News Digest: A Labor split, NSW bushfire rages and ‘no jab, no benefits’

Source: Getty.

A rare non-coronavirus lead story today, with The Australian reporting from an interview with influential Labor caucus member Joel Fitzgibbon that the party could split if it doesn’t bring together its two key supporter bases: working class voters and socially progressive voters. The newspaper notes that traditional blue-collar supporters abandoned Labor at the last Federal election, amid claims that the party has neglected regional Australia in favour of wooing inner-city progressives with a focus on issues such as climate change and same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, The Sydney Morning Herald reports that New South Wales is experiencing its first big blaze of the bushfire season, deploying water bombers on a fast-moving fire at Duranbah, close to the Queensland-NSW border.

The newspaper also reports that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is considering options to provide Age Pensioners an income boost in September, after the six-monthly indexation increase due next month was scrapped because the cost of living and wages had fallen during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In business news, the ABC reports that national carrier Qantas made a net loss of almost $2 billion for the full year, down from a $840 million profit in the previous year, on the back of $642 million in on-off costs as a result of Covid-19.

And WA Today reports that Wesfarmers, the owner of Coles, Bunnings and Target, announced a 16.4 per cent fall in profit to $1.6 billion from continuing operations for the full year, after taking $635 million in impairments and provisions on the restructuring of troubled Target and a $310 million impairment on its industrials and safety division.

Meanwhile, on Covid-19, Victoria this morning reported 240 new cases for the past 24 hours, and 13 deaths.

The update comes as Health Minister Greg Hunt refused to rule out consequences for people who refuse to be vaccinated for the virus when a vaccine becomes available. Speaking on Sunrise, Hunt said the government “reserve[d] the right, subject to medical advice, to take steps that might assist” in convincing Australians to be vaccinated. There have been suggestions that anti-vaxxers be stripped of welfare benefits or prevented from travelling or sending their children to school.

PM Morrison gave an update yesterday on the government’s work to secure a free dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

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