What happened today, Thursday 12 August 2021

We’ll leave it there for now. Here are today’s main developments:

  • The ACT went into a seven-day lockdown at 5pm after recording its first case in more than a year, with three additional cases reported later in the day.
  • NSW recorded 345 new cases and two people died, as the state government confirmed tougher police powers amid concerns about compliance. Three LGAs were added to the areas of concern.
  • Victoria recorded 21 new cases. The government also unveiled further support for businesses.
  • Queensland reported 10 new cases.
  • In non-Covid news, the high court has declined to hear a case over the handling of the visa application process for Tharnicaa Murugappan, the youngest daughter of the Tamil family from Biloela.

Thanks for following along. We’ll see you tomorrow.


This is an important story from Lorena Allam, who has obtained data on vaccination rates for Aboriginal people in western NSW.

Less than 20% of the Aboriginal population aged 16 and over in western NSW had received one dose of any vaccine, and only 8% were fully vaccinated, according to the peak body representing Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations, Naccho.

Read the full story here:


We have sought comment from Giant Steps and NSW Health on this.

In the meantime I have just spoken with Nicole Rogerson, the chief executive of Autism Awareness Australia, who says:

My heart goes out to these families, I’ve spoken to some of them this afternoon. The worry is immense. Think of these students, they are confused, they don’t necessarily understand what a pandemic is, much less why they’re isolated. As much as there will be a lot of finger pointing in the coming days about how it got into this school community, the fact remains the federal government botched the vaccine rollout. This is the result.

According to its website, Giant Steps provides education to children and young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder from kindergarten to year 12.

Rogerson says:

Some schools who deal with students with more severe disabilities, it’s absolutely essential they remain open. State governments around Australia have understood that. It’s too confusing for some students with severe disabilities to understand why they’re having their routine changed, their structure taken away from them, and all of sudden being home for hours without the right supports in place. It was appropriate for the school to be open, but at some point someone is going to have ask, how did [the virus] get through the door?


School for children with autism closed due to outbreak

Giant Steps, a school for children with autism in Gladesville, has reportedly closed after an outbreak.

Giant Steps School in Sydney closed dealing with a COVID outbreak 🚨

It’s a school for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder 📚

More than a dozen students and a handful of teachers have tested positive - with hundreds of kids and families now in isolation 🏫@abcnews

— Jamie Travers (@JamieTravers) August 12, 2021


Chief Executive of Western NSW Local Health District, Scott McLachlan, tells @PatsKarvelas that the majority of COVID cases in regional NSW outbreaks at the moment - including Dubbo and Walgett - are Aboriginal people.

— Shalailah Medhora (@shalailah) August 12, 2021

Staying with the Walgett outbreak, my colleague Nino Bucci has been digging into this story.

We spoke briefly to the Dharriwaa Elders Group yesterday when the lockdown was announced in Walgett, as well as seven other NSW LGAs.

Here is a statement outlining their key concerns.

Statement from @DharriwaaEGroup demanding more trained nurses, accommodation for people leaving prison to self-isolate while waiting for test results, mobile testing & vaccination, more masks & other measures to keep Walgett safe from #COVID19Aus https://t.co/uPgJwfP7II pic.twitter.com/wr4aI2M7N7

— Aboriginal Legal Service (@ALS_NSWACT) August 12, 2021

Here’s the market wrap at the close of play, via AAP:

Investors selling shares in Rio Tinto and the Commonwealth Bank ended the Australian market’s run of six days of record highs.

Mining giant Rio Tinto fell 6.88% to $120.26 after shares traded ex-dividend. Investors may also have been concerned by a plunging iron ore price.

The biggest company on the market, the Commonwealth Bank, lost 2.12% to $105.88.

Investors pushed bank shares to a record a day earlier after its full-year earnings.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed higher by 3.9 points, or 0.05%, to 7,588.2.

The All Ordinaries closed up 5.9 points, or 0.08%, to 7,860.5.

The Australian dollar was buying 73.61 US cents at 1624 AEST on Thursday, higher from 73.36 US cents at Wednesday’s close.


The lockdown in the ACT means some parks are closing.

I didn't want to go to Mount Splashmore anyway.

ACT Parks and Conservation is closing some parks and reserves under the new health directions. https://t.co/Ez7EhTr652 pic.twitter.com/CTJMZODxZX

— Brent Ford (@BrentFord26) August 12, 2021


Queensland closes border to ACT

Queensland has responded to the ACT outbreak.

BREAKING: Queensland will declare the ACT a hotspot from 1am Saturday 14th August.

Anyone who arrives in Queensland from the ACT from 1am on Saturday will be required to go into hotel quarantine for 14 days. pic.twitter.com/DP9cs6Az9H

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) August 12, 2021


Three additional cases in ACT

And unfortunately I’ll start you off with some bad news for those of you who’ve just entered lockdown in the ACT.

BREAKING: Three close contacts of the ACT man have tested positive for COVID-19, ACT Chief Health Officer tells Drive on @abccanberra. Four positive cases total, in #Canberra

— Anna Vidot (@AnnaVidot) August 12, 2021

Hi all. Luke Henriques-Gomes here. Thanks to Amy for her excellent work this parliamentary sitting.

I’ll be with you for the next short while.

The lovely Luke Henriques-Gomes has stepped in to relieve me, which means my shift on the blog is over – but I’ll be back whenever parliament is.

All of the thank yous to Mike Bowers, Katharine Murphy, Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst for their work this week in Canberra, and of course to the wider Guardian brains trust who made sure everything, including me, kept ticking away.

But as always, the biggest thanks – and I mean it sincerely – is with you, our readers. With much of the east coast in lockdown, following the news is the last thing people feel like doing – and yet you keep showing us your humour and grace, as well as letting us know what is happening in your patches, and we all appreciate it. More than you know. Your messages, comments, tweets and other social posts are seen, and while we may not get a chance to get back to all of them, we do read them.

And I know we say this a lot, but please – be kind to yourself. The amount of stress people are under cannot be underestimated. Planning is virtually impossible, meaning people have lost the coping mechanism of having something to look forward to – even if it was a haircut, catch-up with friends, or a change of scenery. Doing your part and then hearing everyday that it is not enough or more needs to be done can grind you down. Looking after kids is a full-time job, but then adding in your full-time job at the same time and trying to make sure your kids are OK is just more pressure. Living alone and navigating a pandemic means constantly craving human touch and interaction while trying not to add to others’ burdens. Caring for someone who has special needs without the support network to call on becomes even more isolating. Couples and friends in lockdown together are having to keep a lid on frustrations and hurts that usually wouldn’t even rate a mention because before being locked together almost 24 hours a day it didn’t matter. Loved ones and friends are separated, grandparents and family haven’t met new children, students don’t know what the future holds, or even how they’ll get through to the end of the year. And that’s just some of the emotional costs, without the financial ones.

It is a lot. So be kind to yourself. Eat the potato. Sit in the sun. Watch every episode of whatever is your guilty pleasure. Say no to the Zoom catch-ups, or organise one – whatever it is you need. It’s tough, it’s hard and you are all doing great, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Just getting through the day is enough right now.

Until next time – take care of you.


And it being 5pm, the ACT is officially in lockdown.

Stay safe Territorians. And eat all of the potato.


Parliament has officially risen for this sitting.

But we still don’t know when it will resume.


Given the education minister Alan Tudge’s ‘the future is looking very bright for university students’ dixer answer in question time this afternoon, this comment from the Greens’ Mehreen Faruqi is particularly well timed:

It is hard to describe the current dire state of affairs for Australian universities without getting very angry at the Morrison government. Make no mistake: at every single turn throughout Covid-19 and, in fact, since their election, the Libs have attacked our universities. pic.twitter.com/4SXZ3WK67k

— Mehreen Faruqi (@MehreenFaruqi) August 12, 2021


Further to Paul’s post on the legislation aiming to make electoral changes, the New Liberals have responded:

The Government just introduced a bill to raise minimum number of members of a political party from 500 to 1500. We have less than 1000. My guess is they will try to use it to deregister us. If you have been thinking of joining now is the time before the bill passes. #TNL #auspol

— Victor Kline (@victorklineTNL) August 12, 2021

If the government is successful in changing the legislation to exclude other political parties including already taken names like ‘Liberal’ in their registration though, there may still be issues for the New Liberals.

*Apologies, an earlier version of this post used ‘Liberal-Democrats’ instead of ‘New Liberals’. It has been a long week.


The latest Covid vaccine sentiment report is out (put out by the federal health department).

You can find it here but, unsurprisingly, more of us are feeling motivated to get vaccinated.


Sky News Senate inquiry postponed due to Covid lockdown

Friday’s Senate inquiry hearing into YouTube’s temporary ban on Sky News Australia has been postponed due to the lockdown in the ACT but will likely be held next Friday.

Sky News presenters Rowan Dean, Alan Jones and Rita Panahi had been asked to give evidence at the inquiry chaired by the Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

The Murdoch broadcaster was not allowed to upload new content to YouTube for seven days after violating the social media platform’s medical misinformation policies by posting numerous videos that questioned the effectiveness of masks and lockdowns or promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as treatments for Covid.

The Google-owned platform has permanently deleted 21 videos.


It’s been a big day for earnings reports on the stock exchange, with AMP, Telstra, AGL and QBE among companies declaring their results.

Let’s start with AGL, which plunged to a $2bn full-year loss (after clearing a $1bn profit in the previous financial year). This was driven largely by close to $3bn in writedowns and other losses, including the cost of giving up on building a gas import terminal at Crib Point in Victoria after the Victorian government refused approval on environmental grounds.

AGL has also rejected activist investor calls to retire its coal-fired power plants early in order to meet Paris climate targets.

The company is planning to split itself into two, a coal power part and a retail bit, and the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility has lodged a shareholder resolution calling for both parts to set goals consistent with Paris.

But the company says that while early retirement of the plants is needed to hit Paris targets, the commitment isn’t in the interests of shareholders. It says replacing the plants would require billions of dollars, which it isn’t in a position to provide.
AGL shares were down almost 4% for the day.

Meanwhile, shares in troubled finance group AMP were up about 3.2% despite a half-year profit of $146m, down 28% from the same period last year. Investors seem to like the good performance of its core banking business and are looking past the shambles that is its financial planning division.

Telstra, a company as large as it is boring, declared a full-year profit of $1.9bn, up 3.4%, even though revenue fell 9.1%.

The share price of insurer QBE rocketed up 8% after the company swung back into profit. It made $441m in the half year to the end of June, compared to a loss of $712m for the same period in the prior year.


And of course this is still an ongoing issue:

The Community Affairs References Committee has tabled its FOURTH interim report into #robodebt. https://t.co/NzXk90mrwQ

The Committee does not accept the Government’s ongoing claim of public interest immunity in regards to the legal advice on the illegal robodebt scheme.

— Rachel Siewert (@SenatorSiewert) August 12, 2021


Nick Evershed has put together a new datablog on some of what is happening in NSW.

You will find that here:


With the news that Western Australia has legislated safe access zones for WA abortion clinics, pregnant people in every state and territory are now protected from being picketed as they enter health facilities.

Marie Stopes is pretty happy with the news. From the organisation’s statement:

Each year picketers spend approximately 2,295 hours outside the Marie Stopes Australia WA Midland Clinic, undermining community trust, feelings of safety, breaching privacy.

It is crucial that when people access healthcare they not only feel safe but that their privacy is respected and protected.

Safe access zones prevent picketing within 150 metres of abortion care clinics and apply 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The new laws come into full effect tomorrow, a day after the passage of the legislation.

Marie Stopes Australia is grateful the WA government has kept its commitment to legislate safe access zones.


This follows concerns about Indigenous communities in the New South Wales west and far west:

BREAKING: Commonwealth to send 7000 additional doses of Pfizer to Walgett. On top of the 3000 the NSW Government has directed to the area. @9NewsAUS

— Chris O'Keefe (@cokeefe9) August 12, 2021


Crossbench MPs write to publishers who ran Clive Palmer Covid ads

The House crossbench (minus Bob Katter and Craig Kelly) has sent a letter to Nine Entertainment (publisher of the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age and the Australian Financial Review) and News Corp after they ran advertisements from Clive Palmer that counter public health advice on the Covid response.

Here is the letter, co-signed by Helen Haines, Rebekha Sharkie, Andrew Wilkie, Zali Steggall and Adam Bandt:

Nine Entertainment Co and News Corporation’s recent publication of front-page advertisements from the United Australia party in the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Financial Review and The Australian, as well as regional mastheads including the Mercury, Herald Sun and Adelaide Advertiser, contributes to the spread of Clive Palmer’s harmful misinformation about the Covid pandemic and is in breach of good corporate citizenship.

There is no question freedoms of political communication and media are fundamental tenets of our democracy. But such freedoms come with responsibility.

In the past month Clive Palmer has distributed harmful anti-vaccination materials across Australia which misrepresents the scientific advice of health experts at the Therapeutic Goods Administration, including in communities with large Indigenous populations at greater risk of the impacts of the virus.

We were pleased to see a number of the above newspapers call out this misinformation through their regular reporting. This stands in stark contrast to Nine Entertainment Co and News Corporation’s subsequent corporate decision to publish front-page anti-lockdown advertisements from Clive Palmer in these same mastheads for profit.

It is this kind of material that contributes to harmful anti-lockdown protest like those seen in Sydney and Melbourne, which compromise the health and safety of us all.

We call on Nine Entertainment Co and News Corporation to acknowledge the harm done, live up to their civic duties as a national publisher and broadcaster in relation to the pandemic, and refuse to publish advertisements of this nature in future.


Back in the Senate, AAP has Simon Birmingham’s response to criticism from the US on Australia’s climate targets (which Adam Morton covered off here):

Finance minister Simon Birmingham has dismissed a call from a Biden administration envoy for Australia to be more ambitious about its 2030 carbon emissions reduction target.

US deputy climate envoy, Jonathan Pershing, has warned that Australia’s targets are “not sufficient”, the Guardian has reported.

Pershing said the urgency of the threat outlined in the landmark report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change this week would put “a lot more pressure” on Australia as one of the world’s biggest emitters.

He says Australia should be considering a 50% cut in emissions by 2030.

Birmingham told parliament on Thursday that Australia has a pattern of exceeding its commitments, and would do so again on the target agreed at the last climate talks in Paris.

“We should hold our head high that as a nation, when we’ve made commitments to the world about our emissions reduction target, we’ve delivered.”

He said that builds on the fact that since 2005, Australia has seen a 20% reduction in emissions, which is faster than the US at 13%, Japan at 10%, Canada at 1% or New Zealand at 4%.

“I don’t mention that as a criticism of those places, but simply to put into perspective what Australia has been able to achieve.”

Birmingham said government departments had been asked to “chart the course” to net zero.


This is the first chance we have had since 9.30 to take a breath, so I hope you are all managing to take a small break now from all of the news we have thrown at you today.

We’ll keep bringing you updates, but the pace is starting to slow down. The MPs are working out if they can get home, or if they are stuck in Canberra for another week, while waiting to hear if parliament will sit as planned, so they are focused on other things right now.

Covid news seems to be all up to date, barring any late breaking cases, which we will be sure to make you aware of.

So just take a moment to have a small break if you can. Even in a fortnight of unrelenting news deluges, today has been A lot.

And the ACT is closing the border to NSW outside these postcodes:

🛎️We have declared all of NSW as a COVID-19 affected area🛎️

You cannot enter the ACT without an exemption unless you live in the following postcodes:
• 2581: Gunning, Collector
• 2582: Murrumbateman, Yass
• 2584: Binalong
• 2611: Uriarra pic.twitter.com/6EBtFEub7t

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) August 12, 2021

NSW Health is closing the loophole which allowed people to travel into the regions for their Covid vaccination:

If you live in Greater Sydney, do not travel outside this area for your COVID vaccine.

There are hundreds of GPs, pharmacies & NSW Health vax clinics across Greater Sydney: https://t.co/lEowCHm98b pic.twitter.com/TzCF16rCof

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 12, 2021


Bills to change electoral act entered into parliament

(There have been some very important bills that will change parts of the electoral act entered into the parliament today, which we haven’t had a chance to cover off in the blog yet, because of everything else that has been happening, so thank you to Paul for this.)

New political parties would require 1,500 members to register and permission from old parties with similar names, under changes proposed by the Coalition.

On Thursday the assistant minister for electoral matters, Ben Morton, introduced four new electoral bills into parliament to crack down on multiple voting and violence at the polls, lower disclosure thresholds for political campaigners, and raise the bar for party registration.

The moves have already prompted backlash from environmental campaign groups and the New Liberals, who believe the changes are directed at them after a bitter registration dispute with the Liberal party.

The bills will also:

  • Reduce the period of prepoll to 12 days.
  • Lower the expenditure threshold to register as a political campaigner from $500,000 to $100,000.
  • Allow the electoral commissioner to classify someone a “designated elector” who must use a declaration vote to prevent multiple voting.
  • Raise the penalty for interference with political liberty to three years in prison.


AAP has a follow to Calla Wahlquist’s recent story on a call for pet food standards after the deaths of 21 dogs:

Toxic horse meat found to be responsible for a spate of Victorian dog deaths has been traced to an outback property in the Northern Territory.

More than 20 dogs have died and about 60 others have fallen ill after eating pet food contaminated with indospicine.

The meat came from Maffra District Knackery, east of Melbourne, which slaughtered a truckload of horses from the territory in May.

The NT’s Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade has since traced the horses to a central Australian property after Victoria’s chief veterinary officer asked it to investigate.

The NT’s principal veterinary officer, Dr Peter Saville, says the property owner sold 26 free-roaming, semi-domesticated horses in May.

“The property owner advised he was unaware the horses would be used to manufacture pet food,” he said.

The property manager was told the horses would be trucked to a Queensland abattoir and be used for human consumption.

It’s understood the horses were redirected south due to Covid lockdowns.

They ended up at the knackery in Victoria, which sold the contaminated meat to dog owners in Bairnsdale, Traralgon, the Mornington Peninsula and Melbourne’s eastern suburbs between 31 May and 3 July.

It’s since issued a voluntary recall of raw chopped pet meat.

Dogs are especially sensitive to indospicine but it’s the first time illness or death from the toxin has been reported in Victoria.

High levels of the toxin are found in native plants of the Indigofera species across northern Australia, where dogs fed contaminated horse or camel meat have previously been affected.


Labor urges Berejiklian to distance government from push against mandatory jabs for construction workers

In NSW, the Labor opposition is calling on the premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to more vocally distance her government from an “extremist” push from one of its MPs who is opposing mandatory vaccinations for construction workers.

Tanya Davies, the Liberal MP for the seat of Mulgoa in western Sydney, has signalled her intention to introduce a private member’s bill to ensure Covid-19 vaccines are not mandated for workers in the state, arguing the government should protect individual rights for those who might have medical, ethical or religious opposition to getting a Covid vaccine.

Davies’ proposal follows the NSW government’s updated Covid restrictions for construction workers living in the LGAs of concern in parts of western and south-western Sydney, where vaccinated tradespeople under tighter restrictions that the rest of Sydney can leave their local area to work at unoccupied construction sites.

John Barilaro, the deputy premier, attacked Davies over her position on Wednesday. When asked about opposition from within her government to the mandatory vaccinations on Monday, Berejiklian said the government “respects people’s views on these matters but we also appreciate that during a very difficult time you need to think about the greater good”.

Today, Chris Minns, the state opposition leader, called for Berejiklian to shut down Davies’ push against mandatory vaccinations for construction workers. Labor won’t support the bill.

Minns said:

Under the proposed legislation, when the vaccine is universally available, a vaccinated worker is at risk of Covid infection from a colleague who refuses a jab – and it would be illegal for you to do anything about it.

The NSW government needs to put a clear and unambiguous position on this legislation. There’s just too much on the line at the moment. Workers, business and the entire state needs an answer. Does the premier support Tanya Davies’ extremist legislation?

In 2019, Davies was one of three Liberal MPs who tried to move a spill motion against Berejiklian over her handling of abortion decriminalisation legislation.


Following question time, Anthony Albanese had a personal explanation he wanted to make:

Today in question time the prime minister said, and I quote, Labor even most recently have been seeking to tear down jobkeeper.

Mr Speaker, that is not true.

Labor supported jobkeeper wage subsidies, along with the business community and the trade union movement, when the government was still saying it was a dangerous idea.

We call for the return of jobkeeper, along with the NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, something that led to the prime minister losing it and according to Niki Savva hurling the F-bomb at Perrottet ...

Tony Smith wraps him up.

Anthony Albanese reacts during question time in parliament
Anthony Albanese reacts during question time in parliament. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Who knows when the next question time will be. Parliament is scheduled for 23 August, but it’s all up in the air at the moment.

But you saw the battle lines for each party being drawn there (and all week).

Labor is working on a ‘who will Scott Morrison blame now’ as well as continuing on the ‘failure to do two jobs’ line, while Morrison works to deflect any criticism of his and his government’s response as ‘negativity’ and ‘undermining’ the Covid response.

It doesn’t matter what the question is on – anything which asks about Covid responses and failures (which have happened) now includes an accusation from the prime minister that Labor is undermining the response.

Combine that with “technology not taxes” (despite taxes not being on the table from anyone) and you have the bones of the Coalition’s re-election campaign.


Question time ends.


Pat Conroy to Scott Morrison:

I refer to reports of the prime minister’s verbal spat with the NSW treasurer over his inadequate financial support for the people of NSW. When is the prime minister going to stop squaring at treasurers and blaming others for his failures and do his two jobs on vaccines and quarantine?

Morrison falls back on his now usual response – Labor is negative and undermining.

He goes through the NSW support and then says:

I remember those opposite hoping and praying that 100,000 people would still be out of a job and they were proved wrong. And those results did not happen.

Tony Burke gets up on a point of order on reflection on members.

The acting leader of the House then tries to make a moral judgment: “That is obviously meant to be some sort of personal reflection, which has to come in another form, that really is beneath the manager of opposition business, it really is.”


Did you hear the reflection that he made? Somehow that’s OK!

Tony Smith:

The member of opposition business will cease interjecting and I just make the point that the reason question time gets to this robust state is because some of the questions carry some pretty heavy character assessments in them as well.

So, and in allowing and encouraging free speech, why allow it on the basis that it allows, once the question has been asked, it actually allows the responder to respond to the issue without the accusation simply standing there. And I do object to members reflecting on each other in that way, and I have always made the point, if a member has a problem with the conduct of another member, they need to raise it with me ... and no one has.

Morrison continues as if he was not interrupted:

So, while those opposite have sought to undermine the government, Mr Speaker, to talk down the programs that we have put in place like jobkeeper and distance themselves and call it a waste, undermine the government’s efforts as we have sought to deal with the significant challenges we have had in the early phases of the vaccination program, which we have now turned around thanks to the magnificent efforts of not only those working in the Australian public service and under General Frewen’s leadership, but those working on the ground in the vaccination hubs. And today throughout question time our government has been thanking Australians for the work that they have done because those members know that they want Australia to succeed, they want these programs to succeed because they know that that is the path back.

We have set out the national plan that sets out that path for Australians to be able to make their way back and through this Covid pandemic and we will continue on that path, whether the opposition wants to support us or not.

Scott Morrison speaks during question time in parliament
Scott Morrison speaks during question time in parliament. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Scott Morrison defends the federal government’s financial response in NSW during the lockdown, saying there is no need for jobkeeper, as the system in place now is more targeted.

He takes this interjection:

The member opposite interjects and she says it’s not working. Well, I don’t know what’s not working about payments* that are being made within 30 minute of people making applications. And it is further evidence, Mr Speaker, those opposite could encourage their constituents to avail themselves of the support, instead of undermining.

Scott Morrison has defended the federal government’s financial response to the NSW outbreak
Scott Morrison has defended the federal government’s financial response to the NSW outbreak. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

*Today we learned thousands of NSW businesses have been unable so far to access that support. So maybe there are a few things that aren’t working.


Parliament doesn’t rise until 5pm, when the ACT lockdown comes into effect.

Which means any NSW MP here, who wants to return to the NSW, will be under a stay-at-home order.

And there is a warning for any territorians wanting to head to the nearby NSW south coast.

Stay home orders will apply to anyone who was in Canberra on or after 5 August.

Stop the spread and don’t leave Canberra.

I’ll be asking Commissioner Fuller to ramp up police resources on the South Coast looking for blue and white number plates.

Large penalties will apply.

— John Barilaro MP (@JohnBarilaroMP) August 12, 2021


Chris Hayes to Scott Morrison:

People in my electorate who have been attending churches and mosques and temples every week for most of their lives have not been able to go for at least seven weeks of this year. Is it true this wouldn’t have happened if the prime minister had done his two jobs – vaccines and quarantine? Australians are paying the price for the prime minister’s neglect. Who is he going to blame this time?


It is difficult that you can’t get to your place of worship, and to be able to pray, whatever your faith might be, and I note and acknowledge the faith of the member, which is well known to me, Mr Speaker.

It is difficult, Mr Speaker, because those of us of faith draw great comfort from being able to pray with others and being able to pray for each other and being able to do that together.

And to come together in a place of worship and to sing out worship and our songs, as some of us like to do it in one way, others do it in different ways, however you like to worship, good for you, because it’s good for the soul.

It’s good for the spirit and I want to thank all the pastors and the priests and the ministers, the imams and rabbis, Mr Speaker, right across the priests of whatever faith who are out there encouraging those in their congregations and praying for them and giving support, and all of them working within those faith groups who are providing those supports on telephone trees, talking to them about vaccination. I particularly want to thank the Pacific island faith leaders who have been fantastic in getting messages into their communities about the importance of vaccinations, because this is a team Australia moment, this is a time when Australians come together and support each other, and get the job done for all Australians.

It is not a time for undermining. It is not a time for cheap politics. It is not a time for that type of partisanship. It is a time to focus on the job ahead and for all Australians to get behind that effort, because I note, even those countries like the United Kingdom, where the vaccination rate is over 70% now, the death rate in the United Kingdom right now is 104 every day – 104 daily. Now, I know where I would rather be stopping and I know where Australians would rather be.

They’d rather be in a country that has been able over the course of this pandemic to be able to save more than 30,000 lives and get 1 million people back into work.

That is what we have been seeking to do, working with governments all around the country from whatever political persuasion. But it does disappoint me that the only bipartisanship I can find is from the state and territory leaders, not those who sit opposite.


Alan Tudge, who oversaw legislation that saw the cost of an arts degree skyrocket to $100,000 as well as sitting as part of a government that did not include universities in jobkeeper, bringing many to the financial brink, is taking a dixer on how great the future is for university students.


Anne Stanley to Scott Morrison:

People in my electorate of Werriwa are in their seventh week of homeschooling their children while trying to do their own full-time jobs – they have no idea when it will end. Isn’t it true this wouldn’t be happening if the prime minister had done his two jobs on vaccines and quarantine? Australians are paying the price for his neglect, who is he going to blame next time?

Morrison (he decides to take this one):

As I said, as I said last week, anyone who thinks a prime minister only has two jobs doesn’t understand what the job of the prime minister is.

The job of the prime minister addresses the urgent crisis we are dealing with, with the force of the pandemic, deals with national security issues the country is facing on a daily basis, were it not also for the economy and the importance of getting Australians back into jobs, the delivery of important services and education and health all around the country, and only last week, important work we were able to conclude on bringing together the closing the gap implementation plan so much championed by the minister for Indigenous Australians.

This country has many, many challenges and it’s our government’s job to address all of those, including the big challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a result of the government’s actions working together with Australians all around this country, you know Australia has one of the lowest fatality rates of Covid-19 in the world.

He goes on about the Covid response and the economic recovery before the most recent lockdowns and next phases, and wanting his kids, like all kids, to be able to go back to school. But you’ve heard that all before as well.


Everyone thanks the ADF for the work they are doing on the ground during the Covid response.


Tony Burke to Scott Morrison:

Effective public health communication in a pandemic is central. Can the prime minister confirm that translation of vital Covid-19 information into languages other than English are two months out of date, 18 months into the pandemic. Who will the prime minister blame for this?

Greg Hunt gets the tap for this as well.

The short answer; the government is working on it.


Pat Conroy to Scott Morrison:

To the prime minister, I refer to his statement in question time on Tuesday. Quote, Australia is the only country to the best of our knowledge that reports quarterly on its own emissions reductions. Is the prime minister seriously telling the House he has no idea that the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Sweden and the Netherlands have published quarterly greenhouse gas emissions statistics for years? Why does the prime minister keep making stuff up?

Morrison sends the question to Angus Taylor, who uses three minutes to not answer (but he does manage “technology not taxes” the new three-word slogan that tackles something no one is suggesting).

Taylor starts going on about “the point the prime minister was making is that Australia has a track record of transparency that is unrivalled”, so Tony Burke asks for a point of order on relevance.

Tony Smith says the question included a political attack, so these things happen in the answer.

Burke says “it is relevant if he is making things up”.

Smith rules Taylor in order, but you don’t need to spend any more time on this answer. You have heard it all before. It’s the most Pollyanna saccharine version possible of the government’s climate record, and being in lockdown I don’t have time for a toothache.


Rebekha Sharkie to David Littleproud:

In 2018, the government released its 1 billion trees for jobs and growth plan. Will the minister please advise the House how many trees have been planted today?

Littleproud goes on about the proud history of King Island. But he doesn’t give an answer:

I understand the proud history in the timber industry of King Island, where she is from, and also what they have faced. We announced our ambition – one of the biggest challenges that we have found subsequent to that has been the black summer events that have, in fact, displaced much of the industry, and making sure that we now plan strategically to support those areas that were impacted significantly around that, with practical measures, and that is why our forestry hubs are being created, and listening to industry about how we achieve that. And also working with farmers. I am proud to say the NFF has stood up and said they wish to be part of this solution and how we continue to expand the timber industry. We are now working as quickly as we can to work with local communities and the national recovery and resilience agency, it is to be the bushfire agency.

Tony Smith tells him to be specific to the question.

David Littleproud speaks during question time
David Littleproud speaks during question time. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Littleproud has no answer:

I am, because the reality was the whole program was displaced because of the black summer events, it is as simple as that.


Greg Hunt is still using Australian city populations as his measure of how many people have been vaccinated.


Sharon Claydon to Scott Morrison:

Can the prime minister confirm that 11 residents and three staff at an aged-care facility in Newcastle had been infected with Covid? The chief executive says only one-third of staff have received even one dose of the vaccine. These workers were meant to be fully vaccinated by Easter. Who is the prime minister going to blame for this one?

“The minister for health”, the Speaker says, after Greg Hunt gets the tap:

Hunt goes to talk about how all the residents were offered a vaccination.

He then goes to staff:

In terms of staff, the figures I have are that there are 28 staff that are fully vaccinated, and a further 17 with one dose.


With the ACT lockdown comes a lot of scrambling and changes and we are told tomorrow’s scheduled Sky Senate committee hearing is likely to be one of those changes.

There is no official confirmation as yet, and the committee is still trying to work it out, but I am told it will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

👀 pic.twitter.com/wjoX3iZyPM

— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) August 11, 2021


Scott Morrison:

Two days ago in the parliament there was unanimous support for a motion that dealt with the issue of misinformation by members at this place, it was unanimous.

Leave was given by the government for that motion to be put forward and it was supported by this entire parliament. I voted yes to that motion. (There was no vote, it passed on the voices.)

That’s what I did in this place, I voted yes to that motion as did every member of the government, member of opposition, to defend what I thought was a very clear signal on behalf of the entire parliament.

So I find it somewhat disappointing that mood of bipartisanship in addressing this issue is now being sought to be undermined by the Labor party, only two days later.

What was that actually about? What was that about two days ago? Are we coming together to decry misinformation or was this just another political game for the Labor party? What was it? I thought, Mr Speaker, as the prime minister, when asked whether support would be given to bring such a motion that this was an invitation for the parliament to come together and decry misinformation.

That’s what I understood, I engaged with the leader of government business in the House and I said we should give leave to that and I spoke in favour of that motion. And in this place, we, as a group of elected officials, I thought, sent a very clear message against misinformation, in this parliament.

That’s what I thought, but what we see today, not even 48 hours later, the Labor party comes in here and even seeks to undermine the bipartisanship they sought to promote two days ago.

I have become quite accustomed to that behaviour from the opposition over the course of this pandemic.

I’ve been quite accustomed as Labor, even most recently, have been seeking to tear down jobkeeper, tear down jobkeeper, one of the most important programs that has brought this country through, and Labor has said it’s been a waste of money, Mr Speaker, that it’s been a waste. On every occasion, what we have seen from the Labor party through this pandemic is not a spirit of bipartisanship, but they have been a constant headwind to the efforts of this government to bring Australia through this. What Labor have been has been seeking to undermine and hurdles, obstacles in the way. We would invite them to take a different approach, but I’m not optimistic because I have seen their form over the last 18 months.

Scott Morrison speaks during question time in the House of Representatives
Scott Morrison speaks during question time in the House of Representatives. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Scott Morrison does not address the question and instead focuses on the censure motion, and then blames Labor for “undermining” the bipartisanship of the censure motion, even though it was Barnaby Joyce who said he wasn’t going to do anything to George Christensen because of the minority in the House.

Tony Smith in allowing the question said he would allow the prime minister to be quite broad, because the question was quite broad, so Morrison is using this to say all the things he has not been able to say for the last couple of weeks.

So to recap, Scott Morrison is blaming Labor for something Barnaby Joyce said about a member of the government who is spouting Covid misinformation.


Anika Wells to Scott Morrison:

Today the deputy prime minister said about the prime minister’s refusal to act against the member for Dawson, ‘if you start prodding the bear you will make the situation worse for us as a government, not better. I can assure you when you have a thin margin, don’t start giving reasons for a byelection’. What sort of prime minister puts his majority over public health in the middle of a pandemic?

Tony Smith says he is unsure if the question is in order.

Tony Burke:

To the point of order, the question goes directly to the responsibilities of the prime minister. The quote is from the deputy prime minister. So, in terms of the argument as to whether the prime minister needs to be across what everybody said, we are talking about the deputy prime minister who made these comments.

Smith rules the question in order.

The acting leader of the House still challenges it, so Burke is back:

First of all, I thought that ruling had been given, but if we are still on it, if we are still on the previous point. The standing order rule about relevant goes to answers not to questions. This question goes to responsibilities. There is in a pandemic a clear responsibility to speak out in favour of public health. The comments from the deputy prime minister today say that has effectively been compromised, in order to preserve a majority on the floor.

Smith rules it in order.


Scott Morrison is now reading through this dixer on vaccinations like it actually is a race.

Question time begins

Anthony Albanese to Scott Morrison:

I refer to the Niki Savva column titled Prime Minister Scott Morrison the cranky man in need of a plan, in which one of his own cabinet ministers says about the prime minister: “If you see a problem, throw money at it. If you see a problem, walk away from it. If you see a problem, duck-shove it to somebody else.” Doesn’t this exactly describe the prime minister’s approach to leadership, and didn’t his own cabinet minister nail it?



He then sits down. Looking cranky.


Question time begins with Speaker Tony Smith talking about the Canberra lockdown.

Parliamentarians who remain in the ACT and their staff are deemed “essential” and can attend the building for work.

No news on any changes as yet.


Anthony Albanese is taking a 90-second statement slot (which is fairly rare) to speak about a friend and constituent who has lost loved ones to Covid.

Kahil has a message he wanted Albanese to share: “Listen to our doctors. If you love your mother, your father, your aunts, your uncles, your children, get the jab if you can.”


And over in WA:

#BREAKING: Harassment outside abortion services is now banned across Australia with @WALegCouncil passing historic safe access zone laws today!!

WA is the last state or territory in Australia to enact these laws. #WApol #auspol #SafeAccessZones https://t.co/hmW3BT6rA6

— Adrianne Walters (@AdrianneHRLC) August 12, 2021

Given the high court decision, a reminder that the government can still decide the Home to Bilo visa situation:

So sadly the @HometoBilo family just had their special leave application to the High Court refused. Let me explain in 2 mins what it means. Let’s counter the misinformation Morrison Government will now spread & remind you @AlexHawkeMP has the power still to get them #hometobilo. pic.twitter.com/x0YliMV3Pn

— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) August 12, 2021

The Senate debated the government’s childcare bill this morning. The social services minister, Anne Ruston, conceded it had made an error in drafting and a government amendment was designed to fix a problem that would have made the subsidy taper rate less generous.

The Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi said the error was appalling.

Labor’s shadow early childhood minister, Amanda Rishworth, told Guardian Australia:

The Morrison government’s childcare policy and its accompanying legislation were both rushed and ill-conceived. This mistake is indicative of that.

We all know the government’s heart is not in their childcare reform, and as a result they almost passed the wrong piece of legislation through the parliament ...

The government botched this legislation like they botch everything they touch. They can’t even be relied on to draft legislation competently.


Fortescue Mining Group’s director of community, environment and government, Tim Langmead, has resigned from his position at the Andrew Forrest-controlled mining company due to family and personal reasons, Guardian Australia has learned.

Langmead, a former Howard-era political staffer, was responsible for dealing with stakeholders including governments and traditional owner groups.

He will leave the company in the next few months.

In November he gave evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into Rio Tinto’s Juukan Gorge disaster, in which the company blew up rock shelters that were more than 40,000 years old in order to mine more iron ore. Langmead defended the company’s consultation processes with traditional land owners .

Langmead’s exit is the latest in a series of executive departures this year. In February, the chief operating officer, Greg Lilleyman, and two other senior executives resigned following a US$650m blowout in the cost of Fortescue’s Iron Bridge project, a magnetite mine in the Pilbara.

The chief executive officer, Elizabeth Gaines, and the chief financial officer, Ian Wells, also agreed to forego their bonuses because of the blowout.

A Fortescue spokesperson declined to comment on bonuses for other executive staff. They are due to be disclosed in the company’s annual report, to be filed with the stock exchange on 30 August.

Langmead could not be reached for comment.


Let’s take a look back at what has been happening in politics over that very busy few Covid hours (and question time is about 20 minutes away).


NSW Health has detected Covid fragments in the wastewater treatment plant that services part of the NSW south coast.

There are no positive cases in this area reported at the moment.

NSW Health's ongoing sewage surveillance program has detected fragments of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the Bomaderry sewage treatment plant, which serves 18,000 people on the south coast.

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 12, 2021


The ACT chief health officer, Kerryn Coleman, is unable to say whether or not the 20-year-old man travelled to Sydney illegally.

She says she is “not aware” and that the contact tracing interview is still being conducted:

No I’m not aware whether he’s been to Sydney. We are continuing to do our case interview, I don’t have all the details from the case interview.

Coleman is asked why that wouldn’t be the first question he’s asked.

I have not had my full briefing yet about what they’ve managed to get from the first interview.

She said the man has been very receptive to questions and has been working with authorities.

The chief minister, Andrew Barr, is asked whether the ACT will change its advice on vaccination, including to direct Pfizer doses to retail workers, or to encourage everyone of all ages to come forward for AstraZeneca, in line with the Atagi advice during outbreaks.

I’m not announcing a change at this point, but we will look at the situation. Obviously anything more that we can do will be contingent on forward supply lines. I do note that Moderna is scheduled to come online next month.

Barr is also asked what is his advice to federal MPs about going home now. Would they be a risk to their home regions?

Barr says federal MPs are not the highest priority for him at the moment:

I don’t want to be in the business of professing health advice to MPs at this point based on the information I have. I don’t know whether any of them have been to any of the identified exposure sites. A common sense response would be that if you were, had been to any of those venues, clearly you need to follow the public health directions that the chief health officer has outlined.


ACT summary

The ACT will go into lockdown from 5pm after its first positive case in 14 months (of community transmission).

Authorities don’t know the source of the infection, but have ruled out parliament. It is most likely Delta, and linked to the NSW outbreak, but investigations are continuing.

The man in his 20s had used the check-in app, so authorities know where he has been, but the number of exposure sites and their popularity have authorities worried.

There have been positive wastewater detections around the ACT.

Border communities can enter Canberra for essentials, but may need to provide proof of their residency.

Canberrans must wear a mask when outside, and can leave for safety, essential work, exercise, essential supplies or medical appointments, including vaccinations.

Schools will be closed unless children cannot stay at home.

Childcare will remain open for essential workers.

It is still being decided whether parliament will be able to sit as scheduled from 23 August.


Victoria summary

Victoria recorded 21 new locally acquired cases. Five are still under investigation, including a ‘mystery case’ in north Melbourne.

Two women who had travelled from Sydney to Melbourne without a valid reason and were placed in hotel quarantine have since tested positive for covid. They have been issued a fine for breaching a public health order.

Authorities are still worried there are cases going uncaught in the community and are monitoring the waste water closely.

Extra testing staff and sites are being put in place to cope with the increase demand, particularly in areas around Melton.


NSW summary

Let’s start with NSW.

NSW reported 345 new cases.

Just 116 were known to be in isolation for their infectious period.

More local government areas have been added to ‘areas of concern’ – Burwood, Strathfield and Bayside Local Government Area (LGA) will now have additional restrictions from 5pm today, in line with previously identified LGAs of concern and 12 suburbs in Penrith LGA.

Two people died in hospital. Both men in their 90s. One had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

More police compliance action is coming.

OK. So that was as big few hours. Let’s recap before we get to question time, because there was a lot there to take in.


It is too early to say whether the 23 August parliament sitting will happen, ACT authorities say (it is up to the ACT to give the health orders that allow parliament to meet or not).

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr is asked whether the next federal parliamentary sitting period should be postponed. Parliament is not sitting next week but is scheduled to return after that. Barr says he wants democracy to continue to function as fully as possible. But he adds:

It really must be done in a safe way. I think it’s too early to say at this point what the next parliamentary fortnight might look like and whether it may or may not need to be postponed.


The ACT had those lists prepared.

You can find more information here

And then essential work and services can also be:

Any person who provides or works in the following:

  • essential infrastructure and essential services required to maintain or protect the safety, health or welfare of the community or a section of the community (whether provided by a public or private undertaking), includes construction, maintenance and repair of such infrastructure.
  • organisations that provide urgent services necessary for the health and safety of any person or animal (for example, food banks, domestic and family violence services, RSPCA).
  • urgent repair and maintenance services, including plumbing, electrical and heating repair.
  • roadside assistance services.
  • domestic and commercial waste and resource recovery services (including collection, treatment and disposal services).
  • journalist and media services.
  • services related to the administration of justice.
  • essential legal services that are not able to be provided electronically.
  • a factory or facility that is not able to be shut down without causing damage or loss to plant and equipment, but only those operations that are necessary to prevent that damage or loss.
  • building and road construction services.
  • veterinarians and any staff to ensure the safe functioning of a veterinary clinic, including home visits where there is a genuine animal welfare issue.
  • public transport, including taxis, rideshare services and other public passenger services.
  • air transport, including the operation of airports.
  • freight services, including postal and courier services.
  • furniture removalists, but only where moves cannot be reasonably delayed.
  • essential security services
  • a blood bank.
  • care services for people with particular needs because of homelessness, age, infirmity, disability, illness or a chronic health condition.
  • production and distribution of:
    • food and groceries for sale by a supermarket, butcher, fruit and vegetable store, market or fishmonger (including for sale by operators of such premises at an indoor or outdoor market)
    • liquor for sale at a bottle shop
    • medical and pharmaceutical products.
  • primary industries only to the extent necessary to ensure adequate supply of food to, and care of, animals and maintenance of crops.
  • a hotel, motel or other accommodation facility to the extent that they provide accommodation services in accordance with approved reasons.
  • manufacturing, fabrication or assembly of goods and materials necessary for or related to supporting defence or security industries or construction and building industries.
  • Maintenance of essential research activities.

Essential work also includes:

Any person who performs work that is essential for the continued operation of:

  • essential health services
  • funerary or mortuary services or related activities
  • emergency services, including:
    • the State Emergency Services
    • fire fighting services
    • paramedical services
    • ambulance services
    • air ambulance and medical retrieval services
    • police services or protective services officers stationed on border duties or otherwise engaged in policing duties
    • military and defence services deployed for activities in the ACT
    • state security or national security
  • a wedding or a funeral
  • specialist services at telecommunications stores to support telecommunications as a critical service

Here is who the ACT has determined is an essential workera:

A person who is:

  • working for an essential provider or business that is permitted to operate
  • critical to, and involved in, the ACT’s COVID-19 response
  • a fly in fly out worker or a drive in drive out worker who is required for industry or business continuity and maintenance where the service is time-critical, who is responsible for critical maintenance or repair of infrastructure critical to the ACT
  • a transport, freight or logistics driver
  • employed as flight crew
  • a member of the ACT Legislative Assembly or the person on the staff of such a member
  • a member of the Commonwealth Parliament, or the person on the staff of such a member
  • anyone required to ensure the functioning of the ACT Legislative Assembly or the Commonwealth Parliament
  • Federal, State or Local Government worker determined to be essential by the relevant Head of the Government Agency

The case in the ACT has not been linked to the parliament, but the CHO suspects it is Delta and will be linked to NSW’s outbreak

Andrew Barr says he doesn’t believe there were any further measures the ACT could have reasonably taken to stop transmission (like a border bubble):

So the measures that we put in place have done so through the 18 months of the pandemic have been very effective, but no one in Australia has been able to completely eliminate the possibility of the virus coming into their jurisdiction, even the island of Tasmania has been exposed at various points. Even in remote parts of the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

That was never a viable option to completely eliminate risk, you just cannot do that. So the mechanisms that we put in place have been very effective, for more than one year, but this is a tough virus

People who live in ACT border communities can still travel into Canberra for their essentials, but you may be asked to prove you live in one of the allowable communities.

ACT authorities are warning there will be quite a few people identified as close contacts, who will be asked to go into home quarantine, and there will be more exposure sites added to the list.

They seem quite worried about this. There are concerns, from the exposure sites, the confirmed case (and they are still trying to work out how they got the virus) may have come into contact with quite a few people while infectious.


ACT health minister Rachel Stephen-Smith comments on the panic buying:

My first comment to Canberrans is that this is a serious situation and we want you to take it seriously. We also want you to stay calm and be thoughtful about your actions. We have already heard we are starting to see panic buying in supermarkets. Like every other jurisdiction has had to do, we need to remind you that supermarkets will remain open. Grocery shopping will continue to be allowed during the lockdown. There is no need for panic buying.

Childcare will remain open, but only for children who need to attend.

There will be no “normal schooling” for at least the next week in the ACT.

School drop off is only available for essential workers.

The source of the ACT case has not yet been determined, which is another reason for the snap lockdown. They don’t know where it came from.

We are finding out what this means for parliament – there are hearings scheduled for tomorrow, and while the parliament was on a week’s break from Friday, it was due to return the following Monday.

Plus, MPs may find it difficult returning to their home states.


The exposure sites include the main outlet store, as well as a nightclub for five hours, and the main shopping centre the MPs and staffers use for their groceries.

The sheer spread of locations, and their popularity, increases the risk of transmission across Canberra.


This is what is happening in Canberra right now

And so it begins … #canberra to enter snap 7 day #lockdown following a confirmed case of #covid19 #auspol pic.twitter.com/vRRedJyuW4

— Tegan George (@tegangeorge) August 12, 2021

ACT’s Covid case is a man in his 20s who has been living in Gungahlin. But this being Canberra, he has been to quite a few different areas.

They have been listed here and include Fyshwick, Kingston, Braddon and Manuka from 8 August.


ACT chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman is giving an update on the case and wastewater detection which started this lockdown.

Someone sneezes in the room, so she starts with a “bless you”.


Masks are mandatory in the ACT, unless you are undertaking “strenuous” exercise in your allowable hour. (So walks around the block, will need a mask)

Andrew Barr:

This is critical for individual health, for your own health.

To protect your family, your closest friends, and the broader community.

Now is not the time to be popping over to mum or dad’s or your brother or sister or your kids for family gatherings. Please stay at home, it is a clear and simple message.


General retail will be closed.

If you are an essential business, you will be asked to discourage “all browsing”.

“Get in, get what you need and leave,” Andrew Barr says.

He says it will also be the responsibility of those essential businesses to stop browsing.

“The objective here is to reduce the movement of people and to reduce the transmission risk of this outbreak.”


In the ACT, you can leave for safety, essential work, medical treatment (including getting vaccinations), exercise and essential supplies.

You have to wear a mask.

People are being asked to stay in their local areas for their essentials. Travelling outside of your local area for work or vaccinations is allowed.

Chief minister says ACT facing 'most serious public health risk this year'

Chief minister Andrew Barr says yes, there has been a confirmed case, and the person who was diagnosed was infectious in the ACT community, so the whole territory is going into a lockdown from 5pm.


We also have positive wastewater detections around the ACT. We do not currently know the source of the infection, but extensive investigation has been under way for many hours. This is the most serious public health risk that we have faced in the territory this year.


Heading to the ACT now.


Essential workers who are allowed to travel from NSW into Victoria have to undergo a fairly strict testing regime.

The women who arrived in Melbourne without permission, were not tested before they got on their flight from Sydney, because as Jeroen Weimar says, they weren’t on NSW authorities’ radar (as they weren’t essential workers).


Under the permitted worker scheme you need to undergo the testing regime before you travel. Then a regular maintenance of your testing, a cycle.

It is different for different trades and categories but there is a regular testing regime you go through.

With red zone arrivals, they come into our quarantine system, not including New South Wales. Exemptions are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The limit for exemptions is that they will be a testing and isolation component.

...These people are not on the radar, I believe, of Sydney Health authorities. They are pretty busy, probably busy with more pressing things. These people should not have left. Let’s be very clear. Our colleagues in Sydney would agree with that. They should not have left in the first place. It is a moot point as to whether they should have gotten tested, they should not have been at the airport.


There is a mystery case in north Melbourne, which Jeroen Weimar says so far, has authorities at a loss:

It is a genuine mystery case. But there are some connections into exposure sites. This case dropped yesterday afternoon, early evening, so we are still working through those interviews. As for those potential coincidental connections, I am sure we will work through this.


All passengers on their flight have been put into home quarantine.

Jeroen Weimar:

All people on the flight QF71, they will all be going into 14 days of isolation. They will all be tested. I am sure they will be many cases in the week – we have had many discussions about exemptions.

There were people who travelled under exemption to do things important. It is no fault of them that they were sitting next to people who were infectious and therefore will need to go into quarantine.


Jeroen Weimar says there are still people trying to travel from NSW to Victoria.

He says two women from Sydney arrived on a Melbourne flight last week and had the wrong permit (they did not have permission to enter) and were put into hotel quarantine. They have since tested positive for Covid.

This is the risk of interstate travel at this point in time. This is why we have – why the chief health officer has declared Sydney and New South Wales as an extreme red zone.

This is why we are putting such significant barriers in place to limit all unnecessary travel between our states at this most critical time. The consequences of these two positive cases not having been stopped, being positive in the community and then spreading through Melbourne and Victoria, you know, we do not need to more incursions of this type.

Over the last month we have stopped 6000 passengers at Melbourne Airport, at the airport. 190 have been put into hotel quarantine. 65 have been returned.

A huge thanks to the authorised officers team and all the staff at the airports for being so vigilant, for daily checking people coming in from red zones or extreme zone. This is why we do it. This is a footnote.

I am pleased to say that both women are well, they are being cared for in the quarantine program. We will work on their recovery. They will face fines, they have been issued for these two individuals.


In the ACT, the lockdown was only announced a few minutes ago and I am already receiving reports of panic/rushed buying at the supermarkets.

Toilet paper is again a very popular item.

The grocery stores will remain open in the ACT, as they do in every other lockdown. You are allowed to leave your home for essential shopping, which includes groceries. We manufacture toilet paper in Australia, so it is not a product we will run out of.

If you can, give the shops a miss for a bit, while things calm down

Jeroen Weimar:

We now have 25 exposure sites listed in the Melton area and we really need to see continued strong drive for testing in the City of Melton.

I am pleased to see we’ve seen an eightfold increase of testing levels in Melton a couple of days ago compared to a week before, so 6600 tests done on Tuesday just in the city of Melbourne so we are seeing that whole community come out in force to get tested and my thanks to you for doing so, it is really important that we land this one and understand if there is any other onward transmission.

We are confident at this point that it is downstream transmission from the Hobsons Bay cluster but we need to use this opportunity to really get our hands around it. We have boosted capacity at testing sites across the whole west area, we are adding a new testing site which went live this morning at the Melton seniors community and learning centre.


On some of the new cases, Jeroen Weimar says:

We have one new case which is a man from the inner north. He has some social connections to some of our exposure sites, we haven’t yet ascertained the exact link, work is going on. I expect us to be able to link that in the next day or two.

That takes us to 18 (linked).

We then have three cases across two entirely separate and unconnected households in Glenroy, who are positive, we have no acquisition source for them at this point in time.

Obviously a lot of work happening with those two separate families, one of them is a child who attends a Glenroy West primary school, we are of course working with the school as we have done with a number of schools in this response to get them all tested and to ensure that we rapidly establish acquisition source and any onward connections.

You may recall yesterday I spoke about wastewater detects which included Glenroy.

I therefore urge people, we continue to see detection and that catchment includes a number of different suburbs including Essendon Fields, Roxburgh Park, Strathmore ... and Broadmeadows. There are others.

Please, I urge anybody in that outer north suburban area in those suburbs I’ve just mentioned, if you have any symptoms whatsoever, we have active cases in that area that we now know about, we are very keen to establish any other cases that might be out there as swiftly as we possibly can as we try to run all these outbreaks to ground.


Victoria’s covid commander, Jeroen Weimar has given the run down on Melbourne’s situation:

We send our best to anyone recovering from coronavirus and Victoria – there are 137 active cases of Covid in the state. 330 exposure sites and 13,700 primary close contacts.

We managed to clear another 253 people yesterday.

I might start with vaccinations today. Not only did we do a high number of vaccinations yesterday, over 25,400, but over the last three days, first three days of this week, [more] people came forward to get their first dose of AstraZeneca.

It is really good to see, that is a threefold increase of AstraZeneca take-up compared to last week, over the last three days last week we had another 11,600 people booked in for their first dose of AstraZeneca for the remainder of this week and can I just thank everybody who was coming forward get vaccinated

And on the disaster payments:

COVID-19 disaster payments

Eligible workers across the state who lose hours due to the lockdown will be able to access the commonwealth’s Covid-19 disaster payment, as will individuals who are sole-trader businesses who lose work and that do not qualify for Victorian government support programs.

The Covid-19 disaster payment is administered through Services Australia, with the federal government funding the areas declared a commonwealth hotspot and the Victorian government assuming responsibility to fund payments in the rest of the state.

The payment is set at $450 for people who have lost from eight and up to 20 hours work or a full day of work (over seven days), and $750 for 20 hours or more of work lost. People who receive certain commonwealth income support are eligible to receive a $200 payment.


Here is a breakdown of the business support for Victoria, now that it is in its second week of lockdown:

Small business Covid hardship fund

An allocation of $41m will boost the small business Covid hardship fund to $180 million, with grants of $10,000 available to small- and medium-sized businesses across the state.

The fund opens for applications today through the Business Victoria website and will help up to 18,000 businesses that have been ineligible for business support programs and have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 70%.

Businesses that are legally allowed to operate but are restricted in their ability to generate revenue – such as a food store located at a shopping centre or a manufacturer supplying goods for closed venues – will be among those that that could be eligible.

Businesses that have lost custom due to restrictions affecting foot traffic – such as pharmacists located in the CBD – could also be eligible.

Business costs assistance program

More than 95,000 businesses in metropolitan Melbourne will automatically receive payments of $2,800, with grants scheduled to be paid within seven business days.

This new $271m business costs assistance program assistance will allow businesses across multiple sectors to continue paying overheads and other costs despite significant impacts on revenue.

Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021

Automatic payments of $5,000, $10,000 and $20,0000 will be made in coming weeks to more than 7,000 licensed hospitality venues in metropolitan Melbourne that have previously received or been approved grants under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund program. A total of $55 million has been allocate to the new licensed venue initiative.

Payment amounts will be tiered according to premises capacity: $5,000 for a capacity of up to 99 patrons, $10,000 for a capacity of 100 to 499 patrons and $20,000 for a capacity of 500-plus.

More information about the business programs is available at business.vic.gov.au


Martin Pakula moves to the business supports:

In recognition of the fact that the regions are open at this stage, this is a package of $367m to support more than 100,000 dominantly metropolitan Melbourne businesses affect that by a second week of lockdown.

We have put $1.4bn plus into bank accounts since the May-June lockdown commenced, so that is the benefit of the automatic payment process that we are undertaking for the vast majority of businesses that are receiving our support. There are three key elements of the package, two of which involve automatic payments and the third a further boost to the hardship fund which I’m pleased to say will open today.

Under the business cost assistance program there is an additional $271m for $2800 grants to recipients of, previous recipients of the business cost assistance program.

That includes gyms, cafes, restaurants, catering services, headdresses, dance and swim schools, tourism businesses and event businesses, those payments will be made automatically and we would expect that to occur within the next week. There is an additional top up of the hospitality venue fund of $55m and again that will be automatic.


Victorian update

Victorian business minister Martin Pakula is hosting this one.

Two of Victoria’s covid cases are in hospital.

45,408 people were tested and 25,418 people have been vaccinated.

As was previous reported, there were 21 locally transmitted cases, 17 of which have been linked, and 15 of which were in isolation during their infectious period.

We are going to the Victorian update now …


Back to the NSW health press conference now:

NSW Health can’t say whether people who are told they are close contacts and must quarantine are also told they are eligible for financial assistance.


Still on the ACT:

Just a bit of background on that news out of Canberra, where the emergence of a new Covid-19 case has prompted a swift lockdown by the government.

The ACT has not recorded a locally transmitted case since two people returned from Melbourne on 8 July 2020, passing Covid on to three others. The last recorded locally transmitted case was on 10 July 10 2020, and the territory has experienced only one five-week lockdown, in April last year.

The ability to keep Covid-19 out of the ACT, which at some points has been surrounded by locally transmitted cases, has surprised and impressed public health experts.

Even ACT chief minister Andrew Barr himself has conceded that the territory’s fortunes were in some part down to luck.

He said he’d been “pleasantly surprised” at the lack of Covid-19 in Canberra. Earlier this year he said:

That’s a combination of good management and good luck. Luck can turn, though.


ACT lockdown details

Here is the whole statement from the ACT government on the lockdown:

COVID-19 Statement: ACT to enter seven day lockdown

The ACT will enter a seven day lockdown from 5:00pm tonight. This decision is a result of a positive COVID-19 case in the Territory who has been infectious whilst in the community, and positive wastewater detections. We currently do not know the source of the infection.

This is by far the most serious public health risk the ACT has faced in the past 12 months, and that’s why the ACT is introducing a strict lockdown in response to this positive case.

We have said throughout the outbreak in Greater Sydney that we would act quickly and decisively. We have seen that a short and immediate lockdown limits the potential spread of the virus, and is the best path to avoiding longer and more damaging lockdowns.

This will be the first time that the ACT has entered a lockdown of this nature since the early days of the pandemic.

During this time Canberrans, are being asked to only leave their homes for essential reasons – essential employment, healthcare (including a COVID-19 vaccination), essential groceries and supplies and up to one hour of outdoor exercise.

General retail will be closed, and hospitality venues will only be able to operate takeaway services. We will be asking any businesses that has to remain open to actively prevent any browsing in their stores.

Now more than ever, the use of the Check In CBR app is critical when leaving your home.

We know from what we are seeing around Australia that the delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is highly infectious, and life threatening. For the sake of your health, your families health and for the health of the community – it’s critical that Canberrans take every precaution they can over the coming days.

That includes mandatory mask wearing, which will be reintroduced in the ACT. It includes good hand hygiene and keeping your distance from other people. We are asking people to not have any family gatherings and do not have parties with friends. During this seven day period, Canberrans should only be interacting with other people in your household.

We are also urging Canberrans to get tested for any COVID-19 symptoms. A new testing clinic is being set up and will be available later today at the Brindabella Business Park, and capacity and operating hours will be significantly increased at the Weston Creek Walk-In Centre and EPIC drive through clinic. If you are contacted by ACT Health as a close contact, please get tested as soon as possible.

We expect demand for testing to increase, and there is likely to be longer waiting times at each of these clinics. We are asking Canberrans to be patient – it’s really important to get tested if you have any symptoms given the increased risk in the Territory.

Further details will be available shortly on the COVID-19 website and on ACT Health social media accounts. There will be direct communication with stakeholder groups, including local businesses and schools.


Brad Hazzard says at-risk NSW Indigenous communities have not been vaccinated

Brad Hazzard says there have been challenges for NSW in accessing enough Pfizer vaccine. He then says that the NSW Indigenous communities in the west of the state have not had a lot of vaccinations:

I also wrote to minister Hunt and pointed out that obviously the Aboriginal population was identified by the federal government as its area of responsibility earlier on in the rollout, and there’s still a very substantial percentage, in fact by far the majority of Aboriginal people in that section of our state, have not received the vaccine and, well, you would have to direct that to the federal government but I have actually asked for help on that front.

Can I say, priorities, I think that it is not appropriate to blame the federal government or blame anybody, really.

It’s just a matter of when there is limited vaccine supplies, decisions are being made and up until the last 48 hours, north-west has been not the highest priority by any means.

But now obviously because somebody has unfortunately got the virus and not necessarily complied with what we’ve asked them to do, there is now an issue, so I’ve asked them to assist and asked if it is possible to have any pop-up vaccination clinics, whether it’s possible to have some ADF staff or medical staff support in that area and it’s primarily their responsibility but we have been helping, it is a team effort.

And they have responded very quickly … to say they would see what they could do and get on to it so we’ve just got to hope that everyone got enough staff and enough vaccine to get up there and do what we need to do.


Brad Hazzard then moves on to public health order loopholes:

You’ve stood here almost every day and we’ve had journalists who have delighted from time to time in trying to find loopholes.

I think that public health orders are a big challenge because public health orders have to be literally done in response to an urgent situation.

Almost daily we are looking at them and we have the health team is looking at the issues, we have the police who, by the way, have worked with us almost from the start and they have been with us working on those issues.

I think that we will always have a situation, and it’s not legislation – I heard a number of journalists today referring to it as legislation.

It is a Public Health Act and that was put in place and actually it has worked very well here in New South Wales to provide the structure for the public health orders.

Public health orders have to be created sometimes in the space of hours to address the issues that we see arising. And there will always be the possibility that there are ways through and around them, I have said that many, many times.

But also as the premier and I and Dr Kerry Chant and all the others have said and the police commissioner, really, it is not about the orders as such, it is about the community getting on the journey and being with us to make sure that they do what is the logical public -health response to a pandemic and that is when you are asked to stay at home, stay in your household, stay at home.

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP


Back to NSW, health minister Brad Hazzard says the health system is under pressure.

That’s following on from yesterday, when it was confirmed that specialist medical staff, who were confirmed close contacts, were having to come into work, because there was no one to replace them:

This is health in a pandemic. Managing a health system is very, very difficult.

One of the access points is hospitals because people who are positive come into hospitals, hopefully knowingly but sometimes not knowingly because they are not symptomatic.

We have talked about this ad nauseam, but unfortunately patients or people who have the virus can actually have it with absolutely no symptoms, but they then can of course pass it on.

Hospitals have been under enormous pressure, hospitals are now under substantial pressure.


ACT chief minister confirms lockdown

Seven days from 5pm:

#BREAKING: Chief Minister Andrew Barr has confirmed the ACT will enter a 7 day lockdown from 5pm today

— Andrew Brown (@AndrewBrownAU) August 12, 2021


At the moment, Gladys Berejiklian says NSW is having to ration its Pfizer supplies for the people in the eligible groups but it is looking at extending eligibility as it gets more supply.

On the fears for Indigenous communities in western NSW, Berejiklian says:

We have been looking at that, and of course those communities would have had access to vaccination earlier on, but we are making sure we have sufficient vaccine to provide those vulnerable communities and working with those communities in western New South Wales.


The singles’ bubble, something that allows people who don’t live with anyone some much-needed human contact, appears to be safe, at this stage. Which is something.

Gladys Berejiklian:

I think it is really important that when we are considering these lockdown measures, you have to consider not just keeping people physically healthy, not only trying to allow businesses to get the support they need, but also look after people with mental health …

The singles bubble was put in place to provide that mental health support to people who are on their own. It is difficult enough being in lockdown, let alone if you are by yourself. We ask people to follow the rules.

As I said, it only takes a handful of people every day to do the wrong thing, to create setbacks for all of us, and we are still recovering from gatherings which were illegal, we are still recovering from people who did the wrong thing because that has a cumulative effect, day on day. That is why we have asked the police if there are any greater measures to ensure compliance throughout New South Wales.


If the police commissioner says he wants more powers for compliance measures, the NSW government is all ears, Gladys … says:

We know that Delta doesn’t leave any room for error. Even a handful of people doing the wrong thing every day can cause major setbacks.

So there are additional measures that can increase compliance measures, well, of course the government will accept that, and the commissioner has always had that opportunity, but of course we have asked him to really ramp up what activity he wants in relation to compliance, let us know if there are additional resources he needs.

Also let us know if there are additional measures that we can introduce to make sure that we don’t leave a single stone unturned …

I acknowledge the vast majority of people are doing the right thing. Some of those areas of concern have nobody in the streets …

We are a difficult situation and we wanted to turn the tide and not leaving any stone unturned. So if the commissioner comes back tomorrow and in the following days and says he needs X, Y and Z, of course we will consider those.


Is there consideration of putting every Sydney LGA into lockdown?

Gladys Berejiklian:

Look, if we get advice to that, of course the New South Wales government will consider that … We are asking everybody to please do the right thing. We are seeing the front of the virus move forward into these additional communities and we’re just asking everybody to make sure that they respect the health orders, do the right thing to themselves and the communities stop, as a precaution. New South Wales Health asks us to put those additional three local government areas in – some only had one case overnight – but as a precaution we want to stop the front of the spread moving forward.


Q: Are you calling for more ADF resources and … are you considering a ring of steel? (meaning police will stop people from leaving Sydney).

Gladys Berejiklian:

Can I say, New South Wales Health and police have been involved in dealing with the pandemic from day one and we are making sure that we do not leave any stone unturned in relation to extra ADF resources. Of course, the police commissioner always has the opportunity to ask for more, and I expect he will.

I believe the health minister has written to his federal counterpart asking the ADF to support us in having additional vaccination clinics administering AstraZeneca.

We want to make sure we have enough points of access across all of New South Wales and in particular in and around those areas of concern.

Please note that I assume police commissioner Fuller will ask for more ADF support as things continue.


OK, to the questions …


Dr Murray Wright continues:

The simple things we can all do is firstly have a plan and to create structure in your lives, particularly in a lockdown, many of us have lost that structure and it is important to recreate it.

That includes having regular daily exercise of some kind, having contact with the people who are important in your life and talking about meaningful things including how they are coping and how you are coping.

It is important to monitor things like your diet, like your sleep, like your alcohol intake, and also to set goals every day and review that.

None of us always execute the perfect plan, but it’s important to review it and renew it on a daily basis. If things are not working, and the signs of things not working include difficulties with sleep, difficulties with concentration, feeling unduly fatigued, feeling overwhelmed, irritable, or consuming too much alcohol, and if any of those things are happening either to you what people around you, you should make it a subject of consideration.

What can I do to change how I am approaching the day or do I need help? Ask people if they are OK. That never does harm, it often does a world of good and making it a regular subject, as well as talking about the pandemic and talking about well-being is really critical for all of us.

The NSW chief psychiatrist is at this press conference.

Dr Murray Wright says people need to be a lot kinder on themselves, because people are under extreme stress:

We all know from a public health perspective that the lockdown is for the purposes of reducing the spread of the virus during the pandemic, but it is really important for me to take this opportunity to remind everyone that this is probably the most sustained and serious stress that many of us are going to face in our lifetimes and how this impacts on us and how we manage it is going to be really important in minimising the wellbeing and mental health impacts of the stress.

There are some fairly simple and straightforward things that we all need to keep front of mind on a daily basis in order to manage these stresses, keep track of how it is affecting us and the people around us and also to access help if needed. So in simple terms what people need to do is to have a plan to manage their stress and to monitor it and review it on a regular basis.

It is straightforward, you have all heard about this before but it bears repeating and it actually bears repeating almost on a daily basis, it’s like a reset. It is also helpful to assume that everyone you come into contact with is also dealing with the stress and is impacted by the stress and may not be responding to the things around them in their usual way, and if at all possible, cut them a bit of slack on that basis.


And in data that looks like this:

NSW infections by isolation status

And the new LGAs of concern:

Due to increasing concerns about community transmission, Burwood, Strathfield and Bayside Local Government Area (LGA) will now have additional restrictions from 5pm today, in line with previously identified LGAs of concern and 12 suburbs in Penrith LGA.

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 12, 2021


Here is the breakdown on infections in the community:

One hundred and sixteen cases were in isolation throughout their infectious period and 34 were in isolation for part of their infectious period. Fifty-seven cases were infectious in the community, and the isolation status of 138 remains under investigation.

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) August 12, 2021

There are 24 cases across the Hunter and New England local government areas. Twelve are associated with an aged care home. Eleven residents have been infected, and one staff member, and NSW Health has just received news of two new cases linked to that cluster.


Dr Marianne Gale is giving the health update today.

She goes through the number of cases in hospital:

We have 374 Covid-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 62 people in intensive care and 29 who require ventilation.

Of the 62 cases in intensive care, three are in their 20s, seven are in their 30s, five are in their 40s, 13 are in their 50s, 13 are in their 60s, 19 in their 70s and two in their 80s.

Of the 62 people in intensive care, 57 are not vaccinated, and the remaining five have had one dose of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer.


The Hunter and the Upper Hunter have had their lockdown extended for at least a week, after additional cases in those regions.

Gladys Berejiklian:

From five o’clock this evening, Bayside, Strathfield and Burwood local government areas will also be included in those areas of concern.

In relation to Bayside, the suburbs of particular concern are Bexley, Banksia and Rockdale, where additional cases have been identified overnight, so if you live in though suburbs in particular, please come forward and get tested. But also of course in Strathfield and Burwood, which are geographically smaller areas, but we are noticing, relative to the population, an increasing number of cases and, as a precaution, those additional council areas have been brought into those areas of concern.


NSW update – 345 new cases reported

Two more people have died, both men in their 90s. Gladys Berejiklian says one man had one shot of AstraZeneca and the other man had had two shots of Pfizer.

The NSW premier says the “front” has moved into Cumberland. So there are now additional areas of concern.


We are about to hear from Gladys Berejiklian for the NSW update.

There doesn’t seem to be good news there either.


The Canberra Times has reported that a Covid case has been confirmed in Canberra, which will be the first case in the territory for more than a year.

An emergency cabinet meeting was held this morning and the Times reports a snap lockdown is the expected outcome.


ACT chief minister Andrew Barr was meant to hold a press conference at 11am but that has been moved to 12.15. That will be with the CHO as well as the police.

There are reports there are changes coming to ACT’s public health response but so far nothing is confirmed.

The ACT has mirrored NSW in restrictions. If NSW goes into a full lockdown, then there is a strong chance the ACT will as well. We will let you know as soon as we have anything confirmed.


Keith Pitt, the resources minister, has decided the big issue of the day is forcing Labor to rule out any election funding for the Environmental Defenders’ Office.

This is also what he was on about yesterday.

This is despite the government spending most of the week arguing that you have to hear from people you disagree with, even when they are speaking against public health advice the government wants you to listen to.

This is also despite the IPCC report on the climate crisis, and the very glaring flashing “code red” humanity is facing unless there is actual action to limit fossil fuel use.

But Pitt is focused on whether or not Labor will fund the EDO.

Cool beans.


Back to the Senate, where nothing is simple.

The government moved to amend the motion condemning Matt Canavan and Gerard Rennick by removing their names.

This passed, with help from the usual suspects on the crossbench.

Then, a separate part of the government amendment, to include reference to “all public officials and candidates” passed on the voices.

Then there was a final vote on what became essentially, the government’s motion, but a division had to be called (instead of just passing on the voices) because some of the government’s own members wanted a division. Despite it being a motion the government supported.

So a division on a motion the government amended and supported, calling on the Senate to condemn disinformation, was opposed by Matt Canavan, Sam McMahon (both members of the government) Jacqui Lambie and Malcolm Roberts.

All of these people are elected by quotas.


Alex Hawke has responded to the high court’s decision not to hear the Murugappan family case:

Today the High Court declined to grant the Sri Lankan family formerly resident on Christmas Island special leave to appeal.

I note the High Court’s decision follows a series of previous decisions by the Department of Home Affairs, Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Circuit Court, Federal Court, Full Federal Court and High Court in relation to the family.

The family has a number of other ongoing legal matters.

It is therefore inappropriate for me to comment further.

NSW is coming up at 11am – we will bring you all of the information on the new police compliance measures, and what they will mean, as soon as we can.


The Queensland update went to other state questions after the Covid update. With all areas of the state out of lockdown, and community transmission limited to those in home quarantine, there is a tentative return to whatever it is we call normal in a pandemic world.


Queensland CHO Dr Jeannette Young has pleaded with people to keep wearing their masks:

We still have restrictions in place here in the south-east corner and up and Cairns until Sunday next week. We have still got another 10 days or so. I know they are a pain in the neck, these masks. I hate them, I cannot see what people are thinking, I find them so hard, they are against our normal culture – but boy do they work. They are so effective.

Thank you to everyone, every single child at school who is wearing one. You are going to prevent the next outbreak in a school by wearing them. Thank you to the teachers.

I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you, wearing masks at school, all day, every day.

Just the strain on your voices, the difficulty communicating. It is really hard work but please, we just need to persist and hopefully we will be able to remove the mask requirement on Sunday week.

We will see how we go. I assure you that as soon as we can remove the requirement to wear masks I will advise the premier we can remove them. We do not wear them just in case, we wear them when we need them, but when we need them I really truly need everybody to wear them, please.

Dr Jeannette Young
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young. Photograph: Darren England/AAP


There are meetings (virtual) with the mayors of Queensland’s border communities over what to do about the Queensland-NSW border zone. In the meantime, Annastacia Palaszczuk says Queenslanders can not cross the border into NSW:

To Queenslanders who live on the Gold Coast – New South Wales border as well, or any Queenslanders in some parts of our state, please do not cross into New South Wales.

We will be monitoring the situation extremely closely over the next 24 to 48 hours. We do not want to see that as far as creeping north. If we have to implement harder measures, we will.

I am urging Queenslanders, do not go into New South Wales. Of course, we have essential workers that have to do but now was not the time to cross the border to do your shopping. Stay with them in Queensland.


More than 16,000 vaccines were administered in Queensland yesterday.

The mass vaccination hub is going well, with appointments rapidly being filled.

A woman poses for a photograph at Brisbane’s mass vaccination hub
A woman poses for a photograph at Brisbane’s mass vaccination hub. Photograph: Darren England/AAP

South Australians who had travelled to Queensland can leave quarantine today, as long as they have a negative test.

Annastacia Palaszczuk:

In relation to South Australia, as of midday anyone from South Australia will be able to leave the home quarantine as long as they have a negative test result. Of course, we will open up to South Australia as well, but you have to fly in, you cannot drive through because of the situation in New Wales.


High court declines to hear Murugappan family case

The high court has declined to hear a case over the handling of the visa application process for Tharunica Murugappan, the youngest daughter of the Tamil family from Biloela.

The family won a full federal court appeal in February, with the court upholding a ruling that the government’s handling of Tharnicaa’s visa application denied her procedural fairness.

The family’s lawyers appealed part of the ruling they were unsuccessful in but that component was rejected to be heard by the high court.

The full federal court ruling that Tharnicaa was denied procedural fairness stands, and the high court decision is not a judgment or ruling on their refugee status.

The immigration minister, Alex Hawke, must still give Tharnicaa’s case procedural fairness, and the minister still has a brief relating to her asylum claim in front of him.
Priya, Nades, Kopika and Tharnicaa remain in community detention in Perth while their legal battle continues.

The family’s lawyer, Carina Ford said:

The matter is now in the hands of the immigration minister and he or she is able at any point in time to grant a visa including a visa that would allow the family to return to and live in Biloela where they would receive community support, stability, care and a sense of belonging. The Australian people’s support in this case has been overwhelming as they have related to the families hardship and the fact both children were born in Australia.

A separate legal case involving the family will be heard in the federal court in September.

Priya has said WA doctors have contacted the federal government asking for the family to be returned to Biloela, with both daughters receiving ongoing medical treatment for recurring infections and mental health treatment.


Queensland update – 10 new cases reported

All the cases are linked and all have been in home quarantine.

Annastacia Palaszczuk says people are getting tested on days 10 and 11, so the numbers were expected.

There are more than 15,000 people in home quarantine at the moment.


Matt Canavan is now saying there has been a “complete lack of accountability” during the pandemic – despite his position making up the numbers for the government:

We have not had accountability for the decisions that governments have made. Almost all the decisions that have been made on the public health orders have not gone through this place, there has not been legislation, there has not been a committee, there has not been disallowable instruments. So, all the businesses that have been shut down all the restrictions that have been put on people’s freedoms have happened without even a scintilla of parliamentary accountability. I think that’s a big question for his closest, whether that’s the right approach.

I don’t have time to check Canavan’s voting record on the times when other senators outside of the government have asked for documents related to the health response and been denied by the government, but I don’t think this is something he has previously stood up on. I also don’t remember him trying to get on the Covid-19 committee to question health and government officials, but I’m happy to be corrected.

Also, no one is arguing people can’t debate things. The motion is about spreading misinformation. It’s not a debate when you make up “different facts”.


Penny Wong cedes her additional time to Matt Canavan.

“Giving me my voice,” says Canavan, who has been on a mainstream media channel practically every day this week.

Canavan says the motion is designed to silence members who disagree with opinions:

This motion seeks to make sure that we all continue to get paid during the pandemic, we just don’t do our job. We just don’t do our job any more, because our job is to debate on issues.

Canavan says Australia has been “through tougher times” and then begins talking about world war two.


Pauline Hanson has skyped in to say the motion is a “political stunt”.

She says she “feels a bit insulted” because her name wasn’t on the list with Matt Canavan and Gerard Rennick. She is now complaining about being bleeped out on FM radio.

There is a lot about how she knows how it feels to “be thrown under the bus”.

Now she is defending herself, despite not being named, or this motion being remotely about her, because she is not in the government (despite voting with the Coalition more often than not).


Larissa Waters is speaking for the Greens. She says Scott Morrison “doesn’t have the guts” to stand up to the climate and science deniers in his own party.

She criticises Simon Birmingham for trying to delete the reference to Gerard Rennick and Matt Canavan in his amendments:

It’s nothing more than a protection racket.


Simon Birmingham is speaking now, saying the country has to continue to respond “sensitively and practically” to the challenges of Covid.

He says that some of those responses will be challenged. But it is the responsibility of all members to challenge those responses “to do so in a way that is responsible to make sure that it’s consistent messages wherever possible, in relation to respect to the public health orders to the need to get vaccinated”.

Birmingham does not name Matt Canavan or Gerard Rennick:

I note in the desire to singularly focus on certain members of the government, rather than acknowledging that indeed debates occur outside of this place as well.

He says there has been no mention of comments from Labor candidates or the Queensland premier. Birmingham says Annastacia Palaszczuk wasn’t vaccinated until 2 May, while the South Australian premier was vaccinated in February.

He is moving an amendment to the motion that says “all public officials and candidates that all should be held to the same standard”.


Matt Canavan appears to be laughing and shaking his head as Penny Wong says this:

The former chief strategist to President Trump, Steve Bannon, called for Dr Fauci to be beheaded.

Mr Bannon was banned from Twitter as a result, but he still has a podcast and a recent guest on that podcast said: “Coronavirus is doing more damage to our liberties [than to our health]. That guest was Senator Canavan.

Senator Canvan, going on the podcast, hosted by someone who has called for the beheading of one of the world’s leading public health officials.

There should be nothing easier than for Senator Payne to rebuke Senator Canavan and I invite her to do that today.


Labor was prepared for this motion to go through and so Penny Wong has a speech to read (Anthony Albanese suspended standing orders to get the motion through the House, and at first seemed surprised it had gone through, and made a 20-minute speech off the cuff).

Penny Wong in the Senate
Penny Wong in the Senate. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Over in the Senate, Penny Wong is moving a motion condemning Matt Canavan and Gerard Rennick for their comments that contradict the health advice and for spreading Covid misinformation.

The government is allowing it (as it did in the House) so the debate will go for 30 minutes.


And the electoral legislation has made it to the House:

Good morning. Today is the last day for the sitting fortnight, with the House to resume sitting at 9.30am. There are five government bills scheduled to be introduced this morning, four of which are related to electoral legislation. Full program here: https://t.co/ElfHOs8vST. pic.twitter.com/zs5r9efH09

— Australian House of Representatives (@AboutTheHouse) August 11, 2021

Well, they accepted the invitation (which Amanda Meade reported on yesterday):

👀 pic.twitter.com/wjoX3iZyPM

— Josh Taylor (@joshgnosis) August 11, 2021


The assistant minister to the attorney general, Amanda Stoker, has come out hard against employers requiring their staff to be vaccinated – a stark contrast to Scott Morrison, who has given business some comfort by suggesting the solicitor general had advised it could be lawful to do so.

Asked by Sky News if businesses are right to demand their staff get vaccinated, Stoker replied: “No, I don’t think so.”

She added that the only exception was where state public health orders required it, such as health workers but “in general it needs to be the case that people are making a decision for themselves”:

Let me be perfectly clear: this should be voluntary. The individual has the right to choose what works for them. An employer can encourage them and can provide an incentive to make this call if it’s in their interests [but should not mandate a vaccination].

Stoker argued that conscientious objection rates may be so low that Australia can achieve 80% vaccination rates without vaccine requirements.

At a doorstop after the interview, Stoker clarified that she is not opposed to requiring vaccination in aged care settings. But she still said “those are matters for the state government” – seemingly ignoring that it was the federal government who led the push to require vaccination of aged care workers by mid-September.

Stoker said she wouldn’t go “into the weeds” of which other employers might require their staff to be vaccinated because “the principle on which the commonwealth government’s program has operated is that vaccination is voluntary but strongly encouraged”.

This helps explain why, despite the Business Council of Australia, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Australian Industry Group all pleading for more public health orders to clarify and expand the industries that can require vaccination, Morrison has held the line that to do so would be mandating vaccines by stealth.

There is obviously a constituency in the Liberal party that will defend individual rights to refuse safe, effective vaccines and hold on to a job.


NSW 'beefing up police powers'

We are expecting to hear from Gladys Berejiklian at 11am, where there will be announcements of a lockdown compliance crackdown.

What does that mean? More police, as Berejiklian told Sydney radio 2GB:

Compliance is a major issue because in a pandemic, even when 99% of people are doing the right thing, that 1% can cause a setback for everybody.

We are beefing up our police powers to clamp down on those things and in a pandemic, you are never going to find perfection when it comes to the health orders but you can make sure you clamp down on those people doing the wrong things which causes setbacks for us all.


Prime minister Jacinda Ardern has outlined plans for a phased reopening of New Zealand’s borders to the world.

From October, vaccinated workers will be able to participate in a pilot where they can travel overseas and self-isolate at home, rather than going through the current mandatory two weeks of government-managed isolation.

The government will then look at opening quarantine-free travel to vaccinated travellers from lower-risk countries from the first quarter of 2022.

Vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries could skip isolation entirely, those from medium-risk would undertake some form of self-isolation or a shorter stay in a quarantine hotel. MIQ would still be required for those coming from high-risk countries, or those who are unvaccinated.

Planes lined up at Christchurch airport
Planes lined up at Christchurch airport. Photograph: Mark Baker/AP

All this is contingent on an accelerated vaccine rollout in the next few months. All 16+ residents will be able to book a vaccine from 1 September, and second doses should be available from December.

Ardern has not given a figure for what level of vaccination is required for the reopening but said the country would need good coverage nationwide, including geographic spread and strong vaccination rates among high-risk and vulnerable groups.

She said the country would be continuing with its elimination approach, and not allowing Covid to circulate in the community:

The advice is clear: If we open our borders now we will lose the freedoms and advantages we have achieved so far. If we give up our elimination approach too soon there is no going back, and we could see significant breakouts here like some countries overseas are experiencing who have opened up early in their vaccination rollout.



Here is your Victorian data hit:

Victorian Covid cases by isolation status


In terms of policy, things aren’t going so great for the Coalition with its own bills in the Senate either – as Paul Karp reports, not only are Coalition senators speaking against a childcare bill, there have also been drafting errors revealed by a retired public servant:

A Coalition split over support for stay-at-home parents has flared during debate on the government’s childcare bill, amid revelations drafting errors would make it less generous than intended.

On Tuesday evening Nationals senator Matt Canavan and Liberal senator Gerard Rennick spoke against the bill in the Senate, relitigating a dispute that surfaced in the Coalition party room in June when Coalition women hit back at claims working women were “outsourcing” parenting.

The pair warned the bill does nothing for stay-at-home parents, benefits high-income earners, and adds to the growing cost of subsidies.


Victoria records 21 new cases

Seventeen of these cases are linked and four are under investigation.

Fifteen were in quarantine for their infectious period.

Reported yesterday: 21 new local cases and 2 interstate acquired.
- 25,418 vaccine doses were administered
- 45,408 test results were received
More later: https://t.co/lIUrl1hf3W#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData [1/2] pic.twitter.com/7qCj2cXwb7

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) August 11, 2021


New Zealand is speeding up its first-dose vaccine rollout in response to the growing threat posed by the Delta variant.

All over-16s will be able to book in a first dose from 1 September, the government announced today. The Ministry of Health is doing so by expanding the allowable time between doses to six weeks, to prioritise more people getting a first dose.

“Moving to a longer gap allows us to give a first dose to a larger number of people faster, which means providing more people with partial protection sooner,” secretary general of health Ashley Bloomfield said. “This is an important part of our being prepared for a possible outbreak of the more infectious Delta variant of the virus.”

As of Wednesday, about 34% of New Zealand’s 16+ population had had a first dose, and 20% were fully vaccinated.

People jog past a social distancing sign in Auckland.
People jog past a social distancing sign in Auckland. Photograph: Fiona Goodall/Reuters


If you didn’t read this yesterday, you should – Mostafa Rachwani gives a heartrending insight into what is happening in western Sydney communities as NSW approaches its eighth week of lockdown:

I tried to put into words how people are feeling in western syd, the sense of despair, anger, fear and anxiety that’s made life out here so tough. https://t.co/FdUbkBVX8a

— Mostafa Rachwani (@Rachwani91) August 11, 2021


Social media diplomacy is still going strong (usually after a lot of chatter has happened in the back channels):

The solidarity from our Australian allies is greatly appreciated. Together with our partners, we will continue calling for the immediate release of #MichaelSpavor and #MichaelKovrig as well as clemency for #RobertSchellenberg.
🇨🇦 🇦🇺 @MarisePayne https://t.co/btgcPnKvNd

— Marc Garneau (@MarcGarneau) August 11, 2021


We should hear from Victorian authorities soon with today’s numbers, but there has been an update to the Victorian Covid exposure sites, as AAP reports:

The number of COVID-19 exposure sites in Victoria has surged to almost 350, including a flight from Sydney and several paediatric clinics next to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital.

The new sites were listed by health authorities on Wednesday night, after Melbourne’s lockdown was extended by a week and the state recorded 20 new coronavirus cases. Five cases have an unknown origin.

Qantas flight QF471 from Sydney to Melbourne on Monday was listed as a tier-one exposure site after a COVID patient was on board.

It is unclear if the case was circulating in the community while infectious, given most arrivals from Sydney are required to quarantine.

Ten new tier-two sites have been identified at Melbourne Paediatric Specialists in Parkville, next to the Royal Children’s Hospital, after a healthcare worker attended while infectious on Monday.

Secret Sofa in Cheltenham, in Melbourne’s southeast, is also listed as a tier-one site for August 5 from 11.45am to 12.45pm.

The furniture store is some 50km away from Melbourne’s western suburbs, where the majority of infections and exposure sites are located.


In other South Australian news, the government will open up its Pfizer vaccination program to anyone over 16 from next week.

There will be just under 130,000 appointments opened up for September and October.


Olympic athletes from South Australia have been told overnight they will have to spend 28 days in quarantine (every other state is doing the usual 14 days, with another test soon after).

Athletes will complete their hotel quarantine in Sydney and then have to quarantine at home for two more weeks when they return to SA.


Nino Bucci has looked at the vaccination rate for staff at the Newcastle aged care facility that has seen a Covid outbreak:

Less than a third of staff at a Newcastle aged care facility hit with a Covid-19 outbreak have been vaccinated, just over a month before the entire workforce will be required to have received at least one dose.

Eleven residents and three staff at the private RFBI Hawkins Masonic Village aged care facility in Edgeworth have contracted the virus since a worker who later tested positive finished his shift on 4 August …

Only 30% of staff have received at least one dose of the vaccine so far.


Remember Scott Morrison talking about the protester he was listening to – the woman who stands on the parliament ramp, waving to cars as they drive by?

Daniel Hurst went and had a chat to her after Morrison made a point of speaking about her at a press conference, while condemning the Extinction Rebellion protesters who spraypainted “duty of care” on the parliament and the Lodge, the day after the IPCC report was handed down.

And it turns out that she too is a member of Extinction Rebellion:

Despite Morrison’s attempt to differentiate between types of climate protesters, Frances reveals she, too, is a member of the Extinction Rebellion movement, and admires those who took more direct action this week.

“When a child misbehaves, you have to look at why they’re misbehaving – a child hasn’t got a voice, and so it will kick and scream and misbehave to get what it feels it needs,” Frances says.

“They’re not violent, but the people who protest more demonstratively – they’re terrified, they’re absolutely terrified. They love their families, they love the world, and they’re just terrified at what climate change is going to do to it. And no one has listened to them.

“I can’t speak for them all, but if they’re anything like me they’ve probably written to parliamentarians, they’ve probably spoken to their local member, they’ve probably done all the things that you’re supposed to do as a good greenie … and what are they left with to do? To me, it’s just the only thing they see left to do.”

Frances says if the prime minister’s house was burning, he probably wouldn’t want someone to knock politely on the door and wait for him to answer. “He would probably want someone to just shout fire – and they are shouting fire.”


It’s worth remembering that Barnaby Joyce had no issue with telling people things that weren’t true about climate costs – he infamously came up with the “$100 lamb roast” prediction, which stuck around for years, despite never being true, or realised.

Barnaby Joyce continues:

When I can go to the people out there and tell them exactly what is in line for them. I have a responsibility to the people of regional Australia, not so much just the farmers, but the people in South Tamworth, the people in the suburbs of the regional cities, whether it’s Wagga, Dubbo, Orange, Bundaberg, Townsville, as to if we do this, this is the consequences for you.

Now, until we can clearly tell them what that is, and what the cost is, and whether it’s their job, or what the cost is to the government, then, of course, you’re not being – you can’t just go and say, “I’ve signed a blank cheque. I’ve got no idea what the cost is, I’ve got no idea what the repercussions are for you, and I believe that I’m doing a competent job as a politician for you.”

You’re not. And if the consequences are for you, if there’s compensation packages to compensate people who are unduly affected and we have to go back to the budget and readjust it, and we have to come back to the ABC and say, “We’ve gotta make cuts to pay for this,” I imagine you’ll be jumping up and down and you’ll say, “You didn’t tell us about that before.”

I think there’s a responsibility that you actually understand what the plan is before you sign to it, because you have to tell people how it affects them. That would be a reasonable thing for a person in a responsible office to do.

Barnaby Joyce in parliament
Barnaby Joyce in parliament. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


Barnaby Joyce still believes that the government, of which he is a member of the executive, cannot make the plans, which governments legislate. Despite that being why he was elected. To make the plans.

Joyce says the Nationals are against net zero by 2050 because they don’t know what the impact will be and they haven’t seen the plan – that would be the plan that the government creates, after taking advice (or not taking advice) on the legislation from stakeholders and statutory bodies.

Joyce seems to believe the government is powerless here too:

We implement the plan. We implement the plan. We’ve implemented the plan that came from Kyoto, from Paris.

We’ve met every target. We implement the plans, but we are not the scientist that is come up with the measures that determine how much carbon has been sequestered or reductions in emissions.

That skill set is implemented by CSIRO and others, then we implement the plan.

There’s a difference in deciding the mechanisms that reduce carbon and the legislative program of implementing it.

And so we will wait for those who know what we need to do to implement any target that we agree to, and then we will legislate to implement it. But we do not say, “Well, we’ve heard the report and we’ve decided that what we’re going to do is actions A, B, C and D.” They’ll say, “What did you base that on?” We’ll say, “We just thought it up because we’re politicians.”


'If you start prodding the bear, you're gonna make the situation worse'

But Barnaby Joyce all but said he is powerless to do anything about George Christensen, who is a member of his party, because Christensen is a backbencher, and could leave the party and the government doesn’t have the numbers where it could afford to lose him and he is all but powerless when it comes to pulling Christensen in line as he continues to push against the government’s public health message.

Yup. He said that. Not even applied it. He said it.

Q: We had David Littleproud on the program yesterday – he said that you were going to counsel George Christensen. Have you done that?


Well, look, I will discuss – and I have discussed, and I am in continual discussions with George, but you don’t start telling another adult what to do …

What people want me to do is order him. I think that’s what they’re really saying. And you can’t do that to another member of parliament, because it doesn’t work like that. Other people have their own minds. You might disagree with their views, and I disagree with some of George’s.

But I’m not gonna start ordering people around. They’re adults. You’re an adult, and you can make your choice. You’re a cogent person and all your listeners are, as to whether you agree with a person or not ...

Q: Political parties get members to toe the line on many issues. Isn’t this one of those issues?


What you’re saying is you want me to go in there and somehow tackle him. What do you suggest? What’s the threat I put in place?

What threat do I put against him? That’s what you say when you’re gonna force someone with an implicit threat. Can you suggest me the threat that I can give – “If you don’t want do this, we’ll do that.” What is that threat?

Q: You’re the leader of the party. You’ve got a member of a party whose words are dangerous.


I can say this at work, “If you don’t do this, I’ll sack you. You can be dropped from the ministry.”

But if a person is saying ... There is no threat. [Christensen is] elected by the people of Dawson and this is why I get a bit annoyed when people say, sort of, almost implying there’s an implicit threat because it makes them feel bossy.

When the reality is, a person is elected by the people of Dawson, they are the ultimate authority.

I have discussed it – I have been talking to him as recently as last night. Now, I have different views.

And I know how George’s mind works. If you start prodding the bear, you’re gonna make the situation worse. For us as a government. Not better. And I’ll say that to my colleagues, I can assure you that when you’ve got a thin margin, don’t start giving reasons for a byelection.

Q: Oh, so you’re OK with him using that language, because it’s the political interest?

Joyce: [I didn’t say that]

Q: You’ve just said, “You can’t prod the bear” because you’ve got a thin margin?!


That’s dead right. I’m saying that he has his own mind. And he ... I do not have the same views as him. You don’t. And your listeners are smart enough to discern what they want to do. But what your people are asking is there some implicit threat, that I can charge into his room, if I was there, and somehow create a threat in such a way that he would act in a different form?

There’s no member of parliament that’s on the backbench that you can do that to, because there’s nothing you can threaten them with.


The current deputy prime minister kicked off the morning with an interview with ABC New Breakfast.

It seems he now thinks that regional communities might actually “give a shit” about Covid (in late June Barnaby Joyce suggested in an interview that regional communities “couldn’t really give a shit” about outbreaks in the city because coal prices were high).

Joyce is in lockdown in Armidale after a Covid scare there, and hasn’t appeared in question time via video link, despite the Speaker yesterday saying every MP had the option of attending parliament virtually at their electorate office.

But he has been popping up in the media. Yesterday it was ABC Radio National, where he suggested the government didn’t actually come up with the climate plan (which is not true, as Murph fact checks here and which Scott Morrison corrected in parliament).

Today it is ABC TV, where his views on Covid in regional communities seems to have changed, now that there is a threat to regional communities (there is always a threat in a pandemic, which is why his original comments were so flabbergasting).

He is particularly worried (as is everyone) about what happens if the outbreak reaches Indigenous communities in western NSW:

They won’t have the health facilities that you’ve got in Sydney. And some people will just pretend that they can deal with it by themselves, and people who are doing it tough will find work where they can. And it just won’t work.

It will be a really bad outcome. And if it gets out, especially out west, the further west you go, and the remoter they go, the worse the effect will be. So, we’ve gotta do the right thing.


Good morning

We have made it to the last sitting day of the fortnight.

It’s been a long two weeks but we have a week break before the next sitting to recharge, and I think we probably all need it.

Especially those who are waking up in lockdown.

More of regional NSW is in lockdown, with orders issued for Brocklehurst, Eumungerie, Geurie, Mumbil, Stuart Town, Wellington and Wongarbon after a Walgett man returned a positive case.

There are reports of more stricter compliance coming after a NSW cabinet meeting late yesterday with the focus on bringing down case numbers. That’s after two of the worst days in the outbreak in a row, with case numbers in the 300s, and only about a third of people known to have been in quarantine for their entire infectious period (there are still a number of cases under investigation).

So the pressure is now on the NSW government to bring down case numbers, with the Sydney outbreak having spread to the regions.

Meanwhile, Melbourne is looking at another week in lockdown – at least – after a handful of cases were not in quarantine while infectious. Authorities there are confident they are beginning to get ahead of the outbreak, which is great, but they need a little more time.

We’ll bring you all of that news as it happens – as usual, the updates look as though they will happen at 11am, so we will bring you all of that information as soon as we can.

We’ll also bring you all the politics. Barnaby Joyce, who hasn’t managed to zoom in for question time, despite his electoral office being set up for it, has managed to front the media a few times this week while in lockdown at home in Armidale. After his latest contributions on George Christensen, (“If you start prodding the bear, you’re gonna make the situation worse”), I’m not sure the government has missed him too much.

I’ll bring you that as well as what happens in the parliament as the day rolls on. Mike Bowers is away today, so it’s just Amy Remeikis with you on the blog but you have Katharine Murphy, Sarah Martin, Daniel Hurst and Paul Karp in Canberra, as well as the entire Guardian brains trust. Because it has been quite the fortnight, it’s a three-and-a-half coffee day. Maybe some chocolate. Whatever it takes at this point.




Luke Henriques-Gomes and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Australia Covid live news update: Walgett and seven other LGAs in regional NSW follow Dubbo into snap seven-day lockdown
This blog is now closed

Josh Taylor (now) and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

11, Aug, 2021 @10:01 AM

Article image
Andrews condemns second day of anti-lockdown protests – as it happened
NSW cases back over 1,000 as kids allowed to meet in friend bubbles for school holidays. This blog is now closed

Mostafa Rachwani, Ben Doherty and Matilda Boseley (earlier)

21, Sep, 2021 @10:23 AM

Article image
Berejiklian warns ‘we haven’t seen worst of it’ after 633 new infections in NSW – as it happened
NSW confirms 633 cases and three deaths; Victoria records 24 new local cases. This blog is now closed

Josh Taylor and Matilda Boseley (earlier)

18, Aug, 2021 @9:45 AM

Article image
Victoria reports nine new infections as NSW records 10th straight day with zero local cases – as it happened
Victoria to return to staged face-to-face teaching next week; treasurer Josh Frydenberg promises a jobs-focused budget. This blog is now closed

Michael McGowan, Josh Taylor and Amy Remeikis

05, Oct, 2020 @8:14 AM

Article image
Andrews extends lockdown while NSW reports record cases – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Luke Henriques-Gomes and Matilda Boseley (earlier)

16, Aug, 2021 @8:47 AM

Article image
PM announces Pfizer deal and the ACT extends lockdown – as it happened
Singapore agrees to vaccine ‘dose swap’ with Australia. This blog is now closed

Nino Bucci and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

31, Aug, 2021 @9:00 AM

Article image
Experts’ modelling for vaccination targets released – as it happened
Gladys Berejiklian can’t say whether cases have ‘peaked’, as Queensland records 16 cases. This blog is now closed

Luke Henriques-Gomes and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

03, Aug, 2021 @8:36 AM

Article image
New South Wales records 753 infections as woman in 30s dies at home; Victoria extends Pfizer to under 40s – as it happened
This blog is now closed

Elias Visontay (now) and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

24, Aug, 2021 @9:16 AM

Article image
Coalition grilled over $30m Western Sydney airport land purchase – as it happened
Budget estimates continue with Australia’s coronavirus response on the agenda. This blog is now closed

Nino Bucci and Amy Remeikis

20, Oct, 2020 @8:07 AM

Article image
Qld announces reopening plan; ACT hotspot status ends tonight – as it happened
All today’s news as it happened

Mostafa Rachwani and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

18, Oct, 2021 @8:26 AM