Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Hotel security firm covers tracks

A security company attempted to cover up a potential breach of its hotel quarantine agreement with the Victorian Government, according to leaked correspondence. An email obtained by the ABC’s 7.30 suggests Wilson Security failed to inform at least one of its subcontractors of its obligations, and attempted to conceal this by asking the subcontractor to backdate documents nine weeks after it had hired guards. It comes as a Four Corners investigation detailed unhygienic conditions inside the hotels, a lack of protection for guards, and guards sleeping on the job. Reports last week indicate the source of Victoria’s outbreak, linked to a further 25 deaths yesterday, was a night shift manager not a guard. Four Corners also revealed that repeated requests for extra staff at Victoria’s Epping Gardens Aged Care home, the site of Australia's largest aged care outbreak, went unanswered by federal and state government agencies. Similar pleas were also ignored during outbreaks in New South Wales. An inquiry into Victoria’s hotel quarantine system continues today. 

Google on Monday launched a campaign sending pop-up messages to Australian users of its search engine warning of “dramatically worse” services if a draft code of conduct comes into place forcing it to pay for Australian news content. In the message Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Mel Silva claimed the regulation would give an “unfair advantage” to media businesses over small businesses. “The proposed changes are not fair and they mean that Google Search results and YouTube will be worse for you,” the letter said. Today similar alerts will be issued to visitors of YouTube. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said the message contained “misinformation” about the code. "Google will not be required to charge Australians for the use of its free services such as Google Search and YouTube unless it chooses to do so,” the ACCC said.  

A company that hired former defence minister Christopher Pyne as an adviser secured two federal government grants worth nearly $7 million to develop Australia’s space capabilities, reports Guardian Australia. Saber Astronautics was the recipient of two government grants announced in June, including a $6 million grant to establish a mission control centre in Adelaide. Shadow industry minister Brendan O’Connor wrote to industry minister Karen Andrews last week asking how the grant was awarded, and whether the minister was aware that Saber had engaged Pyne’s business. Andrews said Pyne did not lobby in relation to the grants.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said on Monday he was ready to share power, following sustained nationwide protests against contested election results. His apparent concession came after exiled presidential candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said she was willing to lead the country. Lukashenko faced heckling from workers at a factory he visited in Minsk on Monday, with people chanting “step down” as he tried to answer their questions. He told workers on Monday there would be no new presidential election unless he was killed, but he was willing to share power and change the constitution.


“On the night before he died, Daniel Harvey looked off-colour. Grey was how a friend described him. Harvey had seemed unwell for a few days, and his friend noticed the pallor as the 46-year-old fronted up to receive his evening dose of medication from the nurse at the Melbourne Immigration Transit Accommodation (MITA) centre in Broadmeadows, on Melbourne’s northern rim, where both were being detained. Someone asked Harvey if he was all right. He said he was.”


“The report by the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess reveals serial negligence and incompetence on every level: individual and corporate, private and public, state and federal. Just about everyone who was anywhere near the accursed ship when it docked in Sydney, with its cargo of misery and disease, managed to stuff up in one way or another – usually both.”


“The same week Sussan Ley refused to give protection to the Djab Wurrung trees, she gave special heritage status to the Parkes radio telescope. This is how culture is preserved in Australia.”


“Albanese will be aware that many people, right now, don't feel they hear much from Labor. And, as I've written before, it's understandable: since December, the nation has been dealing with crisis. Debate is out, action is in, and ferocious attacks on the Prime Minister don't match the mood. But politics doesn't wait. The realisation most of us have come to these past weeks, that the virus will be sticking around, will force Albanese to ask the question: when, exactly, will the moment arrive when attack seems reasonable?”


“Anthony Albanese is facing a ­partyroom revolt after Bill Shorten sided with senior Labor MPs Joel Fitzgibbon, Matt Keogh and Kim Carr in declaring gas and lower energy prices as crucial in protecting Australia’s manufacturing sector and jobs. Mr Shorten — a longtime leadership rival of Mr Albanese who pledged $1.5bn to unlock gas supply and pipelines ahead of last year’s election — said Australia’s shift to renewable energy would require transitionary baseload ­energy sources, of which gas would play a key role.”


“Pan figured he’d exercise his 2nd amendment rights in order to protect himself and others. To accomplish that, he built a pneumatic cannon capable of firing a mask at a person’s face.”

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