Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Victorian spike threatens border reopenings

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has flagged that the lifting of state borders within Australia will delay reopening international travel between the two countries, as Victorian cases continue to surge. Ardern on Monday said New Zealand would only open borders to places that have border controls in place to areas with community transmission. “Ultimately it's up to Australia to decide whether or not they'll go for a whole of country approach, or a state-by-state approach,” she said. New Zealand may instead pivot to reopening to other Pacific countries. While most Australian states have no recent reported community transmission, Victoria recorded another 75 cases on Monday, largely locally acquired. The Queensland Government will today decide on whether to continue with plans to reopen the border, and South Australia is also reconsidering a timetable for easing restrictions on travel with Victoria. Meanwhile, the European Union is preparing to open its borders to travellers from 14 countries including Australia on July 1, but Australia will maintain tight restrictions on international travel by its own citizens, with exemptions for reasons including compassionate care.

The Australian Associated Press newswire has been sold to a philanthropic consortium led by Nick Harrington and John McKinnon. The deal was signed a day before the end of the subscription of majority shareholders News Corp and Nine, and will see the AAP Newswire retain 85 editorial positions and relaunch on August 1, but job losses are expected. It comes as the federal government announces it will give community television stations including Melbourne’s Channel 31 and Adelaide’s Channel 44 an extra year to transition to online delivery.

Liberal MPs Warren Entsch and Craig Kelly have claimed to Guardian Australia that the $1500 fortnightly jobkeeper payment had caused workers to refuse shifts, echoing Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s messaging on Monday that JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments have resulted in Australians choosing not to work. News Corp publications are today pushing the message, with The Australian reporting National Skills Commission data shows one in five businesses are seeking to hire, and that a lack of applicants is among the hiring challenges. Meanwhile, new research from credit bureau illion and economics analysis firm AlphaBeta finds spending by low-income earners during the downturn has sustained the Australian economy

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today announce $1.35 billion in existing defence funding over the next decade is to be reallocated to the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Cyber Security Centre. The boost to cybersecurity, which could create 500 jobs, follows Morrison’s warning earlier this month of escalating cyber attacks from a sophisticated “state-based” hacker that Australian authorities suspect to be China. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said $12 million would be spent on “active disruption” options to protect Australians, including allowing “major telecommunications providers to prevent malicious cyber activity from reaching millions of Australians by blocking known malicious websites and computer viruses at speed”.


“According to security sources, Australia is currently the subject of a major Chinese cyber hoovering exercise, one designed to map the entire country’s corporate, government, academic, political and social structures and networks. The Saturday Paper understands there is no sign the exercise is aimed at disabling specific targets but rather at mapping relationships between people and organisations for future use.”


“The result was a suburban gang war that would result in the murder of five people and the imprisonment of seven others, and three would be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. It also highlighted disturbing attitudes in the policing of underworld crime, and the extent to which the law is willing to not only absolve some dangerous criminals in the pursuit of eye-catching convictions, but to pay them for it.”


“‘This is a genuine offer,’ Anthony Albanese said of his plea to Scott Morrison to join him in ending Australia’s energy wars once and for all. But it’s hard to call it a truce when one side concedes nothing. There’s another word for that kind of deal.”


“The million jobs plan outlines a job creation framework for the next five years based on ... the implementation of a national housing retrofit program for low-income households and the building of 150,000 new zero-energy social housing dwellings.”


“First, the hotspots have some of the highest rates of housing precarity and financial hardship across Melbourne. People in overcrowded or unaffordable or insecure housing may have less control over their immediate environment and less capacity to isolate themselves than other community members.”


“As libraries begin to reopen around the country, patrons are excited to get back to borrowing books—but they’re also still nervous about COVID-19, which is understandable. At least some of them have been ‘getting creative’ in their attempts to protect themselves, prompting at least one public library in Michigan to officially ask that their borrowers refrain from microwaving their books. Because they will catch on fire.”

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