ON THE CASE
Victorian health authorities are racing to understand the source of four new COVID-19 cases in Melbourne’s north, as the ABC explains that all four are close family contacts across three households while genomic sequencing will reveal any links to an earlier case from Wollert.
Two tier one exposure sites have so far been listed:
- A swimming lesson at Jump Swim School, in Bundoora, between 8:55-10:15am on Friday, May 21; and
- Highpoint Shopping Centre, in Maribyrnong, between 5-8pm on Thursday, May 20.
As the Herald Sun ($) reports, the Victorian government has also conceded that contact tracers “fell down” by incorrectly listing a Woolworths store in Epping, rather than Epping North, as an exposure site visited by the Wollert man after he was released from hotel quarantine in Adelaide.
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On Friday, health officials were forced to issue an urgent alert for people who had visited the Epping North supermarket to get tested after discovering the error.
Elsewhere, the Australian Medical Association has announced support for the Morrison government’s proposal to exempt immunised people from interstate travel restrictions, with The Australian ($) highlighting that AMA president Omar Khorshid believes it could encourage young people in particular to be vaccinated.
Chief medical officer Paul Kelly has argued that as many incentives as possible are needed to increase vaccination uptake, even, as The Age notes, as the Morrison government faces opposition from premiers to the exemption proposal and rebuffs calls for a new national advertising campaign.
NO LESSONS LEARNED AT PARLIAMENT HOUSE
Note: This story discusses sexual assault.
According to news.com.au, bureaucrats at the Department of Finance have conceded to budget estimates that, despite a national furore kickstarted by Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins’ allegations of rape at Parliament House, nothing has changed in terms of how the alleged incident would be handled if it happened again.
This is despite revelations over the department calling in cleaners to clean the room without realising it was an potential crime scene, a failure to call an ambulance for an unconscious woman, and complex rules about handing over the CCTV to police.
The revelations came on day one of a three-day hearing into whether Christian Porter’s high-profile barrister Sue Chrysanthou should be stopped from representing the former attorney general in his case against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan.
Guardian Australia notes that Porter’s lawyers have lost their bid to block a last-minute affidavit from Macquarie Bank managing director James Hooke, a former friend of both Porter and the woman who, before her death, accused the former attorney-general of raping her three decades ago. Porter strenuously denies the allegation.
And sexual assault survivor Grace Tame has claimed on the Betoota Advocate podcast that Scott Morrison responded to her Australia Day awards ceremony speech by telling her, “Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out”.
Senate estimates also revealed that Assistant Minister for Women Amanda Stoker has not formally written to Tame, despite saying she is “keen as mustard” to set up a meeting, but has reached out twice via Instagram.
NOT EVEN GAS IS HAVING A GAS: REPORT
A new report by progressive think tank The Australia Institute has found that not only is gas a relatively-minuscule employer but, The New Daily notes, Australia actually shed employees during the recovery from COVID-19.
While the overall economy has added 913,000 new jobs since last May — most significantly in one of the national lockdown’s most immediate victims, arts and recreation — the gas industry employs just 42,000 people all up (0.28% of total employment) and has lost 3800 workers.
The news comes a day after a separate report by the think tank found that national emissions unrelated to land use — i.e. direct emissions from from electricity, industry, mining, transport, and landfill — increased by 7% from 2005 to 2018, despite Scott Morrison’s assurance at Joe Biden’s climate summit that Australia had done “more than most other similar economies” and cut emissions by 19%.
In response to that report, a spokesperson for “Emissions Reduction” Minister Angus Taylor would only tell Guardian Australia that the Australia Institute is a “left-wing political group” that would “never acknowledge Australia’s achievements in this space, because it doesn’t suit their biased agenda”. The actual findings, however, were not disputed.
KABUL EMBASSY TO SHUT
Finally, less than six weeks after Scott Morrison followed Joe Biden’s lead and announced the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, The Australian ($) reports that Australian diplomats have begun packing up the embassy in Kabul.
Private security contracts will reportedly end next month and most diplomats will be out of leased buildings in the next fortnight, although the publication notes it is not clear whether Australia will move back into the US embassy compound, where it had operated until 2011, or operate a “fly-in, fly-out” embassy from the United Arab Emirates.
In other foreign relations news, the Lithuanian government has advised citizens in Belarus to leave immediately and announced all flights must avoid its neighbour’s airspace, after a Belarusian military jet acting on President Alexander Lukashenko’s orders forcibly diverted a flight to detain dissident journalist Roman Protasevich.
And according to Al Jazeera, Israeli police have announced they will arrest hundreds of Palestinian citizens of Israel this week for participating in recent sit-in protests in support of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
I plan to run for Labor at the next federal election.
But I will say this, I won’t stick around if the Labor Party doesn’t wake up to itself.
The backbencher whose constant criticism of Labor’s climate policies just earned a very public “shut up” from a federal colleague has threatened to leave the party for good. Whether or not that would mean giving up his dad’s seat is another question entirely.
‘Bringing people along for the ride’: meet the climate activist converting coalminers to green tech with his Tesla
“Bob Katter seems to enjoy his first time in a Tesla. A video, shot from the back seat, shows the federal member for Kennedy experiencing what it’s like to be in an electric vehicle accelerating from zero to 100 kilometres per hour in just over three seconds.
“‘Yeehaw!’ he yells. ‘This is so exciting.’
“The eccentric MP was filmed as part of the video series Coal Miners Driving Teslas. It’s exactly what it sounds like: creator Daniel Bleakley lets coalminers from central Queensland drive his Tesla and documents their gleeful reactions.”
The next election will be won and lost in Queensland — and Scott Morrison will be fighting the premier too
“Palaszczuk has made Queenslanders, who will usually err on the side of parochialism, feel safe. Her entire state reelection campaign was built around that, and proved spectacularly successful, shunting her into the position of Australia’s longest serving female head of government.
“While a small chunk of small business, particularly in the tourism sector, have been noisily objecting, Palaszczuk’s approach — where borders were slammed closed at the nearest whiff of a COVID outbreak — has worked.
“It made her unpopular with Gladys Berejiklian and Morrison, but popular where the votes counted.”
“McKay’s leadership is cooked. Even before the byelection, Liberal Premier Gladys Berejiklian was preferred leader among Labor voters.
“Mckay was having a year from hell. She was revealed to have provided a character reference to a man accused of indecently assaulting a child. After the Health Services Union released diabolical polling showing Labor’s vote at its lowest in a century, McKay accused it of ‘coward-punching’ her. The union then disaffiliated with NSW Labor.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Four cases in Melbourne’s north as vaccine push rolls on but what if I’ve already been recently exposed? — C Raina MacIntyre (The Conversation): “But if a person has been infected with coronavirus and is in an early stage of incubating the virus — would a vaccine confer any protection to that person? The short answer is we don’t know yet for sure. But many vaccines do work in that way and when vaccine supplies are limited, targeting contacts for vaccination could be worth trying. This approach is sometimes called post-exposure prophylaxis, or PEP.”
ABC’s arrogance fuels outrage over Neville Wran crime link ($) — Troy Bramston (The Australian): “The ABC documentary on Sydney’s Luna Park ghost train fire, implicating former NSW premier Neville Wran in a cover-up and alleging he was corruptly linked to the criminal underworld, has been broadly condemned. But the ABC has done nothing to correct the record, apologise to Wran’s family or respond to an avalanche of criticism by respected individuals.”
Why I won’t make Blak deaths palatable — Tabitha Lean (Kill Your Darlings): “‘How do you make the killing of more than 400 Aboriginal men, women and children more palatable?’ I found myself asking Twitter in March 2021. I wasn’t asking for myself, of course, but for the committee of TEDx UniSA who had decided that I was a savage that needed taming if I was to enjoy their platform. You see, last year I had been invited to audition to do a TEDx Talk. TED promotes their platform as a space for ‘ideas worth spreading’, and many talks have gone viral on YouTube. Being an unashamed and very public abolitionist (and a postgraduate student of UniSA), I jumped at the chance to elevate my lived prison-experienced voice and speak truth to power in defence of Blak lives and in opposition to the carceral regimes facilitating the premature death of my people.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Writer Sinéad Stubbins will launch her memoir In My Defence, I Have No Defence with ABC Everyday’s Bhakthi Puvanenthiran at Readings.
Katharine Murphy, political editor of Guardian Australia, and Pete Lewis, executive director of Essential Media will discuss the fortnightly Guardian Essential Report in an Australia Institute TV webinar.