Tradies run riot in Melbourne

Construction workers are planning a third day of anti-vaccination protests in Melbourne today, after 2000 demonstrators swarmed the city centre yesterday and brought the West Gate Bridge to a standstill.

What we know:

  • Police arrested 62 people after tradies and far-right activists marched through the city all day in protest against mandatory vaccines for the construction sector and other restrictions (7News); 
  • The largely male mob lashed out at passing cars, police and a Channel 7 journalist who was attacked multiple times (ABC); 
  • The CFMMEU said the group was infiltrated by far-right figures and most protesters were unconnected to unions;
  • Senior union figures however estimated that 80-90% of the protesters were construction workers, most of whom are not unionised (The Age); 
  • Employees in the “construction and utilities” industry are the most vaccine hesitant, at 37% of workers (Crikey); 
  • Far-right figures have groomed alienated young men in the sector who spend a lot of time at home scrolling social media (The Conversation); 
  • The Victorian government enforced a two week shutdown of the industry after safety inspections revealed 50% non-compliance with lockdown rules and more than 400 Covid-19 cases across building sites (AFR); 
  • Federal cabinet minister Alan Tudge appeared to express sympathy with the protesters, decrying “whole industries, like construction, shut down at random” (The Herald Sun). 
Share
 

Morrison and Biden silent on subs

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has had his first one-on-one in-person meeting with US President Joe Biden, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

What we know:

  • Biden said the US and Australia were working in “lockstep” to set the “rules of the road for the 21st century”, committing to a "free and open Indo-Pacific" (SBS); 
  • Morrison praised the closeness of the relationship between the two countries, but took care to note it was not exclusive and that US-Australian values were shared with “so many others”;
  • No mention was made of the nuclear submarine project that displaced a French contract and triggered a major diplomatic row;
  • French President Emmanuel Macron and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meanwhile agreed in a call to act jointly in a “strategic partnership” in the Indo-Pacific, sparking speculation of a French-Indian submarine deal (France24). 
Share
 

Emissions fund found out

Up to one-in-five carbon credits issued under the federal Coalition’s Emissions Reduction Fund are “junk” cuts that do not reduce emissions, according to a new analysis.

The report by the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) and The Australia Institute found “avoided deforestation” payments to landholders usually did not represent genuine abatement as in most cases the areas were never going to be cleared (Renew Economy). 

Taxpayers spent about $310m buying more than 26m carbon credits generated through projects unlikely to have helped the climate.

The Morrison government is relying on the Emissions Reduction Fund to deliver a significant portion of its 2030 emissions target.

It comes as Australia is expected to come under pressure to strengthen its climate targets at the UN General Assembly.

In his speech to the UN, Joe Biden announced plans to provide more than $11bn of climate aid annually by 2024 (Politico).

Share
 

Vaccines this year for under 12s

Australian children aged between 5 and 11 could be eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine before the end of the year, after Pfizer released promising clinical trial results.

Pfizer studied the lower dose in 2268 children, and found the younger age group needed just a third of the dosage given to over 12s to develop sufficiently strong antibodies (ABC). 

Health Minister Greg Hunt asked Pfizer to apply to have its vaccine approved for under 12s in Australia at the same time as it applied for approval in the US.

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan said of the approval, “it is possible that we will see this this year”.

It comes as NSW introduced allowances for children aged 18 or younger to form a “friends bubble” in groups of three, to allow them to socialise and form study groups during lockdown (7News). 

Share
 

Trudeau wins third term

Justin Trudeau has been returned as Canada’s prime minister for a third term, after his Liberal Party won a tighter-than-expected election.

As voting continues the Liberals are projected to win 157 seats, short of the 170 needed for a majority but ahead of the Conservatives’ 122 (AP). 

Trudeau called an early election barely two years into his minority government, banking on his handling of Covid-19 to secure a majority, but many voters were angered by holding an unnecessary election during a pandemic.

The Liberals campaigned on mandatory vaccinations for Canadians to travel by air or rail, which the Conservatives opposed.

Trudeau will now need to enter negotiations with minor parties including the Quebec-based Bloc Québécois, which appears to have retained 32 seats, and the left-leaning New Democrats, who look to have gained three more seats for a total of 27.

Share
 

We believe that Byron Bay will have quite a few [exposure] sites.

A film crew member for reality show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! tests positive for Covid, sparking a lockdown on NSW’s North Coast. Byron Bay’s plethora of celebrities won’t be going anywhere for seven days at least (ABC).

Share
 
 

Postscript: The Gravity-Defying Mail Jumpers of Lake Geneva

The double-decker boat — large enough to seat 160 passengers — slows as it navigates towards the pier, but it never stops. The teenager rises and leaps from the window, right foot landing on the dock, then it’s a mad dash to the mailbox, a pivot, and another leap, left foot landing on the runner of the moving boat (Atlas Obscura).

Share

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