The Informer: Do not sit on the fence and do not go gently

Do not sit on the fence and do not go gently

ALERT, ALERT: In our ever-more black and white world you'll be required to pick a hashtag: #IStandWithDan or #DictatorDan. And you'd better do it sharpish, too, people.

As it seems the pandemic has destroyed any semblance of grey in the world, there is no fence-sitting, no middle ground and definitely no acquiescing.

The above two pars are written in sarcasm font but expect the vitriol to begin. Soon. From both sides.

The Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews appeared today at the hotel quarantine inquiry. Among his testimony he said did not know who made the decision to hire private security guards to oversee returned travellers.

He also said he regarded Health Minister Jenny Mikakos as accountable for the program but added that he regards himself as "ultimately accountable for the Victorian Government and any decisions made about the structure and operation of the program".

It's safe to say that Mr Andrews isn't billionaire businessman Solomon Lew's favourite pollie.

The retail magnate said Victoria's COVID-19-inspired economic abyss is the worst he's seen in 57 years in business and that special measures will be needed to help the recovery.

Yes, that's the same Mr Lew, the Guardian reported today, who will pocket $24.25 million in dividends after his retail empire, Premier Investments, received almost $70m in wage subsidies during the coronavirus crisis.

Included in Mr Lew's Premier 1040-strong Australasian stable is stationery group Smiggle and fashion chain Just Jeans, Peter Alexander, Jay Jays and Portmans.

Research by proxy advisor Ownership Matters, conducted before Premier released its results, showed that 17 of the top 300 listed Australian companies that received jobkeeper paid out a total of $250m in dividends.

Premier, the Australian Financial Review reports, won't be eligible for JobKeeper under the new criteria which comes into play at month's end but it has, apparently, agreed to pay its Victorian staff their contracted wages for October.

Of course, not everyone is quite so fortunate. Welfare recipients will begin getting less money each fortnight as the JobSeeker coronavirus boost winds down. The unemployment support payment was increased by $550 a fortnight at the start of the pandemic but from Friday that shrinks to $250.

The government hasn't decided about the payment's long-term rate, which will return to about $40 a day when the supplement finishes at the end of the year.

Howabout, for the weekend at least, we forget the two hashtags mentioned earlier and go with one from, oh hell, months ago. Remember #BeKind?

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