West Gate Bridge construction protest covid-19
Protesters on the West Gate Bridge, Melbourne (Image: AAP/James Ross)

UNDER DECONSTRUCTION

About 2000 people reportedly marching against the construction shutdown have blocked Melbourne’s West Gate Bridge, thrown objects at police and smashed cars, The Australian ($) reports. The mob’s violent revolt was originally sparked by a vaccine mandate due to come into force tomorrow, as the Herald Sun ($) reports. The crowd was partly made up of construction workers, tradespeople, and unionists, but had been reportedly co-opted by hordes of anti-vaxxers and far-right activists hell bent on riling up the crowd, as The Conversation says.

The Victorian government said it had no choice but to announce it was tools down in the state — which has cost the construction industry more than $2b, the AFR says — after half of all worksites were found to be flaunting COVID restrictions. There have been more than 400 COVID-19 cases across 186 building sites, the paper adds. But it’s likely a painful juxtaposition for some considering neighbouring NSW will restart construction on Monday, as the SMH reports.

In some more positive vaccine-related news, ABC has an interesting story about India approving the world’s first DNA vaccine — a needle-free way to inoculate against COVID-19. The genetic code of the virus (which causes the body to develop its immunity response) is injected via a jet of fluid that is absorbed through the skin.

SEEING THINGS THROUGH

One of Europe’s most senior leaders gave Prime Minister Scott Morrison a thinly veiled dress-down about “transparency and loyalty” during a meeting at the UN conference, the SMH says. It comes as fury continues to simmer elsewhere about Australia bailing on the French when signing our new nuclear submarine deal. After their meeting, EU President Charles Michel tweeted a photo of him and Morrison which was pointedly captioned “Clarity is needed between friends”. But Trade Minister Dan Tehan reckons there’s no bad blood — he says it’s business as usual amid our EU free trade deal, as Guardian Australia reports.

Speaking of trade — former deputy PM Michael McCormack has broken ranks in urging the Coalition to commit to net zero, saying without it our trade relationships and export income is at risk. He said other countries could bar Australian exports like cotton or beef because we haven’t signed up to the commitment, but stressed we need a good plan for communities living and working among high-emitting industry. It’s quite the departure for the man who labelled people who quite correctly linked the 2019-20 bushfires to climate change as “inner-city raving lunatics”.

ANTISOCIAL MEDIA

Defence Minister Peter Dutton will take the stand next month in a defamation trial he brought over a tweet which labelled him a “rape apologist”, Guardian Australia reports. Refugee activist Shane Bazzi wrote the tweet in reference to Dutton’s comments that female refugees were supposedly “trying it on” by making claims they had been raped. The fairly heavy-handed reaction to a social media post comes after the politician — one of the country’s most powerful — warned in March that he would begin to “pick out some of them to sue”.

Also in the firing line over social media, Labor candidate Daniel Repacholi has deleted his Instagram after sleuths found he was following “naked women posing with assault rifles and near-naked women in sexually provocative poses”, Guardian Australia says. The so-called “normal larrikin Australian”, as outgoing MP Joel Fitzgibbon described him, has already said sorry after posts resurfaced where he described India as a “shit hole”. The local branch is irate — the seat is already marginal and locals Emily Suvaal (a nurse) and Morgan Campbell (a councillor) both want the candidacy. But the CFMEU is backing Repacholi into the mining stronghold.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

They’ve got curved spines, hairy ears, aggressive tendencies, and they’re often hanging around Canberra. No, they’re kangaroos, and yesterday an urban myth about the Australian mascot in the capital city came true. Local Nic Crowther was jogging early Tuesday morning around Lake Burley Griffin when he spotted a “shivering” kangaroo in the water, looking cold and frightened. “He just looked like he wanted help,” Crowther told ABC. “At the end of the day I think it’s just what any warm-blooded person would do”.

He promptly stripped off and waded into the icy water, joined by another passerby, to lift the kangaroo to shore. But the rescue wasn’t without risk — as wildlife expert Ian Temby told The Age, a “kangaroo can kick you with its hind feet and that can pretty much rip you open”. As the men carried the roo to the edge, a filming onlooker warned others to stand back. Once back on dry land, the kangaroo appears to turn to his rescuers and reach out its hands for a prolonged moment in what looks like a rather gorgeous moment of gratitude. But it probably wasn’t, Crowther admits. “I want to think it was saying thank you, but the reality is it was probably a bit confused,” he said.

Hoping your day includes a good deed — big or small — too.

SAY WHAT?

There is a network of hard-right, man baby Nazis, people who just want to cause trouble and complain about the vaccination.

Bill Shorten

The former Labor leader didn’t hold back when describing the makeup of the protesters in Melbourne marching against the construction ban, saying “professional troublemakers” had hijacked the tradie crowds in order to spruik their own anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination motives.

CRIKEY RECAP

CFMMEU or neo-Nazis? Victoria’s anti-vaccine mandate protests had both

“Organising for a Victorian construction workers protest against mandatory vaccines began in late August on social media, but gathered little notice initially. A flyer circulating on Telegram advertising yesterday’s protest claimed that workers from defunct unions were attending. Even in the small online communities set up specifically for CFMMEU members against mandates, members identified themselves as not being unionists but in the industry.

“This movement was boosted and co-opted by much bigger general anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown and fringe groups. Advertising for yesterday’s protest was shared among a larger group of general anti-vax, anti-lockdown online groups, encouraging others to ‘blend in’ and wear high visibility gear. Even still, the protest didn’t seem to get much attention compared with the ‘freedom’ protests that have happened semi-regularly.”


Deciphering AUKUS: it’s not really about the submarines

“If the US doesn’t trust the EU regarding China, it would have a major interest in breaking any link between Australia and France, as the latter remains a Pacific power. It would have been ridiculous to mobilise NATO in the Indo-Pacific with the EU about to announce its own common defence plan.

“The US doesn’t want equals in its new alliance, but subordinates who look like equals. Australia has played that role for decades, knows it by heart. But the UK? Well, AUKUS from its end forms part of a new post-Brexit “global Britain” push. What could be more global than policing your old imperial waters? Does it actively want to do that? Maybe. Maybe not. But what it needs from the US is a free trade agreement.”


Christian Porter is staring down the barrel of his political future. And the gun’s loaded

“So the ‘new’ Pearce bears little resemblance to its former self. It lost its rural component — traditionally useful for Coalition candidates — to the neighbouring Liberal seats of Durack and O’Connor, and the rapidly growing suburban areas around Ellenbrook to Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt’s seat of Hasluck. Pearce is now based entirely in Perth’s outer northern suburbs.

“The grim news for Porter is that these areas all returned Labor candidates in Premier Mark McGowan’s landslide state election win in March. And his government has done little to upset voters since, while gaining wide approval for its claim of ‘keeping West Australians safe’ during the COVID-19 crisis. However, Labor’s endorsement of long-term Wanneroo mayor Tracey Roberts in Pearce has not been incident-free.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Millions of dollars in fines for breaching Australia’s COVID rules haven’t been paid (SBS)

Welcome to level 3, Auckland! 80 cars at one drive-through as people head for takeaways (NZ Herald)

Some 20% of Nigeria’s workers lost jobs to COVID (Al Jazeera)

Democrats begin effort to curb post-Trump presidential powers (The New York Times)

CIA officer ‘suffered from Havana syndrome’ during India trip (BBC)

PCB chief: Pakistan cricket ‘used and binned’ by ‘Western bloc’ (Al Jazeera)

Third Russian national charged over Salisbury poisonings (The Guardian)

Canary Islands volcano: Hundreds more evacuated as La Palma lava nears sea (BBC)

Canada election result: Trudeau wins third term after early vote gamble (The Guardian)

India seizes $3.7b Afghan heroin haul amid Kabul takeover chaos (ABC)

DHS chief ‘horrified’ by images of US Border Patrol confronting migrants (CNN)

Taliban add minorities, technocrats to Afghan government, but no women (The Wall Street Journal)

Apple iPhone 13 review: The most incremental upgrade ever (The New York Times)

THE COMMENTARIAT

As Menzies knew, strength lies with like-minded alliesGeorgina Downer (The Australian) ($): “The Menzies government’s fix was to call a referendum to empower the federal government to ban the Communist Party. Remarkably, despite the Yes campaign beginning with 80% support, this effort ultimately failed, with only three states voting in favour (Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania) and the Yes case receiving 49.44% of the overall vote …

“For Menzies, a committed liberal, the referendum presented the eternal dilemma for democracies. In his words, how does a government repress ‘subversion or aggression’ but not at the same time suppress ‘freedom of thought’? Menzies’ fear and loathing of the communist threat meant on this occasion he fell too hard on the side of suppression of subversion. Thankfully his countrymen and women saw a better path to preserving freedom.”

Scream if you need to — it might be one of the only things that makes sense in lockdownSaman Shad (The Guardian): “Screaming is a human response. It’s an unleashing of frustration, a primeval urge. A sign that you’ve run out of words. I screamed when I was younger because for much of my life till that point I had remained quiet, and the screaming was an indication that this silence was crumbling. As an adult, I no longer scream — well, unless you count occasionally shouting at my kids. And I’m yet to let out a primal scream over lockdown. It took many years for me to discover that I didn’t have to scream to express how I felt. I could use my writing to do that instead.

“The turbulent immigrant teen still lives inside my chest however. The screaming was necessary then. It helped in some ways. So scream if you want to. You may not have to do it facing the waves. You could just scream into your pillow (if you haven’t done so already). Scream to let the emotion out. At a time when not much makes sense, it may be the only thing that does.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Trade Minister Dan Tehan will address the National Press Club via webinar.

  • NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet will discuss the economic outlook for NSW in a webinar held by the Israel-Australia Chamber of Commerce.

  • North Sydney’s new independent candidate Kylea Tink will launch her campaign via webinar, joined by media personality Julia Zemiro, environmentalist Tim Flannery, and politician Zali Steggall.

  • Senator Sarah Hanson-Young will speak at a webinar discussing media diversity, presented by the Nordic Policy Centre at the Australia Institute.

  • Journalists Michael Rowland and Bronwyn Adcock will discuss the latter’s new book, Currowan, via webinar.

  • Director of the Women’s Healthy Ageing Project at the University of Melbourne Cassandra Szoeke will discuss her new book, Secrets of Women’s Healthy Ageing, via webinar.

Wurundjeri Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Prevention of Family Violence and Women Gabrielle Williams will speak at the Melbourne Press Club about the justice system.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Author Tony Birch will discuss his short story collection Dark as Last Night, his poetry collection Whisper Songs, and his novel Ghost River at Avid Reader.