restrictions ease Brett Sutton
(Image: AAP/Erik Anderson)

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

Victorians will today no longer be required to wear masks in public — as long as physical distancing can be maintained — with chief health officer Brett Sutton announcing he is “confident” the state has no community transmission.

The ABC reports that the visitor caps have been lifted to 15 for homes, 50 for small hospitality venues, and 150 for large venues such as cinemas. The state’s “final step” will begin 11:59pm December 13, when homes will be able to have up to 30 visitors.

South Australia also emerged from its short-lived lockdown yesterday, while The Guardian reports that, considering both states’ experience with hotel quarantine, SA Labor Leader Peter Malinauskas has called for an end for quarantine systems as they stand.

Malinauskas has instead suggested in a Facebook post they could be replaced with purpose-built facilities outside CBDs staffed with non-casual workforces.

PS: The ABC reports that SA police have also seized mobile devices from an infected medi-hotel worker who — after originally telling contact tracers he only ordered a pizza from Woodville Pizza Bar instead of working at the shop as well — helped set in motion the harsh lockdown.

In news that does not exactly invite vulnerable workers coming forward in the future, news.com.au reported on Saturday that the worker’s visa status could also be impacted by the police investigation.

WAR CRIMES FALLOUT

Australia’s Chief of Army Rick Burr has told The Sydney Morning Herald he felt “sick” hearing how senior special forces soldiers pressured juniors to execute prisoners, but maintains he and other high-ranking officials were blind to the alleged war crimes happening under their watch.

The Guardian also notes that the Chief of the Australian Defence Force Angus Campbell says he accepts senior commanders and officers bear some of the responsibility for the handling of the alleged war crimes, after former and service soldiers expressed their frustration about how the Brereton report fails to sanction higher-level officials.

QUIT WHILE YOU’RE BEHIND

According to the ABC, WA Opposition Leader Liza Harvey has stepped down ahead of the March 13 state election for what she describes as an opportunity to reset the party’s election campaign.

Harvey also noted that the pandemic has made it hard for the WA Liberals’ message to cut through — polling suggests WA Premier Mark McGowan is set for a landslide off the back of successful COVID-19 strategies, to the point WA Labor is running a presidential-style election campaign — while both health spokesman Zak Kirkup and shadow treasurer Dean Nalder will nominate for the leadership vacancy.

MOMENT OF TRUTH: CRUCIAL GOP SENATOR QUARANTINING

According to NBC News, Republican Senator for Georgia, Kelly Loeffler, is quarantining after receiving inconclusive COVID-19 test results following multiple campaign appearances with Mike Pence and other officials throughout the week.

Loeffler, who was investigated for insider trading earlier this year by the Senate Ethics Committee after selling stocks linked to private COVID-19 briefings, will contest a run-off election in January that will determine which party controls the US Senate.

The news comes after Donald Trump Jr tested positive over the weekend, and, as The New Daily reports, as millions of American prepare to travel for Thanksgiving despite the country hitting a record daily caseload of 196,815 on Friday.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

In other words, Plaintiffs ask this Court to disenfranchise almost 7 million voters … One might expect that when seeking such a startling outcome, a plaintiff would come formidably armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption, such that this Court would have no option but to regrettably grant the proposed injunctive relief despite the impact it would have on such a large group of citizens.

That has not happened. Instead, this Court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations, unpled in the operative complaint and unsupported by evidence.

Pennsylvania judge Matthew Brann

Turns out that asking for a court to consider throwing out millions of votes needs evidence beyond just not really liking them.

CRIKEY RECAP

Lamenting ‘toxic culture’ doesn’t change the fact that the SAS got away with murder

“You’ve watched the films, read the books, and have an SAS poster on your wall. You finish school and join the army, desperate to become one of the best of the best. After years of exemplary service in the regular army, with hours spent doing extra training, you attempt to join the SAS.

“The 21-day selection course is as demanding as you can possibly imagine — physically, emotionally and mentally shattering. Perhaps 20% get through. You’re one of the lucky ones.”


The uniquely Australian violence of the Brereton war crimes report

“Like all such documents, the Brereton report on alleged war crimes by SAS forces in Afghanistan changes nothing and changes everything.

“We have known ever more of these events year on year for some time now. The events themselves are not surprising to anyone with a clear-eyed view of the military, any military. But none of that is the same as having it spelt out in an official document with the force of the state, or part of the state, behind it.”


Seven caught in the middle of an unignorable story and the loyalty of Kerry Stokes

“But the SAS unit has found solace from one source: Seven West chairman Kerry Stokes. Already, Stokes has loaned decorated former SAS soldier Ben Roberts-Smith somewhere between $1 million and $2 million (depending on the source) to aid his — so far not going all that great — defamation case against the Nine papers.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

UberEats rider killed in Sydney’s south identified as Bangladeshi student Bijoy Paul

Australia to begin human tests of revolutionary anti-COVID nasal spray

China, Russia spreading lies, digital discord: former US National Security Agency director Mike Rogers ($)

Biden courted in Cormann’s bid to run ‘the most important organisation you’ve never heard of’

Labor mines for votes in coal and gas ($)

SBS breaks ratings record as news chief vows to amplify diverse voices

Ethiopia tells civilians to ‘save yourselves’ as troops advance toward Tigray capital Mekelle

Protesters set fire to Guatemala’s Congress building over budget cuts

Coronavirus: Johnson faces Tory revolt over stricter tier plan for England

Islamic State claims Afghanistan attack as Mike Pompeo holds his final peace talks

THE COMMENTARIAT

Blaming and shaming breaks a cardinal rule of public healthMichael Toole, Suman Majumbar and Brendan Crabb (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The Australian health system is built on the principle of person-centred care — trust, mutual respect and responsibility between providers and patients. This applies to COVID-19, where building trust is part of effective community risk communication and engagement. Public shaming and blaming of an individual — a presumably lowly paid person working two jobs, while employed in a quarantine hotel by a private subcontractor — contravenes all the above principles.”

‘User pays’ rule applies to Google and Facebook cashing in on local news content ($) — Greg Hywood (The Australian): “Innovative legislation under consideration will bring Google and Facebook to the table to negotiate fair payment to Australian media outlets for locally produced news content. Once implemented Australians can feel confident they will have a viable media establishment that can continue to ask the tough questions our institutions and those in power often cannot or will not ask of themselves.”

Take the profit out of slavery by holding companies to account for human rights abusesMartijn Boersma, Justine Coneybeer, Emmanuel Josserand, and Alice Payne (The New Daily): “When the UK Modern Slavery Act was introduced in 2015 and its Australian counterpart followed three years later, these pieces of legislation were heralded as ground-breaking. Both Acts require entities that meet the annual revenue threshold to report on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains, what actions they have taken to address those risks, and what the outcomes of those efforts have been.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Parliamentary inquiries will today examine the Morrison government’s push to delegate environmental responsibilities to the states, and, separately, the family law system.

Australia

  • The annual International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) will hold digital events all week; activist group Blockade IMARC — which held protests last year in Melbourne that led to incidents of police violence — will hold concurrent digital events.

Peter Fray

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