READ: “I dunno”
Officials in the health department are still reeling after Scott Morrison dropped his confusing late-night AstraZeneca bomb this week.
Following a national cabinet meeting on Monday, the prime minister said anyone under the age of 40 could request the vaccine from their doctor as a way to get immunised against COVID-19.
This was apparently news to everyone else who attended the meeting. No such decision was made to widen the availability of AstraZeneca.
The advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation remains the same and that is that Pfizer is the preferred vaccine for under-60s, due to the increased risk of rare blood clotting linked to AstraZeneca.
So was the PM simply freewheeling? Who knows? His own health officials are stumped for answers.
It is not only doctors and nurses who have been left surprised and confused; the federal health department is having a meltdown over it.
The Mandarin has spoken to a number of officials angry at the PM’s announcement, with one describing it as a ‘stunt’ and another as ‘uninformed dribble’.
“Is there to be an announcement soon about trying bleach and disinfectant as well?” asked one frustrated health official.
Firing up the bus
Meanwhile, who is trying to throw health secretary Brendan Murphy under a bus?
Looks like the federal government is looking for a scapegoat over its continuing bungling of the vaccination rollout. It has begun strategically leaking to its mates at Sky News and it seems Murphy is the target.
While interviewing itself, as Sky is wont to do, Murphy was described as a ‘big problem’ for the government because of advice he had given while he was the chief medical officer.
Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell told presenter Peta Credlin that Murphy was a concern.
“What I’ve been told is he opposed a plan by Gladys Berejiklian to have the vaccinations in stadiums, he’s opposed the plan to have pharmacies do the vaccinations or at least push them out,” Clennell said.
“He’s opposed the regional quarantine idea, and he was confident in the AstraZeneca solution.
“Bit by bit, every decision he’s advised … appear to be being overturned.”
No more evidence is needed that the government is very rattled in the face of declining polling numbers and increasing dissatisfaction over the way it is responding to the pandemic.
But instead of ministerial responsibility kicking in, it’s the senior officials who are getting kicked.
Murphy is in the government’s sights and its Murdoch media mates have been recruited.
Diplomatic herd immunity
Still on coronavirus, and diplomatic immunity has been translated as ‘entitlement’ by some foreign diplomats in Canberra.
It has been diplomats returning from overseas and not required to undergo quarantine that led to a handful of recent COVID cases in the capital.
Compared with most other jurisdictions, however, the Australia Capital Territory been largely COVID-free.
But when one such envoy who tested positive decided the diplomatic immunity also meant they could still send their possibly infected child to school, authorities had other ideas.
The diplomatic parents were called by the school in question and diplomatically told to collect their child and keep them at home for self-isolation.
The order was obeyed, but not without some undiplomatic suggestions of being unfairly and unreasonably picked on.
Keeping up appearances
The online presences of the Australian Accounting Standards Board and the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board have been given a new lick of paint. The websites look much slicker and the search functions have been upgraded.
It will be interesting to see whether the spruced-up sites get an uptick in eyeballs in the next little while, given the subject matter.