Mark McGowan COVID-19 WA
Premier of Western Australia Mark McGowan (Image: AAP/POOL, Tony McDonough)

GUARDED RESPONSE

More than 65 close contacts of the Perth security guard infected with a UK COVID-19 variant have been quarantined, the ABC reports. As the state awaits news of secondary infections, WA Police and the state government have announced reviews into the quarantine outbreak, and the list of hotspots has been updated to include an ARENA supermarket in the CBD from 2-3pm Wednesday, January 27.

Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reveals that WA officials took more than 11 hours to inform federal and state counterparts about the case, a ­possible breach of pandemic ­protocols, while WAToday notes that WA Police have arrested and charged a man for refusing to wear a mask.

A senior industry insider has also told The West Australian ($) that international students, denied JobKeeper and JobSeeker, are getting paid cash in hand as security guards to not breach visa conditions and are sharing IDs to work second jobs to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, both the latest Newspoll ($) and Guardian Essential poll have shown promising support for the forthcoming vaccine rollout, with the former showing 75% of respondents would either definitely or probably get vaccinated while the latter suggests 68% believe Australia’s program will be done efficiently while 72% are confident it will be done safely.

PS: In less encouraging vaccine news, The Age reports that AstraZeneca is awaiting fresh data on its vaccine’s ability to combat the emerging South African strain, after Johnson & Johnson and Novavax reported early-stage clinical trial data showed their vaccines provided between 49 and 57% protection against the variant.

NET-ZERO FIDDLES WHILE HOME BURNS

Scott Morrison yesterday told the National Press Club he would like Australia to hit net-zero emissions by 2050, a soft pledge currently supported by every state and territory — and one that Crikey has explained before is tempting for do-nothing governments and businesses with little in the way of plans this decade — but also one The Australian ($) notes could inflame divisions within the Coalition.

He also emphasised his government would not “tax our way” to the target, despite carbon pricing being the most efficient means of decarbonisation, but rely on “new” technologies (see: the Technology Roadmap furphy); low-cost hydrogen; and, as AFR ($) notes in a win for the Nationals, a national soils strategy for carbon sequestration.

In other NPC moments, Morrison also laughed off questions about Craig Kelly repeatedly spreading COVID-19 misinformation, telling journalists to get their information from doctors not Facebook. For a neat comparison, check out how Kelly has enjoyed roughly seven times the Facebook reach of the federal health department since August (via Gizmodo’s Cam Wilson).

PS: Yahoo News reports that China yesterday launched a carbon trading system as part of its work towards a 2060 net-zero target, as if we needed a reminder of just how far behind Australia is right now.

COUP IN MYANMAR

Finally, leader of Myanmar’s democratically elected ruling party Aung San Suu Kyi has called on compatriots to protest against military control following yesterday’s coup, while the ABC reports the military declared it intends to hold control for one year after crushing what would have been the country’s new parliament’s first meeting session since the November election.

Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne expressed concern over the events, with Payne calling on the military to release all civilian leaders and to “resolve disputes through lawful mechanisms”,  although Morrison failed to directly criticise the military.

CONTEXT CORNER: Note that the Coalition government has never been particularly critical of Myanmar’s military, splashing hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2017 and 2018 in training programs despite reports of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya people.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

This is a historic and proud day for the Collingwood Football Club.

… This isn’t criticism. This is a review. It’s very strong because we asked them to go as hard as they could, so we could have a base to build our club on.

… It’s a day of pride. People have to get past the idea of tearing down people, tearing down institutions who are prepared to look within themselves to make the hard decisions and make things different.

… It was not ‘systemic racism,’ as such, we just didn’t have the processes to deal with it that we do now.

… I don’t think there is any shame or any disappointment in what’s going on here.

… We’re not BHP … we’re a footy club.

… We have Asian people coming through our netball team, we have everybody.

Eddie McGuire

The long-standing Collingwood president offers a bizarrely positive, arguably delusional response to having a secret review, which found he oversaw “systemic racism” and a club more concerned with PR than reform, leaked to the press.

CRIKEY RECAP

Donations crunched by pandemic as fundraising frozen and big donors keep pockets closed

“Political fundraising has been crunched by the pandemic, with the major parties’ incomes from donations, contributions and investment returns slumping to less than half previous levels.

“Data for the 2019-20 financial year released today by the Electoral Commission shows big falls in fundraising as the economy entered recession, companies hunkered down and lockdowns ended traditional fundraisers.”


Palmer, Pratt, Woodside and unions: big spenders in a year of thrift

Clive Palmer was again Australia’s biggest political spender in the 2019-20 financial year, giving nearly $6 million to… himself.

“The donation from Palmer’s company, Mineralogy, to his party, the United Australia Party, represents a significant fall from the $83 million he donated in the previous reporting period when he went on a spending blitz centred around the 2019 election.”


Still pumping: Coalition, Labor gain fossil fuel funds as companies hedge bets

“The fossil fuel industry has continued to pump money into politics, buying huge amounts of influence in Canberra even as it faces existential threat around the world. This follows a record year for fossil fuel donations, which dominated the 2019 federal election.

“Once again the biggest donor was Clive Palmer’s Mineralogy, donating $5.9 million to his United Australia Party. But Palmer’s actions are out of step with most companies.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Liberal rift deepens over bill banning gay conversion therapy

Peta Credlin forced to apologise to Kevin Rudd over false data harvesting claims

Labor MP Marlene Kairouz and Banyule Mayor referred to party tribunal over branch stacking allegations

Australia’s Martin Green awarded prestigious Japan Prize for work as ‘Father of solar PV’

Melbourne prison guard who killed himself was bullied for reporting colleague, wife claims

Out of control Wooroloo bushfire sparks emergency warning for residents to take immediate action after at least three houses lost

Craig Kelly backs Pete Evans’ right to spread conspiracy theories: ‘Ideas should be debated’

THE COMMENTARIAT

The scandals he walks past Nick Feik (The Monthly): “When it was revealed in December that Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had billed taxpayers almost $5000 to take the prime minister’s private jet from Canberra to Sydney for Lachlan Murdoch’s 2018 Christmas party, there was little outcry. Most media organisations didn’t even follow up Guardian Australia’s original story. ”

Sharks circle Labor leadership as Anthony Albanese dead in the water ($) — Troy Bramston (The Australian):Anthony Albanese is surrounded by sharks. The three most likely Labor leadership contenders — Chris Bowen, Jim Chalmers and Tanya Plibersek — are ready to strike if they see a clear pathway to the leadership. Richard Marles and Tony Burke have made it clear to colleagues they, too, should not be ruled out.”

West has hard questions to answer about Myanmar coup Anthony Galloway (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Western countries may have reacted in condemnation of the Myanmar military’s coup on Monday but they should have known this day might be coming. Days after Donald Trump started making unsubstantiated claims of election fraud in early November, Myanmar’s military began doing the same.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Former Wallabies player David Pocock will speak with others at a climate rally outside Parliament House for the first day of the sitting year.

Peter Fray

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