OUT OF SITE, OUT OF MIND
As Victoria reopens to more than 100 international travellers today, The Age reports that some hotel quarantine staff employed by Healthcare Australia are still working at more than one site across Melbourne, contravening a key recommendation from the state’s hotel quarantine inquiry.
Emails obtained by The Age dated April 1 show Healthcare Australia told select staff their second jobs were a breach of their employment conditions “and subsequently a breach of the contract between HCA and [COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria]”.
In other local news, Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt announced they would pressure the European Commission over 3.1 million undelivered AstraZeneca doses, although as Crikey explained yesterday that figure is something of a red herring; Australia’s March 14 rollout schedule had revised a March 31 target of 4 million down to 1.8 million, with fewer than 700,000 doses ultimately delivered.
Secretary of the Department of Health Brendan Murphy also announced CSL will soon reach a million vaccines produced per week, while the NSW government will establish a “mass vaccination hub” in Homebush to administer 30,000 doses a week. Western Australia has taken replaced its hard border against Queensland with self-quarantine.
POSSIBLE RARE SIDE EFFECT TO ASTRAZENECA VACCINE
The European Medicines Agency’s safety committee has found a possible link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare cases of blood clots with low levels of blood platelets, with CNN noting the EMA has stressed benefits still vastly outweigh the risks of side effects. Reportedly most of the select cases have occurred in women under 60 years of age within 2 weeks of vaccination.
The AFR ($) explains that the apparent syndrome — dubbed “vaccine-induced prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia (VIPIT) — has only been reported in a handful of European countries and that incidence ranges from one in every 25,000 doses to one in every 500,000, with no proven causality or risk factors.
In response, the UK’s vaccine advisory board has announced all those under the age of 30 will be offered alternative vaccines, such as the Pfizer or Moderna jabs, while several other countries are considering an entirely unproven strategy of mixing vaccines.
PS: In other global news, CNN notes that Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has shrugged off criticism he is “genocidal” in his opposition to COVID-19 restrictions, as the country hit a daily record of 4195 deaths, while The Age reports that Papua New Guinea is facing a twin health challenge as a surge in COVID-19 cases causes major setbacks to tuberculosis treatment programs.
ANOTHER DAY IN POLITICS
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, local Hunter Valley engineer David Layzell has beaten the frontrunner and first female mayor of Singleton, Sue Moore, for Nationals pre-selection to contest the New South Wales byelection next month. This comes after sitting MP Michael Johnsen stepped down amid accusations he raped a sex worker, an accusation which he vigorously denies.
Elsewhere, Guardian Australia reports the Australian Electoral Commission will investigate Liberal National MP Andrew Laming for potential electoral law breaches over more than 30 Facebook pages he operates under the guise of community and education groups.
And down south, Tasmanian Labor candidate Ben McGregor has resigned his candidacy for the state election over “inappropriate” text messages sent seven years ago between “a group of then friends, including banter to and from the person involved”, with The New Daily reporting McGregor claimed that factional opponents had weaponised the texts amid “the current justified public outrage at the treatment of women in this country for selfish, tawdry and political purposes”.
PS: In news that couldn’t possibly be due to the same kind of Labor shit sheet referenced above, The Australian ($) “exclusively” reports that lawyer and potential Labor senator Josh Bornstein called ALP frontbencher Chris Bowen a “muppet” on Twitter and mocked the right-faction MP’s book on reforming the party. The news comes a day after The Oz reported that Bornstein apologised for likening a senior female unionist to a dog in a 2016 tweet.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I’m simply explaining to the Australian public that supply issues is what’s constraining and has constrained, particularly over the recent months, the overall rollout of the vaccine.
Look, it happens before every single national cabinet. You all write stories about how everybody is disagreeing with each other and we come together at national cabinet, as always, and then I’ll stand before you on Friday and I’ll talk about the things that are agreed. So I would just counsel people to see these things sometimes as maybe a lot more dust being kicked up than actual substance.
The prime minister chastises the media for kicking up dust over the vaccine rollout roughly a week after his government leaked suggestive vaccine figures to News Corp friends, and Nationals MP David Littleproud accused the states of doing “three-fifths of bugger all”.
“The 4 million target dates were from January, before the Europeans announced vaccine export bans (although that they would do so was predicted and the government was fully aware of the risk). By the time of the government’s formal March 14 rollout schedule, that target had been revised down to around 1.8 million vaccinations. The government had incorporated the European ban into its planning. On page 10 of the document, under the ‘Indicative Vaccine Dosage Schedule’, there’s a note in small print ‘Does not include 3.1 million international AZ doses or COVAX doses’.”
Another day, another secretive handout to consultants. McKinsey’s good fortune grows as Australia’s vaccine woes worsen
“As Australia endures one of the slowest vaccine rollouts in the world, blue-chip consulting firm McKinsey’s good fortune continues to grow.
“The company has now doubled its lucrative contract with the Department of Health, up $1.4 million to $3 million, for an additional month’s worth of advice. The current contract is set to run until April 30.
“And it’s not just the health department that is desperately seeking McKinsey’s advice on all things vaccine.”
“Fiona Scott had a sinking feeling the moment then Liberal leader Tony Abbott opened his mouth and described her as having ‘a little sex appeal’ during the 2013 federal election campaign.
“‘I was in a bit of shock and I went home and I thought “this is going to really hurt tomorrow”,’ Scott recalled. And it did. The “sex appeal” label made her life a misery on the campaign trail. “It served to frame me in a way that gave people open slather to talk about my looks,” she told Crikey. Punters threw the word back at her. But that was just the beginning.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Australia urgently needs mass COVID vaccination hubs. But we need more vaccines first — Mary-Louise McLaws (The Conversation): “So far Australia’s average daily rate since the rollout began in late February is around 22,000 doses a day according to my calculations. To achieve herd immunity, I calculate we’ll need to vaccinate 85% of the population, using a combination of the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. To achieve this by the end of March 2022, I calculate we need to vaccinate at least 133,000 people a day until December 31, and then around 79,000 a day in the first three months of 2022.”
Greens dodge bill for women’s safety online ($) — Paul Fletcher (The Australian): “We hear a lot of talk from the Australian Greens on women’s issues. But when it comes to placing women’s safety ahead of scoring political points, it’s a different story. Take the case of the Morrison government’s Online Safety Bill, which is before the Senate. When Australian women use the internet, they have the same right to be safe as in every other aspect of their lives. But the sad fact is that women face particular dangers online, as Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant regularly points out.”
A rise in the minimum wage won’t hurt Australia’s recovery. It will help it — Alison Pennington (Guardian Australia): “For smaller firms, their biggest barrier to economic recovery is weak confidence and spending among Australian consumers. But that, in turn, depends on Australians having adequate wages in their pockets to spend. So the obsession of this government with suppressing wage growth (that started years before the pandemic) actually backfires for the business sector as a whole.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Former public servant Bill Bowtell will discuss his book Unmasked: The Politics of Pandemics in an online Avid Reader event with ABC broadcaster Steve Austin.