SOUTH AUSTRALIA GOES INTO LOCKDOWN
South Australia has this morning entered one of the world’s strictest lockdowns, with the ABC reporting that, for the next six days, exercise will be banned outside the house, and all schools, pubs, cafes, takeaway food outlets, and construction sites will be closed.
The “circuit breaker” plan, which allows for just one person per household to leave the house for essential purposes and strongly suggest masks, come after the Parafield cluster grew to 23 confirmed cases and a further seven suspected cases.
Labelling the measures as necessary to prevent a Victorian-style long-term lockdown, chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier also explains that the particular strain of the virus in South Australia was breeding “very, very rapidly” with a short incubation period of about 24 hours and some infected people showing only minimal symptoms.
Spurrier has also expressed concern over the fact Woodville Pizza Bar — where, in another example of COVID-19 policies failing to consider casualised workforces, news.com.au explains an infectious security guard worked following a medi-hotel shift — had been on food delivery apps.
PS: As 7News notes, an earlier announcement that bottleshops would be shut down has been rescinded; while no justification was provided, it is worth noting that forcing people with alcohol addiction into withdrawal can be fatal.
The Chinese embassy in Canberra has deliberately leaked a dossier to Nine reporters of 14 disputes against the Australian government, accusing it of “poisoning bilateral relations”, in a ploy apparently aimed at pressuring the Morrison government to reverse key policies.
The document, which The Sydney Morning Herald notes goes much further than any public statements made by the Chinese Communist Party, accuses the Morrison government of attempting “to torpedo” Victoria’s Belt and Road deal and being responsible for “unfriendly or antagonistic” reports by local media outlets.
Other areas of scorn include: government funding for “anti-China” research at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; raids on Chinese journalists and academic visa cancellations; “spearheading a crusade” in multilateral forums on China’s affairs in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Xinjiang; similarly pushing for an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19; banning Huawei from the 5G network in 2018; and blocking 10 Chinese foreign investment deals across infrastructure, agriculture and animal husbandry.
The ABC reports that the list has been slammed by some Australian officials, with one anonymously calling it a “very familiar recitation of grievances and false statements”, while the head of the National Security College Rory Medcalf labelled the CCP’s apparent tactic “unfortunate” and ineffective.
AUSTRALIA’S POOR CLIMATE CONTROL
The Guardian reports that an assessment by 14 organisations released ahead of this weekend’s virtual G20 summit, the Climate Transparency Report 2020, finds that Australia ranks in the bottom bracket in every climate policy category save one.
The Morrison government is one of only two in the G20 not implementing or planning a carbon pricing scheme, one of only four without a national policy to grow renewables, and ranks last in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport, with Australia’s per capita emissions currently three times the average.
But while the federal Coalition has been happy with “roughly nothing” in terms of climate policy for seven years and running, the past few days has seen a slew of announcements from states and territories:
- The NSW government’s Electricity Infrastructure Investment Bill — which, staggeringly, has support from all political parties save One Nation — proposes transforming the coal-dependent Hunter Valley into a renewable energy zone as part of a broader $32 billion, decade-long investment plan for new wind, solar and storage projects (RenewEconomy)
- Victoria will announce a $191 million boost to the state’s solar power rebate scheme as part of a $797 million energy package to be announced under next week’s budget (ABC)
- A new governing agreement between Labor and the Greens in the ACT will make zero-interest loans of up to $15,000 and two years free registration available for electric vehicles (The Driven).
PS: In global news, CNN reports that the UK government will ban the sale of petrol-only cars in 2030 under a “green industrial revolution” COVID-recovery plan that includes £12 billion (A$21.8 billion) in investment.
VACCINE WATCH: A GOOD SHOT
According to Science, Pfizer and BioNTech have announced that final analysis of their vaccine candidate demonstrates 95% efficacy, only a drop to 94% in people older than 65, and no safety concerns.
Further, while the companies’ claims last week to have hit 90% and more efficacy had little accompanying data, Pfizer and BioNTech have released more concrete information “now that the study has reached enough COVID-19 cases to end”.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
And on behalf of ‘the worst ever Queensland team’, thank you very much!
After securing a surprise 2-1 State of Origin victory, the Queensland skipper takes a well-deserved dunk on NSW critics, and all was right with the world.
“Ah, ministerial responsibility. Remember that quaint notion? Tudge alone has racked up at least five separate offences for which he should be under pressure to leave, but one thing we know for sure these days is that a Coalition minister could strangle his grandmother at the Public Bar in Manuka on a Wednesday night, and the prime minister’s only response would be a demand that the media show some respect for the dead.”
“The faceless men and women are back. During a week when several senior Liberal MPs have covered themselves in odour, it is, apparently, Labor leader Anthony Albanese whose job is at risk.
“At least, it is according to unnamed party figures quoted in News Corp’s national broadsheet, The Australian.”
“The long-awaited inquiry into alleged war crimes by Australian special forces in Afghanistan is likely to trigger the next stage of a dark chapter in Australia’s military history.
“But questions remain about how independent and transparent the process of implementing the recommendations of the report will be.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Why Robodebt failure is the PM’s problem ($) — Peter van Onselen (The Australian): “Scott Morrison was the social services minister when the idea of using automated collections for welfare recipients was initially conceived. He was Treasurer when doing so became a budget imperative to help the bottom line. And Morrison was Prime Minister when the collections were crucial to the surplus he was campaigning on ahead of the 2019 election. Getting the budget ‘back in black’.”
Tips for Albanese, straight from the horse’s mouth ($) — Niki Savva (The Australian): “After Joel Fitzgibbon quit from the opposition frontbench last week, informed speculation had it that he would act as a stalking horse for someone, anyone, to remove Anthony Albanese from the Labor Party leadership. Now, though, Fitzgibbon is a stalker without a horse. If he can’t find someone to run for him, if he can’t build up his numbers beyond an estimated dozen malcontents to give it a shake himself, or can’t engineer the kind of changes he believes essential to win the next election, he will quit parliament altogether, vacating the seat held by him for 24 years and by his father, Eric, for 12 before that.”
The last thing the economy needs is Joe Biden’s austerity — Meagan Day (Jacobin): “A crucial but overlooked detail in our nation’s recent political history is that Biden was chosen as Barack Obama’s running-mate in 2008 in order to placate affluent voters and donors by softening Obama’s (largely erroneous and undeserved) progressive image. Biden was able to serve this function because he had a reputation as a fiscal conservative, a deficit hawk who was not just willing but eager to knock down the pillars of the US welfare state.”
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