NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian
(Image: AAP/Dan Himbrechts)

IT’S NOT A TRACE

Workers and residents across seven Sydney local government areas are now banned from non-essential travel, the ABC reports, after 16 locally acquired COVID-19 cases were identified yesterday, half of which have been linked to a birthday party in south-west Sydney, while four cases still remain to be traced.

With more than 100 exposure sites now identified, including a western Sydney TAFE campus and more cafes and bus routes added just last night, Gladys Berejiklian has not ruled out going “further and harder if we have to”.

Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast, Wollongong, and Shellharbour are also subject to a series of other restrictions, meaning households can only have up to five guests and masks are compulsory in all indoor non-residential settings, including workplaces, and at organised outdoor events.

Federal chief medical officer Paul Kelly has since declared those seven Sydney LGAs a COVID-19 hotspot for the purposes of Commonwealth support, lasting for a week from yesterday, while The Sydney Morning Herald details how other states and territories have tightened restrictions e.g. Queensland barred anyone from the five regions subject to general restrictions.

Elsewhere, new Health Department projections reveal the Morrison government plans to vaccinate those aged 60 and above by October — coincidentally, the month they initially planned to have the whole country done by — after which the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines will become dominant and AstraZeneca likely only available to states that request it.

PS: For some global context to the vaccine race, The Conversation explained yesterday how although about 10% of the global population has been fully vaccinated, only 0.9% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose.

JOYCE PICKS

The National Party under returned leader Barnaby Joyce has blindsided the Liberals with since-defeated introductions to a government bill that would have reduced environmental flows under the Murray-Darling Basin plan — changes Guardian Australia explains were introduced amid new, secret Coalition negotiations but that party leader in the Senate Bridget “Sports Rorts” McKenzie claimed had been in the works for months.

Elsewhere, news.com.au has revealed Joyce for months failed to declare rental income from his four-bedroom house in Tamworth — $625 per week, which has earned him more than $10,000 — to Parliament up until he was contacted by the publication.

And more than 10 senators from different political persuasions have claimed Nationals Senator Samantha McMahon was “heavily” under the influence of alcohol and encouraged to leave the upper house on Tuesday evening, although McMahon — a key supporter of Joyce — has denied the suggestion and told The Age she had only one glass of wine with dinner and had been overwhelmed after receiving “sad personal news”.

VISA, VIDA

Finally, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced he had issued three members of “the Sri Lankan family in held detention [sic]” with three-month bridging visas, although the ABC explains the decision not to do the same for four-year-old Tharnicaa means the family cannot leave Perth for Biloela.

Elsewhere, SBS reports that more than 1200 refugees granted protection by Australia have been denied exemptions to arrive here since August last year, despite being considered at-risk in current locations.

And 14 people seeking asylum who were brought to Australia under medivac — including one approaching nine years of detention — began a hunger strike late last week to protest their indefinite detention.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

COVID Vaccination Allocation Horizons: The vaccination program will ramp-up to deliver the vaccine by December 2021. As the Program moves toward Horizon three, the uptake of AZ is expected to decrease as vaccination of the 60 years and over cohort nears completion.

The Department of Health

After missing initial vaccine targets by a good month or four, the Morrison government’s latest allocations for state and territories come in three sets of “horizons”.

CRIKEY RECAP

Bridget McKenzie for Darren Chester? Is this how low Australian politics has sunk?

“If anyone has forgotten, Bridget McKenzie is a rorter. When sports minister, she and her office used taxpayer funds in pursuit of the Coalition’s marginal seat strategy in the 2019 election, dictated by Scott Morrison’s office. She did so without legal authority to allocate the money. The whole program she rorted was designed to be rorted, which is why it was run out of the Sports Commission, which wasn’t subject to the normal anti-rorting rules.

“Worse, McKenzie was an incompetent rorter. She got found out by the Auditor-General, who forensically revealed her rorting. And she lost her job over the rorting, because she failed to declare a conflict of interest.

“In a government that is the most corrupt we’ve ever seen in federal politics, which regards pork-barrelling and rorting as standard political practice, and which is led by a man with a frequent and irresistible compulsion to lie, imagine being so bad you actually lose your job. That’s Bridget McKenzie.”


Return of a true blue rural populist: what Beetrooter redux really means for city, country and Labor

“The Beetrooter is back! For lo we hath seen his redness rise in the north, like a shepherd’s warning at morning, and the prophecy has been fulfilled: that a child will come to lead them, and he will be as a shouting bag of blood hooked up on a drip cradle, a rural engorgement.

“And it didn’t take him too long to give his supporters what they want, taking the fight back to Labor and progressives in a way that Michael McCrom- McMorc- Mc — that guy never could. McSomething showed why he had been edged out of the leadership, giving a farewell speech that sounded like a dog about to be shot heaping praise on the farmer, and then retiring gracefully into the shadows, as Labor enthusiastically applauded the man who had earlier hoped that a mice plague would invade the cities and bite children in their beds. Gnawing resentment, much?”


Will more information about the Christian Porter allegations ever be released? There are three avenues

“Note: this article includes discussion of sexual assault and suicide.

“We’ll likely never know what happened to Kate, the woman who accused Minister for Industry Christian Porter of a historical rape, on the night of the alleged assault.

“Kate killed herself last year, and many attempts to reveal any extra information have been shut down through defamation and other proceedings.

“Porter strenuously denies the allegations against him.

“There are currently three options for information on the table: a coronial inquest into Kate’s death to show what happened in the lead-up to her death; the release of unredacted documents from the ABC defamation case, brought to court by media outlets including News Corp; and a senate inquiry into Porter, as Senator Jacqui Lambie is filing for today, to show whether Porter is a fit and proper person to hold a ministerial role.”

THE CRIKEY PAYWALL IS DOWN

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

Destiny’s child: the unshakeable belief of a man born to rule

“Note: this story contains references to sexual assault.

“This is a story about power in Australia.

“You were born into Liberal Party royalty. Dad was an Olympian, turned director of the Western Australia Liberals. Grandpa was an MP in Queensland under Bjelke-Petersen.

“You went to Hale, Perth’s most exclusive private school, and made the national schools debating team. By the start of adulthood, you were already too big to fail.

“As a kid, dad said you’d be prime minister one day. And you believed him. At university (arts/law at UWA, naturally) you tell people you’re going to be PM. You ‘smut [your] way through law school’ (your words). By all accounts, a real piece of work. But the drinking and the partying doesn’t stop you graduating with first class honours. The golden boy of UWA Law.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Ben Roberts-Smith burnt laptops to protect personal information, defamation trial told

Robodebt: government fights to keep secret documents that may show ‘what went wrong’

Senate votes to probe Beetaloo Basin fracking ($)

‘Siege mentality’: Australia’s top diplomat warns China is insecure and brittle

Australians are the richest people in the world, says Credit Suisse

New renewables now beating most operational coal: IRENA report

Tasmania Police drops Adam Brooks firearms investigation

Jacqui Lambie’s push for Senate probe into Porter claims voted down

Fitzgerald-era ghosts haunt Whiskey Au Go Go inquest ($)

NSW plan to use ‘napalm’ poison to control mouse plague rejected over fears for wildlife

UK denies Russia’s claim that warning shots were fired at warship

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper to close as first person stands trial under security law

US Supreme Court tosses class action ruling against Goldman Sachs

India Walton, self-identified socialist, scores upset victory in Buffalo mayoral primary

THE COMMENTARIAT

Ben Roberts-Smith asked if stamps could be traced: trialHarriet Alexander and Deborah Snow (The Sydney Morning Herald): “In the opening stages of the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation trial, Nicholas Owens SC, the media outlets’ barrister, warned the court there would be two irreconcilable versions of what happened in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2012. As he drilled on Wednesday into the version of events given by the former SAS soldier to his own barrister last week, the plot thickened at every point. Agreed fact: Mr Roberts-Smith asked his wife’s friend, Danielle Scott, a former Australia Post employee, whether stamps could be traced.”

Barnaby will help restore law of Made in Australia ($) — Matt Canavan (The Australian): “During the past 10 years, Australia’s foreign policy has become dominated by the notion that we benefit from a ‘rules-based international order’. This has allowed a myth to grow that our relative economic prosperity is thanks to this international order, and the compliance of others to these rules. But these rules have never helped Australia economically to any large degree. The trade rules in the initial Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade made no progress on helping Australia’s agricultural exports to access overseas markets.”

Pop culture’s mythical ‘dream job’Scarlett Harris (Kill Your Darlings): “‘A million girls would kill for this job’ is the infamous catch cry of the 2006 film The Devil Wears Prada. Based on the 2003 Lauren Weisberger novel of the same name, the cult favourite depicts the inner workings of fashion magazine Runway, loosely based on Vogue where Weisberger was an assistant to editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Meryl Streep’s demanding, cold and relentless Miranda Priestly is allegedly a cipher for Wintour. Anne Hathaway plays Priestly’s thankless second assistant Andy, who works around the clock running personal errands, forgoing her fifteen-minute lunch break and being bullied for her appearance because the tall, slender and ample-bosomed Hathaway is apparently ‘fat’ by fashion magazine standards.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra

  • Defence Minister Peter Dutton, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews  and Labor leader Anthony Albanese will speak at a CEDA forum at Parliament House.

Australia

  • Crikey will host webinar event “Crikey Talks: The People’s Panel” at 6pm AEST with editor-in-chief Peter Fray, reporter Georgia Wilkins and readers John Donovan from Sydney, Annie Humphries from Brisbane and John Barker from Perth. Exclusive to subscribers.

  • Author Bri Lee will discuss her new book Who Gets To Be Smart? in a webinar with deputy director of the Australia Institute Ebony Bennett.