New South Wales Health has announced overnight that a confirmed COVID-19 case travelled from Melbourne to several areas of New South Wales while potentially infectious, with five exposure sites identified from Sunday May 23-24 across Jervis Bay, Goulburn, Hyams Beach, and Vincentia.
The ABC reports that a drive-through COVID-19 testing clinic will be set up in Huskisson on the South Coast, while Victoria’s Health Department notes the Melbourne case, who returned before the May 27 lockdown, visited several locations from Monday May 24-30 in Glenrowan, Wallan, Euroa, Melbourne, and Docklands, including Coles Spencer Street.
And with Victoria’s list of exposure sites now exceeding 350 and officials concerned of this variant’s infectiousness, the government is expected to announce an extension of the lockdown beyond its Thursday night deadline. Senior ministers met last night to receive a medical briefing over the outbreak, which for the first time includes four-to-five cases where people were infected by “very fleeting contact” with strangers.
Over on Australia’s west coast, a crew member removed from a freight ship at Kwinana Bulk Jetty in Western Australia following a positive COVID-19 test has now tested negative, with authorities now believing the man to have been an historical case. Transmission has however been reported in WA’s hotel quarantine system, with a man at the Pan Pacific Hotel infected by a guest next door.
Elsewhere, the federal Health Department has admitted at Senate estimates it does not know how many aged care workers have been vaccinated, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, while Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck refused to confirm the federal government is responsible for the aged care immunisation program.
Scott Morrison, it should be noted, later did confirm that responsibility, while the Victorian government announced it will fast-track vaccinations for aged care and disability workers in a five-day blitz across walk-in hubs.
And according to Guardian Australia, the government is planning a trial that would allow vaccinated Australians to leave the country and return with less strict quarantine requirements, which could begin in as little as six weeks.
MORE ON PORTER
A friend of the woman who alleged she was raped by Christian Porter 30 years ago — an accusation he denies — has threatened to sue the former attorney-general for defamation, Guardian Australia reports, after he declared at Monday’s press conference “someone was coached by [reporter] Louise Milligan to destroy important communications … my view is that’s what got the ABC, forced them, to ask us into mediation”.
Jo Dyer released a statement yesterday stating Milligan was one of many to advise her on communications and that a second legal notice had been sent to Porter, who she alleged to have “now twice impugned [her] honesty and integrity”. This comes after he earlier suggested Dyer’s ultimately-successful action to restrain his original barrister Sue Chrysanthou was “part of an improper last-minute legal strategy”.
Elsewhere, The Australian ($) rather joyfully reports that ABC lawyers issued an apology to the Federal Court on Monday after Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour tweeted the news before the judge has formally finalised the matter. Neighbour also inaccurately announced that “no money was paid”, which she soon deleted and clarified to say “no damages were paid”.
The Oz also “understands” Porter will receive a sum in the vicinity of $100,000 from the ABC, a claim a spokesperson denied. They note, again, that, “the only costs to be paid by the ABC, apart from its own, are mediation and related costs.”
Finally, Greens co-deputy leader Larissa Waters announced yesterday she plans to introduce a bill for a commission of inquiry into whether Porter “is a fit and proper person to hold any ministerial position”, which she notes would allow “a former judge, appointed by the solicitor-general, to hold hearings, summon witnesses, examine evidence, and make recommendations, subject to necessary protections”.
Finally, a Sydney Morning Herald investigation reveals how the NSW government sought to cover up its attempt to artificially inflate the state’s budget by tens of billions of dollars, after the government shifted the rail network’s costs onto a corporation, Transport Asset Holding Entity, that has not been able to properly operate since launching in 2014.
Confidential documents and whistleblower testimony reveals NSW Treasury pressured accounting giant KPMG to delete or amend aspects of a commissioned transport report that found the plan — which used the government-body-turned-shell corporation to help mask a 2018 deficit — could end up costing the state more than it saved.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
The state government’s very, very strong view is that the ship should sail as soon as possible.
We’d like the ship to sail, to go back — I think it’s to Malaysia — with the cargo and leave Western Australia as soon as possible.
The crew are healthy, the ship is ready to go. It reduces the pressure on Western Australia if the ship sails immediately.
Following news a crew member of the freight ship Allegra tested positive in Western Australia for a historical COVID-19 infection, the premier addresses the most pressing challenge: telling the Allegra and its 22 remaining, asymptomatic staff to GTFO.
“Christian Porter, after discontinuing his defamation suit against the ABC, is in the same position as before he commenced the ill-fated litigation. In the absence of an independent inquiry into the allegations of sexual assault from the 1980s, he can’t remain in cabinet.
“When he commenced the suit, Porter’s lawyers made much of his willingness to deny the claims under oath. Yesterday, Porter was still insisting ‘I was willing to go under oath and to say what I have always said that the things alleged did not happen’.”
“Christian Porter has discontinued his defamation case against the ABC and reporter Louise Milligan for coverage of historical rape allegations. For the friends of Kate, Porter’s alleged victim, the ending is bittersweet.
“Although the ABC won’t have to spend truckloads of finite resources defending itself, Kate’s friends and supporters won’t have to defend her name against harsh lawyers, and Porter won’t have to crowdfund legal fees, it also means the information the ABC has to support its truth defence stays secret while an independent inquiry into his suitability to remain in Parliament remains unannounced.”
“What caused this sudden and spectacular retreat? You can take your pick from three possibilities: Porter looking down the barrel at long, extremely expensive litigation with the risk of utterly destroying his reputation; the imminence (on Tuesday) of Porter’s attempt to strike out the most enticing parts of the ABC’s defence, with the attendant risk of their becoming public very soon; or the loss last week of Porter’s preferred senior counsel, Sue Chrysanthou SC, removed from the case by the Federal Court because of a conflict of interest.”
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Why Porter capitulated: a defamation lawyer’s view ($) — Justin Quill (AFR) “Politicians are used to spin, but when you have lawyers analysing what they’re saying, it’s harder for them to successfully get away with it. As part of the settlement, Porter withdrew his claim. That can hardly be described as the ABC ‘determining not to defend the matter’. And the ABC was not forced to state it couldn’t prove the truth of the allegations. Rather, it made a tactical decision it didn’t need to because it could rely on other defences.”
Market-based economic principles work ($) — Mathias Cormann (The Australian): “More and more countries are committing to net-zero emissions as soon as possible and by no later than 2050. The challenge is how to turn those commitments into outcomes and to achieve our objective in a cost-effective, economically responsible and publicly supported way that will not leave people behind. During the next 100 days we need to operationalise the OECD’s International Program for Action on Climate.
View from The Hill: New ‘expert’ advice is in – don’t say ‘it’s not a race’ — Michelle Grattan (The Conversation): “The expert advice changes, not infrequently, during this pandemic. And that applies even when that ‘advice’ comes in the form of a one-liner. As criticism mounted over the slowness of the vaccine rollout, Scott Morrison and his ministers have been increasingly dogged by the PM’s claim, especially early on, that the vaccination rollout was ‘not a race’. Despite it being very obvious it was indeed a race to get the job done, once the line was in the script, ministers parroted it or struggled with it.”
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CEO of the Healing Foundation Fiona Cornforth will launch the “Make Healing Happen” report, which contains recommendations regarding the Stolen Generations, at the National Press Club.