Gone too soon? Great news, guys: the pandemic is over. How else to explain the imminent decommissioning of the COVIDSafe app, surely the most crucial government intervention in keeping us safe in the past two-and-a-half years? Oh, you’ve already forgotten it?
COVIDSafe was the federal government’s tracing app, marketed explicitly — and misleadingly — as a protection from COVID in and of itself: it “makes the country safe for you”, then chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said, while then PM Scott Morrison went so far as to compare the app with sunblock. I can only assume it was the memory and concentration problems brought on by the prolonged lockdowns many of us have been through that has erased Morrison saying “Slip, slop, slap the app” from our national consciousness.
Of course, the whole thing turned out to be a total shemozzle — there were registration problems, people were reluctant to sign up, it cost millions and it detected … 17 cases.
Life on Mar-a-Lago The FBI raids on Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida truly remain the gift that keeps on giving. There’s the staggeringly modest tweet first bringing it to public attention: “TBH, Im not a strong enough reporter to hunt this down, but its real”, tweeted Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics, apologetically breaking one of the biggest stories of the year (albeit with some sketchy grammar). There’s Trump — who so loved a bit of hard-man posturing on law and order — whining that the FBI hadn’t called ahead before raiding him.
But perhaps our favourite detail is from former press secretary Stephanie Grisham. She proved her wit by calling her inevitable cash-in book I’ll Take Your Questions Now despite having never once taken a question in her nine months as press secretary. She responded to an accusation on Twitter that she was the source of photos The New York Times‘ Maggie Haberman obtained of torn documents in toilets: “I assure you I’m not. I would def not have followed that guy into the bathroom after he used it.”
Doing the nation proud Tennis great Serena Williams has hinted at retiring from the game — although we’re hoping if she does move away from tennis, she uses some of her spare time to track down the one in eight British men who think they could do pretty well in a game against her to test that theory.
Of course Australia plays a big part in her history. A uniquely awful part. This was hinted at by Williams, who wrote:
There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the ‘open era’ that began in 1968. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her.
Yep, Australia’s own pro-apartheid, anti-LGBTIQA+ crusader is what stands between Williams and the record for most grand slam titles.
And anyone claiming Court isn’t representative of Australia’s general bigotry levels probably won’t get all that sympathetic a hearing from Williams. After all, back in 2018 a depiction of Williams by Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight, which drew on the conventions of the ugly history of minstrelsy in this country and elsewhere, blew up worldwide. We’re sure that the Hun‘s self-pitying response and the Press Council’s eventual ruling that Knight hadn’t breached publication standards didn’t go unnoticed.