Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Community sport faces mass closure

A new survey reveals community sporting clubs require more than $1 billion in support to survive the Covid-19 crisis, as fresh revelations emerge in the sports rort saga. An Australian Sports Foundation survey found nearly a quarter of the country's 70,000 community clubs face being wound up if they do not receive support within six months, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. In one example, Sydney rugby league club Bondi United has been hit by the loss of registration fees and sponsorship as well as a shortage of volunteers to help carry out Covid-19 safety measures. It comes as Guardian Australia reports that the Senate inquiry on sports grants has found at least six community sport infrastructure grants were approved by former sport minister Bridget McKenzie in 2019 despite Sports Australia not even receiving an application form. Five more applications were approved without meeting the score to be recommended for funding, including $235,000 for a synthetic green at Westbury Bowls Club in Tasmania.

Some security guards were hired to work as independent contractors at Victorian quarantine hotels through WhatsApp messages, with some unaware of who they were actually working for. According to the ABC, Shayla Shakshi received a WhatsApp message offering her work as a quarantine security guard in Melbourne. “And I'm like, I don't know what you guys are, what company, nothing,” she said. “I just got told that you need to be here at a certain time and you're going to dress in a certain way and this is your pay rate. That's it.” She added there was no infection-control training at all for her first day. The quarantine hotels are linked to outbreaks in Victoria, where 374 new cases and three deaths were recorded on Tuesday. Rules for mandatory face masks apply from 11.59pm tonight. Tight new restrictions came into force overnight on the Victoria-NSW border, with the latter announcing 13 new cases on Tuesday. 

Charities and social advocates have criticised the federal government’s reduction of the JobSeeker welfare payment from $1100 down to $800 per fortnight, warning it will dump thousands back into poverty. Homelessness Australia fears the cut “will result in a huge increase in homelessness”, and expressed particular concern at the possibility of the Covid-19 boost being phased out entirely at the end of the year. Treasury projections suggest that 2.1 million Australians will be taken off the JobKeeper payment by December, under tightened eligibility requirements announced yesterday. From September 28, JobKeeper subsidies will fall from $1500 to $1200 a fortnight for full-time workers and $750 a fortnight for part-time workers. 

The federal government’s expert security strategy panel has released a report calling for Australia to consider imposing sanctions on nations linked to mass cyber attacks. According to The Australian, the report makes 60 recommendations including 25 priority actions, amid accusations that China is waging cyber attacks against Australia. The news comes as five Australian warships join up with the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and a Japanese destroyer for a “trilateral exercise” in the Philippine Sea. The exercises come as the US Defence Secretary Mark Esper accuses China of exploiting the pandemic to tighten control of the nearby South China Sea. An Australian defence contractor is among those targeted by two Chinese hackers, according to a US Justice Department indictment.


“The government erected temporary fencing around the tower block on Saturday to provide residents with space to exercise. But many residents saw the move as dehumanising ... Rukia says many residents are from war-torn countries and suffer from depression, anxiety and PTSD. She says the fences – which she describes as cages – would have triggered pre-existing trauma for many of them. ‘They use words like detainment and refer to us as detainees, and the fact that they just put cages around us affirms the fact that we are prisoners,’ she says.”


“It’s 3am and I’m awake – again. It’s no exaggeration to say that my work as a climate scientist now routinely keeps me up at night. I keep having dreams of being inundated. Huge, monstrous waves bearing down on me in slow motion ... I watch as a colossal tsunami builds offshore. I panic, immediately sensing that I don’t stand a chance. I watch the horizon disappear, before turning to bolt to higher ground. Around me, people are calmly going about their business.”


“When the sprawling Star casino, controversially exempted from Sydney’s lockout laws, is similarly given a pass on the state’s renewed restrictions on pubs, people notice. When temporary visa holders and international students are lining up at food banks, the appearance of togetherness begins to fray. Likewise, when childcare workers are the first people cut off from JobKeeper payments, after months spent risking their health to free up others to work.”


“Jeff Bezos added $13 billion to his net worth on Monday, the largest single-day jump for an individual since the Bloomberg Billionaires Index was created in 2012 ... Bezos, Amazon’s 56-year-old founder and the world’s richest person, has seen his fortune swell $74 billion in 2020 to $189.3 billion, despite the U.S. entering its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. He’s now personally worth more than the market valuation of giants such as Exxon Mobil Corp., Nike Inc. and McDonald’s Corp.”


“Eighty-three millionaires from seven countries (sadly, none of them from Australia) called on their governments to ‘raise taxes on people like us. Immediately. Substantially. Permanently.’ This is necessary, they said, to solve problems ‘caused, and revealed, by Covid-19’ that, in their view ... ‘can’t be solved with charity, no matter how generous.’”


“Photos of Mark Zuckerberg surfing in Hawaii, his face white with a layer of sunscreen, has given the internet a canonical entry into the historical ledger of Zuck's looks. ‘This image is what we refer to in the field of Zuckerberg Studies as a “rare Zuck”: a scene on one hand depicting a regular dude making sure he doesn't get sunburn, and on the other hand capturing something far stranger and darker: the sunken eyes, the mask-like visage, the expensive next-gen electric surfboard,’ said Tim Hwang ... editor of the California Review of Images and Mark Zuckerberg, an academic examination of the visual culture of Zuckerberg.”

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