Overseas travel ban to be lifted
A federal ban on Australians leaving the country could be lifted in some states by November, once the vaccination rate hits 80% of over-16s.
What we know:
- Federal cabinet last night discussed allowing people to leave the country using a travel pass linked to the Australian Immunisation Register downloaded to their phones (SMH);
- The border could open for people leaving states that have reached the 80% target even if others have not;
- Trade Minister Dan Tehan named New Zealand, the Pacific and Singapore as potential destinations;
- In a pre-recorded message to an expat awards ceremony, Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged that home quarantine for Australians stranded overseas would be the norm by the end of the year (The Age);
- Returnees will need a TGA-recognised vaccine, with no plan specified for Australians who have had Chinese jabs approved by the World Health Organization but not Australia;
- Australia will finally support a push to waive intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines, which has held back the rollout to poorer nations (ABC);
- Labor piled pressure on Health Minister Greg Hunt over new documents revealing he ignored an invitation from Pfizer to meet in June 2020 to discuss vaccine access (The Conversation).
NSW readies for new freedoms
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will today outline the first freedoms granted when the state reaches its 70% double dose vaccination target, while many regional areas will leave lockdown this week.
What we know:
- Gyms, hairdressers, restaurants, cafes and pubs will be allowed to reopen at reduced capacities, with the vaccine target expected to be hit in less than six weeks (SMH);
- A trial of reopening venues in at least two local government areas with high vaccination rates and low case numbers is expected in early October;
- NSW reported 1480 new local Covid-19 cases and nine deaths on Wednesday;
- The Mid and North Coast of NSW, as well as areas across the Riverina and the Murrumbidgee regions will be released from lockdown on Friday (ABC);
- Lockdown will end at the same time in most of regional Victoria, with the exception of Greater Shepparton, as the state records 221 new local cases (SBS).
Climate cut from UK trade deal
The UK has buckled under Australian demands to remove specific climate change commitments from their free trade agreement.
A leaked email from a senior official in the UK’s Cabinet Office reveals “a reference to Paris Agreement temperature goals” would be dropped in order to “get the Australia FTA over the line” (Sky News).
The treaty will contain a reference to the Paris climate accord, but the reference to specific temperature commitments will be absent.
Greenpeace executive director John Sauven said “there should be a moratorium on trade deals with countries like Australia until they improve on their weak climate targets and end deforestation” (The New Daily).
It comes as a new study finds 95% of Australia’s coal and 35% of its gas must stay in the ground by 2050 for there to be any chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C (Nature).
Mexico decriminalises abortion
Mexico’s Supreme Court has decriminalised abortion, just as the US state of Texas enacts the toughest crackdown on terminations in decades.
In an unanimous ruling, Mexico’s highest court ruled that penalising abortion is unconstitutional (Reuters).
Mexico’s growing feminist movement celebrated the decision, with women taking to the streets in Saltillo wearing green bandanas to symbolise the pro-choice movement.
The ruling may push women in Texas to travel south of the border to have abortions, after the US state enacted a sweeping ban on terminations after the first six weeks of pregnancy.
The US Supreme Court, which is now dominated by conservatives, declined to intervene, opening the way for Republican-ruled states to further roll back abortion access (The New Yorker).
Female sports ban threatens Afghan Test
The Taliban will not let women play sports including cricket, in a move that puts pressure on Australia to cancel an upcoming men’s Test match against Afghanistan.
“I don't think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket,” said Ahmadullah Wasiq, of the Taliban’s cultural commission (SBS).
Wasiq is concerned that female cricketers may “face a situation where their face and body will not be covered”.
The International Cricket Council requires its full members to have a national women’s team and only full members are permitted to play test matches such as the match scheduled between Australia and Afghanistan in November.
Australia’s Trade Minister Dan Tehan described the ban on female sport as “incredibly, incredibly disappointing” and something “our sporting codes will have to think about”.
Members of the Afghanistan women’s cricket team said the Taliban had targeted them with threats (BBC).
Postscript: This Australian duck says ‘You bloody fool’ and can imitate other sounds
When biologist Carel ten Cate heard rumours of a talking duck in Australia, he brushed it off like a comical anecdote, like any sane human being. But his curiosity got the better of him, so he tracked down a well-respected Australian scientist who first noticed this phenomenon more than three decades ago (ZME Science).