Australia has suspended its quarantine-free travel bubble with New Zealand after three new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases sent Auckland into lockdown, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, with chief medical officer Paul Kelly reversing an earlier decision after a late-night meeting with counterparts from NSW, Queensland and Victoria.
The news comes after Melbourne recorded another two locally acquired cases, a woman and a child from separate households, who the ABC notes attended a Coburg function centre on Saturday, February 6. The site was re-examined as a hotspot after a separate infection led to authorities re-examining an early test from a quarantine worker and bumping it from a “negative” to a “weak positive”.
Victoria’s list of exposure sites was also updated last night to include Queen Victoria Market from 8:25-10:10am on Thursday February 11, as well as three Yarra Tram routes for that morning:
- No. 11 (from Harbour Esplanade/Collins St to William St/Collins St #3) between 7:55-8:10am
- No. 58 (from Bourke St/William St #5 to Queen Victoria Market/Peel St #9) between 8:10-8:25am
- No. 58 (from Queen Victoria Market/Peel St #9 to Bourke St/William St #5) between 9:40-9:55am.
Meanwhile, The Australian ($) reports that government officials are discussing scaling back the state’s intake of returned travellers and using publicly-owned assets for quarantine instead of hotels, and Health Minister Greg Hunt has confirmed the first shipment of Pfizer vaccines is due to arrive this week.
PS: In global news, CNN reports that World Health Organisation investigators have discovered signs the original Wuhan outbreak was much greater in December 2019 than previously reported, “and are urgently seeking access to hundreds of thousands of blood samples from the city that China has not so far let them examine”.
Over in America, The Guardian’s live blog has begun listing responses to Republican politicians voting to acquit Donald Trump over his role in the Capitol Hill Siege that, per Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, he was “practically and morally responsible for provoking”.
McConnell argued it would be unconstitutional to impeach a president who has left office — but, coincidentally, declined to recall the Senate back when that was an option for Trump — while the former president has, as Al Jazeera reports, welcomed the news and announced a commitment to remain in the political sphere in some capacity.
PS: As CNN explains, Trump still has a host of legal troubles, namely a reported attempt to coerce Georgia election officials into changing the results, alleged fraud by the Trump Organisation, and a possible federal investigation over the Capitol riots.
GIVEN A WELFARE SHAKE
The Morrison government is considering streamlining all welfare payments, supplements, and subsidies for unemployed Australians into a single payment, The Australian ($) reports, under a leaked proposal flagged at a meeting of cabinet’s expenditure review committee to permanently lift JobSeeker before the end of the coronavirus supplement in March pushes it even further below the poverty line.
Additionally, amid mounting calls for another Victorian relief package, The Age reports that state Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra has put the cost of the state’s five-day lockdown “well north” of $500 million and close to $1 billion. Additionally, $1.5 billion property fund Hamilton Chase is reportedly waiting to pounce on distressed, emptying Melbourne buildings.
PS: Ahead of a battle over the Morrison government’s omnibus industrial relations bill this week, The New Daily reports Labor will ramp up negative advertising, while Attorney-General Christian Porter has hit out at the opposition’s proposals to extend holidays and long service leave to casuals.
RORT TO HAVE KNOWN BETTER
Finally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Peter Dutton charged taxpayers more than $36,000 to charter a Royal Australian Air Force jet to Tasmania during the 2018 Braddon byelection campaign in order to make a security grants announcement for two councils that, combined, came to $194,000.
The news comes as the ABC revealed that Dutton overruled Home Affairs advice in January 2019 not to approve the grants on the basis they did “not represent value for money in accordance with the program guidelines”.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
There is no question that president Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.
The US Senate minority leader boldly declares Donald Trump guilty of inciting the Capitol Hill Siege, just a few minutes after voting to acquit him for that act — on the grounds he would have to still be in office, despite, y’know, opting not to recall the Senate back when that was an option — and give him another shot come 2024.
“It is hard to believe the blot on the landscape that is Sydney’s Crown casino — colloquially known as Packer’s Pecker — is as obscene on the inside as it is on the outside.
“A bit like the company itself really.
“The gaming rooms might be shuttered thanks to the inconvenient lack of a casino licence, but the public spaces, the restaurants and hotel rooms have all recently opened to the public.”
“Poor Mark Rubbo. The owner of the Readings chain of bookshops has been at the centre of Melbourne’s cultural life for 50 years. But this week he’s found himself stuck in the middle of an ideological war.
“On one side is genderqueer young adult fiction author Alison Evans. On the other is 58-year-old English feminist writer Julie Bindel. Both have been invited to speak at Readings, which hosts author events most nights of the week. Bindel spoke at an event in 2018 while Evans, along with transgender author Juno Dawson, is scheduled to host an event in a few weeks time, on February 25.”
“I spend a lot of time communicating economic facts. The one the causes the most trouble is the unemployment rate. People HATE it.
“They hate the fact that under the statistical definition promulgated by the International Labour Organisation you need only work one hour a week to be counted as employed and they hate that it is measured by a survey.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Unprecedented change under way as First Nations people take a seat at the table — Pat Turner (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Each year in February, the Prime Minister delivers a statement in Parliament accounting to the nation for the status of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and outlines what more is needed to ‘close the gap’. It is a time when our country looks in the mirror and confronts our different status — a status that shows wide gaps between the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians.”
JobKeeper has ensured economic recovery ($) — Josh Frydenberg (The Australian): “But the JobKeeper program, as Treasury found in its review last year, ‘has a number of features that create adverse incentives, which may become more pronounced over time as the economy recovers’. This includes hampering ‘labour mobility and the reallocation of workers to more productive roles’, as well as keeping ‘businesses afloat that would not be viable without ongoing support’. This is why JobKeeper has to come to an end as our economy strengthens, and businesses and their staff adjust to the new economic environment.”
We’re living in a movie about fascism — David Sirota (The Daily Poster): “If you’re serious about preventing the rise of fascism in an advanced society, there would be two things you’d really want to do: You’d want to hold accountable those who incite authoritarian violence, and you’d want to make sure that desperate people get immediate help during an economic and public health emergency. You would want to do these things not just because it’s the moral thing to do, but also because such actions can tamp down the possibility of radicalisation, insurrection, riots, social unrest, and chaos.”
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