covid-19 kings park on southbank melbourne
(Image: AAP/Daniel Pockett)

COMPLEX ISSUES

Victorian health authorities have announced dozens of new COVID-19 exposure sites overnight spanning Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Richmond, Southbank, South Melbourne, and South Yarra, as the ABC explains that a cluster at Southbank’s Kings Park Apartment Complex has grown to six and the site listed as tier one between June 2 to 14.

With that complex now on lockdown, Guardian Australia adds that Sydney authorities are investigating a possible spread of the virus in a quarantine hotel while New South Wales’ list of exposure sites has grown to include Coles Express Coonabarabran for Thursday, June 3. Victoria has also halted new bookings for the Pfizer vaccine to ensure those due for a second jab this week can book in.

Senior Victorian ministers met overnight to discuss a potential easing of Melbourne’s restrictions from 11.59pm Thursday, with leaks to both The Age and the Herald Sun ($) suggesting that, new cases permitting, residents could have up to two visitors in their homes, lose their 25km travel bubble, and only be required to wear masks indoors. A final decision is expected to be reached when cabinet meets this morning, with an announcement likely later today or even tomorrow.

PS: Over in Western Australia, Attorney-General John Quigley introduced urgent privacy legislation in state parliament yesterday after police legally issued two notices for the Health Department to hand over businesses’ SafeWA check-in data related to a murder and a stabbing case.

GLOBAL WARNING

Findings from the world’s largest mission to the North Pole suggest global warming may have already passed an irreversible tipping point, with Al Jazeera reporting that lead researcher Markus Rex has revealed at a Berlin presentation that summer Arctic sea ice is retreating faster than ever before.

Here in Australia, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor has fended off attempts by Labor and the Greens to block his regulations redirecting the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to fund industrial emitters and resources projects, including, RenewEconomy notes, carbon capture and storage. Taylor coincidentally threw another $50 million at CCS projects last week, including $15 million for a good friend of the Coalition’s, Santos Limited.

Over to the stenographers at The Australian ($), and Japan has “guaranteed the future of new coal-fired power stations and Australian exports” by insisting that the final G7 communique allow for coal plants that use CCS.

PS: Note that while more than $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds have been handed to CCS projects this century by both the Coalition and Labor governments, the closest that Trojan horse technology has come to operating is a long-delayed Gorgon LNG project off the WA coast. Which, earlier this year, was revealed to require a break because sand was clogging the injection system.

MEAT CUTE

Working holiday visas will be extended for Australians up to the age of 35 as part of an in-principle trade deal with Britain, The Sydney Morning Herald reports, with Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Scott Morrison announcing the deal could boost Australia’s ~$2 trillion economy by up to $1.3 billion each year.

While more details of the deal will have to be fleshed out before being debated by both countries’ parliaments and potentially coming into effect mid-2022, Morrison conceded Britain would only open up to Australian meat exporters in a “staggered way”, including with protections against “sudden influxes” — meaning it is unlikely to replace our $3 billion in red meat exports to China anytime soon — while rebuffing questions over whether he would raise Australia’s farming standards to the UK’s.

A TINY WIN FOR BILOELA FAMILY

The long-detained Priya, Nades, Kopika, and Tharunicaa have been reunited in Perth after 4-year-old Tharnicaa was medically evacuated from Christmas Island with a blood infection. The reunion, the ABC explains, comes after Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced the family could live in community detention but would be deported if their ongoing legal challenge against the government fails.

Elsewhere, The Age reports that the Australian Human Rights Commission has warned the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks in immigration detention remains so severe, and that quarantine for new detainees for 14 days in units is so “harsh and prison-like”, that the government should abandon Christmas Island and makeshift hotel facilities entirely.

PS: For more on why the Coalition’s consistent excuse for detaining the Biloela family for three-plus years — they were denied refugee status — might be a touch flawed, check out The Conversation’s handy explainer i.e. the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s crucial 2019 report, which found that “Sri Lankans face a low risk of torture on a day-to-day basis”, was slammed by the United Kingdom’s Upper Tribunal last month as lacking identifiable sources, explanations for information, or annex with records of interviews.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

Any death is regrettable. But I think those opposite, by trying to suggest an elevated death rate for those who previously received income data-matching lessons, is not consistent with the facts. Incorrectly interpreting death statistics as being suicides can in fact cause further distress.

And I would ask most sincerely all parliamentary colleagues and the media to reflect on their commentary including their own duty of responsibility to not risk causing harm to vulnerable Australians.

Linda Reynolds

A small correction for the newly-appointed NDIS minister: it wasn’t Labor suggesting robodebt — or “income data matching lessons”, whatever that means — led to suicides, but a Federal Court judge reflecting on first-hand evidence from families.

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

CRIKEY RECAP

Doctor doctor, give me the fake news: One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts under investigation by TGA

“Australia’s medical regulator is investigating Senator Malcolm Roberts for a Facebook post advertising the services of a doctor who prescribes an unproven and unapproved COVID-19 treatment that the senator has repeatedly promoted.

“The Therapeutic Goods Administration confirmed to Crikey it is looking into a June 3 Facebook post on the One Nation senator’s page that directed people to contact a doctor to prescribe ivermectin.”


Here we go again: Brisbane Olympics set to deliver a bounty of intangible benefits worth, um, billions

“Australia is on the verge of securing the ‘right’ to hold another Olympics, without any assessment having been done of whether taxpayers — either in Queensland, or the rest of the country — will get any benefit at all from the money to be spent on Brisbane 2032.

“Indeed, the selection process that looks set to deliver the games for Brisbane — in the absence of any other city being particularly keen on them — has proceeded to general apathy.”


Twiggy v Clive set to make the climate debate real and willing in the fight for Queensland’s key marginal seats

“While the G7 summit is shining a torch on Scott Morrison’s outsider status on climate change, you can expect a bigger spotlight on both parties’ position in Queensland once the starter’s gun fires on the federal election campaign.

“And it might come less from the candidates and more from two billionaires gearing up to battle it out for influence in the key seats that could come into play if the government is ousted.”

THE CRIKEY PAYWALL IS DOWN

Here’s the latest from the Crikey vault, enjoy them while they’re unlocked!

Tortured in the line of duty: the untold story of 60 Minutes’ botched Beirut kidnap saga — and the man who lives it every day

“Note: the following article contains descriptions of torture.

“It took Lebanon’s security services 72 hours to break Australian cameraman Ben Williamson. He was tortured in the line of duty but no longer feels his employer, Nine Entertainment Co, has his back.

“Almost five years ago to the day, Williamson was arrested when a 60 Minutes attempt to snatch two children off the streets of Beirut and reunite them with their Australian mother, Sally Faulkner, went horribly wrong. Williamson as the cameraman had the job of recording the drama and raw emotion.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Roberts-Smith hired investigator to check woman was having an abortion

‘Crippled in one night’: Townships reeling a week after wild storms rip through properties

‘Ritual abuse’ in sex abuse royal commission report, despite claims QAnon inserted it to Scott Morrison’s speech ($)

Two federal ministers back One Nation motion calling for ‘wait-and-see’ treatment for transgender children

Elite male-only ‘gentlemen’s club’ in Sydney votes to continue banning female members

New laws introduced to protect people from extreme online abuse, trolls

‘Unhealthy food is pushed at us’: Aldi, Coles, IGA, Woolworths ‘red-flagged’ over junk food promos

‘Nothing off limits’: offshore gas and oil exploration area 5km from Twelve Apostles

Pandemic hangover overwhelms already-stressed NSW health system

Kyle Chalmers secures Olympic 100m freestyle title defence

Ikea fined $1.7m for spying on employees, customers in France

Israeli far-right groups march through occupied East Jerusalem

THE COMMENTARIAT

Faking climate action will be the main game at major gas conferenceKetan Joshi (RenewEconomy): “Woodside, the sponsor of the conference, is a perfect illustration of the stack of tricks being used by fossil extraction companies to essentially create climate targets that result in a near-zero change to their business operations. Emissions related to ‘making’ their fossil product (extracting it, processing it and transporting it, scope one and two) are nowhere near as high as those that are released when the stuff they sell is burned (scope three).”

Not perfect but the Australia-UK free trade deal is the real business ($) — Greg Sheridan (The Australian): “The Australia-UK free-trade agreement is a triumph for Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson and an early fruit of Brexit. The prime minister says if London can do a deal with its best friends first, then that paves the way for deals with others. The British PM says he’s impressed by Australia’s climate change ambition. He even says Morrison has committed to zero emissions by 2050. Somebody seems to have misunderstood something there, or is there a little creative ambiguity in the Australian position?”

Private landlords are losing billions. Should we keep picking up the tab?David Hayward (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Those rental losses bring with them a giant cost to federal tax revenues, mainly due to negative gearing, which allows landlords to deduct losses from their rental properties from taxable income derived elsewhere. The biggest single landlord cost is interest on debt, which amounted to an incredible $24 billion last year. Then there’s the $4.5 billion the federal government spends each year on rent assistance for 1.3 million low-income private tenants.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Environment Minister Sussan Ley will present “Lessons from Thargomindah — piloting a way through Australia’s environment of change” at the National Press Club.

  • The Australian Council of Social Service, state COSS chief executives, ACT’s Attorney-General Shane Rattenbury and Youth Justice Minister Emma Davidson are set to issue a call to raise Australia’s age of criminal responsibility.

Australia

  • Author Richard Flanagan will discuss his latest book, Toxic: The Rotting Underbelly Of The Tasmanian Salmon Industry, in an Australia Institute webinar.