“I reckon it’s blooming good.”
Said Kyogle’s Giant Pumpkin Festival organiser John Leadbetter of the clear winner. Weighing in at 867kg, Dale Oliver’s mighty squash from northern NSW has stolen the crown for heaviest in the Southern Hemisphere from a South African 860kg monster. That’s a lot of pumpkin scones…
CORONA CLASH AT HOME AS CHINA OPENS THE DOOR
As a flurry of updates to Australia’s border arrangements were announced yesterday, Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan urged NSW to “look outside” to see what other states have done to “to crush and kill” the coronavirus. “It would be, I think, advisable if NSW eliminated the virus from Sydney and that would, of course, mean that we could rest a lot easier across Australia,” he said. But NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who is increasingly at odds with her state and territory counterparts, says she wants more collaboration across the jurisdictions.
WHY NOT GO FOR ELIMINATION?
Well, National Cabinet agreed that the policy isn’t to eliminate the virus, it’s to ‘aggressively suppress’ it, and supporters say it’s unrealistic and too costly to do anything else. But this question has been an ongoing source of friction between leaders since the start of the crisis. For example, Western Oz has closed its border quickly when small numbers of cases have been detected interstate. In contrast, NSW has mostly kept its border open and has dealt with cross-border outbreaks on a local ‘hotspot’ basis. That means as the states and territories continue to manage their own responses, there’ll be 8 different approaches. That was brought home yesterday as Greater Brisbane came out of lockdown last night, Victoria relaxed its hard border and outlined a permit system for travellers, and NSW gave an update on clusters there. The latest on the many and varied border rules is here.
The team of 10 experts who were last week blocked from entering China to look into the origins of the coronavirus will arrive on Thursday. An important part of the World Health Organisation’s inquiry is speaking to Chinese scientists and reviewing their data – and that will now happen after months of negotiations. Professor Dominic Dwyer, an infectious diseases specialist from the University of Sydney, is part of the expert team.
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IT’S OFF TO IMPEACHMENT THEY GO
But first, Democrats in the US House of Representatives have urged Vice President Mike Pence to use his constitutional authority under the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has recalled lawmakers to Washington to vote on the matter tomorrow. After that, Pence will have 24 hours to respond, and if he doesn’t make a move (he’s expected not to…), the House will proceed to impeach President Donald Trump for the second time. That process will be quick with a vote expected on Wednesday local time. The single article of impeachment against the President for inciting a mob of his supporters to violence to prevent certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election has been tabled this morning. The likelihood of Trump being convicted in the Senate – which requires a two-thirds majority vote – is dubious, pundits say. Overnight, First Lady Melania Trump made a statement condemning last week’s violence but backing her husband.
INDONESIA DEALS WITH DUAL TRAGEDIES
Indonesian authorities have located but not yet retrieved the black boxes of the Sriwijaya Air jet that crashed into the Java Sea just north of Jakarta on Saturday killing all 62 people on board. Their discovery has raised hopes of finding out why the crash occurred. Meanwhile, two landslides killed at least 12 people amid heavy rainfall in a village in the Sumedang district of West Java, 150km southeast of Jakarta. Many of those missing in the second landslide were rescuers trying to save people buried in the first. Indonesia is no stranger to landslides, and President Joko Widodo last year warned it would be a danger this season due to the La Niña weather system.
DANGEROUS FIRE THREATENS TOWN
A dangerous grassfire 120km north of Mount Gambier in South Oz has been downgraded after it yesterday approached the small town of Lucindale where people and homes were at risk. The Country Fire Service says the so-called Blackford fire, which quickly burned through 16,000 hectares, was “incredibly difficult to control”. Locals have been told to remain vigilant today. Meanwhile, the emergency-level fire burning north of Perth that was of major concern last week has been downgraded to ‘watch and act’. But it’s not over yet… Firefighters are still trying to extinguish embers, and hot and windy conditions forecast for the rest of the week threaten the fire’s containment lines.
AND SMOKIN’ IN TASSIE…
The sale of cigarettes to Taswegians aged under 21yo could be banned if a bill passes the state’s parliament later this year. Tassie has the second-highest rate of smoking in the country after the Top End and high compliance rates when it comes to retailers checking the age of youngsters looking to buy cigs. That’s why anti-tobacco campaigners say the state is the best place to try out the plan, and independent pollie Ivan Dean will put it forward. The Tobacco 21 (T21) laws in the US, which were passed in 2019, is the model, campaigners say. But sceptics say the US could do it because the legal drinking age there is 21yo. Tasmania’s Liberal Government proposed raising the state’s smoking age to 25yo in 2015, but it now rejects the idea saying it would create a black market for tobacco products.
SHOPPING UP A STORM
The US-led Black Friday sales – totally a thing here in Oz these days. That’s what the latest official retail sales numbers released yesterday show. The 7.1% jump in sales in November compared with the previous month was also driven by Victoria’s emergence out of lockdown, and tech releases like Apple’s newest iPhones. The standout numbers – online sales were up 11%. And for those looking for a new look after months of trackie dacks, the clothing/footwear/accessories category was up by 26.7%. Analysts say Black Friday’s rise has impacted retailers’ Boxing Day sales – traditionally the time when Aussies go nuts over a discounted 3-pack of undies.
APROPOS OF NOTHING
The latest for those looking to spoil their pooch? How about some Ben and Jerry’s doggie desserts? “This is an opportunity for people to treat their dogs as they’re treating themselves when they grab a pint off the shelf,” a spokeswoman said. And an opportunity for the company to take advantage of the booming pet market…
Good news for SATC fans (if you have to ask, you aren’t one…) – Carrie, Miranda and Charlotte are making a comeback. Missing is Samantha Jones who is shacked up on an exotic island with a young gentleman… Well, who knows, but it’s a more agreeable ending than Kim Cattrall’s falling out with the gang…
SQUIZ THE DAY
Birthdays for author Haruki Murakami (1949), Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (1964) and pop star Zayn Malik (1993)
• Josef Dzhugashvili first using the psydonym Stalin (“man of steel”) in a letter penned to the newspaper Social Democrat (1913)
• the founding of Timely Comics (later Marvel) by New York publisher Martin Goodman (1939)
• the death of British crime novelist Agatha Christie (1976)
• an earthquake in Haiti that killed more than 200,000 people (2010)
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