PERTH FREE TO ROAM AS COVID CASES SURGE GLOBALLY
Two million Perth and Peel region residents have so far avoided a 2nd snap lockdown, but AFL fans were blocked from attending the AFL’s Western Derby that saw the West Coast Eagles take on Fremantle yesterday afternoon. Three new cases of locally-acquired COVID-19 reported on Saturday put locals on edge days after the last lockdown ended. The latest cluster stems from a quarantine hotel worker who has infected 2 of his housemates who are food delivery drivers. Premier Mark McGowan said a lockdown would have been imminent had the area not been under restrictions last week, including the wearing of masks. “But if we need to, that is what we’ll do,” he said.
ANOTHER BREACH OF HOTEL QUARANTINE, EH?
As a critic of the system, McGowan says city hotels are not the place to quarantine international travellers. And that’s why he says he supports the Morrison Government’s move to temporarily ban travellers – including Aussie citizens and permanent residents – coming to Oz from India. It’s believed to be the first time Australia has banned its own citizens from entering the country, and adding fuel to the fire, fines of up to $66,600 or 5 years in prison (or both…) for anyone defying the travel ban kick in today. Legal experts have questioned the ban’s legal standing, and former Iranian prisoner Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert said leaving Aussies in the middle of a COVID catastrophe was “immoral, unjustifiable and completely un-Australian.” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said it was a tough decision, but “it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected”.
WHERE ARE THINGS AT IN INDIA?
Almost 800,000 new cases were reported in India over the weekend, including a new global record on Saturday of 401,993 new cases. And more than 7,200 people were reported to have died on Saturday and Sunday’s record-breaking updates. Eligibility to be vaccinated was opened to all adults on Saturday, but reports say there is a crippling supply shortage. Looking globally, the number of new daily cases doubled in the 2 months to the end of April, and half of that is down to the surge in India. Brazil, Turkey and Iran are other hotspots that are worrying health officials. “To put it in perspective, there were almost as many cases globally last week as in the first 5 months of the pandemic,” World Health Organisation boss Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday. Yikes…
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SHOWING FAMILIES THE MONEY
The Federal Government might have a bit more cash to splash than was anticipated, reports this morning say. And as the Morrison Government limbers up for next week’s Budget, child care affordability was in focus with $1.7 billion in new funding to give Aussie families with one child in child care 95% of their out-of-pocket expenses for any additional kids. And all families – regardless of the number of kids – could benefit from the scrapping of the $10,560 cap on childcare subsidies. It should add 300,000 hours of work to the economy a week and $1.5 billion a year to gross domestic product, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said yesterday. The proposal won the endorsement of key sector figures who say it is a step in the right direction of removing the disincentives for women to return to the workforce. Others pointed out it’s some way off with the measure to kick off in July 2022. Labor leader Anthony Albanese poo-pooed the idea saying it “does nothing to move towards a universal, affordable child care system, something that Labor says we need to do”.
LIBERALS LIKE THEM TASSIE APPLES…
It wasn’t the landslide victory the coronavirus delivered incumbents in Western Oz and Queensland, but Liberal leader Peter Gutwein claimed his party’s 3rd consecutive win in Tassie – a first for his side in the state. Counting will be completed in the coming days, but it looks like the Liberals will end up with 13 seats – that means majority government with a margin of one seat. Labor will likely retain 9 seats despite a 4.5% swing against them. And the Greens picked up more votes than last time, but not more seats – it’s got 2, and there’s one independent. That’s where things stood a couple of months ago… Labor leader Rebecca White said it wasn’t her time as “there is no doubt that Peter Gutwein and our public health officials kept our community safe and tonight’s result reflects that.” Gutwein thanked Taswegians for their support.
NORTH KOREA ANGERED BY BIDEN
Relations between the US and North Korea have deteriorated further. President Joe Biden called out North Korea’s human rights record and said the nuclear programs of the Hermit Kingdom and Iran were “serious threats to American security and the security of the world” in his first address to Congress last week. And like the girl in an expensive disaster meme, North Korean said Biden’s statements showed the US is “girding itself up for an all-out showdown“. The Biden administration has been trying to contact North Korean officials since taking office, so far unsuccessfully. A review of America’s policies on dealing with North Korea has been completed by Biden’s team, and discussions with South Korea and Japan about the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula will happen soon.
LUNGS OF THE WORLD SPLUTTERING
The Brazillian Amazon is now a net emitter of carbon dioxide, new research has shown. The so-called ‘lung of the Earth‘ is spread across several South American countries, with 60% of the rainforest in Brazil. In that neck of the woods, nearly 20% more carbon dioxide has entered the atmosphere over the past decade than it absorbed. The Amazon basin, with half of the world’s tropical rainforests, has been a great, big carbon sponge/oxygen machine for the world. Deforestation has been an issue for decades, but the rate has surged under Brazil’s pro-development President Jair Bolsonaro since 2019. Not looking to mend his ways, he yesterday announced reduced fines for land-clearing ranchers saying it would bring “peace and tranquillity” to the countryside.
VALE OLYMPIA DUKAKIS
The Academy Award winner has died at 89yo. After acting for decades, mainly on the stage, it was a 56yo Dukakis that broke through in 1987 with Moonstruck – a turn that scored her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar as Cher picked up the Best Actress gong in that dress. “I’ve been ‘discovered’ about 6 times, y’know,” she said at the time as she blitzed Hollywood as a newcomer who specialised in roles as “wise, meddlesome or cynical mothers”, including in the female tour de force Steel Magnolias. Tributes poured in for the actress who said success didn’t come easy. “Everyone loved her. She was a gift… unique and talented and one of a kind,” tweeted fellow actress Sally Field.
APROPOS OF NOTHING - COVID-ADJACENT EDITION
Vaccinations are all the rage, which is why Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt paused yesterday to mark a milestone. Australia’s childhood vaccination rates for 5yos for all those nasties like diphtheria and whooping cough is 95.22% – a record high. For Indigenous kids, it’s at 97.26%. The WHO gold standard is 86%, so go us.
America’s confidence is rising, so to speak, after a tough winter of COVID. Condom manufacturer Durex says sales are up almost 25% in the 4 weeks to mid-April compared to the same period last year.
Also strutting his stuff is former UK PM Tony Blair and his grey mullet. Commentators blame a surge in older blokes reclaiming the long hair of their yoof on Britain’s 3-month lockdown. “In a way, Tony has his finger on the pulse, but then there’s a reason he won 3 consecutive elections,” said grooming expert Lee Kynaston.
SQUIZ THE DAY
May Day public holiday – Northern Territory
Labour Day public holiday – Queensland
• New Zealand proclaimed a colony independent of New South Wales (1841)
• Margaret Mitchell wins the Pulitzer Prize for “Gone With the Wind” (1937)
• Japan’s post-war constitution goes into effect, granting universal suffrage, stripping Emperor Hirohito of all but symbolic power and outlawing Japan’s right to make war (1947)
• the first spam email, sent by a Digital Equipment Corporation marketing representative to every ARPANET address on the US west coast (1978)
• the disappearance of Madeline McCann (2007)
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