Melbourne Victoria lockdown COVID-19
(Image: AAP/James Ross)

IT’S JUST NOT CRICKET

Victoria recorded its highest ever number of COVID cases yesterday — 1438. It’s almost 500 cases more than Wednesday, and is thought to be partly because of AFL grand final watching parties at the weekend, ABC reports. But as Melbourne stays the course to become the world’s most locked-down city (on October 4, as Yahoo News says), it was clear Victorian authorities had decided to temper their response with empathy.

COVID-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar declared it a “significant setback” though also acknowledged people were exhausted by restrictions and in need of “a nicer time”. Premier Dan Andrews says he was determined that the lockdown would be lifted as planned, The Age reports, but did flag that he may need to “pause” or “modify things” if infections continue to climb. Just shy of 50% of Victorians older than 16 are now double-vaxxed, the paper adds. It comes as Melbourne restaurateur Hayden Burbank and financial planner Mark Babbage are set to face a Perth court after allegedly faking NT identification to go to the grand final, The West Australian has reported.

Meanwhile, Victorian golfers had to hold it yesterday after golf course toilets remained shut, according to news.com.au. Restrictions reportedly banned the use of all indoor facilities — which Golf Australia told members included toilets. Andrews confirmed the public health team was looking into it.

MAKING DEBTOR DECISIONS

Australia wrapped the financial year $134.2 billion in debt, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has confirmed. The deficit is actually the largest dollar amount in our fiscal history and the largest as a share of GDP since WWII, the Brisbane Times reports. Net debt jumped a staggering $100 billion in 2020-21 which amounts to 28.6% of our GDP, MarketWatch says. Still, it’s $80 billion better than what was forecast, The Australian ($) adds.

The independent Parliamentary Budget Office says we could reduce net debt by $276 billion by the end of the decade if Frydenberg bailed on planned tax cuts for the middle class and wealthy, but Frydenberg countered that cutting taxes is “in our DNA”. Shadow finance minister Katy Gallagher said whoever forms government next year is going to face difficult decisions — especially after the Delta outbreak wiped out a $20 billion improvement partly caused by 290,000 new jobs in the labour market.

Questions remain over whether we’ll dodge a “technical recession” — which ABC’s Gareth Hutchens calls a “useless” term anyway — with hopes pinned on the end of lockdowns leading to economic recovery during the fourth quarter.

A LOT OF HOT AIR

The Minerals Council of Australia — that’s BHP, Rio Tinto and Whitehaven Coal — has endorsed the target of net zero by 2050, The Australian ($) reports. Chief executive Tania Constable says the pathway forward for coal laid in negative-emissions technologies (NETs) like “carbon capture and storage”, plus hydrogen. Carbon capture basically involves taking emissions, condensing them and then putting the carbon dioxide into underground stores, as The Guardian explains. Scientists have suggested that NETs could address roughly 30% of the reduction of emissions needed to thwart the climate crisis, as C&EN reports. But right now, “we’re removing virtually none”, climate scientist Jane Zelikova told the BBC.

Speaking of toxic emissions — media personality turned podcaster Jessica Rowe has come under fire for interviewing One Nation’s Pauline Hanson about “love, raising kids, and why [Hanson] keeps going”. Rowe has since deleted the episode, the SMH reports. Australian of the Year Grace Tame tweeted that the interview showed “how discrimination and hate is subtly enabled and normalised”. Rowe responded that her politics don’t align with Hanson’s, which are often described as xenophobic, and that Rowe had heeded criticism. Hanson has in the past declared Australia was both “in danger of being swamped by Asians” and “in danger of being swamped by Muslims”, as The Conversation reports.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

There are times in life when one just feels lost, when one cannot see their place in the world. For Beyhan Mutlu, that was Tuesday, as the BBC reports.

It was a normal weekday for Mutlu. The man, who lives in Turkey, decided he would head out to meet some friends for a drink. After a while, however, Mutlu, 50, ended up wandering off from the group and into a nearby forest in the Bursa province, located in the north-west of the country.

After a little bit of aimless walking, he came across people passing through the forest on the hunt for something, so he figured he’d just tack onto the group and make his way out with them. After a few hours of trudging through the landscape, a couple of his fellow hikers started calling out a name into the forest — his name. “I am here,” he replied, puzzled. Mutlu’s wife and friends had alerted local authorities when Mutlu didn’t return home, and a search party was sent out. The one he joined. The one that was looking for him. Police drove a sheepish Mutlu home.

As Walt Whitman says, “Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost … Ample are time and space — ample the fields of Nature”.

Have a restful weekend, folks.

SAY WHAT?

Look at how two wild boar which attacked me in the park have left my bag. They were taking my bag to the woods with my mobile phone in it. They’ve destroyed everything. Milan, tell the truth. Say how your mummy stood up to the wild boar.

Shakira

The pop star was rather bizarrely mugged by a pair of rowdy wild boars in a Barcelona park while walking with her son, whose father is Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué. There are about 10 million wild boars in Europe, and they’ve become a bit of a pest, holding up traffic and running into cars. Wild boars also made headlines last year when they snatched a laptop bag from a nudist in a Berlin park.

CRIKEY RECAP

A generation hooked? The logic behind Australia’s vape ban

“Vape proponents say there’s no evidence of the dangers of vapes and that they may help smokers quit — while opponents say it’s leading a new generation to get hooked on nicotine … Tobacco companies have been accused of marketing brightly-coloured, fruit flavoured vapes to children, with one company even purchasing ads on teen-focused websites for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, and Seventeen magazine.

“Between 2016 and 2019 there was up to a four-fold increase in e-cigarette usage between those aged 14 to 29. In NSW, some private schools have installed CCTV cameras to catch students vaping. From April 2020 to March this year, NSW has seized more than 51,000 illegal e-cigarettes.”


Morrison’s subs disaster will have to be fixed no matter who wins

“The key problem to resolve is the tension between building a significant part of the program (at least 40%) in Adelaide, and the mammoth costs and delays that that will entail. The Coalition currently trails Labor by 17 points in 2PP terms in South Australia, so there’s no political possibility of this being resolved before the election.

“But after the election, the next government will have to decide whether it seeks to accelerate the proposed nuclear submarine deal by purchasing ones fully manufactured elsewhere — likely Virginia and Connecticut — rather than in Adelaide, or resolve the problem of having museum-piece Collins class vessels defending Australia in the 2040s and 2050s.”


Totalitarian China is not what you might think — and it is vital to understand that

Xi’s leadership is turning towards absorbing the shocks of capitalism’s crisis-tendencies, with new limits not merely on economic inequality — with wealth and inheritance taxes proposed, wage credits and an expanded social welfare system; an evening-up of life conditions between city and country (which were allowed to become highly unequal in order to draw people into the cities) …

“But it is also cultural, with a crackdown on the mass culture arising from capitalism, such as the sort of fanatical pop enthusiasm that was a feature of the west in the 1950s and ’60s and is central to East Asian culture delay. The most noted of these was the banning of ‘effeminate’ young men from such pop TV shows, though there were many other rules, including a crackdown on violent animations.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

At least three people injured as tornado rips through Central West NSW (SBS)

Ethiopia orders expulsion of 7 top UN officials for ‘meddling’ (Al Jazeera)

Judge frees Britney Spears from father’s control (The New York Times)

Ecuador riot: Police storm jail where 116 died in gang war (BBC)

California wildfire crews make headway, but tough conditions expected to persist (The Wall Street Journal)

Is Liz Cheney going to run for president? (CNN)

Nicolas Sarkozy given one year sentence for illegal campaign financing (SBS)

‘The new normal’: Cases skyrocket in Singapore as country tries to ‘live with Covid’ (NZ Herald)

Boxing bouts fixed at Rio 2016 Olympics, investigation finds (Al Jazeera)

Evergrande: Chinese property giant ‘misses another payment deadline’ (BBC)

Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano begins erupting (The Wall Street Journal)

THE COMMENTARIAT

So, here’s a real agenda to take to the next electionTony Abbott (The Australian) ($): “Australia’s biggest long-term challenge is this notion of national illegitimacy based on dispossession of Aboriginal people and supposedly ongoing racism, sexism and environmental despolia­tion. Wittingly or not, this is being fed by schools required to teach every subject, from Latin to physical education, from an Indigenous, Asian and sustainability perspective.

“There’s not much the federal government can do to produce principal-led, parent-responsive, academ­ical­ly rigorous schools with well-paid, professionally respected teachers but it could help to avoid making a bad situation worse by vetoing the proposed draft national curriculum … Lower wages, higher house prices and more clogged urban infra­structure have been the unavoid­able consequence of doubled immigration averaging a quarter-million a year for the past 1½ decades.”

Divorce can be an act of radical self-loveLara Bazelon (The New York Times): “I would say that I am the happiest divorced person I know, but there is stiff competition. Divorce can, of course, be a miserable and rancorous experience, and one that leaves one or both former partners financially or emotionally broken. But for unhappily married women who are able to support themselves and their children, breaking free can also be like plunging into a cold ocean: a shock to the system that is at once brutal and cleansing. They can emerge stronger and clearer-eyed. Their children benefit because happier mothers are better parents.

“I no longer think of divorce as shameful or feel sorry for people who tell me that they have decided to end their marriages. There are many ways a family can be broken. Sometimes, the healthiest decision is to remove the cracking shell of the nuclear family before the shards embed themselves in the precious little people nestled inside. My divorce spared my children that pain and let me live the life I was meant to. I view that as an accomplishment.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

The Latest Headlines

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Australia

  • Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram will discuss the ABF’s involvement in the nation’s economic recovery and reopening the borders, in a CEDA webinar.

  • Double J host Zan Rowe will be in conversation online with actor Brendan Cowell discussing his novel, Plum, about a man’s self-discovery after a sporting injury.

Yuggera Country (also known as Brisbane)

  • Former lord mayor of Brisbane Sallyanne Atkinson will launch the autobiography of former Queensland Premier Russell Cooper at the Australian Institute for Progress.

Stoney Creek Nation Country (also known as Launceston)

  • New Forest Products CEO David Brand will speak at the 2021 Insights Breakfast Series.