Defence Minister Peter Dutton (Image: AAP/Lukas Coch)

Dutts at war It’s comforting to see Peter Dutton charging the ramparts of the Chinese communist state (regardless of Dutton’s interesting history with Chinese billionaires), with his assurances the Australian Defence Force is “prepared for action”. Presumably he means we can swing our two operational submarines into the South China Sea at a moment’s notice.

The defence minister also declared he was prepared to “call out” state-based cyber attacks. Yes, that’s right, in a statement that will have China’s millions-strong cyber army quaking in their boots, he’s promised he’ll name states behind cyber attacks if it’s in our interests to do so. That is, instead of the government backgrounding its tame national security journos that it was China, it will cut to the chase and name China in the press release.

What would help, of course, is if our institutions of government were well defended from cyber attacks. As Crikey has reported (and which other media outlets seem entirely ignorant of), even our most important government departments, such as the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, don’t do the most basic cybersecurity. Among the worst offenders was Dutton’s old department, Home Affairs, which for a long time refused to upgrade its systems to comply with basic requirements and these days refuses to comment on whether it’s compliant.

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Still, we’re sure being named is sufficient deterrence for future Chinese cyber attacks.

Where’s BOF? Australian politicians say they’re “standing with India” during the country’s devastating COVID-19 wave. So far, that’s looked like criminalising anyone who enters the country from India.

But what of our presence on the ground? Australia’s man in New Delhi, former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell, is posting through it. He’s tweeted about the “short-term measures” in place, and suggested the High Commission could provide support to Australians in India. A subsequent post from O’Farrell, also on the Australia in India Facebook page, uses the hashtag #AustraliaStandsWithIndia, and includes a link to various charities people can donate to.

There is, however, no mention on social media of the potential prison time people coming from India could face. And given those new restrictions, it’s hard to feel like O’Farrell’s brief message of diplomatic solidarity is all that meaningful.

Commonwealth gets shit together Things were looking up in the Commonwealth part of the vaccination rollout last week. After a disruption caused by Anzac Day, last Wednesday was probably the best day of the rollout, with GPs delivering nearly 60,000 doses of Commonwealth-supplied vaccines, and aged and disability care facilities having more than 8000 doses.

The momentum continued on Thursday, with 8100 doses for aged and disability care, though doses in GPs’ surgeries plunged dramatically to 42,000. Friday was a bust, though, with another big fall in GP vaccinations and the aged and special needs categories.

While we shouldn’t focus too much on day-to-day volatility, the week meant a pleasing overall rise for in-residential care to an average of more than 6000 a day, but a fall to 38,000 in GP clinics. This week, without national public holidays, should provide a better guide to how the Commonwealth-controlled aspects of the rollout are matching up to the Health Department’s rhetoric about ramping up delivery.

A COVID fact 46 Australians have died overseas from the virus over the past year, according to this story in The Sydney Morning Herald.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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