EYE ON THE POLLS
Support for the Coalition has fallen to a new low this term, The Australian ($) says citing the latest Newspoll, while support for Labor is up.
Labor now leads the Coalition 54-46% — the two-point gain from the last poll comes amid squabbling between state leaders, frustration over lockdowns and the government’s sluggish repatriation efforts amid Afghanistan’s fall to the Taliban. The federal Coalition’s primary vote fell three points to 36% — the Liberals and Nationals have not seen such a slump since March 2019, the Oz says. Meanwhile, Labor is enjoying the highest level of popular support since 2018. Newspoll surveyed 1528 voters across Australia.
Despite the party falling out of favour, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is on a (slight) upswing, according to the poll. On the question, “who do you think would make the better prime minister?”, 50% of people said Morrison (up 1%), compared to 34% responding Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.
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CASES CONTINUE TO RISE
Yesterday Australia saw the highest number of cases in a single day since the pandemic began, the AFR reports. Victoria will not lift its lockdown on Thursday, Premier Dan Andrews confirmed, but may slightly ease some restrictions, The Age says.
NSW confirmed a record 1218 new cases yesterday, while six people who had the virus were reported to have died. A total of 813 people with COVID are in hospital in the state, with 126 in intensive care and 54 on ventilators. Of the 126 in intensive care, only one is fully vaccinated, The New Daily says. And healthcare staff reportedly say “hellhole” conditions and staff shortages are seeing them sedate patients more, Guardian Australia reports. After 12 inmates tested positive, Parklea Correctional Centre has locked down, the largest outbreak in an Australian prison since the pandemic began. Indigenous people make up around 30% of the population in Australian correctional centres, while many are immunocompromised.
Meanwhile, two NSW truck drivers who passed through South Australia on their way to Perth have tested positive for COVID-19, ABC reports, causing concern for a nearby Indigenous population. Almost 40 people are close contacts after the pair stopped in at four petrol stations on the way. One of the stations is quite close to the Yalata Indigenous community, on the eastern approach to the Nullarbor. It comes as Delta grips Wilcannia, a mostly Indigenous population in far-west NSW, where one in 10 people are now infected, The Australian ($) reports.
THE SITCH ACROSS THE DITCH
New Zealand’s outbreak is quickly worsening, The Guardian reports. What began with a single case less than 14 days ago has now ballooned to 511 active cases, after 83 new infections were confirmed on Sunday. The country remains in lockdown — PM Jacinda Ardern announced the lockdown just hours after the first case — and it’s set to continue for another week at least.
New Zealand’s top health official Ashley Bloomfield said it could be about to get worse. Bloomfield has gone from near-anonymous civil servant to something of a celebrity, The New York Times says, immortalised in hand towels and passion fruit pastry. Bloomfield’s popularity likely comes from the country’s COVID fortress — it has recorded just 3000 cases since March 2020 and 26 deaths.
But the highly viral Delta strain found its way in. Almost all of the country’s current cases are in Auckland, so from Wednesday all regions south of New Zealand’s biggest city can drop the kids off at childcare, order takeaway food, and shop (as long as it’s contactless), The Guardian continues. Yesterday a characteristically empathetic Ardern told her constituents: “It’s OK to feel overwhelmed, to feel upset, or even to feel frustrated because this situation is often all of those things”, as Reuters reports.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
Call it real estate defeatism or a return to the simpler things, but tiny homes are having a moment. Maybe the last 17 months spent cooped up in our homes is making us yearn for something different. Airbnb says so — searches for yurts and huts are up over 1300%. But why limit oneself to land? If you’ve visited London before, you’ll know the familiar sight of the narrowboats in the city’s many canals, even when the city is coated in snow.
The Guardian has ventured inside to speak to people living — and working — on the portable homes. Stuart Fenwick always wanted to own his own floristry but London’s cost-prohibitive overheads meant it stayed a dream. That is, until he had an actual dream — about running a floristry aboard a narrowboat. His 42-foot boat is often found cycling distance from Covent Garden Flower Market, where Fenwick travels most mornings to choose blooms for weddings, events and editorial shoots.
His “neighbour”, Pedro Barrios, moved to London from Chile and, unable to afford London rents, moved onto a narrowboat. Barrios now runs a micro-bakery from his boat — lovingly preparing 40 loaves a day, along with 50 croissants, dozens of scones and muffins, and “always an orange and polenta cake”. It’s a Hugh Grant movie in the making. Barrios’ roving business tinkers along from Hackney Wick to Hertford, delivering the sweet and savoury goodies to eager customers who travel to the canal’s edge to meet him.
Hope the wanderlust is bearable today — and fingers crossed for December.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
This notion that Victorians should give up doses so that other people can go and have picnics, I say no.
“The royal commission heard that when [Frank] Houston became aware of the allegation against him in 1999 he organised to meet Sengstock — then in his 30s — at a McDonald’s restaurant. He promised to pay Sengstock $10,000, on top of a cheque for $2000 he had previously sent. Houston was accompanied by another church elder — who sat eating a burger. Sengstock was asked to sign the elder’s soiled napkin.
“Counsel for Brian Houston and Hillsong Church used his examination of Sengstock during the royal commission to tie him down to dates, and put it to him repeatedly that the abuse by Frank Houston must have occurred “at least four years before” the Sydney Christian Life Centre existed as a legal entity. By the end of the questioning Hillsong’s counsel had what they wanted: Sengstock was forced to say he couldn’t recall “the exact times”.
“Australian police will be given an arsenal of new hacking powers after both the government and Labor voted to pass a controversial bill that failed to include some of the protections that the Parliament’s security committee called for. Parliament voted to pass the Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) bill on Wednesday. When enacted, the law will introduce three new warrants.
“A data disruption warrant, which gives the police the power to modify, add, copy, or delete data to stop and inhibit crimes, a network activity warrant, which allows access devices and networks belonging to suspected criminals, [and] an account takeover warrant, which commandeers a suspect’s online accounts to gather evidence for an investigation.”
“How an opposition says that, in the face of a public that desperately wants to believe that the world has not changed, I do not know. But someone within the political-media mainstream has to. Some nations actually count the consequences: in Sweden, the prime minister has just resigned, citing the failure of Sweden’s contrary strategy. People have gone very quiet about Sweden, lockdown sceptics muttered a couple of months ago. They’re gone absolutely stone-silent now. I wonder why?
“This feels like a historical passage with many rounds to go. We are in a stage that we will emerge from eventually, but we’re not out of it yet. When we are, the world will have to change the way it does things, in every dimension, simply to stay “as it is”. Just as, um, oh come on it’s Friday, let it rip. We are not yet at the end of the beginning. But Scott Morrison is on the steps, promising “freedom in our time”, his vax certificate in his hand, flapping in the wind.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
After video of abusive nurse, Canada’s Indigenous seek health overhaul (The New York Times)
No Roger, No Rafa, No Serena: This U.S. Open Looks a Lot Like the Future of Tennis (The Wall Street Journal)
Woman Sentenced to 7 Days in Jail for Walking in Yellowstone’s Thermal Area (The New York Times)
Reopening vital to nation’s economic and mental health — Josh Frydenberg (The Australian) ($): “There are two key reasons Australia must bring stringent lockdowns and border closures to an end at vaccination rates of 70 to 80% — our economy and people’s mental health. One has a quantifiable financial cost; the other is harder to measure, but is even more important. If states and territories do not adhere to the plan agreed at national cabinet, the cost in terms of lives and livelihoods will be unacceptably and unnecessarily high. Jobs will be lost. Businesses will close. The debt burden will rise. Australians’ wellbeing will suffer …
“Recent figures out of our two locked-down states, Victoria and NSW, are alarming. It has been reported that in Victoria more than 340 teenagers a week are ending up in hospital with mental health emergencies. These numbers are an 83% rise on last year and a 162% increase on 2019. Teenage girls are particularly affected, suffering anxiety, depression, eating disorders and suicidal tendencies. In the past year, in NSW, about 8500 people under the age of 18 presented at emergency departments for self-harm and suicidal thoughts. This is up nearly 50% on pre-pandemic levels.”
Scott Morrison has set a trap, but Anthony Albanese doesn’t need to fall into it — Sean Kelly (SMH): “This is why Morrison’s repeated attempts to remind the premiers that they have signed up to the national plan, what he calls a ‘deal with the Australian people’, are hollow. Even if you buy his grand rhetoric, it is — like all deals — one struck with the Australian people as they are now. It is not a deal with the people we will have become by next year — and whether those people will give two hoots about some contract signed with their past selves is difficult to say.
“Last week, Morrison had some success when Labor faltered in its own position on the national plan. This is unlikely to matter in the long run, but points to a danger for the opposition. Morrison — as he always does — is determinedly putting the past behind him. What if Anthony Albanese gets stuck facing in the wrong direction, focused only on what has already happened, appealing to the people we were earlier this year rather than the people we will soon become?”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Radio broadcaster Jacinta Parsons and author Grace Jennings-Edquist launch the latter’s new book, The Yes Woman, via webinar for Readings.
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Indigenous musician Adrian Burragubba speaks at a rally at Queensland Parliament calling for work to stop at the Carmichael coal mine, owned by Adani.
Emerging author Sara El Sayed launches her new book, Muddy People, at Avid Reader. This will also be streamed online.
Whadjuk Noongar Country (also known as Perth)
UWA’s Raymond da Silva Rosa speaks on the vision for education at the university.