Good morning, early birds. The World Health Assembly has formally adopted a resolution calling for an independent review into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and researchers call for a visa amnesty for undocumented workers in order to reduce the risk of infection clusters. It’s the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.
COVID INQUIRY PASSES
According to the ABC, the World Health Assembly has formally adopted a resolution calling for an independent review into the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the EU’s draft resolution passing without objection at a meeting in Geneva.
While China’s government added its name to the list, Beijing’s embassy in Canberra released a statement saying “to claim the WHA’s resolution a vindication of Australia’s call is nothing but a joke” because the inquiry being considered by the WHA was “totally different” to the one Australia proposed.
US AND THEM: After China engineered some goodwill with their dual US$2 billion/global vaccine pledge, The AFR ($) reports that the US both rejected provisions on pooling vaccine information — which will be crucial for poorer countries — and “disassociated” from references to “sexual and reproductive health”. Because that would mean supporting the right to abortion.
FEARS OF ‘CLUSTERS’ AMONGST UNDOCUMENTED WORKERS
A new report from Associate Professor Joanna Howe and Dr Ankur Singh for the United Workers Union finds undocumented workers are at a high risk of creating “new clusters of infection”, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
Researchers call for a visa amnesty to prevent up to 100,000 people working and living in cramped conditions — i.e. across farms during picking season — from facing a similar fate as Singapore’s migrant community in their now-infamous second wave.
AN ONGOING PROBLEM: While the call for an amnesty is not exactly new — see Inq’s analysis of how the current situation breeds exploitation — that undocumented migrants lack basic access to medical and legal support, let alone JobKeeper/Seeker, might be why the Undocumented Migrants COVID-19 Fund has managed to fundraise $65K during a de-facto recession.
MORRISON GOVERNMENT HAS SOMETHING IN THE PIPELINE
Finally, in case the government’s plan to expand its Emissions Reduction Fund to pay fossil fuel companies to increase emissions — an idea that came off a review headed by former fossil fuel company Origin Energy CEO Grant King — wasn’t on the nose enough, The AFR ($) reports that the Morrison government’s COVID-19 commission is considering a gas pipeline from Western Australia, boosted production in the eastern states, and even shifting energy-intensive manufacturing west as part of the country’s economic recovery.
STATE WRAP: MORE STIMULUS, UNIVERSITY SUPPORT, AND RENT RELIEF
- Queensland outlined the first stage of the state’s economic reset package, ‘The Queensland Economic Recovery Strategy: Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs‘, which includes $400m for road works, $200m for council and local jobs, a $100m Small Business Adaption Grants Program, and other funds aimed at tourism, biomedical science, training, energy and renewable hydrogen.
- Victoria announced a $350 million Higher Education State Investment Fund, to include funds for technology and infrastructure that “enables universities to conduct new research, commercialise intellectual property and create high-value jobs”, as well as $110 million in payroll tax deferrals for universities.
- Tasmania announced a ‘COVID-19 Rent Relief Fund’, which will ensure targeted support of up to $2000 or four weeks rent for all tenants, including temporary visa holders, suffering extreme hardship.
- As the ABC reports, NSW will also allow regional travel in the state for any reason, including holidays, from June 1.
- Both the Northern Territory and South Australia announced new hygiene training support for businesses, while SA also flagged a $500,000 eCommerce Accelerator Program (eCAP) will be launched for exporters.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
What is justice? Who can we prosecute for those deaths? Nobody. Nobody. Mother nature. God … Older people, vulnerable people are going to die from this virus. That is going to happen despite whatever you do.
In comments he’s since had to walk back somewhat, the Democratic Governor for New York calls for families of the more than 5,300 state nursing home residents who died from COVID-19 to cool it on the blame game.
Coincidentally, the announcement comes a week after public pressure forced Cuomo to reverse a decision to send patients still recovering from COVID-19 back to nursing homes.
“Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s focus on China’s handling of the coronavirus has garnered the support of Australia’s leading proponent of the QAnon conspiracy theory who tweets under the name Burn Notice.
“Last week Burn Notice — who is also a Morrison family friend — endorsed Morrison’s role in pushing for the inquiry by retweeting a post about it to his carefully-curated Twitter feed, where he has 35,000 followers.”
“Here’s how power works in an openly corrupt outfit like the Morrison government.
“An ‘Emissions Reduction Fund’ (ERF), dreamt up as political cover for the Coalition’s climate denialism, was so spectacularly unsuccessful at reducing emissions that the Coalition was embarrassed into reviewing it, tasking two former fossil fuel company executives to report back on ways it could be improved.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Chaos poll: JobKeeper Morrison v JobSeeker Albanese ($) — Paul Kelly (The Australian): “Australia should have a more rational debate than many other nations — but it will be contentious and bitter. Labor has begun to mark out its territory. Anthony Albanese wants JobKeeper to survive in ‘transition’ and ensure JobSeeker does not fall to the old Newstart rate. He wants support for an additional million casuals, a package for the arts and entertainment sector, and invokes ‘the power of government to make a positive difference to people’s lives’.”
Royal Commission needed into child removal crisis — Megan Krakouer and Gerry Georgatos (National Indigenous Times): “There is a cumulative swell of concern about an amendment Bill in front of the West Australian Parliament proposing changes to the Children and Community Services Act 2004. The proposed powers may affect all of Australia’s children who come to the attention of child protection authorities but, in effect, enable more powers over First Nations children, and then thereafter over Culturally and Language Diverse (CALD) children.”
COVID-19 has opened our eyes to the bigger picture when it comes to tech and kids — Joanne Orlando (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Prior to COVID-19, a key message that schools communicated to parents, students and the community is that technology is dangerous and unsafe for children. This message has become an ingrained part of school life, and this has been the entrenched approach schools have taken since the first desktop landed on a students’ desks.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Wheeler Centre will launch a new podcast mentorship and development scheme ‘Signal Boost,’ with audio producers Helen Zaltzman, Daniel Browning, Jess O’Callaghan and more to appear in an online broadcast hosted by ‘Broadwave’ co-founder Beth Atkinson-Quinton.