NORTHERN BEACHES IN SEMI-LOCKDOWN
NSW Health has called on residents of Sydney’s Northern Beaches to stay home as much as possible over the next two days, to both assist with contact tracing and virus suppression after the area’s COVID-19 cluster grew to at least 17.
With the source of these cases still under investigation — and no link identified to the southern Sydney air crew van driver who also tested positive — residents have been asked to work from home where possible, not visit aged care facilities, hospitals, or attend large gatherings unless essential, and avoid unnecessary travel outside of the region.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the list of official hotspots has grown to 30 — following a suspected super-spreader event at the Avalon RSL on Friday December 11 — while, as the ABC explains, states and territories have implemented varying new restrictions:
- Queensland: Anyone who has been to the Northern Beaches region on or since Friday December 11, and arrives in the state after 1am Saturday, must go into hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense
- Western Australia: NSW has moved from a “very low-risk” state classification to a “low-risk state”, meaning anyone arriving from the state to WA will be required to self-quarantine in a suitable location for 14 days. Arrivals will also be required to be tested for COVID-19 on day 11 of their quarantine
- Victoria: Anyone who has been in the Northern Beaches area since December 11 should get tested today and stay at home until results are available — they should also avoid aged care facilities and hospitals
- Tasmania: The Northern Beaches LGA is considered a hotspot, meaning anyone who has been in this area on or since Friday, December 11 will not be permitted to enter Tasmania
- Northern Territory: Also declared LGA a hotspot effective today, adding that anyone travelling to the NT from the Northern Beaches will have to undertake 14 days quarantine either in Alice Springs or Darwin
- The ACT: Advised all Canberrans not to travel to the Northern Beaches, and anyone who has been in the area from Friday, December 11 needs to immediately self-quarantine and get tested.
PS: In a busy night for global COVID-19 news, French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive, the World Health Organization has warned that countries in the Asia-Pacific have no guarantees to early vaccine access, and, in the understatement of the year, Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf has said the country’s “let it rip” response “failed”.
AGED CARE’S TOOTHLESS WATCHDOG
According to The Australian ($), the federal aged care regulator, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, failed to issue a single sanction against a Victorian nursing home in the three months to the end of September, despite forcing 18 facilities to address immediate and severe risks amid a second wave that killed more than 660 residents.
That indictment of the sector’s toothless tiger comes after Victorian Ombudsman Deborah Glass found the state government’s decision to lock down nine public housing towers with no warning on July 4 violated the human rights of roughly 3000 tenants. As The Age reports, Glass also issued a rebuffed call to apologise.
PS: In the latest from Australia’s other, much more ingrained system of human rights violation, The Guardian reports that about 60 refugees and asylum seekers have been moved after a year’s detention in Melbourne’s Mantra hotel to the Park Hotel in Carlton. Which, interestingly, was used earlier this year for 14-day quarantines.
A COAL LOT OF NOTHING
Finally, wrapping up a fairly miserable week for Australia’s coal industry, The Guardian reports that Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo has written off its investment in the newest coal-fired power station built in Australia, the Bluewaters power plant in Western Australia.
PS: In not unrelated news, The New Daily notes that Labor’s main criticism of yesterday’s otherwise-heartening Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook was the “wasted opportunity” to invest more in employment growth and renewable energy, which — relative to the “gas-led recovery” developed by and for the gas industry — came to roughly nothing.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
We make no apology for saving people’s lives.
Victoria’s housing minister seems to mishear the ombudsman’s recommendation the government apologise for creating a public housing lockdown that — with no warning but plenty of armed police — “was not compatible with the residents’ human rights, including their right to humane treatment when deprived of liberty”.
“George Pell says he was framed. Taking umbrage with his brave attempts to drain the Vatican swamp of corruption, powerful forces inside the church conspired to ‘destroy’ him, the cardinal has told Italian television.
“The ever-divisive Pell, acquitted of historic child sex abuse by Australia’s highest court, must still mount a defence in the court of public opinion. And that’s what he’s done since the High Court quashed his conviction in April: fight a quiet PR campaign to recast himself as a victim.”
“Mathias Cormann’s campaign to become the next secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is running into trouble. Serious trouble.
“Far from Australia pushing ahead on a unity ticket behind the former finance minister, former Labor foreign affairs minister Bob Carr has written to scores of international government contacts urging them to consider Australia’s inaction on climate change before appointing Cormann.”
“Attacking the Murdoch family is a pretty popular pursuit in Western democracies right now — which is why former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s reputation and popularity has enjoyed a solid lift recently.
“With the implosion of Donald Trump, Brexit costs spiralling, climate denialism on the way out and Boris Johnson looking less credible with every passing day, there aren’t too many loopy Western political projects left for the Murdoch family to back.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
The Treasurer’s back pocket – what the government isn’t telling us — Michael Pascoe (The New Daily): “So who will be the recipient of a $1.86 billion tax cut the government is keeping secret? Tucked away in the fine print of Thursday’s MYEFO statement was $1855.3 million worth of reduced revenue over four years for ‘decisions taken but not yet announced’. You might wonder why the government is keeping such a gift quiet. The answer to such a question normally is ‘politics’.
Six issues on Scott Morrison’s mind over summer — Michelle Grattan (The Conversation): “When he ended 2019 amid literal and political smoke, it would have seemed inconceivable Scott Morrison could finish 2020 on a high. Or that he’d have reached there on the back of Australia’s worst downturn since the Depression. Morrison learned from his mistakes of last summer, about how he needed to adapt his own style, and where power really lies in the federation. That knowledge served him well in the COVID crisis.”
Wiyi Yani U Thangani Report — June Oscar (IndigenousX): “Wiyi Yani U Thangani – Securing Our Rights, Securing Our Future Report 2020 marks new beginnings for our First Nations women and girls, and for all Australians. Wiyi Yani U Thangani means ‘women’s voices’ in my language, Bunuba. It’s a fitting title for a landmark document which holds the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and girls, on every page.”
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