Martin Pakula cox plate horse
(Image: AAP/Vince Caligiuri)

THE NEIGHS HAVE IT

As the ABC reports, the Victorian government has quickly reversed a decision to allow up to 500 owners and connections at this weekend’s Cox Plate horse-racing event in Moonee Valley. While 750 jockeys, trainers, journalists etc will attend anyway, Racing Minister Martin Pakula has apologised on Twitter for the move and announced that, “owners won’t return to the race track until we reach the next stage of the easing of restrictions”.

The news comes after Dan Andrews hinted yesterday that restrictions could be eased further from next week, after daily cases have been below five for four straight days now and, as the Herald Sun explains, news that yesterday’s single reported case had previously tested positive suggests the daily tally could have actually been zero.

As The Age notes, the heads of Wesfarmers, Coca-Cola Amatil, BHP, Commonwealth Bank, Orica, Newcrest Mining, and Incitec Pivot have signed an open letter to Andrews calling for a faster reopening of workplaces.

PS: According to The New Daily, that push from business leaders comes after more than 110,000 jobs have been lost since the Morrison government slashed JobKeeper.

THE NEVERENDING STORY OF HOTEL QUARANTINE

In news that threatens to repeat the inter-department nightmare behind Victoria’s initial hotel quarantine scheme, The Age reports that a row has broken out between the state’s health and justice departments over responsibility for the revamped hotel quarantine scheme ahead of the resumption of international flights.

It comes as health department lawyers argue that chief health officer Brett Sutton told them they did not need to hand over the hotel quarantine inquiry emails that appear to contradict his claims over when he found out private security guards were being used. They also note that Sutton, who submitted he didn’t know private security was being used until media reports in late May, “stands by that evidence which was provided honestly”.

NSW GOES FULL SOAP OPERA

According to The Australian ($)Gladys Berejiklian overruled written advice that strongly argued against moving the Greater Sydney Commission from the Planning Department into her personal ministerial control, which was provided to the government shortly after then-MP Daryl Maguire was recorded complaining to the premier that the GSC was causing “big problems” over one of his prospective land deals at Badgerys Creek.

Additionally, ABC reports that an audit of funding arrangements for ICAC has found that the premier’s power to “restrict access” to money the body receives threatens its “independent status”. This has apparently had direct consequences for the current inquiry into Maquire; according to The Sydney Morning Herald, ICAC had to appoint a new commissioner amid conflict of interests because Berejiklian is a witness.

Because it is yet another rough news day for the government, the SMH also reports that upper house leader Don Harwin was suspended from the chamber late yesterday by in a esoteric move last used more than 20 years ago. The Usher of the Black Rod removed Harwin after the Berejiklian government failed to produce documents showing signed paperwork relating to more than $250 million in council grants.

MOMENT OF TRUTH: BIDEN DOES HIS THING

In news that threatens to live up to Joe Biden’s 2019 promise that “nothing would fundamentally change” if he’s elected, Politico reports that the Democratic leaders’ transition team is vetting Republicans for potential cabinet positions — including former Ohio governor John Kasich, who signed one of America’s most restrictive anti-abortion laws.

Elsewhere, NPR reports that the Justice Department has filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google alleging that the company has abused its dominance over smaller rivals.

Finally, BBC reports that oil giant Exxon has hosed down a hypothetical by Donald Trump, after the president claimed he could raise more money than Biden by calling Exxon’s boss and offer permits in exchange for funds.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Some context. Of the 1000 people on course, 750 are there anyway — jockeys, trainers, barrier attendants, farriers, strappers & media. Of the rest, there’s no members, no fans, no bookies and the tote will be closed. Owners will come, watch the horse they own run, and leave

Martin Pakula

In a justification that went down about as well as you’d expect on Melbourne Twitter, the Victorian racing minister explains that a since-canned plan to allow up to 500 owners and connections at the Cox Plate during lockdown was fine because uh hundreds of people are going anyway.

CRIKEY RECAP

Premier’s sympathy tour sinks to new low after desperate interview with sleazy Sandilands

“Any lingering doubts about Gladys Berejiklian’s judgment were put to rest yesterday after a sleazy interview with shock jock Kyle Sandilands.

“She obviously has none.

“Forget her political acumen over corruption allegations, or even her personal life choices — she’s now appears to be lacking even basic common sense as she desperately courts the sympathy vote.”


Secret airport land deals set to expose rotten public service practices

“The public servant at the centre of the extraordinary valuation process for the Leppington Triangle that generated a result 10 times greater than the worth of the parcel of land is the focus of an investigation initiated by the Department of Infrastructure in what could become the biggest Public Service scandal since the 1990s.”


‘The stories are heartbreaking’: is the prevention worse than the disease for elderly Australians in lockdown?

“As of today, our statistics look good. But something more is happening behind the scenes, particularly affecting those who don’t have loud voices, or the capacity to express their concern.

“One of my long-term patients, who needs a walking frame, entered my clinic room not long ago. Instead of a cheery greeting, her eyes stayed on the floor, her previous wit and spark dulled.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Asio chief says foreign spies trying to ‘deceptively cultivate’ Australian politicians at every level

Police given ‘information’ about claims of Vatican wire transfer during Pell trial

Veteran commando overwhelmed by PTSD and alcohol dependency prior to death, said dream job had ‘destroyed’ him, inquest hears

Scott Morrison: Digital to extract us from crisis ($)

Queensland ‘Christian soldiers’ back doctor who railed against abortion and gay marriage for LNP seat

Danish submarine killer Peter Madsen caught after short prison escape

Crown overlooked ‘suspicious’ reports: AUSTRAC ($)

Another building-site death adds to demands for industrial manslaughter laws

Western Sydney airport: families left in ‘indefinite limbo’ call for end to backroom deals

THE COMMENTARIAT

Hopelessly devoted to DanMartin McKenzie-Murray (The Monthly): “There’s a population of Victorians — small, I hope — that can be identified by the hashtag #IStandWithDan, and is characterised by a near-religious devotion to their premier and a pronounced distaste for any journalist committed to his accountability. To which I say: government is not your friend, footy club or a replacement for God. It is not Bono or Paddington Bear. It is not a wrist bracelet or a yoga mat. It is your servant.”

Senator Abetz’s loyalty testYun Jiang (Inside Story): “Little did I know that the very concerns I raised in my submission to the parliamentary inquiry into Australia’s diaspora communities would play out at the committee hearing in Canberra last Wednesday, the day I had been asked to attend and share my thoughts. I had made a written submission to the inquiry in July, focusing on Australia’s foreign interference laws and the under-representation of Chinese Australians in policy-making roles.”

Bolivians return Evo Morales’s party to power one year after a U.S.-applauded coupGlenn Greenwald (The Intercept): “It is difficult to remember the last time a U.S.-approved military coup in Latin America failed so spectacularly. Even with the US-dominated OAS’s instantly dubious claims of electoral fraud, nobody disputed that Morales received more votes in last October’s election than all other candidates (the only question raised by the OAS was whether his margin of victory was sufficient to win on the first round and avoid a run-off).”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Rod Sims will present “Tackling market power in the COVID-19 era and beyond” at the National Press Club.

  • Senate estimates will today hear from the Attorney-General’s portfolio, Finance, Agriculture and Water, and communications and media agencies.

Australia

  • Vice-Chancellor and President of the Australian National University Professor Brian Schmidt and ANU professor of higher education policy Andrew Norton will discuss “Australian Universities and the Pandemic” in the latest webinar from the Australia Institute.

Peter Fray

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