Sydney’s southwest will see a fairly heavy-handed police presence from today as more than 100 extra police officers will be patrolling Liverpool, Fairfield, and Canterbury-Bankstown, the ABC reports. Eyebrows have been raised as the three LGA’s are some of Sydney’s most diverse regions: the 2016 census suggests 65.9% of residents in Canterbury-Bankstown and over 75% of people in Fairfield spoke a language other than English at home, Guardian Australia says.
Lebanese Muslim Association president Samier Dandan told the ABC the police hadn’t cracked down as hard on other areas in the past and this “disproportionate” response would be harmful to the multicultural community. Western Sydney business owner Bashar Krayem told Guardian Australia his community feels they’ve been made the “scapegoats”.
Delta is proving much more dangerous than outbreaks in the past — the SMH reports that one in 10 of NSW’s 395 cases is now in hospital. The deployment is a bid to curb non-compliance with NSW’s public health orders, which stipulate people must stay home unless they are shopping, exercising or receiving medical (including the jab). However, The Daily Mail has published photos from Monday of Natalie Portman and her family on a leisurely boat ride in Sydney with Sacha Baron Cohen and his kids. The stay-home rules do broadly permit “exercise”, but would a boat ride really be considered an essential outing? It’s quite the juxtaposition.
NSW Health announced 38 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Thursday, making it the highest number of new infections in 24 hours in over a year, the ABC says. Victorians are being urged to avoid their neighbouring state at all costs, the Herald Sun says, as the southern state considers a hard border.
Guardian Australia reports the Coalition’s proposed anti-corruption commission would have no power to investigate recent controversies like car parks, sports rorts, and questions about expense claims.
The Commonwealth Integrity Commission, which was described by the government as a “centralised, specialist centre investigating corruption in the public sector”, must have a reasonable suspicion that a criminal offence was committed before it can begin an investigation. Under the draft legislation, behaviour that is corrupt, but does not amount to an offence, would fall short of that.
As constitutional expert Anne Twomey pointed out, “we already have people who investigate criminal offences. They are known as police”. The Police Federation of Australia spoke to the SMH in May, describing “serious deficiencies” in the draft law, particularly that regular citizens can’t report cases to the commission.
Wage dynamics in Australia have been permanently changed by foreign labour, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe said. He told the Economic Society of Australia on Thursday that Australia’s dependence on migrant workers was partly the cause for low wage growth in the country, the SMH reports. The RBA has said it will not lift interest rates until wages growth is above 3%, a rate which has not been seen in Australia in at least a decade.
Lowe said the dependence has diluted the ‘‘incentive for businesses to train workers to do the required job’’ but that foreign workers had helped fill gaps where workers were in short supply, helping Australian businesses prosper, the ABC says. The ATCU union’s Michele O’Neil agreed, and said migrants were not to blame for the dilution: “it’s unscrupulous employers who want to bring in workers on temporary visas where they are easily exploited”.
There has been increasing discussion among the RBA and economists of late about migrant workers as border closures have seen the workforces disrupted. Lowe said strong labour force participation, particularly from women and people aged over 55, had boosted the supply of workers during this time, which in turn had also contributed to keeping a lid on wages.
Content warning: sexual assault
A former Liberal politician of the Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard eras has broken her silence about a sexual assault in Parliament, ABC reports. Kate Sullivan, who worked for 27 years as a legislator, says she was sexually assaulted by a male colleague in his office in either 1983 or 1984 as the pair shared a glass of port while Senate was in session. Sullivan, who was a frontbencher at the time, said the unnamed colleague grabbed her suddenly, and when she struggled “hard, really hard”, he let go and called her an expletive as she fled.
Sullivan said she was inspired by Brittany Higgins who alleged she was raped by a colleague in 2019 in the ministerial office in which she had been employed. She told the story to Annabel Crabb and Steph Tisdell’s Ms Represented podcast.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
The ABC has published a quirky and fun list of things to do in lockdown that don’t include streaming TV shows and movies. Among them: starting a worm farm, reigniting that teenage passion for The Sims, and building a blanket fort.
Have a restful weekend folks.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
So the suggestion that somehow there was a vaccination rate that would have put us in a different position right now to what was planned last year is simply not true. There was never a 65% opportunity for Australia at this time of the year.
Scusi? The government’s own original targets said about 22 million vaccines would be administered by July, and everyone was supposed to have received at least one dose by October. Australia’s vaccination rate only just passed 10%.
“There’s something to be said for a ‘less is more’ approach to prime ministerial media, rather than feeling the need to fill the news cycle, respond to every trivial issue and incessantly feed the media’s demand for announcements. But that’s during business-as-usual, and this is anything but. The vaccination program is off the rails, Sydney is locked down, a new virus variant is wreaking havoc with planning, and there’s growing evidence that people in Sydney aren’t paying much attention to lockdown rules. A national leader has to lead in such circumstances.
“But Morrison’s last two media conferences have proved damaging. Last Friday’s media conference to unveil the halving of passenger caps, forced on him by the states, and a meaningless ‘four-point plan’ out of lockdown. The one before that, from quarantine in the Lodge, was the now-notorious press conference where he appeared to urge young people to get AstraZeneca, leading to a week of bitter Commonwealth-state fighting. Is he worried his once sure touch in managing the press gallery is starting to slip?”
“I suspect [Simon Birmingham] would never have thought to say something so outrageously arrogant and dismissive if he wasn’t serving under Morrison, for whom the attitude is first and second nature. That he did tells us something profound about this government: it no longer cares what we think. It’s not even pretending any more. Which reminds me of another ruler who had a similar conceptualisation of his role in the order of things and an equal unconcern for how it looked.
“King Charles I, who ruled England (and would have ruled us except we hadn’t been invaded yet) from 1625 to 1649, was one of history’s more renowned proponents of a theory of sovereignty and the rule of law known as the divine right of kings. As his dad, King James I, had put it: “[The monarch is] the absolute master of the lives and possessions of his subjects; his acts are not open to inquiry or dispute, and no misdeeds can ever justify resistance”. The right was divine because the king sat ‘on the throne of God’.”
“The arrival and rapid proliferation of robot-like killer drones comes as no surprise. For decades, consumer technology has been outpacing military adoption of advanced technologies. Because a drone is essentially a smartphone with rotors, today’s affordable consumer drones are largely a byproduct of the rapid development of smartphone technology. They are making access to the third dimension essentially free and creating new commercial opportunities: drones can already deliver groceries and medical supplies directly to your doorstep.
“But endowing drones with human-like cognitive abilities — for instance, by combining rapidly improving facial recognition with artificial intelligence (AI) — will make powerful targeted weapons available to tin-pot despots, terrorists, and rampaging teenagers at a fraction of the cost of the fancy drones flown by the United States military. And unless we take concrete steps now to oppose such developments, instructions to turn cheap off-the-shelf drones into automated killers will be posted on the internet in the very near future.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Friendlyjordies files truth defence in defamation case against John Barilaro (Guardian Australia)
We can’t abandon Afghans, John Howard says (The Australian) ($)
Daring tightrope walkers set world record in Arctic Circle (The New Daily)
Victorian Nationals make progressive pitch in wake of Joyce’s return — Annika Smethurst (The Age): “In reality, most Victorian National Party MPs, including [Victorian Nationals leader Peter Walsh and his deputy Steph Ryan], believe Joyce’s return will do little to hinder their chances on election day. The National Party has long-championed the idea that it is more of a loose alliance of rural free-thinkers than a collective group of MPs bound by the same political messaging.
“Internally, Walsh has long-argued that the National Party acts like a franchise business with its MPs the franchisees. Its members benefit from pooled resources and recognisable signage, but differentiate themselves on the ground by running on a range of local issues.”
Shortage of fuel hampers the general’s vaccine advance — Michelle Grattan (The Conversation): “Prime Minister Scott Morrison is naturally inclined to put faith in the military, especially after his Sovereign Borders experience. But bringing in Frewen was also a response to what was becoming a desperate situation. It was a call to triple zero. He’s now very impressed with the general and relying on him heavily.
“At the moment, however, Frewen has more immediate worries. The general has landed on the beach, reworked the maps, and is marshalling available forces. But his advance is hampered by the shortage of fit-for-purpose fuel. As each day goes by, the limited quantities of Pfizer and the absence of any other currently available alternative to AstraZeneca (which is subject to restrictive health advice) is being highlighted more starkly.”
COVID-19 elimination strategy is a war no one can win — Henry Ergas (The Australian) ($): “As other countries prepare to live with COVID, Australia and lockdowns remain joined in a fatal embrace. The problem is not just the harm wreaked by the unpredictable disruptions to daily life, the drastic restrictions on domestic and international travel and the myriad other erosions of basic freedoms; it is that the elimination strategy has degenerated into a policy at war with itself.
“That isn’t because it doesn’t work but because it works all too well, at least judged by its own criteria: the public health response ensures that the probability of catching COVID, much less dying from it, in Australia is virtually zero. There is, as a result, little incentive to be vaccinated — and even those who do want vaccination could reasonably conclude that they should wait until the messenger RNA vaccines, which seem to have fewer dangerous side-effects, become more widely available.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is hosting a national cabinet meet via telephone with state and territory leaders, after plans to meet in Darwin were cancelled amid COVID-19 outbreaks.
Twitter and NAIDOC are hosting a panel discussion to mark NAIDOC Week with astrophysicist Karlie Alinta Noon, DeadlyScience founder Corey Tutt and NAIDOC committee member Kimberley Benjamin.
Representatives from Tasmania’s Indigenous community will meet at Piyura Kitina (also known as Risdon Cove) to discuss what a treaty would mean for Australia’s First Peoples.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will make an appearance at Port Curtis Medical Clinic in Queensland.
The 2021 Cellar Door Fest Winter Edit kicks off at the Adelaide Convention Centre, where festivalgoers can sample local food, wine and spirits. There will also be live music.
The Salon Series is celebrating NAIDOC Week, with readings from writer and poet Susie Anderson, author Larissa Behrendt, and Yorta Yorta writer Daniel James at the State Library Victoria. This event is also Auslan interpreted.
For NAIDOC Week, the Avondale Heights Library and Learning Centre is screening The Australian Dream, a documentary about Indigenous AFL legend Adam Goodes that explores race, identity and belonging.