Rescue package for Sydneysiders

The NSW government will help pay for a lockdown financial support package, after the federal government dragged its heels on further assistance to Sydneysiders facing a worsening Covid-19 outbreak.

What we know:

  • NSW recorded 112 new cases on Monday, prompting one expert to say Sydney would need to remain under lockdown until August (news.com.au); 
  • Unions warned inadequate financial aid meant casual workers faced a choice of working to pay bills or abiding lockdown restrictions (The Guardian); 
  • In the absence of more federal assistance NSW proposed an eight-week $4bn wage subsidy (SMH); 
  • That is set to be shelved as federal and state authorities negotiate a joint business support package to be unveiled as soon as today;
  • It will be similar to the federal grant scheme for small and medium businesses, with NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet demanding businesses be required not to shed jobs (Daily Telegraph); 
  • Disaster payments to individuals are also expected to be boosted from $500 to $600.

It comes as Covid-positive removalists travelled to Victoria and South Australia (ABC) and a Melbourne tower was placed under lockdown (7News). 

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Young scramble for vaccines

The expert panel advising the national Covid-19 vaccine rollout on Monday met to reconsider its advice limiting AstraZeneca vaccines to over-60s, as young people scramble for protection.

What we know:

  • After calls for the “balance of risk” to be reconsidered due to the Sydney outbreak, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation met on Monday but said only it “continues to review its advice around AstraZeneca” (ABC); 
  • Lieutenant General John Frewen, head of the Covid-19 vaccine taskforce, however encouraged under-40s to consider getting the shot by consulting with their doctor and NSW Health opened up access to that age group;
  • Young Sydneysiders are sharing “secret” website links on social media that allows them to access Pfizer vaccines, which they are not eligible for (The New Daily); 
  • A 34-year-old Sydney man managed to get two doses each of AstraZeneca and Pfizer in what he called “antibody maxxing” (news.com.au); 
  • A NSW-only ad showing a young Covid-stricken woman gasping for air has been criticised for frightening younger Australians when their access to the vaccine is so limited (Mumbrella); 
  • National vaccination adverts, finally released after being produced months ago, have been panned as ineffective compared to the campaigns of other countries (The Conversation). 
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Polling shows Albanese majority

An analysis of polling indicates a swing to Labor that would see Anthony Albanese elected prime minister at the next election, heading a majority government.

The analysis of Newspoll surveys conducted between April 21 and June 26 has Labor on track for 78 seats in the 151-seat House of Representatives (The Australian). 

Nine seats would change hands, ­including three held by cabinet ministers — Peter Dutton’s seat of Dickson, Christian Porter’s seat of Pearce, and Ken Wyatt’s seat of Hasluck.

In Queensland and WA there were significant swings against the Coalition of 5.4 per cent and 8.6 per cent ­respectively.

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Timber shortage hits housing

High timber prices are contributing to Australia’s surging house prices, due to a combination of Covid-related shipping delays and high demand for new home builds.

Prices in recent months have increased nearly 250% globally and up to 40% in Australia (The Age). 

“We believe shortages could significantly influence … housing construction in Australia over 2021-23,” JP Morgan timber industry analyst Brook Campbell-Crawford said.

Demand is yet to peak, with estimates that prices may rise to 50% above normal conditions.

Shortages of bricks and windows are also proving problematic, leading to blowouts in construction times and financial pressure that might send builders bust (Hardware Journal). 

A record 146,000 new detached homes are set to be built this year — a 20% increase on previous figures.

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7News apologises for racist post

A social media post by 7News promoting a story on racist abuse of English footballers has been called out as racist itself.

The story reported on three English players being subjected to widespread racist abuse online after missing penalties in England’s Euro 2020 final loss to Italy.

The 7News Facebook post on the story read: “Three Black players failed in the penalty shootout which England lost 3-2 against Italy”, which was called out by readers as being racist itself (news.com.au). 

The wording was a “regrettable mistake”, a spokesperson for 7News said in a formal apology

Fans had also booed players who went down on one knee to protest racial injustice (Al Jazeera). 

A mural honouring the charity work of one of the three, Marcus Rashford, was vandalised with graffiti (BBC). 

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Mr Rudd would definitely not seek to associate himself with the Australian government’s comprehensively botched vaccine procurement program.

After reports that Kevin Rudd sought to take credit for accelerating Australia’s vaccine rollout by speaking with the Pfizer chairman, a spokesperson for the former PM asks: what vaccine rollout (Nine)?

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Postscript: Fossil reveals giant underwater killing machine that once called outback Australia home

Rewind 460 million years to a time when most of Australia was under water and aquatic creatures swam freely above what is now the dry, dusty landscape of Central Australia. Dr Adam Yates ... said the oceans of the Ordovician period were home to the Endoceras, an oversized killing machine that resembled a giant unfurled nautiloid and preyed on early fish species and trilobites (ABC).

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