Gladys Berejiklian covid-19
(Image: AAP/Dean Lewins)

CASE TRACK

New South Wales health officials are conducting genome sequencing after Sydney recorded a new community-transmitted case of COVID-19, with the ABC noting the man has likely been infected since Friday April 30, has not been overseas or worked in the quarantine system, and recorded a high viral load likely making him more infectious. Close contacts are in isolation and more cases are expected to be announced today.

NSW Health has listed at least 19 exposure sites across the city’s eastern suburbs, spanning Annandale, Balgowlah, Bondi Junction, Brookvale, Casula, Collaroy, Double Bay, Mascot, Moore Park, Paddington, Rose Bay, Rushcutters Bay, Silverwater and Sydney. Anyone who visited those venues, including those in other states, have been asked to immediately get tested and self-isolate.

Further, The Sydney Morning Herald notes that NSW Health detected fragments of the virus in an inner west sewerage network and has asked tens of thousands of people to monitor for symptoms.

PS: The Australian ($) notes that Matiu Bush has been stood down from his role overseeing Victoria’s quarantine hotel infection system following revelations he twice refused a Defence Force request for testing. Their latest report notes he criticised the healthcare sector for taking a risk-averse approach to infection control in 2019, just a year out from his appointment.

LAW IN THE SYSTEM

The Morrison government is facing its first legal challenge regarding its use of emergency powers to criminalise travel from India, with The New Daily reporting that 73-year-old Australian Gary Newman lodged a formal appeal against the government yesterday after travelling to India in early 2020 and who has since remained stuck in Bangalore.

As India’s outbreak grows and records for daily death tolls continue to be broken, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has told The Australian ($) the government is considering setting aside the Northern Territory Howard Springs quarantine facility exclusively for travellers returning from India, or, alternatively, using flights carrying aid from Australia to help ferry stranded citizens and residents back after the travel ban is lifted.

Hawke was less supportive of an idea to attempt to vaccinate people before they leave India, noting it would “send an odd message” to only immunise Australians.

Elsewhere, former Australian cricketer Michael Slater has doubled down on previous criticism and challenged Scott Morrison to “take your private jet and come and witness dead bodies” on the streets of India.

PS: Marque Lawyers, who are representing Newman, said they would challenge the travel ban on four grounds: two relating to interpretation of the Act, one to “proportionality” of the order, and a fourth ground being constitutional. While they did not elaborate further, you can read Marque’s Michael Bradley’s perspective on potential challenges in Crikey on Monday for more information.

MONEY BUSINESS

Finally, in another pre-budget drop ahead of the big day next Tuesday, The Conversation reports that more than $500 million of a $1.2 billion digital economy strategy will be spent overhauling myGov and My Health Record sites, with the former to get $200.1 million to improve access to services, from childcare providers to disaster support, and manage payments and claims.

Additionally, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham has told The Australian ($) the government projects its $32 billion “COVID-19 welfare bill” will be more than halved over the next four years, and JobSeeker recipient numbers returned to pre-pandemic levels.

And in a pre-budget speech, Anthony Albanese will demand the government pour funds into managing the “broken” aged care sector, with, as The New Daily reports, a specific focus on concerns over dementia among the elderly.

PS: Speaking of JobSeeker and budgets, Guardian Australia explains the government sent debts for nearly 1000 robodebt victims to an external debt agency even after the Morrison government accepted the system was “legally insufficient” in November 2019.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

[asked if she has compassion for the Tamil-Biloela family who have been detained for more than three years]: I am a very compassionate person by nature. I will never walk away from that. But compassion takes many different forms.

Karen Andrews

While declining to answer whether she feels for the long-detained family or would use her ministerial powers to release them, the new home affairs minister technically gets marks for entertaining the concept of compassion; her predecessor famously warned against extending a “single act of compassion” to those detained offshore.

CRIKEY RECAP

We must say no to a war with China — and understand the propaganda tricks taking us there

“It is vital to try and understand the moral and political character of a state that combines elements of German ‘transition’ Marxism, neo-Stalinist cultural control, and the corporatist dimension of Mussolini’s fascism.

“But in any of this, is there any evidence that China has global military ambitions beyond regaining control of its region, from the remnant presence of the last Western empire, the United States? There is none, none at all.

“Yet daily we are being marched to war by the same crowd who always march us to war, the ruling elite, the self-appointed military experts, compliant dictaphone editors and journalists, sock-puppet military thinktanks, Spenglerite ideologues, the whole gang.”


Tortured in the line of duty: the untold story of 60 Minutes’ botched Beirut kidnap saga — and the man who lives it every day

“Note: the following article contains descriptions of torture.

“It took Lebanon’s security services 72 hours to break Australian cameraman Ben Williamson. He was tortured in the line of duty but no longer feels his employer, Nine Entertainment Co, has his back.

“Almost five years ago to the day, Williamson was arrested when a 60 Minutes attempt to snatch two children off the streets of Beirut and reunite them with their Australian mother, Sally Faulkner, went horribly wrong. Williamson as the cameraman had the job of recording the drama and raw emotion.”


Online overhaul: here are all the ways the government wants to change how you use technology

“A campaign about saving children ‘born alive’ after abortions is superficially heroic sounding, but fundamentally sneaky and misleading — Australia’s anti-abortion activists have predictably plagiarised their counterparts in the United States.

“Under former president Donald Trump, attacks on women’s reproductive rights escalated in the US and beyond. Post-Trump, the anti-choice mob are working hard on a new angle: abortion ‘survivors’.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

No evidence endangered numbats killed in prescribed burn, says WA Premier

Liberal MP overthrown after just 90 minutes as president of the NSW upper house ($)

Gas cookers in homes like passive smoking for children: report

Pressure on Andrews government to release secret CFA sexism and bullying report

Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance secures last-minute financial lifeline that could save Whyalla steelworks

Brokers and banks overwhelmed as Australians rush for a mortgage

Collins upgrade may plug submarine gap ($)

Explosives and weaponry found at US far-right protests, documents reveal

AG misled Congress on Trump’s action during Mueller probe: judge

Facebook oversight board upholds social network’s ban of Trump

Germany raises ambition to net zero by 2045 after landmark court ruling

COVID-19 scare hits G7 foreign ministers’ summit in London as delegates test positive

THE COMMENTARIAT

Let’s not pick a fight over Darwin port unless we have to ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “You think things are bad between Canberra and Beijing now? They can get much worse. If the federal government does decide to remove the 99-year lease of the Port of Darwin from the Chinese-owned Landbridge company, this will likely cause major new upset in the relationship. Beijing would almost certainly take retaliatory action.”

Revealing and uneasy peek at Morrison’s altar egoJulie Szego (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Have we ever seen the prime minister as comfortable in his own skin as when he took the stage at the Australian Christian Churches’ Gold Coast conference? This is what struck me as I watched him holding forth on faith and community in a speech that’s being intensely scrutinised for clues — signs? — of what makes Scott Morrison tick.”

Sports concussions affect men and women differently. Female athletes need more attention in brain research — Shreya Mcleod and James F. Donnelly (The Conversation): “News emerged last week that AFLW player Jacinda Barclay, who died last year at age 29 following a short period of mental illness, had abnormalities in her brain tissue. Barclay was the first Australian contact sportswoman to have her brain donated to the Australian Sports Brain Bank, a medical laboratory that investigates changes in complex nerve structures after death, in order to understand brain conditions sustained by sportspeople.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Melbourne

  • The First People’s Assembly’s Natarsha Bamblett and Elly Patira, Executive Director of Treaty at the Department of Premier and Cabinet Victoria, will discuss “Mapping Culture: Treaty” in a Wheeler Centre event.

Australia

  • HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey will discuss the implications of the royal commission’s recommendations on Australia’s aged care workforce with Anglicare Australia executive director Kasy Chambers and Leading Age Services Australia chief executive Sean Rooney in a live-streamed CEDA event.

  • AustCyber CEO Michelle Price will join Australian and international experts for a panel discussion on threats and opportunities in cyber security at an online event hosted by the ADC Forum as part of its Australian Leadership Series.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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