scott morrison covid-19 gas
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

BANNED THEN ABANDONED?

Scott Morrison has denied “forsaking” the more than 9000 Australians now stranded in India after temporarily halting all flights from the country until at least May 15. The New Daily reports that about 500 people were scheduled to fly on four flights cancelled following yesterday’s travel ban.

Morrison has confirmed an aid package consisting of masks, ventilators, gloves and goggles, and, in the face of criticism from families now stranded in India and federal (but definitely not Western Australia) Labor, defended the ban as due to a “jump” in cases in hotel quarantine among people coming from India. Chief scientist for the World Health Organization Dr Soumya Swaminathan warns that under-reporting means the real total could be “at least 20 to 30 times higher than what had been reported”, or more than 529 million cases. Note, however, that no travel bans have been applied to previous surges in the UK or US.

In other domestic news, Guardian Australia reports that Australia’s Olympics team and their support staff will be prioritised for vaccination ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in July, after national cabinet agreeing to divert thousands of doses. Elsewhere, ABC notes that a report handed to WA’s Department of Health on March 30 warned of “high-risk” ventilation issues at the Mercure Hotel, the quarantine hotel at the centre of Perth’s recent outbreak.

PS: The latest Newspoll ($) suggests that, in the wake of the pandemic and even the Brittany Higgins/Christian Porter/Andrew Laming allegations, Morrison has higher level of support than any other prime minister in more than a decade and the largest margin over an opposition leader since at least 2008, topping Anthony Albanese in character traits such as “likeable, caring, decisive and trustworthy”.

2 MORE DEATHS IN CUSTODY

Australia recorded another two Indigenous deaths in custody yesterday, with AAP reporting that a man died at Port Phillip Prison in Melbourne’s west on Monday following a medical episode while NSW authorities confirmed a 37-year-old man was found dead in his cell at Cessnock Correctional Centre yesterday morning.

The news comes as a South Australian inquest into the death in custody of Wiradjuri, Kokatha and Wirangu man Wayne Fella Morrison resumes after two years.

As Guardian Australia explains, Morrison had no criminal convictions when he died after up to 14 corrections officers wrestled him to the ground outside his cell at Adelaide’s Yatala Labour Prison. A South Australian prison officer yesterday denied directing other staff to destroy records, while another noted they had not been given any new training since the incident.

Lifeline: 14 11 14.

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

A new report by Human Rights Watch has found that Israel’s pursuit of apartheid policies and persecution against Palestinians, and against its own Arab minority, amount to crimes against humanity.

Reuters explains that the report, which points to Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement and continued seizure of Palestinian-owned land for resettlement, comes just weeks after the International Criminal Court announced it would investigate war crimes in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the Israeli military and armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas named as possible perpetrators.

The report was unsurprisingly rejected by the Israeli government, which has been accused of “medical apartheid” in denying Palestinians in occupied land vaccines; is in the process of evicting families in Jerusalem; and last week set off a new round of violence by barricading a plaza outside of Jerusalem’s Old City during the holy month of Ramadan. The barricades have now been brought down following protests.

BASE JUMP

Finally, capping off a few weeks of very normal war discourse, Scott Morrison will today announce $747 million in upgrades to military training bases in Northern Australia, which the drop to The Australian ($) describes as enhancing land combat capability and supporting simulated exercises to expand “war gaming” with the US.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

The moment Senator Kitching asked her question in estimates — and the senator knows full well why that was done and on whose behalf it was done, and the fact that it was a bit of payback — from that very moment this thing got completely out of control.

Michael Ronaldson

The former Liberal senator and Australia Post board member expresses concern that the senate inquiry looking into Christine Holgate’s departure is “moving from asking questions to trying to take scalps”, and suggests Labor’s Kimberley Kitching, in stirring outrage over the initial watch scandal and then wearing white in solidarity with the millionaire former CEO, may be being a touch political.

CRIKEY RECAP

Scott Morrison and the Seven Mountains mandate: how the PM is changing Australia in God’s name

Scott Morrison’s address to the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) gathering on the Gold Coast last week began with a roll call of Christian influence on the government. The words were music to the ears of an adoring audience of Pentecostal Christians lapping up the proof of how far they’d come with one of their own in the highest political office in the land.

“‘Brother Stewie,’ the prime minister said, name-checking Employment Minister Stuart Robert, a fellow Pentecostal. Robert has recently been promoted to the government’s powerful Expenditure Review Committee.”


Morrison outs himself as our most religious prime minister — in a nation where non-belief is a growing faith

“We are, legally speaking, a secular country. Section 116 of the constitution blocks the Commonwealth from making laws establishing a religion, or prohibiting free exercise of a religion.

“But Morrison’s address wasn’t targeted at the atheists or unbelievers. Nor was it an attempt to impose his religious will on the country. It was a message targeted with laser-like precision at the narrow sliver of Pentecostals who make up a small but influential fringe of the evangelical movement.”


Farewell to a Facebook page that was one of Australia’s major sources of conspiracy theories

“Yesterday, the Member for Hughes, Craig Kelly, suffered a great tragedy.

“A man so addicted to sharing misinformation and crank conspiracy theories on social media that he abandoned his political party had his one true love — his Facebook account — taken from him.

“On Monday afternoon, Facebook removed Kelly’s page, arbitrarily deciding that one of his latest posts had crossed the line and warranted removal under the company’s policies against COVID-19 misinformation.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Champion horse was lame before fatal 2020 Melbourne Cup run

Refugee activist sued by Peter Dutton over tweet says politicians should be more tolerant of criticism

‘Every week counts’: High rates of early, planned caesarean births putting babies at risk

Australia examines modern slavery laws amid concerns over products linked to Uyghur abuse

Labor criticises Home Affairs boss’ ‘drums of war’ Anzac Day message

Greater scrutiny on super fund fees ($)

Home loan deferrals wind down as banks end mortgage holidays

Premier Mark McGowan deals a minor blow to Clive Palmer defamation case

Boris Johnson ‘isolated and at risk of becoming uncontrollable’

Super ‘pink’ moon shines across Australia as photographers snap their best shots

No10 fails to deny Boris Johnson said he was ready to let COVID ‘rip’

THE COMMENTARIAT

Australia’s rejection of International Criminal Court decision on PalestineIzzat Abdulhadi (Pearls and Irritations): “In a sad departure from that great tradition, after the ICC’s recent decision the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne, questioned Palestine’s membership of the Court and even suggested that the Court should not exercise its jurisdiction in Palestine. Of course, a statement by a minister cannot undo a binding decision of an international court. But it does affect Australia’s reputation as a solid, credible and impartial supporter of the international rule of law and international justice — and endorses impunity.”

Serious messages based on hard reality ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “The Morrison government is right to beef up defence facilities in northern Australia. They will give Australia a better Defence Force. Yet that is their secondary purpose — the primary strategic purpose of the defence upgrades is to help the US disperse and decentralise its military forces in the Indo-Pacific. This means that they are harder to hit and more survivable in the event of any massive, pre-emptive strike by Beijing.”

Our history up in flames? Why the crisis at the National Archives must be urgently addressed Michelle Arrow (The Conversation): “What is so astonishing is that the amount of money required to pull us back from the digital cliff is relatively small. The government has committed $500m to an expansion of the Australian War Memorial : the Tune Review of the National Archives, released in March this year, recommended the government fund a seven year program to urgently digitise at-risk materials. The cost? Just $67.7 million.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Bill Shorten will deliver “The future of the National Disability Insurance Scheme” at the National Press Club.

Sydney

  • The 2021 APRA Music Awards ceremony.

Cairns

  • Mayors and councillors from Queensland’s 17 First Nations councils will meet for the first Local Government Association of Queensland Indigenous Leaders Forum, to run over two days will and hear from Queensland’s Minister for Housing, Minister for Digital Economy and Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch and Assistant Minister for Local Government Nikki Boyd.

Peter Fray

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