“Too long between appointments with the beautician…”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian won social media on the weekend when Nine News gave her a startling glimpse of herself…
WESTERN AUSTRALIA LOCKS DOWN - HARD
Just as Australia recorded its longest period of no new cases of community transmission of the coronavirus since February last year, 2 million Western Australians have started a 5-day hard lockdown. It’s the result of a quarantine hotel security guard testing positive to the virus – officials fear he has the highly contagious UK variant, but that’s to be confirmed. An investigation into how the man in his 20s got the virus is underway. It’s a shock for the state after going 10 months without a locally-acquired case of COVID-19.
SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
From 6pm yesterday, residents of Perth and the South West/Peel regions are staying home for at least this week, Premier Mark McGowan announced. They are allowed to leave home for the Big 4 (shopping, exercise, caring for people/seeking medical care, and work if you can’t WFH), and a mask must be worn. Pubs and clubs are closed, and restaurants and cafes can do takeaway only. And in a coup for school kids, the start of Term 1 has been put back a week. As for WA’s federal pollies who flew into Canberra yesterday – they must quarantine in their accommodation until Friday. Other states have also responded with restrictions on travellers from the impacted areas. PM Scott Morrison, who will today outline a $1.9 billion plan to roll out COVID vaccinations, thanked WA residents for doing their bit “as we all work to fight this terrible virus.”
IT’S HAPPIER DAYS FOR TRAVELLING KIWIS…
Indeed, the one-way travel bubble was restarted yesterday. The bubble’s 6-day suspension came after 3 cases of the South African variant were detected in the NZ community. No further cases have been reported, so Australia’s health officials have determined that restarting the travel bubble was “sufficiently low risk”. Still, pre and post-flight screening will be implemented for all flights from New Zealand for the next 10 days, including a check that travellers are not close contacts of the known cases. It’s also happier days for Greater Sydney residents who are looking to travel to Queensland without quarantining – that’s possible from today after restrictions were put in place on 21 December.
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TENSIONS RISE OVER COVID VACCINES
The European Union has done what international health officials feared and introduced export controls on coronavirus vaccines made there to help member nations vaccinate their citizens. Drug companies Pfizer and AstraZeneca are producing large batches of their vaccinations in Europe, but they have had some production issues that have seen supply fall short. And so the EU says that vaccines produced there should stay there until local contracts are fulfilled. It’s caused the first major test of the Brexit border arrangements with the EU threatening checks in Ireland. And it’s caused anxiety here in Oz with 10 million Pfizer doses and 3.8 million AstraZeneca jabs made in Europe on order. Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt yesterday said he’s been reassured that things are on track.
Also causing concern in that neck of the woods is news this morning that 100yo super-fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore is in hospital with COVID. He had been treated for pneumonia over the past few weeks, but he’s returned a positive test and was admitted this morning for “help with breathing”. His daughter Hannah says they hope to have him home soon.
STARING DOWN BIG TECH
Met anyone interesting lately? Treasurer Josh Frydenberg met Facebook czar and ruler of all the lands Mark Zuckerberg last week… The Big Tech boss “reached out” (how very Silicon Valley….) to talk about the Morrison Government’s plans for a mandatory bargaining code that would see Facebook and Google pay for Australian news content. Neither giant is happy with the proposal. Like, really unhappy about it… The social media platform says it would stop Aussies from posting news links if it goes ahead. And Google says it would pull its online search engine. “I don’t dismiss the threats, but I’m not intimidated by them either,” Frydenberg said on ABC TV’s Insiders yesterday. The issue has put our political leaders in front of some of the tech industry’s movers and shakers – Frydenberg said PM Scott Morrison spoke to Microsoft boss Satya Nadella last week about its search engine Bing.
TEAM TRUMP WALKS
Former US president Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins on 9 February. So it’s a bit late in the day for him to change his legal representation as he defends the charge ‘incitement of insurrection’ after pro-Trump supporters charged the Capitol on 6 January. Unnamed insiders say it was a “mutual decision” for lead South Carolina lawyer Karl ‘Butch’ Bowers – a well-regarded ethics attorney – to up stumps with his deputy Deborah Barbier after a disagreement on strategy. Reports say Trump has found it hard to find a top-notch team because prominent lawyers didn’t want to risk it now he’s out of power.
WE CAN MAKE IT LOUD
International tennis fans were stunned by the sight of unmasked crowds attending exhibition matches in Adelaide on the weekend. After a cancelled Wimbledon and the US and French Opens’ empty stadiums, it was like a flashback to a pre-COVID time. “I feel like I’m watching science fiction,” tweeted one overseas observer. Players are excited to encounter their biggest crowds since the last Aussie Open when this year’s tournament kicks off on Monday next week with the Victorian Government confirming up to 30,000 spectators per day will be permitted – about 50% capacity. Also excited is Oz Open boss Craig Tiley – he’s pleased the quarantine period and addressing players’ interesting requests is behind them…
APROPOS OF NOTHING
Is there nothing that family of plucky pups can’t do? Bluey: The Album is the first children’s music album to top the ARIA album charts. And it hit #5 in the US too. Wonder how many dollarbucks that’ll make ‘em?
Speaking of pretty pennies – the Holden Commodore given the manufacturer’s final serial number has been snapped up at auction – for $750,000. We don’t speak hoon, but it’s said to be a VF Series II SSV Redline sedan with just 102km on the clock.
And speaking of things that are red hot – Mike Jack of London, Ontario has broken a world record for eating 3 of the world’s most potent chilli peppers. He downed them in 9.72 seconds with each pepper delivering an average of 1.5 million Scoville Heat Units (SHU). For context, the average jalapeño rates 2,500-8,000 SHU. Flamin’ heck…
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12.30pm (AEDT) – PM Scott Morrison addresses the National Press Club – Canberra
Queensland opens its borders to residents of greater Sydney
Commissioner Patricia Bergin to deliver her findings from the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry into Crown Resorts to the NSW Government. The findings won’t be made public for a couple of weeks
ABS Data Release – Lending Indicators, December
ATP Cup begins (on until 5 March) – Melbourne
The first i4give Day – a day of forgiveness and celebration marking the first anniversary of the deaths of siblings Antony, Angelina and Sienna Abdallah and their cousin Veronique Sakr when they were struck by a drunk driver in Sydney
Beginning of Ovarian Cancer Month
Start of Black History Month in the US
Back to school for kids in the urban areas of the Top End
A birthday for Harry Styles (1994)
• the arrest of Martin Luther King Jr and 700 protestors in Selma, Alabama (1965)
• the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster killing all 7 astronauts aboard (2003)
New month, new motivation? Read the email every day this week and you’ll go into the draw to win a $100 gift card to spend at Woolworths. Nice.
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