Victoria awaits lockdown verdict

Victorians will this morning learn whether a snap lockdown will be imposed to contain Melbourne’s growing Covid-19 outbreak.

What we know:

  • Victorian cabinet ministers weighed up the merits of a lockdown last night (The Age); 
  • The cluster has grown to 15 cases and at least 70 exposure sites
  • The federal government has pledged an extra 130,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses for Victoria over six weeks as vaccine demand surges;
  • SA closed its border to Melbourne, and SA Health released a report finding the outbreak likely began through aerosol transmission in Adelaide hotel quarantine (ABC); 
  • NSW Health advised travellers to delay any non-essential travel to Greater Melbourne or Bendigo, where exposure sites have been identified (Nine). 
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Teens put coal in the dock

A historic legal judgement due this morning will determine whether federal government approval of a coalmine breaches a duty to protect younger people against climate change.

The case:

  • Eight Australian teenagers are seeking to prevent Environment Minister Sussan Ley from approving the Vickery coalmine extension project (Canberra Times); 
  • The class action seeks to invoke the minister’s common law duty of care to protect younger people against climate change;
  • Lawyers for the students claim the Vickery expansion would generate 100m tonnes of carbon emissions over 25 years;
  • If successful the case could potentially create a risk of legal action against any high-emissions project approvals, similar to a German ruling in April (Lexology); 
  • A Dutch court overnight ordered fossil fuel giant Shell to reduce its carbon emissions by 45% by 2030 from 2019 levels (Reuters). 
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Holgate inquiry calls for PM to apologise

Former Australia Post chief executive Christine Holgate has backed a Senate inquiry recommendation that the prime minister personally apologise to her.

The parliamentary inquiry looked into Holgate’s departure from Australia Post after she gifted luxury watches to executives (SBS). 

The committee’s final report made 25 recommendations, including that Morrison apologise to the former CEO “for denying her the legal principles of procedural fairness and natural justice”.

Another recommendation was that Australia Post chair Lucio Di Bartolomeo resign.

Holgate said the apology and resignation was a good idea, so “people can heal and move on” (ABC). 

A spokesperson for Morrison said the government had “no intention of responding to a politicised report”.

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Labor eyes tax cut for the rich

Labor is inching towards support of the Coalition’s stage 3 tax cuts for the rich that dug a $130bn hole in the budget.

The party is debating whether to repeal the plan, pause it (The Australian), save $80bn by dropping the cut-off for the tax break from $200k to $180k, or just support the whole package (AFR). 

Instead Labor is eyeing budget savings through support of the Coalition plan not to extend temporary tax cuts for low and middle income Australians.

The tax cuts, which have already been legislated, would create a flat 30% tax rate on earnings between $45,000 and $200,000 from mid 2024, abolishing the 32.5% and 37% rates.

Labor MPs fear a repeal of any of the cuts would leave the party exposed to Coalition attacks over tax.

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Porter’s barrister fears retribution

A barrister for Christian Porter says she was warned that supporters of the former attorney-general’s accuser were acting “like a cult”.

Sue Chrysanthou SC made the claim during a hearing into whether she should be taken off Porter’s defamation action against the ABC due to her having provided legal advice to a witness for the case (The Guardian). 

She said she was warned by her friend, the barrister Matthew Richardson, not to take on the case “because he thought his friends would make public statements about it that would defame me”.

It comes as Brittany Higgins’ partner has dismissed a report that declined to find the Prime Minister’s Office briefed against him, which he shrugged off as an exercise in “PMO staffers protecting themselves” (The Guardian). 

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If ... he just tells everyone ‘it’s swine flu, don’t worry about it, I’m going to get Chris Whitty to inject me live on TV with coronavirus so everyone realises it’s nothing to be frightened of’ — that would not help.

Dominic Cummings, a former top adviser to the British Prime Minister who nearly died from Covid-19, claims Boris Johnson was initially so sanguine about the virus he was willing to be injected with it (The Independent).

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Postscript: Building on Tradition — 1400 Years of a Family Business

In the year 578AD Germanic tribes were warring over the remains of the Roman Empire, an eight-year-old boy named Muhammad was growing up in Mecca, the Mayan Empire was flourishing in Central America, and the world’s longest continuously operated business was founded in Japan (Works That Work).

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