Novak Djokovic
(Image: John Walton/PA Wire via AAP)

BYE BYE BYE

Tennis star Novak “no-vax” Djokovic has been booted out of Australia, drawing a line under a sensational turn of events for the world number one over his refusal to be vaccinated. He was told to go on Friday by Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, as The Age reports, and yesterday Djokovic’s last-ditch appeal in the Federal Court saw the full bench unanimously side with the government. The court said Djokovic staying would probably validate anti-vaccination sentiment — the world number one was seen boarding a plane to Dubai shortly after. It means there’ll be no 10th Australian Open crown or a record 21st grand slam title for Djokovic, who said he was “extremely disappointed” by the whole thing, Guardian Australia adds.

Serbia’s Prime Minister Ana Brnabic said the decision was “scandalous”, but Prime Minister Scott Morrison applauded it, saying it was “now time to get on with the Australian Open”. But the case has cracked open another interesting conversation — that of the ability of the government to override the courts, particularly considering more than 30 refugees remain indefinitely stuck — some for nine years — inside the Melbourne hotel that briefly held Djokovic, as The New York Times reports. There are calls for law reform to remove the “God-like” powers of the immigration minister, as The Conversation puts it, with Tasmanian Greens Senator Nick McKim tweeting that “The Migration Act allows for this because it was designed so refugees’ lives could be destroyed for political purposes”.

GET THESE PARTIES STARTED

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says he’ll lift up more people into the middle class, while under the Coalition the average worker nearing six figures will pay tens of thousands less in tax — an interesting duality in the papers this morning. Albo spoke to the SMH, saying he wants to reward aspiration and expressing his vision for Labor as “the party that people who want to get ahead, who want a better life for their kids, turn to”. It’s a very different message to the last election, where former leader Bill Shorten got noses out of joint across the country in trying to curb tax breaks (cast your mind back to the tumultuous debate over negative gearing and refunds for franking credits). Albo conceded that sent “the wrong message” and ruled out any new taxes to curb debt, for good measure.

Meanwhile, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the Coalition’s economic plan is to ensure “that hardworking Australians keep more of what they earn”, with unpublished Treasury analysis in The Australian ($) showing that “an average full-time worker, earning $92,000, would pay almost $53,000 less in income tax over the 15 years between 2018-19 and 2033-34.” It’s a rerun of the Coalition’s scare campaign during the last election, that warned Labor has a high taxing policy agenda. Indeed Albanese has promised to keep the Coalition’s tax plan, the Oz continues, which will reportedly see more than $20,000 in tax cuts for high-income earners.

DOCTORS WITH BORDERS

A hundred doctors are locked out of Western Australia, just weeks before the state has promised to throw the borders open, Guardian Australia reports. It spoke to several specialists, consultants, and locums who say the cagey WA government rejected their applications to get home — some several times. It spells danger for WA’s already heaving public health system, particularly for large unvaccinated pockets in remote communities. Indeed one regional emergency department was only able to fill 12% of its medical roster at times this month, according to a leaked email seen by The West Australian ($). The WA AMA says they’ve already helped several doctors with their border passes, and the problem is an overly complex system, which state Opposition Leader Mia Davies says is missing “common sense”.

Meanwhile, masks are back in the west, WA Today reports, after Premier Mark McGowan held an emergency press conference about Omicron yesterday. “Today we are raising the alarm,” McGowan told reporters after five new cases popped up in the past two days. He says masks are now mandatory if you’re indoors at a public place in the Perth and Peel regions.

It’s quite a different story in NSW, of course, where 34,660 cases were confirmed and 20 people died on Saturday, The New Daily reports. It’s not as bad as we thought, however — in NSW 2650 people are in hospital with COVID, several hundred less than the best-case scenario for the peak of the outbreak. Indeed our life expectancy has actually jumped during the pandemic, AFR reports, by about eight and nine extra months — that’s the highest jump of the 29 countries the Australian National University study looked at. The study cited lockdowns and border closures as reasons.

ON A LIGHTER NOTE

What does it mean to live a worthy life? That’s the question bioethicist Leon Kass seeks to answer. It’s a big question — perhaps the big question, but Kass says it can be distilled down to a simple thing: fulfilling the possibilities of our humanity for ourselves and for the people with whom we live. He had a rather illuminating chat to The New York Times’ David Brooks via podcast — and explained four areas for us to look at: meaningful “real” work; love and friendship; devotion to the community; and learning, understanding, and seeking wisdom. He doesn’t have answers insomuch as questions that leave you pondering what each means for oneself.

When it comes to seeking meaningful work, Kass says he found a lot to learn from his college students, who he asks questions like “what do [you] care about if nobody knew?” and “what do you do that makes you feel alive and in the way in which you’re sort of pleased with yourself, proud of yourself?”. In seeking love and friendship, Kass says simply that “people want to be known … I don’t mean known in the public,” he continues “but known and loved by somebody who knows who they are really, unadulterated, open, vulnerable, searching, aspiring, capable of returning love”. Kass describes how loving our community can start with simply looking beyond our own lives, in order to “love the beautiful, to hate the base and the ugly, [or] to love the just and to hate the unjust”. And on seeking wisdom, Kass puts it rather beautifully as a “deep desire to really understand things, to the bottom, and [to be] aware with a kind of real humility about how little we understand”.

Wishing you a ponderous Monday morning, folks.

Note: An earlier version of this Worm stated that Leon Kass was the author of The Second Mountain: The Quest For a Moral Life. This book was actually written by David Brooks. 

SAY WHAT?

[The Australian Government] think that they humiliated Djokovic … They humiliated themselves, and Djokovic can return with his head held high to his country.

Aleksandar Vučić

The Serbian president made his feelings known about the tennis star’s deportation at the hands of our government, saying “the harassment of unprecedented proportions” was doled out in what he called a very meaningless trial where people could see “how much they lie, how much the prosecutor lies”. Yikes.

CRIKEY RECAP

When a $17 billion share price fall can be very good news

“Afterpay is worth about $22 billion, almost half its original price. (Almost every business journalist has missed that fairly important point, still referring to the deal as a $39 billion sale.) The reason for the drop is that the merger was an all-scrip deal — that is, Afterpay shareholders would receive Square (now Block) shares rather than cash.

“This meant that the Block share price became a proxy for the value of Afterpay, and the Block share price has fallen by 50% since the deal was announced on August 1, 2021. (It dropped another 6% overnight.)”


Reality bites: in its optimism, the government forgot to plan for Omicron

“But this blind optimism hides the facts. Omicron has choked Australia’s supply chains. We have more staff shortages now than during the peak of the Delta outbreak. Even before Omicron hit, employers were short 400,000 workers.

“Since the pandemic, the labour force has barely grown. There are warnings the Reserve Bank needs to tighten monetary policy to address inflation faster than it is. The economic catastrophe was totally predictable and avoidable — but the government was focused on protecting the economy in the short term rather than planning for the long term.”


Hillsong potentially faces $55,000 fine for breaching public health restrictions

“It’s not the first time Hillsong has had special exemptions. In March 2020, as the pandemic took off, the government decided to ban any non-essential gatherings of groups of 500 or more.

“Importantly, the rules didn’t come into play until a Monday — allowing Prime Minister Scott Morrison to attend a Cronulla Sharks rugby league match and for Hillsong to host the second weekend of the Colour Conference, an annual forum attended by thousands.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Car spots listed for up to $525,000 as COVID outbreak pushes Sydney parking crisis to new levels (realestate.com.au)

Somalia government spokesman wounded in blast in capital (Al Jazeera)

Russia issues subtle threats more far-reaching than a Ukraine invasion (The New York Times)

Expert warns of impending ‘genocide’ of Muslims in India (Al Jazeera)

AFL clinches $75m crypto.com sponsorship deal, first for women’s sport (The Australian) ($)

Hundreds join vigil in London for murdered teacher Ashling Murphy (The Guardian)

Crypto CEO becomes one of the world’s richest billionaires (CNN)

Denmark joins boycott of Winter Olympics in China over human rights concerns (SBS)

Hostages rescued safely, suspect dies in Texas synagogue standoff (The New York Times)

Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly near to plea bargain in corruption trial (The Guardian)

THE COMMENTARIAT

‘The equivalent of 1000 Hiroshima bombs’: World watched a tremendous explosion in TongaBrian Schmidt and Richard Arculus (The Age): “The rapidly expanding mushroom cloud covered the distance from the explosion site to Nuku’alofa at twice the speed of sound, and the sound wave could be seen spreading out across the Pacific at 1200km an hour.

“In Fiji — 800km away, the sounds of the explosion were impressive, but even in Auckland, 2000km away, they were easily audible. Sound is a pressure wave, and weather stations picked up the signal in the barometric pressure measurement in Canberra three hours after the eruption; the signal was later measured on the other side of the Earth in Europe … The eruption likely formed a transient hole at the Earth’s surface, into which the ocean rushed and then rebounded radially away from the vent.”

Omicron infects our confidence but better days aheadJosh Frydenberg (The Australian) ($): “Second, national cabinet will meet this week to finalise plans to keep schools open, including rules around mask wearing and rapid tests. The importance of this was powerfully put in an open letter by 35 of Australia’s top doctors, academics and community leaders, who wrote that face-to-face learning is ‘one of the highest policy priorities’ and needs to be resumed to ‘limit the long-term adverse impact of the pandemic’.

“Third, we are working through options to increase the available workforce, having just announced those on student visas are no longer limited to 20 hours of work per week. Fourth, we are rolling out the vaccines for kids, and booster shots more broadly, in order to build resilience and enable the community to live as safely as possible with COVID-19. Fifth, governments, federal and state, as well as the private sector, are working to secure more rapid antigen tests, with more than 200 million on order. Three million arrived in Victoria just recently.”

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WHAT’S ON TODAY

Eora Nation Country (also known as Sydney)

  • NSW Advocate for Children and Young People Zoe Robinson and state Labor leader Chris Minns will speak at the opening ceremony of NSW Youth Parliament, which goes for a week.

Kulin Nation Country (also known as Melbourne)

  • The Australian Open kicks off, running from January 17-30 at Melbourne Park.

  • Kids up to five years old can hear stories, rhymes, and action songs at Prahran Square at a big picnic held by Stonnington Library.