Scott Morrison AstraZeneca
(Image: AAP/David Caird)

LIKE FINDING A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK

Following several missed vaccine rollout targets, weird attempts to shift blame to the states, and concerns of vaccine hesitancy due to rare blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine, The New Daily reports that Scott Morrison has asked the national cabinet to meet twice a week to fix Australia’s rollout plan.

The news comes after Greg Hunt announced the government will not purchase the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine out of concern it carries similarly rare but severe blood clotting risks, with Guardian Australia noting that US health agencies have officially recommended states pause administration of the drug.

Unfortunately the global production target for Australia’s third option, Novavax, has been pushed back until the third quarter of 2021 due to supply shortages. Although clinical trials for the drug are still underway, the ABC explains that Australia has an agreement for 51 million doses originally slated for “mid-2021, at which point executives had said full-scale vaccine production could be achieved”.

Finally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Hunt yesterday refused to guarantee Australia’s borders will open even if everyone in the country is immunised, citing several factors such as longevity of vaccine protection and global transmission.

PS: In the latest on the ground in Australia, The Age reports that aged care and disability workers have been left scrambling to source their own vaccinations via general practitioners after being almost entirely overlooked in the Commonwealth-run rollout.

SCHEME AGAINST SCHEME

Concerns that the Morrison government is attempting to gut the National Disability Insurance Scheme have mounted after Guardian Australia obtained an internal document showing the body in charge of the scheme, the National Disability Insurance Agency, has created a “sustainability action taskforce” to make “short term, immediate changes … to slow growth in participant numbers, slow growth in spend per participant and strengthen operational discipline”.

News of the document, which cites a “cost overrun in 2021-22”, follows controversial plans to introduce third-party, roughly three-hour-long “independent assessments” and overhaul the NDIS Act to potentially slash eligibility and greatly expand debt recovery. It also follows revelations by The Saturday Paper that two senior public servants involved in the establishment of robodebt are now, coincidentally, working in the NDIA’s compliance division.

MORE DIRT ON ROBERTS-SMITH?

In the latest from their investigation into Ben Roberts-Smith, The Sydney Morning Herald reports the accused war criminal kept more than a dozen Defence Department drone videos of Afghanistan military operations on the USBs buried in his backyard. These reportedly include 13 drone videos and “secret” footage only to be shared among certain NATO forces.

Additionally, metadata on the files suggests the Victoria Cross recipient obtained, altered, or transmitted the military material several years after he left the military. The news comes after the paper revealed how $1.87 million of company funds from Kerry Stokes-chaired Seven West Media was lent to Roberts-Smith, an executive, to fight war crime allegations.

LABOR’S DAY?

Finally, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Labor’s climate change and energy spokesman Chris Bowen will outline a plan in an Australia Institute webinar today to target regional electorates for clean energy investment and ditch the Morrison government’s plan for a gas-fired recovery written, in large part, by gas executives.

Elsewhere, NSW Labor has picked former miner and CFMEU official Jeff Drayton to contest the Upper House byelection. The Daily Telegraph ($) reports that, when it came to deciding their election campaign, state leader Jodi McKay hedged her bets between focusing on protecting jobs in the coal industry and growing them in renewables.

PS: Because state Coalition governments are still leaps and bounds above the people who are now clocking in eight years without a replacement for the carbon price, Bowen could do worse than look to NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean’s success in passing his energy roadmap last year by, in part, promising the Nationals a fourth Renewable Energy Zone in, coincidentally, the Upper Hunter.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[to Fox Corporation chief executive Lachlan Murdoch]: Although I appreciate the sentiment that you and your father continue to support ADL’s mission, supporting Mr Carlson’s embrace of the ‘great replacement theory’ stands in direct contrast to that mission.

As you noted in your letter, ADL honoured your father over a decade ago, but let me be clear that we would not do so today, and it does not absolve you, him, the network, or its board from the moral failure of not taking action against Mr. Carlson.

Carlson’s attempt to at first dismiss the theory, while in the very next breath endorsing it under cover of ‘a voting rights question’ does not give him free license to invoke a white supremacist trope.

In fact it’s worse, because he’s using a straw man — voting rights — to give an underhanded endorsement of white supremacist beliefs while ironically suggesting it’s not really white supremacism. While your response references a ‘full review’ of the interview, it seems the reviewers missed the essential point here.

Chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League Jonathan Greenblatt

In a scenario Australians couldn’t possibly relate to, Greenblatt calls out a Murdoch outlet for platforming obvious white supremacist propaganda — in this case, Tucker Carlson’s claim the Democratic Party is “trying to replace the current electorate … with more obedient voters from the Third World” — only for higher ups to pretend the commentator abhors racism, actually.

CRIKEY RECAP

‘Stark difference of treatment’ towards ex-AusPost CEO Christine Holgate versus Morrison’s mates

“Australia Post’s former chief executive, Christine Holgate, has accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo of launching a sexist campaign of bullying and harassment following revelations she had gifted $19,950 worth of luxury watches to senior executives.

“Speaking at an inquiry this morning, Holgate questioned Morrison’s double standards by allowing ministers accused of rape, harassment and assault to remain in their roles while she was forced out of hers on his direction.”


Suffragette, martyr or out-of-touch CEO? Let’s keep Christine Holgate-gate in context

“While the conflicting evidence will no doubt be more riveting than illuminating, we should perhaps put the whole thing into a bit of context. After all, a boardroom battle between a chair and dumped CEO is not usually the stuff of such widespread and popular uprisings.

“But this one has forged unlikely alliances. With Scott Morrison as the chief villain it was always going to get ugly but this time you not only have Labor siding with Pauline Hanson but even Murdoch’s misogynist male columnists joining the Holgate martyr brigade.”


Ben, do the decent and brave thing: step down

Ben Roberts-Smith needs to do exactly what the journalists he employs demand of others facing damning accusations in public life: step down immediately.

“This week’s revelations — true or false — are calamitous. Images alleging war crimes. Ugly promises, caught on audio, to ‘destroy’ enemies trying to bring him down. Photographic evidence highlighting a ruthless disregard for the religions and cultures of others. Pictures of parties, devoid of adults or ethics.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Questions over Andrew Laming’s link to rugby club that won women’s sport grant

Christine Holgate: PM should have called me before ‘public hanging’

Brittany Higgins signs major book deal after three-way auction

Second Australian COVID vaccine blood clotting case developed two weeks after shot, WA Health Minister says

Journalist knew blackmail plotters wanted $5m from Plutus targets, witness claims

A ‘landmark’ refugee legal battle is putting Australia’s immigration detention regime under scrutiny

‘Weak, slow and ineffective’: Australia urged to reach out to Myanmar’s deposed government

Ben Simmons embroiled in family legal tussle over abuse claims ($)

Teens to learn about consent in sex-ed shake-up ($)

Second night of protests after ‘mistaken’ shooting of black man in US

NATO tells Russia to stop military buildup around Ukraine

Biden to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan by September 11

THE COMMENTARIAT

High time to confront the epidemic of black deaths in custodyEditorial (The Sydney Morning Herald): “This week marks 30 years since the release of an urgent call to reduce the appalling numbers of Aboriginal Australians dying either in prison or police custody. The report of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, released in 1991, made 339 recommendations to prevent repetitions of the 99 cases it studied in detail. At that time, it was hailed as a turning point but over the past three decades at least another 455 Indigenous people have died. In 2019, 18% of people who died in custody were Indigenous even though Indigenous people make up only 3% of the total population.”

The Pfizer vaccine is now crucial to Australia. Why the secrecy about how much we have? Melissa Davey (Guardian Australia): “On Monday night, months into the rollout, the government did finally release some data and graphs. They showed as of 11 April 1,178,302 vaccines had been administered and there were 726,992 doses available. But the data didn’t include a breakdown of the number of Pfizer versus AstraZeneca vaccines — a key detail in light of the recent announcement advising that Pfizer should be preferenced for people under 50. So, why won’t the government tell Australians exactly how many doses of the Pfizer vaccine have been rolled out to date, where they have been distributed, and how many doses are in-hand?”

Biden wants to spend more than Trump to maintain a bloated defense budgetJohn Nichols (The Nation):Robert Reich knows a thing or two about federal budgets, and the economist who has served in three presidential administrations says there is something wrong with Joe Biden’s plan to increase Pentagon spending above the levels proposed by former President Trump. ‘The Pentagon already spends: $740,000,000,000 every year, $2,000,000,000 every day, $1,000,000 every minute,’ says the former secretary of labor. ‘The last thing we need is a bigger military budget.’ Unfortunately, that’s what the president is seeking.”

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