Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Andrews defends lockdown targets

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has pushed back against federal criticism of his health safeguards road map, warning a premature easing of restrictions risks a third wave of Covid-19 infections. Andrews spoke to ABC’s 7:30 after Prime Minister Scott Morrison critiqued the plan by claiming Sydney would be under lockdown now if NSW set the same infection number targets as Victoria. Andrews rejected the comparison. “Given the amount of community transmission, the amount of mystery cases that we have now and that we've seen in Victoria, we need to get these numbers down to very low levels so that we can be confident that when we open up in a safe and steady way, we can stay open,” he said. Victoria recorded 41 new cases and nine deaths on Monday, while NSW recorded four cases. The federal criticism comes as Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack falsely characterised the Black Lives Matter protest in June as the cause of Victoria’s second wave on ABC’s Q&A

Leaked documents reveal Qantas developed a plan a decade ago to outsource all airport ground handling work by 2020, throwing into doubt its claim that a recent move to sack all 2400 remaining ground workers was related to the pandemic. The airline in August said that outsourcing Qantas and Jetstar baggage handling, aircraft cleaning and ground crew work to third-party contractors was “part of its COVID recovery plan”. But an internal company document from 2010 obtained by The Age shows that Qantas had a “2020 Vision” plan to make the move as a way to cut costs.

Former foreign minister Julie Bishop has criticised the Coalition's history of foreign aid cuts as “regrettable” in an op-ed article for the consultancy Palladium, of which she is a director. Bishop, who at times pushed back against the cuts in her former role, warned they “sent mixed messages about Australia's commitment as a partner” to South Pacific neighbours, and undermined influence in the region. The Abbott government cut foreign aid from about $5 billion in 2014 to about $4 billion. The overall aid budget has largely flatlined since then. 

Leading Belarussian opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova has gone missing, shortly after witnesses claimed she had been bundled into a vehicle in central Minsk by masked men. Police have denied detaining her according to a Russian news agency. Kolesnikova was one of three women who joined forces to challenge incumbent Alexander Lukashenko in August's contested presidential election. More than 600 people were arrested on Sunday, on the fourth consecutive weekend of anti-government protests across the country.

5 Reasons Facebook Is Ditching News (You Won't Believe Number 3)
After lobbying from the Murdoch press and Nine newspapers, the government is trying to force Google and Facebook to pay for journalism. The tech giants have responded by threatening to stop sharing news from Australian outlets.


“The federal government may be undermining its own efforts to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading in aged-care homes by only paying some workers in the sector to relinquish second jobs, while others can claim bonuses from multiple employers. A third group is receiving no extra support at all.”

“At least three writers have previously attempted to write McMahon’s biography, but all gave up in despair, not because the subject refused to cooperate but because he wouldn’t leave them alone. McMahon was, if nothing else, indefatigable. When Gough Whitlam was asked which quality he most admired in McMahon, he unhesitatingly nominated – in a rare moment of tact – his persistence.”


“At first glance it would be easy to mistake Route 59’s debut game title, Necrobarista, as a cynical joke at Melbourne’s expense. The game has all the Melbourne clichés: the coffee, the sarcasm, the rain. The darkness. Even the portmanteau title wouldn’t look out of place on a chalkboard on Degraves Street. But its narrative is a thoughtful meditation on grief and mortality, told with a sensitivity shot through with dark humour.”


“The well-known TV anchor simply stopped showing up at the state broadcaster, CGTN in Beijing, and her colleagues weren’t told why. At some point during that fortnight, any evidence she had worked for them was completely scrubbed from the internet. Meanwhile, Lei sat in a solitary suicide-proofed room where the lights are rarely if ever turned off, detained by Chinese authorities.”  


“Assange, clean-shaven and wearing a suit at Monday's hearing, formally declined to be extradited. He has been presented with a new, wider superseding indictment issued by US authorities in June, which contains 18 alleged offences of conspiring to hack government computers and espionage. The judge rejected his lawyers' application for the case to be adjourned until January to allow them more time to consider new US accusations.”


“When a January 30 raid of Weir’s Forest Lodge stables at Ballarat, by detectives from the police Sporting Integrity Intelligence Unit and members of Racing Victoria’s integrity team, discovered ‘jiggers’ – hand-held devices that give electric shocks – Everett was gobsmacked. Weir’s operation, which had grown to more than 600 horses and 150 staff, was one he associated with care, not cruelty.”


“But at a more moderate, localised level, worry can be useful. In Australian states prone to wildfires, for instance, researchers have found that constructive worry is associated with wildfire preparedness (as well as being on time). It’s been correlated with better academic performance and more attempts to quit smoking. And one study found that worry about climate change was the single strongest predictor of support for climate policies.”

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