NSW LOCKDOWN INTENSIFIES
A quarter of a million tradies in NSW have been told to put down the tools until July 30, in what Premier Gladys Berejiklian described as a “very difficult” decision, ABC says. It’s the first shut down for the industry since the pandemic began, and comes amid yesterday’s 105 cases in NSW (that’s the third-highest Australian daily total recorded in the Delta outbreak). Bus, train, and ferry services have also been scaled back from today, running on a Sunday timetable.
Berejiklian said she is “throwing everything at it” to curb the state’s outbreak because a two-week hard lockdown could “crush this thing”. But the results of the lockdown will probably take up to five days to show, she says, as she urged patience, Guardian Australia reports. It might cause some frustration, but it’s still a better job than Prime Minister Scott Morrison could do, according to a new poll by the Australia Institute, which found Australians believe the states and territories have “shone” with “strong, strict and decisive responses” during the pandemic.
People in Sydney’s southwest, including Fairfield, Liverpool, and Canterbury-Bankstown begin hard lockdown this week, where only authorised workers can leave, but the SMH says there are growing calls to liberate areas like the northern beaches, the Central Coast, and Shellharbour, who fall within Greater Sydney’s lockdown but are less afflicted. During this outbreak, there have been two cases in The Entrance, Long Jetty, and Bateau Bay on the Central Coast, and six cases near Wollongong. People are understandably exhausted by lockdowns, but with vaccination numbers growing every day, ABC asks this morning: could this be Australia’s last?
Victoria’s lockdown is supposed to end tomorrow night, but it seems an inevitability that it will be extended after Delta cases spread further into regional Victoria, The Age says. The exposure site list ballooned to 250 cases on Sunday night with new sites added including Coles Richmond, Calder Park BP, and a several locations in Mildura. The Herald Sun ($) says it’s a matter of when, not if — the length of the extension is reportedly not clear yet, but the stay-home order will be extended, sources reportedly told the paper. Victoria recorded 17 new cases yesterday.
It comes as The Age reveals the Victorian government spent more than $15 million on legal representation for its inquiry into the state’s botched hotel quarantine program. In the final report, released in December, the head of the inquiry Jennifer Coate described the decision to use private security guards as an “orphan” that neither Premier Dan Andrews nor his ministers took responsibility for.
TOGETHER IN ELECTRIC DREAMS
A new report has suggested the only way to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 is to phase out petrol cars, the SMH reports. The Grattan Institute said electric cars would become cheaper than petrol/diesel cars around 2025, but many of the latter would still be on the road by the government’s goal of 2050. The report suggests the government would have no choice but to buy back cars in a “cash-for-clunkers” type scheme to reach the target.
It comes as the EU proposes an effective ban on new fossil-fuel cars from 2035. It’s part of a broader effort to speed up the switch to zero-emission electric cars — and would mean a 55% cut in CO2 emissions from cars by 2030, as Reuters reports. It seems the Europeans are embracing the new electric future already — one in every nine new cars sold in Europe last year was an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle.
ON DEATH AND DYING
Sydney MP Alex Greenwich’s assisted dying bill has attracted support from across the political divide, the SMH reports. The Nationals, Labor, Greens, and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers confirmed they will support the draft legislation when it is introduced to NSW parliament in August. Greenwich has said he wants more co-sponsors on the bill than any other in Australian history.
Greenwich has called the bill a conservative model which would involve people in extreme suffering, who are terminally ill with up to 12 months to live. But hospitals and aged care facilities would not be forced to accommodate voluntary dying under the draft legislation.
It comes four years after a similar bill failed to pass the NSW parliament, as The Canberra Times reports, falling one vote short of the Legislative Council in 2017. In the years since, voluntary assisted dying has become lawful in Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania, as ABC reports.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
NSW has finally received a definition of “essential worker” and some of the inclusions are truly a sign of our times.
Cellar door premises are included (or may I suggest a Quarantini, enjoyed responsibly), as are plant nurseries (which is crucial for what The New Yorker’s Jia Tolentino describes as the average millennial’s “leafy love affair”). Shops that sell pet supplies are also considered essential (makes sense considering the pandemic has seen a surge in Dogfluencers), as are internet service provider workers (because what could be more horrifying than the internet going down during a hard lockdown? I shiver at the thought).
A big shout out to all the essential workers keeping the world turning during this outbreak, and to everyone in lockdown this morning.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
The police officer who checked me in told me when they knock on my door I have to wait 30 seconds ’til I can open the door [to collect food] … What I want is the sergeant in the foyer to come up and tell me off so that I can stand there naked while he tells me off.
The far-right UK commentator, who is in hotel quarantine, told an Instagram Live that she tried to “frighten the shit out of [police]” by answering the door when she heard a knock — naked. It’s understood Hopkins was here to star in Channel Seven’s Big Brother but her contract has been reportedly cancelled. Barnaby Joyce said she should “pack [her] bongo and get out of the country” (???). At least 30,000 Australians remain stranded overseas, waiting their turn to return.
“Furries are a subculture of people obsessed with human-animal hybrids, with their interest ranging from admiring furry art, dressing up or roleplaying online in their fursonas (a portmanteau for someone’s animal persona) and, sometimes, indulging in it as a sexual fetish. They are a big part of the internet landscape and generally a harmless and positive community. They also tend to keep to themselves.
“But now the international furry community has burst out to celebrate artwork released by the Royal Australian Mint — and promoted via Woolies — for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Members of the subculture say the carefully designed ‘Aussie Heroes’ must have been done by one of their own.”
“Despite being chemically identical to the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and approved by the UK’s health regulatory body, the World Health Organization and 15 European Union nations, Europeans vaccinated with Covishield do not have the same rights as those vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
“There’s another problem: AstraZeneca has still not been approved by America’s Food and Drug Administration, limiting quarantine-free travel into the United States. Australians fully vaccinated with either Pfizer or AstraZeneca still have to undergo 10 days of self-isolation when entering some EU countries. This vaccine nationalism, with preferential treatment given to some brands and countries over others, opens up a human rights can of worms.”
“Truth is the ultimate motive for this debate but downstream from that is the politics — and the attack on Aboriginal culture from the right. And on Bruce Pascoe. Vigourous debate is one thing, but the obsessive hatred to which Pascoe has been subjected from the Quadrant spite slum and its ilk is of extraordinary volume and bile, and that needs to be said.
“Pascoe, I’m, sure can take the flak from these beaten-down pissants, but it’s pretty extraordinary. Dip into Quadrant to have a look if you like. I’m pretty sure you won’t subscribe. The bitter envy such white people feel for Aboriginal culture — Anglo white culture having been destroyed by commodification — is transferred to Pascoe, a relentlessly productive writer, editor and publisher.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
National cabinet ‘a dog’s breakfast’: Abbott (The Australian) ($)
Morrison and Coalition sink in Newspoll on the back of rollout shambles — Michelle Grattan (The Conversation): “In dealing with COVID, as Berejiklian will attest, you can go from hero to villain very rapidly; hailed in May as “the woman who saved Australia”, she’s pilloried in July for stuffing things up. Morrison is suffering the same shift in public judgement. And things are not likely to change in the near future — despite the brought-forward Pfizer supplies, there will be shortages for some time yet.
“Certainly the second year of the pandemic, like the first, is seeing the states showing little deference to the federal government when they perceive their core interests are at stake. They determine the lockdowns and, now JobKeeper has gone, NSW and Victoria have shown they are willing to play hardball to extract the best financial support for their citizens. And the Morrison government knows it will pay a political price if it is seen as a skinflint.”
Social media ‘gurus’ put the ‘con’ in conspiracy — Claire Lehmann (The Australian) ($): “The benefits of supplements, herbal oils and homeopathic remedies are exaggerated to the point of absurdity, while trust in mainstream medicine, including vaccines, is undermined. Such quacks include Australia’s Pete Evans, a staunch anti-vaxxer who was fined $80,000 for marketing a “BioCharger” that he claimed could treat ‘Wuhan Coronavirus’; America’s anti-vax advocate and health entrepreneur Joseph Mercola, who marketed vitamins C and D for the “conventional treatment of novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2”; and India’s Biswaroop Roy Chowdhury, another anti-vaxxer who claims to be able to treat COVID through diet alone.
“Marketplaces on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter are weakly regulated, and those with a little domain expertise are often able to shout their claims the loudest, reaching mass audiences on a vast scale. Instagram, in particular, has become a hotbed for simple but misleading graphics that are light on factual content and heavy on emotional appeal.”
A kind, inclusive England is stirring — and as usual, our politicians don’t get it — John Harris (The Guardian): “The result has been a sense that both sides of Westminster politics are adrift. Ministers’ pathetic contortions over taking a knee have been followed by actions that underline their grim moral and political instincts: the cutting of foreign aid, and the way that the blithe lifting of COVID restrictions seems to be founded on a cruel individualism. Keir Starmer’s decision to try to revive his party’s standing using union jacks and retrogressive ides of ‘belonging’ now looks rather off the mark.
“The wider left, meanwhile, continues to tie itself in knots about the viability of ‘progressive patriotism’ and the dangers of nationalism, when what has happened this summer seems very simple. The country in which 56 million of us live is full of huge social problems, but we now have the beginnings of a better story to tell about it. England is not a lost cause: one reason, perhaps, why people such as the man in Swansea seem so irate.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Golden Lane Restaurant hosts a Queensland budget briefing, with MP Peter Russo and Queensland Treasurer Cameron Dick to speak.
MP for Cowan Anne Aly, Office of Multicultural Interests’ James Jegasothy, and CALD health advocate Pushpa Siroley chat about racism in the workplace, with a Q&A to follow.
Associate Professor Lubica Ucnik hosts a public lecture on liberalism’s intellectual history at Clancy’s Fish Pub as part of a three-part series by Perth Philosophy Circle.
Managing Director of Linking Futures and a member of the Aboriginal Lands Trust Board Parry Agius explores the meaning behind the Uluru Statement from the Heart at Bridgewater Uniting Church.