New concerns surround the government’s increased use of legislative powers to bypass the parliament and create laws that cannot be amended or overturned. The federal government has embedded special powers in new Covid-19 laws to make unilateral changes to non-pandemic-related legislation, using what are known as ‘Henry VIII clauses’ – named for the unchecked power they involve.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says remote area mining camps and hotels are being identified to potentially quarantine more evacuees from the coronavirus outbreak in China. Dutton said he worried “whether we face the prospect of trying to assist people to depart literally in the thousands” from China, exceeding the capacity at the Christmas Island detention centre. There are 35 more evacuees en route to Christmas Island via New Zealand, where they were taken on a charter flight from Wuhan. They will join 238 Australians already at the facility.
Australian cases: Australia’s 14th case of coronavirus was identified in Queensland, with a 37-year-old man from Wuhan currently isolated at the Gold Coast University Hospital. He is from the same tour group as three other people in the state who have tested positive to the virus. Two Australian citizens on board a quarantined cruise liner in Japan were flown to a hospital after contracting coronavirus, with more than 200 Australians still on board the ship. A newborn baby in Wuhan was confirmed to have the virus, raising fears it can be passed from mother to child. The response to the virus is having a growing impact on the global economy.
Burns ineffective: Hazard reduction burns had little to no effect in slowing the unprecedented fires that burned more than 5 million hectares across New South Wales this summer, according to a University of Melbourne analysis. Patrick Baker, a professor of silviculture and forest ecology, told Guardian Australia the practice did not “seem to have done much at all” when faced with such large, aggressive fires, and is better used as part of a risk-based system designed to help protect chosen assets rather than mandated by arbitrary targets that could lead to useless burns. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested he may introduce national standards for states to carry out a specific amount of hazard reduction per year.
US politics: The Iowa Democratic Party has released results from 71 per cent of precincts in the state’s caucus to choose the Democratic nominee for the US presidential election, after an apparent technical problem that led to no results being available on the day of the election. The results show Pete Buttigieg with a narrow lead over Bernie Sanders in state delegates but Sanders ahead in the popular vote. The Republican-majority Senate is expected to vote to acquit United States President Donald Trump in his impeachment trial today. The chamber's 47 Democrats will fall far short of the 67 votes needed for a guilty verdict, with just one Republican senator, the former Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney, expected to vote in favour of convicting the president for withholding aid from Ukraine so the country would investigate his political opponent.