Thursday, February 11, 2021

Victoria outbreak linked to nebuliser

South Australia has implemented a hard border closure on Greater Melbourne overnight, as a Covid-19 cluster linked to the use of a nebuliser at the Holiday Inn hotel grows to eight. With a further two cases identified late yesterday afternoon, Victorian authorities have pinned the outbreak on a guest using a medical device for asthma sufferers that would have had them exhaling up to 10,000 times more aerosol particles than is normal, allowing more droplets for the virus to attach itself to. Australian Medical Association Victorian president Julian Rait said the fact a small aerosol cloud could spread outside hotel rooms, infecting staff and guests, suggested “worryingly inadequate ventilation controls” and noted the theory did not explain recent cases at other quarantine hotels. Experts have called for personal protective equipment for hotel staff on par with workers in high-risk Covid hospital wards. SA’s snap border closure means people who have been in Melbourne are not allowed to enter unless they are a returning resident or meet other special conditions.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s office fast-tracked an $880,000 grant proposal to the National Retail Association just over a week after the organisation made a $1500 political donation to the Queensland Liberal National Party at an event Dutton attended. The 2018 donation was for the purpose of personally supporting Dutton, reports the ABC, with a further undated $5000 donation during the 2019 reporting period also listed as “support for Peter Dutton”. Legal experts say that Dutton’s intervention in pushing the “national security and criminal justice” grant for the retail group may give rise to a perceived conflict of interest, which could be considered a breach of Prime Minister Scott Morrison's ministerial standards.

McDonald’s has called for the Fair Work Commission to consider non-monetary benefits such as the free food it provides employees when determining if a pay deal leaves workers better off. In a submission to the Senate inquiry on the Coalition’s industrial relations omnibus bill, the fast food giant pushed for even greater emphasis on benefits beyond monetary rewards, such as free chicken nuggets, when deciding whether to approve a pay deal. The Victorian Trades Hall Council conversely submitted that by allowing consideration of non-monetary benefits the bill would “water down the principal function of the [Better Off Overall Test] to the detriment of workers and work conditions across all industries”.

The federal government should overhaul water policy agreements with the states to explicitly recognise climate change, according to the Productivity Commission’s draft report on national water reform. The review of the National Water Initiative found it is outdated and needs reform to explicitly recognise that climate change will challenge existing agreements on sharing water between states. The report also calls for more integration of recycled water and stormwater, and more focus to be placed on the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities controlling and managing their own water resources.

Eddie McGuire’s gone but Australia’s racism problem isn’t
Eddie McGuire’s resignation as the president of Collingwood is the culmination of a decades-long story of racism at the club. But the story isn’t just about Collingwood, the AFL or even sport. Today, Daniel James on how racism in sport can’t be divorced from racism across our society.

“Tim Wilson wants you to buy a house. This idea is central to his campaign to reshape compulsory superannuation. The Liberal backbencher says that if people could use the money in their super account – all of it, if necessary – they might be able to fund the deposit for a first home … Wilson has created a website for what he calls ‘Home First Super Second’. It carries a video of the MP spruiking his position, as well as a form to collect names and home and email addresses. He includes a link to the site in almost every social media post he makes.”

“Pratt Holdings, the umbrella organisation for Pratt’s various enterprises, including Visy Industries, donated $1.3 million to the Liberals and $250,000 to the Nationals ... According to Centre for Public Integrity director Geoffrey Watson, the need for reform is increasingly urgent. ‘It’s a cliché but we’re at a crossroads,’ he says. ‘If we don’t fix this now, we might go down the path the Americans have gone. The last US election they spent $14 billion and [most] of that came from the wealthiest 1 per cent. Do we want that?’”

“‘In your life as a magician, you get really good at deceiving people,’ says James Galea. ‘That’s your world. It’s your job. Then you have this thing that you’re told needs to be a secret, and that becomes part of your life. It can be really hard to distinguish the two.’ In last year’s autobiographical musical, POOF! Secrets of a Magician, Galea explored these blurred lines and reckoned with how his sexuality has shaped his work. One song wondered aloud: Are all magicians gay?”

“Closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras will be installed on the streets of Burnie, Somerset and Wynyard as part of a federal government safety program. Federal Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the federal government would allocate $134,000 to Waratah-Wynyard Council and $60,000 to the Burnie City Council from the Safer Communities Fund.”

“Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton personally slashed millions in grant funding from organisations that were strongly recommended by his department to improve community safety  ... Dutton also used the funds to support grants for two councils — in the lead up to a by-election in a highly marginal seat — that his department recommended should not be funded at all.  On July 16, 2018, Mr Dutton announced security camera funding for Waratah-Wynyard Council and Burnie City Council.”

“Zac is waiting restlessly outside my local fish and chip shop. He’s taken his box-bag off his shoulders and has it open, ready to receive an Uber Eats order with maximum efficiency ... Uber pays him between $6 and $8 per delivery, depending on the distance he has to cycle, though he doesn’t know exactly how Uber calculates the fee. He explains that he has ‘lucky hours’ when he makes two, sometimes three deliveries, but most of his day is spent waiting around for a delivery request. Waiting, and not earning.”

“A Texas attorney showed up to a video court hearing unable to remove the adorable, big-eyed kitten filter on his Zoom account, but he didn't let that stop him from his official business. ‘I’m prepared to go forward with it,’ attorney Rod Ponton told the judge while explaining that he and his assistant were struggling to remove the filter … ‘I'm not a cat.’”

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