(Image: AP/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

HOME AGAIN HOME AGAIN JABBETY JAB

Victorians have today entered a seven-day “circuit breaker” lockdown with just five reasons to leave the house — shopping, work, exercise, care/caregiving, and vaccinations — after health officials yesterday recorded 26 active COVID-19 cases and more than 120 exposure sites.

With officials warning of the new B.1.617 variant’s infectiousness, the ABC explains that around 14,000 close contacts have either been required to quarantine for 14 days, or test and isolate until negative, while one case on a ventilator is understood to have been moved out of intensive care last night.

From today Victorians aged 40 to 49 are also eligible for the Pfizer vaccine, a decision that led to an immediate crash in the state’s booking system. The Age explains that eligibility could be expanded even further, depending on supply v severity of outbreak, while Qantas reveals it is planning to offer frequent flyer points or flight vouchers to immunised Australians.

Acting Premier James Merlino said the decision to expand eligibility was arrived at due to frustration over the federal government’s vaccine rollout, even claiming that the state would not be in its current position “if we had an alternative to hotel [quarantine] for this particular variant of concern” and “had the Commonwealth’s vaccine program effectively rolled out”.

Under fire from both federal and Victorian Labor over the vaccine rollout — specifically in relation to aged care — Health Minister Greg Hunt revealed during question time yesterday that a two-week gap between the flu and COVID-19 jabs had been rescinded for state facilities. And less than a month after Peter Dutton dismissed Victoria’s quarantine hub proposal as “smoke and mirrors“, Scott Morrison has all but confirmed his support.

Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck has also come under fire for claiming some of the 29 aged care facilities to not have received their first doses “have chosen not to take the jab”. Both Guardian Australia and The Australian ($) have since provided counter-examples with reports of facilities still waiting due to a sick health worker and a scheduling bungle, respectively.

Apparently returning fire in the state-federal divide, Digital Economy Minister Jane Hume has criticised Victoria’s “hopelessly inadequate” contact tracing system in The Sydney Morning Herald. The state government’s “check-in” system only becomes mandatory today, more than six months after then-chief scientist Alan Finkel recommended all states adopt a single, universal app.

Following Merlino’s news conference, University of Melbourne School of Population and Global Health students also emailed ($) an “urgent call-out for medical, nursing, and allied health students to help with contact ­tracing”.

Finally, while this is Melbourne’s fourth lockdown, it’s the first without JobKeeper; the AFR ($) reports that head of the Australian Retailers Association Paul Zahra estimates it could cost more than a billion dollars in lost retail sales alone, while the Victorian government has flagged, but not yet announced, support measures.

PS: Prior to an expected mass exodus yesterday, the New South Wales government announced that anyone arriving in the state from Victoria after 4pm yesterday must follow Victoria’s lockdown restrictions from midnight last night.

TIMELINE COMES INTO FOCUS

Note: This story discusses sexual assault.

According to Guardian Australia, Scott Morrison and then-special minister of state Alex Hawke were both represented at an April 2019 meeting about dismissing the Liberal staffer who Brittany Higgins had accused of sexual assault. The meeting was reportedly attended by then-defence minister Linda Reynolds’ chief of staff, Fiona Brown, and finance department officials.

Revealed in Senate estimates yesterday, the April 4 meeting included representatives from each minister’s office and saw officials provide advice on the sacking. It occurred after Higgins’ reported the allegation to Brown on March 26 and met with Reynolds on April 1.

The accused Liberal staffer was then sacked on April 5, but department officials only took on notice questions yesterday whether the reason was discussed in the meeting, including whether it was characterised as an alleged sexual assault or a security breach — the reason cited by Morrison when Higgins went public in February this year.

The news comes days after Higgins’ partner, David Sharaz, condemned a report that declined to find that Morrison’s office backgrounded journalists against him.

PS: Elsewhere, Sydney defamation barrister Sue Chrysanthou has been barred from acting for Christian Porter in his case against the ABC, after she previously advised a potential witness.

1800 Respect: 1800 737 732; Lifeline: 13 11 14.

SEED OF HOPE

Finally, The Conversation explains how the Australian Federal Court has delivered a landmark ruling that Environment Minister Sussan Ley owes young people a duty of care not to cause physical harm in the form of personal injury from climate change.

While a class action failed to stop Ley approving the Whitehaven coal mine extension project near Gunnedah in New South Wales, the court found the minister must consider the impacts of climate change on young people in making such decisions.

In its conclusion, the court noted that:

It is difficult to characterise in a single phrase the devastation that the plausible evidence presented in this proceeding forecasts for the children. As Australian adults know their country, Australia will be lost and the world as we know it gone as well.

It follows a precedent set in 2015 by the Netherlands, where, earlier this week, The Hague separately ordered Royal Dutch Shell to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 45% by 2030 compared with 2019 levels.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

It has taken me three months to get the reports to substantiate that I have no legs. It has taken me an exhaustive amount of time.

WA lawyer Tom Monks

While sure, an ABC Perth forum yesterday heard umpteen stories of the NDIS screwing recipients out of support — i.e. taking away funds for transport, wheelchair repair, therapies that couldn’t be used during COVID-19 — we’re sure the government’s overwhelmingly-panned plan to privatise assessments won’t be one of them.

CRIKEY RECAP

Morrison’s lies cover up a lack of substance and interest in governing. Any solace? He’s not alone

“Australia isn’t the only polity to deal with the problem of a national leader who is a serial liar — plainly, the United States, reflecting the adage that everything is bigger over there, had to deal with the pinnacle of the form. But the United Kingdom continues also to be governed by a man with a near-Trumpian contempt for truth.

Boris Johnson, perhaps to an extent even greater than Trump, has made a career out of lying, right from his days as a media figure. Lying has been part of his shambolic shtick as a writer, as a man, and as a politician. A serial adulterer with an unknown number of children, an incessant fabulist about the subjects of his “journalism” (usually the European Union), and a remorseless peddler of falsehoods as a politician — most especially around Brexit — Johnson makes Trump look like the Johnny-come-lately of lies; a nouveau menteur.


Want to stop the lies? Here’s a pro forma letter to send to your member of federal parliament

“Dear __________

“I have recently become aware, via a dossier compiled by the news website Crikeythat Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been responsible for 28 clear and demonstrable lies and falsehoods during his time in office. I also understand that the Prime Minister’s Office, despite having had all 28 instances put to them and receiving repeated requests for comment, has failed to clarify any of the statements, deny they were lies or correct the record.”


The media must challenge Morrison’s lies — even when it’s uncomfortable to do so

“Only journalists conducting long-form interviews with Morrison are in a position to properly challenge his lies. But some struggle even to interrupt his exposition of talking points, letting him run on at length rather than pulling him up when he utters a falsehood. It’s significant that it’s an interviewer from outside the press gallery, A Current Affair’s Tracy Grimshaw, who has landed the most punishing blows on Morrison and his mishandling of gender issues.

“Anything less now must be regarded as a journalistic failure — the media must not be party to Morrison’s deliberate strategy of misleading voters, and providing him with a credible platform.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Judge orders release of Labor messages in ALP preselection dispute

Japanese doctors union warns of ‘Olympic virus’ strain

Thousands of YouTube comments on Sky News Australia video celebrate BLM activist being shot in head

Israel Folau launches legal action against Queensland Rugby League, alleging discrimination

Hush money bombshell: Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett demands AFL reform after hearing from suicidal bullying victims ($)

Facebook lifts ban on posts claiming COVID-19 was man-made

NSW ICAC probe hits cabinet heights ($)

Hong Kong passes new electoral laws that will increase pro-China candidates

Israel’s Gaza strikes may constitute ‘war crimes’: UN’s Bachelet

THE COMMENTARIAT

Turbocharged vaccination is the only exit from gilded cage ($) — Phillip Coorey (AFR): “Thursday’s announcement that Victoria was going into yet another lockdown because, somehow, known cases from a few weeks back had gotten away from authorities, was further confirmation that nothing is changing. States again shut their borders or imposed severe travel restrictions on Victorians and the footy is again in disarray. The Victorian government is again fumbling for reasons as to why its citizens were yet again being asked to bear so much while other states seemed to deal with these outbreaks without breaking stride.”

A new flagship coal plant failed spectacularly – but it won’t be the last timeKetan Joshi (RenewEconomy): “Callide C was meant to be the saviour of the coal industry. The plant is ‘supercritical’ — that is, it operates at higher pressure that enable a slightly lower emissions intensity than regular coal plants. Only a minority of Australia’s coal plants are in this category, but for quite some time they have been touted as a ‘low emissions’ way of continuing the life of coal.”

I raised my voice for my people but it took just one day for politicians to reject my callVicki Morta (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Having a strong voice protected by the constitution means our experts — our people from community — can speak to parliaments and governments without being fearful of being pushed aside. I know this is a risk because this is exactly what happened the day after my speech. The next day, I read in the news that the politicians and the appointed Aboriginal people working with them to co-design a Voice had rejected my call to change the constitution to protect that Voice. They want us to settle for something less — a Voice made in legislation only.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • The US Embassy in Canberra will host a webinar with US human rights lawyer Gay McDougall discussing structural inequality, the COVID-19 crisis, white supremacy groups and hate speech, and Indigenous rights.

Perth

  • Deputy Premier Roger Cook will speak at a business breakfast to launch a report on WA’s aged care sector commissioned by service providers.

Australia

  • After launching a human rights and technology report yesterday, Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow will join Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology director Peter Lewis and Digital Rights Watch chair Lizzie O’Shea for Australia Institute webinar, “Artificial Intelligence: Can Australia Chart A Difference Course On AI?”.