In the latest updates out of ICAC, the ABC reports that disgraced former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire organised a 2016 meeting with then-treasurer and secret partner Gladys Berejiklian over a major local transport project that, although “vehemently” opposed by the roads minister at the time, went on to receive tens of millions in state and federal funds.
Additionally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Maguire has admitted to using his position to make money; for example, “having a glass of red” was code for an off-the-record meeting with a property developer and the former chief of staff to the then-planning minister, and he admitted to accepting thousands of dollars in cash on multiple occasions at Parliament House as part of a visa scam.
The paper also reports that the former staff member of Maguire’s who told the inquiry she was instructed to delete material from his electorate and parliamentary offices, Sarah Vasey, is now working for Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
Berejiklian yesterday survived two no-confidence motions against her, and, according to the ABC, maintains she had no knowledge of Maguire’s wrongdoing.
PS: In the latest from Australia’s game of mates, The Australian ($) reports that Queensland Labor received thousands from gambling giant Tabcorp, big four consultant KPMG and gas company Santos, among others, who got to meet with respective state ministers at their ‘Business Partnership Program’ fundraiser.
According to the ABC, NSW is battling a COVID-19 outbreak at the A2Z Medical Clinic at Lakemba as well as new cases at tutoring schools — Al-Jabr – A Different Class of Mathematics in Auburn and ACE Tutoring in Parramatta — and Westfield Mount Druitt.
Down in Victoria, The Age reports that news of Shepparton’s cluster has sparked a testing rush that quickly overwhelmed the regional city’s capacity, while the groups calling on Dan Andrews to reduce the lockdown’s economic and mental health burden under this weekend’s update now includes a leading economist, the state’s peak lawyers’ group, one of the nation’s largest grocery retailers, psychiatrists and doctors.
Following news that the Shepparton cluster was sparked by a truck driver who withheld details of his trip from contact tracers for more than a fortnight, Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton has warned he is considering using GPS information from phones, which the state’s laws currently enable.
PS: According to the ABC, WA’s chief health officer Dr Andrew Robertson has told a COVID hearing that the state could reopen its border to most states and territories because they already meet health requirements and have their own “generally” satisfactory border controls in place.
CROSSING A THIN BLUE LINE
NSW Police officers have been filmed by University of Sydney student media outlet Honi Soit throwing both a student and a law professor to the ground at a rally held yesterday against the Morrison government’s university cuts.
As The Guardian reports, professor Simon Rice says he was trying to move past the protest when he was shoved by officers with “disproportionate force”, while student Shovan Bhattarai says she now has “a deep graze” on her arm and “bruises” up the side of her body after police threw her into a gutter.
Further north, the NT News ($) reports that three police officers have been accused of misconduct after restricted footage of a cop car hitting a Palm Island teenager was leaked and shared on Snapchat.
GREAT BARRIER GRIEF
According to The Guardian, a study by Townsville’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies has found that, across multiple bleaching events from 1995 and 2017, the number of small, medium and large corals in the Great Barrier Reef has fallen by more than 50%.
The publication also reports that Australia’s banking and insurance regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, estimates the country should be spending about $3.5 billion a year to prepare for climate change-related natural disasters, warning the cost of responding after the fact is likely to be 11 times greater.
PROGRESS CORNER: Earlier this week, RenewEconomy explained that the International Energy Agency hailed renewables as the new “king” of electricity, while the ABC reports that BHP Group has announced it has received deferment requests from Chinese coal customers.
MOMENT OF TRUTH: DUELLING NON-DEBATES
Donald Trump and Joe Biden will hold competing town hall events on a night The Guardian reports was originally scheduled for the second presidential debate, which was binned after Trump backed out of the virtual event.
According to CNN’s live blog, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett faces continued questions on abortion rights and Obamacare at day three of her confirmation hearing; as the ABC reports, Republicans have lauded her as “unashamedly pro-life”.
Finally, CNN also notes that Republicans have installed unauthorised, possibly illegal, ballot dropboxes in California, a weird flex for a party that has worked to dismantle the post office this year.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
My message to the Premier of Victoria today and every day, is please understand the significant impact the harsh lockdown is having on the mental health of Victorians.
The Morrison Government will continue to do everything we can to support Victorians.
Please, give the people of Victoria their freedom back this weekend.
Roughly a fortnight after the government brought JobSeeker back below the poverty line — and a week after they delivered a budget with exactly nothing for the welfare payment but did cement the cashless welfare card as a thing — the treasurer plays the mental health card in attacking Melbourne’s lockdown.
“The New South Wales premier’s secret relationship with former MP Daryl Maguire led to a fundamental but undeclared conflict of interest at the top of the government, with Gladys Berejiklian controlling the funding of the very body which revealed Maguire’s corruption.”
“That conflict has been made more pressing over the past 18 months, as the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has pleaded with the premier’s office for extra funding for its survival.”
“For the second time in a week, yesterday NSW recorded more new daily COVID-19 cases than Victoria.
“In Sydney, masks have all but been abandoned, with restrictions on outdoor venues and concerts about to be eased. In Melbourne, residents are still confined to their houses for 22 hours a day.”
“Mike Pezzullo is worried about the apocalypse. In a speech at the Australian National University last night, the powerful Home Affairs boss outlined his vision of the various events which could end civilisation as we know it.
“A year ago, few would have seen a global pandemic coming. Now Pezzullo warns we should start thinking about other security threats, like pandemics, which could come from nowhere and dramatically alter the course of modern life as we know it.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
I was born in Australia. Why do I need to renounce the Chinese Communist Party? — Osmond Chiu (The Sydney Morning Herald): “I have sometimes wondered how people felt when they were dragged in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities with Congressmen demanding that they prove their loyalty. Never did I imagine I would be placed in a similar situation. I have followed the debate about our relationship with China, but I did not fully appreciate how toxic it had become until I appeared before the Senate inquiry into issues facing diaspora communities on Wednesday.”
Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s slow, painful end inevitable ($) — Yoni Bashan (The Australian): “It is starting to look likely that Gladys Berejiklian’s leadership is shrinking to a bitter conclusion. While some of her colleagues remain publicly supportive, enough of them are uncomfortable with the revelations that have emerged from the corruption hearings in Sydney. They also remain unpersuaded by the touchingly naive argument that she, and others, were duped by her carnival-barker of an ex-boyfriend, Daryl Maguire.”
Who is the Prime Minister of the Victorian part of Australia? — Dave Milner (The Shot): “I’m not thrilled about ruining the drama posed in the headline this early on but Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of the Victorian part of Australia. Still, it’s worth exploring the question further, because the answer exuded from Scott Morrison is ‘definitely not Scott Morrison’ and I’d like to know why. Firstly, where is he? We’ve barely heard from him.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
WA Health Minister and Deputy Premier Roger Cook will discuss the COVID-19 pandemic at a Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre business breakfast.