Scott Morrison AstraZeneca
(Image: AAP/David Caird)

APPY POLLY LOGGIES, AUSTRALIA

Prime Minister Scott Morrison finally said “sorry” for Australia’s slow vaccine rollout on Thursday, but Libby Trickett wasn’t having it. “I just would like them to grow up, to be honest,” the Olympic gold medallist told Q&A last night, saying far too great a burden had been placed on the states and individuals, the ABC reports.

In another case of a famous person making a vaccine statement, musician Eric Clapton has announced that he will refuse to perform at places where vaccination is a prerequisite to enter, the SMH says, making him one of the first major artists to rebuke a safety precaution ensuring the return of his own industry.

It might not be an issue for a while, however — the Pfizer vaccine is arriving on our shores at a rate of one million doses a week, but shortages are expected ’til September, The Australian ($) reports. Teens could be next in line: the TGA is believed to have approved Pfizer vaccinations for children aged 12 to 16, with an announcement reportedly expected on Friday, the Herald Sun says.

After repeatedly refusing to apologise before uttering the s-word yesterday, ScoMo doesn’t seem to be finishing the week with much public goodwill. But it’s gotta be more than his deputy, Barnaby Joyce. Joyce’s likeability rating has come in at minus 29%, but he told the Canberra Times ($) he doesn’t care who likes him. Just as well, I guess. He told the paper, “I can show you other areas and other pollings where I’m a rockstar, but unsurprisingly they are in regional areas away from Sydney’s CBD … If I go and get 1600 people from regional NSW and Queensland you would think I walked on water, and that is not correct”.

THE TEST WAY FORWARD

Up to a third of the people exposed to a COVID-19 case in Victoria have not been tested yet, The Age reports. Around the state roughly 19,000 people remain locked indoors under a strict two-week quarantine, but they are not legally required to be tested until day 13. It’s way too late, epidemiologist Catherine Bennett says, and will lead to authorities missing chains of transmission.

It’s a similar story in South Australia, where the owner of a Greek restaurant found out it was an exposure site two days after a COVID case visited — and only while watching media coverage. Several of the staff sought testing immediately on Monday, but have since been caught in long queues, ABC reports. Yesterday, SA health authorities admitted just 53 of the 91 diners at the restaurant had been tested so far. Premier Steven Marshall apologised yesterday after wait times of more than 14 hours were reported in Adelaide. Some people even slept in their cars to hold their place in the line, The Australian reports ($).

National cabinet is convening today, allowing the states and territories to air such grievances. ABC reports the group will discuss the next stage of the vaccine rollout, including plans for coming shipments of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines (the latter of which is not yet approved). It comes after Queensland closed its border to NSW while extending its mask mandate, and WA tightened its border rules for anyone arriving from SA, who remain locked down — as do Victoria.

SEAS THE MOMENT

The federal government is waiting to hear a decision on whether the Great Barrier Reef will be considered endangered. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee (made up of 21 countries) are set to vote tonight AEST in the Chinese city of Fuzhou and virtually, The West Australian reports.

Politicians have wrestled with major environmental organisations over whether the reef should be classified “in danger”, fearing that the label would damage the natural wonder’s reputation (and the hefty amount of dollars it brings in). There have also been insinuations that the committee’s decision would be coloured by Australia’s tense relationship with China, in a week where our government accused theirs of hacking Microsoft, Bloomberg reports. But the committee’s director basically told the government to focus on looking after our reef instead of making “groundless accusations” that it was biased, Guardian Australia reports.

However, the Australian government could have the numbers to stave off the “in danger” categorisation until 2023. A document that will be put before the committee reportedly shows that Environmental Minister Sussan Ley convinced nine members to delay the decision until 2023. Guardian Australia put it succinctly, however, when they stated the plain truth: “whether or not the Great Barrier Reef is listed as ‘in danger’ won’t alter the fact it is at risk from climate change”.

GAMES ON

Australian Olympians are gearing up for a day of archery and rowing ahead of Friday night’s opening ceremony in Tokyo. The ceremony will be screened on Channel Seven at 9pm AEST, but you can also watch online on the network’s streaming service 7Plus. Australia’s Olympic flag-bearers will be Indigenous basketball champ Patty Mills, and Malawian-born swimmer Cate Campbell.

The rowing kicks off at 10am AEST at the Sea Forest Waterway, ABC says, with Australia competing in the women’s double sculls, and the men’s and women’s quadruple sculls across the morning. Or catch the archery’s individual ranking round: the women’s starts at 10am at Yumenoshima Ranking Field, followed by the men’s at 2pm. Keep an eye out for Aussies Alice Ingley (Australia’s only female in the archery), Ryan Tyack and Taylor Worth (who were part of our first-ever medal-winning archery team) and David Barnes (who made his debut at Athens 2004 aged 18!).

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

Call it a Crocodile Dundee hangover, or even a sign of the late Steve Irwin’s reach, but sometimes Australia makes the international news for the darndest reasons. Perhaps it’s because people in other countries genuinely think Australian wildlife put our lives in unyielding peril at all times (institutions proliferating the drop-bear conspiracy might have a little to do with that). In 2019, we made the news when a python covered in 500 ticks was saved, as reported by the BBC. In 2020, it was because the world’s longest animal was discovered here — a 150-foot stringy deep-sea predator thing — as reported by The Guardian.

This morning, it’s because our cockatoos are actively teaching each other how to open our bins and feast on the goo inside, The Atlantic says. Barbara Klump, a behavioural ecologist jetted all the way from Germany in 2018 to study the clever cockies. But what blew her mind was not only that the sulphur-crested cockatoos were opening our heavy plastic bins, but that the flocks were imitating each other and spreading their irritating new skill. Klump said cockatoos in 44 suburbs had learned how to do it when she wrapped her study in 2019.

All the cockies need now are opposable thumbs and we’re all done for.

Have a restful weekend, folks.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

You are going to the opening ceremony. I’m still the deputy chair of the candidature leadership group. There will be an opening and closing ceremony in 2032 and all of you will get along there and understand the traditional parts of that.

John Coates

The Australian Olympics Chief forgot his place when he commanded, then mansplained to, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, causing eyes to roll around the country. He went on to say opening ceremonies are a big deal, costing $75-$100 million, while a woman who runs a state with an economy worth more than $360 billion patiently listened.

CRIKEY RECAP

Have we ever been led by a worse prime minister than this smirking vacuum?

“Even if you were happy to overlook Morrison’s constant lying, even if you thought pork-barrelling and soft corruption was a constant in politics, even if you think climate change is a hoax created by the financial wolves of international markets, Morrison’s catastrophic bungling of the vaccination rollout and quarantine — things he had ample time to plan and get right once closed borders enabled us got on top of the virus — is a low point in modern Australian government, with an economic and health toll arguably even worse than the last great policy failure, the Iraq war.

“Incompetent, thin-skinned, deceitful and cowardly — other prime ministers might have exceeded him in one of those characteristics. But Morrison combines them all, the complete package of non-leadership. His faults as a politician — a simple inability to lead, a staggering lack of vision beyond retaining power, an obsession with surface over substance — have combined with his glaring faults as a person: the lies, the refusal to accept responsibility, the inner moral and intellectual vacuum.”


Australian cities haven’t planned for the dead. Now they are running out of room

“Australia has failed to plan for the dead. Since the New South Wales government last built a cemetery — 80 years ago — the state’s annual death rate has increased by 105%. In Sydney, most major cemeteries will run out of space within 12 years, while cemeteries run by smaller groups such as Russian Orthodox Christians, Mandaeans and Maori will run out of burial space in as little as three years. In parts of Melbourne, space will run out before 2025.

“Plans to build new graves have been met with backlash, with residents west of Sydney arguing that a proposed cemetery will cause the value of their homes to plummet.”


Israel goes to war again — this time against ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s

“Israel is vowing to wage a broad legal battle against Ben & Jerry’s after the US ice cream company announced it would no longer sell its popular desserts in Jewish settlements built on occupied Palestinian land to protest Israel’s ongoing military rule over the Palestinians.

“Although the partial boycott by Ben & Jerry’s is not expected to harm Israel economically, the company’s decision and Israel’s countermoves are resurfacing thorny questions about the West Bank, which Israel has controlled for decades but never officially annexed. Millions of Palestinians live in the territory with few of the rights accorded to their settler neighbours.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

China rejects WHO proposal to probe Wuhan coronavirus lab leak theory (ABC)

Olympics opening ceremony director sacked for Holocaust joke (BBC)

Russia ‘disconnects from internet in test’ (The Canberra Times)

Former UTS professor found guilty of sending herself threatening letters (The SMH)

YouTube says it pulled Bolsonaro videos for COVID-19 misinformation (Reuters)

Norway marks decade since Anders Breivik killed 77 people (Al Jazeera)

Biden says ‘nothing will get done’ if senate abolishes filibuster (HuffPost)

Mercedes-Benz plans to go all-electric by end of decade (The Wall Street Journal)

Coronavirus: Foreign student lockout ‘a $6b loss’ (The Australian) ($)

Australia secures crucial 1-0 softball win against Italy (The New Daily)

In new world of ‘live’ music events, Splendour XR marks the spot (The Australian) ($)

Bitcoin is failing its first inflation test as selloff deepens (The Wall Street Journal)

Australia, NZ pull out of Rugby League World Cup (The New Daily)

THE COMMENTARIAT

Outdated Coates goes too far after old boys’ club put-down of PremierGreg Baum (The SMH): “The only credit you could give [John] Coates would be to acknowledge that while he was completely out of step with everyone else, he was entirely true to himself. Coates seems to pride himself on being an arsehole. That’s crude, but it’s from his own vernacular. He thinks it’s the way to get things done. In his world, he may be right.

“When Great Britain did unexpectedly well in swimming at the 2008 Beijing Games, he said: “Not bad for a country that has no swimming pools and very little soap.” As barbs go, it was already tired and trite then … Coates crossed paths at an athletics meeting with John Wylie, then chairman of the Australian Sports Commission and his bete noir of the moment. Wylie offered his hand. Coates refused it, saying: “ I don’t shake hands with c—s.” How do we know this? Not because someone else disclosed it, but because Coates himself boasted about it, unbidden, in a newspaper interview.”

Coates and Palaszczuk: they’re great matesGraham Richardson (The Australian) ($): Some years back when Coates told me he was going to Queensland, I arranged for him to meet Annastacia Palaszczuk. As I expected, the two of them hit it off rather well and they became firm friends. That relationship came in very handy in recent times. Coates was able to guide the Queensland premier through the catacombs of the IOC. This has resulted in Brisbane securing the staging of the Games in 2032.

“No one but Coates, in his imperious manner, would sit at a press conference with a premier and nudge that premier very strongly about the necessity that she attend the Games opening ceremony in Tokyo. It is a testimony to the ongoing strength of their relationship that this incident has caused no rift of any kind. Mates can take a bit of ribbing from each other, and these two are good mates indeed. From the time I organised their first meeting they have enjoyed each other’s company. If that relationship was in any way testy or difficult the progress on the myriad things to be negotiated would be very slow indeed.”

Morrison wrong to try to influence advice from expert immunisation groupMichelle Grattan (The Conversation): “Scott Morrison this week more or less trashed Australia’s top advisory body on immunisation, in remarks that were at best ill-judged and at worst alarming. On Wednesday Morrison told a news conference he (or the government) made a ‘constant appeal’ to the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to review its advice on AstraZeneca according to the balance of risk. On Thursday he said on radio: ‘I’ve just simply said balance of risk is changing, guys, so how is that impacting on your advice, and it’s time to think about that’. The ‘guys’ (and girls) on ATAGI are obviously as aware as anyone of the changing risk profile as cases increase.

“Indeed ATAGI has already altered its advice on AstraZeneca in light of the Sydney outbreak. On July 13 it said where there was an outbreak and the Pfizer supply was constrained, people under 60 without immediate access to Pfizer should ‘reassess the benefits to them and their contacts from being vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, versus the rare risk of a serious side effect’.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • States and territories leaders come together with Prime Minister Scott Morrison for national cabinet, held online.

Brisbane

  • The Liberal party holds its 2021 Annual Convention at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.

  • Queensland treasurer Cameron Dick and MP for Jordan Charis Mullen speak at the Queensland Budget Breakfast at the Brookwater Golf & Country Club.

  • President of Boeing Australia Brendan Nelson discusses leadership and resilience at the Coraggio Advisory Board Day.

Townsville

  • The opening night of the Australian Festival of Chamber Music takes place, with Deborah Cheetham to perform Nginda Ngarrini Bi Ngya in the Wulgurukaba language.

Hobart

  • Singer Paul Kelly will perform with his band at the Odeon Theatre as part of their On The Road Again tour.