Europe plunges back into lockdown
A rapid surge in Covid-19 cases is prompting a host of European countries to return to lockdown this week, as Australia marks its first 24-hour period without community transmission since early June. After France began enforcement of a month-long hard lockdown on Friday, a number of nations this week will join them with their own suite of restrictions, including England, Germany, Portugal, Austria, and Greece. Slovakia, meanwhile, tested nearly half of its residents on Saturday, as it aims to test its entire 5.4-million-strong population over two days. Large groups of protesters violently clashed with police in Spain and Italy, where authorities are considering tightening existing restrictions. After taking almost nine months to record its first 5 million COVID-19 cases, Europe took only five weeks to register its next 5 million cases. The situation stands in stark contrast to Australia, where no community transmission of Covid-19 was recorded in a 24-hour period. NSW detected one locally transmitted case at the weekend but it was excluded from the Saturday tally after being detected after the 8pm deadline.
Federal energy minister Angus Taylor did nothing to correct the record for about a month after using false figures on travel expenditure to launch an attack on Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore. Taylor was told almost immediately after his office disseminated doctored figures about Moore’s spending on travel last year that the numbers were wrong, but let the numbers stand. The revelation comes from documents released by Taylor in settlement of a case The Guardian brought in the administrative appeals tribunal under the Freedom of Information Act. They include a series of WhatsApp messages between Taylor and his staff. “Boss, just a heads up for tomorrow,” a staff member tells Taylor says via WhatsApp on September 29, 2019. “The City of Sydney Council has altered their annual report numbers online since we originally accessed them. So we know Clover Moore will dispute that she has spent so much on travel.” Taylor’s office reports that the two other staff referred to in the documents have left the minister’s employment.
The Australian economy will lose more than $3 trillion and 900,000 jobs over the next 50 years if climate change is not addressed, according to a new report from Deloitte Access Economics. The report found Australia is primed for an economic contraction of 6 per cent and $3.4 trillion in lost GDP by 2070 due to climate change. Queensland would contribute more than half those losses (470,000, or 7 per cent of the state’s workforce) and endure a 14 per cent dip in gross state product due to its exposure to high temperatures and export sectors. A “new growth recovery” – including a net-zero emissions target by 2050, upgrading electricity infrastructure and renewables innovation boosted by government and private investment – would create a $680 billion economic dividend.
A shipment of live Australian rock lobster is stranded awaiting customs clearance in China, prompting fears that seafood is the latest casualty in the trade dispute between Australia and China that has already engulfed wine, barley, and coal. A rejection of the fresh lobsters or a further delay of more than 48 hours, beyond which the crustaceans are unlikely to survive, would send a message that it is another trade strike after a year of rising tensions. The lobster delays come on the eve of a major international export expo in Shanghai.