Monday, September 07, 2020

Morrison reveals vaccine plan

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will today promote a $1.7 billion deal for a freely distributed Covid-19 vaccine from early 2021, pending the uncertain outcome of clinical drug trials. The supply and production agreement covers two vaccines, with the federal government securing 51 million doses of a University of Queensland vaccine still in early-phase stage 1 trials, and 33.8 million doses of an University of Oxford vaccine in phase 3 trials. The deal includes early access to 3.8 million doses of Oxford vaccine in January and February next year, with priority access expected for vulnerable people and front-line health workers. More than 95 per cent of the doses are expected to be manufactured in Australia. Both vaccines require an initial dose followed by a booster dose of the same vaccine within a week.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday unveiled the state’s road map to easing restrictions. Andrews announced that a nightly curfew in Melbourne, pushed back to between 9pm and 5am from September 14, will be extended until October 26. Limits on exercise and outdoor social interaction will be lifted from one hour to two, and people who live alone will be allowed a nominated visitor. From September 28, more restrictions will be eased, provided Covid-19 infections have been reduced to between 30 to 50 daily cases. The plan will allow up to five people from two different households to meet outdoors, the reopening of childcare and outdoor religious ceremonies with up to five people plus one faith leader. There will also be a staged reopening of schools and workplaces. On October 26 more restrictions on retail and hospitality will be lifted provided infection targets are met. Regional Victoria will follow a different timetable.

A plan flagged by the federal government to bring forward the next phase of income tax cuts would see 20 per cent of taxpayers secure 91 per cent of the benefits, according to analysis released today by The Australia Institute. The research suggests the bottom half of taxpayers would gain 4 per cent of the benefit from the second phase of income tax cuts. “A more effective way to stimulate the economy would be to invest heavily in direct employment programs or focus on supporting those who are doing it tough by maintaining or increasing the current rate of the jobseeker supplement,” the report concludes.

Australian Associated Press today launches a crowdfunding campaign, roughly one month after philanthropic investors took over the organisation and oversaw a programme of significant job cuts. AAP’s chief executive, Emma Cowdroy, told Guardian Australia revealed some clients have signed for “much shorter periods” as they may be “testing the service and they also know there is a new entrant coming into the market”. The new entrant is News Corp Australia’s inhouse newswire, NCA NewsWire, to be offered to non-Murdoch outlets once its non-compete clause ends in five months. The news comes as a new advertising campaign launched by Google has been accused of being “manipulative” over claims that regulations forcing it to pay media for content would fill search engines with junk results. 

World No. 1 ranked men’s tennis player Novak Djokovic has been disqualified from the US Open after hitting a lineswoman with a ball during his round 4 match with Pablo Carreno Busta. After his serve was broken in the first set, Djokovic struck a ball away in frustration — and although he was not facing the official, the ball hit her and she was bent double, left coughing and in need of medical help.

“Your life, and not only just your life, your legs — something that you need to move around and forward in life — can be taken from you like this, man.

The doctors, the Scientologists, and the journalist
A federal court has been re-examining controversial psychiatric treatments used in a Sydney hospital in the 1960s. The treatments drew the attention of the Church of Scientology, and led to a Royal Commission.


“‘We clean everything that is a touchpoint, then clean with a degreaser and again with chemicals, vacuum, then we fog the place,’ says Jack, a forensic cleaner. He specialises in homicides, meth labs, suicides, hoarders. And now Covid-19. Between each job, he cleans the inside of his van; when he comes home, his five-year-old has to wait. ‘No coming near me until I’m clean.’” 

“There is every indication the Coalition in Canberra hasn’t the stomach to go beyond the $100 billion it has already committed to keep a tapered JobKeeper wage subsidy in place until next March. Morrison and Frydenberg seem to have pushed their luck with some of the small-government ideologues within their ranks.”

“In our guide’s family there are several children. Every time one of them speaks Uighur at school, their parents are fined 200 yuan ($40, a good deal in this context). So far this year our guide’s family has had to pay 4800 yuan. Teachers who speak Uighur to their students are fired.”


“A joint statement from Mr Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was vitally important to ‘reopen our economy and reasonably restore the liberties of all Australians’ … The statement also focused on the economic cost of maintaining stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne and stage 3 restrictions across Victoria.”


“The costs to the Victorian economy that we all see are costs of the pandemic, not simply costs of the government-imposed lockdowns. Certainly, the lockdown contributes to the downturn, but if there was no lockdown there would be greater circulation of the virus, more Victorians requiring hospital treatment, and more deaths. These costs would be higher without a lockdown than with one.”


“Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley will introduce a bill, under the cover of Covid-19, to amend Howard’s EPBC Act and hand the power to the states – which are more vulnerable to the corporate sector – to approve mining, gas fracking, dam building, the rapid expansion of industrial fish farming and the invasion of national parks by private enterprise. She aims to wash her hands of the Commonwealth’s responsibility for environmental assessment and protection.”


“A Texas boat parade in support of US President Donald Trump's re-election campaign ran into trouble on Saturday, as multiple vessels took on water or sank, authorities said. The Travis County Sheriff's Office ‘responded to multiple calls involving boats in distress during the Trump parade on Lake Travis,’ it said on Twitter ... There was no evidence of foul play.”

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