A CASUAL ERROR
NSW Health has apologised to NSW’s Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello after he was incorrectly informed that he was a casual contact, instead of a close contact, of infected Agriculture Minister Adam Marshall, the ABC reports. It follows Deputy Premier John Barilaro’s scathing comments describing his state health authority’s classification system as a “lucky dip”, The Sydney Morning Herald says. Dominello appeared at a press conference on Wednesday alongside NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and chief health officer Kerry Chant, but NSW Health says he has tested negative twice so far and posed a “low risk”. Dominello will be in isolation until July 6.
Overnight NSW Health released several new exposure sites, including Sydney H&M, the Glasshouse Building, Fitness First in Maroubra, and the UNSW Judo Club Eastern Suburbs, as well as several bus lines.
Meanwhile Queenslanders are waking up to their second day of a snap lockdown — affecting south-east Queensland, Townsville, Palm Island, and Magnetic Island — which be in place until at least 6.00pm on Friday, depending on the coming day’s numbers. The NT is also entering day two of a three-day lockdown, after a man who visited Alice Springs airport last Friday tested positive for the coronavirus.
SMH reports that more than 10,000 travellers entered Australia during April on a holiday or business trip, a figure which excludes people within the New Zealand travel bubble. It comes as 34,000 stranded Aussies remain overseas awaiting a green light from the government to return home. Australia’s borders remain shut unless you’re an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or in an exempt category, as determined by Home Affairs.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has come under fire after she claimed that the federal government was planning to establish mass vaccination centres to administer AstraZeneca vaccines to people under 40. A federal spokesperson told The Age that Palaszczuk was “absolutely incorrect”, as vaccination centres remain a state government responsibility.
Meanwhile Queensland’s chief health officer Jeanette Young has been accused of “scaremongering” after she advised people under 40 not to get the AstraZeneca jab amid the risk of blood clotting, attracting a rebuke from doctors, The Australian ($) reports. The federal health department says the risk is very low: between 4-6 people in every million. So far, the Australian Financial Review reports, there have been 64 cases of clotting, including two deaths, out of the more than 4 million doses administered in Australia.
Meanwhile, just one in five disability workers have been vaccinated, Guardian Australia reports, since the vaccination rollout began four months ago. Disability workers were considered part of the highest priority cohort by the government, but the focus instead shifted onto vaccinating those working in aged care.
AUSTRALIA EXITS AFGHANISTAN
The final Australian troops have left Afghanistan, almost 20 years after the original mission began, according to military sources who spoke to the ABC. Their American counterparts are expected to depart “within days”, reports BBC News, after US president Joe Biden outlined the exit strategy in April. Former Army Chief retired lieutenant-general Peter Leahy told the ABC his thoughts were with the families of the 41 Australian soldiers who have died in the conflict.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
A warm hello to you and thanks for having me. I’m Emma, your new Worm writer. You might have seen me over at ABC News, the BBC, or in my beloved hometown rag, the Newcastle Herald. If you’re feeling chatty, tell me what you love or loathe about the Worm, or what you’d like to see more of. My email address is [email protected]
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
[Democrats] told their crazies and their supplicants in the mainstream media this was about President Trump. Instead, their witch hunt is persecuting an innocent 80-year-old man for maybe taking free parking!
Jason Miller, longtime former senior adviser to Donald Trump
Miller is apparently referencing Trump Organisation’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg — he is 73, not 80 by the way — who is expected to be charged today for allegedly committing egregious tax-related crimes.
“Morrison seems to float above the governing process — a prime onlooker not a prime minister — with plenty of commentary to offer on events but sadly divorced from the mechanics of government and unable to do anything, stirred into movement only when imperiled by the political consequences of his failures, and then merely to announce, declare, enunciate and outline his achievements and how lucky we are to be under his benign oversight.
“Tony Abbott used to goad Malcolm Turnbull by accusing him of being in office but not in power. Scott Morrison at the moment seems to be absent from both, leaving the governing of Australia to premiers who have some acquaintance with how to actually get things done. It’s an awful lot of power to hand to a group of men and women unlikely to surrender it easily.”
“We’re living through a golden age of government rorting. The latest, a $660 million slush fund where money to build commuter car parks was funnelled into Liberal-held and marginal electorates ahead of the last election, barely made a ripple in a day dominated by lockdowns and the botched vaccine rollout.
“The car park fund dwarfs sports rorts, revealed by the auditor-general last year. And it’s the latest in a very long list of slush funds, misdirected grants and pork-barrels, many of which are now forgotten.”
“Is it its name that makes it invisible? Would it have got more attention if it had copped a Teutonic double-barrelled moniker like CashBooster? Or does the media feel it would be of little interest to the general readership because it is a business program with no hip pocket relevance? Or is the issue the cashflow boost went to small businesses, so we don’t get the sort of reporting we get from large listed companies?
“We ought to dwell on this question before the moment has passed because the fact the government can give $35 billion to business with so little scrutiny or attention is a concern for the future. If the government has found a way to lavish money on business without anyone noticing, we need to be alert.”
There was no argument inside national cabinet about Morrison’s AstraZeneca advice because he didn’t flag it — Katharine Murphy (The Guardian): “Morrison’s frustration with the consensus-driven health advice he gets has been on display more frequently – and some of that frustration may well be justified. Politicians need the guidance of experts but the community also needs political leaders capable of weighing all the variables and arriving at an on-balance decision. But here’s what the public does not need: exhibitions of transient cat kicking, or proxy battles over whether health advice is mandatory or optional, or seminars about which particular bits of the health advice might be more important to listen to.”
Decriminalising sex work fails, it’s time for an alternative approach — Tegan Larin (The Age): “The Nordic model recognises that prostitution occurs because of, and reinforces, inequality between men and women. The model targets sex buying, pimping and third-party profiteering, while decriminalising those in prostitution and providing robust social and economic support services. This is because the model recognises that prostitution enables men to abuse their social, economic and political power over women.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Author Bri Lee is in conversation with Ebony Bennett about Lee’s new book, Who Gets to be Smart, in the latest webinar by the Australia Institute.
Poet and author Rachael Mead is hosting a talk called “Discovering Nel Law“, a stowaway who became the first Australian woman to set foot on Antarctica, back in 1961.
Radio National’s Paul Barclay speaks to Kate Cole-Adams, Ruby Hillsmith, and Patrick McGorry. The trio is among nine contributors in Griffith Review 72: States of Mind, which explores mental health from policy to psychiatry.