Chinese government denies involvement in cyber attacks

A quick additional post: the Chinese government has just denied that they are behind multiple hacking attempts against Australia.

The ABC have just reported that a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry blamed the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a thinktank, for fabricating the claim.

Earlier, Scott Morrison would not confirm which country was behind the attacks, and only said a “sophisticated state-based actor” was responsible.



With that we will be closing the blog for today. Thanks for reading and stay safe. We’ll be back tomorrow with the latest developments.

Here’s what happened today:


AFL commentator Sam Newman to resign from Channel Nine

Controversial AFL commentator Sam Newman will resign from his positions on Channel Nine after a petition to sack him was widely shared today.

Newman this week said on his podcast that George Floyd, the 46-year-old man who was killed when a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, was “a piece of shit”. Newman has also previously defended Eddie Maguire’s comments about “drowning” journalist Caroline Wilson, and in 1999, wore blackface to impersonate Indigenous AFL player Nicky Winmar.

Newman said that Floyd was “dead because of the police brutality and it never should have happened”, but said he was “a piece of shit” due to his criminal record.

The petition, sponsored by anti-racism group Democracy in Colour, was widely circulated today.

On Twitter, Newman said it was a mutual decision to leave his role on The Footy Show.

#BREAKING: Sam Newman has announced he will no longer appear on Channel Nine. @Brett_McLeod #9News

— Nine News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) June 19, 2020


Victoria’s brumby cull once again has been given the green light after a cattleman lost his bid to protect the animals.

AAP reports that Philip Maguire, a cattleman from Omeo, has lost his court case stop the brumby cull from going ahead.

He claimed an earlier decision was wrong and he had a “special interest” in having the animals on or near his land, which abutted the park.

Parks Victoria should have consulted about changes to the control method which included a new “kill policy”, lawyer Anthony Strahan said.

It was a controversial decision and not engaging in community consultation did not allow for a “depth of views” to be expressed, he told the Court of Appeal justices.

But the judges rejected the argument on Friday.

“The applicant lacks standing and consequently leave to appeal is refused,” Chief Justice Anne Ferguson said.

Maguire was ordered to pay the costs of Parks Victoria. Parks Victoria chief executive Matthew Jackson welcomed the decision:

Parks Victoria has an obligation to control invasive species in Victoria’s national parks, including feral horses, which cause long-term and large-scale damage to native alpine plants and animals.

It is unclear when the proposed cull will start.


And from within the Brisbane hotel, asylum speakers have spoken to Guardian Australia, saying the protests have improved their morale and have not prevented them from receiving meals or medical attention.

Hannah Ryan has the story:

And here is the latest political and industry reaction to the higher education changes, from Paul Karp.

Queensland police given permission to limit refugee protest

Australian Associate Press is reporting that Queensland police have successfully applied to a court to limit the size of a protest in support of asylum seekers detained in a Brisbane hotel.

Police have clamped down on protesters blockading a Brisbane hotel in support of asylum seekers detained in the building.

The protest organisers planned to hold a large rally for most of Sunday in front of the Kangaroo Point Central Hotel, where about 120 men are being held.

But police successfully applied to Brisbane Magistrates Court on Friday to have the gathering limited to two hours on two side streets.


Centre Alliance’s education spokeswoman, Rebekha Sharkie, has expressed concerns about the government’s new proposed university fee shake-up.

Sharkie told Guardian Australia she believes it is “grossly unfair” to late high school students who formed preferences before the 2021 fee changes.

While she would “need to have a good look” at the package, Sharkie said she has “some serious concerns with arts students being slugged $30,000 for a degree”.

Students could pay as much as $43,500 for a humanities degree, up from $20,400.

She said: “We need philosophers, we need political scientists, we need sociologists. I think it’s really shortsighted if … what we are going to see as a result is whole faculties gutted.”

Sharkie acknowledged Tehan’s work boosting university places but said the government should not be “picking winners and losers” by increasing some course costs by more than 100%.

“I don’t think we should be making humanities courses the enemy,” she said.

Centre Alliance’s two Senate votes will be crucial to passing the package.

The Covid-19 crisis continues to ripple through Australian sport. The Sydney Morning Herald and the Age are reporting that the A-League will move from a summer to a winter season after lining up a new deal with Fox Sports for the remainder of this season and for 2020-21, after the network abandoned its previous six-year deal. In this scenario the next season would run from December 2020 to July 2021, then the following season would be played in the calendar year 2022. We’ve seen a lot of A-League plans floated before, but you know, maybe.

If you are unsure how the fee changes will play out and feel like you need more time to study the detail, Universities Australia are with you. “We will need to examine it closely in coming days in order to understand the impact on our students including those in the humanities,” the body has said in a statement.

Uni reform package boosts participation, but further study of detail needed. Read our media release here: #highered #auspol

— Universities Aust. (@uniaus) June 19, 2020

The Guardian’s Matilda Boseley has been interviewing year 12 students today about the drastic changes to university fees.

“It makes me so angry,” Gabby Price, 17, said. “I feel as if I can’t do what I’m passionate about because the government wants me to like something else.

“I was so excited to go do an arts degree but now I’m not sure … I have dreamt of pursuing history for years and now that might not be a reality. I could honestly cry. Spending the rest of my life broke is not what I want to do.”

Here’s her full story:

The new head of Cricket Australia, Nick Hockley, has given an interview to AAP, in which he reflects on cricket’s good fortune in so far avoiding the mayhem the pandemic has sown in other sports, and how far removed Australia is from the coronavirus crisis in his country of origin, the UK.

We’ve been so lucky this coronavirus situation hit in our off-season.

We’re also just extremely lucky in Australia. I speak to family in England and everybody knows someone who has had it, most people know someone who passed away.

And we’re here talking about crowds coming back. We’re going to restaurants. Obviously it’s all step by step and cautious, but I think there’s just so much to look forward to.


An interesting thread here about how unis and students might react differently to the higher education changes, and not create the push towards “job-ready” degrees that Dan Tehan said was the reason for the change.

Folks, let me explain how by cutting funding to the humanities and increasing student fees the government is actually creating incentives for unis to enroll *more* arts students.

(For my sins I used to work in higher ed policy, I know too much boring stuff in this space)

— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) June 19, 2020

IMO the story here isn’t “humanities are dead”. Plenty of students will keep enrolling (possibly even more than now, for reasons above). They’ll just have huge debts for decades. Bigger story is the overall shift of higher ed cost being born mostly by students for the first time.

— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) June 19, 2020

Engineering and science are actually having their total funding (student contribution and government contribution) cut but everyone still ran headlines about a pivot to STEM?

— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) June 19, 2020

Man charged with “damaging” Hyde Park statue after he was allegedly found “attaching a poster” to it.

— Michael McGowan (@mmcgowan) June 19, 2020

Cyber attack 'not particularly sophisticated', experts say

The “sophisticated state-based” cyber attack Australian prime minister Scott Morrison warned about today ... is not particularly sophisticated, according to experts.

But it is a wake-up call for businesses to keep their systems patched and secure, and to remain alert.

“[The state actor campaign] doesn’t look very sophisticated,” UNSW professor of cybersecurity Richard Buckland told our reporter Josh Taylor.

“It’s well-resourced in a large scale but I haven’t seen anything yet that’s super secret or super sinister. They’re using known techniques against known vulnerabilities and following known processes.”


And in light of the government’s announcement today, we have created this open thread for you to reflect and discuss: What is the value of an arts or humanities degree?

ABC to pay back $12m to underpaid staff

Hi all, and thanks to Amy Remeikis for running the blog today.

The ABC announced it has paid back $12m to almost 2,000 casual staff who were underpaid over six years. The broadcaster will also make an additional contrition payment of $600,000.

In total, 1,907 current and former workers – including reporters, presenters, make-up artists and camera operators – were underpaid between October 2012 and February 2019.


The lovely Naaman Zhou will take over the blog for what is left in this afternoon.

Thank you for joining me today – take care of you.


This will go on for some time.

I was the first person in my family to go to university. I know the impact that a good education can have on your life.

This Government gave us $100,000 degrees and cut $3 billion from TAFE. They want to deny the power of education to those who need it most.

— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) June 19, 2020


That exchange continued:

Q: Prime minister, even though you haven’t attributed it to China, that is the, I guess, assumption among many. Are you concerned about retaliation by Beijing?

Scott Morrison: Again, I set all those issues out this morning and made my comments on that at Parliament House earlier.

Q: When you say that Australia is currently experiencing these attacks, what did you mean by currently?

Morrison: I mean currently.

Q: Are you referring to a single, specific, ongoing attack?

Morrison: I’ve already set out those issues and raised those issues in Parliament House this morning, together with the defence minister which was the appropriate place to do that and I refer you to those comments.

Q: We’re only just seeking a bit of clarification because there is a lot of anxiety since this morning’s press conference and, as you say, you don’t write the headlines but we do and we’re just trying to help clarify the situation because people aren’t clear on it.

Morrison: [Inaudible]


The prime minister did hold a press conference at Eden-Monaro as we reported, but it was impossible to hear most of it because of all the trucks in the background.

But the transcript is out and you might find this exchange interesting:

Q: Just wanted to clarify your comments this morning regarding cyber attacks. There has been some reporting there’s one major cyber attack that’s carried out on a bunch of institutions. Is that correct or is this more a case of a series of coordinated attacks over sort of recent months rather than one single act that has taken place right now attacking all of those institutions?

Scott Morrison: Well I set out all these issues earlier today and I have made my comments on those issues and set out the government’s position very carefully so I would just refer you back to the comments I made this morning.

Q: It still remains unclear to people, though: has something specific prompted you today or last night to speak to the opposition leader and the state premiers about this matter?

Morrison: It was time to ensure that we raised greater awareness about this issue, as I said this morning.

Q: But is it one coordinated attack, is the headline “Australia is under attack” right now, hospitals, schools, local government, state government, federal government?

Morrison: The government doesn’t write the headlines, Brett. The press does that and I don’t intend to interfere in that process. I have been very clear about what I’ve said about this today, earlier this morning.


And it looks like restrictions will still be eased as planned in Victoria on Monday:

Annaliese van Diemen:

We remain vigilant. We would rather have [fewer] cases than we have. Today’s numbers are less concerning probably than yesterday’s. It’s cases we don’t have known links to that are the biggest concern. There a few of those. We want to be finding the cases that are out there. We expect, as with the Stanford, at the moment we expect secondary cases when there are household contacts involved. That is not unexpected. We are remaining vigilant and monitoring every day.


Dr Annaliese van Diemen says the security guards had been trained in PPE procedures (personal protective equipment) but there would be more training now:

There’s been closer mingling of the guards than we would like in the workplace. People are friendly and know each other. But it is important we maintain physical distancing and we maintain an awareness, particularly in the hotels ... so that a number of things observed by the staff reported directly into the people managing the hotels and were being addressed before the first case became apparent. It would appear the consequences had begun.


Victorian authorities have also managed to narrow down the source of one outbreak which had been troubling them: the Stanford Hotel, which had been used to quarantine travellers.

We have a total of seven cases linked to that hotel. That includes the initial case reported on Wednesday, the five new cases yesterday, the seventh case is an existing case previously linked to another out break related to a family in the south-eastern suburbs.

Extensive investigations yesterday revealed that a person linked to that case is also a worker as a security guard at the hotel Stanford. It’s not good news we have the outbreaks but reassuring to know there is a clear source for that particular outbreak.


Victoria health authorities update Covid situation

The deputy chief medical officer for Victoria, Annaliese van Diemen is delivering today’s update for that state:

We do have 13 new cases reported today. That’s after a duplicate notification was reclassified. Of those 13 new cases, we have two new cases that are linked to a new family outbreak, so one existing case and two close contacts of that case who were already in quarantine when they developed symptoms and were diagnosed.

We have five five new cases linked to security guards in the Stanford Hotel. I will touch on that in a moment. We have one new case confirmed, a close contact of a case related to the Rydges. That person was already in quarantine when they were tested. That takes the total cases associated with Rydges to 17. Three new cases have been detected via routine testing. The source of their related exposure sites is under investigation. One case is linked to a hotel detainee, so a returned traveller. One further case was under investigation at this point.


Here is another take on that press conference:

Lowy Institute's Director of Australia’s Security and the Rules-Based Order Project writes on @ScottMorrisonMP’s announcement today that Australia was being targeted by a “sophisticated state-based cyber actor”.@Ben_G_Scott for The Interpreter.

— The Lowy Institute (@LowyInstitute) June 19, 2020


For those who missed it:


This follows the review in the NSW branch-stacking allegations being returned yesterday.

NSW state Opposition MP Julia Finn has resigned from Shadow Cabinet, amid Labor's deepening branch stacking controversy. Ms Finn expected to issue a statement this afternoon.

— Josh Bavas (@JoshBavas) June 19, 2020


Christian Porter:

This is an independent decision. It seems to me that they have looked at the issue of confidence and wanted to ensure that too high a wage increase, the cost for business feeds back into confidence because they can’t employ or the business cost means they employ less. Too little and business loses confidence.

The Fair Work Commission did their best to balance, and that is a very difficult exercise. It goes to show that this alone is one small part, not an unimportant one, but a small part of many parts of an agenda of reform we need to engage in to try to ensure that businesses can grow their way out of the recession that the pandemic put us in.


Christian Porter has his say on the minimum wage rise

Christian Porter is speaking on the Fair Work Commission decision, to raise the minimum wage (staggered by industry) by $13:

The first is the fact we want to see people better paid, no matter what the industry they’re in. The second is at the moment there are many industries in serious distress in terms of revenue and turnover because of Covid and the addition of increased cost to running that business, including wages, will put extra pressure on the business and could have a negative job growth effect. Those two things are often balanced. A third important decision, the commissioner tried to balance there is an issue of confidence. The commissioner did its best to try to balance the three issues.


Watch Mathias Cormann explain that keeping wages low is a “deliberate” feature of the Liberal Government’s economic strategy.

This at a time when wages growth is at record lows. No wonder they support cutting penalty rates. #auspol

— Brendan O'Connor (@BOConnorMP) March 8, 2019


Anthony Albanese doesn’t go into any further detail about who, or when or even what.

These briefings are secure briefings and I have no intention of breaching any information that I’ve been given in these briefings.

Anthony Albanese is now holding a press conference on the “cyber attacks”.

I’ve been briefed today by the heads of Asio, the Australian Signals Directorate and the head of the Australian Cybersecurity Centre. The national security of Australia is paramount at all times. There can be no more important issue and no issue that’s more important for all sides of politics at senior levels to act as one.

We understand that from these briefings the relevant federal agency that all levels of government, critical infrastructure, and the private sector are being targeted in a sophisticated state-based cyber operation.

We support our security agencies and their efforts to address the serious and growing threat. We urge all Australians, Australian businesses, and other organisations, to listen to the advice that the Cyber Security Centre provides to the public.

He says Richard Marles, Penny Wong and Kristina Keneally were also briefed by the security agencies.


PM won't explain why he announced the cyber attack

Back to Scott Morrison’s “cyber attack” announcement this morning: the prime minister still won’t say why he chose to make the issue public today.

He won’t confirm if “currently” means ongoing or just in the near past.

Q. Is this a series of coordinated attacks over recent months rather than an attack taking place now?
A. I refer you to the comments I made this morning.

— Anna Henderson (@annajhenderson) June 19, 2020


Asked about humanities students being asked to subsidise other degrees, Dan Tehan says:

Well I could say that what’s been happening up until now is the – your engineers and your scientists have been subsidising your arts graduates. But what I think we need to focus on is we want our arts graduates making sure that they are thinking about the employment outcomes that they are going to get from their degree.

Tehan repeats that he wishes he had done a language when he went to uni. Asked if he would have been discouraged from studying what he did, given the changes, he says:

Look I definitely think if something like this had have been done, I would have looked at it and said: ‘OK. Well, what do I need to do to make sure that I’m going to have the skills that I need to get a job afterwards?’ Maybe, yeah, I think I should look at doing a language, should look at continuing on doing maths, or maybe I should look at doing IT. I mean, that’s one of the things that I would have loved to have done now at university that I didn’t, given the way that digital economy now is growing and more and more dominating our economy.

So they are the sorts of things that, looking back with the 2020 hindsight, that yes, I wish I have been thinking more of. I think it would have been helped me with [getting] a job if I was focused on ensuring I did have the relevant skills for the economy at the time.


What does the future look like for the university sector beyond the Covid-lockdowns?

So universities will get CPI-indexed funding going forward. That means they can grow as the population grows, as the demand for the sector grows.

But we also want to make sure that universities are continuing to drive efficiency and also that as we realign funds it is going into the areas where we think it will drive our recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

So we think that we’ve got a package here that we can help universities deliver the type of graduates that we will need as we will grow our economy going forward.

And we think that the way that we’ve shaped it will enable them to be able to meet the demand that is coming into the system: 38,000 new places will come into the system by 2023, 100,000 by 2030.

So we think we’ve reshaped the architecture in a way which will enable universities to continue to grow, along with the record funding that we’re already providing them. But also ensure that we get those job-ready graduates or nation needs.


On the cyber attack:

What does “currently” mean? “It means currently” #auspol

— Brett Mason (@BrettMasonNews) June 19, 2020

Asked about the number of people in the room who hold arts degrees, including himself, as well as the lack of diversity in the room, and whether limiting arts degrees to those who can afford it will further impact diversity in sectors such as media and politics, Dan Tehan says:

One of the key things that we have announced today is, in particular, we want to lift attainment rates among those from low [socioeconomic] backgrounds and from Indigenous backgrounds.

My hope is what that it will lead to is more people from diverse backgrounds being in a room like this in 25 years. When I look back at my education one thing I regret is I didn’t do a language at university because I studied politics, internal relations, because I wanted to get to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

One thing that nearly prevented me from getting a job [there] ... was the fact I didn’t have a language. So I’m not saying to students don’t study art, study humanities, but think also about your job of prospects at the end of your degree.

So if you want to do history, think about doing teaching as well so you can teach history.

If you are wanting to do philosophy, which will be great for your critical thinking, think about doing IT, so you can help in a new and emerging area where we know that is going to be jobs.

We have got to remember no student pays a single dollar upfront to study in this nation. We have the best fee Help scheme. The only way you start paying back is when you earn more than $46,000.

What this is designed to do is get more people from more diverse backgrounds into our higher education system and we are putting the funding in place to help drive that.


Dan Tehan on how the government expects the university sector change post-Covid (which, reading between the lines, means less reliance on international students):

We have seen how revenue from international students helps fund research in this country.

One of the key challenges in a post-Covid economy will be to provide a sustainable pipeline of funding for research. I want to work with the sector to achieve this.

Our government wants universities to be even more entrepreneurial and engaged with industry.

In the post-Covid world, universities need to refocus on domestic students and offer greater alignment with industry needs.

They will be required to retrain or re-skill current workers through new and targeted programs that help them get back to work.

Our educated and highly skilled workers will need a mixture of certified skills, university degrees, graduate qualifications, apprenticeships and advanced diplomas.

This means, once and for all, resetting the relationship between the two streams of education: higher education and vocational education and training.

We must enhance and improve how the two systems interact so students can move more seamlessly from one to the other over the course of their education.

National cabinet will play a central role in delivering this key reform.


Education minister expounds on uni degrees

Dan Tehan:

To deliver cheaper degrees in areas of expected employment growth, students who choose to study more popular degrees will make a higher contribution.

The student contribution for law and commerce will increase by 28%, for the humanities it will be 113%.

Students will still pay less for those degrees in Australia than they would for a similar degree in similar countries, like the US and the UK.

Importantly, the changes are based at a unit level not a degree level.

This means that students studying arts can still reduce their total student contribution by choosing electives in subjects like mathematics, English, science and IT within their degree.

We are encouraging students to embrace diversity and not think about their education as a siloed degree.

So if you want to study history, also think about studying teaching. If you want to study philosophy, also think about studying a language. If you want to study law, also think about studying IT.

Importantly, no current student will be worse off. No current student will pay an increased student contribution. Their fee contributions will be grandfathered.

Existing students set to gain from this policy will be able to do so from next year.

From next year students will have a choice. Their degree will be cheaper if they choose to study in areas where there is expected growth in job opportunities.


Back to Scott Morrison, the prime minister says the future is all about “flexibility”. Also he says he is in the “job-making business”, in case you were wondering how the marketing phrases were going:

You know, there’s been a lot of discussion about the jobkeeper program.

And as I’ve said repeatedly, we are always – it was always our intention to review that program and get the balance right about how the government would continue to be able to support people going through these difficult times.

But it is also very important that we maintain that flexibility for businesses so they can keep people in jobs.

Lesser flexibility will mean more people will find themselves out of jobs. And so that’s why I’m highlighting this as the thing that’s going to be even more important in keeping people in jobs as we come out of the Covid-19 period.

And so the independent process has made their decision. We’ve always respected that.

What I’m saying is businesses will need continued flexibility to keep people in work, and that’s what I’d be encouraging businesses and employers to be able to arrange sensible arrangements, which means people can stay in jobs.

And as the economy continues to improve, those hours can increase, and we can hopefully get back to as much as normal as is possible. So I’d just stress the need for that flexibility. Flexibility will keep jobs and it will also, I think, make jobs.


Scott Morrison has donned the high vis and is standing in front of giant trucks at the Snowy 2.0 press conference.

For the record, this is how the government is selling it:

Minister for Education Dan Tehan will present a national press club address on job-ready graduates.


Protesters quick off the mark, staking out the Press Club for @DanTehanWannon’s universities speech today.

— Fergus Hunter (@fergushunter) June 19, 2020

Head of Australian Strategic Policy Institute names China

Peter Jennings, head of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and a former senior defence official, said China, Russia and North Korea had sophisticated cyber capabilities but it was important to factor in motive, intent and purpose.

“There is one country that has the skill, depth of capacity and a real motive to want to do it and that is China,” Jennings told Guardian Australia.

He believed the government was raising the matter publicly without naming China in an attempt to send a signal to Beijing to moderate its behaviour after recent tensions.


From Monday, in Victoria, restrictions are scheduled to be further relaxed.

Restaurants and cafes can move from 20 to 50 people (with social distancing). Cinemas and theatres will be allowed to open, and you can go to the pub and order a drink without needing a meal.

We’re waiting to hear from Victorian health authorities about what they are watching, given the increase in numbers of positive Covid cases in recent days: 21 on Wednesday, 18 on Thursday and 12 today.

The problem is the level of community transmission. In recent weeks most other cases have been from returned travellers who are in forced quarantine in other states. Victoria is still seeing community transmission, including at daycare centres.


Big changes in restrictions in SA

Steven Marshall also announced changes to fitness classes with up to 20 people allowed in a room (still with social distancing). Outside outside gatherings can include up to 300 people. That’s from today.


In addition to those, as of today, aged-care facilities in SA have changed directions which allow for residents to leave the facility and then go back into the facility.

People under 16 can visit and there can be up to two visitors at a time.

Change rooms are now open for sporting and recreational venues. I know it has been difficult for people without those change rooms having to get changed before they get to their sport, go home without getting changed. That changes as of today.

Alcohol may be consumed by spectators at sporting
events up to 300 people ... as of today. Keno, Tab and Bingo is now permitted within pubs and clubs, and pubs and clubs ... can have billiards and darts, although at this point we are separating out that consumption of alcohol at the same time as billiards and darts are allowed.

The transition committee made further decisions for today, effective midnight tonight, there will be no requirement for people coming in from Queensland to do 14 days of self-isolation.


The premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall, has announced Queensland visitors will no longer have to go into quarantine if travelling to SA.

Queenslanders join Tasmanians, Northern Territorians and Western Australians in being exempt from the two-week forced quarantine.

South Australia plans on completely dropping its border restrictions on 20 July.


NSW changes public transport charges

The NSW government has changed public transport prices. Bus and light rail passengers travelling up to 3km can expect their journeys to cost $1 more.

Off-peak commuters will see fares reduced.

The changes are being made as the network opens back up to more commuters, post Covid-lockdowns.

Andrew Constance says the changes will come in from 1 July:

For 85% of commuters this is good news today. We are not even increasing fares in line with inflation. For a third of commuters, particularly those who tend to travel long distances, there is a saving of around $3.62 a week.

That builds up over the year. Of course by having more incentive in the off-peak discount that also is designed to encourage people to retime their day. That’s going to be 50% over the next little while. So anybody who has to multi-modal trip off-peak they are pretty much getting the second fare for free. I think that’s fair and this’s what we’re trying to do. We are trying to keep people safe, keep people apart.


With Australia opening back up, and all states outside of Victoria keeping a handle (for now) on community transmission, there is not as much direct Covid news to report.

As it comes in we are updating what authorities are saying. Not every press conference is shown live, and sometimes, tracking down and confirming the information takes time.

Set your phone alarms.

Minister for Education @DanTehanWannon will present a National Press Club address on job-ready graduates, 12:30pm #auspol

— Political Alert (@political_alert) June 19, 2020


Also, the Five Eyes finance ministers met. Given what their operatives do, a meeting seems superfluous, but OK.

Today Australia hosted a call with the finance ministers of the Five Eyes nations – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK and the US.

It was the first of what will be regular calls among the countries to discuss the economic issues associated with Covid-19.

The world is in the midst of a once in a century pandemic and the economic implications for each of our countries are profound.

In addition to the many multilateral and bilateral discussions we are engaged in, this grouping provides a welcome opportunity for further collaboration on key economic matters.

During the call we exchanged views on the various policy responses under way and lessons learned.

We will continue to work together towards ensuring global financial stability and a strong and sustainable economic recovery.


I guess when you don’t have the Global Times, you have to be a little more overt in your silent diplomacy.

The official statement on the cyber attacks Scott Morrison decided to announce today – in a press conference that seemed more aimed at international watchers than the Australian public – has just dropped:

Protecting Australia’s economy, national security and sovereignty is the government’s top priority.

Based on advice provided to the government by our cyber experts, the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), Australian organisations are currently being targeted by a sophisticated state-based cyber actor.

This activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers, and operators of other critical infrastructure.

We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the tradecraft used.

The Australian government is aware of and alert to the threat of cyber-attacks.

The ACSC has already published a range of technical advisory notices in recent times to alert potential targets and has been briefing states and territories on risks and mitigations.

Regrettably, this activity is not new, but the frequency has been increasing.

Our objective is to raise awareness of these specific risks and targeted activities and tell you how you can take action to protect yourself.

Cyber security is a shared responsibility of us all. It is vital that Australian organisations are alert to this threat and take steps to enhance the resilience of their networks.

All Australian organisations who might be concerned about their vulnerability to sophisticated cyber compromise can take three simple steps to protect themselves:

1. Patch your internet facing devices promptly, ensuring any web or email servers are fully updated with the latest software.

2. Ensure you use multifactor authentication to secure your internet accessible infrastructure and cloud-based platforms.

3. Become an ACSC partner to ensure you get the latest cyber threat advice so you can take the earliest possible action to protect yourself online.

The ACSC and the home affairs department has published a more detailed technical advisory with advice for Australian businesses and organisations to protect themselves, which is available here.


NSW has recorded another seven cases, but all are people who have been in forced hotel quarantine.

Another 12 cases of Covid-19 in Victoria

Victoria has reported another 12 Covid cases:

12 new cases
(13 new to the total, 1 reclassified)
1 case in hotel quarantine
4 cases linked to Stamford Plaza
7 discovered through routine testing
1 new community transmission, 93 active cases. @10NewsFirstMelb #springst

— Simon Love (@SimoLove) June 19, 2020


The Australian Cyber Security Centre has released these details on the ongoing cyber attacks Scott Morrison chose to reveal today:

“The Australian government is currently aware of, and responding to, a sustained targeting of Australian governments and companies by a sophisticated state-based actor.

“The title ‘copy-paste compromises’ is derived from the actor’s heavy use of proof-of-concept exploit code, web shells and other tools copied almost identically from open source.

“The actor has been identified leveraging a number of initial access vectors, with the most prevalent being the exploitation of public-facing infrastructure – primarily through the use of remote code execution vulnerability in unpatched versions of Telerik UI. Other vulnerabilities in public-facing infrastructure leveraged by the actor include exploitation of a deserialisation vulnerability in Microsoft internet information services (IIS), a 2019 SharePoint vulnerability and the 2019 Citrix vulnerability.

“The actor has shown the capability to quickly leverage public exploit proof-of-concepts to target networks of interest and regularly conducts reconnaissance of target networks looking for vulnerable services, potentially maintaining a list of public-facing services to quickly target following future vulnerability releases. The actor has also shown an aptitude for identifying development, test and orphaned services that are not well known or maintained by victim organisations.

“When the exploitation of public-facing infrastructure did not succeed, the ACSC has identified the actor utilising various spearphishing techniques. This spearphishing has taken the form of:

  • links to credential harvesting websites
  • emails with links to malicious files, or with the malicious file directly attached
  • links prompting users to grant Office 365 OAuth tokens to the actor
  • use of email tracking services to identify the email opening and lure click-through events.

“Once initial access is achieved, the actor utilised a mixture of open source and custom tools to persist on, and interact with, the victim network. Although tools are placed on the network, the actor migrates to legitimate remote accesses using stolen credentials. To successfully respond to a related compromise, all accesses must be identified and removed.

“In interacting with victim networks, the actor was identified making use of compromised legitimate Australian web sites as command and control servers. Primarily, the command and control was conducted using web shells and HTTP/HTTPS traffic. This technique rendered geo-blocking ineffective and added legitimacy to malicious network traffic during investigations.

“During its investigations, the ACSC identified no intent by the actor to carry out any disruptive or destructive activities within victim environment.”


ACTU says $13 a week minimum wage rise 'very modest'

The Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary, Sally McManus, has responded to the 1.75% ($13 a week) minimum wage rise.
She said:

This is a very modest increase and it is disappointing that several awards will not see any increase until November or February.

However, it is clear in the decision that this panel of experts recognise that cutting wages in the middle of this crisis would be a disaster for working people and the economy and they have rejected the arguments put by some employers to effectively cut wages by freezing the minimum wage ...

If wages are not increasing for award-dependent workers, this means the government must play a bigger role in stimulating the economy. This is why they must not cut jobkeeper or jobseeker in September. The federal government must use its spending power to bring the country out of the recession. They must invest in job creation through infrastructure development, supporting local manufacturing and public sector jobs.


Relationships Australia has released a survey on how we feel about the easing of Covid restrictions.

As you can see, we are all over the place:

21% of people said they would only feel comfortable returning to ‘normal’ activities if a vaccine was created and in use, with a further 14% noting they would only feel comfortable if there were no active cases worldwide.

31% of people noted that socialising was good for their mental health, and as such they felt the social benefits of interaction would outweigh the risks of infection.


And on Adem Somyurek, Anthony Albanese says:

Well, I’ll tell you what: I’ve been in Eden-Monaro a lot over the last month. No one has raised any of those issues with me and it certainly isn’t raised today. What people are concerned about is jobs and the economy. I doubt whether you’d heard that gentleman’s name two weeks ago and it would have been a trivia question. And if anyone in the federal press gallery could answer it, then they would have got a pretty good prize.


Anthony Albanese has spoken at his Eden-Monaro press conference about the increase in some university fees :

Well, this is the government of $100,000 university degrees. That’s been their philosophy. They don’t seem to understand that education benefits not just an individual, it benefits the nation. And we think that if someone studies hard and does well enough to be eligible to go to university, then a society like ours should be encouraging them to do so. This is also a government that has ripped $3bn from Tafe. So if they talk about support for education programs that benefit the workforce, why have they cut $3bn from Tafe?

Why are there today 140,000 [fewer] apprentices and trainees than there were when this government came to office?

This government seems to always be prepared to sit back and watch those people who frankly don’t need government support. They’ll always do OK – people who are wealthy enough to pay high fees. But what it will do is discourage working people from going to universities.

I’m proud that Labor’s tradition when it comes to education is pretty clear. The Hawke and Keating governments increased year 12 retention from three out of every 10 kids to eight out of 10 kids. And the Rudd and Gillard government significantly expanded access to university education. And that makes a difference to the country.


Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi has responded to Dan Tehan’s announcement to double the cost of arts degrees:

“Arts graduate minister Tehan’s jobs rhetoric is empty. He’s part of a government that would rather throw a tantrum at humanities students and slam them with higher fees than do the hard work of creating jobs across the economy.

“The government’s juvenile Murdoch-driven loathing of students and the humanities is on clear display today. Education isn’t just about getting you a job – it’s a public good and it’s certainly not about punishing students who wish to study humanities and the law.

“This is the government recognising the abject failure of their 2018 funding freeze and crawling back with their tail between their legs and another disastrous approach to uni funding.

“We need free Tafe and uni for all students to meet rising demand during the recession and ensure access to education for all throughout their lives. Anything short of that won’t do.

“Our unis are in crisis with rolling cuts to jobs and courses around the country. Without a substantial funding increase thousands more jobs will go and education quality will suffer.”


There is a lot of speculation about why Scott Morrison decided to announce the cyber attack today.

The question was asked. A few times. There was no straight answer, other than to “make Australians aware”.

But it was a spur of the moment decision to hold the press conference given the prime minister was meant to be headed to the Snowy 2.0 site for an Eden-Monaro byelection event with the Liberal candidate.


Victoria issues interim protection order on Aboriginal site

It has been a busy morning for news about Aboriginal heritage. Looking away from Western Australia for a moment, the Victorian government has just announced it has made an interim protection declaration for a site in the Mount Arapiles-Tooran state park that had been the subject of contention between traditional owners and rock climbers.

The site in question is called Dyurrite 1. It’s a small rock shelter that is part of Taylors Rock or Declaration Crag, just south of Mount Arapiles, and is popular with rock climbers.

More than 50 Aboriginal rock art motifs undetectable to the naked eye have recently been identified in Dyurrite 1, which also has a stone artefact scatter and a stone quarry.

It has already been added to the state’s Aboriginal heritage register.

The Aboriginal affairs minister, Gabrielle Williams, said the interim declaration would ensure the area was adequately protected while traditional owners work with Parks Victoria to determine a long-term protection strategy.

Williams said: “We take the protection of Aboriginal cultural heritage very seriously and it is essential we work together with the whole community to protect, celebrate and respect Aboriginal history.”

The area has been closed since December, but under the interim declaration people who ignore closure signs face fines of up to $297,000.


FWC increases minimum wage by $13 a week

The Fair Work Commission’s president, justice Iain Ross, has announced it will grant a 1.75% increase in the national minimum wage, or $13 a week.

The new minimum wage will be $753.80 a week or $19.84 an hour.

But the pay rise will not apply at the same time for all workers: frontline workers will receive it from 1 July; construction and manufacturing from 1 November; accommodation food retail tourism and aviation from 1 February.

Ross said the demands on FWC were “sharply polarised” with unions asking for a 4% increase, peak employer bodies including AiGroup and ACCI asking for a pay freeze, and the government wanting it to focus on business viability and jobs.

Ross said the FWC understood the economy was in a “significant downturn” due to Covid-19 but noted that low-income households would be “less able to meet their needs” and at greater risk of poverty without a pay rise.

Ross said the union request for a 4% rise would create the risk of “disemployment”, particularly for young workers.



Paul Karp is watching the Fair Work Commission which will hand down its decision on the minimum wage today.


ACCC to monitor airline passenger services for three years

With the fate of Virgin (or whatever it becomes) still unknown, the government has decided it should do something about the domestic air market becoming pretty much a monopoly.

Josh Frydenberg has released this:

The Morrison government has directed the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to monitor domestic air passenger services for three years.

The government has consistently said Australia’s national interest is best served through having a sustainable, competitive aviation sector. ACCC monitoring will help protect competition in the domestic passenger airline market.

In conjunction with the airport monitoring work already undertaken by the ACCC, the direction will also assist the ACCC to obtain relevant information and provide another avenue for those wishing to raise concerns about anti-competitive conduct in the domestic air passenger sector.

The direction will be issued under section 95ZE of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and will require the ACCC to monitor prices, costs and profits in the domestic air passenger sector. A key matter covered will be the level of capacity the airlines are putting on each route and whether this is occurring in a way that may damage competition. The ACCC will release reports at least quarterly.


And yes, as many people have pointed out, Dan Tehan holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Melbourne.

Not sure that is going to change his mind, however.


Tanya Plibersek and Labor have officially responded to the government’s planned changes to university:

“Young people have been hit particularly hard by this recession, and the Liberals are leaving them behind again.

“Scott Morrison wants students to foot the bill for his government’s uni changes, with fees for some degrees more than doubling.

“A couple of years ago, Scott Morrison cut uni places. Now he expects people to be grateful he’s reversed some of those cuts. Even after today’s announcement, thousands of Australians will still miss out on uni.

“There’s double the number of year 12s who want to go to uni next year, but the Liberals refuse to open up enough places for them.

“Youth unemployment’s gone through the roof in this recession: about one in six young people can’t find work, the worst situation in 20 years. If young people can’t earn, they should have the opportunity to learn. But many of them won’t be able to go uni because the government’s not providing enough places.

“It’s a shame Scott Morrison wants young people to join the dole queue instead of letting them study.

“Every one of Scott Morrison’s Liberal party cabinet ministers went to uni, but they don’t think our kids deserve the same chance.”


Helen Sullivan has the international coronavirus blog up and running:


Scott Morrison says he discussed the cyber attack with Boris Johnson last night. That very important fact didn’t make it into Downing Street’s ‘readout’ of the phone call.

— Bevan Shields (@BevanShields) June 18, 2020

Australia target of ongoing cyber attack by state-based actor

What did we learn there?

Not a lot, other than Australia has been the target of a “malicious” cyber attack campaign over many months.

The personal data of Australians does not appear to be under threat.

A “large range of sectors” are being targeted, ranging from governments to private industries.

It has been going on for many months. We don’t know why the government chose to announce it today. It has determined that a “state-based actor” is to blame, but won’t say which one.

The prime minister repeatedly made the point that there are only a handful of nations capable of this level of attack.

He can’t stop people from speculating that China is to blame, but says the government hasn’t met the high threshold to point any fingers.


Q: Is the motivation of these attackers to obtain state secrets and commercial intellectual property, or is it the personal data of everyday Australians?

Scott Morrison:

It is difficult to understand what one’s motivation might be for that.

What is of interest to us is that it is occurring and what we are focused on is the practices that they’re employing and we have some of, if not the best agencies in the world, working on this and that means that they are putting all of their efforts in thwarting these attempts. I can confirm that they have thwarted many, but this is a very complex area and it requires constant persistence and application and that’s what they’re doing.

I raise this not to raise the concerns of Australians but in many ways to reassure Australians that we understand what’s going on here and we are addressing it to best of our capabilities and we’re in a position to do that better than most countries in the world.

We know what is going on. We’re on it but it is a day-to-day task that we’re applied to and we will continue to do that to keep Australians safe and if there are further updates from I or the minister, we will do that and any other agencies and we will keep working closely with them.

As you know, as a result of this, I made some changes to my program this morning which I am now going to return to. I will be standing up again later today in another context but I appreciate you coming together this morning.


Q: Why do you think these institutions in these sectors that you’ve outlined have been targeted?

Scott Morrison:

It is quite broad-based and we have seen similar activity across a broad base in many other jurisdictions around the world. What that does is just highlights that this is part of the new world we live in.

Regrettably, this is not peculiar.

This is part of the many threats that Australia has to deal with and I think that highlights the government’s early action under the former prime Minister, and I remember being there with him on the day when the cyber security strategy was released.

That was a forward-thinking plan, with a forward-thinking investment and they are investments that I have continued on as prime minister – at the time I was Treasurer.

They were important investments for us to make and I am glad we made them and we’re continuing to make them.

As I flagged today, we will be making more because this is what keeping Australians safe looks like to make those investments. There can’t be any guarantees in this area.

It is an area of rapidly advancing technology but that’s why our tech experts have worked closely with the sector to give the technical advice and information that Linda [Reynolds] has outlined for you today. I really encourage people to avail themselves to that.

Many who have been working with us already have that information.


Do the government know which state-based actor?

Scott Morrison:

I am saying the threshold for being able to answer your question along those lines is very high. What I can confirm, with confidence, based on the advice, the technical advice that we have received, is that this is the actions of a state-based actor with significant capabilities. There aren’t too many state-based actors who have those capabilities.


Q: You say we haven’t reached the threshold for public attribution – that won’t stop people speculating it is China, particularly in light of their anger and trade retaliation for your inquiry into coronavirus. What do you say to people who will link it to China and naturally think it is China, given they have form in this field?

Scott Morrison:

I can only say what I have said. The Australian government is not making any public attribution about these matters. We are very confident that this is the actions of a state-based actor. We have not gone any further than that. I can’t control what speculation others might engage in on this issue or, frankly, any other. I have simply laid out the facts as we know them and as we have disclosed today.


Q: When did this attack start and when was it brought to your attention? Also, you said you’re raising it to raise awareness in the community and business and governments but is there something about the scale of this attack that is unprecedented?

Scott Morrison:

I don’t know if I would use that word. As you’ll recall some time ago, I spoke of these issues in the parliament, so this is ongoing activity. It hasn’t just started.

This is a constant threat to Australia, as it is to many other nations and you would be aware of many other nations having highlighted similar activity in their jurisdictions.

This has been a constant issue for Australia to deal with and so I wouldn’t say that there has been any one event or any one instance. We have been dealing with cyber security threats from state-based actors for some time and I’ve alerted the public to that before.

It has been an issue of ongoing management, defence and cooperation, working with private operators, other governments, all levels of government and other organisations.


Q: Is this the act of a friendly nation?

Scott Morrison:

I have made my statement on the issues you raised.

Q: There was quite a list of sectors and levels of government that you’re talking about. Can you break that down into entities – are we talking hundreds here, thousands who have been targeted?


There are many that have been targeted but, in terms of their success, that is not as significant.

We will continue to work closely with the agencies. Today is about raising the awareness and those who are engaged in this are not doing this to help us. That’s certainly not their intention. You could describe it as malicious and that is why our awareness levels need to be raised.


Who was it?

The threshold for public attribution on a technical level is extremely high. Australia doesn’t engage lightly in public attributions and when and if we choose to do so is always done in the context of what we believe to be in our strategic national interests.

What I can confirm is there are not a large number of state-based actors that can engage in this type of activity and it is clear, based on the advice that we have received, that this has been done by a state-based actor, with very significant capabilities.


Were Australian’s personal or financial details at risk?

Scott Morrison:

The advice I have is that the investigations conducted so far have not revealed any large-scale personal data breaches.

Can our partners and allies help?


We work closely with, particularly our allies and partners when it comes to managing issues of cyber security threats. That is a constant topic, as you would expect, particularly through Five Eyes partners. I spoke to Boris Johnson last night about a range of matters, including this one and there are a number of engagements with our allies overnight.


The press conference moves to questions – Scott Morrison says he told Anthony Albanese about the issue last night, and has also spoken to the state and territory leaders:

To reinforce the point, we raised this issue today not to raise concerns in the public’s mind but to raise awareness in the public’s mind. This is the world that we live in. These are the threats that we have to deal with.

The fact that these threats present is not a surprise in this world in which we now live and the actions that we are taking are the actions that we need to take and we will continue to be as vigilant as we possibly can be.


The defence minister, Linda Reynolds, reads from her own statement:

All Australian organisations who might be concerned about their vulnerability to sophisticated cyber compromise can take these three simple steps to protect themselves.

Firstly, patch your internet-facing devices promptly, ensuring that any web or email servers are fully updated with the latest software.

Secondly, ensure you always use multifactor authentication to secure your internet access, infrastructure and also your cloud-based platforms.

Thirdly, it’s important to become an ACSC partner to ensure you get the latest cyber threat advice to protect your organisation online.

Today the Australian Cyber Security Centre and the Department of Home Affairs have published a very detailed technical advisory which is available at This advisory provides all the necessary steps that Australian organisations must take to detect and also to mitigate this threat.


He finishes on this:

Australia has some of the best agencies in the world on these issues and Australians, like I, I believe have confidence in those organisations and they are doing their job and they are doing it effectively but that is not to diminish or discount the risks that we now face in this modern world.

These risks are present, they will continue to be present. It is part of the world in which we live and it is why these investments are necessary and the protections we put in place are necessary. The way we have to work together is necessary and we will continue to do everything we can to keep Australians safe.

The PM continues:

We have also invested a further $156m to build cyber resilience and expand the cyber workforce as one of our election commitments and we invested additional funding for a whole-of-government cyber uplift program, but in this environment, of course, and increasingly, there is always more to do and we must continue to work together. Cyber security is a whole-of-community effort – government, industry and individuals.

That is why we are raising this matter today, to raise awareness of this important issue and to encourage organisations, particularly those in the health critical infrastructure and essential services to take expert advice and to implement technical defences to thwart this malicious cyber activity.


Scott Morrison:

The ACSC has also been actively working with targeted organisations to ensure that they have appropriate technical mitigations in place and their defences are appropriately raised.

Thanks to the cooperation between the affected entities, the Australian Cyber Security Centre and a range of private cyber security providers, we have been working together to thwart this activity. The purpose of raising this matter here today is to simply raise awareness of these specific risks.

They’re not new risks but they are specific risks and the targeted activities and to advise you how Australians, and particularly these organisations, can take action to protect themselves. The government’s 2016 cyber security strategy backed a $230m investment over four years.

This has strengthened Australia’s cyber security foundations and stimulated private sector investment in cyber security and positioned Australia as a regional cyber security leader. The government will release a new cyber security strategy in the coming months and that will include significant further investments.


Scott Morrison:

We know it is a sophisticated state-based cyber actor because of the scale and nature of the targeting and the tradecraft used. The Australian government is aware of and alert to the threat of cyber attacks. Our government’s expert agency on cyber matters is the Australian Cyber Security Centre. It has already published a range of technical advisory notices in recent times to alert potential targets and has been briefing states and territories on risks and mitigations. Regrettably, this activity is not new. Frequency has been increasing.


Prime minister reveals that a major cyber attack is under way

Scott Morrison is reading from a prepared statement:

Protecting Australia’s economy, national security and sovereignty is my government’s top priority – keeping Australians safe. I’m here today to advise you that, based on advice provided to me by our cyber experts, Australian organisations are currently being targeted by a sophisticated state-based cyber actor. This activity is targeting Australian organisations across a range of sectors, including all levels of government, industry, political organisations, education, health, essential service providers and operators of other critical infrastructure.


A reminder, ahead of Dan Tehan’s university speech, which comes amid record highs in unemployment, and a one-in-one-year recession (as well as you know, climate change), that among those who will suffer the most are those kids born under the Coalition’s “baby bonus” scheme, where Peter Costello urged parents to have “one for mum, one for dad and one for the country”.


Australia is still holding on though.


First it was Andrew Hastie – now Peter Dutton is defending Anthony Byrne.

Byrne is a Labor backbencher, and deputy chair of the parliamentary intelligence committee. But he has some friends on the other side of the chamber – here was Dutton talking about him on the Nine network this morning:

Oh I certainly like him and I think he’s so done a great job in the intelligence committee. I think he’s got a very sensible perspective on dealing with counter-terrorism laws. He’s an area expert – a subject matter expert and he’s really done very well in that committee. I don’t know the detail of what’s going on in the Liberal party, obviously – in the Labor party obviously ...

I am not going to criticise, frankly, I’m not going to criticise him for the language. It was a private text message. Now, if you can say hand on heart or Richard can or I can, that you haven’t used bad language in private then you know good luck to you but that’s not the reality for most adult Australians.

And if it’s something that he said publicly on The Today Show this morning, that is inappropriate for kids to hear, well he should say sorry. In terms of people getting worked up about the language within the text, that’s not the issue here, the issue is that there’s corruption, deep corruption within the Victorian branch of the Labor party and it needs to be dealt with – and it needs to be dealt with sooner than later.


The prime minister is holding a press conference in the Blue Room at 9am.

There has been a significant cyber intrusion aimed at Government and the private sector across Australia. Expect to hear more on this within the hour. Not all of it sucessful but on a massive scale. #auspol @9NewsAUS

— Chris Uhlmann (@CUhlmann) June 18, 2020


Everyone is out and about on the Eden-Monaro byelection campaign trail today.

Anthony Albanese and the Labor candidate, Kristy McBain, are at a childcare centre at Jindabyne.

Scott Morrison and the Liberal candidate, Fiona Kotvojs, are headed to the Snowy 2.0 site.

Matt Canavan and Susan McDonald and the Nationals candidate, Trevor Hicks, are holding an event in the Senate courtyard.


On criticisms that the government is dismissing the skills that come with arts degrees – such as critical thinking – Dan Tehan says:

No, not at all. We want students to be able to critically think. We know that’s going to be an important skill when it comes to jobs of the future but we also want to make sure that those students have got the skills in the areas of where the jobs will be. So if you are going to do philosophy, we want you to think about doing a language. If you are going to do ancient Greek, do IT with it. Just make sure that you are thinking about getting the skills that you’ll need to get a job beyond your degree.


The government wants to shake up the university sector, doubling the cost of an arts degree, but decreasing the cost of “job-ready” degrees – Paul Karp has covered off the changes here.

Dan Tehan was asked to explain why on ABC News Breakfast this morning:

What we want to do is first make sure that we’ve got additional places in the system because we know as a result of the coronavirus pandemic we’re going to see more demand for places in the higher education system and also we want to incentivise students to undertake courses that will give them the skills to take the jobs of the future. We need young Australians to help us grow our economy through the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and what this is all about is incentivising people to look at teaching, to look at nursing, to look at allied health, to look at engineering and to look at IT because we know that the jobs of the future will be in those areas.


Airlines try to lure back Australians as border restrictions ease

Jetstar has announced cut-price airfares and Qantas will give frequent flyers extra points to get Australians flying as coronavirus restrictions ease.

Jetstar is offering 10,000 one-way fares for $19 on 22 routes, including Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Gold Coast, Melbourne to Ballina, Brisbane to Whitsunday Coast and Adelaide to Cairns. Other routes have also been discounted but not to the same extent.

Qantas is also offering incentives for travellers, with triple points for frequent flyers on all routes.

Many of Australia’s state borders are set to open by late July, with South Australia taking the first step.

Residents from Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are now allowed to enter South Australia without quarantining for two weeks, with plans to open all state borders by 20 July. The Northern Territory says it will open its borders to all states and territories, but not until 17 July.

Queensland will notionally bring down borders on 10 July, but both the premier and the chief health officer have indicated this date is moveable, and Western Australia and Tasmania are holding firm on their hard border for now.

Qantas Group’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, says almost 400,000 seats have been sold on Qantas and Jetstar’s domestic networks in the past two weeks, after news the news of softening borders.

He said he hopes the sale and points offers will boost that further and help tourism operators get back on their feet.

Qantas and Jetstar will continue to reintroduce flights across their domestic networks in line with demand and the easing of border restrictions.


The conversation then moved on to Anthony Bryne:

Q: What about Anthony Byrne? These text messages today in the paper where he is talking in really bad terms about women and ethnic minorities. What you make of his dealings?

Albanese: I have counselled him about the nature of those text messages, they are inappropriate. But when I am at the childcare centre here in Jindabyne this morning, or when I am meeting with small business in Thredbo with Kristy McBain, guess what? They will be talking about jobs, talking about the economy and talking about the withdrawal of support. They’re not really interest in text messages between two individuals, provide for some headlines. Australians are focused on what is happening to them and that is my focus as well. I am not going through the details of the text messages between individuals.

Q: I too care about Eden-Monaro. Unfortunately for you guys, the media is talking about branch stacking in the ALP right now. If you want to be prime minister, have you not got to sort out your ranks? What is going on with Anthony Byrne? He is the department head of the parliament intelligence committee?

Albanese: No, he is the deputy chair. And the chair, Andrew Hastie, the Liberal party chair, gave him a glowing character reference just this week and said that he was serving the national interest on that committee, which is a committee that operates on a bipartisan basis. We dealt with these things when we intervened into the branch on Tuesday night. Daniel Andrews took swift action. He showed real leadership about what was happening in the Victorian branch.

And the national executive responded appropriately. Steve Bracks and Jenny Macklin – I cannot think of two people who have been involved in political life who have more integrity than Steve and Jenny. They have been put in charge of making recommendations. They will do that. They are now in charge of the branch as the administrators and that is a good thing. We have acted swiftly. And what I am doing is getting on with the job of issues that are of concern to Australians.


Anthony Albanese was also asked about the Victorian Labor branch-stacking allegations while on the Seven Network this morning:

Q: You have some other issues at the moment that we want to get to. The Victorian ALP branch-stacking scandal. The Victorian politician at the centre of this, Adem Somyurek is now threatening legal action against those who secretly recorded him. Are you confident that you and federal MP Anthony Byrne will not be implicated in this if it all airs in court?

Albanese: I am certainly confident that I knew nothing about any of this until Sunday night when it was shown.

Q: You knew nothing about any of this?

Albanese: I knew nothing about it. I was told there was going to be something on 60 Minutes, I watched the show. I met Adem Somyurek I think once in my life, I have probably been in the same room as him a few times. I’m not familiar with him.


Dan Tehan was asked about the future of jobkeeper while speaking to the ABC this morning:

So what the government is doing at the moment is having a review of jobkeeper. It’s methodical. We are getting all the data that we need to make the key decisions going forward, which will strengthen our economy as we come out of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now we said that we would review jobkeeper in June and that’s been undertaken.

I know that the Treasury are giving a lot of thought to the recommendations that will go into that review and then the government will consider it in July. So that will be done in a very considered, methodical way and in a way that we think will ensure that we continue to grow our economy and grow jobs out of this coronavirus pandemic.


Scott Morrison, when asked about the future of jobkeeper and jobseeker yesterday, didn’t give any concrete answers.

There are reports that the wage subsidy will become more targeted, something that has been floating around for awhile.

That most likely means businesses that look like going under, or will never open again, but are now remaining “running” under jobkeeper – the so-called “zombie businesses” – will fall off, and industries that need the support will see it directed to them.

In terms of jobseeker, which the Covid supplement has doubled to $1,100 a fortnight, the signs are pointing to it being raised from the old $40-a-day rate, which no one considered livable – but don’t expect it to sit around the current rate, either. Neither the government or Labor support it sitting above the pension (although the easy solution would seem to be to raise the pension, but that apparently is crazy talk).

Anthony Albanese was asked about what he wanted the government to do, while speaking to the Seven Network this morning:

The real unemployment rate is already about 11.3% if you take those people who simply have given up looking for work and this is having a devastating impact.

We need sectional packages to support industries like the arts and entertainment sector. We need to make sure that those workers who have missed out completely from jobkeeper, like the dnata workers – they used to be called Qantas Catering. It is not their fault that the company got taken over but they have missed out on support here.

We can’t leave people behind. The truth is, today is exactly 100 days until jobkeeper stops and people literally will fall off a cliff.

The idea that you can just withdraw all that support at one point in time, childcare workers have already been thrown off jobkeeper from next week, and it is going to have a real impact. The government needs to put in place an economic strategy that has jobs, jobs and jobs as its three priorities.


Good morning

Parliament may be on break until 4 August but that doesn’t mean the politics stops.

The winter break will be used to come up with the framework for what will happen to all the coronavirus wage support measures beyond September, when jobkeeper and the Covid supplement to jobseeker come to an end.

You’re watching the reshaping of Australia. There are the coming industrial relations changes, as well as changes to university courses, which will dictate what and who is doing the jobs of the future. The ramifications of these changes will be felt for years to come.

And it’s all playing out in the shadow of the coronavirus, which is still causing problems in Victoria.

Although not enough to change that state’s plans to ease its own restrictions come Monday.

As AAP reported late yesterday:

Victoria’s Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen said authorities still plan to relax restrictions on Monday, though a lot can happen in the meantime.

“Monday is not that far away. The plan is to continue to ease those restrictions on Monday, but a lot can happen in five days,” Dr Van Diemen told reporters on Thursday.

“We don’t want to take any chances and if it does continue to climb, we will be taking all of that into account when we decide whether or not to ease further on Monday.”

Gyms, cinemas, indoor sports centres and concert venues will reopen on Monday, while cafes, restaurants and pubs will increase capacity from 20 people to 50.

We’ll take you through all the coronavirus news, as well as the political news at large. You have Amy Remeikis as your blog captain for most of the day.




Naaman Zhou (now) and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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