Following news of 11 more COVID-19 cases, the ABC reports Victorian officials and experts have expressed concern about an outbreak at Arcare Maidstone aged care home and the highly-infectious Delta variant “popping up out of nowhere” ahead of the planned end of Melbourne’s lockdown on Friday.
Eighteen new exposure sites identified yesterday span cafes, chemists and a number 19 tram, and date from May 30-June 6, across Campbellfield, Coburg, Coburg North, Flemington, Glenroy, Maribyrnong, Melbourne, Mickleham, Port Melbourne, Southbank, South Melbourne, Strathmore, and Yarraville.
But government sources have suggested to the Herald Sun that, barring a spike in mystery cases, the hard lockdown could end as scheduled and be replaced with restrictions similar to regional Victoria i.e. mask-wearing indoors, bans or caps on gatherings, and density limits in offices and venues.
The Herald Sun has also revealed that the federal government is still unable to track aged care staff ($) working across multiple facilities, roughly three years after its own taskforce recommended a national registration system.
Save up to 50% on a year of Crikey
Choose what you pay, from $99.
Elsewhere, The Age explains how doctors are becoming increasingly confident at detecting and treating the rare blood clotting syndrome associated with AstraZeneca’s vaccine, and has, separately, created an interactive guide to where active cases are per postcode.
3-YEAR-OLD DETAINEE MEDICALLY EVACUATED
The Biloela-born daughter of a Tamil family of four detained on Christmas Island, 3-year-old Tharnicaa Murugappan, has been medically evacuated to Perth with a suspected blood infection, while the family’s immigration lawyer notes she has been increasingly unwell for about 10 days.
Tharnicaa, who turns four next week, has been detained by the Turnbull/Morrison governments since the Australian Border Force’s dawn raid in 2018. Throughout this time, she has developed “behavioural disturbances”; sustained a mouth infection; and endured a traumatic removal from a Melbourne facility to Christmas Island, where she went on to lose weight, share one bed with her family, and watch her mum, Priya, also be flown to Perth for medical treatment.
Last month, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews hinted she may release the family into community detention as their legal battle against the federal government continues.
PS: In other immigration news, Guardian Australia reports a federal court has ordered the government to pay an Iraqi asylum seeker $350,000 for over two years of unlawful detention, during which time Home Affairs did not actively pursue the purpose of his detention (i.e. “removing him from Australia”).
LIKE A G7
Never one to hold back praise for Scott Morrison, The Australian ($) today leads with news the prime minister will head to the G7 leaders’ meeting “with the boast that Australia leads the major advanced nations with an economy [save for South Korea] that has exceeded its pre-pandemic size”, following an upgraded rating and praise from agency S&P for Australia’s “swift and decisive” response to the virus. Last month’s meeting otherwise saw Foreign Minister Marise Payne dressed down over the government’s decision not to commit to a 2050 net-zero target or any meaningful emission reduction targets.
Morrison is also heading to Singapore on Thursday ($), where he will speak with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the increasing China-US tensions in the Indo-Pacific and the regional response to the pandemic, including the potential for a travel bubble.
In other updates on the pandemic’s financial impacts, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the New South Wales government secretly offered Qantas $50 million in taxpayer funds to head off an inter-state bidding war for the Sydney headquarters last September.
UP IN HARMS
Finally, The New Daily explains that Australia’s Black Summer bushfires have been showcased in the International Military Council on Climate and Security’s latest report, The World Climate and Security Report, which examines threats posed by the cascading, intensifying climate risks and/or their convergence with other global risks such as COVID-19.
The news comes after commander of the Australian Defence Force COVID-19 task force, Lieutenant General John “JJ” Frewen, was picked over the weekend to direct a “military-style scale up phase of the beleaguered vaccination rollout”.
PS: As Crikey explored in 2019, foreign affairs consultants warned Australian MPs as far back as 1995 that increased greenhouse gas emissions posed both humanitarian and reputational risks across the Pacific; climate change first made it onto a Defence White Paper in 2009; and a 2018 Greens-initiated Senate inquiry identified local and regional security risks, their impact on human induced migration, and suggestions for a future role of the Australian Defence Force.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
These are the questions Daniel Andrews must answer before he comes back to work.
- What time did the incident occur?
- Who was in the house at the time of the incident?
- What is the address of the house where it occurred?
- Who owns the property?
- What time was an ambulance called?
- Who called the ambulance?
- What time did the ambulance arrive?
- Which ambulance station was the ambulance dispatched from?
- Who made the decision to take the premier to Peninsula Private?
- Were the police contacted?
- Did the police attend?
- Has Daniel Andrews been interviewed either formally or informally by the police in relation to anything that occurred over that long weekend?
Alluding to what one can only assume is a very normal conspiracy over the Victorian premier’s injury, the shadow treasurer releases 12 questions — mid-lockdown, mind you — with that standard anti-privacy line, “if there is no cover up then there is no reason not to provide answers”.
“After months mired in historical rape allegations, Christian Porter is trying to focus on the fight for his political survival. To do so, the senior Coalition minister is spending more money on social media advertising than any other Australian politician.
“Since Porter outed himself as the subject of a letter sent to the prime minister and other MPs accusing him of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in 1988 — allegations he strenuously denies — attention on him has been through the lens of the accusations.”
“Calling something a ‘foregone conclusion’ when it’s anything but would not cut it in a high school essay. Setting up a patently false binary that if the masculine is represented by order, feminine must be chaos is intellectually fraudulent. Saying feminists object to everything and don’t understand their own behaviour is a pathetic and childish taunt with no basis in reality. Deploying ancient Chinese philosophy as a rhetorical flourish is entirely vacuous.
“And that bit about rejection? No wonder the incels love him.”
“Christian Porter twice offered to settle defamation proceedings with the ABC, before finally discontinuing proceedings last week, in an agreement that saw his law firm receive $100,000 in mediation-related costs from the public broadcaster.
“At a Senate estimates hearing where Coalition senators largely ventilated outrage at tweets by ABC journalists, the broadcaster’s managing director David Anderson shed more light on the nature of the settlement with Porter.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
We’re stuck in Groundhog Day, but this is the lockdown we had to have — Hassan Vally (The Age): “It’s important not to be Pollyanna-ish about our situation, however, and acknowledge that the fundamental challenge we are facing has not changed. We are still dealing with a formidable foe, a virus that will exploit any weaknesses in our defences to spread quickly throughout the population. And we still have a mostly non-immune population that is highly susceptible to COVID. While these two conditions prevail, the general level of threat the virus poses to the community remains essentially as it was throughout 2020. The arrival of new variants only adds to the challenge.”
COVID-19: Victoria shows world how to bungle a crisis ($) — Troy Bramston (The Australian): “The Victorian government’s handling of COVID-19 will be remembered as a rolling series of blunders rivalling that of any government in the post-war period. A fourth lockdown, based on flawed advice, will have catastrophic economic and social costs that are impossible to fully calculate. It will be seen as a lesson in how not to respond to a pandemic.”
Calling in the army for the vaccine rollout and every other emergency shows how ill-prepared we are — John Blaxland (The Conversation): “As someone whose life’s work has been the study of the ADF, my first thought when hearing the news was: Frewen is a good pick, in many ways. He is an exceptionally capable officer, and I have no doubt he will get the job done. But I have broader concerns about Australia’s growing tendency to call in the defence force to deal with crises outside its usual remit. These are crises that could or should be dealt with by well-resourced civilian government agencies and institutions.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Australia’s first Indigenous surgeon and 2021 Australian Society for Medical Research medallist Kelvin Kong will present “Hearing versus listening” at the National Press Club.
CEDA event “Developing Queensland’s hydrogen industry” will include speeches from Queensland Minister for Energy, Renewables and Hydrogen Mick de Brenni; CEO of Australian Renewable Energy Agency Darren Miller; Origin Energy general manager Tracey Boyes; and Aurecon managing director Paul Gleeson.
Productivity Commission chair Michael Brennan will present at live-streamed CEDA event “Productivity Priorities Post-Pandemic”.
Political editor of Guardian Australia Katharine Murphy and executive director at Essential Media Peter Lewis will discuss the fortnightly Guardian Essential Report in an Australia Institute webinar.