"Global supply shock' to affect Australian supplies – as it happened

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Move to suspend trans-Tasman arrangement for 72 hours prompted by Covid variant case in Auckland. Also, late February Pfizer vaccine rollout planned. This blog is now closed

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End of day summary

And, breathe. That was quite a hectic day for a Monday, so here’s a quick summary of everything that went down today:


Tame has given a powerful speech, calling for structural and social change, and for Australia to have some uncomfortable discussions.

It starts with conversation. We’re all welcome at this table. Communication breeds understanding and understanding is the foundation of progress. Lived experience informs structural and social change. When we share, we heal. Yes, discussion of child sexual abuse is uncomfortable but nothing is more uncomfortable than the abuse itself.

Let us redirect this discomfort to where it belongs - at the feet of perpetrators of these crimes. Together, we can redefine what it means to be a survivor. Together, we can end child sexual abuse. Survivors, be proud, our voices are changing history.

11 years ago, I was in hospital, anorexic with atrophied muscles, I struggled to walk. Last year I ran a marathon. We do transform as individuals and as a community. When I was first reported I was shamed and ridiculed by shame. But now my truth is helping to reconnect us.

2021 Australian of the Year winner Grace Tame.
2021 Australian of the Year winner Grace Tame. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


2021 Australian of the Year: Grace Tame

And with that, we’ve arrived at the final award of the night.

The 2021 Australian of the Year is Grace Tame.

Tame went to the Tasmanian supreme court to win the right to publicly tell her own story as a survivor of rape. She fought to speak out, and she headed the campaign to change Tasmania’s sexual assault victim gag laws, empowering other survivors like Grace to tell their own stories on their own terms.

Australia, we’ve come a long way but there’s still more work to do in a lot of areas. Child sexual abuse and cultures that enable it still exist. Grooming and its lasting impacts are not widely understood. Predators manipulate all of us - family, friends, colleagues, strangers, in every class, culture and community. They thrive when we fight amongst ourselves and weaponise all our vulnerabilities.

Trauma does not discriminate. Nor does it end when the abuse itself does.


Dr Miriam-Rose gave a brilliant acceptance speech, and if I could, I would just post the entire thing here, but in the spirit of the blog, this was the excerpt that I found most powerful:

For years, we have walked on a one-way street to learn the white people’s way. I’ve learnt to walk in two worlds and live in towns and cities, and even worked in them. Now is the time for you to come closer to understand us and how - and to understand how we live, and listen to what needs are in our communities.

Personally, I believe I don’t own the land. We belong into it. Belonging to the land and family is important. That’s why some of our young people get lost in the challenges that they have to face today. Because they don’t feel that they belong

OK, back to the awards, and the winner of the Senior Australian of the Year is Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann.

Dr Ungunmerr Baumann dedicated her life to education, working as a teacher, principal, adviser, activist and artist. Through the Miriam-Rose Foundation, she empowers Indigenous youth with education, art, culture and opportunity.

Through the foundation I present deep Aboriginal culture in ways that are understood and appreciated by all Australians. I see this as a crucial step towards reconciliation.

2021 Senior Australian of the Year Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann.
2021 Senior Australian of the Year Dr Miriam-Rose Ungunmerr Baumann. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


So, while Christine Anu sings a wonderful rendition of with My Island Home, in honour of the frontline workers during the pandemic, I just wanted to revisit the prime minister’s opening remarks.

The PM gave a stirring speech on the determination of Australians, and celebrated the nominees and recipients of the awards tonight.

If our land teaches us anything it is that if we persevere we can withstand, we do recover and we do renew. And this land - the home of the world’s only continent nation - has a seamlessness about it that accommodates so much difference. Nature reminds us there is a place for everyone and everything in our land.

We know from our First Australians that our country teaches us much. It is a country that requires us to listen to it, and most often, to contend with it. This past year, we faced adversity again - nature confronting us in a different form - beckoning us again to persevere.

And he wrapped up his speech with a hearty “Happy Australia Day”.


Next up is the Young Australian of the Year, and the prime minister is back on stage to announce the winner, who is Isobel Marshall.

Young Australian of the Year winner Isobel Marshall.
Young Australian of the Year winner Isobel Marshall. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Marshall is just 18 years old, and along with her business partner, Eloise Hall, launched a range of pads and tampons to improve access to hygiene products for young women:

Period poverty is real. It is still a major reason for inequality around the world. Periods should not be a barrier to education. They should not cause shame. Menstrual products should be accessible, affordable, not a luxury or a choice.


And the first award off the rank is Australia’s Local Hero award, and the winner is Rosemary Kariuki.

Local Hero for 2021 Rosemary Kariuki receives the national award from Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Monday 25 January 2021.
Local Hero for 2021 Rosemary Kariuki receives the national award from Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Monday 25 January 2021. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

Kariuki immigrated to Australia in 1999, escaping tribal and family violence, and has since then worked to help other migrants and refugees settle in their new country.

I was born in Kenya and came to Australia on my own. It hasn’t always been easy but I learned a lot. I now my experiences to help other female migrants and refugees achieve their full potential in this country.


For the record, the event is being held in person at the National Arboretum, with cameras showing people social distancing at the event.

And with that, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has arrived on stage.

Australian of the Year awards

The Australian of the Year awards are due to be presented shortly, and I’ll be bringing you all the winners as they come.


So, we’ve marked one year since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Australia, and I think we can all agree it has been a tragic, wild year.

To try and collate everything that has happened in that time sounds like a mind-boggling exercise, and yet my colleague Melissa Davey has done exactly that.

You can check out the piece here:

Snorkeller, 30, drowns on Sydney's northern beaches

A snorkeller drowned on the northern beaches in Sydney this afternoon, the sixth drowning death this year.

In a statement, Surf Live Saving NSW said the 30-year-old man was reported missing from 3pm today. He was pulled from the water after he had been snorkelling for only five minutes.

Lifeguards and paramedics performed CPR but were unable to save him.

Surf Life Saving NSW’s director of lifesaving, Joel Wiseman, lamented the tragic drowning and acknowledged the efforts of the life-savers.

In this case, as we’ve seen over the last month, the outcome has been tragic. One life lost is one too many but we’re thankful for the swift response and care taken by the northern beaches council lifeguards.

Please take extra care this Australia Day.

It’s vital you make the extra effort to swim at a patrolled location and do not swim if you’re drinking. We want everyone to have a great day, a safe day.


In other reactions to today’s announcement of the approval of the Pfizer vaccine, a professor from the University of Sydney’s School of Public Health has welcomed the step, but called on the government to “clearly and transparently articulate the plan for the distribution of the vaccines”.

Dr Diego Silva said the priority groups for the vaccine were “explicit and ethically defensible”, but urged authorities to communicate a clear plan for the rollout.

He said:

As we have seen in other countries, this is easier said than done, hence the importance of being able to articulate to the public the plans for vaccine distribution.

In order to engender the public’s trust in the Pfizer and subsequent vaccines, including the trust of healthcare workers, it will be critical for the TGA to describe the pharmacovigilance system they’ll deploy to catch and analyse the negative side-effects that will occur as part of Australia’s rollout.

As we saw last week with Norway and the deaths of those over the age of 80 who received the vaccine, the ability to quickly collate and analyse adverse events is critical for ensuring confidence in both the vaccine as well as the policy and programmatic processes necessary to deliver the vaccine.


Politicians, diplomats and Jewish community leaders have praised the campaign launched by three alleged victims of Malka LeiferDassi Erlich, Elly Sapper and Nicole Meyer – as being instrumental in securing her extradition from Israel to Australia.

Josh Burns, the Labor MP whose seat of Macnamara takes in the Adass Israel school where the alleged abuse occurred, told Guardian Australia:

This is a day many of us worried would never come. But it came because of three brave sisters who never stopped fighting for their day in court.

Pictures: @ynetnews pic.twitter.com/k5RmqygxRp

— Elias Visontay (@EliasVisontay) January 25, 2021

Dave Sharma, the Liberal MP for Wentworth and Australia’s former ambassador to Israel, said reports Leifer was on her way to Australia was “welcome news for all who care about justice in this case”.

“Justice one step closer,” Sharma said.

Mark Sofer, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Australia from 2017 to 2020, tweeted on Monday that he was sceptical Leifer would ever be extradited.

I admit that years ago, as Head of Asia-Pacific at Israel's FM, and later as Ambassador to Canberra I was skeptical that Leifer would be extradited.But I was then unaware of the heroism and tenacity of @dassi_erlich,Ellie, and Nicole. I've never been happier to be so wrong.

— Mark Sofer (@MarkSofer) January 25, 2021

Sofer said:

But I was then unaware of the heroism and tenacity of Dassi Erlich, Ellie and Nicole. I’ve never been happier to be so wrong.

The Australia Israel and Jewish Affairs Council said it welcomed “with an enormous sense of relief” the news that Leifer was en route to Australia.

Mark Leibler, the council’s national chairman, said:

We hope the images of Malka Leifer being escorted onto a plane to Australia will bring some satisfaction to her many alleged victims.

Her alleged victims have endured so much for so long and we hope this news has brought them a renewed sense of relief and strength as their pursuit of justice continues.


The attorney general, Christian Porter, is aware of the Israeli media reports of Malka Leifer leaving Israel as part of her extradition to Australia.

A spokesman for Porter said the Australian government “is aware of reports in Israel concerning the extradition of Malka Leifer”, but that it “does not comment on logistics involving extradition arrangements against individuals until the extradition process has concluded”.

The spokesman said:

Victorian authorities are responsible for the physical return of Ms Leifer to Australia now that the legal extradition process in Israel has concluded and she has been found suitable for surrender to Australian authorities to face the charges against her.

Both the attorney general and minister for foreign affairs have expressed their thanks to the Israel government for its assistance and cooperation to bring this long-running process to a conclusion to allow for the extradition of Ms Leifer to Australia, where she faces serious sexual assault allegations.

The ministers will issue a further statement at the conclusion of the extradition process.


Activist group Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance has said there is “nothing to celebrate on Australia Day” and that the day “represents the first day of invasion on this continent and subsequent dispossession from our land and our kinship”.

In a statement on the Invasion Day rallies to be held tomorrow, the group also outlined some of the Covid-safe instructions for attendees.

Everyone who attends the rally must wear masks, must organise to remain in groups of 100, 10 metres apart, and must follow the directions of Covid marshals on the day.

The Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR) have today put out a media release regarding the #InvasionDay Rally. It reads as follows:

Media release 25/01/2021

25 January 2021

Melbourne Invasion Day 2021

This Invasion Day... pic.twitter.com/OQqp3XijRW

— Pay The Rent Grassroots Collective (@Grassroots_PTR) January 25, 2021


After a scorching start to the day, Adelaide is now experiencing its wettest day since 5 October.

Up to 20mm of rain have fallen in parts of the city, after a maximum temperature of 34C earlier today.

After a maximum of 34°C this morning, #Adelaide's temperature is now 21.3°C.
Over 10mm of rain has fallen in the city, 12mm at Noarlunga & 11mm at Scott Creek. Showers will ease by early evening.
Latest SA forecasts and observations: https://t.co/YGQMnxUKPB pic.twitter.com/X0nMNi3nIj

— Bureau of Meteorology, South Australia (@BOM_SA) January 25, 2021

Further showers and isolated thunderstorms have seen totals rise to 19mm at Scott Creek and 20.8mm at West Terrace/Ngayirdapira - making it our wettest day since October 5th.https://t.co/PHJ3SpRZei

— Bureau of Meteorology, South Australia (@BOM_SA) January 25, 2021

The rain has come at a welcome time, after several bushfire alerts were issued throughout the day.

Heavy rain in the Adelaide Hills is helping more than just ⁦@CFSAlerts⁩ crews. It’s also a welcome relief for wildlife ⁦@abcadelaide@abcnews #koala #adelaidehillsfire pic.twitter.com/ioFto8j33u

— Richard Davies (@DaviesRich) January 25, 2021


Malka Leifer leaves Israel on extradition flight to Australia – reports

Alleged sexual abuser Malka Leifer has left Israel and is on a flight to Australia, Israeli media have reported.

Following years of extradition hearings, the former Melbourne principal is understood to have been flown out of Israel hours before the country’s airports shut as part of tightening coronavirus restrictions this week.

Breaking: Malka Leifer has left Israel and is on an extradition flight to Australia to face charges child sex abuse charges in Melbourne, Israeli media have reported. More on @GuardianAus https://t.co/rEvzO3hvH7 pic.twitter.com/6kLpDP7zTA

— Elias Visontay (@EliasVisontay) January 25, 2021

Leifer is accused of 74 counts of sexual abuse taking place during her time as principal of the Ultraorthodox Adass Israel girls’ school in Melbourne.

She left Australia for Israel amid allegations against her in 2008.

Guardian Australia has contact the attorney general’s department for clarification.


The Australian Medical Association has called the approval of the Pfizer vaccine “an important step Australia’s battle to protect Australians from Covid-19”.

It said it was working with the government to ensure GPs are at the forefront of the vaccine rollout.

AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said the government had issued expression of interest form for the GPs interested in being a part of the vaccination process.

The AMA has been in talks with the federal government about the rollout of Covid vaccines, particularly in future phases where GPs will be critical in administering the vaccine to the wider community.

Over the weekend, the federal Department of Health issued an expression-of-interest form for GPs who are interested in taking part in vaccinating the nation.

The AMA has been working with minister Hunt and the department over the past few weeks to ensure that GPs are at the forefront of this campaign. This means we will be prepared for rollout once we have approval and supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Syringe in Covid vaccine vial
The AMA wants GPs at the forefront of the vaccine rollout. Photograph: Ted S Warren/AP


Following on from the announcement of the suspension of the New Zealand travel bubble, Queensland has released a public health alert:

⚠️ Public Health Alert: Queensland ⚠️

Queensland Health is asking anyone who has arrived in Queensland from New Zealand since 14 January 2021, including on green corridor flights, to get tested and quarantine until you receive a negative test result.https://t.co/YmJgm9ej7x pic.twitter.com/47pXyNaNNT

— Queensland Health (@qldhealthnews) January 25, 2021


In the meantime, Western Australia has recorded no new cases today, with its total remaining at 894.


Is this an indication any future green-zone travel bubbles will be shut down over one case?

“As a general rule, no,” Hunt says, telling reporters it was because the case was linked to the more infectious South African variant that the decision was taken.

It was simply because of the length of period between the infection and the confirmation that this was one of the potentially far more transmissible variants – in this case the South African variant – and the number of places which the individual in question is understood to have visited.

Because of the time and because of the transmissibility, the AHPPC unanimously recommended with a real-time response from the government to implement the 72-hour pause.


So, from what I understood, there are two flights to New Zealand scheduled to leave today, and it appears they will be going ahead.

Hunt said he didn’t have advice on whether the travellers would have a choice to return or if they might get stuck in quarantine, having assumed they wouldn’t have to isolate.

Border Force is working with New Zealand authorities to make sure passengers on the background in New Zealand have the maximum information and where there are any special arrangements that are required, out of compassion, we will make sure they are put into place.

The acting chief medical officer, Prof Michael Kidd, has given some details on the case, saying it was likely the person was infected while in hotel quarantine in Auckland.

However, it appears this person actually completed their 14-day quarantine while infectious.

Kidd says the person only tested positive last Friday, a full nine days after they completed their quarantine.

In that time, they visited 30 locations, and all are detailed on the New Zealand Ministry of Health website.

This new variant is more transmissible and presents a heightened level of risk. It’s been reported so far in at least 13 countries and this had included among 13 people who have been in hotel quarantine in Australia.

So, we had a meeting of the AHPPC at midday today. At that meeting the advice was to talk a precautionary approach and as a consequence the prime minister and the Australian government have suspended the green zone arrangements with New Zealand for the next 72 hours.


Hunt says the move to suspend the bubble comes out of “an abundance of caution”, while the government seeks to learn more about the case.

He says the change “comes into effect immediately”, and says anyone who has to travel, and with a green safe zone flight, to reconsider their travels.

He also announced that anyone who has arrived in Australia on a flight from New Zealand on or since 14 January is asked to isolate and arrange to be tested and to remain in isolation until they have a negative test.

We apologise to those who may be inconvenienced. This has been taken on the basis of strong, clear, immediate medical advice from the AHPPC, immediately considered in the cabinet arrangements, and accepted by the prime minister and the government of Australia.


Travel bubble with New Zealand suspended for 72 hours

Amid concern the single case of community transmission in New Zealand is of the South African variant, the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, has announced the government will suspend the travel bubble with New Zealand for 72 hours.


Meanwhile, the Pfizer Australia managing director, Anne Harris, is on ABC News24, saying the company is “absolutely committed and confident” it will be able to deliver 10m doses to the Australian government this year.

So we are still on track to deliver those doses, those first doses, within February. There has been a slight change in terms of how we’re approaching the doses. That’s because we’ve had a huge number of requests for additional doses from around the world.

Harris explained that the intense demand internationally forced the company to rethink its manufacturing timelines amid attempts to get the vaccine to the majority of the world’s population.

That target now in response to this dire need is now 2bn doses over the course of 2021. In order to do that, we need to scale up further. We need to retool our manufacturing facilities in order to have the capacity to produce more doses.

And what that’s led to is a temporary change to delivery schedules. We expect that to have worked its way through by mid-February and by the end of quarter one, we believe that the balance of those doses will be addressed.


We are expecting the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, to speak shortly, along with the acting chief medical officer, Prof Michael Kidd.

It is not clear what they will be discussing, but a new development of some sort is expected.


A spokesperson for Melbourne and Olympic Parks has confirmed to the Guardian that they are not considering changing the name of Margaret Court Arena.

Melbourne and Olympic Parks does not support Margaret Court’s comments and we remain an organisation committed to embracing equality, diversity and inclusion; from our fans to our colleagues who deliver the events that people love to attend.

There are no plans to change the name of Margaret Court Arena, which was named in recognition of Margaret Court’s significant achievements throughout her tennis career.

We are aware that there is public interest. However, this is a complex matter that requires careful consideration between Tennis Australia, the Victorian government and Melbourne and Olympic Parks Trust.

The comments come after news that the former tennis player, who has sparked controversy in recent years because of her views on LGBTQ+ issues, will be made a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AC), the country’s highest honour as part of the Australia Day honours.


The conversation around Australia Day/Invasion Day online has accelerated in the past week, with engagement increasing by 375%.

The hashtag #invasionday is the most discussed topic in relation to Australia Day, with today’s contributions by a raft of politicians not unrelated.

According to PR firm Sling and Stone, the most tweeted words in relation to Australia Day included the words change, mourning, celebration, Aboriginal and communities. The most tweeted hashtags included #changethedate, in addition to #australiaday and #auspol.


The NSW police minister, David Elliott, was on 2GB radio this morning, and said he’ll be “making a formal complaint” agains the ABC for its article listing the Australia Day/Invasion Day events happening tomorrow.

Elliott said that the ABC promoting Invasion Day events was “breathtakingly irresponsible”.

Anybody that attends tomorrow will be exposed to fines and imprisonment because they’ll be in breach of the public health orders.

His comments come as NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge called the threats by police to arrest and fine people attending Invasion Day protests “the same old racism, all over again”.

Thousands in shopping centres and sports events but police threatening violence if more than 500 gather tomorrow in the Domain - it’s just the same old racism all over again pic.twitter.com/yIO23TlEVz

— David Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeMLC) January 25, 2021

Shoebridge wasn’t the only one to protest against the approach of NSW police, with many mentioning the crowds allowed at the cricket or in shopping centres in NSW.

Why are large sporting events allowed to go ahead with special covid safety measures but public protests are not?The double standards are breathtaking - Invasion Day protesters will risk fines, says NSW Police minister https://t.co/AcKYwfauDC

— Sophie McNeill (@Sophiemcneill) January 25, 2021

Earlier this month the NSW government allowed 10 000 spectators a day at the cricket ground, a bunch of whom decided to use their presence on stolen land to racially abuse Indian players but sure, this is just for everyone’s safety https://t.co/Rlc3h6QNBx

— Brydie Lee-Kennedy (@BrydieLK) January 25, 2021

via FISTT re the upcoming Invasion Day rally at Djarrbarrgali: 'If the NSW government can facilitate 10,000 people attending the cricket they can ensure our rally proceeds safely without police harassment.' More info: https://t.co/RQpnvgsJVI pic.twitter.com/bjQTfY9Agz

— Subbed In (@subbedin) January 6, 2021

This is BS - The NSW govt allowed 9,500 people to sit in close proximity at the SCG to watch cricket, but will only allow 500 people to attend an outdoor Invasion Day protest?!?!

Your double standards are appalling! 😡 #nswpol #changethedate https://t.co/6QRQ6MeUP4

— Stephen #ChangeTheDate 🖤💛❤️ (@TheAviator1992) January 24, 2021


Business leaders are hoping the announcement of the approval of the first vaccine will lift confidence and help fuel the country’s economic recovery from recession.

AAP has the story:

The federal government announced on Monday the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, with the start of vaccination program due late February.

The vaccine announcement came one year to the day after Australia recorded its first coronavirus infection.

“It’s an encouraging development,” the Commonwealth Securities chief economist, Craig James, said.

“It’s just adding to the positivity down under.”

Australia is already enjoying a marked turnaround from its first recession in almost 30 years that was brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Recent figures show 90% of the jobs lost when the labour market collapsed between March and May last year, when the pandemic struck, have now been recovered.

Home building is also booming, retail spending is on a rising trend and international trade of goods remains buoyant.

The vaccine approval helped to lift Australian shares at the start of the week, despite US shares coming off the boil on Friday.

“While ever the good news continues, what we’ll see is investors pricing in the fact [that] company earnings will be rebounding and, overall, companies will be getting back to more normal levels of operation,” James said.

The Australian Industry Group chief executive, Innes Willox, says industry will be closely watching the vaccine rollout and hoping that it can provide real confidence to propel the economic recovery.

“The approval is a positive step on what will be a long process to bring Covid-19 under control,” Willox said.

The Business Council of Australia executive director, Jess Wilson, agreed the vaccine will be a crucial part of the recovery.

“But it won’t be an instant solution,” she said.

“We can’t control the global pandemic, but as the vaccine is rolled out, we must ensure we have a nationally consistent plan to live alongside the virus.”

Wilson said there must be a risk-based approach to managing restrictions that keep people safe while protecting jobs.

“Knee-jerk restrictions and disproportionate and inconsistent reactions are confusing and confidence sapping,” she said.


The National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service has called on the prime minister to meet on 26 January with families whose loved ones have died in custody.

In a statement, the Natsils co-chair, Priscilla Atkins, urged the prime minister to implement the recommendations from royal commission into Aboriginal deaths in custody.

This Invasion Day, we urge the prime minister to stop failing our people, to meet and work with the families left behind and our Aboriginal organisations to stop our people dying in custody. This starts with implementing the recommendations of the royal commission – it has been 30 years without justice or accountability. Until Black Lives Matter, until our people no longer die in custody at horrific rates, until we raise the age of criminal responsibility to at least 14 years – 26 January is not a date to celebrate.


A truck carrying toilet paper has burst into flames, causing traffic chaos on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway.

It is still unclear what caused the fire, but firefighters are on the scene, attempting to bring the fire under control.

The massive fire sent huge plumes of black smoke billowing across the highway and surrounding suburbs, and caused the freeway to be shut in both directions.

The truck exploding into flames on the Eastern Freeway, Melbourne near the Elgar Rd exit. I saw this while passing by and hope no one is hurt. The fire is now out but traffic is banked up on the city-bound lane. A terrible incident on a 40c day. #truckOnFireMelbourneFreeway pic.twitter.com/tj5MANXAQh

— John L. Lee (@TimelLee) January 25, 2021

No injuries are being reported, and an advice message has been issued to local residents to be aware of the situation and to monitor conditions, as smoke continues to billow from the scene.

The Bureau of Meteorology has said the heatwave is over in Melbourne and is easing in South Australia, with rain and thunderstorms expected later this evening.

Dean Narramore, a senior meteorologist at the BoM, warned that the focus will shift to New South Wales tomorrow, with temperatures forecast to get near 40C in Western Sydney, with the city expecting to reach 35C.

But by tomorrow night the cool change will have moved across all of south-eastern Australia and temperatures will return to near seasonal averages for the rest of the week.


The Nationals have shrugged off news that Australia will sign up to two international climate resilience initiatives – despite the fact they accept the need to integrate climate risk into investment decision-making through pricing risk.

The resources minister, Keith Pitt, told Guardian Australia: “I support measures that result in investment in new dams, water infrastructure, improved bushfire and cyclone resilience. These type of investments will boost national resilience, particularly in regional areas and have been needed for a long period of time.”

The former resources minister and now backbench senator Matt Canavan had no comment, despite his long record of criticism of banks that refuse to lend to coalmines, exactly the sort of investment decisions these frameworks encourage.


I want to return to a discussion from earlier today on an ABC article listing events happening during Australia Day/Invasion Day.

It appears the headline that caused the furore has been changed, with any mention of Invasion Day removed.

the ABC has changed its Invasion Day article

Left: a screenshot I took at 8.51am
Right: how it looks now (with “updated 1h ago”)

headline + intro changed

ABC confirms to me their policy “is to use the term Australia Day... We have changed a headline to reflect this” pic.twitter.com/XkW2OhbJ7v

— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) January 25, 2021

The article, which again was just listing the events happening around the country, sparked a backlash from the communications minister, Paul Fletcher, and Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon.


New South Wales police have said they are planning a “significant operation” to ensure Australia Day is celebrated “safely”.

The NSW police assistant commissioner, Michael Willing, warned organisers of planned Invasion Day protests that public health orders limited protests to 500 people.

You cannot be part of a public gathering, even if it is protesting, with over 500 people.

Police will be out in force, we will be enforcing public health orders. Again, we will be firm and fair. I am asking people, do not come in and be part of the public gathering. Find another way to express your views and your opinions.

I know, and we’re all aware, that is a sensitive issues and they are important to a lot of people are. But we’re still in the middle a global pandemic, and we are asking people to abide by those health orders.


Sticking with Victoria for a moment, the state has announced that its changes to the “traffic light” travel permit zones in New South Wales and Queensland have now come into effect.

Only the Cumberland LGA in Sydney remans a “red zone”, meaning you cannot travel to Victoria if you have been in Cumberland in the past 14 days.

Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains are “orange zones”, meaning travellers will have to self-isolate, get tested within 72 hours of arrival and remain in quarantine until they receive a negative result.

Greater Brisbane and regional NSW, excluding Wollongong and the Blue Mountains, have changed from an “orange zone” to a “green zone”, allowing people to travel freely.

Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, also announced small changes to Covid restrictions, with the cap on gatherings now rising to 30 people.

Masks are also now only mandatory in shopping centres and retail, on public transport or in taxis, on domestic flights, in airports and in hospitals and care facilities.


Some good news for Melbournians currently sweating through a heatwave: the Bureau of Meteorology has tweeted that the expected cool change has arrived sooner than forecasted:

Your prayers have been answered, #Melbourne! The cool change has sped up, and is now expected through the city within the next hour. The temperature dropped 10°C in an hour as the front moved through #Avalon around midday. Track it on radar: https://t.co/tVma5zqrBh #MelbWeather pic.twitter.com/YvNQJ1FxNF

— Bureau of Meteorology, Victoria (@BOM_Vic) January 25, 2021

The temperature in the city dropped 10C in only an hour, with some showers expected later this afternoon.


Thanks Calla, another stellar job guiding us through a hectic day of news.

I’ll be guiding you through the rest of the day’s news, and there’s much to cover, so let’s dive in.

On that note, I’ll hand over to Mostafa Rachwani, who will take you through the afternoon.

I’ll see you again in the morning.


Lunchtime summary

Let’s just take stock of what has happened so far this morning.


Dowling was asked whether a man charged by police with starting another bushfire at Clarendon yesterday was a current or former Country Fire Service volunteer.

That fire was swiftly extinguished by members of the public.

She said:

I know that he is definitely not a current volunteer and we’ll have to look into our history books to see whether he was there.

Clarendon is just shy of 10km south of Cherry Gardens in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

Reporters asked Dowling if she was concerned about the possibility of someone lighting fires in this area.

She said it was “very concerning”.

And from an emergency services’ viewpoint, it’s ... you know, a bigger concern why we got crews out fighting fires where there could be someone lighting them up behind you, putting our firefighters at risk and putting ourselves in danger. Hopefully, SA police have caught the person that has lit some fires, and if not, we’ll make sure that we’ve got appropriate investigations in place.

Authorities do not yet know how the Cherry Gardens fire started. Dowling said:

Fire cause investigators are up there today. So there’s a team of CFS and SA police doing that. As soon as we know that cause, we’ll make sure that we know that information.


Up to 11 structures damaged or destroyed in Adelaide Hills fire

The South Australian premier, Steven Marshall, and the Country Fire Service incident controller for the Cherry Gardens fire, Yvette Dowling, are giving an update in Adelaide.

Dowling said damage assessment teams are still in the field, but added:

We do believe that there’s two houses were – we are not sure whether they’re damaged or destroyed at this point. And a couple of sheds. But we do believe that there could be up to 11 structures of some sort, but we’re not sure if they were domestic dwellings or outbuildings at this stage.

Dowling said the Cherry Gardens fire is still burning out of control, with erratic fire behaviour particularly in the north-east corner, in the Longwood and Mylor areas.

We will, fortunately, get a little bit of rain over the fire ground mid-afternoon today. We should hopefully get somewhere between 5-15mm of rain over the fire ground. That won’t put the fire out, but what it will do is assist the crews on the ground to actually be able to get in there and actually put the fire out.

What we’re hoping, though, is that that rain doesn’t actually make all of the fire tracks slippery and make it dangerous for our crews. So we’ll be assessing that as we go through today.

The fire has burned through 2,500 hectares and has a perimeter of 24km.

Dowling said this area of the Mount Lofty ranges has not burned since Ash Wednesday in 1983.

So the fuel loads were very high. As we know, it’s been very dry here in South Australia. And with the heat yesterday and the high fuel loads, it’s a recipe for disaster.

She said it could have been much worse.

Yesterday, the fire was burning under extreme weather conditions. And I think that that just goes down to the fantastic effort of the CFS crews, farm fire units and emergency services on the ground yesterday, to get in those conditions yesterday. It’s very hard for us to put the fires out, so we’re going back to protecting life and property. And with the damage that’s been shown so far, our crews have done an enormous job doing that.


And while we are in South Australia, that state also recorded no new Covid-19 cases today.


Authorities in South Australia have issued a health alert for bushfire smoke, which is lying in a thick blanket over Adelaide and other parts of the state.

SA Health said the smoke from the Cherry Gardens fire may pose a health risk to people with chest or heart conditions, and could pose a “serious threat” to the health of vulnerable people, particularly people with chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

View from PHQ. Thick smoke from the #CherryGardens bushfire is blanketing the #Adelaide metro area. Ensure all windows/doors remain closed and take care if needing to drive as there is reduced visibility. @CFSAlerts @SAHealth Stay safe out there. pic.twitter.com/ghPDMdMtHq

— South Australia Police (@SAPoliceNews) January 24, 2021

The deputy chief public health officer Dr Emily Kirkpatrick said:

We are urging people to stay indoors where possible, avoid physical exercise outdoors and reduce their exposure to smoky air.

People should keep windows and doors shut, and ventilate the house once the smoke clears.

If possible, avoid running evaporative air conditions, which draw in external air. Switch your car air conditioning to recirculate.


The Australian Capital Territory has again recorded no new cases of Covid-19 and has no active cases.

Queensland records no new local Covid cases, two in hotel quarantine

Queensland has acquired no new locally acquired cases of Covid-19, and two in hotel quarantine.

Monday 25 January – coronavirus cases in Queensland:

• 0 new locally acquired cases
• 2 overseas acquired cases
• 15 active cases
• 1,305 total cases
• 1,729,704 tests conducted

Sadly, six Queenslanders with COVID-19 have died. 1,278 patients have recovered.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/0e9vBNbTKU

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) January 24, 2021


The Melbourne Invasion Day Committee has released a statement about tomorrow’s protest. This is via Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman Meriki Onus, who shared the statement on twitter.

It reads:

This Invasion Day, we are marching to Abolish Australia Day and its continued celebration. This year marks the 83rd anniversary of the Day of Mourning protest, a legacy we will continue until we have attained our rights and achieved justice for our people. We march to fight against everything so-called ‘Australia Day’ represents: white nationalism and the ongoing colonial project, which destroys Aboriginal lands and waters and murders Aboriginal people and our kin.

There is nothing to celebrate on Australian Day. Aboriginal communities continue to be oppressed, policed, discriminated against and disenfranchised. Australian nationalism – a project reinforced during the Howard years yet continued by governments since – is nothing more than white supremacy, ignorance and racism. The 26th of January represents the first day of invasion on this continent and subsequent dispossession from our land and our kinship. This is still happening today.

And continues:

We demand the state abolish Australia Day, a day which celebrates murder and violence enacted upon our people. We demand our lands and waterways be repatriated and given back to its rightful owners and protectors. 10/16

— land back © (@MerikiKO) January 25, 2021

The statement then lists the Covid-safe instructions for the protest: all participants must be masked and carry and frequently use hand sanitiser; and participants must organise in groups of no more than 100 which remain at least 10 metres apart from other groups. There will be marshals on the ground to enforce this, and all participants have been told to obey the marshals.

You can read the full statement here.


The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service has put its support behind people attending Invasion Day protests in Victoria tomorrow, and has provided advice for anyone confronted by police.

In a statement, VALS said exercising the right to protest on Invasion Day was a “reasonable action in response to the systemic racism and injustices Aboriginal people have been subjected to every day since this land’s violent colonisation”.

It continued:

Victoria police must not misuse Covid-19 health measures to impede the right to protest. Health experts have stated that the risk of community transmission of Covid-19 is currently low, but that people attending a protest should take precautions.

VALS CEO Nerita Waight said:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been disproportionately impacted by the policing responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. It needs to stop, and police must allow peaceful protests to proceed.

VALS encourages everyone participating in Invasion Day protests to be aware of the Covid-19 restrictions and your rights and seek legal assistance as soon as possible if you are arrested.

VALS said anyone who is fined or arrested at the protest should call them on 1800 064 865, and urged people to save the number for a legal service in their phone before attending the virus.

It recommended people read up on their rights at protests here.


Australian exports down 7% in 2020

Australian exports in 2020 were 7% lower overall than the previous year, latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

But Australian exporters had a particularly strong December, sending nearly $35bn of goods abroad last month. That figure is up 16% from the previous month, or up a more modest 3% when compared with December 2019.

A large part of the monthly jump is from iron ore exports, with increases in both the quantity and the price.

Despite the ongoing trade tensions, total Australian exports to China in December increased by $2.3bn (21%) compared with the previous month. Iron ore exports to China accounted for nearly $2bn of that increase.

“On average, China paid 9% more per tonne in December for Australian iron ore than in November,” the ABS said in a statement.

“Exports of wheat to China reached $250m, after nil exports since August 2020. This represented one third of the total wheat exported from Australia in December and 88% of the total cereal exports to China and is the largest monthly wheat export on record to any single destination country.”


Police in NSW gave a press conference a short time ago, and urged people not to attend the Invasion Day protest.

I’ll bring you this officer’s name once I find it. But here are his comments:

Of course, we’re well aware of a public gathering that’s planned for tomorrow in the Domain. I need to remind people that protests are capped at 500 people. You cannot be part of a public gathering for the purpose of protesting [of] more than 500 people. We know that people are talking about larger numbers than that. Police will be out in force, we will be enforcing the public health orders. Again, we’ll be firm and fair and I’m asking people – do not come in and be part of that public gathering.

Find another way to express your views and your opinions. I know we are all aware that these are sensitive issues and they’re very important issues to a lot of people, but we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and we’re asking people to abide by those health orders.


A weather update: Melbourne continues hot.

I am outside rn, this is what it looks like pic.twitter.com/bGjpEH8v7o

— Joshua Badge (@joshuabadge) January 25, 2021

New Zealand case identified as the South African variant of the virus

A community case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in New Zealand, with genome sequencing identifying it as the South African variant of the virus.

Investigators think the 56-year-old woman contracted the infection from a fellow guest at the Pullman hotel, where she was undergoing government-managed isolation.

Over three dozen guests at the Pullman in central Auckland are being held longer in their rooms while the source of the newly confirmed local infection is investigated. Nearly all 200 hotel staff have been tested.

Although health authorities suspect the virus was contracted directly – meaning person-to-person contact – they have not ruled out airborne or surface contact.

Hundreds of people have been lining up all day for tests in Whangarei, Northland and Auckland. Test results for these people will be known tomorrow. The director general also said many people who had no symptoms or contact with the infected woman have been lining up for tests – and he asked them to go home so close contacts could be prioritised.

The Covid-19 response minister said news was circulating on social media of an impending lockdown. He said this was “fake news” and “not true at all”.


Australia’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom, George Brandis, has been criticised for returning to Australia over the Christmas break and spending a month off in Queensland, while thousands of other Australians remain stranded overseas.

AAP reports:

Other ambassadors and high commissioners stationed across the globe are also believed to have returned.

His holiday has been criticised by some of the almost 40,000 Australians still stuck overseas who are struggling to get home because of quarantine caps and limited seats on flights.

Australian doctor Phoebe Mackenzie, who travelled to the UK for specialist training, had her flight home cancelled.

“I don’t begrudge the man a holiday, everyone is entitled to have some annual leave, but the way this has been handled is really just horribly insensitive,” she told the Seven Network on Monday.

“When, miraculously, quarantine facilities are being found to house politicians and tennis players, the whole thing just stinks of hypocrisy.”

Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon questioned why Mr Brandis was able to return while many others could not.

“I’m not so critical of George, I’m critical of the system which keeps giving us these inconsistencies,” he said.

“People can’t see their loved ones that may be dying but George is fairly able to frolic back into the country. Common sense has to prevail here.”

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, was asked about this at his press conference earlier today. He said:

First of all, I’ll give you the facts. He came back for meetings here in Australia, like many other heads of mission. He did not take the place of any other Australian. He got on the same plane that anyone else would. He spent two weeks here quarantining before he engaged in those meetings. He actually had a meeting with me when he was back, which is the case for most of the heads of missions of our senior posts around the country, as well as with the officials and DFAT and other ministers. He’s an Australian and he spent some time with his family in his home state while he was here. They’re the facts. That’s what happened.


The communications minister, Paul Fletcher, has responded to a Reset Australia proposal to force tech giants to publish “live lists” of the most viral Covid-19 content in order to surface (and refute) misinformation.

A spokesman for Fletcher left the door open down the line but said the government wants to see how its voluntary code of conduct on misinformation works first – which means the proposal will not be in place for the start of the vaccination rollout.

He told Guardian Australia:

During Covid-19, we’ve seen firsthand the harm misinformation can cause as it spreads rapidly online. It can create public confusion and is particularly harmful to those most vulnerable in our community.

Following the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s digital platforms inquiry, the government tasked the Australian Communications and Media Authority with overseeing the development of the voluntary code, and expects an industry-wide code to be in place early this year.

Acma will report to government on the adequacy of the platforms’ measures and the broader impacts of misinformation, with the first such report due no later than June 2021.

Should the actions and responses of the platforms be found to not sufficiently respond to the concerns identified by the ACCC, the government will consider the need for further measures.


Let’s go back to Anthony Albanese, who was speaking in Canberra earlier.

He was asked about the ABC’s use of “Australia Day/Invasion Day” in a headline about a list of events on tomorrow (again, I cannot believe this is what we’re having a national debate about, a headline on a list of public holiday events). The communications minister, Paul Fletcher, issued a statement this morning to say the ABC was “clearly wrong” to use Invasion Day in a headline.

Albanese said:

I’ll leave those matters for the ABC. I’ll be here participating in the Australia Day commemorations tomorrow. Can I say this, though, about Australia Day – what we need to do is to make sure that when we look at our nation, we look at ways in which we unite. We look at ways in which we’re able to move forward.

Albanese said he had previously suggested that a new national day could be made on the day that Australia votes for constitutional recognition of First Nations people. That itself is a fraught issue, not universally supported by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but we’ll assume he is talking about a form of recognition that has achieved majority support.

He continued:

Indeed, you could have a recognition that history certainly didn’t begin in this country in 1788 with the arrival of the 11 – count it – 11 ships in the first fleet.

I think that would be a way in which we acknowledge history going backwards. I think we need a constructive discussion and I think – I don’t want to add to anything that further divides. It’s clear we need a mature discussion going forward because I perfectly understand that for First Nations people, that’s a painful day. That, we need to acknowledge.

He then said there should be acknowledgement of the impact of colonisation and the frontier wars. He said that he understood Stan Grant was writing on this issue now, and I’ll just add that there is a huge amount of Indigenous scholarship on it already – IndigenousX is a good place to start.

Albanese continues:

We’re diminished as a nation while we don’t recognition First Nations people in our constitution. I have been very disappointed there hasn’t been an advance in the first discussion I had with the prime minister in his office when the parliament resumed and I became Labor leader. We discussed advancing those issues.

I strongly support the Uluru statement. I think it’s a very generous statement. It’s – it’s a request, it’s a polite request, from First Nations people after considerable consultation to engage with them, and a voice to the parliament on issues that affect First Nations people is to, my mind, just common sense and enshrining that in the constitution reflects the capacity of the parliament and the Australian people to show faith that that process won’t be discontinued due to a change in government, as happened in the past with Atsic, for example. So I think these issues are important going forward.

Whatever the response is, he said it should be “generous and I think they should be warm-hearted in the same spirit as the Uluru statement from the heart”.

And I think that stands in stark contrast to the contribution of Andrew Laming that I got to say is entirely unworthy of a member of our Australian parliament.

Andrew Laming, if you missed it, posted on his official Facebook page: “Deny it’s Australia Day. That’ll help petrol sniffing and school attendance in remote Australia. #MorePracticalLessSymbolism”.


NSW records no new local Covid-19 cases and three in hotel quarantine

New South Wales has recorded no new locally acquired cases of Covid-19.

There were three cases reported in hotel quarantine.

Just 8,689 tests were conducted in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, down from 11,344 yesterday. That’s well below target.

NSW Health said:

Low testing numbers remain a concern. We are strongly urging people across the state to come forward for testing with even the mildest of symptoms.

High testing rates are essential to give us confidence that no cases are going undetected in the community.

Anyone who arrived in NSW from New Zealand between 14 and 24 January has been asked to check the New Zealand government’s list of places of concern, to see if they may have been to an exposure site and to follow the NZ government’s advice.

People who have recently travelled from NSW have also been told to be on alert for even the mildest symptoms and to get a test – free even for non-Australians – if symptoms develop.


Some good news: the emergency warning for the Cherry Gardens fire in the Adelaide Hills has been downgraded to a watch and act.

#Bushfire Watch and Act for #CHERRY_GARDENS,_HICKS_HILL_ROAD #fire. Take action now as this bushfire may threaten your safety. If you are not prepared, leave now and if the path is clear, go to a safer place. #WAM ID=0005369 #SAFires https://t.co/ZcYK3e1GI9 pic.twitter.com/QTlSg3KGHL

— Country Fire Service (@CFSAlerts) January 24, 2021

There will be a community meeting at Echunga at 11am.


— Country Fire Service (@CFSAlerts) January 24, 2021


Albanese was also asked about Scott Morrison’s response to his suggestion that the government bring in former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard to help reset the Australia-China relationship.

Morrison said earlier this morning that he spoke to Howard about the issue regularly and had also spoken to Rudd about it.

Should it go further than that?

Albanese says:

I wrote to the prime minister last week suggesting that he engage with former prime ministers Rudd and Howard – both of whom have significant relationships with China, and, as well, of course, Kevin Rudd has significant relationships with the incoming Biden administration as well.

It’s very clear that when Australian jobs in industries as diverse as wine, education, the timber industry, coal and other exports are under threat because of what has occurred with the breakdown in the relationship.

And China’s actions, to be clear – it is China that is to blame for breaking down that relationship. But you need to find a way through, and I think that it is very sensible to engage former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard. That is suggestions that have come to me from senior people in the business community, as well as people in the union movement who have been worried about jobs.


To other questions. Was Albanese frustrated by Bill Shorten’s speech yesterday?

Albanese said:

Not at all. Bill Shorten launched a book. Labor party people write books. Labor party people launch books. We’re the party of ideas.


Albanese criticises government over vaccine rollout

The opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, is giving a press conference, criticising the federal government for saying that the target of the first 4m doses would now not be met until April, not in March as previously promised.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said earlier that the target would take longer to reach because of demands for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured offshore.

We said consistently that once the TGA approval occurred, the vaccines should be rolled out as soon as possible. We were told it would be late March. Then it was early March. Then it was some time in February. But the prime minister has also committed to four million people being vaccinated by the end of March. We’ll be holding him to account on that, because it appears that that is going the way of the commitment that all Australians who were stranded overseas would be home by Christmas. This government consistently doesn’t deliver on what it says it will do.

If the Morrison government had secured the Pfizer deal before other countries had secured 1bn doses of their own, maybe the government would have more than one in five Australians being looked after by this vaccine.

A reporter asks whether it is reasonable given the global supply shocks that have been seen that there might be some delays in Australia’s rollout. Keeping in mind that Australia currently has no community transmission, so the need is less urgent here than in other nations.

Albanese said:

Well, I didn’t put words into the prime minister’s mouth. He chose to say that 4m doses would occur before March. It is relevant, not just for me to hold the prime minister to account for what he says, but without telling the fourth estate how to do your job – it’s up to you, also, to hold him to account for what he says.


Dowling says 300 firefighters and 50 appliances, fire trucks and smaller vehicles, were at the Cherry Gardens fire overnight. Today that has increased to 400 firefighters and 60 appliances.

They also have bulldozers coming in to help build control lines, and Dowling says there are also some farmers with their own firefighting vehicles on the frontlines.

She says the fire is expected to burn for several days.

The area that the fire is burning in hasn’t had a fire through for a very long time. So the vegetation is really thick. And there’s lots of tall timber. Some of that is going to smoulder for a long time, so we’ll be looking at crewing this fire ground at least for the next week and depending on what the weather is doing, it may have to go longer than that.

Dowling says weather conditions will be variable throughout the day, but by mid-afternoon the wind should swing to a southerly.


Two houses destroyed or damaged in Adelaide Hills fire

Dowling says two houses have been reported as destroyed or damaged in the fire already, and that number is likely to grow.

She tells the ABC:

At the moment, our assessment teams are in there today, but we’ve been advised that there’s two houses. We’re not sure whether they’re destroyed or damaged, and there is two sheds. But we do anticipate today that we will be reporting more than that which has been damaged, but we don’t have that until later on today.

The reports of damage are worse around the Mount Bold area, she says.


The SA Country Fire Service duty commander, Yvette Dowling, is talking on the ABC about the fire in the Adelaide Hills, where an emergency warning remains in place.

She says the wind is swinging around, causing changeable, erratic conditions.

At the moment, we have very erratic fire behaviour in the north-eastern section of the fire, which is near the Longwood and Mylor area. We have concerns in that area and as you mentioned, we do have an emergency warning message out for that section of the fire.

Dowling says that for people in communities under an emergency warning – that’s Coromandel East, Cherry Gardens, Scott Creek, Kangarilla, Mount Bold, Jupiter Creek, Chapel Hill and Bradbury in the Mount Lofty Ranges – it may be too late to leave.

The wind is swinging around today, and it will continue to do that throughout the day. So we just need everyone to be mindful, to make sure that they’re keeping up to date with the messaging because the wind will change several times throughout the day. And also, we just want to remind people to try to stay off the roads. It’s quite dangerous out there with the amount of smoke and with the emergency services. There’s lots of them around the place.


That’s it from Canberra for now. Let’s quickly go through what we missed while that press conference was going on.

Firstly, the ABC is reporting that the Country Fire Service in South Australia says some houses may have been lost in the Adelaide Hills bushfire.

The emergency warning for the Cherry Gardens fire was updated about 40 minutes ago, to include the communities of Coromandel East, Cherry Gardens, Scott Creek, Kangarilla, Mount Bold, Jupiter Creek, Chapel Hill, Bradbury in the Mount Lofty Ranges.

The alert reads:

Homes that have been built to withstand a bushfire, and are prepared to the highest level, may provide safety.

You may lose power, water, phone and data connections.

Fire crews are responding but you should not expect a firefighter at your door.

Morrison also commented on suggestions that Australia should create purpose-built quarantine facilities which would operate like Howard Springs in the Northern Territory to accomodate returning Australians and international travellers.

He said that he discussed the possibility of a quarantine facility for “a bit of a supplementary capacity” with the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, on Friday, “but that only relates to an overflow capacity around charter flights”.

We looked at the issue of broader expansion of facilities like Howard Springs earlier in the year. I mean, if you want to get at least 5,000 people into Australia a week, which is what we had been achieving, then the idea that you can build some sort of national set of camps that can accommodate that – well, that’s not a practical way to achieve it.

The advice was, and I think it was right, and it was agreed to by the states and territories, that the best and most effective and safest way to do that is to take advantage of the accommodation capacity that sits through the hotel quarantine system that has been used. And that was the advice and the other options were considered.

I mean, if people are suggesting that we rebuild all the detention facilities that were built under the previous government in relation to the border crisis – well, we all know how much that cost, and we all know how that worked. So this has been a very effective way, and successful way of doing it. I mean, almost 80,000 Australians have come home since mid-September. And that’s been done very effectively by the states and territories.

Of course, there have been some instances where quarantine hasn’t been perfect, but to expect perfection on that, I think in a global pandemic, is unrealistic.

The Howard Springs quarantine facility in Darwin.
The Howard Springs quarantine facility in Darwin. Photograph: Glenn Campbell/EPA


Morrison was asked if he was surprised by the results of an Ipsos poll conducted for the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald that found that “only 28% of 1,222 people surveyed nationally were in favour of shifting the date, while 48% were opposed and a further quarter neither agreed or disagreed”.

He said:

No, I’m not surprised. No, I’m not surprised.


To other questions. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, was asked earlier if he supported a proposal from the opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, to get former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard involved in resetting the Australia-China relationship.

Morrison said:

The Australia-China relationship is important to Australia. The China-Australia relationship is important to China. And we will, of course, remain absolutely open and available to meet, to discuss, any of the issues that have been identified.

But those discussions, as I’ve made clear, won’t take place on the base of any sort of pre-emptive concessions on Australia’s part on those matters. I don’t think that any Australian would want their prime minister to be conceding the points that they’ve set out.

Our position on that is very clear, it’s very honest, it’s very transparent. But, of course, we value the trading and more broader comprehensive relationship, and we will be taking up whatever opportunities we believe is going to best position Australia to be in a position to advance that relationship. Now, this is a matter that the former prime minister Howard and I have discussed on many occasions. As you know, I speak to him pretty regularly about these and many other things. It’s a topic that some time ago, and even more recently, I was connecting with prime minister Rudd about these matters. I’m always open to those who are experienced in these areas and both of those former prime ministers are experienced in those areas.

But how this is done – we will continue to do that in the ways we will doing. It’s an important relationship, but it is a relationship that will be pursued on the basis of Australia’s national interests, and without, in any way, compromising Australia’s sovereignty.


Morrison said that the vaccine rollout does not mean that people can abandon Covid-safe practices like wearing masks and social distancing.

This year 2021, it will require us to continue to be vigilant, it will continue to require us to be engaging with all sorts of Covid-19 arrangements that can further mitigate the risk of transmission and keeping Australians safe, keeping livelihoods – keeping Australia as open as possible.

There are limitations to these vaccines. There is more to learn about these vaccines. In many cases, as I have been advised, there are positions where there is not enough evidence to say definitively it does X but that doesn’t mean it won’t ... So it is important to understand that once the vaccine starts, that doesn’t mean you can jump on a plane to Bali the next day. It doesn’t mean that the masks disappear if that is what the public health arrangements are in a particular state or territory, or the quarantine arrangements for return into Australia will end or anything like this.

Prof Brendan Murphy said the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines had, in phase three trials, been shown to be “very good at preventing clinical Covid disease and particularly severe disease”.

But he said that there is not yet enough data about how long vaccines would last, how effective they would be at stopping milder cases, and other questions which will require several months of real world data.

We think they will be effective. The other thing we don’t know is how long the immunity of these vaccines will last. It may be that people will need additional doses of vaccines, possibly annually. These things are completely unknown at the moment.

So hotel quarantine for people coming into Australia will be in place for at least another year?

Morrison says it is too early to say.

That may or may not be true, it is just not in a position to be able to say that. I don’t think we should leap to any conclusion about what things look like six months or nine months from now, just like this time last year, people were making predictions this time last year and in the months that followed, and they proved to be horribly wrong.

A sign at Bondi Beach yesterday.
A sign at Bondi Beach yesterday. Photograph: Richard Milnes/REX/Shutterstock


Can pregnant women take the Pfizer vaccine?

Murphy says:

There is no data. Theoretically the risk of this vaccine, Pfizer or AstraZeneca, on pregnancy is probably very low. I note that the US and UK have different recommendations about pregnancy. We will be getting advice from [the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] and it is advice that is just going to be based on the best guess of what the risks are at the moment and that is coming very shortly, before the vaccine is administered.

What about very elderly people, following the deaths of some people in Norway?

The TGA advice – and we have been concerned about this – for the very elderly and frail, that will need a very careful clinical decision. That is something that would need to be, where the risks versus the benefits of vaccination need to be carefully considered. The vaccine is registered for all ages over 16 but there will be specific advice that ATARGI will produce around particularly people who are very frail and close to end of life which is the group that had the issues in Norway.


So, is Australia trying to sign a contract with Moderna?

Murphy says:

We are continuing to evaluate and are in discussions with all of the major companies. Those discussions are commercial in confidence. We are continuing discussions with all major vaccine companies.

A reporter asked whether the Australian government was also negotiating to procure doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Prof Brendan Murphy said the medical advice at the moment is no, because the Moderna vaccine is substantially similar to the Pfizer vaccine.

We have the Novavax vaccine still and we have whole population coverage of Novavax. We haven’t seen phase three trial date for Novavax yet. That may well be as good as the other vaccines that we have got.

We are also looking at our mix of the MRNA vaccines and the Moderna vaccine is very similar to the Pfizer vaccine. There is not much difference between the two. We are looking at the MRNA vaccine profile and the protein vaccine profile all the time and this panel, which is comprised people with deep expertise from the pharmaceutical industry and the medical and scientific industry feels our profile at the moment is the right one for us.

We will re-evaluate and make advice to government and every piece of advice that that expert panel has given to government has been accepted.

A healthcare worker draws a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from a vial.
A healthcare worker draws a dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine from a vial in the US. Photograph: Lindsey Wasson/Reuters


Let’s clarify what Greg Hunt said earlier when he said we should be “more conservative” about the figure of delivering 80,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from late February.

He clarified that the 80,000 doses was the conservative figure.

It could actually be higher but we will presume 80,000 doses per week is the initial distribution and then, as I have said, Pfizer is around the world – and I think this is understandable, looking at all of their available production and then they will provide guidance in mid-February for March and beyond on a weekly basis.

The first shipment will be 80,000 doses, he says.

Then, as we have indicated, later on we will have AstraZeneca international from early March is the current guidance and then AstraZeneca domestic at the volume of approximately a million a week on the latest advice that we had over the weekend.


AstraZeneca 'supply shock' means Australia will get fewer doses in March, Hunt says

Morrison and Hunt said that demand for the AstraZeneca vaccine meant that Australia would get fewer doses in March than previously promised.

That means the target of reaching 4m doses administered by the end of March will now probably not be met until April, Morrison said.

Hunt added:

I think we are on track for the February commencement, the October completion, slightly earlier start for the AstraZeneca international than we would imagine, slightly earlier start for the CSL production domestically than we had imagined.

The one variable here is AstraZeneca globally advised us yesterday that, as we have seen, they have had a significant supply shock and so that means we won’t have as much of that AstraZeneca international in March as they had previously promised, which is precisely why I maintain that the two most important decisions are the 1st of February China decision and the [decision to manufacture] AstraZeneca onshore.

That means that April will be the period where we complete the four million. Start, the commencement are all on track. Slightly earlier commencement for AstraZeneca international and slightly earlier commencement for AstraZeneca CSL domestic.


Another reporter asked if the Australian government had confirmed what percentage of the vaccine doses Australia has secured would potentially go to Pacific nations or Indonesia, given that Australia has contractual arrangements to secure enough doses to vaccinate the population three times over.

Morrison said the foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, has begun working with Pacific Islands nations about sharing those excess doses, “and the first step of that is to prepare them to be able to administer the vaccine”.

So there is a fair bit of work going in aid support to ensure that they are in a capacity to actually deliver the vaccine. We are going through the rollout timetables and programs with them now. They don’t start the same time as we do here. The first thing we need to do is ensure that they are equipped to be able to administer the vaccine across their population. That is the first step and I have had some fantastic messages back from our Pacific family leaders over the course of the last week. Those calls have been well received. The Pacific leaders are appreciative of the proactive role that Australia has taken to ensure that they will be in a position to administer that vaccine.


First question: a reporter asked if Australia was impacted by Pfizer’s production delays in Europe, when previously it had been suggested that Australia would get vaccines manufactured in the US.

Scott Morrison said:

Firstly, no Australian vaccines – ie vaccines destined for Australia – have been diverted anywhere else. Let me be clear about that. There are challenges for all the big producers around the world for the reasons that I said before.

Greg Hunt provided more information, saying the timing for the Australian rollout was always mid to late February.

We had the shipping dates provided last night.

I note that – I think it is actually valuable to bring everybody into the confidence of the discussions with Pfizer. They have had to pause some of their supply to major nations and that has had an impact on some of their programs. For us we are commencing in exactly the window. We had not put a specific date – and on multiple occasions to questions to many of you here, we have indicated that the date that we would have would be dependent on approval and then on shipping times. Those shipping times were provided last night, which means we are in a position to commence in late February and our guidance has always been for a window.

I would say that has undoubtedly been influenced by Pfizer’s global capacity and the fact that we are within our window is indicative of a very strong contract and a very strong position.They reaffirmed to us that they are on track to complete all of their contractual contracts, timeframes and obligations.

Second thing is on the selection and purchase of vaccines, we are guided by the medical expert panel. This is one where you would absolutely want the Australian Technical Advisory Groupon Immunisation, led by Prof Cheng and the scientific and industry technical advisory group, led by Prof Murphy, to be the ones making the selection of vaccines. It is an entirely medical choice and we have followed their guidance and if they recommend more of any particular vaccine, then we will secure it and we are in a position to be able to to do that.


Brendan Murphy said:

The preparation that is going on for this vaccination journey is huge. We intend to get it right. We have got major logistics issues vaccinating 26 million people. We are working closely with our partners in the states and territories, we are doing very careful planning about starting up those clinics so we can get going first with the border workers, the quarantine workers, the healthcare workers at risk of Covid and the elderly and people in disability care and their staff.

We are ready to go. We are planning very exciting and very exciting that we have not had to do this in an emergency way because we have a crisis to deal with. We can do this in our normal safe Australian way.

Secretary of the department of health Brendan Murphy.
Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Morrison, Hunt and the federal health secretary, Prof Brendan Murphy, all thanked the health professionals who have worked to get the vaccine approved.


Hunt said that onshore vaccine manufacturing capability was one of the most important decisions taken in Australia since the pandemic began.

If you asked me for the two most important decisions of the whole pandemic, one, the 1st of February last year, the advice that Prof Murphy gave to the prime minister and myself and then the national security committee that we should close the border with China.

Secondly, the decision to pay a premium for an onshore, secure, sovereign vaccine manufacturing capacity via CSL. That puts Australia in a vastly more secure position than almost any other country in the world. That’s probably, of all the decisions, the one which I reflect upon and that was a difficult, challenging decision at the time and we had to work very hard to have that onshore vaccine manufacturing capability but CSL and AstraZeneca have stepped up.


Hunt said he spoke with the regional and Australian heads of Pfizer last night, and they indicated the first vaccines would be in Australia ready for distribution in late February.

So within the guidance that we previously provided, that is likely to start with approximately 80,000 doses per week, if not more. Let’s be more conservative on that.

Further guidance for March and beyond will be provided across the globe by Pfizer in mid-February. They are making global decisions on those allocations but continuous supply was their goal objective and their anticipation and guidance as of last night.

With regards to AstraZeneca, the international AstraZeneca supplies in Australia are likely to commence slightly earlier than had previously been anticipated. Early in March, and if there is more guidance on that, we will provide it. That is subject to TGA approval and to shipping.

The domestic AstraZeneca production via CSL is likely to see supplies of approximately one million doses per week commencing in late March. That’s an incredibly important part of it.

Both companies have experienced global supply challenges but we are in a fortunate position as a country because of the decisions that have been taken and our ability to focus on safety.

The health minister, Greg Hunt, said the commencement of Australia’s vaccine delivery program “remains on track for February, as the prime minister has said. The completion remains on track for October.”

Hunt noted that the TGA provisional approval for the Pfizer vaccine is for Australians aged 16 years and older.

I think when last we spoke we were anticipating it might be 18 years and older. That is a broader range of population than anticipated. That changes our vaccination strategy, so as those 16 and above will now be included in phase 2(b). This is an example of the evolution of that strategy as the approvals and facts and science are developed.

Minister for health Greg Hunt (right).
Health minister Greg Hunt. Photograph: James Ross/AAP


Morrison said concerns about production delays in other countries is why the Australian government had decided to put in place arrangement with CSL and AstraZeneca to produce that vaccine onshore.

That is happening now. It is under way now. Yes, we paid a premium for it. Yes, we had to put the capabilities in place with CSL to achieve that and, yes, we’re involved more broadly in the development of their production facilities in Melbourne but that was the right decision for Australia because, as much as you can, you want to be able to control as many things as you can in this country when dealing with Covid-19.

That has been our form. That will continue to be our form.


First Pfizer doses to be rolled out in Australia in late February due to production delays

Morrison says Australia is now looking more at late February than mid-February for the first rollout of the Pfizer vaccine, because of production difficulties in Europe.

He also noted that the Therapeutic Goods Administration had granted provisional approval to the Pfizer vaccine, not emergency approval.

This is a formal approval under the ordinary processes of the TGA and we are one of the first countries in the handful of countries to have gone through that comprehensive and thorough process here in Australia to ensure the approval of that vaccine.

On the timing of the rollout, he said:

We are more looking at late February now than mid-February because of the challenges that we have seen in the production and delivery for both AstraZeneca and Pfizer around the world.

You will be aware of the situation and pressures that we are seeing globally. This day last week I was holding a further video conference meeting with a number of the national leaders throughout Europe and also in Israel and they are under considerable strain and stress there, in countries that are experiencing large numbers of fatalities every day and their vaccination programs under extreme stress.

Australia has taken the time, we have been watching and learning from the experience overseas and so we remain within the guardrails of the timeframe that we set a few weeks ago but that will continue to come under challenge for events and circumstances that exist well beyond our shores.


Scott Morrison notes that it has been one year since Australia recorded its first case of Covid-19.

What an extraordinary year it has been over these past 12 months. A year on from that fateful day, Australia, we know, has done better and managed this together, working together better than almost any other country in the world today.

As we look at the terrible situation being experienced in many parts of the world, some quite close to here, some further afield, our thoughts and support is with all the nations of the world, as we seek to get on top of what has been a calamitous event for the world over these last 12 months and indeed longer than that in some cases.

So far, over the course of this summer, despite some very serious threats, working together we have so far been able to avoid and prevent a third wave of Covid-19 here in Australia.

We can take nothing for granted as I said after the national cabinet meeting on Friday but that effort, whether it was in Brisbane, with the strain, the new strain that had been able to get outside the quarantine facilities in Brisbane and being able to move quickly and having been in Brisbane late last week and there as the restrictions started to ease, or having returned to Sydney on the weekend for the first time in about six weeks and to see how people continue to manage with the easing restrictions there and how they have been able to get on top of the outbreak and the outbreak that also occurred in Victoria.

Once again, systems tested, once again, Australians tested, once again, Australia and our systems have passed that test. I have a simple message to Australia, thank you Australia. Thank you that you have put us in a situation that is the envy of most countries in the world today. We intend to keep it that way. We intend to remain vigilant. We intend to continue to set the pace and set the standards by which we can ensure that we keep Australians safe and we save lives and we save livelihoods which have always been our twin goals.

Australian PM Scott Morrison.
Australian PM Scott Morrison. Photograph: Darren England/AAP


Prime minister Scott Morrison begins his press conference

Scott Morrison is speaking now. He starts by saying he spoke to the South Australian premier, Steven Marshall, about the Adelaide Hills bushfire.

Morrison says he offered federal assistance but “none is required at this stage”.


Australia's vaccine rollout to be conducted in five stages

The vaccine rollout in Australia will be conducted in five stages, starting with 30 to 50 hospital sites and moving to 1,000 vaccine clinics across the country.

The first group, phase 1A, includes quarantine and border workers, priority groups among frontline healthcare workers, aged care and disability staff, and aged care and disability workers. That will take up to 1.4m doses.

Phase 1B is adults aged 70 years and over, other healthcare workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 55 years and older, younger people with an underlying medical condition including a disability, and critical and high-risk workers – working in defence, police, fire, emergency services, and meat processing. That cohort will require up to 14.8m people.

Phase 2A is adults aged 50 and up, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples aged 18 to 54, and other critical and high-risk workers. That’s 15.8m doses.

Phase 2B is the rest of the adult population, and a “catch-up” of any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases. Up to 16m doses.

And phase three is people under the age of 16, if recommended. This is a change from earlier vaccine rollout plans, which said it would be people over the age of 18 only. There’s another 13.6m doses earmarked for that.


We’re expecting the prime minister, Scott Morrison, to hold a press conference on this soon.


Scott Morrison said:

I welcome the TGA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, with our own Australian experts finding it is safe, effective and of a high standard.

Australians should take confidence in the thorough and careful approach taken by our world-class safety regulator.

Our priority has always been to keep Australians safe and protect lives and livelihoods. Today’s approval is another big step forward for our community, particularly in the protection of our most vulnerable people.

Hunt said:

The TGA’s processes are I believe the best in the world and we have ensured that they are thorough. The TGA has placed safety above all else.

Morrison and Hunt have perviously said they would get the vaccine live on television, alongside the Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, and the opposition health spokesman, Chris Bowen, to show their confidence in the vaccine.

The statement does note that the rollout of February may not be able to be met, noting that Pfizer has experienced “some temporary production delays from its European manufacturing plant as it ramps up production to meet extraordinary global demand”.

Italy is considering legal action against Pfizer for delays in promised vaccine deliveries.

Morrison and Hunt’s joint statement says:

The government’s latest advice remains that the first doses of Pfizer are expected to arrive and be rolled out in late February. Final dates will be confirmed by Pfizer shortly and are subject to shipping and distribution.


Pfizer vaccine granted provisional approval in Australia

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has granted provisional approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, clearing the way for the rollout to begin in early February.

The provisional approval is for people aged 16 years and older. The vaccine is administered in two doses 21 days apart. The rollout will begin once the vaccine has ben shipped to Australia, which the prime minister, Scott Morrison, previously said would take about two weeks after it was approved.

In a joint statement just how, Morrison and the health minister, Greg Hunt, said:

A priority group of Australians are expected to now receive their first dose of the vaccine as soon as it can be received from Pfizer and the necessary checks are undertaken by the TGA, prior to its distribution.

The latest advice given to the government from Pfizer is that shipping and the first vaccinations are expected to be in late February.

If there are delays in shipping or production, the possibility remains that commencement could be in early March, however guidance remains for late February.

Syringes filled with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus.
Syringes filled with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the coronavirus. Photograph: Márton Mónus/EPA


The communications minister, Paul Fletcher, has taken umbrage with an article on the ABC that provided a list of events happening on 26 January.

The article was headlined: “Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin”.

Now, I am not a federal minister, but to me this makes sense because half of the events in the list were Invasion Day events. It’s just a descriptive headline.

Fletcher disagreed. In a statement, he said:

The ABC online article is incorrect about Australia Day.

The ABC has clearly got this one wrong.

The name of our national day is well understood and supported, and for the ABC to suggest otherwise – that in some way Invasion Day is interchangeable with Australia Day – is clearly wrong.

The name of Australia Day is reflected in legislation across Australia. More important, it is reflected in the usage of the overwhelming majority of Australians.

While the ABC has editorial independence, and I do not control what it says, I call on the ABC to correct this inaccurate article.

The obligation on the ABC Board is clear under the act: to ensure that the gathering and presentation of news is accurate and impartial.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher
Communications minister Paul Fletcher. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

This statement appears to be ignoring the debate that has been gathering steam for decades around the appropriateness of celebrating on 26 January, but that’s not unexpected.

Interestingly the ABC had this to say about its 26 January naming policy yesterday:

The official (ie legislated) name of this day off in January varies by jurisdiction. In NSW it is “Australia Day”. In SA it is “26 January”. In WA and Tasmania it is dual-named: “Australia Day (26 January)”. In Queensland, the NT, the ACT and Victoria, the opposite convention is found: “26 January (Australia Day)”.

Legislative use is one perspective. By way of contrast, government websites listing public holidays tend to use “Australia Day” in first reference, regardless of what the holiday is called in the relevant act.

It is important to note, though, that both the Macquarie and the Australian Concise Oxford dictionaries list “Survival Day” and “Invasion Day” as roughly synonymous with “Australia Day”, either as “viewed by Indigenous people and their supporters” (Macquarie), or “especially in Aboriginal Australian contexts” (ACOD).

Both terms have a long history of use in this country: the Australian National Dictionary dates both to the 1980s. A precursor for both terms would be the 1938 announcement by Indigenous groups that January 26 – not then a national public holiday – be known as a Day of Mourning and Protest.

Given the variety of terms in use, and the different perspectives on the day that the ABC is going to cover over the course of the long weekend, it would be inappropriate to mandate staff use any one term over others in all contexts.


In Victoria, there’s a total fire ban in place for the northern half of the state.

A day of TOTAL FIRE BAN has been declared for today, Mon 25 Jan 2021, in the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, North Central, North East and East Gippsland districts.

Know what you can and can’t do on a day of Total Fire Ban: https://t.co/n2njaRokRg pic.twitter.com/1yHUzfKhWl

— cfa_updates (@CFA_Updates) January 24, 2021

Emergency warning for Cherry Gardens fire in Adelaide Hills

The Country Fire Service in South Australia has just upgraded the warning for the Cherry Gardens fire in the Adelaide Hills.

There is now an emergency warning in place for Longwood, Mylor and Biggs Flat in Mount Lofty Ranges.

#Bushfire Emergency Warning for #CHERRY_GARDENS,_HICKS_HILL_ROAD #fire. Wind conditions may change soon. #EWM ID=0005362 #SAFires https://t.co/HbbyPxgiXG pic.twitter.com/FjY9tkv9ym

— Country Fire Service (@CFSAlerts) January 24, 2021

The alert says:

This fire may pose a threat to lives directly in its path.

Act now. Leave, if the path is clear to a safer place, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive.

If you cannot leave, identify where you will seek shelter from the bushfire. Heat from the fire will kill you. Do not enter this area as conditions are dangerous.

The Cherry Gardens, Hicks Hill Road fire is uncontrolled. This scrub fire is burning in a North Easterly direction towards Longwood, Mylor and Biggs Flat. Conditions are continually changing.

CFS is currently experiencing continually changing wind conditions. This may cause the fire to change direction unexpectedly .

People in the area should leave now or prepare to defend their homes before the wind changes direction.

Power, water and mobile phone services may be lost. Road conditions may become very dangerous over the next few hours.

Fire fighters may soon be unable to prevent the fire spreading.


NSW health minister says crowds at Invasion Day rally 'very problematic'

Back to that interview with Brad Hazzard quickly. He was asked about the Invasion Day rally in Sydney tomorrow and said it was “very, very problematic”.

I understand why they want to come out, but I must say to them, we have a rule here in New South Wales, a law here in New South Wales that says no more than 500 people gathered outside, and I would strongly implore them to stick to that rule. They can have multiple different demonstrations, provided it is done legally and properly, but stick to the 500.

Can I just explain the reason, Michael? Our tracers work very hard. If there is a new case, they need to be able to contact all of the people that that individual has been in contact with. So it’s not to be difficult. It is to actually make it safe for all of us that the tracers – if you have thousands of people, it is impossible to do the tracing. Even 500 is challenging, but at least there is some chance that our gold-standard, hard-working tracers and our epidemiologists can do the tracking and tracing of who was in the vicinity to try to stop the chain of transmission. That’s the key: the chain of transmission, if we can stop that, we can stop the virus ... I would implore them to stick to the rules.

Lot of ‘thems’ in that sentence, so I’ll take it from that that Hazzard doesn’t consider himself to be among the group of people who might march.

Hazzard was asked if he has a view on whether the date should change.

I do, but I won’t share that this morning. I think we should be understanding of the Aboriginal community’s feelings about it, but certainly from my point of view I think Australia Day is very significant, and I support Australia Day, but we need to be understanding of the alternative views.

NSW health minister Brad Hazzard.
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP


Victoria records no new local Covid cases and six in hotel quarantine

Victoria has recorded no new locally acquired cases for the 19th day in a row, but six in hotel quarantine.

There were 11,806 tests conducted yesterday.

Yesterday 0 locally acquired cases were reported, 6 in hotel quarantine. It’s been 19 days since the last locally acquired case. 11,806 test results were received #EveryTestHelps.
More later: https://t.co/2vKbgKHFvv #COVID19VicData #COVID19Vic pic.twitter.com/UGjW46eWUI

— VicGovDHHS (@VicGovDHHS) January 24, 2021

I have not got a time for a coronavirus press conference in Victoria today, but the ports and freight minister, Melissa Horne, will do a doorstop on boat safety at 10.30am.


The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, has been speaking on ABC24 about the anniversary of the first coronavirus case in Australia.

Host Michael Rowland said it was a year of highs and lows – with one major low in terms of the NSW government’s management of the virus being the Ruby Princess fiasco.

Hazzard said:

Look, there was obviously the review at the time, Michael, and I think that every single issue that has occurred has been a learning experience, no matter what state or territory. But when you start with a virus that is such a dangerous virus, we haven’t had a pandemic for 100 years, so this has been a year of learnings for everybody, and I think the public health physicians have worked enormously hard.

Look, obviously the inquiry and the review recommended certain changes, but those changes are largely been implemented. I think every single day we are still learning, and I hope when the new vaccine comes out, we will still understand that it might not be as simple as vaccines of the past where you really did feel quite confident that odds were you weren’t going to get the particular disease, whereas early indications are that this particular – the various vaccines produced, whether it is the protein ones or the new novel MRA vaccines, you need still need to be cautious. You may still get the disease, but not as sick. There are learnings every day and it will continue, as long as this virus is circulating as it is across the world. Sixteen hundred people died yesterday in England and more than 3,000 in the US, still a very dangerous virus and will continue to be for some time.

Hazzard was asked if restrictions in NSW would be eased this week, after a week of no community transmission. He said they would follow the public health advice but he was “feeling positive about it, and I think the community should feel positive”.

But until we get the vaccine, and even when we get the vaccine, the way it is going at the moment, we have to be very, very cautious.


Bill Shorten, current Labor frontbencher and former Labor leader, made some comments launching a book of essays in Melbourne yesterday that have caused a bit of strife within the Labor party.

That’s a very Labor sentence.

He is talking about it, or rather not talking about it, on Radio National. Shorten took issue with the way host Fran Kelly summarised his speech, and took issue with people interpreting his saying that Labor should not be the party of tiny ideas as saying that Labor is currently the party of tiny ideas.

Shorten said:

I accept that we took a big agenda to the last election and there were so many ideas that it was possible for the Coalition to scare people and that possibly what we needed was fewer ideas. But I also think hat the Labor party is at its best when we are the party of big ideas.

Does that mean he thinks Labor is not currently the party of big ideas?

I don’t think we have a tiny policy agenda, but I think it’s important that we learn the lessons of the past but we don’t learn the wrong lessons. Having a no policy approach would not be the right approach.


Are you suggesting Anthony Albanese’s policy agenda is not at this current time where it should be?


No, I am not, I am saying, though, that the lessons – we shouldn’t learn the wrong lessons going forward.


Well that’s self-evident really, isn’t it?



Asked what should be on the agenda, Shorten said that the coronavirus, and the response to it, would be the major issue heading into the next federal election and the safety net engineered by the Labor party had been the saviour. That safety net is under threat from the Coalition, he said.

Kelly asked Shorten to comment on quote from an unnamed Labor source, who said he had destabilised every Labor leader since he came to parliament. Shorten said he is not attempting to destabilise Albanese’s leadership, “And as for unnamed sources I generally treat that with the seriousness that unnamed sources deserve. I don’t accept it and when people put their name to it then I’ll address it.”

He ruled out going for the leadership himself.

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese (right) talks to Bill Shorten during question time last November.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese (right) talks to Bill Shorten during question time last November. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


A watch-and-act alert remains in place for the Cherry Gardens fire burning in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s a scrub fire, burning out of control in an east/south-easterly direction toward Jupiter Creek and Chapel Hill.

The plume of smoke that went up when the fire started late yesterday would be familiar to many after last year’s Black Summer fires.

Dark plume of smoke rising over the Adelaide Hills. Stay safe everyone! #Adelaide #bushfire pic.twitter.com/QM4e5lU8R6

— Raymund de la Cruz (@RaymunddelaCruz) January 24, 2021

Bushfire in the Adelaide Hills, sad 43c degrees today pic.twitter.com/OdvKyMQ5um

— Mia McEntee (@MiaMcEntee) January 24, 2021

This is the view from the outskirts of the city. A bushfire has broken out in Cherry Gardens in the Adelaide Hills. @CFSAlerts are urging people in the area to shelter in a solid building. The latest on @9NewsAdel at 6. pic.twitter.com/iUMQGrJa7O

— Keziah Sullivan (@9keziahsullivan) January 24, 2021

It was burning in the background of the Tour Down Under.

The #cherrygardens bushfire in the Adelaide Hills looming in the background of Stage 4 of the @tourdownunder at Victoria Park in Adelaide tonight. @9NewsAdel pic.twitter.com/B7KULGG1JP

— Mike Lorigan (@mikelorigan) January 24, 2021


Lidia Thorpe plans to attend the Invasion Day rally in Melbourne. The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has said that it is “not time to protest” because of the coronavirus risk. Fran Kelly asked her if it was irresponsible of her, as a sitting senator, to attend a protest at this time.

It has been 18 days since there was a case of community transmission in Victoria – most of the cases in recent days have been among players and support staff for the Australian Open, which the Andrews government has supported going ahead.

Thorpe said the organisers have a Covid-safe plan which has been OKed by health experts and by the police, and pointed out the disconnect between allowing sporting events to go ahead but not a protest. She said:

It’s OK to pick and choose, premier, but this is about fighting for the survival of the oldest continuing culture and people on the planet.

Protesters march during the Invasion Day rally in Melbourne last year.
Protesters march during the Invasion Day rally in Melbourne last year. Photograph: James Ross/EPA


Tomorrow is 26 January. Australia Day for some, Invasion Day for others.

Greens senator Lidia Thorpe, a Djabwurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman, is pushing for 26 January to be marked formally as a day of mourning, picking up on a campaign that was first formalised by the Australian Aborigines League and the Aborigines Progressive Association in 1938. That includes picking up some of the traditions of Anzac Day: Thorpe started an Invasion Day dawn service in Melbourne a few years ago and this year called for Aboriginal flags to be flown at half mast.

Greens senator Lidia Thorpe.
Greens senator Lidia Thorpe. Photograph: James Ross/AAP

She was speaking on Radio National earlier, and host Fran Kelly asked if Australia Day would be “palatable if there was a different flavour to it”.

Thorpe said:

Absolutely. It’s an opportunity I think for this country to finally come together and acknowledge and accept what has happened in our dark history in this country and move forward from that toward a treaty.

Why not just change the date? Thorpe is one of a growing number of people who call to abolish the date, not just change it. She said:

Well, Fran, I have been thinking about this ... I would be open to changing the date as long as we are not celebrating the dispossession and almost attempted genocide of this country’s first people. We have to have a date that we’re all a part of ... we want to celebrate, but we want justice and equality first.

If tomorrow is Invasion Day to you, or you’re interested in learning more, there are events happening in most major cities and towns in Australia. Here’s the list of what’s happening in capital cities.


Man charged over Adelaide Hills bushfire

In South Australia, police have arrested a man who was allegedly seen speeding away from a recently started bushfire in the Adelaide Hills.

More from AAP:

A patrol car spotted a vehicle speeding away from a fire on Piggott Range Road at Clarendon on Sunday evening.

Police stopped the car and arrested the man.

Detectives are investigating whether this fire is linked with others in the hills area.

About 70 volunteer firefighters supported by 20 fire trucks and seven aircraft were battling blazes in the Adelaide Hills on Sunday.

An emergency warning was issued for areas including Echunga and Macclesfield in the Mount Loft Ranges.

Sweltering heat hovered over Adelaide on Sunday with temperatures climbing above 40C.

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the Clarendon fire or anyone with dashcam footage to come forward.


A study from the Australian National University has found that smoking causes half of all deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the age of 45, amounting to 10,000 premature and preventable deaths in the past 10 years.

It found that smokers died on average 10 years earlier than non-smokers, or people who had quit smoking before the age of 45.

Assoc Prof Raymond Lovett, a Ngiyampaa man and co-author of the study, said high rates of smoking are due to colonisation, and confronting colonisation is a key part of reducing smoking in Aboriginal communities.

If you worked, particularly in rural areas, you were paid in tobacco. That has got a large part to play in why smoking rates are so high.

He added:

My view is you can’t [separate it]. And it actually becomes a source of a call to action in community-controlled health services and different communities. The way we talk about tobacco as a colonial process, linking tobacco to those colonial processes, because some people have forgotten about that, particularly young people.

I have seen it … where people are using those colonial process as an intervention to say: this is colonial resistance, this is a part of colonisation and we don’t want this in our community.


It’s Monday 25 January – a year since Australia confirmed its first case of Covid-19. Since then, Australia has recorded more than 28,700 cases and 909 deaths. Globally, there have been more than 99m cases and 2.13m deaths.

It was, according to the Bureau of Meteorology app, an “oppressive night” in Melbourne, not slipping below 27C. Regional Victoria and inland parts of NSW were similarly warm overnight, and NSW and the Victorian border towns are in for another hot night tonight as the heat wave stretches on. It will be 39C in Melbourne today, 44C in Mildura, 32C in Sydney and 39C in Penrith.

Seventy volunteer firefighters in South Australia are trying to contain a fire burning out of control in the Adelaide Hills, and firefighters in Victoria are bracing for the worst day since last summer’s bushfires, with a fire danger rating of severe across the north of the state.

Back to the coronavirus: Australia recorded zero cases of local transmission yesterday, but New Zealand had its first community case in two months. China is fighting a new cluster of infections, France has warned of a third lockdown, Dutch curfew protests turned violent, and Italy is threatening legal action against Pfizer over its vaccine supply. A new Covid variant is overwhelming the Amazonas state in Brazil. The UK and South African variants may be as much as 50% more transmissible than the regular virus, meaning stricter measures may need to be taken. And health experts say tech companies should be forced to reveal their most viral material, arguing pandemic misinformation can only be countered if it’s made public.

Australia is signing up to two international agreements to price in climate risk, the environment minister, Sussan Ley, will tell a virtual summit today. This could inflame tensions between Liberals and Nationals, who have criticised banks for asking businesses for carbon transition plans. There’s rising pressure to act on the climate crisis, urgent questions over environmental protection, and strategy issues over electric vehicles. Anthony Albanese might have signalled a possible return to Labor’s 2019 workplace policies, but he’s deferring a 2035 emissions reduction target until the Coalition shows its hand.

Joe Biden has lost no time undoing the Trump legacy in his first 100 hours as US president, pledging a “wartime undertaking” to combat the pandemic in which more than 417,000 have died. He released a 198-page Covid-19 strategy and signed 10 executive orders and other directives. Former US coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx has said people in the Trump White House considered Covid-19 a hoax, adding that some statements by political leaders “derailed” the county’s virus response.

Let’s crack on. If I miss something, let me know on twitter @callapilla or via email at calla.wahlquist@theguardian.com



Mostafa Rachwani (now) and Calla Wahlquist (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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