andrews has also pledged to co-operate with a request from the hotel quarantine inquiry for phone records from the day of the scheme’s announcement.
Additionally, The Age reports that hospitality figure Julian Gerner has engaged top lawyers Bret Walker and Michael Wyles for a High Court legal challenge to the city’s lockdown, with a writ today set to challenge whether restrictions such as the 5km rule and essential worker permits are a disproportionate response and contrary to the implied constitutional rights of freedom of movement within states.
PS: While less headline-grabbing, Victoria’s health department quietly announced yesterday that all Box Hill staff that spent time on the COVID ward could undertake asymptomatic testing, after a curious initial requirement only for those who had spent 30 minutes or more.
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WORKING ON JOBS
Following criticism that elements of the budget, including the youth wage subsidy, will not be enough to drive employment following the end of JobKeeper, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Scott Morrison has promised to “respond fast” if jobs do not eventuate.
Today, we have two illustrations of how and when these changes could play out:
- As business and welfare groups call for a permanent increase to JobSeeker — which got nothing in the budget despite the coronavirus supplement’s knock-on benefits and is currently set to return to its $40-a-day equivalent come January 2021 — Josh Frydenberg has hinted to Insiders that the poor labour market may require a longer-term increase
- Conversely, the AFR ($) reports that Frydenberg has already asked Treasury and the Business Council of Australia to discuss ways to include larger companies that do not now qualify for new tax write-offs for the full value of their investments between now and June 2022.
However the government ends up tinkering with the budget, it looks set to be one of the most popular in a decade, with Newspoll ($) reporting that 42% of respondents believe it will be good for the economy compared to 20% who expect it to be bad.
PS: In not-unrelated news, The Guardian reports that a new Foodbank survey puts demand for food relief spiking 47% throughout COVID-19, driven largely by international students and casual workers i.e. groups excluded from JobKeeper and, at least for the former, JobSeeker.
MOMENT OF TRUTH: WHAT DID TRUMP SAY ABOUT KILLING SOMEONE ON FIFTH AVENUE?
Finally, the ABC reports that Donald Trump yesterday had his first public appearance since being released from hospital, addressing a few hundred supporters from a White House balcony, without a mask, just hours before his doctor Sean Conley claimed the president was “no longer considered a transmission risk to others”.
But as Trump heads back to the campaign trail, The New York Times reports that experts have questioned Conley’s statement, which does not claim the president has tested negative and only suggests his viral load was dropping but was still, apparently, detectable.
Additionally, the latest from the Times’ investigation into Trump’s financial record has unearthed over 200 companies, special-interest groups and foreign governments who — once Trump made it into the White House — patronised his properties while reaping benefits from him and his administration. Just 60 of these groups brought his family business nearly $12 million within the first two years of his presidency, almost all of whom saw their interests advanced in some fashion.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Good morning Larissa Waters, here’s a pic of you with the chap who defended the “skank bitch … fugly slut” tweet, and the state candidate he and the tweet’s author are supporting. Have you held them accountable? Or do you also say this tweet was justified?
In not the first time Labor has used private, anonymous and ironic tweets to try to cancel a Greens staffer during a state election, the Queensland MP deploys a weekend-long campaign against a Mean Girls reference and, apparently, anyone associated with the author of said Mean Girls reference.
“A budget that blows half a trillion dollars on budget deficits, income tax cuts and business handouts, along with a dollop of infrastructure investment is a tough one to criticise for an opposition. But Anthony Albanese has zeroed in on a key weakness: its failure to support women.”
“Australia has strived for a long time to have 50% representation of men and women in government. A recent report has found that women hold 48.5% of all positions on governance boards. While this a positive step, and the highest it’s ever been in Australia’s history, it doesn’t tell the whole story.”
“When Donald Trump told US-based white supremacist group the Proud Boys to ‘stand back and stand by’, right-wing extremists in Australia were listening.
“Groups such as Reclaim Australia and The Lads Society — which are strongly influenced by Trumpist rhetoric — have always been monitored by security agencies, but the scope of their influence has been unclear.
“Today’s launch of a landmark study, Mapping Networks and Narratives of Online Right-Wing Extremists in New South Wales, changes that.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
NSW could relax social distancing rules for venues but only if masks are mandated — Raina MacIntyre (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The NSW government is considering relaxing the four-square-metre distancing rule and limitations on large gatherings. These, and the closure of international borders, are hurting the economy. As long as the government is prepared to be flexible and retighten these rules if COVID-19 in the community should require it, it could sensibly plan for these measures.”
ABC gatekeepers ignore story that doesn’t quite fit their narrative on Pell ($) — Chris Mitchell (The Australian): “The ABC was criticised last week for not covering the latest corruption revelations from the Vatican linking the demotion of powerful Sardinian-born Cardinal Angelo Becciu to the transfer of $1.1m cash to Australia, a transaction three Italian newspapers and The Times of London tied to the failed Victorian pedophile case against Cardinal George Pell.”
The fight for reproductive justice in a post-Ginsburg world — Jordan Smith (The Intercept): “While Ginsburg’s seat is still vacant, the Trump administration has already offered the eight-member court an opportunity to restrict abortion access amid the pandemic. At issue is how medication abortion is provided to people seeking to terminate a pregnancy in its earliest stages. Available through 10 weeks’ gestation, medication abortion is a two-drug regimen that has been available in the U.S. for 20 years and used by more than 4 million people.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
EY chief economist Joanne Masters, NAB chief economist for markets Ivan Colhoun, and Grattan Institute household finances program director Brendan Coates will speak at Committee for Sydney webinar “Federal Budget: What it means for Sydney”.
SA’s Australian of the Year Awards recipients will be announced at Adelaide Oval.
WA Premier Mark McGowan will open annual mining conference, the Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum.