Daily News Roundup

August 25, 2020



One of Australia’s most senior religious leaders says he would likely boycott the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Oxford University, on ethical grounds.

The Federal Government has signed an international deal that would provide all Australians free access to the UK vaccine, being worked on by Oxford scientists and pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, if it is approved for use.

But Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies said there were ethical questions about the potential vaccine, because scientists have used cell lines from an electively aborted foetus.

“To use that tissue for science is reprehensible,” Dr Davies told AM.

His concerns are shared by Catholic and Greek Orthodox leaders, who have written a joint letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.Follow our live blog for the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Anthony Fisher, declined an interview but he told the Catholic Weekly newspaper that he didn’t believe it would be unethical to get the Oxford vaccine if it was the only option.

“But I am deeply troubled by it,” he said.

In other COVID-19 news:

  • Venue operators have hit out at Tasmania’s ban on dancing when people have been given the all clear to play sport or see a sex worker. Tasmania’s Public Health director Mark Veitch yesterday said dancing in nightclubs and bars will be one of the last coronavirus restrictions lifted.
  • Queensland’s Chief Health Officer says she is investigating a “missing link” between the Melbourne trio and the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre cluster as the state records zero new coronavirus cases overnight.

More than 8,000 tests were conducted in the past 24 hours.

It comes as the state’s Chief Health Officer, Jeannette Young, said early genome sequencing indicated the cluster of coronavirus cases at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre could be linked to one of the women who returned from Melbourne earlier this year.


NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says her Government will adopt all 76 recommendations made by the state’s independent bushfire inquiry.

Compulsory land clearing, night-time water bombing, and aggressive hazard reduction burning were among the recommendations made in a report on the state’s response to last summer’s bushfires.

A feature of the recommendations was legally requiring land owners to ensure their properties are safe by land clearing or conducting hazard reduction burns.

It was recommended that the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) be given rights to enter properties and clear land or conduct burns if land owners fail to do so.

The report also makes recommendations focused on which aerial fire-fighting assets should be used in the future, and what strategies they should pursue.

These included increased waterbombing at night time and employing more rapid aerial responses when fires are burning in risky and hard-to-reach terrain.


The retail group behind clothing brands Rivers, Millers, Katies and Noni B plans to shut up to 500 stores following the financial blow of bushfires and COVID-19, amid an ongoing dispute with a major landlord.

Mosaic Brands says the leases on nearly 80 per cent of its 1,333 stores are expiring over the next two years and it anticipates closing potentially 300 to 500 of those stores over that time period.

The threat to permanently shut more than a third of its store network comes after 129 of its stores in Westfield shopping centres were closed by landlord Scentre Group, leaving hundreds of workers needing to be redeployed.

Some retailers and landlords have clashed during the pandemic over if chains should pay rent, and how much they should pay, after foot traffic tumbled during initial shutdowns, and some stores remain closed under renewed restrictions in Victoria.

The announcement came as Mosaic swung to a $170 million net loss for the 2019-20 financial year and said it would not pay a final dividend due to the ongoing uncertainty of the pandemic.

Mosaic chief executive Scott Evans said the group had performed solidly for the first third of the financial year, but then its forecasts were “utterly derailed”.

“First by the devastating bushfires which directly impacted 20 per cent of our store portfolio over the Christmas period, then by COVID-19 which saw us close all 1,333 stores for 9 and a half weeks including the peak Mothers’ Day trading period,” he said.

In January, Mosaic had warned that consumer confidence in regional areas, home to 32 per cent of its stores, was “particularly fragile”.

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