Good morning early birds. Australia and The EU gather support for an independent probe into the origins of COVID-19, and The Greens prepare to launch their post-COVID recovery plan. It’s the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.
SUPPORT FOR INDEPENDENT INQUIRY
The European Union and Australia have amassed support from over 60 other countries for an independent inquiry into the origins of the novel coronavirus ahead of today’s World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva.
As the ABC reports, the EU motion — which does not specifically mention China or Wuhan — calls on the WHO to work with the World Organisation for Animal Health to “identify the zoonotic source of the virus and the route of introduction to the human population, including the possible role of intermediate hosts”. The US has yet to sign on.
TAIWAN VOTE: Today’s meeting will also include a vote on whether Taiwan is admitted as an observer to the WHA, which, as Nikkei Asian Review reports, is unlikely to go Taipei’s way but will demonstrate a significant global push against China’s insistence on “One China” representation.
THE GREENS’ POST-COVID PLAN
The Greens will today launch a post-COVID recovery plan, ‘Invest To Recovery’, to guarantee anyone under 30 a job, better income, or a free place at university or TAFE.
- $24 billion over 10 years for public education
- almost 900,000 jobs building renewable energy infrastructure in the public and private sectors
- $60 billion to revive domestic manufacturing and processing
- $25 billion in public transport
- a $6 billion nature fund
- a $2.3 billion entertainment and creative industries fund to put artists into every school and library in Australia and pay for festivals, films and live performances
- maintaining the current, above-poverty JobSeeker rate of $1100 a fortnight
Last week, the party also signed on to a global call from US Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar to forgive student debt in the face of the global recession.
PS: With the ACTU also calling for a $30-a-week boost to the minimum wage, The Age reports that the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia has argued any increase to wages during the pandemic will only drive unemployment.
‘WE’LL PROBS GO THE OPPOSITE WAY’: MORRISON
Scott Morrison has flagged a new, distinctly less “rigid” industrial compact between workers, employers, unions and government in an interview with The Australian ($).
While Morrison spoke optimistically about continuing constructive work with unions, he hit out at Labor’s trying to “undermine” JobKeeper — i.e. them attempting to include universities and casuals — and apparent rhetoric for “driving up wages artificially, higher taxes, and big spending programs”.
POLL POSITION: The news comes as the Coalition jumps to a post-COVID Newspoll ($) high of 51-49, while Labor leader Anthony Albanese claws back a whopping single point trailing Morrison in preferred PM 26-59.
- Both Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and South Australian Premier Steven Marshall have, as The ABC and The Advertiser ($) report, rebuffed calls from NSW ministers to reopen their states’ borders.
- Victoria will today announce a $2.7 billion “building blitz” package, which The Age reports will include $500 million directed at new and upgraded social housing. Over the weekend, the state also announced:
- According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the NSW government is planning pop-up car parks and bike lanes in Sydney’s CBD amongst a fear that eased restrictions will lead to overcrowding on public transport.
- Additionally, SBS reports that NSW has become the final state/territory to announce targeted support for international students with a $20 million temporary housing scheme
- For comparison, that package is less than half of Victoria’s $45 million scheme, which includes cash payments of up to $1100 (which The Age reports is yet to flow to students).
- Ahead of the alternative Territory Day celebration, the NT government launched MusicNT’s listener poll ‘Territory Sounds Countdown‘, to open June 1.
- As The NT News ($) reports, the territory government will today release a mandatory safety checklist ahead of businesses reopening on June 5.
- ACT has announced a temporary driver licensing scheme to automatically extend any learner licences by 12 months if they were otherwise due to expire between 23 March 2020 and 1 January 2021.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
People will die. People do die. People my age die … People have to take responsibility for their own lives.
While Fennebresque might come off as a little callous, Vanity Fair wants us to know that the Wall Street investment banker is an at-risk, 70 years old smoker who has had double pneumonia three times (not mentioned: a net worth of at least $2.5 million dollars).
“The government’s proposed scheme to enable foreign intelligence services to spy on Australians will enable Australia’s intelligence agencies to circumvent measures designed to protect journalists from unfettered pursuit of their sources.
“Labor’s Mark Dreyfus yesterday exposed the loophole, with Home Affairs officials left unable and unwilling to explain why their minister Peter Dutton was proposing a runaround on existing procedures designed to protect journalists’ sources.”
“Indicative bids for Virgin Australia are due in today, after which administrator Deloitte and its advisers from Morgan Stanley will give three to five consortia the green light to proceed through to the final round next month.
“Certain to receive a ticket to ride are the Melbourne-based private equity firm BGH led by Ben Gray, the son of former Tasmanian Liberal premier Robin Gray; and the US private equity firm Bain, which has former Jetstar CEO Jayne Hrdlicka on board and whose most famous alumnus is Mitt Romney.”
“Twelve years ago, the iconoclastic American left commentator Thomas Frank published The Wrecking Crew, one of those books that irritates because it points out a structure of reality that suddenly feels obvious but was obscured by the very reality it had created.
“Frank identified the failure of good government in the George W Bush era of the US, and across numerous republican state governments — as exemplified in the triple whammy of Iraq, Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 crash — not as a failure to govern effectively due to a political theory being wrong, but as the deliberate effort of a political movement that sought to govern badly.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Coronavirus: It’s time to take care of business ($) — Jennifer Oriel (The Australian): “The federal government is preparing to manage the increase in COVID-19 cases that will come with the reopening of the economy. It faces the task of balancing health advice with fiscal repair and a plan for prosperity. However, a reform package that features significant reduction in government spending is yet to appear. Neither major party has committed to rationalising programs, projects or the public sector.”
The government will spend $48 million to safeguard mental health. Extending JobKeeper would safeguard it even more — Anthony Jorm (The Conversation): “Mental health experts have warned of a “second curve” of mental ill-health in the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic. This will result from widespread anxiety and depression, both about the disease itself and the knock-on social and economic effects of the lockdown.”
As I learn to live in freedom, Australia is still tormenting refugees — Behrouz Boochani (The Sydney Morning Herald): “The Portuguese government granted full residency rights (temporarily) to all immigrants and people seeking asylum. The British government released hundreds of refugees from detention centres. But in Australia hundreds of innocent refugees have been standing on hotel balconies just staring at a city and hoping that eventually they will be spared this life-threatening situation; the refugees remain imprisoned in hotel rooms.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
Jane Halton, chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation set up in 2017 in Davos, will speak in-conversation at The National Press Club.
From today, measures in Tasmania will allow up to five visitors in households, gatherings of up to 10 people (not including event or premises staff) for indoor venues and outdoor gatherings.
State Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young will, along with Deputy Premier and Health Minister Steven Miles, interview management of the North Rockhampton Nursing Centre on how a nurse was able to work before testing positive for COVID-19.