(Image: AP/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake)

LOCKDOWN NO. 5

It was just five days ago that Victoria was on an 11-day streak without a single case. Now, Victorians are waking to their first of five days of lockdown this morning, after Premier Dan Andrews said he had no other choice, The Age reports. The Herald Sun have a nifty interactive showing how far you can travel under the new 5km rule. Hundreds reportedly took to the streets in protest of the lockdown, news.com.au says, the fifth lockdown that Melbourne has experienced since the pandemic broke out in March 2020.

There are now 75 exposure sites in Victoria — among them, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), which holds 100,000. Victoria’s response commander Jeroen Weimar says the MCG puts the state in a “serious situation”, ABC reports.

It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Andrews reached an agreement on a new support package for out-of-pocket workers. State and territory leaders will come together at national cabinet today to discuss the new wave of lockdowns, ABC reports.

TRAFFIC RETORT

ABC’s go-to health commentator Norman Swan’s Twitter mentions lit up in the last 24 hours, after he posted a video of traffic passing with the caption “Locked down Sydney”. People were quick to point out several things: what was he doing outside in a lockdown? What if the traffic was essential workers or shoppers? Why does traffic data show a decrease across all modes of transport then?

Guardian Australia dived in and analysed the Harbour City’s traffic, finding visits in the past few weeks to retail, recreational sites, parks, and workplaces in the City of Sydney are down more than 60% compared to pre-COVID. If 80% of people do the right thing, ABC reports, cases would reduce to below 10 within a month — which could spell the end of the lockdown.

NSW is bracing for an increase in the daily case total after Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned Friday’s numbers would be higher, SMH says. The premier said 35 of the 65 new cases in NSW reported on Thursday spent some time in the community while infectious. Speaking of: Gladys Berejiklian’s gold standard for her state may have faltered, but fan art capturing the premier remains… colourful, Guardian Australia says.

SPELLING DISASTER

Australia’s embassy in Thailand has been criticised after a tongue-in-cheek joke about COVID-19 vaccines. A pic was posted to the embassy’s Facebook showing a breakdown of the acronym mRNA as spelling Meat pie, Rocky road, Neenish tart, and Avocado toast. “While acronym could mean different things for different people, here’s what our page see what mRNA stands for and that’s the Australian much-loved food and snacks,” the post on Wednesday read.

Seems light-hearted enough, but a frustrated expat told The New Daily that he found it tone-deaf considering he had heard zip about being vaccinated by the Australian Government despite Thailand’s 9000 daily cases. With just over 10% of the population fully vaccinated here, he could be waiting a while. Australia’s vaccine rollout could be about to speed up, though. SMH reports that pharmacists will soon be administering AstraZeneca.

FRAGILE CHINA

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has told The Australian ($) he expects relations with China will be difficult to restart no matter who wins the next election. He backed the Biden administration’s “competition without catastrophe” approach, as President Xi Jinping’s global ambitions push China into increasingly powerful territory.

Australia’s relationship with China has been rocky after Huawei was blocked from the 5G network and foreign interference laws were introduced. Then restrictions were placed on Australian coal, barley, beef, lobster, wine, and more after Foreign Minister Marise Payne backed an independent inquiry into the source of COVID-19, ABC reported at the time. Incidentally, WHO’s chief has reopened that conversation overnight, saying it was premature to rule out a laboratory leak, SMH says.

Albanese said there was no difference between the major political parties on issues like pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, atrocities against the Uyghurs, and the disputed South China Sea, but did commend China on lifting tens of millions out of poverty.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

For readers who are in a lockdown, a six-minute workout from The New York Times could help get the heart rate — and the endorphins — going. Or what about some comfort food for dinner — like BBC Food’s slow-cooked lamb shanks (a crockpot will work if you don’t have a slow cooker!)? If you feel like binging some gripping TV, check out Netflix’s StartUp, a gritty series that delves into the world of crypto, the darknet and Haitian gangs in Miami. Stock up on some Indigenous-owned masks for essential shopping, if you feel like it. Guardian Australia’s Bridie Jabour has a new book called Trivial Grievances that you could download to a Kindle or iPad after her story on the same topic went viral.

Or just cozy up and give yourself permission to do nothing, as you stay home and stay safe, folks.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

I found the whole thing incredibly amusing, and we’ve always joked about it amongst our team here as we’ve driven by it, asking ‘Do you want to pop in for a Big Mac?’

Scott Morrison

The prime minister, who was responding to a question about a rumour “that you pooed your pants at Engadine McDonalds?”, has finally denied the viral 2019 meme. Greens MP Mehreen Faruqi once tweeted a thread about voting where the first letter of each spelt the meme. A commemorative plaque was even erected. Morrison volunteered the topic, suggesting anything was better than talking about the vaccine rollout.

CRIKEY RECAP

The kinship question: Bruce Pascoe and the long search for his mob

Pascoe routinely describes himself as a Bunurong, Yuin and Tasmanian Aboriginal man. It’s how he has been introduced for several years and is, self-evidently, a powerful claim to the lived experience of being Aboriginal. It is also how he described himself in a sworn affidavit he made for a Copyright Tribunal hearing constituted by a Federal Court judge, seen by Crikey, dated November 2019.

“However, two of those communities, Bunurong and Tasmanian, have flat-out denied Pascoe’s claims. As well, Crikey’s investigation now raises serious questions about Pascoe’s claim to Yuin ancestry too. Our investigation also shows that Pascoe has claimed an additional family connection to the Wiradjuri people of NSW.”


The world is not binary. Measuring who is female on a scale sets up all kinds of Olympic-size wrongs

“Simply, what sporting codes are defending is a binary construct which no longer holds. There never was such a thing as the level playing field, of course, but the real issue is the insistence on maintaining a division of people into two mutually exclusive groups: male and female.

“For all the squealing of the loud majority that humanity is binary, we’re just not. [Caster] Semenya was born the way she is, as were [Christine] Mboma and [Beatrice] Masilingi. [Hannah] Mouncey and [Laurel] Hubbard were born, biologically, the way they don’t identify. They are people and they’re entitled to compete no less than anyone else. Where the binary construct is forcing us is to a new definition of man and woman, determined not by genitals but a hormone level. Above the line, male; below, female. That makes as much sense as your instincts are telling you it does.”


Are we all in this together? NSW’s gold standard status is shattered as Delta jumps the race and class divide

“But while health authorities looked the wrong way, the Bondi cluster moved west. By the middle of last week, it had seeded around Fairfield and Bankstown, working-class areas with large migrant populations. Suddenly, like Dan Andrews a year earlier, Premier Gladys Berejiklian was warning about large family gatherings. Like Andrews, whose lockdown of nine public housing blocks breached residents’ human rights, Berejiklian sent police to blitz south-west Sydney.

“As Bondi residents swanned on the beach and sipped their takeaway cocktails, people in the south-west were having their shopping checked by police to make sure they were out for essentials. Yesterday, NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet was forced to apologise to Fairfield residents.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Removalists who sparked Melbourne COVID-19 outbreak face ‘wheels of justice’ (The Age)

Lebanon: PM-designate Saad Hariri resigns as crisis escalates (Al Jazeera)

Anthony Albanese’s shortens odds to defeat Scott Morrison in election (The Australian) ($)

Here’s how declaring your COVID-19 vaccination will look next time you travel overseas (ABC)

Floods in Germany and Other Parts of Western Europe Leave at Least 40 Dead (The New York Times)

How regional Victoria will be handled this COVID outbreak (Herald Sun)

Leadership lessons for surviving the lockdown (AFR)

Unmarked grave for Mungo Man ‘shameful’ (The Australian) ($)

An 18-year-old is going to space with Jeff Bezos (CNN)

Boeing’s CEO Is Trying to Overcome Problems. New Ones Keep Cropping Up. (The Wall Street Journal)

Dutch Crime Reporter Dies After Being Shot Outside TV Studio (The New York Times)

Kremlin papers appear to show Putin’s plot to put Trump in White House (The Guardian)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Grattan on Friday: COVID boxes Morrison in while Albanese hits the roadMichelle Grattan (The Conversation): “It’s no wonder Morrison, dubbed by his critics the “prime minister for NSW”, is pinning hope on gaining seats in his home state. Throughout the pandemic he has heaped praise on the Berejiklian government. In the Sydney lockdown, now extended for at least an extra fortnight, the federal government’s package for the state drew accusations from Victoria of ‘double standards’.

“Anyway, NSW can no longer be celebrated for its model handling of COVID, and the state government is under criticism for the timing (too late) and nature (too soft) of the lockdown. People might not be enthusiastic about Albanese’s Labor, but if the opposition picked off a few seats (in net terms), it would not take much to change the map. Think a hung parliament.”

The great Daniel Andrews v Gladys Berejiklian showdownJohn Ferguson (The Australian): “If Victoria climbs quickly out of the shutdown and NSW is bogged in high case numbers, Labor will have built a powerful platform upon which to debate the virus. Andrews has calculated that the political damage of a long-term shutdown is far greater than a more controlled response that contains the carnage to days and maybe a few weeks. It also exposes Scott Morrison to potential political heartburn if a perception builds that Canberra is not doing enough to compensate Victorian businesses.

“The argument over who gets what Commonwealth help to compensate for the shutdowns will sour very quickly as people fight for their livelihoods. All people will want to know is when Lockdown 5.0 will end and whether they can be helped through the crisis. The last thing business will be looking for is political brinkmanship, particularly as the nation heads towards an election early next year.”

How lockdown has a cruel way of making a mockery of our life circumstancesBrigid Delaney (Guardian Australia): “In lockdown, people who live alone — who actually have chosen to live alone and usually love it — are haunted by their 24/7 aloneness. A studio apartment where you slept between social engagements suddenly takes on the dimensions and psychological complexion of a prison cell. People with children, who love their children dearly, would make any kind of bargain to have an hour of studio-apartment solitude. They wonder if perhaps the third child was a mistake. Their entire waking life revolves around schooling and parenting. Nothing exists outside this except a second-by-second feeling of servitude to one’s children.

“And what modern marriage (or any marriage really) was designed to withstand both people with each other, in the house, all day and all night together? You can’t even flirt at the office to give your brain a break from the spectre of them … them … always them, always at home.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Adelaide

  • Illuminate Adelaide kicks off, an event celebrating light, music, innovation, and art, with performances by The Avalanches and Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Canberra

  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison will meet with state and territory leaders at national cabinet to discuss the pandemic.

Brisbane

  • Author Steve Capelin will appear at Avid Reader Bookshop to talk about his new book, Paradiso, a story of migrant hope, betrayal and resilience.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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