TURN THAT LOCKDOWN UPSIDE DOWN
Senior Victorian government sources have told both The Age and Herald Sun ($) that Melbourne’s hard lockdown is likely to end on Friday barring any new mystery cases, but residents will be restricted to travelling no more than 25km from their homes to limit movement ahead of the long weekend.
Other restrictions could see students return to classrooms, visitors still banned from homes, public gatherings limited to 10, cafes and restaurants capped at 50 customers, gyms still closed, and masks still mandatory indoors.
Similar to those in regional Victoria, the leaked set of possible restrictions will be finalised this morning and announced later today after ministers met overnight with public health officials.
The news comes after Melbourne yesterday recorded just two new cases, a child linked to the West Melbourne outbreak and a close contact of an Arcare Maidstone case, while a tier three exposure site was added for 3.15-4pm Monday at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s vaccination hub.
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Deputy chief health officer Allen Cheng also announced a genomic link had been identified between the Delta outbreak and a returned traveller who entered hotel quarantine on May 8, where, The Australian ($) reports, they stayed overnight at the Novotel Ibis quarantine hotel. The paper ($) reported last week that the hotel houses medical waste and dirty linen from positive cases in a basement accessed by 450 neighbouring apartment residents, although COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria Commissioner Emma Cassar has disputed claims travellers and residents share a stairwell.
Further north, a recently returned couple separated from their newborn baby by quarantine restrictions has called on Queensland Health to “correct a mistake” and help repatriate the family to Melbourne.
And according to documents obtained by Guardian Australia under Freedom of Information, the Health Department employed just three staff members in its branch responsible for the aged care COVID-19 response at times throughout the pandemic’s early stages.
PS: In a fun new conspiracy health officials have to deal with, New South Wales’ Department of Health has had to stress it is impossible for people to develop, shed, or spread the virus through receiving a vaccine after a number of businesses in Byron Shire asked vaccinated customers not to enter their premises under a false fear of shedding.
MORRISON’S EMISSION STATEMENT
In a foreign policy speech tonight ahead of an eight-day global tour, Scott Morrison will ask countries to overhaul the World Trade Organization to deter more punitive measures from China, reiterate calls to investigate the origins of COVID-19, and again rebuff international pressure for emissions targets even slightly more ambitious than Tony Abbott’s relatively pathetic 2030 pledge.
Morrison’s speech to the Perth USAsia Centre — which has been handed out to Guardian Australia, The Conversation, The Sydney Morning Herald, AFR ($), and The Australian ($); the latter’s Greg Sheridan is, unsurprisingly, fawning over the COVID-19 origin hunt ($) — comes ahead of his trip to Singapore tomorrow and Britain’s “G7-Plus” meeting on Friday.
He will also attempt to characterise carbon border tariffs as a “combative” protectionist measure, although, as Crikey has explained previously, it would be more accurate to argue they would simply counter Australia’s inaction by ensuring goods manufactured in countries without emissions trading schemes do not get an unfair advantage over other countries.
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE
According to the ABC, websites operated by news outlets including The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, Guardian Australia, The New York Times, CNN and Al Jazeera were sent temporarily offline last night just before 8pm AEST, following an issue with US-based content delivery network provider Fastly.
THAT’S A BIT RICH
Finally, because it’s a big club and none of us are in it, analysis of secret Internal Revenue Service data by ProPublica has revealed the 25 richest Americans, including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, and Elon Musk, paid either very little or exactly nothing in federal income taxes between 2014 and 2018.
As Guardian Australia’s Greg Jericho explained yesterday, it’s not too different here in Australia: 55 Australian millionaires earned more than $1 million in the 2018-19 financial year but paid no net tax, primarily due to big donations and hiring accountants and tax lawyers.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Ambition alone won’t solve the problem of actually reducing emissions. First, countries need to demonstrate performance.
Declining again to announce a net zero 2050 target ($), the prime minister sitting on Tony Abbott’s 2030 emissions target and a seven-year policy vacuum warns governments against being too ambitious.
“Nasir Sabiry wishes he never became an interpreter.
“For four years between 2009 and 2013, he worked for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as a translator in Kabul, part of a team of locally engaged employees whose help was crucial to the coalition military campaign in Afghanistan.
“Sabiry was young, the money was good, and the work felt important and exhilarating. But by the time Australian combat troops withdrew late in 2013, he realised he had a target on his back. For the Taliban, anyone who worked for Western forces was a traitor. And traitors, and their families, deserved to be killed.”
“Australia’s medical regulator has slammed Clive Palmer and a radio network of more than 50 stations for running anti-vaccination radio advertisements over the weekend — but is unable to do anything about it.
“On Tuesday, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) put out a statement in response to questions from Crikey saying that misinformation about vaccines, such as Palmer’s advertisement run on Grant Broadcasters radio network, pose an ‘unacceptable threat to the health of Australians’.”
“On the second day of the largest modern defamation trial, the focus has been on money. Top silk Bruce McClintock SC has been quantifying some of the damages he will be seeking if his client, former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith, wins his defamation action against a group of media outlets.
“McClintock told the court that for the 2018 financial year, Roberts-Smith had enjoyed a lucrative speaking career, earning a total of $320,000. Straight after the first articles appeared those bookings ‘evaporated’, reducing Robert-Smith’s income to zero, he said.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Questions remain over plan to raise Warragamba Dam — Editorial (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The NSW floods in March that killed two people and forced 24,000 others to evacuate have sharpened differences over an expensive state government plan to protect Sydney from the next big wet. State-owned Water NSW wants to raise the level of Warragamba Dam by 17 metres in order to protect the 134,000 people who live on the flood plain of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River from floods starting in the Blue Mountains. The number of residents at risk is expected to double in the next 30 years.”
Goodes’ Hall of Fame call a sad moment for sport ($) — Patrick Carlyon (Herald Sun): “Adam Goodes belongs in the AFL’s Hall of Fame. Debate about potential candidates, when it flares, usually goes to chinks of their nature. Great footballers all, some have let down society by other measures. How do you balance the value of their sporting prowess against the failings of their character? Goodes is a different case. He is proud, articulate, principled. Someone to admire by every conventional measure. He has declined an invitation to be inducted.”
Australians have been forgiving of the government’s COVID response, but we may have reached our limit — Peter Lewis (Guardian Australia): “A year is a long time in pandemics. As Melburnians battle through their second week of lockdown, there is a quantifiable difference in the attitude to government emerging compared with the 2020 experience. Last year, incumbent governments — both federal and state — experienced surging support when they invoked drastic public health measures to protect the population from a scary, unknown virus that was running rampant across the globe.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
President of the Australian Medical Association Dr Omar Khorshid will present “Post-pandemic future for Australia’s health care system” and release a new report AMA’s Vision for Australia’s Health at the National Press Club.
Journalist and author of recent book Ten-ager: What your daughter needs you to know about the transition from child to teen Madonna King will speak in-conversation with Crikey’s Peter Fray in webinar event “Crikey Talks: Are our political leaders failing Australia’s teenagers?”
This event will be streamed at 1pm AEST and is available to Crikey subscribers.