Back to the Senate briefly, where the coronavirus economic response package is being debated.
One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has told the Senate “the government must engage effectively to keep us all up to date with facts”. If anyone wanted evidence that we are living in dark and unusual times, there it is.
Roberts confirms One Nation will vote in favour of the package, although it has two reservations:
- It has previously opposed the business growth fund, suggesting it will “wipe out opposition to the banks”.
- It is concerned about $115bn of loans from the RBA and government – although it appears he incorrectly believes this will be spent on “securitised mortgages”, not small business lending.
Earlier, the Centre Alliance senator Rex Patrick recounted to Radio National his experience with Covid-19, contracting it from Liberal senator Andrew Bragg and then testing positive 8 days later.
Patrick has done contact tracing with SA Health, suggesting they will now contact people who spent 20min within a metre or two hours in a room with him.
Patrick said Bragg had symptoms but couldn’t get tested for a few days because he hadn’t been overseas or had confirmed contact with someone who had been infected:
That’s left a situation where until he found out he’d been to the wedding in NSW where a number of people had been infected, he wasn’t eligible for a test. Had the testing criteria been looser, he would’ve found out much sooner, and I would’ve found out much sooner, and I would’ve self-isolated sooner. I think as we get more test kits available we should be testing perhaps more people.
On social distancing, he said:
I think it’s really important that people take this seriously. Clearly it can be caught by anyone from a senator to a janitor. And people have to be careful, they have to listen to all the government messaging on this. The scenes we saw on Bondi Beach – [were] totally unacceptable. Take it seriously, people.
Crown Burswood employees told to stay home
Employees at Crown Resorts’ Perth casino have been told they are not to come to work from 5pm today (Monday), unless told otherwise.
“There will be some roles that continue as normal until further notice and relevant staff will be advised of this,” staff were told in an internal bulletin, obtained by Guardian Australia.
We will be in contact with all staff in coming days around what assistance and support is available.
Staff numbers for the Perth casino were not immediately available but Crown employs 18,500 people in Australia, about 12,000 of whom work at the company’s flagship Melbourne operation.
Casinos across Australia were shut at midday on Monday as part of a broader clampdown on areas where people congregate, designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants and places of worship are also closed.
“We will continue to speak to government regarding next steps for Crown and our people,” the company said in the staff bulletin.
The company has been approached for comment.
Back to the Senate now. Greens senator, Nick McKim, has spoken on the coronavirus stimulus bills, calling for Australia to “leave nobody behind” and not to go back to business as usual afterwards.
“We can’t have rampant inequality in the good times and socialising the losses in the bad times,” he said, calling for Australia to create “a more caring economic and social framework”.
McKim is rattling off statistics to show times were tough for some – even “before the crisis” – citing rates of homelessness, rental stress, and insecure work.
On the bills themselves, McKim says they are “not guided by the neoliberal ideology … [because] the ideology of free markets is completely and provably unable to look after people, [it] destroys nature, and it does that in the good time and the bad”.
McKim calls on the government to adopt a similar whole-of-society approach to climate change, noting that global heating will cause an estimated $630tn of damage over a century, dwarfing Covid-19.
The Greens have submitted many sheet of amendments to extend the corona supplement to students and close other gaps in eligibility.
Labor’s Kristina Keneally has commended the objective of these and said Labor also raised these with the government – but there is no point passing them in the Senate if they will be rejected by the government in the lower house. So they are doomed.
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