South Australia has shut its border to everyone from Greater Melbourne other than essential travellers and those returning home or relocating, with The New Daily reporting that the discovery of two new cases brings the Melbourne Airport Holiday Inn cluster to eight.
Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton had earlier linked the cases to a nebuliser — a medical device that vaporises medications into a very fine mist that can be inhaled and, The Conversation explains, consequently increases the risk of aerosol transmission — while the state’s health department has announced two new “tier one” exposure sites:
- Commonwealth Bank, Glen Waverley from 1:30-2:45pm Tuesday, February 9
- HSBC Bank, Glen Waverley from 2:15-3:30pm, Tuesday, February 9
Additionally, the department later tweeted they were taking a “precautionary approach” with a new “tier two” site, and are “strongly encouraging anyone who attended Sunbury Square Shopping Centre on Friday, February 5 between 3.40pm and 4.30pm to urgently seek testing and isolate until they receive a negative result”.
Now, The Age reports that Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait has called for staff in hotel quarantine sites to have access to personal protective equipment on par with workers in high-risk COVID hospital wards.
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PS: In global COVID-19 news, the ABC reports that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has acknowledged failings in the EU’s vaccine program such as relatively late approvals, “optimism” over mass production, and rules meant to curb exports that would have created a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC?
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Morrison government intends to push back against Britain’s bid to establish climate tariffs at June’s G7 summit, with unnamed officials arguing that global sanctions against countries without emissions trading schemes or any discernible climate policies — i.e. Australia — would amount to “protectionism” that would undermine the forthcoming free trade agreement.
Conversely, the EU ambassador to Australia Dr Michael Pulch has urged Canberra to increase its current (paltry) 2030 emissions target of 26-28% below 2005 levels, even telling The Guardian climate action could be a sticking point in ratifying a potential EU-Australia trade deal.
Boris Johnson is currently considering using his presidency of the forthcoming G7 meeting to push for carbon border levies, while the news comes after Joe Biden endorsed a border “carbon adjustment fee” as part of his “Buy American” economic plan and the European Union endorsed a cross-border carbon tax last Friday that is due to hit Australian raw materials by 2023.
PS: The Productivity Commission has today released its draft report on national water reform, which The Guardian explains calls on state and federal governments to forge a new compact that addresses global warming and sets “triggers” for rapid policy responses.
WORK IN PROGRESS
In more positive news, The Australian ($) reports that the number of Australians leaving federal employment services programs (553,433) has outpaced the number of job-seekers entering the system (274,891) since September.
The figures appear to both suggest an improving labour market and corroborate a November report by economist Jeff Borland that, as he explained at The Conversation, found even a substantial increase to JobSeeker would not deter people from looking for work.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Rowland: Who paid for the vaccines [in a tweet announcing 10 million new Pfizer doses that bears the Liberal logo]?
Hunt: Let us draw a clear distinction here. I know this is an issue for you. In many ways, you identify with the left, you do this a lot, and I respect that, you’re open about that, and that’s entirely a matter for you–
Rowland: No, no, minister, I find that offensive, I’m exercised about what’s right and wrong–
Hunt: Oh come on, Michael. There’s nobody who’s watching you who doesn’t identify you as the left. And you should be open about that. I’m open about my origins … I’m bemused but I did predict to people that Michael Rowland would spend 50% of this interview on this topic…
Rowland: No it’s not quite 50% … It just struck me as odd, and I’d ask the same question about the Labor governments, a party political logo attached to an Australian government announcement?
Hunt: No, with great respect, this was a tile, which acknowledged that, which had already been acknowledged … But I win the bet with my office that you would spend 50% of this interview on that topic…
Greg Hunt and Michael Rowland
In not the first time the health minister has turned an ABC journalist’s question into a personal attack, Hunt goes in on News Breakfast’s resident hippie over yet another use of the Liberal logo in a government announcement.
Unrelated, but the Coalition will have gutted the ABC by more than $783 million next year.
“Why did it take a NSW regulator to publicly confirm what Nine’s journalists, led by Nick McKenzie, had revealed about the profound failings of Crown, which operates casinos in Melbourne and Perth?
“One part of the reason is to be found in the political donations of Crown. Since 2010, Crown has given the Victorian Labor Party more than $177,000 in contributions. It has given the Victorian Liberal Party nearly $274,000. It has paid the WA Labor Party nearly $290,000 and the WA Libs over $460,000, as well as over $60,000 to the WA Nationals.”
“When it comes to retired judges making an impact conducting special inquiries, the Crown Resorts inquiry lead Justice Patricia Bergin will go down as one of the best.
“After first carving up the NSW RSL in 2018 for appalling and corrupt practices, she was called upon by the normally ineffective and under-resourced Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority of NSW to conduct a special inquiry into the suitability of James Packer’s Crown Resorts to operate its new Sydney casino.”
“Back in 2006 Crikey asked, ‘is it time to dump Eddie McGuire?’
“It’s a question we’ve been asking ever since, as more and more of his behaviour was passed off as the harmless gaffes of a regular bloke’s bloke who simply likes to speak his mind. That is until yesterday afternoon when the Collingwood president was finally held accountable.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
The Nats lose touch with their ‘wonderful people’ – the farmers who’ll be our climate saviours — John Hewson (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The National Party is ignorant, misleading and divisive on climate change – and, to its peril, woefully out of touch with its constituency, the ‘wonderful people’, as leader Michael McCormack calls them. He means the farmers, many of whom would be hurt by the Nationals’ attempt to exclude agriculture from any commitment — still only a ‘preference’ for Prime Minister Scott Morrison — to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.”
Coronavirus: Strong jobs recovery but wage pain remains ($) — Tom Dusevic (The Australian): “People are getting back to work, especially in industries hit hardest by trading restrictions, such as retail and hospitality, although the latter is 100,000 jobs below its level of a year ago. As well, jobseekers haven’t been discouraged in their search, with the participation rate at a record high. The RBA says this quick rebound in participation suggests there’s been less ‘scarring’ in the labour market and fewer ‘search frictions’ than is typically seen in downturns and recoveries.”
Biden says he’s ending the Yemen war — but it’s too soon to celebrate — Sarah Lazare and Shireen Al-Adeimi (In These Times): “The February 4 announcement by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that President Biden would end U.S. support for ’offensive operations’ in Yemen was understandably met with celebration by those opposed to the war. Almost six years of the U.S.-Saudi‑U.A.E. war on Yemen have left the country devastated by humanitarian disaster and famine. Anti-war activists have spent these years – first during the Obama-Biden administration, then the Trump-Pence administration, and now the Biden-Harris administration — agitating to end U.S. participation in the onslaught.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will speak in-conversation with Kerry O’Brien at a Griffith University “Better Future For All” event.
Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio and state Labor MP Kat Theophanous will speak in a virtual Environment & Energy Forum.