Morrison defends his hermit kingdom

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has contradicted his own federal budget’s vaccination and border reopening timetable, wrongly claiming that further delays will not impact budget forecasts.

Morrison on Wednesday contradicted Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s forecast of a fully vaccinated population by the end of the year (news.com.au). 

What we know:

  • “It could be many months either side of that,” Morrison told ABC’s 7.30, adding that further delays “will not have a material impact on what’s in this budget”. 
  • The budget papers in fact warn that further vaccine delays could see “forecasting errors to be larger than normal” (Guardian Australia); 
  • Morrison added that quarantine could be required well beyond the budget forecast for international borders to reopen in mid-2022;
  • Travel operators were crestfallen about the lack of budget support, fearing more vaccine bungles will further delay border reopenings (AFR). 
  • Another year of no international students will cost the Australian economy $20bn (Mitchell Institute). 
  • Those with loved ones overseas have expressed dismay, amid warnings Australia is being left behind as the world’s new “hermit kingdom” (Foreign Policy). 

It comes as Moderna announces a deal to supply Australia with 25 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine (ABC). 

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Plan to make Covid-19 the last pandemic

An international inquiry into the Covid-19 response has called for a new disease surveillance system to make coronavirus the last global pandemic. 

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response inquiry issued a series of recommendations in its final report, released on Wednesday. 

The report recommends:

  • Empowering the World Health Organization to investigate outbreaks without government approval, as the health body took too long to declare a global emergency;
  • Establishing a global pandemic financing facility to aid low-income countries;
  • Forging agreements on voluntary licensing and technology transfers to boost vaccine production.

“Sensitivities about sovereignty should surely not delay alerting the world to the threat of a new pathogen of pandemic potential,” panel co-chair and former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark said (STAT). 

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Bid to remove Porter lawyer

A friend of the woman who accused Christian Porter of rape has made a Federal Court bid to remove his Sydney barrister Sue Chrysanthou from the ABC defamation case.

Jo Dyer is seeking an order to remove Chrysanthou, as the lawyer previously advised Dyer in a separate matter (SMH). 

Dyer argues information disclosed in that matter could be misused in the case, which Porter is bringing against the ABC for its reporting on the rape allegations.

Porter says he is “concerned about the timing” of the effort to remove his barrister (news.com.au). 

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Budget carves out $10bn election war chest

In a sign of a likely election war chest, the federal budget contains almost $10bn over four years for projects already signed off by the federal cabinet but not yet announced.

That includes $3.8bn set aside in 2021-22 alone, compared with just $1.5b in last year’s budget (The Age). 

The Building Better Regions Fund, labelled a political “slush fund” by Labor, set aside a further $250m for regional community infrastructure projects.

The election can be held at any time between August and next May, with government backbenchers suggesting October or November as an opportune moment (The Saturday Paper).

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Warnings of ‘full-scale’ Israel-Palestine war

The UN has warned that the escalating conflict between Israel and Palestine is on the precipice of all-out war.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza (BBC), destroying three tower blocks and killing at least 65 Palestinians, including 16 children (AP). 

Israel said it had killed senior officials of the Hamas group in Gaza and was targeting missile launching sites.

The bombings come in retaliation to rockets fired by Palestinian fighters, with more than 1000 launched so far, killing six Israelis.

Those attacks in turn were prompted by police harassment of Palestinians during Ramadan and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Israeli settlers.

The US has sent an envoy to the country to meet with both sides.

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If you want leaders who will enable and spread his destructive lies, I’m not your person, you have plenty of others to choose from.

Liz Cheney, until today the highest-ranking Republican woman, refuses to echo former US president Donald Trump’s lie that the election was stolen from him. Cheney’s colleagues rewarded her courage by voting to remove her leadership role and booing her out of the room (Politico).

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Postscript: The Absurdity is the Point

“What am I looking at?” you ask, now that you’ve rinsed the bleach from your eyes. What you are looking at is an NFT from the popular artist Beeple of a well-endowed Elon Musk walking a version of the Doge meme (a Shiba Inu). It is selling for a six-figure sum that is a combination of the numbers 69 (hehe sex!) and 420 (blaze it!). Similarly, Dogecoiners tried to drive Dogecoin to 69 cents a coin by the start of Musk’s SNL monologue. I realise this is extremely technical stuff, but this, my friends, is finance (Galaxy Brain).

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Max Opray is Schwartz Media’s morning editor and a freelance writer.