Mark McGowan
WA Premier Mark McGowan (Image: AAP/Richard Wainwright)

A HARD LOCK LIFE

WA Premier Mark McGowan has placed the Perth, Peel, and South West regions into hard lockdown until 6pm this Friday after a hotel quarantine security guard tested positive for COVID-19, while the state health department has released a list of possible exposure sites dating back to Maylands Coles from 8-10pm Monday, January 25. The guard’s immediate family tested negative yesterday but are in quarantine and are expected to test positive this week.

ABC reports that residents in the affected zones have the standard four exemptions for leaving home — shopping, healthcare, work, and exercise (for an hour within their neighbourhoods) — while schools will reopen next week, masks are mandatory for essential travel and indoor work, and most non-essential businesses and venues will close.

McGowan explained the guard may have been infected by a UK variant and may also be a ride-share driver — which, a year into COVID-19, is a terrific look for Australian labour rights — but, while believed to have been infected on either Tuesday or Wednesday, has not carried out any other jobs since working at the hotel on Wednesday. WA was also only just in the process of moving from a weekly to daily testing regime.

Last night, WA Health announced they are awaiting test results after a second patient presented to Perth’s Fiona Stanley Hospital with suspected COVID-19. 

IN SHORT BORDER

Both ABC and 9News report that other states have made varying border changes:

  • Victoria labelled Perth, Peel, and the South West as “red zones” from 9pm local time last night, meaning anyone who has visited them since January 25 cannot enter without an exemption
  • Conversely, any travellers from those hotspots arriving in NSW since January 25 face the same “stay at home” restrictions they would have faced had they stayed in WA, and are required to get tested within 48 hours of arriving in the state
  • Queensland declared from 6pm AEST yesterday that any travellers from those zones will be forced into hotel quarantine for two weeks, while anyone who had been in the regions from January 26 and has since arrived has been ordered to get tested and isolate until they get a result
  • Northern Territory implemented an effectively identical measure to Queensland at 7:30pm CST (9pm AEDT), but also went for a January 25 starting date
  • South Australia has not yet closed its borders but passengers on flights arriving in Adelaide from Perth last night were told to self-quarantine and get a COVID-19 test on days one, five and 12
  • ACT ordered anyone who had been in the Perth metropolitan area since January 25 to get tested and enter a five-day self-quarantine period (and remain even if they test negative), while federal politicians travelling from Perth were airborne when WA’s lockdown was announced and were ordered to go directly into accommodations ahead of the instructions
  • Tasmania has yet to make a firm announcement but all 108 passengers on a Perth-Hobart flight yesterday afternoon have been asked to self-isolate and await contact by health authorities.

PS: Separately, out of an “abundance of caution”, Victorian health authorities have placed close contacts of a man who returned a weak positive result two days after a weak negative result into isolation.

KEVIN FORBID

According to The Age, hard-right Liberal MP, former defence minister, and longest serving member of federal parliament Kevin Andrews has lost a preselection battle for the blue-ribbon Melbourne seat of Menzies to former special forces captain and Cambridge-educated barrister Keith Wolahan.

The news comes as climate change denialist and COVID-19 conspiracy theorist Craig Kelly faces a twin fight in the form of a fourth pre-selection attempt by “moderate” Liberal Kent Johns — who was previously overruled by all three successive prime ministers, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison — and local independents group We Are Hughes.

PS: While all polling needs to be taken with a block of salt, the latest Newspoll ($) has Labor and the Coalition locked at 50-50 and net satisfaction down for both Morrison and Anthony Albanese since November 29.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

You can’t run the Australian economy on taxpayers’ money forever.

The task now is to continue our economic recovery by sticking to our economic recovery plan and exercising the fiscal discipline necessary to ensure that we do not overburden future generations and continue to spend taxpayers’ money wisely.

We are not running a blank cheque budget.

Scott Morrison

Although JobKeeper and the doubled JobSeeker rate practically saved the economy last year, the prime minister will today outline in a (likely pre-election) National Press Club speech a recovery vision based on vaccine delivery, a reboot with China, and pushing around 740,000 Australians into poverty by March.

CRIKEY RECAP

Labor, Lambie, Hanson and Palmer are on a donations unity ticket — so why not the Coalition?

“What does the unlikely group of the Labor Party, Clive Palmer, Jacqui Lambie, Cory Bernardi’s now-defunct Australian Conservatives and Pauline Hanson’s One Nation have in common?

“All of them have a greater commitment to transparency about political funding than the Coalition.

“On Monday the Electoral Commission will release political donations data for 2019-20. Except what you’ll see is for some parties and donors only a small part of the story.”


Wall St pack sends up a hollow howl: we’ve been robbed!

“Shock. Horror. Gasp. World markets reel from the news that Wall Street stocks are being manipulated. Excuse me for a minute while I pick myself up off the floor from laughing too hard.

“That’s the first reaction to this week’s bizarre GameStop story, whereby an army of day-trading nerds used people power to drive up the share price of the ailing video game shop. They’ve done similar coordinated plays on Blackberry and retailer Macy’s.”


Migrants are key to our COVID recovery, yet 50,000 have been denied entry

“Migrants will be key to Australia’s economic recovery.

“The lack of arrivals since the pandemic began has affected our workforce, our GDP, our universities and our population growth. This financial year there’ll be a net loss of 72,000 migrants, compared with a net gain of 154,000 in 2019-20. Population growth is expected to drop to 0.2%, down from 1.5% in 2018-19.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Hydrogen industry hubs to tap clean fuel boom

Police Commissioner says youth bail laws need changes ($)

A little ray of sunshine as 2021 economic survey points to brighter times ahead

Channel 7 personality Andrew O’Keefe facing domestic violence charge

Secret report uncovers Collingwood’s ‘systemic racism’ ($)

‘Small risk’: Australia ends suspension of New Zealand travel bubble

Climate Change Commission calls on New Zealand government to take ‘immediate and decisive action’ to cut emissions

Russia arrests more than 3000 protesters during rallies calling for Alexei Navalny’s release

Trump’s impeachment defense team leaves less than two weeks before trial

Poland: Thousands protest against abortion law for third straight night

Israeli forces kill Palestinian with ‘three-knife’ weapon

THE COMMENTARIAT

Shrill threats: Google risks losing media fightGreg Hywood (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Back in the late 1990s as the editor of The Australian Financial Review I took a trip to Silicon Valley to see what the fuss was all about. My first visit was to three Indian guys in a small shopfront who showed how the internet could be used to search classified ads. It was starkly apparent the ‘rivers of gold’ – the monopoly stream of jobs, homes and car ads that made my sister publications The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age so profitable — were going to one day dry up.”

Why Frydenberg made his explosive ASIC move ($) — Karen Maley (AFR): “If you were a corporate crook, or contemplating an exercise in financial embezzlement, you’d have to find the long-awaited Thom report hugely reassuring. Because if the country’s corporate cop is even half as negligent when it comes to cracking down on wrongdoers as it has shown itself to be in investigating possible breaches of Remuneration Tribunal rules in the remuneration of two of its most senior officials, you’d have to be pretty optimistic that any crimes you commit would go unpunished.”

Republicans can’t believe Democrats don’t want to work with them just because of the guns and the death threats and the congresswoman who thinks Jews started the Californian wildfires with space lasersBess Levin (Vanity Fair): “Forget for a moment that we’re living in the midst of a global pandemic and think back to a time when you went into an office five days a week and interacted with people outside of your family. Say you had a colleague who flagrantly violated the very clear company policy of not bringing a firearm into work and, when reprimanded about it, was like “F–k you, I’ll pack heat wherever and whenever I want, including during your presentation to the board of directors, Carol.’”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Melbourne

  • The winners of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards will be revealed at a digital Wheeler Centre event.

Australia

  • The Australian Electoral Commission will publish the latest details of returns from political parties, political campaigners, associated entities, donors, and third parties.

Peter Fray

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