Canberra Raiders centre Curtis Scott commences legal action against police over botched case


After considering his options since the Raiders’ season concluded, Scott has decided to proceed with legal action.

“The answer is yes, I’m instructed to go ahead with the claim,” Scott’s lawyer Sam Macedone told The Sun-Herald.

“We sought a transcript of what happened in court, which I’ve now got. I’d say we’d be in the process of issuing a statement of claim hopefully before Christmas.

“It should never have got to court, but I couldn’t talk them out of it.

“I made it quite clear very early on in the piece that if they withdrew, there would be no application for costs. But they saw fit to run it, so game on. Next year, it will come to roost.”

Curtis Scott is taking legal action against the police.Credit:Fairfax Media

Asked if the damages reparations they were seeking would be a six-figure sum, Macedone said: “I think you are absolutely correct – it would be a minimum of six figures.

“He’s lost a fair bit – he’s lost sponsorship, he’s lost other things and been through a traumatic period of his life where he had this thing hanging over his head.

“These are very serious charges, too. More importantly than anything else, he had the NRL leaning over him saying, ‘Righto, can you play or can’t you play?’

“There was a lot on his mind and when I finally got him the OK to play, he played terribly because he had too much on his mind. That’s my opinion and I believe it’s shared by his coach and manager as well.”

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While Scott was exonerated in court, the NRL took a dim view of the incident. The governing body issued Scott with a $15,000 fine, the entirety of which will be suspended if the former Storm centre completes mandated education and counselling programs.

Given the NRL had the power to stand Scott down until the court matter was finalised, Macedone said he was comfortable with how league officials handled the saga.

“At the end of the day, I’m happy with that,” he said.

In September, Scott spoke of the toll the incident had taken on him.

“I’m just happy I can get a full eight hours of sleep at night and not wake up with an anxiety attack,” Scott said. “I’ve been coming in putting on a brave face. Knowing I’m at such a great club that has supported me through it all, and such a great playing group, made it much easier to come in.

“But always laying down in bed thinking, ‘If one of these charges stick, I could be out of the workforce’ every day is pretty scary.”

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not just an open and shut case


The first was familiar, the second a mystery. Rod speculated that Sydney’s Anthony Hordern & Sons may be the etymology, the store a major hardware outlet of its time, but that case remains open. That said, Rod’s ute-hopping memoirs steeled me to find John Pickard’s Illustrated Glossary of Australian Rural Fence Terms, a NSW government publication of 2009.

There I discovered a dropper isn’t just for eyestrain, but “a vertical component in a post-and-wire fence that’s not embedded in the ground”. While Kurt Cobain wasn’t the only grunge kid in town, since grunge is also “a gate made by leaving a narrow gap partially blocked with a post, thus allowing a person to pass, but not stock”.

Australia is zigzagged by lift gates (a gizmo operated by a jib boom), spear-point gates and Cass tilts (a drop panel within electric fences). Meantime a cocky’s gate is no relation to a cockatoo fence – a barrier built of logs and branches, also dubbed a deadwood or brush fence, depending on your postcode.

By fluke, a second email alluded to the back of beyond, but no gate this time. Alison Norton felt stymied by the cryptic clue that plunks a random letter in its midst. Veteran journo Mungo MacCallum is a recidivist in this regard, his clues for The Saturday Paper fond of stuff like: “T – pretty bloody awful (5-4)”.

What’s the deal, asked Alison. The answer is THIRD-RATE, I explained, where T represents RATE’s third letter, just as rock bottom is K. In the same vein, H (the middle of nowhere) can be D (the back of beyond). To we crossword professionals, this genre is known as a semi-rebus.



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Trump loses appeal of Pennsylvania election case


President Donald Trump

Carlos Barria | Reuters

A federal appeals court on Friday rejected an attempt by President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign to keep alive its effort to undo the result of Pennsylvania’s presidential election.

The blistering opinion from a panel of judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, all three of whom were nominated by Republican presidents, said that the Trump campaign’s “claims have no merit.”

The appellate court’s decision affirmed a federal judge’s ruling from a week earlier that denied the Trump campaign’s request to block the Keystone State from certifying that President-elect Joe Biden won its election.

The opinion marks the latest court loss for Trump, who has refused to concede the election to Biden and is falsely asserting that he won the race. On Wednesday, Trump flatly stated, “We have to turn the election over.”

Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani had argued on behalf of the Trump campaign in the case before U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Brann in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Giuliani has led the Trump campaign’s charge in the court of public opinion, spreading unproven claims of widespread voter fraud that he asserts tipped the outcome of the election.

But the appeals court noted in its 21-page opinion that when standing before Brann in a courtroom, Giuliani said that the campaign “doesn’t plead fraud” in the case.

“Calling an election unfair does not make it so,” the 3rd Circuit’s opinion read. “Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”

Another Trump campaign lawyer, Jenna Ellis, later Friday tweeted a joint statement with Giuliani claiming, “The activist judicial machinery in Pennsylvania continues to cover up the allegations of massive fraud.”

Ellis’ tweet adds, “On to SCOTUS!” referring to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Rather than argue that fraud had been committed in Pennsylvania, the Trump campaign’s federal lawsuit had instead alleged that mail-in ballots had been handled differently in counties that skewed toward Democrats versus those that leaned more Republican. The campaign also alleged that some observers watching the counting of votes at polling locations had been unfairly restricted.

Brann, in his written decision, said that the campaign’s lawyers failed to present “compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption” in their unprecedented bid to invalidate millions of ballots.

In its appeal to the 3rd Circuit, the Trump campaign did not request that Brann’s ruling be reversed. Instead, the campaign requested that it be allowed to submit an amended version of its legal complaint in order to “restore claims which were inadvertently deleted” from a previous version.

But even that pared-down argument was rejected by the appeals court.

“The Campaign appeals on a very narrow ground: whether the District Court abused its discretion in not letting the Campaign amend its complaint a second time. It did not,” read the opinion written by Stephanos Bibas, whom Trump nominated to the bench in 2017.

The appellate court wrote that “most of the claims” in the Trump campaign’s latest complaint “boil down to issues of state law.”

“Pennsylvania law is willing to overlook many technical defects. It favors counting votes as long as there is no fraud,” the opinion said.

“The Campaign tries to repackage these state-law claims as unconstitutional discrimination. Yet its allegations are vague and conclusory,” Bibas said in the opinion.

“It never alleges that anyone treated the Trump campaign or Trump votes worse than it treated the Biden campaign or Biden votes. And federal law does not require poll watchers or specify how they may observe. It also says nothing about curing technical state-law errors in ballots. Each of these defects is fatal.”

Bibas also noted that the slice of mail-in ballots being challenged by the Trump campaign is “far smaller” than Biden’s margin of victory in Pennsylvania.

“Plus, tossing out millions of mail-in ballots would be drastic and unprecedented, disenfranchising a huge swath of the electorate and upsetting all down-ballot races too,” Bibas added, calling that remedy “grossly disproportionate.”

Biden beat Trump in the state by more than 81,000 votes, clinching its 20 Electoral College votes. Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes — 36 more than he needed to win — compared with 232 for Trump.

Pennsylvania, along with other key swing states including Michigan, Georgia and Nevada, have already certified their votes for Biden.

Marc Scaringi, a lawyer and conservative talk-radio host representing the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania, in a letter to the appeals court Wednesday requested that Giuliani be allowed to make oral arguments in the case. The appellate judges on Friday denied that request for oral argument.

In a footnote within that letter, Scaringi detailed a long-shot legal strategy for Trump to overturn Biden’s win in the state despite the fact that its results have already been certified. The legal bank-shot would require a federal court invalidating that certification, then getting Pennsylvania’s General Assembly to send pro-Trump electors to the Electoral College.

“A decision by the District Court that President Trump won the legal votes may have significant impact on the General Assembly,” Scaringi wrote.

An appellate lawyer told CNBC that that strategy looks “made up.”



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Former Origin star loses case against Broncos after learning of replacement ‘via screenshot’


Cross argued the hiring of Ryan made him “question the genuineness of his redundancy” arguing he was guaranteed by the club that he would be re-employed if a job became available.

Commissioner Paula Spencer handed down her decision on November 20 and ruled the Broncos were ultimately entitled, in the circumstances, to terminate Cross’ employment.

Ben Cross playing for the Knights in 2008. Credit:Getty

“Mr Cross is upset and perhaps legitimately so, that he was not contacted and given a courtesy call from Mr Seibold before hearing about it from friends who gave him a screenshot of a Broncos website,” the decision read.

“It is perfectly understandable that Mr Cross was upset, annoyed and indeed angry that had occurred.”

Cross texted Broncos head of football Peter Nolan after being sent the screenshots, which were used as evidence in the application.

“How should I be handling this Peter, I’ve been fielding calls from family, friends and media,” Cross wrote in the text message.

Mr Nolan responded: “Crossy – I just have the grand kids here tonight mate. I will call you in the morning. I thought Seibs [Seibold] was calling you as well? I will call tomorrow morning.”

“Extremely disappointing to see it posted on Facebook before hearing from you or Anthony,” Cross said.

Cross then sent across an email to Broncos’ HR manager Tain Drinkwater outlining how “disappointed” he was in the Broncos organisation.

“I have read and was sent this today regarding the hiring of Peter Ryan at the Broncos, I was made redundant as my role was no longer necessary in my field of ruck forward defence and tackling technical coach,” he wrote in the email.

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“I offered my services at a reduced contract and at any capacity to the club.”

Shortly after, Drinkwater responded reiterating his redundancy was a matter of “cost saving” and to “ensure the future of the club”.

“I am disappointed that this has been played out in a public forum and acknowledge that you are disappointed,” she wrote.

“Peter Ryan has not been engaged to replace you in your previous position, however given our performance since the start of the revised season, we will be utilising his services on a short term basis.”

Cross argued to the commission he had relocated his family to Brisbane after it was indicated to him he had “long-term” prospects at the club and that he was “only coaching staff member in the entirety of the NRL to have lost their position in the pandemic”.

This was not challenged by the Broncos.

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Canberra records a new COVID-19 case, just one day after ACT declared free of known coronavirus cases



A woman who travelled to Canberra on a diplomatic passport has been diagnosed with COVID-19, just one day after the ACT was once again declared free of known cases.

The woman, who is in her 50s, returned to Canberra on Monday after flying into Sydney and travelling to the ACT by private car.

She has been in quarantine and poses a low risk of infecting others, according to ACT Health.

“She has followed all the correct processes and has been quarantining since her return to the ACT and is being supported by ACT Health,” the directorate said in a statement.

The new case brings the total number recorded in the ACT to 116, and is the first case to have been detected in 10 days.

Two close contacts of the woman are being managed by ACT Health.

“The circumstances of this new case demonstrates that our quarantine system here in the ACT is working well to protect the Canberra community from COVID-19,” the directorate said.

The woman was not on board yesterday’s repatriation flight, which returned 120 Australians to home soil, who are now quarantining in Canberra hotels.

ACT Health said three passengers from the flight had been tested for COVID-19 at arrival but returned negative results.

All passengers are expected to be tested today, and again in about 10 days.



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Victoria ‘eliminates’ COVID-19 after 28 days without a new case


While the tests worried health authorities, they say there have been no recent cases in the area.

According to the working definition, a state or territory has achieved elimination of community transmission of coronavirus if it goes 28 days with no mystery cases, a period which represents two long incubation cycles for the virus.

University of Melbourne epidemiologist Tony Blakely said new cases will almost certainly leach back into the community as a result of international arrivals and hotel quarantine breaches. But he said the state’s contract tracing program has been improved so dramatically they pose less of a threat than at the outset of the pandemic.

“It was a bit of a longshot to actually get all the way to elimination,” he said, “I’m pleasantly surprised that we’ve been able to bring it back from that high point.”

Professor Blakely said the milestone was a “huge tribute” to Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, and his deputy Professor Allen Cheng. “They are the masterminds of this,” he said.

“When we got down to 10 [cases] per day, it was stubbornly there, I thought this might be our new reality.”

He said the key to reaching elimination was fixing Victoria’s contract tracing efforts in Melbourne’s northern suburbs so that small outbreaks could be quickly shut down.

“I used to say that quarantine wasn’t rocket science, I’ve had to modify my view – this virus is so sneaky,” he said.

Melbourne will start to receive international arrivals again on December 7, with Mr Andrews confirming the state will stick with a modified version of its original hotel quarantine program.

The Premier ruled out a home-based isolation scheme for low-risk travellers, as was recommended by the state’s hotel quarantine inquiry, but said Australians returning to Melbourne will be required to be tested for coronavirus before they board a flight.

The last patient in Victoria infected with the virus, a man aged in his 90s, was discharged from hospital on Monday night, after being admitted last month. The man was treated at the Monash Medical Centre for more than 40 days alongside his wife who also contracted the virus.

Victoria achieved its first “triple doughnut day” on Tuesday, with no new coronavirus cases, no deaths and no active cases, for the first time since February 29.

There have been 20,345 cases of COVID-19 in Victoria and 819 deaths, most of them among the elderly in aged care.

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Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said on Thursday that the results from the Corio treatment plant were unexpected as there have been no recent COVID-19 infections in the area where the viral fragments were found.

The positive result could be from a person who has recovered from the virus and is living in the area or visited and is still “shedding” the virus.

“We have had few of these positive wastewater results recently and, while we haven’t discovered any undiagnosed case of coronavirus, it is possible that there may be an infectious person in this catchment,” Professor Cheng said.

“We encourage people in this area who are symptomatic to be tested and will update the community once more testing results become available. It is also a timely reminder for local businesses to re-check their COVID Safe plans to keep themselves, their colleagues and customers safe.”

Last week, viral fragments were found in wastewater samples from Altona, Benalla and Portland. No cases have been detected in those areas following the findings.

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Thanksgiving Will Delay COVID-19 Case Reporting


But though the reporting infrastructure slows over weekends, the virus does not. Later in the week, the data “catch up,” with higher-than-average numbers on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Holidays tend to bring the same delays as weekends, and Thanksgiving combines a long weekend with a holiday at the pandemic’s worst point yet. If the patterns that the COVID Tracking Project has documented over other holidays hold, in the next week, reporting will slow for a few days, then spike. While no one can say exactly how long labs will take to work through the holiday backlog, the current picture, of rapidly rising testing, cases, and deaths, could be blurred for days at a critical point in this third surge.

On top of the holiday-related data delays, the offices that report coronavirus data could be dealing with a larger volume of paperwork simply because of the size of this surge—which means more people getting tests, more people going into the hospital, and more people dying. While testing has grown appreciably—in the past week, the U.S. reported an average of 1.8 million tests a day, more than double the figure from three months ago—those tests can be slow to process. That’s especially true now, as new cases exceed 170,000 a day and Americans have flocked to testing centers under the misguided notion that a negative test would magically render large Thanksgiving dinners safe. This week Quest Diagnostics, which operates labs and makes COVID-19 testing equipment, said that higher demand is resulting in delays in processing results, to two to three days for most patients.

Jessica Guernsey, the public-health director for Multnomah County, Oregon, says her county began to see changes in the data before Thanksgiving. “It has more to do with the health department being overwhelmed because of sheer volume,” Guernsey says. “The system we’ve set up could be more nimble—to have the data processed and make its way into the statewide system is a fairly laborious process.”

Even with bumps in the data, Guernsey warns, the numbers are going up. “I don’t think most people looking at the data would think we’re in the clear, and none of our messaging reflects that,” she says. “We’re in each other’s care right now, and we need to make decisions that are sacrificial. We’ll have to hunker down for a while to protect other people.”

Because COVID-19 data can vary significantly from day to day, averages over the longer term paint a clearer picture of the disease’s trajectory. Decreases in the numbers of cases or deaths in the days surrounding Thanksgiving won’t be particularly meaningful until we have a wider view of the data, in the form of weekly averages. As Kissane notes, hospitals don’t get days off, so data about hospitalized patients are less volatile than other metrics. Nearly 90,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in the United States, and that number has grown 89 percent since November 1.



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‘Disastrous’ or a smart move? How Victoria’s case for an electric car usage tax stacks up | Environment


The Victorian government has proposed a new road usage tax for electric vehicles, mirroring moves in South Australia that some critics are saying could dissuade prospective buyers.

The tax would look to charge motorists 2.5c a kilometre for electric vehicles, while a 2c/km charge would be applied to plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Victoria’s treasurer, Tim Pallas, announced the new charges as part of the lead-up to the release of the state budget, saying he hoped the tax would create a “fairer system” for taxing road users.

But some critics have said the new tax flies in the face of the global movement towards zero emissions, and would potentially discourage people from taking up the new technology.

The Electric Vehicle Council’s chief executive, Behyad Jafari, told the Guardian the decision was “disastrous” and the government needed to rethink its approach.

“Australia is going to become the first country in the world to discourage people from buying electric vehicles by adding a new tax on to them.”

So, what are the arguments against this tax, and how do they stack up? We break it down for you.

Why do people think it’s a bad idea?

Simon Holmes à Court, a senior adviser to the Climate and Energy College at Melbourne University, said that although transport reforms were inevitable, this particular reform and its timing was a “terrible idea”.

“Australia is lagging behind the rest of the world with the electric vehicle transition.”

Electric vehicles have only 0.6% market share in Australia, according to the Global EV Outlook, compared with 2.6% globally and 4.9% in China.

Potential customers currently need to pay a luxury tax, a stamp duty and GST. Unlike in some countries, such as the US, there are no subsidies for electric vehicles in Australia.

“We already have a significant tax take on electric vehicles that we don’t see in other countries, which goes a long way to explaining why Australian uptake is so far behind the rest of the world.

“We disincentivise, rather than incentivise.”

With the addition of a usage tax, Holmes à Court said electric vehicles would become more expensive in Victoria.

“A lot of people are holding out until they can afford it, and by putting this extra tax on top Victoria has just kicked it further into the future.”

According to the NRMA, hybrid cars start at about $26,500, but pure electric vehicles start at around $47,500. Buying used is also a challenge due to the small number of electric vehicles on the road in Australia.

Do fuel excises really pay for our roads?

Pallas said in presenting the tax that the money made would be invested in improving roads. But some experts doubted that the tax would, whether directly or implicitly, go towards fixing roads.







An electric car charging station in Canberra. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

“If fuel excise funded roads, we’d be driving on gold plated roads by now,” said Holmes à Court, explaining that fuel excise had not directly gone into roads since 1959.

He said it was a tax like any other tax, such as wine excise or income tax, and that there was no specific connection between fuel excise taxes and investment in roads.

“It’s a myth,” Jafari said, pointing out that it was not the state government that collects fuel excise taxes.

“Fuel excise is recovered by the federal government, and you have the state government saying it wants to tax this, so they’re not making up for lost tax revenue today. It’s more of a tax grab by them.”

Is this a tax for the future?

Uptake is fairly low right now, but many believe that electric vehicles will eventually make up a majority of cars on the road. With a road usage tax already in place, the state government will then be well placed to take advantage.

“This is about introducing a tax now, when there is almost no constituency,” Holmes à Court said.

From a budgetary perspective, he conceded the tax made some sense, but said there were more challenges from an environmental perspective.

“If you’re a treasurer, this is a smart move. If you’re an environment minister, this is dumb. You are slowing down the transition to electric vehicles by putting them out of reach of more Australians.”

The government anticipates that the tax will bring in $30ma year. However, Holmes à Court believes the tax could bring in “a couple of billion a year” by the 2030s.

Introducing the tax then could prove more difficult than doing so now, according to Jafari, who said that to some degree, the government was motivated to introduce it because they do not anticipate much pushback.

Isn’t this about fairness? Shouldn’t everyone pay their fair share?

A report by Ernst and Young released earlier this year found the opposite. The report said electric vehicles each provided a net benefit of $8,763 to the economy over a 10-year life span, and that they directly contributed more to government revenue that petrol or diesel-based vehicles.

So, in a sense, advocates argue that owners of electric vehicles are already pulling their tax weight, without the introduction of a usage charge.

Marion Terrill, the transport and cities program director at the Grattan Institute, said the call for fairness had more weight than other arguments, but people still needed to consider the environmental impact of the vehicles.

“This argument needs to have injected into it is a consideration that you’re contributing to lower emissions than would have otherwise been the case.”

Terrill also said the issue with the tax was less about focusing on the wealthy and more about how the tax would affect those on the margins and in two minds about purchasing an electric vehicle.

“I think price increases will affect people at the margin, people thinking ‘Oh, will I or won’t I?’ A price increase is likely to affect their decision.”

The impact on uptake was a point Jafari returned to often, saying that adding more charges onto electric vehicles would put people off from making the switch.

“This actually has a harmful impact on equity. If you want to make something accessible to people, you make it cheaper not more expensive.”

What about an alternative?

Terrill and the Grattan Institute suggested an alternative tax should instead look at congestion, arguing that if the goal was to address costs and emissions, a tax on electric cars would miss the mark.

“What I find disappointing about this proposal is that it doesn’t address congestion … which we know to be a very significant cost on the community – there’s a significant productivity opportunity there.

“It would allow you to delay building new infrastructure because it helps to spread out usage across the day, and it would encourage people who can be flexible about when they travel or how they travel to do so.”

Other ideas, such as taxing vehicles based on weight (and potential damage done to roads) or a tax based on distance travelled, have been tossed up.

But Jafari argues that because such taxes are far more wide reaching, they’d be far more difficult to sell to the public.

“The government has just decided it’s too difficult for them, because it’s always difficult to explain new taxes,” he said. “The only reason they’re pursuing electric vehicle taxes is because so few people are driving electric cars.”



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The strange case of CSL


Australia will be paying nearly $1 billion to a privatised company providing pharmaceutical products that were developed when we owned it, writes Professor John Quiggin.

AS WE WAIT anxiously for the arrival of a COVID-19 vaccine, which will be made overseas, most Australians will welcome the news that a new vaccine manufacturing plant will be built in Melbourne to produce vaccines for influenza and Q fever (and possibly for future pandemics), as well as antivenenes for snake and spider bites.

The plant is the result of a deal between the Commonwealth Government and Seqirus, a subsidiary of global biopharmaceutical firm CSL. Under the deal, the Commonwealth commits to pay $1 billion over ten years for a variety of products including antivenenes.

At this point, those with long memories might recall that the “C” in CSL once stood for “Commonwealth” and that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories began producing vaccines and antivenenes more than 100 years ago. Under public ownership, CSL developed both polyvalent antivenene against all the major Australian land snakes and the first Q fever vaccine. Why then, are we paying nearly $1 billion to a company we once owned to provide pharmaceutical products that were developed when we owned it?

The story begins in 1994 when the Keating Government privatised Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (with the name reduced to a set of initials) through a public float. The share price of $2.30 was a spectacular bargain for investors, who ended up getting their money back 500 times over. That beat even the massively oversubscribed float of the Commonwealth Bank, where investors got about 50 times their money back.

The reason the price was so low was partly that (unlike the Commonwealth Bank and Telstra) CSL was not a household name and partly because CSL benefited from a set of favours of which many potential investors were unaware. When Clive Hamilton and I investigated the sale for the Australia Institute, we found it was one of the worst privatisation deals ever entered into by an Australian government.

The sale was motivated by the fact that CSL needed a new fractionation plant to treat plasma products. Pathologically averse to public debt, the Keating Government decided to recoup the cost of the plant by selling off the laboratory. Having already sweetened the deal by paying for the fractionation plant and throwing in land previously rented from the Government, it was made irresistible by the Government agreeing to a massive increase in the price paid for blood products.

At this point, for the insiders who understood the deal, CSL was an irresistible buy. Its main input was blood, donated by ordinary Australians (few of whom understand that they are enriching a global corporation by doing so) and supplied free of charge by the Red Cross, whose costs are met by the Australian Government. At the higher prices embodied in the sale agreement, Hamilton and I estimated the extra payments would fully offset the sale price within six years.

The privatisation of the NBN

This estimate was proved correct in spectacular fashion. Having recouped their entire investment by 2000, the new owners of CSL had an income flow so strong, they were able to buy out a large foreign competitor, ZLB Bioplasma. That acquisition was followed by the takeover of Behring in 2004. CSL’s growth has been spectacular indeed, but it has been paid for, in large measure, by the Australian public.

The pattern has continued with the latest deal. The Australian Government has committed, on our behalf, to a stream of payments sufficient to cover the majority of the costs CSL will incur in building its new factory while securing only ten years’ supply of the products we need.

This is a classic privatisation story. The privatisation of Telstra followed a similar pattern. Having sold off our national phone network in 2000, the Howard Government was faced with the refusal of Telstra to build a national broadband network other than on extortionate terms. The Rudd Government bit the bullet and re-established a publicly-owned NBN Co, but still had to pay massive amounts for access to the network built under public ownership and sold off for a fraction of its true economic value.

In 30 years of privatisation in Australia, there has not been a single case where the public would not have been at least as well off if the asset had remained in public ownership. Turning this around, there is now a strong case for renationalisation of a wide range of private assets, including roads, electricity transmission and distribution network and airports. It is time to call the failed experiment of privatisation to a halt.

John Quiggin is Professor of Economics at the University of Queensland and the author of ‘Zombie Economics and Economics in Two Lessons’. You can follow John on Twitter @JohnQuiggin.

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Another new case, authorities probe Woodville link


The Parafield COVID cluster has grown to 31 with another new case confirmed today, as health authorities continue to probe how and when a Woodville schoolgirl caught the virus.

Chief Public Health officer Nicola Spurrier this afternoon declared a “large number” of students, staff and their families had been forced into quarantine after the Woodville High School student tested positive yesterday, but said the girl’s results were “not entirely straightforward”.

“It looks like she has had an exposure at the Woodville Pizza Bar having picked up a pizza on November 14, when indeed that was an infectious period and we know people there were infected,” she said.

There might have been someone else who’s had this infection that she might have got infected through

Two medi-hotel staff are known to have worked at the pizzeria during this period, including the Spanish man whose misleading information was blamed for last week’s lockdown.

Spurrier said investigations would now take in “that whole area around Woodville”, with a new testing facility to be established.

Authorities will also establish a new air-conditioned walk-in testing station at the Wayville Showgrounds with looming hot weather.

Meanwhile, drive-through testing sites on Friday and Saturday will be open from 6.30am to 11am, with the Victoria Park site reopening in the evening from 8pm to midnight.

“We’re going to make sure we’ve got enough testing sites available,” Spurrier said.

Spurrier said the other new case, confirmed this morning, was “a male in his 40s known to be a close contact of a case that’s linked to the cluster” and who was already in quarantine with his family.

“Because of the ‘circuit breaker’, we’re confident we don’t have a risk of that [case] going any further forward,” she said.

There are now 31 cases linked to the Parafield cluster, with one woman still in hospital, albeit stable.

Around 4800 close contacts – and their contacts – remain in quarantine.

Spurrier said the schoolgirl’s case was still under contact tracing investigation, and “we’re just looking to see to what degree we feel this young girl was infectious” when she attended school on Monday.

However, she maintained “this young person has done absolutely nothing wrong”, saying: “The fact she got herself tested I’m so pleased about.”

“She’s followed the directions within her understanding of what she needed to do,” she said.

Asked why the case was different to that of the Woodville Pizza Bar worker who alleged “lie” was blamed for sparking last week’s state lockdown – when he wrongly claimed to have similarly bought a takeaway pizza, instead of working several shifts at the venue – Spurrier said: “It’s quite complex.”

“One of the reasons for doing [the lockdown] was to get our contact tracing team really ramped up [and] we’re in a good place now in terms of the contact tracing team,” she said.

“We’re now in a different situation, we’ve had that pause.”

She said the girl’s exposure was “way back at the beginning” but “we’re still working through exactly this person’s infectiousness period [and] working to look at the interpretation of the data”.

“We still haven’t completely nailed exactly how she got infected or when she was infectious,” Spurrier said.

“Also possibly there might have been someone else who’s had this infection that she might have got infected through… the jury’s still out on that at the moment.”

She said investigators had drawn an “epidemiological” link to the pizzeria, but that “it took some time for us to get credit card details” of customers for detailed tracing.

“All we’ve been able to do around the Woodville Pizza Bar is give social media advice,” she said.

“I don’t think there’s any point at all to be pointing the finger and saying anyone’s to blame.

“If you did get a pizza from that pizza bar, now is the time to get tested, and I can tell you 100 per cent I’m going to back you, and not be pointing the finger of blame.”

Meanwhile, SA Police expect to wrap-up an investigation into the case that triggered last week’s short-lived lockdown by the end of the week.

Spurrier said 95 per cent of medi-hotel staff at Peppers – from which the virus escaped, sparking the cluster – had now returned negative tests.

The medi-hotel regime continues to come under scrutiny, with deputy chief public health officer Dr Michael Cusack telling ABC Radio Adelaide this morning he didn’t know why an active surveillance program he announced in August didn’t go ahead.

At the time, he said “we want to ensure we aren’t missing any active cases at all [and that] there is no possibility for leakage of the virus outside the hotel system”.

“We’re going to commence an active surveillance program in the hotel and amongst the security staff from today,” he said in August.

“I’d see it as ongoing but I would be guessing it would be something in the region of 80 to 100 tests in the first instance, but as part of an active surveillance program you would expect us to sort of carry on on a steady basis into the future.”

Asked today why that didn’t eventuate as spruiked, he replied: “I know that it was very closely looked at, I’m afraid I don’t have the information why they didn’t go ahead at that time… it has now commenced.”

Spurrier said that “testing in medi-hotels over a long period of time [has] been going since August” on a voluntary basis, but “we’re very pleased we now have a rolling regime of testing”.

SA Health introduced a seven-day mandatory testing regime on the Sunday last week, when the cluster was revealed.

The Government will next week launch its new QR Code tracing system via the MySA GOV app, which Premier Steven Marshall said would need to be re-downloaded by anyone who already has it.

Marshall said the system, which will be active from December 1, would only be used for SA Health contact tracing purposes and would only be kept for 28 days.

Spurrier said her contact tracing team had been “so looking forward to having this” as “they can immediately, 24/7, go straight to that data base [so] it will really speed things up”.

The Government is also confident it will be able to ease a suite of restrictions on Tuesday, including opening South Australia’s border to Victoria.

State emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said the transition committee would meet tomorrow to discuss “a Christmas that is as normal as possible”.

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