Prime Minister Scott Morrison is eyeing social media safeguards against abuse of women online, but has refused to push for the expulsion of a backbencher accused of online harassment. Tougher rules for social media companies that facilitate abuse of women online is one example of the policies to be considered by a new ministerial taskforce focused on women’s issues, following a cabinet reshuffle that created a host of new female-focused portfolios. It comes as Morrison on Monday refused to push for the expulsion of backbencher Andrew Laming from the Coalition despite his online harassment of women. Laming is now facing a police inquiry over allegedly taking a photo of a woman at her workplace in a compromising position, with the woman and a male co-worker making a formal complaint on Monday. Upskirting is a criminal offence punishable by up to three years in prison. Laming told ABC radio on Monday that the photo attempted to show someone trying to fit an impossible amount of stock into a refrigerator. “She was playing a game of Tetris trying to get every possible can in the fridge,” he said.
Greater Brisbane has been plunged into a three-day snap lockdown from 5pm on Monday, after the state recorded a further four locally acquired infections. The lockdown includes the Ipswich, Logan, Redlands, Moreton and Brisbane council areas. People in Greater Brisbane will only be able to leave their homes for essential reasons like grocery shopping, exercise, work and medical care. Masks will be mandatory on public transport and in any location indoors except for home, with exemptions for relevant medical issues and for strenuous exercise. Looser restrictions apply to the rest of the state. Most states and territories have closed their borders to Greater Brisbane ahead of the Easter long weekend, although NSW is only recommending against travel there.
Federal Opposition leader Anthony Albanese is today unveiling a promise to establish a $15 billion “national reconstruction fund” if Labor wins the next election. Albanese will say the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted weaknesses in local manufacturing and that Australia needs to ensure it can support itself in the future. The fund would operate in a similar fashion to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), with an independent board making decisions about how to invest the initial $15 billion. The fund’s remit would include processing of rare earth minerals; car, train and ship manufacturing; and medical supplies. The announcement comes ahead of the ALP’s two-day special platform conference in Revesby, in south-west Sydney.
Shipping traffic through Egypt’s Suez Canal has resumed at last after a gargantuan container ship that blocked the waterway for almost a week was refloated. After dredging and excavation work over the weekend, tugboats waited until the peak of high tide to wrench the bulbous bow of the 400m-long ship from the canal’s sandy bank. “She’s free,” an official involved in the salvage operation said. The salvage team pulled the vessel towards the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south end of the canal. It is expected to take 10 days to clear the backlog of hundreds of waiting vessels. Dozens of ships instead opted to take a 5000km detour around the Cape of Good Hope.