“They are slow breeders, they nest on the ground, and their main defence is to imitate a shrub.”
And yet the kākāpō – aka the ‘mighty moss chicken’ – has been voted New Zealand’s bird of the year in another highly contentious election. Made famous by a much-watched video of a member of the fat parrot crew attempting to mate with a man’s head, the bird that’s said to smell like the “inside of a clarinet case” is the Kiwis’ pick.
SOUTH OZ FIGHTS COVID CLUSTER
A cluster of COVID-19 cases has been detected in the northern suburbs of Adelaide leading to rapid steps to limit the spread. They are the first cases of community transmission in South Oz since 16 April and are thought to have originated from the city’s hotel quarantine system. After an initial 4 cases were identified on Sunday, 13 more were reported yesterday. Fifteen of those are linked to the same family, but it’s still a big job for contact tracers. Thousands turned out for testing yesterday as Premier Steven Marshall announced the reintroduction of restrictions from midnight with all international flights to Adelaide cancelled for at least this week. The Australian Defence Force will also be mobilised to help out. Calling it the state’s “biggest test to date,” Marshall said they are “working around the clock to stay ahead of this cluster, no effort will be spared.”
HOW DID THAT GO DOWN?
Most states announced measures to deal with travellers from Adelaide/South Oz. There are differences in the approach, of course… Long story short, Queensland, Tasmania, Western Oz, and the Top End have declared Adelaide a ‘hotspot’ and will require travellers who arrived since last week to self-isolate or go into quarantine. Western Australia has banned those travelling from South Oz unless they meet a “strict exemption” category. Meanwhile, Victoria and NSW have kept their borders open as the Federal Government restated its position that border closures are unnecessary for outbreaks like this one. PM Scott Morrison said he hopes the cluster won’t jeopardise plans to open domestic borders by Christmas.
BRING ON A VACCINE…
Well, there’s good news on that front this morning. Moderna has released data showing its vaccine to be 94.5% effective. Of 30,000 trial volunteers, the claim is based on a look at the first 95 patients to get COVID-19. Ninety of them had received the placebo and 5 had received the vaccine. Like the Pfizer data from last week, it’s information based on small numbers, but it will be enough for the company to apply to regulators in the US for authorisation to proceed to mass manufacture in the coming weeks, the company says. And it has an advantage on the Pfizer vaccine in that it doesn’t need to be stored at very low temperatures – just a fridge will do. Australia doesn’t have an agreement in place for this vaccine.
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JACK CLAIMS A WIN
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has halved Aussie swimmer Shayna Jack’s 4-year doping ban after it accepted her defence that she did not knowingly take the banned drug Ligandrol. That means she can start to train from July next year but will miss the Tokyo Olympics that’s scheduled to begin in the same month. Unable to produce definitive evidence as to how she tested positive, she was not exonerated. But reports say the concentrations of Ligandrol in her system were minuscule and her testimony denying that she set out to breach the anti-doping rules was found to be compelling. “I accept this decision with a positive attitude and with gratitude that my career as a swimmer will resume next year. I never doubted myself for a minute throughout this ordeal and I have never allowed my integrity to be compromised,” Jack said on Insta. Jack withdrew from last year’s World Swimming Championship in South Korea under a cheating cloud.
SETTLEMENT REACHED ON ROBODEBT CLAIMS
The Morrison Government has agreed to a settlement of $1.2 billion as part of Centrelink’s unlawful automated debt recovery scheme, which between 2015 and 2019 generated thousands of inaccurate debt notices to more than 400,000 welfare recipients. That brings an end to the class-action lawsuit which was due to go to court yesterday. Back in May, it was agreed that $721 million would be paid back to people who were wrongly pursued. And yesterday, a further $398 million in debts were waived, and a $112 million compensation scheme is to be set up. While many welcomed the news, Labor’s Government Services spokesman Bill Shorten said he will continue to push for the establishment of a Royal Commission into the saga.
MENTAL HEALTH REFORM RECOMMENDED
Mental health issues are costing Australia up to $200 billion a year, the Productivity Commission’s long-awaited report revealed yesterday. And many Aussies are slipping through the cracks with many families finding it hard to navigate the complex and often costly mental health system. It’s pressing because every year, more than one in 5 Aussies experience mental health issues, and more than half of us are set to be diagnosed with a mental health condition during our lifetimes, the report says. Note: this is pre-coronavirus, which experts say has exacerbated mental health issues across the country. The report made several recommendations, including more services for new parents and school-aged children, and PM Scott Morrison said the government will deliver a formal response by November next year.
UP, UP, AND AWAY
One Japanese and 3 American astronauts walk onto a SpaceX flight to the International Space Station… Yesterday marked another milestone for space travel with SpaceX now operating a fully fledged astronaut taxi service. The flight (which launched sans SpaceX boss Elon Musk due to a suspected coronavirus infection) is due to dock at 3pm AEDT today after a 25.5-hour trip. And the arrival of the 4 astronauts means the ISS crew will have 7 onboard to undertake scientific experiments including attempting to grow food in space, as well as the usual maintenance tasks. SpaceX is planning 7 more missions over the next 15 months for NASA, and private customers could be space-bound from late 2021 – just in time to put some distance between yourself and the family come next Christmas…
TIGER’S UNLUCKY NUMBER
The US Masters delivered a resounding win to Dustin Johnson yesterday with a record-breaking 20-under-par – an achievement he got uncharacteristically choked up about. And for equal second place getter, 27yo Queenslander Cameron Smith also set a record. He became the first player to shoot all four rounds of a Masters in fewer than 70 shots. Incredible. Also setting records was last year’s winner Tiger Woods. He scored a PW (personal worst…) on the 12th hole with a septuple-bogey… That happened when he shot 10 on the par 3 hole – a score that’s very doable when you put three balls into the water. “This sport is awfully lonely sometimes … You have to fight through it,” he said. You can relive his pain via this brutal tweet…
It turns out nobody is normal. What a relief…
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12.30pm (AEDT) – National Rural Health Commissioner Ruth Stewart addresses the National Press Club – Canberra
3.00pm (AEDT) – SpaceX’s ‘Resilience’ due to dock at the International Space Station
ABS Data Releases – Weekly Payroll Jobs and Wages in Australia, October; Livestock Products, September
International Students’ Day
Birthdays for director Martin Scorsese (1942), actor Danny Devito (1944), drag queen and TV personality RuPaul (1960), singer Kate Ceberano (1966) and actor Rachel McAdams (1978)
• Elizabeth I ascending the throne at 25yo following the death of her half sister Mary (1558)
• the opening of the Suez Canal, linking Mediterranean and Red seas (1869)
• the anniversary of the first ship sailing through the Panama Canal, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (1913)
• Douglas Engelbart receiving a patent for the first computer mouse (1970)
• the premiere of the film Twilight (2008)
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