Good morning, early birds. Victorians warned to brace for a likely peak in daily COVID-19 deaths, and the royal commission into aged care has heard that neither the federal health department nor the aged care regulator developed a COVID-19 plan specifically for the aged care sector. It’s the news you need to know, with Chris Woods.
VICTORIANS WARNED TO BRACE FOR PEAK
Following news of 322 new COVID-19 cases in Victoria and 19 deaths — Australia’s highest number of deaths since the pandemic began — epidemiologists speaking with The Age warn Victorians need to brace for a hard week as the death toll is predicted to peak in the next week, while the number of new cases starts to fall.
The Age reports that while Deakin University epidemiology chair Catherine Bennett said Victorians should be prepared for potentially high numbers over the coming week, “that will be the pattern this week, but hopefully it will be relatively short-lived”.
The news comes as the state government announced that in-home testing would become available for vulnerable Victorians unable to leave their homes due to chronic illness or disability — a measure that follows the release of DIY kits that, for multiple reasons, may not have been accessible — and that contact tracing is ramping up even with 105 new “mystery cases” with no known source.
Additionally, the state government’s COVID-19 inquiry is set to resume this morning with witnesses to include Dan Andrews, Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, Acting Deputy Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng, and President of the Australian Medical Association Julian Rait.
PS: In fresh allegations over Victoria’s hotel quarantine program, The Australian ($) reports of fresh security breaches and tensions at Melbourne’s Hotel Brady and Grand Chancellor in Lonsdale Street, while the Herald Sun ($) has released a video played to Department of Jobs, Precincts and the Regions staff on April 24 boasting of their work as a “massive inbound super trade mission”.
AGED CARES CONTINUE
According to both The Conversation and The Australian ($), the royal commission into aged care has heard that neither the federal health department nor the aged care regulator — the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission — developed a COVID-19 plan specifically for the aged care sector.
Further, The Age reports that the commission admitted it was told of a COVID-19 outbreak at St. Basil’s four days earlier than it first claimed — leading to headlines last week over an alleged delay in alerting authorities — in a correction Labor health spokeswoman Julie Collins criticised as a failure to alert the federal Department of Health and Ageing.
Finally, the regulator slammed NSW’s reluctance to move infected residents into hospitals in contravention to federal advice as “intolerable”.
NEW ZEALAND MAN DIES IN MELBOURNE DETENTION
According to The Guardian, a 46-year-old New Zealand man has died in an immigration detention centre in Melbourne.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge offered his condolences for the man, but, speaking to ABC’s RN Drive, emphasised that the man was in the process of being “evicted from the country because of a criminal background”.
The news follows opposition from the New Zealand government over the Morrison government’s decision to detain and deport even long-term residents with served criminal sentences.
LEBANON’S GOVERNMENT RESIGNS
According to Al Jazeera, Lebanon’s Prime Minister Hassan Diab has announced the resignation of his government amidst growing public outrage over last week’s devastating explosion triggered by more than 2000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at Beirut’s port.
Additionally, Diab declared that corruption in Lebanon is “bigger than the state” — which, as the ABC explored last week, has overseen a collapsing economy and hyper-inflation — and called the blast that killed at least 163 people and injured over 6000 a “crime” born from endemic corruption.
ANOTHER HONG KONG CRACKDOWN
On the other end of the fascism spectrum, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has postponed September’s elections for 12 months, disqualified 12 pro-democracy candidates from running, and, last night, overseen the arrest of pro-democracy publisher Jimmy Lai under China’s new national security laws.
PS: Similarly, The Hill reports that Black Lives Matters protesters in Utah could face life sentences over “mischief” charges if they are convicted of splashing red paint and smashing windows at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
NO WAY, HUAWEI!
Finally, in news set to make Australia’s conspiracy theorists just that much more insufferable, the AFR ($) reports that a review into China’s spying activities in Papua New Guinea notes that outdated encryption software and insufficient firewall settings used by Huawei to build PNG’s National Data Centre exposed secret government files to being stolen.
The report was commissioned by PNG’s National Cyber Security Centre, written by a cyber security contractor hired by DFAT and subsequently handed to the Australian government.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
COMPULSORY COVID VACCINATIONS FOR EVERYBODY COMING SOON. If we can demonise HCQ [hydroxychloroquine] + Zinc, then we get to vaccinated [sic] the entire global population! And no, you are not dreaming, and this is not a sci-fi novel.
The Liberal MP that Scott Morrison personally saved from preselection shares a hilariously-edited conspiracy video from a debunked climate denialist. Feels like this might not be the last time we use this description.
“We’re all supposed to hate the Chinese tyranny and the tech companies it can use to serve its purposes of surveillance, control and commercial espionage, both at home and abroad.
“But the Five Eyes governments of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are no better when it comes to surveillance and commercial espionage — and control, when they want it. Indeed, we invented the practice of hoovering up personal data from tech platforms — and Western companies invented the practice of monetising that data.”
“In the space of just a few months, a company set up by a former Crosby Textor pollster has gone from being the new kid on the block to receiving more than $1 million in limited tender government contracts, even landing a position on the government’s coveted go-to panel for urgent work.
“Jim Reed, a long-time researcher with Crosby Textor, now known as C|T, was revealed in June to be the recipient of a $541,000 limited tender contract from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) to conduct social policy market research.”
“Suddenly everyone from Scott Morrison to Kevin Rudd is talking up the arms race in the Indo-Pacific and a potential ‘hot war’ between China and either the US or some of its allies with Taiwan looming large.
“It’s sudden, but it’s not surprising. This is a (somewhat) logical place to be after the US, and then other Western countries, rounded on China for being the source of COVID-19 and covering up its origins.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
The Victorian government has allocated $60 million to mental health. But who gets the money? — Chris Maylea (The Conversation): “Victoria’s mental health system was in crisis before COVID-19 hit. In 2018, Victoria had the lowest per person funding for mental health in the country. Premier Daniel Andrews described the mental health system as ‘broken’, and launched the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System. The royal commission had only released its initial recommendations and interim report when the coronavirus hit, overwhelming an already broken system.”
Holding the government to account is as important as ever — Editorial (The Age): “This pandemic is an event of a scale, duration and consequence that makes it a unique challenge for media organisations such as The Age to cover. Along with the public’s intense interest in all things COVID-19 has come an equal degree of scrutiny of how this story is being covered. In a liberal democratic society that values a free press, that is as it should be.”
Where are all the dollars stolen from Aborigines? ($) — Warren Mundine (The Australian): “Indigenous people talk about unfinished business. This is a major area of unfinished business in this country: the recovery of wages earned by Indigenous people but never paid to them. Indigenous Australians have for decades been battling for these workers and their families. Indigenous wages and savings reparation schemes have been set up by various governments, but the conditions of these schemes and the payouts available have resulted in people receiving well below what was taken from them.”
HOLD THE FRONT PAGE
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria will livestream a panel discussion on What is the Elders’ Voice?.
Julia Gillard will discuss her work with Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s former finance minister, on Women in Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons with ABC’s Patricia Karvelas for a virtual Wheeler Centre event presented in partnership with Melbourne Writers Festival.
Yarra Libraries will host A renewables-led recovery: towards a zero-emissions future, a virtual discussion with CEO of The Climate Council Amanda McKenzie, Board member of the Investor Group on Climate Change and Head of ESG Research at Citi Zoe Whitton, and retired physician and former chair of the Victorian chapter of Doctors for the Environment John Iser.