The adviser responsible for reviewing Australia’s quarantine system, former health department secretary Jane Halton, has recommended every hotel in use be re-assessed for the risk of aerosol transmission, with Guardian Australia noting Perth’s Mercure Perth hotel was deemed “high risk” ahead of this month’s outbreak due to poor ventilation. The Western Australian government yesterday announced it would shut the Mercure and two other hotels due to poor ventilation.
Elsewhere, The New Daily reports that ACTU assistant secretary Liam O’Brien has called on Health Minister Greg Hunt to urgently immunise thousands of aged and disability care staff. While the government had planned to fully vaccinate all 678,000 high-risk workers and care residents in Phase 1a, O’Brien notes current figures include less than 10% of workers, some of whom have gone to GPs rather than the schedule’s in-reach workplace program.
The news comes ahead of a World Trade Organisation meeting tomorrow over India and South Africa’s push to suspend vaccine patent rights until after the pandemic, which is supported by more than 115 countries but, as Croakey explains, is opposed by the Morrison government along with seven other richer nations.
PS: After recording its deadliest day ever, India’s official death toll has surged past 200,000.
A DEBT EACH WAY
From the latest drop to The Conversation, The Australian ($), The Sydney Morning Herald etc, Josh Frydenberg will today use a pre-budget economic and fiscal strategy speech to Parliament to reject austerity or “budget repair” measures for at least another year and aim for an unemployment rate below 5%.
Which, for context, would be below the February 2020 rate of 5.1%, let alone the March rate of 5.6% with JobKeeper and projections the current rate could be north of 7%.
Frydenberg will also reference a new Treasury paper on the Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment — the rate of unemployment below which inflation would be expected to accelerate — that puts the NAIRU between 4.5% and 5%, again lower than its previous estimate of 5%.
PS: It has been almost a month since the government implemented the “Dobseeker” line, to allow employers to report job-seekers for reasons including declining job offers and not showing up for interviews, an initiative that, as ABC unpacks, has unsurprisingly led to stress complaints from unemployed people.
WAR OF WORDS
Finally, and in what must be truly shocking news for all those Australian politicians and pubic servants beating the war drum, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has called local politicians the “real troublemakers” and declared those fostering a “Cold War mentality” as “unethical”.
Scott Morrison yesterday denied his $747 million pledge for military bases in the Northern Territory was aimed at sending a message to China, but, ABC reports, defended Peter Dutton’s claims that the possibility of conflict with China over Taiwan should not be “discounted”.
PS: In other foreign relations news, senior Democrat John Podesta has warned Australia will be confronted by fellow Quad members over the Morrison government’s weak carbon reduction targets, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, as the Biden administration underpins its new security agenda around climate change. Podesta made the comments to Labor podcast Rekindling Hope, which is hosted by climate spokesman Chris Bowen and former candidate Sam Crosby.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I cannot comment on Andrew Laming’s diagnosis specifically, but ADHD is … not a cause for remorselessness or other antisocial behaviour such as harassment.
Medication for ADHD serves to improve focus and attention but it doesn’t change your ethics, it doesn’t change your levels of compassion or empathy. There is no drug for empathy.
Dr Karen Williams
Because this is just where Australian politics is right now, the founder of Doctors Against Violence Against Women has warned it could be “stigmatising” for people living with mental health issues for Andrew Laming’s ADHD diagnosis to be linked to recent harassment allegations. Laming has said the diagnosis was a light bulb moment but no “free pass”.
“A lot of the commentary on Scott Morrison’s address to the Australian Christian Churches Conference focused on its religious dimensions. There’s been less focus on the ideological nature of the speech, which was delivered without being circulated by his office, as his other speeches are, and which was ostensibly, according to Morrison, unrelated to politics.
“But while we shouldn’t pretend it provides some kind of unguarded moment of prime ministerial candour, it provides perhaps the best insight into Morrison’s core ideology, and in that sense is one of his most important speeches. It deserves to be taken seriously and engaged with.”
“So who was it who leaked the videos of Scott Morrison at Christian camp?
“Was it you, Jesus? You are naughty. Was it some disgruntled happy clappy? (Are there such things? They all look so joyous.) Was it some Labor mole? Or was it the Libs themselves in some culture war standard double-reverse-squeeze play, which seems to be the fashion these days?”
“‘Can I start as is my custom every time I speak, particularly as prime minister, can I acknowledge our Indigenous brothers and sisters who are here tonight.’
“He then added: ‘The great southern land of the Holy Spirit.’
“It didn’t come from the Bible, so who chose Australia for this honour? That turns out to be a Portuguese navigator, Pedro Fernandes de Queirós, who sighted land and declared it to be ‘Terra Australis del Spirito Santo’ (which came to be ‘the great south land of the Holy Spirit’). His proclamation was made on the day of Pentecost in May 1606.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Australia has golden opportunity to join the mRNA revolution — Nadia Levin (The Sydney Morning Herald): “We currently do not have the capacity in Australia to make mRNA vaccines, like those produced by Pfizer and Moderna, meaning they have to be shipped in from overseas, making them harder to access. An onshore mRNA facility is a golden opportunity to match Australia’s world-class research capability with its commercial capability. Australian health and medical researchers have welcomed the attention being focused on mRNA possibilities for the future.”
PM truly believes God is on his side ($) — Niki Savva (The Australian): “The last thing Scott Morrison did before he went to the Liberal Party meeting that anointed him leader and prime minister was to pray in his office with his very good friend and fellow believer Stuart Robert. Or brother Stuie, as Morrison calls him. Robert told me later that they had prayed that righteousness would exalt the nation. As Morrison left his office, he also asked his young receptionist, Mel, to text his family to ask them to pray for him.”
Progressive populism has transformed Australia before — it could do it again — Liam McLoughlin (Jacobin): “In 2012, twenty-one past winners of the Blue Planet Prize — awarded for research that improves the global environment — released a landmark report. It stated that ‘in the face of an absolutely unprecedented emergency, society has no choice but to take dramatic action to avert a collapse of civilization.’ A year later, the deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, Kevin Anderson, went one step further, arguing that ‘revolutionary change to the political and economic hegemony’ would be needed to prevent the planet warming by more than 2°C.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Hearings will be held for Senate inquiries into extremist groups and radicalism in Australia, the road transport industry, and the Western Sydney Airport project.
Technology activist Eli Pariser, The Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology director Peter Lewis, and Lizzie O’Shea, Chair of Digital Rights Watch, will speak in an Australia Institute webinar to coincide with the launch of the Centre’s “Reimagining the Public Square” discussion paper.