Friday, July 31, 2020

PM, Andrews hold crisis talks

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews held crisis talks overnight regarding new health safeguards in Victoria, after the state registered a record 723 new Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths.  A total of 10 of those deaths were associated with private aged-care facilities, with growing reports of mistreatment of residents, as well as inadequate staffing and personal protective equipment. Ahead of the discussion, Morrison warned that aged-care facilities could have their accreditation altered if they failed to use PPE. The Herald Sun reports the national medical expert panel is understood to have considered the need for a New Zealand-style lockdown, which saw the closure of almost all business. As cases rise in regional Victoria, Andrews ordered that requirements for mandatory face masks be expanded from Monday beyond Melbourne to include the entire state. In addition, residents of Greater Geelong, Colac Otway, Surf Coast, Moorabool, Golden Plains and the Borough of Queenscliffe are now banned from hosting visitors.

The ABC reports that an Australian Border Force officer allowed 2700 people to disembark the Ruby Princess cruise ship, after misinterpreting negative test results for the common flu as negative tests for Covid-19. The ABF only realised the mistake more than 30 hours after passengers had left the ship and later the ABF did not deny that the mistake was made, but claimed that it did not possess “authority to make biosecurity decisions in relation to the Ruby Princess”. New South Wales on Thursday recorded 18 new cases.

Gymnastics Australia has ordered an independent review into its own “culture and practices” following abuse allegations from high-profile gymnasts. In a statement on Thursday, chief executive Kitty Chiller said “many of those experiences are quite simply not acceptable”. The review will be conducted by the Australian Human Rights Commission and is due for completion early next year. In one example, former Commonwealth Games silver medallist and three-time world champion Mary-Anne Monckton posted on Facebook that “I, like so many others, have experienced body shaming, have had food withheld, been yelled at until I cried (even as an adult athlete, which is downright embarrassing), and been manipulated and 'forced' to do things that I was not physically ready for or capable of doing, which ultimately led to career-ending injuries.” 

The United States economy contracted at a 32.9 per cent annualised rate from April to June, its worst quarterly drop on record. The Gross Domestic Product drop was nearly four times worse than during the peak of the financial crisis. It comes as Germany’s GDP plunged 10 per cent in the second quarter, the worst result since 1970. The dire economic figures come as United States President Donald Trump called for the US election to be delayed beyond November, making unsubstantiated claims that increased postal votes due to Covid-19 would lead to mass voter fraud. He has no authority to delay the election, but the claims have fuelled concerns he will refuse to accept the election result.


“Perhaps the main concern for public health officials is that the mask directive will result in ‘risk compensation’ – where the perceived benefits of a new intervention prompt the relaxation of more vital protective behaviours. This is particularly important in the setting of lockdown fatigue, where people may be eager for a justification to be less strict than they were during the first lockdown on staying at home, physical distancing, hand hygiene and getting tested.”


“That the criminal law applies to everyone equally is a conceit because, whatever else it is, the criminal law has always been a weapon wielded by the hegemonic classes against those whose behaviours and attitudes mark them as ‘out of control’. Criminal law is necessary, sometimes. But against 10-year-old kids?”


“Phil could feel himself sweating. The man’s voice was enough to make him mad. It was so pathetic. Imagine dedicating your life to this grotesque pageantry, he thought, and the more cruel things he thought about the ‘magician’ the better he felt, until he was barely listening to or watching the show, but instead was revelling in his own fury, his loathing and disgust letting loose in the dark.”


“Queensland’s multicultural community leaders are calling on the state government to help them make crucial messaging available in languages other than English. In the City of Logan, south of Brisbane, anxiety is rising after two Covid-19 cases were detected in the area. Almost a quarter of people in the area speak a language other than English at home.”


“The Queensland Human Rights Commission has been contacted by members of Brisbane’s African migrant communities who say they have experienced a backlash to media stories naming and shaming young women accused of breaching coronavirus restrictions ... McDougall said identifying the women did nothing to help curb a potential outbreak or to bring the community together to help do that … ‘We cannot allow this to create a second wave of Covid-related racial hostility,’ he said.”


“Domino’s Pizza has dropped a promotion offering free pizza to women named Karen after it was met with a backlash. In recent years, the name ‘Karen’ has been used as an insult to describe white middle-aged women who are perceived to be obnoxious or racist. The pizza franchise’s New Zealand arm initially said it wanted to give ‘nice Karens’ a break from negativity. But some said it was tone-deaf, ignored more important issues, and ‘rewarded privilege’.”

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