“Murriyang, it’s the home of Biyaami, if you like. Biyaami is the great creator and it’s his home and it’s in the stars.”
Said Aboriginal elder and Wiradjuri man Dr Stan Grant Sr of why the CSIRO’s Radio Telescope in Parkes, NSW – aka The Dish – will now be known as ‘Murriyang’. It recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s “deep connection in astronomy” and marked the start of NAIDOC week – a match that was written in the stars…
VACCINE BREAKTHROUGH AS GLOBAL CORONA CASES PASS 50 MILLION
Drug companies Pfizer and BioNTech say their vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting COVID-19. After testing their vaccine on 43,500 people in 6 countries with no safety concerns raised, it is the first to be considered effective. One disclaimer: the analysis is from a look at the first handful of test subjects, and the question about how long immunity lasts will take months or potentially years to answer. But it is a significant breakthrough that has been heralded by international experts overnight. No vaccine has gone from nowhere to being proven to be ‘highly effective’ in that short timeframe before. The Morrison Government last week said it had secured 10 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine should it prove effective.
WE NEEDED SOME GOOD NEWS…
We sure did, particularly as the world yesterday hit a grim milestone fueled by a second wave of the virus in some big countries. The US has seen its record high daily numbers smashed after reporting more than 125,000 cases per day for 3 days in a row. It’s now passed 10 million cases. And in Europe, France marked its own daily record on Saturday with 86,852 new cases. The UK is averaging 22,000 new cases a day with nationwide restrictions reimposed in Britain last week. More than 1.25 million people from across the world have now died from COVID-19 since the start of the year.
WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING?
Well, let’s wait and see what is confirmed, but The Australian (paywall) this morning reports that the Morrison Government will extend the JobSeeker coronavirus supplement beyond the end of this year. The $250 supplement has been paid on top of the $512-$620/fortnight unemployment payment as part of the government’s response to the crisis. And the suggestion is the supplement will continue, but at a lower rate of $150. This will be no surprise to those who are watching this closely with PM Scott Morrison flagging something like this a couple of weeks ago.
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MINISTERS’ CONDUCT CALLED INTO QUESTION
Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter was claimed to have been seen drunk and kissing a young Coalition staffer in 2017. And details of an affair acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge had with an adviser in his office in the same year were aired last night on ABC’s Four Corners. Former PM Malcolm Turnbull revealed the infamous ‘bonk ban’ he put in place in 2018 was not just aimed at former Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce… He says he spoke to Porter about his alleged behaviour ahead of a decision to appoint him to be the top legal officer in the land. “And I just said, ‘Look, this is unacceptable conduct for a Cabinet minister and it exposes you to the risk of compromise,'” Turnbull said. Porter has denied the claim and says he’s looking at legal action. Tudge staffer Rachelle Miller said she left the office and was demoted after the relationship with her boss ended. She said she felt she should speak out after leaving politics and the “culture of just kind of putting your head down and not getting involved.” The ABC’s MD David Anderson yesterday said he’d received representations about killing the story ahead of it airing last night, but he believes the story is in the public interest. And PM Scott Morrison said the ban on relationships between ministers and staff remains part of the code of conduct.
BIDEN PLANS AS TRUMP PLOTS
US President-elect Joe Biden’s plans to transition to the White House are go… The incoming administration’s priorities have been outlined on a newly launched website, and 4 priorities have been named: COVID-19, economic recovery, racial equity and climate change. On the executive orders front – the focus will be on overturning the Trump policies Biden vowed to dismantle. That will see the US rejoin the Paris climate agreement and the World Health Organisation, for example. That’s a lot for day one of a new job. But given he already knows where the White House lunchroom and toilets are, that frees up some time to crack on with work… Meanwhile, the vanquished President Donald Trump has remained out of sight, except on Twitter where his posts continue to be flagged as problematic. What comes next for Team Trump? It’s the ultimate watch this space…
A NEW CHIEF SCIENTIST
Renowned physicist Dr Cathy Foley has been appointed Australia’s new chief scientist, taking over from Dr Alan Finkel in January next year when his 4-year term comes to an end. Foley, who is currently serving as the CSIRO’s chief scientist, says it’s “an absolutely fantastic time” to step up to the task. And her 36-year research career seems tailor-made for current challenges with experience in climate change, health and biosecurity, mineral resources, manufacturing and energy. She is also familiar with the world of politics, having advised the Prime Minister’s Science Engineering and Innovation Council. “Where I hope I can bring value is being able to identify where… research is complete or is the best knowledge or information as possible, then what that means to translate into policy,” she said.
THROWN FOR A LOOP
People in pods, inside a vacuum tube. Welcome to the future of high-speed travel… Based on a proposal by Tesla/SpaceX founder Elon Musk and worked up into a concept for testing by Virgin, the ambition is to suck travellers along a tube track at speeds of more than 1,000km/h. Based on the science behind super-fast magnetic levitation trains, the pods can go even faster inside a vacuum tube. This isn’t an idea confined to the realm of science fiction – the first test with passengers happened yesterday in a Nevada desert in a 500m track. The journey was “smooth” the testers said, and they weren’t left feeling sick after quickly reaching 172km/h. The Virgin Hyperloop isn’t the only one of these in development – the thought is the technology could be used between big airports and rich/close-ish cities or nations. Wonder what Dr Foley thinks about it…
LANDMARK DEAL FOR RUGBY
For the first time in the competition’s 25-year history, Super Rugby will be available on free-to-air television with Rugby Australia inking a $100 million, 3-year deal with Nine. The deal ends rugby’s relationship with Foxtel, and will see Nine broadcast every Wallabies test match from next year onwards. And Super Rugby will also have a presence on the network. The rest, including all other Super Rugby matches, Super W, the Rugby Championship and the like, will be live and ad-free on a new Stan channel mysteriously named Stan Sport. Ok, not so mysterious…. That will be available from 2021. Nine boss Hugh Marks said there would be changes to the way rugby is covered. And Rugby Oz boss Rob Clarke said “gives more Australians more access to more rugby than ever before.”
IT’S ADELAIDE WITH A ROCKET
Australia’s best urban place to live – a big well done goes to Adelaide. When it comes to ‘livability’ scores like safety, affordable housing and health services, it’s Radelaide all the way, according to a new Ipsos survey. Not in the top 10 last year, Ipsos spokesman Stuart Clark said the events of 2020 could be responsible for it charging the charts. “Maybe that is because people are spending a bit more time around their homes in the local area and really enjoying that space.” Sydney’s Sutherland Shire came in second, presumably because notable local PM Scott Morrison said it had to. And inner Perth is number 3. And now please excuse us as we pat ourselves on the back for getting through that without a lame parochial joke…
SQUIZ THE DAY
• the Dutch formally ceding New Netherlands (New York) to the English (1674)
• German engineer Gottlieb Daimler unveiling the world’s first motorcycle (1885)
• the premiere of Home Alone (1990)
• the birthdays of theologian Martin Luther (1483), actor Brittany Murphy (1977)
And it’s a birthday for The Squiz’s farter-in-chief, Tucker
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