Private staff called into public hospitals

Tens of thousands of private hospital staff will be diverted to the public system nationally, as the healthcare system buckles under the strain of the pandemic.

What we know:

  • More than 100,000 health staff and up to 57,000 nurses from the private health system will be made available to the public sector under an agreement struck in 2020 (Nine); 
  • Victoria has declared a “code brown” emergency usually reserved for natural disasters, deferring non-urgent health services and recalling staff from leave to re-deploy them in priority areas (7News); 
  • Sydney paramedics “drunk on fatigue” are driving ambulances home after their shifts to respond to emergency calls when they are clocked off (The Guardian); 
  • Australia suffered its deadliest day of the pandemic on Tuesday, with 77 Covid-19 deaths  recorded across the country (SBS); 
  • That includes 36 deaths in NSW, 22 in Victoria, 16 in Queensland, two in SA and one in the ACT.
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Morrison urges parents to ignore Christensen

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has had to tell parents to ignore one of his own government MPs who has warned against vaccinating children.

What we know:

  • Queensland MP George Christensen released a podcast on Tuesday morning under the title “Do NOT vax your children” (SMH); 
  • Morrison urged “parents to disregard his dangerous messages in relation to vaccines”;
  • “I strongly disagree with the message sent out by Mr Christensen regarding children’s vaccinations,” Morrison said in the statement;
  • There was no mention of any action the government might take against Christensen;
  • Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the inaction was a “failure of leadership”;
  • Nationals partyroom colleague Darren Chester described Christensen’s claims as “just more of the same conspiracy theory crap”.
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Tongan islands laid waste by eruption

All homes have been destroyed on one island and at least three people have died, according to the first update from the Tongan government in the wake of a volcano eruption and tsunami.

What we know:

  • Every home on Mango island, where around 50 people live, has been destroyed (Reuters); 
  • Only two houses remain on Fonoifua, and Namuka island has suffered extensive damage;
  • The Tongan government has taken days to update the world after the disaster severed a key undersea communications cable;
  • Surveillance images reveal a thick blanket of ash coating the islands, contaminating fresh water supplies (BBC); 
  • The eruption could have a prolonged impact on coral reefs, coastlines and fisheries in the wider region, as well as causing acid rain;
  • Australian planes and a naval supply ship are being loaded with medical and engineering equipment, but the airport runway needs to be first cleared of ash (SMH); 
  • A host of NGOs are calling for Australians to donate to support relief efforts (SBS). 
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Truckies push for electric fleets

The Electric Vehicle Council (EVC) and Australian Trucking Association (ATA) have called for urgent reforms to electrify Australia’s trucking fleet.

The organisations say electrification would end volatile diesel costs, reduce maintenance costs, improve urban efficiency, and deliver better conditions for truck drivers (Big Rigs). 

Australia lags most of the world in the electrification of trucks – of the 58 electric truck models available in North America, Europe and China, only 14 are available in Australia.

Key recommendations include exempting electric trucks from urban curfews due to their lack of engine noise, changing Australian weight and width limits to accommodate batteries, and exempting electric trucks from stamp duty.

Australian Trucking Association chair David Smith says a failure to act means supply chains and exporters risk “getting stuck with high, globally uncompetitive per km freight costs”.

“It costs about $117 to fuel a diesel truck for 300km, but just $18 for an electric truck,” Smith said.

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EU restricts travel from Australia

The EU has joined a growing list of countries restricting travel from Australia, as per capita Covid case numbers surge to among the highest in the world.

The EU removed Australia from a list of countries where easier travel restrictions apply regardless of vaccination status (The New Daily). 

Non EU citizens travelling from Australia will now require a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency to enter Europe.

Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, Indonesia, Kuwait, New Zealand, Peru, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates and Uruguay remain in the EU’s top tier of countries that do not require vaccination.

It follows Norway, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Singapore restricting travel from Australia (Traveller). 

Australia is now ninth on the list of countries ranked by active cases per 100,000 people, surpassing both the US and UK (The Diplomat).

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A cynical and reactionary attempt by the Morrison Government to recraft the narrative around this government’s appalling record on gendered violence in the lead-up to a critical federal election.

Women for Australia founder Jess Lane thinks she has a pretty good idea why the Coalition only wanted to give two weeks of public consultation for the national plan to end violence against women and children (SBS).

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Postscript: Wanted — The Future King and Pub Manager of Piel Island

There are only two surviving buildings of any note: a crumbling 14th-century castle once used by Savignac monks to guard against marauding Scottish pirates, and the Ship Inn, a 300-year-old pub. Now, a local council is seeking one brave soul to oversee the latter. The position comes with a 10-year-lease and an unlikely title: King of Piel (Gastro Obscura).

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