THE BEST OF TIMES?
Victoria and New South Wales have often failed to agree over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and, as both states eye the exit from their current lockdowns, this is unlikely to change. New NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has issued a slightly sped-up exit plan with restaurants, cafes, and gyms reopening to the fully vaccinated from Monday, with further easing likely to follow on October 25th. His argument for the truncated lockdown, which is pretty on brand for him, is that COVID-19 “is not just a health crisis, it’s an economic crisis, too”.
“Yes, it’s going to be difficult,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald. “What is most important is we’re opening up — the alternative is remaining closed, and that is not an alternative in my view.”
Meanwhile, leading epidemiologists have told The Age Victoria should “stay the course” of its current strategy. Some of the contrasts make for fairly glum reading for Victorians — for example, home visits will remain banned until the state reaches the 80% mark, while as of Monday NSW will allow 10 visitors, not including kids under 12. However, Deakin University epidemiologist Catherine Bennett told The Age there was “very little difference” in the states’ restrictions once they both reach 80%. As such, she argued, “you should stick with your road map if you have come up with a plan that is safe because there are people who are nervous about opening up and we need to bring them with us”.
Elsewhere, The Australian ($) reports that vaccination rates among children have surged, with 63% of those between the ages of 12 and 15 in NSW and 59% in Victoria having received a first dose within a month of that age group becoming eligible.
THE WORDS OF CRIMES
Almost certainly foregrounding an expansion of Australia’s complainant-friendly defamation laws, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has complained of the “lack of accountability” for tech giants who allow anonymous trolls to post abuse and libel.
“Social media has become a coward’s palace, where people can just go on there, not say who they are, destroy people’s lives and say the most foul and offensive things to people, and do so with impunity. Now that’s not a free country where that happens,” he said with a flourish.
Earlier on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce addressed “completely and utterly fictitious” rumours on social media which hinted that former NSW Nationals leader John Barilaro’s recent retirement from politics had been on account of a relationship he had with one of Joyce’s daughters.
“From my own personal experience of recent times, you have got to get to a point where you say enough is enough,” he said. “These platforms just say ‘oh well it’s too hard to control’.”
Joyce has since expanded on this thought in an opinion piece for the Nine papers.
As Reuters points out, any move from Morrison to make companies like Facebook and Twitter liable for defamation concerning content posted by third parties could “further cement Australia’s outlier status on the subject [of defamation]”. Last month the High Court found that publishers can be liable for defamatory comments made on their Facebook pages.
THE AGE OF WISDOM
Abdulrazak Gurnah, a Tanzanian author and a professor at the University of Kent, has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for what the Academy called his “uncompromising and compassionate penetration of the effects of colonialism and the fate of the refugee in the gulf between cultures and continents”.
Born in Zanzibar in 1948 and based in England, Gurnah has written 10 novels in English, including 1994’s Booker Prize shortlisted Paradise. Along with $1.5 million in prize money, Gurnah joins a list which includes Ernest Hemingway, Kazuo Ishiguro, Toni Morrison, Bob Dylan, Alice Munro, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Anders Olsson, chairman of the Nobel Committee for literature, called Gurnah “one of the world’s most prominent post-colonial writers”.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
Not bad but I would have gone with SUPER CALAIS TRAGIC CHRISTMAS BREXIT THREAT: ATROCIOUS!
Canadian editor Anthony Collins thinks the Daily Mail headline “French Threat To Sink Xmas” — about a potential “Calais blockade” cutting Britain off from Christmas supplies — could use a little more razzmatazz.
“The newly installed NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet is moving quickly to rebadge himself as a man of the centre, but there remains the unexplained — and as yet unresolved — saga over how he, as state treasurer, has handled the demands of the Catholic Church.
“The issue is Sydney’s cemeteries and who controls their management. It is also a story of power, influence and how the church fights for its interests.”
“The Coalition’s implosion over climate is continuing apace, with Resources Minister Keith Pitt now calling for a $250 billion loan facility for the mining sector in return for a commitment to net zero by 2050. The demand, reported “exclusively” in the AFR, is comical — not just because it could guarantee coal production until 2150, but because of its sheer size.
“$250 billion is about 12.5% — or one eighth — of Australia’s GDP. It’s four times the amount of money Australia was willing to spend on dud submarines and three times the cost of the NBN. “
“Gotcha moments are generally tedious things, but being caught out breaching your own public health orders mid-COVID on your first day as state premier, then mounting a defence which is completely legally wrong is a bit more serious than mere tabloid embarrassment.
“So it was that Dominic Perrottet gleefully posted a selfie to his Facebook page yesterday, mid-lunchtime run, with the Harbour Bridge behind him.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Deputy Premier defends Labor’s $5500 cash-for-access fundraiser (Brisbane Times)
ABC news boss Gaven Morris resigns from public broadcaster (The Australian) ($)
Secret trove illuminates the lives of billionaires (The Washington Post) ($)
Man dies during ‘violent’ police arrest, two officers in hospital (Brisbane Times)
SA hospital workers given COVID vaccine deadline (The Adelaide Advertiser) ($)
Coutts-Trotter to head Premier’s Department in Perrottet shake-up (The Sydney Morning Herald)
Victorian Labor minister Lisa Neville feels heat of IBAC watchdog (The Australian) ($)
Four people hit with 200 charges over alleged St George fraud (The Australian Financial Review) ($)
Morrison’s climate war will be in Queensland, not Glasgow — Phillip Coorey (The Australian Financial Review) ($): “Taking into account electoral redistributions, and assuming Craig Kelly’s seat of Hughes goes back to the Liberals at the election, the Coalition starts the campaign with a threadbare majority of 76 seats against Labor’s 69 in the 151-seat House of Representatives.
“In terms of seats held, it is already at a high-water mark in Queensland, WA, and Tasmania. NSW is about the only state where meaningful gains can be made. Everywhere else is downside risk. The polls have the Coalition behind in every state except Queensland.”
Nobody’s really interested in the nuclear option — Bob Carr (The Australian) ($):”Australians may be open to nuclear power, as evidenced by Tuesday’s Newspoll. But nuclear is not open for them. Globally the industry is moribund. ‘The dream that failed,’ says The Economist magazine, concluding it needs government money for life support. In 2010 one enthusiast predicted within 10 years fourth-generation reactors and small modular reactors would be commonplace, including in Australia. None exists, here or abroad.”
My daughter is but one victim of malicious online lies: it’s time the social media giants were held liable — Barnaby Joyce (The Sydney Morning Herald): “When multiple media houses and friends of friends from far overseas approach me and my family over a devastating, soul-destroying, career-ending lie, then the time of any person to act has arrived. It’s time to protect your daughter and so many other children from the literal filth that is the ‘content’ of so many online platforms and their miscreant authors. My daughter is at the centre of a national scandal to which she was one of the last to be made aware — because not only is it an uncorroborated claim, it is a lie.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Australian International Education Conference, titled “new horizons” will focus on the sector’s global challenges, our COVID-19 responses, digital innovation, and how the sector can recover from 2020-21 and emerge stronger. Keynote speakers include: Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge, Fatima Bhutto, Bernard Salt, Dee Madigan, Holly Ransom, Solli Raphael, Danielle Di-Masi, Ciara Lancaster, and Greg Barton.
The Reserve Bank of Australia will release its twice-yearly financial stability review.
There will be a directions hearing today at actor Craig McLachlan‘s resumed defamation claim against Fairfax, the ABC, and Christie Whelan Browne.
Cadbury workers at Ringwood will take 24-hour strike action again in their call for secure jobs, better pay, and improved conditions.