THE NUMERO UNO STORY
Gladys Berejiklian has pledged to stay on as NSW premier following ICAC revelations over her secret, five-year relationship with disgraced former Liberal MP Daryl Maguire. She has received vocal support from senior Liberals, but, according to The Australian ($), there were some backbenchers that initially mobilised against her.
The ABC explains that Maquire, who is currently under investigation over allegations he used his position to help property developers including the Waterhouse racing family, shared information with Berejiklian relating to debt, lobbying, and commissions on lands deals. The premier maintained she would not have financially benefited from the relationship and expected him to make appropriate disclosures, while Maguire himself is set to appear on Wednesday.
QUEENSLAND CORNER: For a much less subtle political affair, The Australian ($) reports that Clive Palmer’s private company Mineralogy has paid the election sign-up fees for United Australia Party candidates, one third of whom are either employees or relatives.
A TOUGH CALL
Berejiklian wasn’t the only premier to withstand leadership rumblings yesterday, with The Guardian reporting that Dan Andrews rebuffed questions from journalists citing anonymous complaints from Labor MPs following the resignation of his top public servant Chris Eccles.
The now-former head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet noted in his announcement yesterday that, following a request for phone records from the hotel quarantine inquiry, he called former Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton on March 27; while Eccles had earlier told the inquiry he could not recall if he had spoken to Ashton on the day the scheme was set up, The Mandarin explains he maintains he did not make the crucial decision to use private security as front-line quarantine guards.
Elsewhere, The Age reports that, at a 14-day average of 9.9 daily cases, it is now mathematically impossible for Victoria to meet an initial threshold of an average of less than five daily cases this Sunday, while Andrews has announced that modified restrictions could focus on the “social space rather than economic easing”. Epidemiologists suggest that the 5km rule could be first to go, but plans to allow household gatherings of up to five people may have to be ruled out due to the risk of household transmission.
SCIENCE CORNER: According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Medical Association Victoria, Victorian Allied Health Professionals Association and other healthcare experts have hit out at the federal Health Department’s refusal to acknowledge COVID-19 can spread through the air and claimed that this refusal potentially risks the lives of medical workers. Governments such as in the UK and, now, the US currently warn of airborne transmission via tiny particles (as opposed to droplets via coughs, sneezes etc).
THE COAL ISSUE WITH CHINA
According to The Age, the Morrison government is preparing to expand foreign aid programs in south-east Asia to both help support their economies and challenge China’s growing influence in the region.
The news comes as detained Australian writer and alleged spy Yang Hengjun begins his trial in Beijing, AAP reports.
Elsewhere, The Guardian reports that China’s customs authorities have told several state-owned steelmakers and power plants to halt imports on Australian coal, although Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has played down the news and noted that Australia has “previously faced occasional disruptions to trade flows with China”. Which, going by our track record, Australia is likely to be told right up until these bans become permanent.
PS: In other regional news, The NT News ($) reports that 160 more seasonal workers will arrive from Vanuatu in Darwin today.
MOMENT OF TRUTH: BEGGINING OF THE END FOR ‘ROE V WADE’?
Finally, CNN reports that US senate hearings have begun for Donald Trump’s conservative Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, who the Republican-controlled body is set to rush through ahead of the November 3 election — rather than, in one glaring example, touching the multiple COVID-19 stimulus bills passed by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.
CNN also notes that Trump has claimed, without any evidence, that he has tested “totally negative” to COVID-19. He also earned himself another Twitter warning — but no response, notably, from Facebook — after falsely alleging he is “immune” to the disease.
Finally, ABC reports that head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci has claimed the Trump campaign has taken his comments praising elements of the national response as “out of context”, and maintained he does not endorse political candidates.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
The relationship wasn’t of sufficient status for me to talk to anybody about it.
… He was always talking big about deals and they were always falling through. I did not have any reason to believe all this pie-in-the-sky fanciful stuff would come to fruition.
… I stuffed up in my personal life.
“Remarkably, after a budget that lavished half a trillion dollars of deficit spending on the economy and handed out billions in tax cuts, the government ended the week on the defensive over its indifference to women.
“Anthony Albanese, for most of this year hors de combat courtesy of the political demands of the pandemic, adeptly exploited that to unveil a major new childcare initiative that will effectively move childcare into the government-funded service column currently occupied by Medicare, NDIS and, partially, aged care and super.”
“October 19 likely won’t bring sweeping changes to Melbourne’s strict lockdown restrictions, as the city’s 14-day rolling average of new COVID-19 cases slightly increased (by 0.6) to 9.9.
“Melbourne’s third step out of lockdown has no restrictions on leaving home, permits all retail to reopen, and allows public gatherings of up to 10 people. But to get there the 14-day case average must drop to less than five per day, with less than five cases with an unknown source in the last 14 days statewide. That is the current Andrews government rule.”
“Australian billionaire Anthony Pratt is being held up as one of the most gratuitous examples of someone paying their way into the Trump administration.
“So much so that he’s made it to paragraph four of a blistering New York Times expose about favour-seeking and influence-peddling under Trump.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Numb and dumber: Gladys’ affair to forget ($) — Sharri Markson (The Australian): “The plotting began even while NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was still giving evidence in the stand at the Independent Commission Against Corruption. She had told her close colleagues her appearance at the inquiry would be short and uneventful. Routine. The subsequent revelation of her close personal relationship with the disgraced former MP at the centre of the corruption probe, Daryl Maguire, spanning several years, blindsided MPs.”
Andrews forgets ancient wisdom as his government falls apart before our eyes — Nick Economou (The Age): “There is an old saying in politics that you should never have an inquiry into something you don’t already know the answer to. At a press conference (where else would it have been?) in July this year, Premier Daniel Andrews forgot this ancient wisdom.”
Donald Trump took advantage of the US’s legalized corruption — David Sirota (Jacobin): “This weekend’s bombshell New York Times’ report on Donald Trump is an important deep dive into how business interests sought and received favours from President Trump after spending big money at his properties, and making large donations to Trump’s political machine. The Times says that this is ‘the swamp that Trump built’ — but the insinuation is a bit off.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Greens leader Adam Bandt will present “Fighting the Great Recession with a Green New Deal” at the National Press Club.
Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo will discuss “Securing Australia in an age of disruption” as part of the ANU National Security College’s 10th anniversary conversation series.
Greens senator Janet Rice will host virtual storytelling event “Trans Trailblazers: their stories” in memory of her wife, climatologist Dr Penny Whetton.