(Image: AAP/Bianca De Marchi)

FLEEING CONTACT

New South Wales health authorities have overnight added two flights to their list of COVID-19 exposure sites — Qantas flight QF163 Sydney-Wellington, which left at 7.05pm last Thursday; and Air New Zealand flight NZ247 Wellington-Sydney, which left 10.13am on Monday — along with other venues identified throughout the day in Bondi, Bondi Junction, Spring Farm, Sydney CBD, and Mascot.

As NSW extends mask and QR check-in requirements, including for all retail stores and shopping centres even for short periods, the ABC reports that Victoria has declared seven Sydney local government areas “red zones”, meaning that, as of 1am this morning, any non-Victorian residents who have been in the City of Sydney, Waverley, Woollahra, Bayside, Canada Bay, Inner West, and Randwick are not allowed to enter the state. New Zealand has also paused quarantine-free travel with NSW for at least 72 hours.

Ten new cases were identified in NSW yesterday, including eight already self-isolating and one mystery case, a child the The Sydney Morning Herald explains attends an eastern suburbs school.

Queensland also recorded one new case, as authorities discover a hotel quarantine worker could “potentially” be the missing link to a flight attendant who tested positive over the weekend, while Victoria recorded no locally-acquired cases and will see border restrictions lift with South Australia and Queensland on Friday.

Acting Premier James Merlino again accused the Morrison government of botching the vaccine roll-out ahead of three months of limited state supplies, while The Age adds the state government is set to announce eased restrictions this morning for Friday, including outdoor gatherings of up to 50 and offices with 75% capacity.

PS: Following months of criticism over Australia’s relatively-lacking vaccine ad campaign, The New Daily reports that federal vaccine commander, Lieutenant General John Frewen, has admitted the government held off on an advertising blitz because it remains worried about supply.

CHAOTIC ENVIRONMENT

Labor, the Greens, and Senate crossbenchers have blocked the Morrison government from opening up the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to invest in fossil fuel projects such as carbon capture, RenewEconomy reports, after Pauline Hanson failed to turn up and vote down disallowance motions.

The news comes as Scott Morrison and Barnaby Joyce negotiate a new Coalition agreement that The Sydney Morning Herald reports could dictate more carbon sequestration schemes for farmers in return for any future, stronger climate action. Elsewhere, while the Herald appears to describe net zero by 2050 as “an ambitious new climate target”, that date is roughly five years too late for wealthier countries to meet the Paris goals — plus Australia already has it by default after all state and territories signed up by last July at the latest.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley yesterday claimed the government was “blindsided” by a draft UNESCO recommendation to list the Great Barrier Reef as “endangered” — an “arbitrary ruling” influenced by China’s soft Belt and Road diplomacy, if anyone trusts The Australian’s ($) latest shot at spin — despite the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority downgrading the reef’s outlook from “poor” to “very poor” in 2019.

The Coalition is also dealing with industry pushback after Ley blocked the development of a $50 billion solar-wind-hydrogen hub in the Pilbara, without any prior consultation, on the grounds it would threaten wetlands and native species.

PS: In contrast with that decision to veto the Asian Renewable Energy Hub, it is worth noting Ley last year approved the Narrabri gas project despite the fact Santos — a good friend and donor of the Coalition’s — had not explained which parts of the Pilliga forest would need to be destroyed nor completed its groundwater investigation.

COMPENSATION FASTRACKED

Finally, the ABC reports that elderly and terminally ill survivors of child sexual abuse will be able to access advance compensation payments of up to $10,000, after an inquiry found the national redress scheme is a bureaucratic nightmare.

Lifeline: 13 11 14.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

People have an expectation and a right to the safeguarding and privacy of personal information.

Given QR codes were introduced in the best interest of community health, are temporary, and rely wholly on community compliance, we believe that the data collected should be free of any intrusion whatsoever, outside of its original purpose of contact tracing.

Police Association secretary Wayne Gatt

While the Victorian government is reluctant to outright ban police from accessing QR code check-in data, support for new protections has grown to include civil liberties lawyers, the Coalition, the Greens, and now uh the actual police union.

CRIKEY RECAP

Joyce and his coal obsessives threaten the future of Australian agriculture

“While Australia is already an international laggard on climate action, the return of climate denialist and alleged sexual harasser Barnaby Joyce to the deputy prime ministership threatens to elevate us to pariah status. And the extent to which the government can be trusted in relation to any commitments it makes internationally is now under serious question.

“Joyce and the claque of far-right, mainly Queensland Nationals he leads aren’t merely opponents of a 2050 net zero target — which, for all the press gallery obsession with it, is too little too late to prevent highly damaging climate change — but will push for more coal-fired power, aiming to increase Australia’s emissions, rather than abate them.”


Government backs Hanson’s critical race theory culture war. The question is: why?

“Coalition Senators voted with One Nation yesterday to pass Pauline Hanson’s motion calling for the government to reject critical race theory (CRT) from the national education curriculum.

“Hanson’s motion, which passed 30 votes to 28 and was opposed by the Greens and Labor, will have no real effect. But for One Nation, it was a valuable bit of culture war theatrics. CRT, a mix of cultural, legal and social critique which seeks to analyse how structural racism operates in systems of power, has become a recent obsession of Fox News and the Republican right in the US. And like so many of those obsessions, it’s quickly made its way into Australia’s parliament.”


Is there any such thing as personal propriety in politics? Barnaby’s second coming suggests not, but why the surprise?

“Amid the cacophony of righteous indignation from the left over the second coming of Barnaby Joyce, you have to wonder why they are so shocked. Did they really believe Turnbull’s Bonk Ban?

“Or is it that their cancel culture is proving counterproductive? Do they really think that the wider electorate can keep up any moral outrage for longer than the latest news cycle?”

THE CRIKEY PAYWALL IS DOWN

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

Leaked neo-Nazis’ manual reveals they’re manipulating Australia’s media to recruit new members

“A leaked manual of an active Australian neo-Nazi group reveals how its members manipulate journalists into unwittingly amplifying their hateful message, helping them recruit new members.

“The National Socialist Network is a relatively new far-right group that formed out of two previous groups, the Lads Society and Antipodean Resistance.

“The group has been growing in size and activity. Since a gathering in the Grampians in January, the group’s leader has been charged with assaulting a security guard and two of the group’s members were arrested for possessing an improvised explosive device and extremist material respectively.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

NT Coroner investigates suicide of nine-year-old girl in foster care

Australians fear China-US military conflict but want to stay neutral: Lowy 2021 Poll

Australian government urged to fast-track protection visas for ADF’s former Afghan interpreters amid fears for lives

Two Sony Music Australia executives stood down as company investigates culture

Morrison ministers lay groundwork for nuclear energy election plan ($)

Email oversight left 13% of Arcare Maidstone’s residents unvaccinated at time of COVID outbreak

South West Ponzi scheme: Dozens of WA investors believe they have been scammed out of tens of millions ($)

Karen Bird issues plea to Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce to not dump Darren Chester from veterans role

Spanish government pardons nine Catalan separatist leaders

Duterte threatens to jail people who reject COVID vaccination

Taliban captures Afghanistan’s main Tajikistan border crossing

THE COMMENTARIAT

The Australian government wants to avoid the Great Barrier Reef being listed as ‘in danger’ at all costs Imogen Zethoven (Guardian Australia): “This year is the 40th anniversary of the Great Barrier Reef being on the world heritage list. It should be a time to celebrate. Yet UNESCO has released a draft report recommending the reef be put on a list of world heritage sites that are ‘in danger’. UNESCO has absolutely made the right decision. The reef is in danger. It is time for the Australian government to take ambitious climate action for the reef.”

We must put our interests first on carbon ($) — Bridget McKenzie (The Australian): “It is one thing for politicians to promise on the international stage a net zero world in the distant future when none will be around to be accountable. It is quite another thing to be able to deliver on that promise. Such is the case with the recent G7 summit as member nations — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US — stated their intent to accelerate plans to achieve net zero carbon dioxide emissions by no later than 2050 and cease government support for unabated coal power generation.”

Barnaby Joyce’s return, and John Anderson’s loss, is symbolic of a political culture gone awryGregory Melleuish (The Conversation): “Two former National Party leaders attempted to reignite their political careers in the past few days. John Anderson, leader from 1999 to 2005, was unsuccessful in his attempt to secure Senate pre-selection for New South Wales. In recent times Anderson has garnered considerable respect for his role in Australian public intellectual life with his web-based interview program, Conversations with John Anderson. At the same time, Barnaby Joyce was successful in his attempt to regain the leadership of the federal Nationals. Joyce lost the leadership in 2018 following revelations of his affair with staffer Vikki Campion and other claims of sexual harassment, which he denies. Joyce is back after spending three years in the sin bin.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs And Trade Frances Adamson will reflect on her 36 year diplomatic career and Australian diplomacy in 2021 in a National Press Club address.

Sydney

  • NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet will deliver a post-budget CEDA speech.

  • People from refugee backgrounds will perform with Midnight Oil, the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and other acts at Refugee Week event “Band Together”, which will include speakers Craig Foster, Rosemary Kariuki and others.