What happened today, Tuesday 16 February
We will leave it there for today. Here are today’s main developments.
- The Therapeutic Goods Administration today approved the AstraZeneca vaccine, a major step forward as Australia moves closer to beginning its vaccine roll out.
- Scott Morrison announced a workplace review in response to Brittany Higgins’ allegations, in a move welcomed by the former Liberal staffer. The defence minister and Higgins’ former employer, Linda Reynolds, apologised for her handling of the complaint.
- The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, said his government would pursue a purpose-built quarantine facility based on the NT’s Howard Springs site.
- The full federal court sided with a Tamil family from Biloela who are currently detained on Christmas Island and fighting deportation.
- The Morrison government dropped planned changes to the Better Off Overall Test in an industrial relations bill headed for the Senate following a fierce campaign from Labor and unions.
See you tomorrow.
Paul Karp has more on Craig Kelly’s Facebook’s suspension at the article below.
New poll predicts crushing Western Australia Labor win
Western Australia’s opposition leader is at risk of losing his own seat in another Labor landslide at the March election, according to a new poll, reports AAP.
The poll of 1,021 residents across the state, commissioned by the WA Conservation Council and conducted by polling firm uComms on January 29, found Labor leading the Liberals 61-39 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
Such a result on polling day would bring a 5.5% swing to Labor from the bloodbath 2017 election in which the Liberals lost 18 of its 31 seats.
Five of the party’s remaining seats are considered marginal.
Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup holds his seat of Dawesville by just 0.7%, although his elevated platform as leader could boost his vote in the electorate.
Three men arrested in Melbourne over alleged lockdown breaches
Three men have been arrested in Melbourne’s north after police responded to reports of people training at a gym, in breach of Victoria’s lockdown directions.
A police spokeswoman said:
As part of Operation Sentinel patrols, police attended a gym on Sydney Road this afternoon following reports the gym was in operation and in breach of the directions issued by the chief health officer.
Three men were arrested at the scene all of which will be issued penalty notices in relation to breaching CHO directions.
Police will also be following up and have enquiries to make in relation to several patrons of the gym who were believed to be training in the gym at the time.
Australian-made claims costs wipes maker $200,000
The makers of Kleenex flushable wipes will have to pay a $200,000 fine over the online use of the Made in Australia logo, reports AAP.
Kimberly-Clark Australia had accepted its use of the mark on its websites for the products and others in the Kleenex Cottonelle range was false or misleading because the flushable wipes were foreign-made.
Physical packaging during the relevant times correctly stated the products were imported.
“The contraventions occurred as part of a desire to promote KCA’s Australian made Kleenex Cottonelle toilet paper products without considering that the representations would appear in such a way that it would indicate that all products promoted on the Kleenex Cottonelle website were made in Australia,” federal court Justice Wendy Abraham said on Tuesday.
“I accept that the contraventions occurred by oversight, that the situation was remedied when brought to KCA’s attention and it cooperated with ACCC at an early stage.”
This vaccine rollout explainer from my colleagues Matilda Boseley and Michael McGowan is definitely worth your time.
This is an interesting story by Kelly Burke about the impact of the pandemic at the box office.
ASX closes above 6900
AAP has today’s market update.
Australia’s share market closed above 6900 points for the first time since February last year, and an analyst expects it will rally in the short term as coronavirus vaccines are distributed.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index closed higher by 48.4 points, or 0.7%, to 6917.3.
The index is near the record close of 7162.49, set in February last year, just before stocks tumbled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The All Ordinaries on Tuesday closed better by 39.6 points, or 0.55%, at 7189.3.
The top sector was energy, up 2.1%, as vaccine programs around the world give hope for higher oil consumption.
Industrials was the next best sector, up 1.92%.
Greg Hunt for the Nobel prize? One Liberal MP thinks so apparently.
Asked about Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton’s remark today that the AstraZeneca approval marked the start of the end of the pandemic, the federal Liberal MP, Katie Allen says she’d “love to hear that coming from Greg Hunt”.
She tells ABC Melbourne:
Greg deserves a Nobel prize. I mean he’s an incredible health minister.
From the office of Labor’s communications spokesperson, Michelle Rowland:
The Senate has today reprimanded Minister [Paul] Fletcher and NBNCo for delaying responses to 34 questions on notice, which are now 58 days overdue.
Liberal Senator Jane Hume was called to explain the delays under Senate standing order 74(5), who then claimed the Minister’s own Department was blaming NBNCo for repeatedly refusing to answer.
What convenient buck passing to delay the release of information that Minister Fletcher wants to suppress!
O’Brien says he would have liked the state government to give more details today about whether Victoria will leave lockdown tomorrow night.
The trouble is the premier has been there in the past, he told us six weeks last time last year, and it turned out to be 16 weeks. So I think Victoria is very nervous when it comes to to this premier making pronouncements … We’ve been burned before.
O’Brien notes that when other states such as WA and Queensland announced “snap” lockdowns, they did not lockdown the whole state.
He says: “So why is Victoria so different?”
The Victorian government has locked down the entire state, rather than metropolitan Melbourne, saying that there would otherwise have been an exodus of Melburnians fleeing to the regions.
Speaking of the Victorian Liberals, the opposition leader, Michael O’Brien, is on the ABC.
He’s asked about the Andrews government’s idea of building a purpose-built quarantine outside the Melbourne CBD.
O’Brien says it’s a “third order” issue and that government’s priority should be fixing hotel quarantine and contact tracing.
He’s then played comments he made last week, where he said that there was some merit to the idea.
I’m not opposed to the concept, but what I’m saying is moving hotel quarantine out of Melbourne is not a substitute for fixing the problems in hotel quarantine.
He notes that NSW has managed hotel quarantine without the same consequences as have occurred in the UK.
The Victorian Liberal opposition is unhappy the Health Department has not updated its Covid-19 local government area data map.
It says the map has not been updated since 30 January 2021. The latest outbreak began on 4 February 2021.
The Liberals’ health spokeswoman, Georgie Crozier, says:
Why on earth do Victorians not have access to live and up-to-date information?
The Andrews Labor government is either hiding this data on purpose or is simply incompetent.
Victorians need to access all of the latest information to make the right choices to protect themselves and their communities from Covid-19.