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Covid-19 has revealed a pre-existing pandemic of poverty that benefits the rich

Poverty is suddenly all over the front page. As coronavirus ravages the globe, its wholly disproportionate impact on poor people and marginalised communities is inescapable. Hundreds of millions of people are being pushed into poverty and unemployment, with woeful support in most places, alongside a huge expansion in hunger, homelessness, and dangerous work.How could the poverty narrative have turned on a dime? Until just a few months ago, many were celebrating the imminent end of poverty; now it’s everywhere. The explanation is simple. Over the past decade, world leaders, philanthropists and pundits have embraced a deceptively optimistic narrative about the world’s progress against poverty. It has been lauded as one of the “greatest human achievements”, a feat seen “never before in human history” and an “unprecedented” accomplishment. But the success story was always highly misleading.As I show in my final report as UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, almost all of these rosy accounts rely on one measure – the World Bank’s $1.90 (£1.50) a day international poverty line – which is widely misunderstood, flawed and yields a deceptively positive picture. It has generated an undue sense of satisfaction and a dangerous complacency with the status quo.Presenting the agenda of the wealthy as the best road to poverty alleviation has entirely upended the social contractUnder that line, the number of people in “extreme poverty” fell from 1.9 billion in 1990 to 736 million in 2015. But the dramatic drop is only possible with a scandalously unambitious benchmark, which aims to ensure a mere miserable subsistence. The best evidence shows it doesn’t even cover the cost of food or housing in many countries. And it obscures poverty among women and those often excluded from official surveys, such as migrant workers and refugees. Much of the touted decline is due to rising incomes in a single country, China.The consequences of this highly unrealistic picture of progress against poverty have been devastating.First, it is attributed to economic growth, justifying a “pro-growth” agenda characterised by deregulation, privatisation, lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy, easy movement of money across borders and excessive legal protections for capital. In my six years investigating governments’ anti-poverty efforts for the UN, I encountered this convenient alibi time and time again. Everything from tax breaks for the super-rich to destructive mega-projects that extract wealth from the global south are lauded as efforts to reduce poverty, when they do no such thing.Presenting the agenda of the wealthy as the best road to poverty alleviation has entirely upended the social contract and redefined the public good as helping the rich get richer.Second, the progress narrative has been used to drown out the appalling results so often brought about by this perversion of pro-growth policies. Many of the countries that have achieved great growth in GDP have also experienced exploding inequality, rising hunger, unaffordable health and housing costs, persistent racial wealth gaps, the proliferation of jobs that don’t pay a living wage, the dismantling of social safety nets and ecological devastation. These phenomena, directly related to neoliberal policies, are unaccounted for in the tale of heroic gains against poverty.Third, the rosy picture painted by the World Bank’s most publicised poverty measure has encouraged complacency. Billions of people face few opportunities, preventable death and remain too poor to enjoy basic human rights. About half the world, 3.4 billion people, lives on less than $5.50 a day, and that number has barely declined since 1990. Even high-income countries with ample resources have failed to seriously reduce poverty rates.Until governments take seriously the human right to an adequate standard of living, the poverty pandemic will long outlive coronavirusThe coronavirus has merely lifted the lid off the pre-existing pandemic of poverty. Covid-19 arrived in a world where poverty, extreme inequality and disregard for human life are thriving, and in which legal and economic policies are designed to create and sustain wealth for the powerful, but not end poverty. This is the political choice that has been made.Nowhere are these problems more evident than the UN’s sustainable development goals, which are clearly not going to be met without drastic recalibration. The SDG framework places immense and mistaken faith in growth and the private sector, rather than envisioning states as the key agents of change and embracing policies that will redistribute wealth and address precarity.Until governments take seriously the human right to an adequate standard of living, the poverty pandemic will long outlive coronavirus. This requires them to stop hiding behind the World Bank’s miserable subsistence line and abandon triumphalism about the imminent end of poverty. Deeper social and economic transformation is imperative, to avert a climate catastrophe, provide universal social protection, achieve redistribution through tax justice and ultimately to really get on track to ending poverty.• Philip Alston is John Norton Pomeroy professor of law at New York University School of Law and co-chair of the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice. He was the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights from 2014-2020

Sunak's jobs plan must be backed by childcare funding, say MPs

MPs have issued a fresh plea to Rishi Sunak to offer more financial support to the struggling childcare sector after he failed to take action in Wednesday’s summer statement.The chancellor declined to offer more financial help to nurseries and other providers in his “plan for jobs”, despite being urged to do so by business groups including the Institute of Directors, and the Conservative chairs of the equalities, education and liaison parliamentary committees.The Labour MP Stella Creasy, who challenged Sunak on the issue, said: “Childcare is an infrastructure issue. If we don’t get this right, nurseries and other early years providers will close, and people will have to take their kids to work; as we have seen over recent months, that does not make for a productive workforce.”She added: “Two-thirds of women who want to return to work in the next couple of months cannot because they cannot get any [childcare].”The National Day Nurseries Association has warned that 71% of its members expect to operate at a loss between now and September, and a further 23% to just break even. It is calling for a “recovery and transformation fund” to help providers stay afloat, and adjust to the requirements of keeping children safe.Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP for Harlow, who chairs the education committee, said: “I just think the government needs to set out a long-term plan for childcare and nurseries, to make sure they have financial stability for the future, both in terms of private provision, and our incredibly successful maintained nurseries. They need to be absolutely clear that their future is secure.”Sam Smethers of the Fawcett Society warned that progress on closing the gender gap could be reversed if women were unable to return to work because there is no childcare in place. “They’re just not getting it,” she said of the government.Sunak was pressed on the issue during Wednesday’s debate by the former Conservative minister Steve Brine, who urged the chancellor to spend 15 minutes hearing about the pressures facing the sector.“Jobs, jobs, jobs is fantastic and right, but it has to be backed by childcare that actually exists,” Brine said.Sunak replied by pointing out that nurseries could benefit from the business rates relief that was part of his economic rescue package – and that the government has continued to fund early years places.But Smethers pointed out that many nurseries are heavily reliant on parental contributions, which fell off a cliff when they were forced to close to all but essential workers in March, and have only gradually begun to resume.“There’s nothing in anything the chancellor’s done to bridge that gap – they’re just not strong enough businesses,” she said.Less than a quarter of children have returned to early years settings, according to official figures, and providers are having to reduce numbers to allow them to comply with Covid-secure guidelines.Marsha de Cordova, Labour’s shadow equalities minister, called on Sunak to carry out a gender impact assessment of the policies announced in Wednesday’s statement.“Given the government has completely failed to carry out, let alone publish, any equality impact assessment of the summer statement, then perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that it hasn’t occurred to the chancellor to provide even a scintilla of additional support for people carrying the huge additional weight of child care.“But that doesn’t make it any less disappointing: just last month the Institute for Fiscal Studies found that mothers are more likely to have had their careers disrupted, whilst still bearing most of the additional childcare.”

Sunak's jobs policies badly timed and poorly targeted, says IFS

Britain’s leading tax and spending thinktank has criticised the flagship policies in Rishi Sunak’s £30bn summer statement as badly timed, poorly targeted and likely to do little to stop unemployment from rising.The Institute for Fiscal Studies said most of the £9.4bn allocated for the government’s £1,000 job retention bonus scheme – to incentivise employers to take back furloughed staff – would be spent on jobs that were already safe.It also said tax increases would be required from 2022 onwards to pay for the government’s Covid-19 response, while warning that the government’s budget deficit – the gap between state expenditure and tax revenue – would reach £350bn this year, the highest level in peacetime for 300 years.Announced as the focal point of Sunak’s speech on Wednesday, the £1,000 bonus plan is designed to ease the transition from the more generous furlough scheme, which pays 80% of workers’ wages up to £2,500 per month. As many as 9.4m jobs have been furloughed, at a cost to the exchequer so far of £27.4bn, with the government hoping that the companies will take back workers at £1,000 a head rather than lay them off when the job retention programme ends on 31 October.However, the IFS said much of the bonus plan would be a wasted “deadweight” investment protecting jobs that are already safe. Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, said: “A lot, probably a majority, of the job retention bonus money will go in respect of jobs that would have been, indeed already have been, returned from furlough anyway.”It thought that several other flagship measure in Sunak’s economic update – including a VAT cut for hospitality firms and an eating out discount scheme – had been launched too soon, given the ongoing risks from Covid-19 and social distancing measures preventing diners from visiting restaurants, pubs and cafes.The biggest factors keeping people away from restaurants and hospitality businesses such as hotels was not the price of eating out, but the continuing health risks of Covid-19 and physical distancing measures used to restrict capacity at eateries, it said.Helen Miller, deputy director of the IFS, said: “If restaurants, attractions and hotels are as full as they can be, given the social-distancing constraints, then this policy will effectively be a giveaway, without much fiscal stimulus. And actually quite a poorly targeted giveaway.”Despite soaring levels of public borrowing to fund the emergency response to Covid-19, the IFS said ministers should avoid cutting spending or raising taxes until a sustainable economic recovery had taken hold.Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, said: “The time to pay for all this will come. But not this year and not next. Our capacity to do so will depend above all on how the economy recovers.”“A reckoning in the form of higher taxes will come eventually,” he added.Warning the government against cutting back its support for the economy too soon, Carl Emmerson, deputy director of the IFS, said the UK government was currently benefiting from record-low interest rates on government debt. The UK’s national debt has increased during the crisis so far to £1.95tn, more than 100% of GDP for the first time since 1963. The IFS said it would take “decades” to get debt levels down to levels before Covid-19.Should ministers want to stabilise the government’s new, higher levels of debt, he said it would need to consider tax rises to raise around £35bn a year in extra revenue. However, he added: “I certainly don’t think the chancellor should be setting out what he should do now.”

Coronavirus Australia live update: 'extremely high' chance Victoria outbreak has spread to NSW as Melbourne enters lockdown

The NSW premier is expected to announce new restrictions today as the state tries to contain ‘high-risk situation’. Follow live news and updates
‘This lockdown seems different’: Melbourne on edge
Senior students to return despite Victorian school cluster
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7.18pm EDT19:18
Victorians to be turned away from Queensland

5.37pm EDT17:37
Good morning

Live feed


7.18pm EDT19:18

Victorians to be turned away from Queensland

The Queensland premier has announced even harder border restrictions for Victorians – they will not even be allowed to quarantine in the state.
Queenslanders returning home from Victoria will have to quarantine in a hotel, at their own expense, for 14 days.
Truck drivers carrying freight will have to renew their border pass every seven days.
There will be exemptions for essential medical workers and specialists or compassionate grounds “in exceptional circumstances”
“Very few exemptions will be granted,” Palaszczuk said.

Annastacia Palaszczuk
BREAKING: Given the developing situation in Victoria, Queensland is hardening its border.From noon, July 10, visitors from Victoria will no longer gain access or be able to quarantine in Queensland.They will be turned around.#COVID19Vic #Victoria #Queensland

July 8, 2020

7.13pm EDT19:13

We have had a few questions about the end date on the state of emergency declaration for Victoria – it is listed as 19 July, but the lockdown will go for six weeks, which takes you into August.
They renew the declaration every couple of weeks – so just before 19 July, you’ll hear the state of emergency has been extended.

7.10pm EDT19:10

Remember that ‘ring of steel’ the Victorian police commissioner was talking about yesterday, that VicPol were going to be putting around Melbourne?
And how there would be very limited discretion when it came to fining people for breaking social distancing orders because we should all know the rules now?
Well, turns out, maybe the police need to scratch up on those rules too.
The case the police commissioner cited – a party at Southbank, where everyone was fined, wasn’t the example he thought it was –

Heidi Murphy
This is a little awkward.. Statement from VicPolice: The 15 fines issued to an airbnb party on July 4 will be withdrawn. Turns out it wasn’t a breach of the CHO’s rules – which (currently) allow for 20 people to gather in tourist accom, including private holiday rentals.

July 8, 2020

7.03pm EDT19:03

2020 motto: Please scream inside your heart.

Ben Pershing
Japan’s theme parks have banned screaming on roller coasters because it spreads coronavirus. “Please scream inside your heart.”

July 8, 2020

at 7.06pm EDT

7.02pm EDT19:02

Just re-upping, because it seems relevant.

Mark Humphries
The Armchair Epidemiologist

April 9, 2020

at 7.07pm EDT

6.58pm EDT18:58

We have to wait until 23 July to find out what the plans are for the next stimulus package.
But the push to extend Jobkeeper and the Covid-19 supplement for the Jobseeker payment is on.
Kristy McBain, who has claimed victory in the Eden-Monaro byelection was the latest to make the call today.

The Today Show
“This just adds to the hurt of 2020 for a lot of people.” Kristy McBain on a Victorian tourist testing positive to COVID-19 wile in New South Wales on a holiday. #9Today

July 8, 2020

6.23pm EDT18:23

The caps and the Melbourne pause on hotel quarantine has had a flow on affect for some Australians who are still overseas, and were unable to travel home sooner, for one reason or another (health risk, pregnancies, money).
We’ve been contacted by people who are having flights cancelled because of the changes, and are scrambling to find flights which are going to one of the ports still available. Which obviously comes at a higher cost (there aren’t that many flights to choose from).
While the immediate panic of the repatriation flights may have passed, there are still many Australians trying to get home. The pandemic has changed a lot about how we live, including the freedom to choose any old flight.

at 6.27pm EDT

6.19pm EDT18:19

South Australia and Western Australia have asked for caps on the number of international arrivals coming into their states now that Melbourne is taking a break from accepting international arrivals for hotel quarantine to concentrate on dealing with the outbreak.
We have the updated arrival numbers, by state from 7 June to 7 July:
NSW 39,394
VIC 15,374
QLD 10,054
WA 5,377
NT 962SA 683ACT 307

at 6.27pm EDT

6.16pm EDT18:16

We have been following the drama of the three Victorian A-League teams who have been unable to cross into NSW for games. There has been a lot of time spent on the tarmac and on buses.

Rishi Sunak unveils stamp duty holiday and hospitality VAT cut

Summer statement 2020

Chancellor also announces £9bn reward for firms bringing back furloughed workers
Summer statement: chancellor’s key points at a glance
Analysis: Sunak tries to kickstart UK’s economy
Stamp duty: what is it and what has the chancellor changed?

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Key points from Rishi Sunak’s plan to boost economy – video

Rishi Sunak promised to leave “no one without hope” as he unveiled an unprecedented level of employment support to assist in the economic recovery from coronavirus.
In his summer statement on Wednesday the chancellor pledged £9bn to protect furloughed jobs, kickstart opportunities for young people, slash VAT for the hospitality sector and scrap stamp duty until next year.
Businesses will be paid £1,000 per employee to retain furloughed staff amid concerns companies are imminently about to sack tens of thousands of workers as the original job retention scheme begins to wind down. Companies will be given £2,000 for each apprentice they take on under the age of 25.
Yet his most significant addition to the job protection measures is the government’s offer to pay the the wages of any new young employee for six months.
Announcing his Plan for Jobs, the chancellor said the government was not going to accept anxiety over job losses and it would do all it could to “give everyone the opportunity of good and secure work”.
He said: “People need to know that although hardship lies ahead, no one will beleft without hope.”
A cut in VAT from 20% to 5% for hospitality and leisure services – including pubs, restaurants, cafes, zoos and cinemas – until next January would cost the Treasury £4bn, he said. It is effective from next Wednesday but will not apply to alcohol.
A new policy, “eat out to help out”, which the chancellor described as creative and unique and never tried in the UK before, will give people a 50% discount on eating in restaurants and cafes, Monday to Wednesday throughout August. Businesses will need to register through a website, open from next Monday.
An immediate stamp duty holiday for homes sold for up to £500,000 in England and Northern Ireland until 31 March next year was also announced. Sunak said the move would save jobs in the construction sector and encourage homeowners to move and invest in their homes.
The furlough scheme will be coming to an end in October, the chancellor confirmed, saying he did not want to give people false hope that their jobs would continue in their current form.
“Leaving the furlough scheme open forever gives people false hope that it will always be possible to return to the jobs they had before,” he said. “And the longer people are on furlough, the more likely it is their skills could fade, and they will find it harder to get new opportunities.
“It is in no one’s long-term interests for the scheme to continue forever least of all those trapped in a job that can only exist because of government subsidy.”
The fresh spending commitments came as Sunak said the government would be defined by its response to the crisis and he would never accept unemployment as an unavoidable outcome of the Covid-19 pandemic.
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He said the government would fund six-month job placements for an estimated 350,000 18- to 24-year-olds to prevent young people from bearing the brunt of the economic crisis. Each “kickstarter” job will cover 100% of the national minimum wage for 25 hours a week, allowing employers to provide wage top-ups without any clawback of state funds.
People under-25 receive a lower national minimum wage than others, starting at £4.55 an hour for someone under 18, rising to £6.45 an hour for 18- to 20-year-olds and £8.20 an hour for 21- to 24-year-olds.
The chancellor said companies could start making applications for the jobs subsidies within a month and the first young people would be employed in the autumn.
In the first two months of the Covid-19 crisis the number of 18- to 24-year-olds claiming universal credit rose by a quarter of a million to almost 500,000, while it is estimated that 700,000 school leavers and university graduates will enter a depressed jobs market this summer.
The plan revives an idea used by Labour during the global financial crisis that the tax and spending watchdog, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, has already assessed as an effective scheme.
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Alongside the youth scheme, the chancellor announced a £3bn green investment recovery package to decarbonise public buildings and cut emissions from poorly insulated homes.
In a further move to generate jobs around the country, Sunak said the plan includes £1bn for public buildings – such as schools and hospitals – and a £2bn scheme to retrofit people’s homes. Homeowners will also be able to apply for vouchers of up to £5,000, with up to £10,000 available for some of the poorest families.
“We are doubling down on our ambitions to level up,” he said.


Summer statement 2020

Rishi Sunak

Economic recovery


Coronavirus outbreak

Stamp duty

Services sector


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Protecting 30% of planet could bolster economy, study says

Nearly a third of the world’s oceans and land area could be placed under environmental protections without harming the global economy, and even produce bumper economic benefits if the right policies were followed, according to a global assessment.Ecosystems around the world are collapsing or hovering on the brink of disaster, with a million species threatened with extinction. But if at least 30% of the planet’s land and oceans were subject to conservation efforts, that mass extinction could be avoided and vital habitats restored, scientists estimate.The report, from the Campaign for Nature charity, found about $140bn (£110bn) a year would be required by 2030 to place 30% of land and sea under protection.Anthony Waldron, the report’s lead author, said: “Our report shows that protection in today’s economy brings in more revenue than the alternative and adds revenue to agriculture and forestry, while helping prevent climate change, water crises, biodiversity loss and disease. Increasing nature protection is sound policy for governments juggling multiple interests. You cannot put a price tag on nature, but the economic numbers point to its protection.”Such a target would require a doubling of the area of land currently under protection, which is roughly 15% of land globally, and more than a quadrupling of marine protected areas, which make up only 7% of the oceans currently. About $24bn is spent annually around the world on nature-protected areas.With land and seas under fierce commercial pressure from agriculture, fishing and extractive industries, protecting nature has conventionally been seen as an economic cost.The new assessment turns the conventional analysis on its head, showing that nature conservation is in fact a net contributor to the global economy, not a drain.Achieving the target of 30% protection would lead to increased economic output of between $64bn and $454bn a year, the report found, depending on which areas were subject to conservation efforts, as well as generating other benefits.“There is a large financial return if we protect 30% of terrestrial and marine nature,” said Thomas Lovejoy, a professor of environmental science at George Mason University in Virginia, US. “Protecting the goose does indeed produce golden eggs.”Restoring nature is increasingly being seen as vital to tackling both the causes and impacts of climate breakdown, providing long-term protections against the effects of extreme weather such as flooding, storms and drought. Coastal mangrove swamps and coral reefs, for instance, have been destroyed over decades but when restored they provide valuable protection from floods and storm surges, as well as acting as nurseries for young fish.The report found that protecting forests and mangroves would reduce the economic losses from the climate crisis and other harms by $170bn to $534bn a year by 2050.Protecting land can produce benefits in the surrounding areas, such as vegetation reducing air pollution, and river systems providing clean water, as well as liveable habitats for numerous wild species. Nature conservation is projected to provide economic growth of 4-6% a year, compared with 1% a year for agriculture, fisheries and forestry, after the coronavirus pandemic subsides.Fisheries provide another example of how natural protection can work in practice and produce economic as well as environmental benefits. Areas of sea can be declared off-limits to fishing, oil drilling and other extractive industries, and left alone for fish populations to recover. While there is an economic shock in the short term to fishing fleets that had used the protected areas, within a few years fish populations can usually bounce back, creating long-term sustainable stocks that can also benefit surrounding areas.Many of the benefits of restoring nature are less tangible, but no less real. For instance, a growing body of research has connected people’s contact with nature with improvements in their physical wellbeing and mental outlook. The Campaign for Nature report cites a recent study that put the economic value of protected areas based on the improved mental health of visitors at $6tn a year.Jamison Ervin of the UN Development Programme said that as nature provides about $125tn in assets to humanity, the cost of protecting 30% of the planet was cheap by comparison. “The benefits to humanity are incalculable and the cost of inaction is unthinkable. This report unequivocally tells us that the time to finance nature, for people and for planet, is now.”

UK coronavirus live: plan to scale back free hospital parking for NHS staff triggers protests

Follow live updates on the latest on the coronavirus crisis in the UK and chancellor Rishi Sunak’s summer statement
How Sunak could kickstart UK’s post-lockdown economy
UK’s Covid-19 economic crisis in five key charts
‘We mess with this virus at our peril’: Sturgeon urges caution
Sunak poses for pre-budget photo with £180 ‘smart mug’
Global coronavirus updates – live


Coronavirus Australia live update: Victoria premier Dan Andrews press conference reports 134 new Covid-19 cases

Confusion over NSW-Victoria border closure as the state’s northern border closes for the first time in a century and Melbourne prepares for lockdown. Follow the latest news
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Key events


9.05pm EDT21:05
‘There’s no rewind button,’ Daniel Andrews says

8.46pm EDT20:46
‘Window for discretion has closed,’ Victorian police commissioner says

8.32pm EDT20:32
Victoria records 134 new Covid-19 cases

8.10pm EDT20:10
Northern Territory closes its borders to Victoria ‘indefinitely’

7.02pm EDT19:02
‘I apologise for the position we find ourselves in’, Daniel Andrews says

6.44pm EDT18:44
Next phase of income support will be outlined on 23 July, Josh Frydenberg says

5.34pm EDT17:34
Good morning

Live feed


9.17pm EDT21:17

What about the interstate front pages mocking Daniel Andrews and the Victorian government?

I’ve got pretty thick skin. I’m focused on doing the job I have to do.
The issue here is… I would focus much more, say, on the support I’m getting from other states rather than anything else, whether that be testing capacity, contact tracers, other support, support from the Commonwealth, support across the board, just as when other states have their time of need, in fire or flood, Victorians are the first to put their hands up, the first to go and put themselves in harm’s way to support and protect others, we’re very grateful to be getting support at our time, during our time of need.
This will pass if all of us take it seriously. We will get to the other side of this 6-week lockdown if we all take this seriously and if we all acknowledge that, whilst it’s not it’s place we wanted to be, whilst it’s not the circumstances we wanted to confront, in is the reality that we face, and we’ve simply got no choice but to push on and to get this job done.
That’s what I’m focused on doing. That’s what every Victorian needs to focus on doing. We’ll have many more announcements to make about support, many more announcements to make in lots of different areas.

9.15pm EDT21:15

Now to the question on every Australian’s mind – can Sam Newman play golf?

Golf essentially made a decision last time that they would very early on not play. They would close courses.
Then, as the stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, as we rolled through all of those different restrictions, it was simply not appropriate to roll that back.
We are – we’ve got a new set of rules in relation to two players, so groups of two – same for fishing, same for a whole range of other activities. It’s also based, on the fact that the Chief Health Officer has the certainty now of having looked at those restrictions in the first wave and knowing that it’s a very low public health risk. Again, it’s not something I’ll be doing. I don’t have time. I’m focused on doing other work.

And you are not limited to local government areas, but you can’t go outside the locked down zone

It can’t be more than two people. You need to be 1.5m apart. You need to do the hand sanitising and other work and again it’s not an invitation to spend every afternoon fishing.
It’s not an invitation to play 36 holes of golf every day. It’s in the context daily exercise because we want people to be able to get fresh air and do those things safely.
The other point to make, of course, is that clubhouses are closed, all of those sorts of things, so it is genuinely outdoor activity. There are many other examples as well that we think are low enough risk that that risk can be managed, but if I got different advice, then the rules would change.
That’s the nature of these things.

9.11pm EDT21:11

So there won’t be a literal ring of steel around the lockdown area – but there will be a literal ring of blue. Which amounts to the same thing.
Commissioner Shane Patton:

Oh, the chances of actually being detected are going to be very significant.
We expect to see a lot less traffic out and about because of these restrictions.
People can only go out and about when they have one of those four legitimate reasons and so the probability of being intercepted, questioned, asked where you’re going and why is very, very high.
When we say there’s not an exact ring of steel, I’ve outlined already we have significant checkpoints, roadblocks, active police patrols, local patrols, specialists.
We’ll use number plate recognition technology so the opportunity for being intercepted and being given infringements if you’re not supposed to be out there are very, very high.
I wouldn’t want to bet against it if I was out there doing the wrong thing, I can tell you.

9.05pm EDT21:05

‘There’s no rewind button,’ Daniel Andrews says

The Victorian premier is asked if he thinks he blamed Victorians for the outbreak.
Yesterday he said there were some people who had been acting as if the pandemic was over, and everyone knew someone who was not doing everything they should be.

Well, I made a number of comments yesterday and I think that’s an accurate description of the way some people are behaving. That’s not every Victorian.
And it’s not … It’s not to do anything else other than, you know, call it out.
And ultimately, all of us have a massive stake in getting past this, in containing this virus and driving down the number of positive cases to that management level.
Because if we don’t we’re going to finish up with many, many people in hospital, and we know that, you know, for those who finish up in intensive care, there will always be a proportion who, for one reason or another, will not come out of hospital. They … they will die.
And we don’t want that tragedy here. We want to do everything we possibly can to avoid that.
We see it in states that are around the world that are a similar size to us – 5,000 deaths, 10,000 deaths.
Indeed some – many, many more than that. We don’t want that here. That’s why we have to stay the course and get this right.
Is it an easy process? Are these easy decisions to make? Of course they’re not. This is very, very challenging.
Would we have preferred not to be in this position? Definitely. But we can’t change that. There’s no rewind button.
We just have to deal with the circumstances that we confront and we all need to do it together and we all need to get the job done. And that’s what I’m 100% committed to, day and night.

at 9.14pm EDT

9.03pm EDT21:03

Daniel Andrews continues on the economy (Josh Frydenberg said today the lockdown would cost the economy $1bn a week).

There’s no doubt that there’s very significant economic damage right throughout this global pandemic.
This virus is causing enormous damage to jobs, to businesses, to profits, to the state budget and, indeed, household budgets. There’s no question about that.
That’s why jobkeeper, jobseeker, the payroll tax refunds that we provided, the business grants we’ve provided, and the next package of support that we will very soon announce, are so, so important.
But it’s also, can I say, an important reminder for all of us, that we have to get past this public health bushfire, and get back into a position where we can start to open up again, and start to repair the very significant economic damage that has been done.
And that won’t be a quick process in any part of the country. It certainly won’t be a quick process here.
But that’s when, you know … It’s not a matter of the hard work beginning. There’s a lot of hard work going on now. Everyone is doing their absolute best.
They’re working as hard as they possibly can. Do we all need to, as a community, as an economy, as … all of us, do we have to do even better still? Then the answer is yes. Because there this is not over. It’s not going to be over for along time. There’s no vaccine. There’s no handbook, there’s no getting away from the fact that it is real and that it’s going to be with us for a long time.

at 9.15pm EDT

9.01pm EDT21:01

Does that mean extended jobkeeper for Victoria?
Daniel Andrews:

I’ll say to you, what I said to the prime minister and what I said to the federal treasurer today.
Clearly there’s going to be greater needs in some parts of Victoria than there will be in other parts of our nation. And I’m reassured that hardship is going to continue to be the main thing that drives all the different tools the federal government is using, just as it always has, just as it has for us also.
I’ll leave announcements – that’s rightly the provenance of the federal government, but I am reassured that there will be further announcements made and hardship will continue to be – so need will continue to be what drives them, and drives us, and clearly there’s going to be more need in some parts of our state than there will be in other parts of our nation.

at 9.07pm EDT

9.00pm EDT21:00

What about support for Victoria’s economy?
Daniel Andrews:

We will have announcements to make very soon. It’s important that we get that package of support right. And we will. There’s been some discussions – I’ve had a conversation with the prime minister. I had a conversation today with the federal treasurer. I note he’s made a number of comments that I think all Victorians would be very reassured by, that hardship and that real need is going to continue to drive the federal government’s policy response, just as it always has driven ours and will continue to. We’ll make some announcements and we’ll do that in good time.

at 9.06pm EDT

9.00pm EDT21:00

Daniel Andrews responds to the Victorian opposition’s criticism:

Look, the opposition are not relevant to the work that I’m doing. I would note, though, that they were talking about bipartisanship yesterday.
I don’t know whether those two positions sit very well together but that’s really a matter for them. I haven’t got time for silly political games. I really don’t. We’re focused on what has to be done. That is where our focus should be – on getting things done, not playing silly political games.

at 9.06pm EDT

8.58pm EDT20:58

Q: People are calling for you to resign. Is that something you’re considering?
Daniel Andrews:

No, I’m not considering that. What I’m not just considering, but delivering, is the response to this pandemic and seeing this through. That’s what’s most important and it’s what I’m going to get done.

8.57pm EDT20:57

He is then asked about community anger about the Black Lives Matter protests and how the hotel quarantine security was carried out, given the calls for social distancing restrictions:
(There has been no evidence, despite repeated questions, that the protests contributed to the outbreak. At the same time as the protests, talk had turned to lifting restrictions even further. Of the four or so people who tested positive to Covid-19 and went to the march, two were diagnosed in the days after and did not contract the virus at the march and had worn masks, so were not thought to have spread it, and two worked in retail and were diagnosed almost two weeks after the march. Authorities said it was impossible to say where they contracted the virus, but it was noted they came into contact with members of the public as part of their job.)
Daniel Andrews:

Well, it’s not a matter of calling for it. This is the law. These are chief health officer directions and the chief commissioner has just given every Victorian to whom those rules apply a very clear understanding of the approach that Victoria police, with the support of the Australian defence force, will take.
We can go back over Black Lives Matter. It shouldn’t have happened. But unless you want Victoria police to literally lock up and arrest 10,000 people, that – I think there’s a range of practical reasons why that just would not have worked.
In relation to other matters, they are the subject of a judicial inquiry, with all the power and formality that comes from that.
And, again, I am accountable – I’ve never … There’s never been a doubt about that. I am accountable for what happens across our state. That’s what being the leader of the state is all about.
At the same time, that job requires me to make not just the popular calls, but the really difficult, the hard calls, and the ones that have to be made, and that’s where we’re at. If you could ignore this, or pass a law to deal with it, or, you know, wish the thing away, of course you would, if you had different options, and I know there are many different views about what the best public health response would be, but the only option I’ve got is to follow the advice of the chief health officer and get this job done.
And that’s what I’m 100% committed to. That’s what all of my team are working toward and, with the help of Victorians, I know – with great frustration, and no doubt about the difficulty that this will bring to families and businesses and the entire metropolitan community – we’ve got to get this done. And that’s exactly the course that we’re on.

at 9.05pm EDT

8.52pm EDT20:52

Daniel Andrews says he is confident authorities will finish testing residents in the public housing towers today.

We are very confident that we will be able to complete testing today.
Even though we have dedicated laboratory capacity for these tests, because we know that this is a harder lockdown than other people in Melbourne are having to experience from midnight tonight.
Our orders run for 14 days. Five days was the time that we set ourselves. Whether we can deliver that exactly to the hour, we’ll have to wait and see, but the quicker everyone gets tested, obviously, the quicker we can get those results and then put in place a detailed plan to provide tailored and specific support to those people who test positive, and, indeed, the other challenge, which is, of course, where you, say, have a family where one person or two people may be positive but other people have underlying health challenges or would be vulnerable for one reason or another, we’re going to have to work through that and have a detailed plan for each one of those positive cases.
But testing – they had a very big day yesterday. They are out there right now going door to door and we’re confident that that can be concluded today.
There’ll then be the laboratory time. I again say to every single resident in those towers you will be under these restrictions for not a moment longer than you need to be, for your safety, for your health and welfare, as well as for public health.

at 9.03pm EDT

8.51pm EDT20:51

Daniel Andrews goes to questions.
He is asked if he thinks Victorians have lost confidence in him:

I think every Victorian knows and understands this is real, serious, it’s not over.
Pretending that it is will simply make a difficult situation into tragic set of circumstances. I think every Victorian knows that. And whilst … You know, it’s always a balance, you know.
When you see some people that aren’t doing the right thing, then you have to call that out.
It’s not polite in some ways. It might add to the frustration of some. But, you know, we are beyond that. We need to be clear and direct and frank.
And I am not pleased to be in this set of circumstances. I apologise for the inconvenience, the great challenge that many, many Victorian families are going to have to experience over these next six weeks.
It’s not where we wanted to be. But we can’t go back. We can’t change those things that have got us to this point.
We can only respond appropriately and that involves everyone following the rules because they are rules that are there for everyone. Every single family’s safety is enhanced if we all do the right thing.

at 9.02pm EDT

8.50pm EDT20:50

Victorians are understandably worried – Lisa Neville says the number of calls to the police line set up to answer questions about what can and can’t be done (and snitch) went from 70 to 80 calls a day in May to 810 yesterday.

at 9.01pm EDT

8.49pm EDT20:49

There will be more than 700 police attached to Operation Sentinel, which means there will be more than 700 police in Victoria focused on upholding the social distancing rules.
Applying no discretion.

at 8.59pm EDT

Fifteen years after the G8 summit, it's the UK that's in dire need of aid

Just like Gordon Brown 15 years ago, Rishi Sunak has spent June working on an aid package. As was the case in 2005, details of the chancellor’s plan to help the vulnerable will be announced on 8 July.There, though, the similarity ends. Sunak’s focus is the UK economy and in particular those about to lose their jobs as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The doubling of work coaches in job centres tells its own story: the government knows unemployment will soar in the coming months.By contrast, in early July 2005, final preparations were being made for the G8 summit to be hosted by Tony Blair at the Gleneagles hotel in Scotland. The leaders who gathered for three days of talks didn’t spend much time discussing their own economic problems, for the good reason that they thought they had none. Instead, they worked on proposals that would provide debt relief and additional aid for Africa.The years leading up to the 2005 G8 marked the defeat of communism and the triumph of the market economy. It was a time of rising living standards and lower trade barriers; an era when globalisation seemed unstoppable and central banks had to do little but provide the occasional tweak to interest rates. Living standards rose year in, year out. Economists dubbed it the Great Moderation: a time of steady growth and low inflation.The fact that the UK had 16 years of uninterrupted growth between 1992 and 2008 and has since suffered the two severest downturns of the post-war era is one obvious difference between the pre-Gleneagles and post-Gleneagles worlds but there are plenty of others.For a start, the G8 has become a G7. The hopes in the 1990s that the collapse of communism, financial support channeled through the newly created European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and a seat at the west’s top table would transform Russia into a liberal western democracy have proved over-optimistic. Russia was kicked out of the G8 in 2014 after Vladimir Putin’s annexation of the Crimea and, despite the best efforts of Donald Trump, is viewed as a pariah state. Suma Chakrabarti, who left the EBRD last week after an eight-year stint, thinks there is more chance of the organisation extending its operations to sub-Saharan Africa than of resuming lending to Russia.Among the G7’s members – the UK, the US, France, Germany, Canada, Japan and Italy – some have also had second thoughts about China in the years since 2005. One of the guest invitees to Gleneagles was Chinese president Hu Jintao, which made sense given his country’s rapid growth in the 1990s and early 2000s.A big part of the globalisation story in the 1990s was the shift of production from the west, where labour costs were high, to China, where they were dirt cheap. This meant lower prices for Western consumers as a quid pro quo for the hollowing out of their manufacturing sectors. As with Russia, the assumption was that the arrival of the market would turn China into a western-style democracy. Again, the assumption was wrong: China does capitalism its own way, and stronger growth has not led to political freedom. On the contrary, as China has become richer so it has become more repressive.The passing last week of the Hong Kong national security law has led to a hardening of the mood. India has banned 59 Chinese mobile apps; the US congress has passed a bill that would make it possible to impose sanctions on banks that connive in the loss of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The UK government has promised to offer citizenship to 3 million residents of Hong Kong. It also has some awkward decisions to make over whether it wants China to be involved in the building of nuclear power stations or the 5G wireless network. One thing is certain: the dream of a community of countries all committed to the same ends is dead.Which is a pity, since the world still has to tackle the three issues that faced the Gleneagles summiteers: one that they didn’t tackle because they thought it didn’t exist; one that they thought they had solved but didn’t; and one where they tried and failed.The problem that failed to blip on to the G8 radar in 2005 was that the global economy was much more vulnerable than they imagined. Cheap goods from China and other emerging market economies meant low inflation, which in turn meant central banks could keep interest rates low. This created the right conditions for soaring asset prices and a widening of the gap between those who owned shares and houses, and those who didn’t. In 2005, the pricking of the bubble was only two years away.The problem that the G8 thought they had cracked was Africa. Debts were cancelled, aid budgets were increased, African governments improved the management of their economies. For a while, all looked good, and countries with strong growth and plentiful natural resources were able to borrow freely on the international financial markets. Even before Covid-19, many of those debts were unpayable. The pandemic has inevitably made things a lot worse. The World Bank is forecasting the first rise in global poverty in two decades.Finally, there’s the climate crisis: the issue that was on the agenda at Gleneagles, but where – courtesy of the hardline stance taken by George W Bush – there was no progress. Fifteen years on, the attitude of the man in the White House has not changed but the planet is even hotter.What’s needed? Nothing, apart from a vision of a sustainable, equitable future that all can sign up to and the leadership that was provided at Gleneagles to make it happen. Simple, really.

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