Australians are more worried about job losses and financial stress than COVID-19 outbreaks and deaths, The Australian ($) reports. Market research firm YouGov quizzed 3114 adults last week. They found half of the respondents wanted lockdowns to end when we reach the 80% vaccination threshold (so far, 34.4% of eligible Australians older than 16 are fully vaccinated), while just 22% believed lockdowns should continue until case numbers fall to zero. In another poll for Guardian Australia which spoke to 1100 people, Victorians were more likely to think the restrictions are too strong, compared to people in NSW.
Meanwhile, the AFR says Western Australia is the most vulnerable place for a COVID outbreak because so few people are vaccinated. Phillip Coorey says an outbreak could spread at three times the rate of NSW, saying the reproduction rate would be 3.09 (every infected person would infect three others). It would mean massive strain on WA’s health system — and comes as the Australian Medical Association has thrown its support behind mandating the jab for every person working in the Australian health sector, The Age reports, saying the country’s system simply would not cope otherwise when we ease restrictions.
And Virgin Australia agrees with rival Qantas: let’s get flying by Christmas. Virgin boss Jayne Hrdlicka says she’s “not sure what we’re waiting for” in opening up routes to well-vaccinated countries (erm, more vaccines I’d say). But she’s staunchly against so-called vaccine passports — she reckons it would make us feel less like a unified country if you needed a “passport” to travel to different states, as ABC reports.
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GREENER PASTURES AWAIT
In some posi environmental news, renewables can power our electricity by 2025, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) says — at certain times of the day, at least. Guardian Australia reports the AEMO said renewable energy generation reached a new high of 57% twice this year — April and August. If we expanded renewables based on those trends, 100% of consumer demand at points during the day could be met in four years. It also said the new solar capacity which will be installed by 2025 “could supply up to 77% of total electricity demand at times by 2026”. The AEMO has also canned its previous warning that we face a power supply shortage, undercutting several Coalition MPs who are barracking for a new coal-fired power station, as ABC reports.
Meanwhile a group of Japanese scientists could be one step closer to bringing Nikola Tesla’s dream of wireless power anywhere in the world to life, ABC says. They’ve built a room that powers everything in it wirelessly, meaning countless environmentally costly cables could soon become a thing of the past. They used electromagnetic fields generated by electrical currents but said they didn’t exceed human safety guidelines. Eventually, one of the researchers said, it could even be used to power battery-operated devices inside the body such as pacemakers.
Impact for Women president Kathy Kaplan is calling for a serial domestic violence offenders register, The Advocate reports. Like a sex offender, Kaplan says a serial domestic violence perpetrator would be automatically added to the list following their conviction. They would be assigned a local police case manager, who they’d have to alert about high-risk behaviours like moving in with a partner. The offender would also be given a list of mandatory rules in the community, similar to those given to sex offenders. Kaplan described it as “a duplication and extension of that legislation”.
It follows the completion of the two-year trial of the NSW Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme in 2018, where a person could look up a partner to see if they had a history of violent criminal offences. Similar schemes remain in use in the UK and Canada, and more locally in South Australia. So far in SA, there have been 538 disclosures of criminal histories under the scheme, ABC reports. The SA government is actually considering expanding it to give police the power to tell people at risk of domestic violence about their partner’s criminal history. Last year was called Australia’s “worst year” for domestic violence, Guardian Australia reports, which was linked to stay-home orders and financial stress.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE
In a time long before the pandemic, the unique experience of working from home with kids was encapsulated in a few crucial seconds on BBC News. Robert Kelly was explaining South Korean politics via a webcam link from his study back in 2017 when his young daughter stomped her way into the room — and our hearts. The moment went instantly viral. And although parents are understandably struggling with juggling work and remote learning, sometimes you’ve just gotta throw your hands up in the air and have a laugh.
NZ politician Carmel Sepuloni thinks so, anyway. The minister for social development was in a live interview with Radio Samoa on Zoom yesterday when her son burst into the room behind her, brandishing a deformed carrot that had a growth that looked rather rude, as some carrots are wont to do. Sepuloni tried to usher him out of the room but the pair ended up wrestling with the male-body-part-shaped carrot. Sepuloni shared the moment on Twitter, saying she was cross at the time — but eagle-eyed viewers might spot a grin playing on her face in the video. Sepuloni continued, “A big ups to all our parents working from home and parenting at the same time — I see you!” then added “*Note to self: I will never buy the odd shaped carrot pack again.”
Hoping something makes you crack up today, folks.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Dan Murphy’s is open but Parliament isn’t? We send nurses, doctors, ambos, police, teachers, transport workers, retail workers back to work — but politicians are too precious?
The independent MP for Kiama questioned why NSW Parliament wasn’t sitting until, at the earliest, October, as Deputy Premier John Barilaro said last week. MP Paul Scully said it was a ploy from the state government to dodge scrutiny, arguing the only examination of issues that affect the vaccine rollout or small business had to be done by reporters at the 11am presser.
“One of Australia’s major law firms has run the rule over Hillsong College — the church’s training ground for pastors of the future — and found instances of racism and sexism, as well as favouritism towards wealthy students and students well connected to Hillsong families. The confidential review has made its way into the Crikey bunker and it paints a decidedly unchristian picture of life for the college’s fee-paying students, many of whom are from overseas.
“A key finding goes to the exploitation of students as free labour for other Hillsong activities, such as providing the staff to run conferences. As Crikey has reported before, Hillsong’s business model relies enormously on free labour — some 5790 volunteers staff various businesses and activities such as conferences and services. Its music productions — which provide the trademark razzamatazz of a Hillsong gathering — are almost entirely run by volunteers, with more than 1800 unpaid workers.”
“The NSW premier doesn’t have many reserves of goodwill to draw on. Her relationship with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire displayed — in the most generous possible interpretation — truly spectacular misjudgment, however much she might like to wish it away as romantic naivety. Her tolerance of pork-barrelling and rorting and her own office’s efforts to cover them up are a disgrace. Her resistance to accountability and basic scrutiny is the last thing citizens need at a time of crisis.
“NSW needs a different approach, and a different leader — one who can offer its citizens something other than the worst of both worlds, a leader who, if they want to “live with COVID”, understands what that will require of the NSW government. A leader who can instil some confidence in an economy that will struggle to rebound even if lockdown was lifted today. Berejiklian isn’t working. Her time is up.”
“The campaign’s purpose differs depending on who you ask. Is it a protest about COVID restrictions placed on truck drivers? Is it an anti-vaccine and lockdown movement led by truckies? Is it an attempt to overthrow every Australian government? Like the frequent “freedom” protests against Australia’s public health orders, the grab bag of different gripes against authorities and institutions gives it a broader base of possible support. There’s something in there for any dissenter.
“Murmurs of truckie discontent started weeks ago. Earlier this month, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that authorised workers such as freight truck drivers would either have to be vaccinated or undergo rapid antigen testing to be able to work outside their areas. A decision to close truckstops and roadhouses because of the pandemic was announced and overturned soon after following heated opposition from drivers. Initial proposals for some kind of action began swirling around the edges of the internet on platforms like Telegram, Twitter and Facebook halfway through August.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Hurricane Ida leaves more than 1 million without power in Louisiana (The Wall Street Journal)
The World Is Still Short of Everything. Get Used to It. (The New York Times)
Exile or Jail: The Grim Choice Facing Russian Opposition Leaders (The New York Times)
A European-style health pass would help nation transition — Innes Willox (The Australian) ($): “Importantly, vaccine passport terminology should not be used. Calling it a passport carries the stigma of something that could encourage or facilitate closed borders, which is the last thing business needs … Germany, which has 60% of its total population vaccinated (equivalent to around the 70% adult population rate we are striving for within the next couple of months) has the simple-to-understand three-G rule: geimpft, genesen, getestet — vaccinated, recovered, tested. If you are vaccinated or can show you have recovered from COVID, or you have had a negative test within three days, then you can go just about anywhere. That’s it.
“The French health pass, the pass sanitaire, which all France’s people have access to, shows vaccination or recovery status and gives people entry to public and private venues. It has in-built interoperability with the EU digital COVID certificate scheme for travel within the EU, Iceland, Lichtenstein, Norway, San Marino, Switzerland and the Vatican. That is a key point — at the very least our health pass should give free access to the vaccinated, recovered or tested to all our states and territories.”
After 4½ years in government, is Mark McGowan responsible for anything? — Gareth Parker (SMH): “On Monday, it was revealed that WA Health would cancel around 800 category 2 and 3 “multi-day non-urgent” elective surgeries, postponing them for a month to “improve patient flow”. That’s the latest strategy to put a band-aid on the bleeding. And another round of excuses were proffered as to why things keep getting worse. It is dizzying trying to keep up with the shifting reasons for a problem that, when first identified, was falsely denied by WA’s political leadership…
“Remember when flattening the COVID curve was about buying time to make preparations in the hospital system? Well, it’s been 18 months now and to adapt a Keating-ism, every galah in the pet shop is now saying that the reason McGowan is so fanatical about COVID-zero is because all the signs are that that system would not cope. Not the case, say Dr Russell-Weisz — who says surge plans are ready to go — and McGowan, who accused the Australian Medical Association of scaremongering. The bigger lesson is that spin might get you through the daily news cycle, but the work of governing catches up with you in the end.”
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
NSW Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello gives a budget update and discusses the state’s pandemic plan via webinar, with a Q&A to follow.
Former justice of the High Court Michael Kirby and chief scientist of South Australia Caroline McMillen join University of Adelaide philosopher Antony Eagle to discuss the erosion of trust in our institutions.
Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy is in conversation with Essential Media’s Peter Lewis about the fortnight’s political news in a webinar for the Australia Institute.
Kaurna Country (also known as Adelaide)
The University of Adelaide’s Vilma Pérez Godoy and Christopher Keneally speak at Flinders Accelerator for Microbiome Explorations’ seminar at the Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club.
Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)
Diverse Connection hosts a multicultural networking dinner at Queensland Parliament with MP Peter Russo to speak.