Friday, May 08, 2020

National cabinet mulls rollback

The national cabinet will meet today to consider a timetable for easing restrictions, as state premiers warn against relaxing measures too early. The meeting of federal, state and territory leaders will discuss a staged lifting of restrictions, potentially in four-week increments, to analyse whether each step causes a surge in infections. Limits on gatherings of public and private gatherings of people may be among the first to be eased. The states and territories will ultimately decide the pace at which they go, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews ruling out changes until May 11 at the earliest, and New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian warning restrictions already lifted needed time to be observed. Prime Minister Scott Morrison will attend the meeting after a Thursday night videoconference with the “First Movers COVID Group” – a collection of countries that responded quickly to the COVID-19 outbreak and are moving to ease measures. The group includes Austria, Greece and Singapore.  

Victoria police plan to assess a copy of the unredacted child abuse royal commission report findings relating to Cardinal George Pell, reports Guardian Australia. The commission concluded Pell was aware of children being sexually abused in the Archdiocese of Ballarat. In a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, Pell said he was “surprised by some of the views of the royal commission about his actions”. Meanwhile, the ABC reports that a federal parliamentary committee is urging states and territories to shame institutions that refuse to sign up to the National Redress Scheme for victims of child abuse by detailing the levels of public funding the organisations receive and naming senior officials.

The Australian government has determined that a “dossier” claiming the Covid-19 virus may have originated in a Wuhan lab is not a Five Eyes intelligence document. Guardian Australia reports that the deputy chair of the Australian parliament’s intelligence and security committee, Labor MP Anthony Byrne, has been co-ordinating with the intelligence community and senior members of the government in pushing back against US government claims without causing a diplomatic rift. He has argued a dossier publicised in News Corp publications was designed to influence Australia to act against its national interest on the basis of non-existent intelligence.

The AFL is investigating the Adelaide Crows over a reported breach of a ban on training in groups, after 16 players returning from interstate undertook quarantine together at a Barossa Valley resort. The breach comes as the league prepares for a potential season restart in mid-June. The NRL is set to resume on May 28, with a raft of players objecting to a flu vaccine given 48 hours to sign a waiver or face a ban. 


“Professor Kadambot Siddique of the University of Western Australia’s Institute of Agriculture says bioenergy should be derived from agricultural waste that would be going to landfill anyway, rather than from purpose-grown crops. ‘I’m absolutely against burning food-quality grains for fuel, whether that’s canola or maize,’ he says. Taylor’s road map, however, has raised concerns about the prospect of crops being planted solely for biofuel … while also employing a broad definition of bioenergy that includes the burning of waste plastics.”


“Right now our newspapers – accessed online, like so much else – are filled with helpful and presumably encouraging dispatches from the creative sector, meditations in the present emergency ... Patrick Stewart has been reading a Shakespeare sonnet a day on social media. Billie Eilish performed an acoustic set from her couch. Which is nice of them, I guess. But at the end of the day, the world’s still in lockdown. And my dad’s still dead.”


“The worst part of madness is that it hurts other people. These are the kindest words that can be said about Clive Palmer’s newspaper ads, claiming he has bought 32.9 million doses of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. Quite unnecessarily the ads say they were ‘Authorised by Clive Palmer’. It’s quaint that he believes the electoral commission would care. Perhaps he doesn’t realise that the $83.7 million he spent at the last election won him no seats. Perhaps in this game of dress-ups it doesn’t matter. Some children write ‘™’ on their drawings because they’ve seen the trademark symbol on cereal boxes.”


“Weakening household income, reduced population growth and subdued demand will depress the housing market by 10 per cent, according to ANZ. The revised forecast, brought ahead by coronavirus shutdown measures, is a sharp reversal from ANZ's January forecast of 8 per cent dwelling price growth this year.”


“Unfortunately, the Swinburne University report suggests the opposite may be true ... crises such as the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) that produced major falls in dwelling prices in many countries (less so Australia) did not create a return to home ownership. The research points to weakened household income, and purchasers being outbid by investors for available finance, as reasons for a reduction in housing affordability despite large falls in house prices.”


“A Queensland father and son relied on elaborate disguises while on the run for more than a year after allegedly ripping off hundreds of thousands of dollars from boot scooters in a line-dancing holiday scam … The Jenkins allegedly used trust built up in the line-dancing community through 15 years of participation at events to lure their clients into parting with their cash.”

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