That's it for today, thanks for reading
Here are the main stories on Monday, 27 September:
- New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, announces the state is expected to hit the 70% double-dose vaccination rate on 11 October. Restrictions will ease at that stage, but not the previously foreshadowed travel to regional NSW, which will be allowed when the 80% mark is reached about a week later.
- NSW recorded 787 new cases and 12 deaths, Victoria recorded 705 new cases and one death and the ACT recorded nine new cases and one death.
- The ACT announced plans to ease restrictions from 1 October.
- Australians lost a record $211m to scams this year.
- Qantas has reorganised its flight routes, on the back of the Western Australian government’s tough borders stance.
Strikes planned at ports across Australia threaten to cripple imports ahead of Christmas, AAP reports.
The Maritime Union of Australia has launched industrial action at Patrick Terminals sites in Brisbane, Fremantle, Melbourne and Sydney, in what the shipping container terminal operator has described as “bewildering”.
Patrick Terminals CEO Michael Jovic says the company has been negotiating with the union since February 2020 and has held almost 70 meetings to finalise a new enterprise agreement.
They have offered the union a 2.5% annual pay increase for members over four years.
“We have bargained with the MUA for over 19 months and provided a very generous pay increase, guaranteed no redundancies and provided a commitment to preserving jobs,” he said in a statement on Monday.
“They clearly have no intention of reaching a deal. They just want to cause maximum damage to the company and the economy.”
Wharfies plan to strike in Sydney’s Port Botany next weekend and every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in Melbourne for the month of October.
Jovic says the strikes will have ramifications for all Australians in the lead up to Christmas, given more than 40% of all container freight comes through Patrick terminals.
MUA assistant national secretary Jamie Newlyn said management at Patrick had made a series of exaggerated and untrue claims about the breakdown of talks over a new agreement and instead of suggesting Christmas was at risk, the company should stop trying to alarm the public.
Newlyn said Patrick had claimed they would “roll-over” the existing EA but had insisted on changes that their workforce would not accept including increased casualisation that would limit future secure employment opportunities.
“Patrick employees are rightly frustrated at corporate tactics to deny a modest pay rise and remove previously agreed conditions on secure jobs,” he said.
One of the organisers of Australia’s anti-lockdown movement has been charged with incitement.
Harrison McLean was one of hundreds of people arrested by Victorian police after a week of protests across Melbourne saw violent clashes between officers and demonstrators.
About 1am on Sunday, 25-year-old McLean wrote on social media that he had been arrested at his Bayswater home.
This is fairly wild. What a nation of jabbers.
AAP have filed this report on the inquiry into making national cabinet deliberations exempt from FOI laws.
A federal bid to make national cabinet deliberations exempt from freedom of information laws has been described by a constitutional law expert as bizarre, messy and disrespectful.
Senators are scrutinising a government push to legislate secrecy for deliberations between state, territory and federal leaders and make them exempt from the Freedom of Information Act.
University of Sydney constitutional law expert Anne Twomey, speaking in a private capacity, blasted the attempt to change the law to impose cabinet confidentiality.
A judge previously rejected the government’s assertion the meetings – held to discuss the Covid-19 pandemic response – amounted to a committee of federal cabinet whose minutes were exempt from FOI laws.
“It’s frankly bizarre legislation. I mean, why would you assert something that’s not true. Why would you say, in legislation, that a cat is a dog or vice versa,” Prof Twomey told an inquiry on Monday.
“It’s just a mess and it shows disrespect for the people, for the courts, everyone to go around asserting in legislation things that aren’t true.
“Really, you’ve just got to ask yourself what’s the government’s aim here. If the aim is to keep certain information confidential, they can do that by just changing the FOI Act.”
And now the LGAs in Victoria and NSW with the lowest first dose rates (these are the only states broken down by LGA here).
In Victoria, there’s two below 70%: Melbourne (64.1%) and Darebin (69.5%).
In NSW, it’s three LGAs (with no data recorded for nine others) below 70%: Edward River (58.3%), Byron (65.9%) and Sydney (69.5%).
There are a whopping 23 LGAs in NSW with more than 90% of the population having the first dose, and eight at 95% or above.
There are now five Victorian LGAs with first dose rates above 90%, according to the statistics published here. Those LGAs (which are all outside Melbourne) are: Queenscliff (95%), Surf Coast (95%), Buloke (91.5%), Macedon Ranges (90.6%) and Warrnambool (90.5%).
Your full wrap of NSW Covid-19 news is just here:
Dan is happy with the jab numbers:
The Fair Work Commission has today upheld the right of aged-care employers to mandate influenza vaccines.
The ruling upholds an earlier decision by commissioner Donna McKenna to reject an unfair dismissal claim by an employee who was dismissed for refusing to be vaccinated.
In April, the FWC upheld the sacking of the aged-care worker who rejected a flu vaccine, the second time in a month it found an employer could require staff to be vaccinated.
The Australian Industry Group has welcomed the “sensible” decision, which it says, though relating specifically to the influenza vaccine, addresses “the circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic”:
We consider that the public interest weighs entirely against the grant of permission to appeal. We do not intend, in the circumstances of the current pandemic, to give any encouragement to a spurious objection to a lawful workplace vaccination requirement.
It is pleasing that the full bench has supported an employer’s right to mandate vaccinations where reasonable in the circumstances.
Today’s decision is the first time during the pandemic that the commission’s full bench has weighed in on the ongoing issue of vaccination mandates.
Here is the wrap of Covid-19 news in Victoria today:
What’s the road ahead look like for NSW?
This is a fairly amazing result for some LGAs in Sydney’s west.
An early contender for funniest bird of the year content:
Grants of $10,000 are available for GPs and pharmacists running vaccination programs in Melbourne’s hardest-hit suburbs. Several GP clinics and pharmacies had to close after positive cases had visited their sites, leading some to lobby parliament for funding to create seperate pop-up sites. Here’s the story from AAP:
General practitioners and pharmacies in Melbourne suburbs hardest-hit by COVID-19 can apply for grants of up to $10,000 to speed up the vaccination rollout. Premier Daniel Andrews on Monday announced more than 100 grants of up to $4,000 and 10 of $10,000 for GPs and pharmacies in 11 local government areas with high COVID-19 infections and low vaccination rates.Those areas are Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Melton, Moreland, Whittlesea and Wyndham.
Andrews said the grants would allow GPs and pharmacies to operate additional hours, hire more staff or rent out space to run vaccination hubs. “For a relatively modest investment, we get a huge return. More and more people vaccinated means less people in hospital, our community and economy open sooner,” he told reporters.
Expressions of interest for the grants will open this week, with the funding to be distributed from 4 October.
Andrews said the state was looking at shortening the six-week interval between first and second doses of Pfizer doses at vaccination hubs, but needed certainty on supply from the federal government before doing so. Victoria recorded 705 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases on Monday and one death, a man in his 70s from Darebin. It brings the toll from the current outbreak to 25.
Tributes have poured in for a doctor in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province who died last week, in the country’s first death of a healthcare worker from Covid-19 confirmed by the government.
Dr Naomi Kori Pomat, 60, the director for curative health services at the Western Provincial Health Authority (WPHA), was medevaced to Port Moresby after contracting the virus and died on 19 September.
You can read more on this story here:
Here’s some vax stats from yesterday.
A gentle reminder to vote in bird of the year:
An interesting story from AAP about people with Covid-19 dying at home before they have been in contact with health authorities. There have been cases like this in NSW and Victoria.
Leading epidemiologists have expressed concern at large numbers of Covid-positive people dying at home due to patients not coming forward for testing.
Associate professor Sanjaya Senanayake from the Australian National University said there had been multiple deaths from Covid-19 due to people developing severe symptoms at home, but not coming forward for testing or medical assistance earlier on.
The concern comes following new figures reported by the ABC’s 7.30 program that more than half of Covid deaths at home in NSW were not known to health authorities until post-mortem.
“If people came to hospital earlier it could be in fact a life-saving presentation,” Dr Senanayake told AAP.
“If people did have Covid, the question is why didn’t they get tested, or something prevented them getting Covid treatment such as the fear and stigma of it.”
The ABC revealed how of the 29 people who died at home from coronavirus in NSW, 13 were known to NSW Health, while the remainder were only revealed to have had Covid-19 following their death.
Dr Senanayake said while a delay in testing may account for the number of Covid deaths at home, other health issues may also be a factor.
“Another possibility is that we know Covid can cause complications outside the lungs itself, so this can affect the heart and cause an inflammation of the heart muscle and could lead to someone passing away,” he said.
“Similarly, we know that Covid is associated with clots, and if a patient were to get a big clot on the lung, that could lead to a fatal outcome if someone wasn’t hospitalised.”
The infectious diseases expert said health authorities regularly checked in with Covid patients who were at home.
He said the availability of treatment had expanded over the pandemic.
“In some jurisdictions they are sending out oxygen saturation probes so patients can measure their own oxygen levels and can send that data over to health authorities,” he said.
Of those who have died at home in NSW from Covid-19, ages have ranged from people in their 20s to 80s.
I’m getting a few tweets and emails asking about the NSW roadmaps at 70% and 80% fully vaccinated. The details regarding the 80% roadmap (released today) can be found here and the details on the 70% roadmap (which no longer will include regional travel) are here. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said earlier today the 70% figure would be reached on 11 October.
Australians lost record $211m to scams this year
A...scamdemic? AAP reports that a record amount has been scammed from Australians this year.
Australians have lost a record $211m to scams so far this year, with people bombarded by bogus calls and texts purportedly from well-known businesses or the government.
The losses between 1 January and 19 September this year have surpassed the $175.6m reported to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Scamwatch throughout 2020.
This represents an 89% increase from the same period last year and people are urged to be extra vigilant.
About a third of the 2021 losses, worth more than $63.6m, are through calls and texts purportedly from well-known businesses or the government.
Of the 213,000 reports received from Scamwatch so far this year, 113,000 were about phone scams.
“Scammers are pretending to be from companies such as Amazon or eBay and claiming large purchases have been made on the victim’s credit card,” ACCC deputy chair Delia Rickard said on Monday.
“When they pretend to help you process a refund, they actually gain remote access to your computer and steal your personal and banking details.”
The average loss so far this year is about $11,000, compared with $7,000 for the same period in 2020.
Over-65s make up 23% or $49.1m of this year’s losses and people for whom English is a second language nearly 14.4% or $29.9m.
Indigenous Australians reported losses worth $4.3m, an 172 % increase from the same period last year.
There was explosion in new Flubot malware voicemails and parcel delivery scams in August.
They led to more than 13,000 scam reports in eight weeks.
Reports of identity theft have increased by 234%, and phishing and remote access scams by 261% and 144%, respectively.
“The rise in identity theft related scams is particularly concerning as scammers can use the personal information they obtain for use in other crimes,” Rickard said.
She urged people to report scams even if they haven’t lost any money.
“Scammers are conning people out of more and more money, so it’s really important that everyone knows what to look out for and how to protect themselves.”
The prestigious Melbourne University joins several other tertiary institutions in announcing mandatory vaccination policies.
The disability royal commission says governments should not lift lockdowns until all people with disability have had the “opportunity to be fully vaccinated” – even if states and territories hit the 70% fully vaccinated threshold.
In a scathing draft report handed down on Monday morning, the royal commission found the federal department of health’s approach to vaccinating people with disabilities had been “seriously deficient”.
Here is a winner of a piece about being a loser:
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray is closed for the second time this month because of a positive Covid-19 case.
Fancy a stopover in Darwin on your way to London? This could be on the cards, according to Qantas’ updated flying schedule announced today.
As we have already reported, the airline has confirmed it will act on its previous warning and temporarily reroute its flagship Perth to London direct service until at least April next year, due to Western Australia’s border settings.
The airline said it is now in detailed discussions with the Northern Territory government to use Darwin airport as a port to fly directly from Australia to London instead.
Qantas first flew the Darwin to London direct route during the pandemic, and has since flown several government organised repatriation flights directly from Europe to Darwin. The airline said this route has proven successful as a hub.
Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce said that when international travel resumes, Qantas’ daily Melbourne to London flight will transit via Singapore or Darwin, depending on the discussions with the NT government.
Instead of operating from Melbourne to Perth and then on to London as it usually does, this flight will operate from Melbourne to London via either Darwin or Singapore, depending on conversations we’re having with the NT in the coming weeks.
Joyce said the extent to which quarantine is relaxed will ultimately dictate the ongoing level of demand for international flights.
The seven day home quarantine trial in New South Wales is a great step forward and we’re hoping the system evolves quickly for vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries to not have to quarantine on arrival, particularly given Australia itself is on track to have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world.
Reckon this is going to be a fascinating issue in Australian sport in the next few months or so: Covid-19 vaccination among players.
We’ve already seen basketballers from Australia’s NBL leave their teams because they are refusing the jab. Here, the US basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar weighs in on the situation in the NBA:
Here’s the full roadmap (why aren’t we just calling these things maps or guides) for the easing of restrictions in the ACT:
Qantas has updated its flying schedule in response to the “reopening plans and latest border assumptions” in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.
It will delay flights into Western Australia for two months, but bring forward flights between Victoria and NSW, and increase services in regional NSW.
According to the airline, the key changes are:
- Bringing forward the reopening date for travel between Victoria and New South Wales from 1 December to 5 November 2021, based on Victoria’s reopening plan.
- Significantly increasing regional flying within New South Wales from 25 October 2021, in line with the state government’s roadmap, to around 40% of pre-Covid levels.
- Delaying the restart of domestic flying between Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales by two months to 1 February 2022, based on border assumptions.
There is no change to Qantas or Jetstar flights between WA, Tasmania, Northern Territory and South Australia. Flights between WA and Queensland will increase once border restrictions are removed, hopefully in coming weeks.
Internationally, flights are still on track to gradually restart from 18 December, but Qantas will temporarily reroute its flagship Perth-London service until at least April next year.
That is a 25% jump in three weeks, you love to see it:
The ACT also recorded its first Covid-19 death for more than a year.
Just circling back on some news from earlier about restrictions easing in the ACT. From 29 October:
- As many as 100 people in cafes/restaurants/pubs/most other venues (subject to density requirements);
- 10 people for household visits, 30 people for outdoor gatherings;
- Organised sport allowed; and
- Performing arts, cinemas/theatres reopen.
Year 12 students are back on 11 October.
Thank you Mostafa Rachwani for delicately easing us into Monday. Let’s see where the afternoon takes us.
And with that, my time on the blog comes to an end, but fear not, I leave you in the capable hands of Nino Bucci for the rest of the day.
Thanks for reading.
NSW’s cases continue to trend downwards, and what better way to see it than in a graph:
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews says the state’s Covid-19 case numbers are still on the “positive end” of the scale that the modelling predicted, despite some nerve-racking days where numbers jumped up by nearly 100.
It is not the best [descriptor], but [say you have] green, amber, red. It is in amber to green not in the red zone.
I think many people were taken away by the jump to 700 cases. It can jump around a bit but we are on-trend. We always said they would go up and they are going up but it is at the more positive end.
I must stress, even at the most optimistic and positive end of that curve, our nurses will face many thousands of patients they must treat and we will see many thousands of people very unwell.
That is why we are not racing to open everything up at 50% double dose, we are waiting for the national cabinet benchmarks at 70 and 80.
ACT eases some restrictions
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr has announced that some restrictions will be eased from 1 October, including allowing two people to visit another household, increase recreation time to four hours and all non-essential businesses will be able to do click and collect and click and deliver.
Barr announced that the ACT will move to “medium-level” public health measures by 14 October.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews says that the ability to travel into the state will be based on Victoria’s vaccination rate, not the state of origin.
That is to say, Victoria won’t be swinging up the borders just because NSW gets to 80%.
Speaking of NSW, a reporter has asked Andrews what he thinks of the new NSW 90% vaccination threshold for significant reopening, including for unvaccinated people.
He seems to be choosing his words carefully to avoid stepping on toes.
I am not surprised that Gladys is talking about 90%, they are three or four weeks ahead of us. Maybe in three or four weeks time I will be able to talk about what comes up to 80% too. They are a number of weeks ahead of us. That is not a criticism...
We will be able to watch very closely and see what happens in New South Wales as they open up, what does it mean for their health system and their nurses and doctors. What does it mean for case numbers, all of those things. We wish them well but we will get the benefit of that.
Andrews says that there is no guarantee that unvaccinated people will have the same rules in place come Christmas day:
I am not foreshadowing bad at all. There is every reason to get vaccinated now. I would not give anyone a reason to wait five or six weeks. I don’t think that is a certainty...
Even at 90%, that is still 10% of people 16 and older, none of our little kids, the overall percentage of the community that don’t have the protection of one or two doses even at 90% is a significant number.
So again, no one is chasing 100%, I don’t think that is something that you would realistically achieve. But we will be pushing for as long as we possibly can, because every single jab matters...
I will not say to people, just wait five weeks and you will have all the freedoms. No, that is not a guarantee at all here. We have not made that decision.
Back to the Senate hearing on national cabinet secrecy.
The Australian Human Rights Commission president, Prof Rosalind Croucher, has told the inquiry that the commission was concerned that the proposed bill would increase secrecy across 15 different acts, with the changes to the Freedom of Information Act of particular concern.
Croucher said the legislation would represent a significant change from how the FOI Act applied to Coag, the Council of Australian Governments, which national cabinet had replaced.
Australians should be able to seek information about the nature of the decisions made by their representatives. This is even more important in times of emergency. When governments are provided with extraordinary powers then it can affect the lives and rights of Australians in significant ways.
She said the proposed changes would involve “a permanent change to confidentiality rules over public policy”.
It’s important that emergency situations do not become a broad justification for unnecessary increases in executive power to the detriment of democracy.
ACT records 19 cases, one death
The Australian Capital Territory has recorded 19 new cases, with 17 of them linked to existing cases.
Sadly, a man in his 90s has died, marking the first death in this current outbreak.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews says he is hopeful for the Pfizer doses coming in October but when asked if he has clarity about the specifics just yet he said:
Not at this stage. As soon as we have that and, let’s be clear, as Jeroen indicated yesterday, we have had an indication [about the fourth week] not a confirmation so it is not quite the same status as the first three weeks.
Hopefully, it has the same status quite soon and confirmed and that will give us an option to change that interval.
Again, I want to stress everybody out there you cannot bring forward second doses if you do not have those second doses either in the fridge with absolute clarity that they are coming.
It has gotten better over the last week and let’s hope the fourth week of October will be confirmed [as the] same as the first three.
The premier is asked about the growing tiff between states on whether vaccination rates mean borders can reopen.
Berejiklian was pretty adamant, saying she assumed that by December, other states would have “caught up” to NSW, and that there was no reason to keep borders closed:
By 1 December, I’m assuming that other states would have caught up to the New South Wales vaccination rate. Victoria is very close. I’m hoping that premier Andrews and myself will have a unity position on this in that the two largest states representing just over 60% of the nation’s population, I’m hoping that will encourage others to consider their position and certainly I think by December other states – I don’t blame other states for not having as high vaccination rates.
People are less incentivised to get the vaccine but surely by December most states would have achieved the 70-80% vaccination rates and they can look to New South Wales with a degree of confidence.
Once you open up, Delta will be part of life and I would say let’s move together, let’s move forward together and we are happy to wait those extra few weeks for the other states to get up to those vaccination rates and my strong message is we are going to have to do it eventually, why not for Christmas?
Here is the Victorian testing commander Jeroen Weimar with the breakdown of today’s cases.
Most cases are in the northern suburbs, 412 there. In fact, 30% of all of our cases today are in the [LGA] of Hume...
The key suburbs of concern for us are Craigieburn, Roxburgh Park, Meadow Heights and Epping where we continue to see significant numbers every day.
In the western suburbs we have just under one quarter of our cases for today. In the suburbs we have 84 cases today across Pakenham, Dandenong and Hampton Park and in the eastern suburbs there are 32 cases today across Boronia and Camberwell in particular.
And here is the regional breakdown:
We have 12 cases today in regional Victoria and again a reduction on where we have been over the past few days.
Four are in the Macedon Ranges and they are primary household contacts and as such no new activity there.
There are two cases in Mitchell [shire], one of which is a household primary contact, one is a new case, an electrician in Waltham who we believe has worked in the metro area.
And we have two cases in Geelong, known primary close contacts.
We have a new workplace case in Baw Baw Shire, and one case in Ballarat, the partner of a previously known positive case.
[We also] confirmed a positive case in Shepparton today.
The premier is asked about the Disability royal commission, which has called on all state and territory leaders to not open up at 70% if people with a disability haven’t had access to the vaccine and disability workers aren’t vaccinated.
Berejiklian laid the responsibility at the feet of the federal government:
We have done everything we can within our state jurisdiction. There are certain areas of responsibility that the commonwealth has in terms of vaccine but we have stepped in and absolutely done everything we can to protect those that are most vulnerable within our jurisdiction and within the power that we have and we will continue to do that.
We are also relying on loved ones to let us know if there’s pockets of people who don’t have access or there’s concerns about, we’ve led very proactive campaigns for want of a better term, very proactive decisions on the ground to support communities who are the most vulnerable and also spent time talking to community leaders, talking to faith leaders, encouraging people to take up the vaccination and we’re working as hard as we can.
Victorian press conference:
Victorian deputy CHO Ben Cowie says a third of Victorian teens aged between 12 and 15 have now had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.
Including both my children who are vaccinated with their first dose last week. This is an important demographic and will go a long way to assisting the safe reopening of our schools as heralded in the roadmap.
It is important to note that these younger Victorians are not captured in our overall vaccination targets but are an important demographic nonetheless and it is great to see those numbers rising so quickly.
NSW to return to pre-Delta arrivals cap at 80%
So the premier has also just confirmed that NSW will return to the pre-Delta international arrivals cap of 3,500 a week, once the state hits the 80% double dose mark.
So automatically when we hit 80% double dose which is likely to be the third or fourth week of October, once we hit that 80% double dose we will automatically restate the caps we had previously to Delta, about 3,500 Australians coming home every week.
I am more than happy to speak to the prime minister about bringing home more Aussies. Even today when we have 780 something local cases we only had one case from overseas.
If fully vaccinated Aussies are coming home there is no reason why we need to have a cap after a particular number. So I’m all for reuniting Aussies, reuniting families.
Victoria is now counting down the days until 80% of the over 16 population has received at least one vaccine dose when restrictions in lockdown areas will relax slightly.
People will be able to travel 15km from home, up from 10km, while patron caps in regional venues will increase from 20 to 30. Golf, tennis and cricket, as well as group personal training for up to five fully vaccinated adults, can also resume.
The premier has confirmed that the state has just reached 78.3%. However, there are regions where vaccination rates are faltering, especially in the hard-hit outer suburbs, which Andrews says is why the state is launching a new program, giving grants to pharmacies in 11 LGAs to set up a vaccination program.
There will be 110 grants of $4,000 and a further 10 of $10,000 to GPs and community pharmacies across those 11 local government areas...
I have had a couple of pharmacists put to me that they don’t have enough room in their shop but if they had a bit of help, they could rent some space next door or just down the road. They would be able to run if you like, their own vaccine hub in that space. This is all about additional staff, additional wages, additional space. Just common sense.
The 11 LGA’s are: Moorlands, Brimbank, Cardinia, Casey, Darebin, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Hume, Milton, Whittlesey and Wyndham.
We’ve returned to a discussion on the potential freedoms for the unvaccinated, with the premier asked again what the point would be for anyone hesitant right now to get the vaccine, if they just need to wait until December to be able to go back to normal.
Here’s what Berejiklian had to say:
I think today is a very disappointing day for those who aren’t vaccinated. I think they assumed when we hit 80% double dose they will have certain freedoms.
They will have to wait five or six weeks after others. Once we get to 1 December we will have over 90% of our adult population double dosed plus a huge cohort of your 12 to 15-year-olds.
By the time the unvaccinated are allowed to participate they will be hugely disappointed today. They probably would have thought 80% plus a couple of weeks.
They will have to wait 80% plus a month and some. It is a disappointing day for those who are unvaccinated. It is not too late. You have the option, go today, make your booking and get vaccinated not only to protect yourself and your loved ones but also the community.
Journalists have turned now to asking the premier about details around how businesses will be able to prevent unvaccinated from entering their premises:
Some businesses have already said that they don’t want to accept unvaccinated patrons and certainly all their staff will be vaccinated.
So after that 1 December date it will really be up to the businesses to what decisions they take but certainly government has provided certainly now for businesses.
Can I stress the four square metre rule will be in place until 1 December. We all have to be on guard.
The premier is asked around three to four times this question and gave roughly the same answer, before saying that actually, there was still work to be done on the matter:
New South Wales Health is working on that as we speak and we help to convey that to the community as it is finalised and we will confirm the compliance regime. They are the two outstanding things we have to do.
Please know we have managed to outline the detail in these road maps after very careful consideration, after making assumptions about where we are likely to be in a couple of weeks’ time with the number of people in hospital and the case numbers and the vaccination rate.
Victoria Covid press conference
The Victorian press conference has started and premier Daniel Andrews has given details about the one Covid-19 death the state recorded overnight.
There are 705 new cases all locally acquired bringing us to a total of 8538 active cases across the state. Sadly one person has passed away, a man in his 70s from Darebin. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends.
He went on the give the hospitalisation breakdown.
363 people are currently in hospital, that is an increase of 38 since yesterday. 75 of those are in ICU. 56 of those are on a ventilator.
There’s an interesting tidbit here that journalists have picked up, about the freedoms unvaccinated people will actually have.
According to the announcement, from the third stage of reopening, the unvaccinated will actually get all the freedoms everyone else has. So it’ll just be between the 80% mark (late October) and the 1 December that the unvaccinated will be restricted.
Here’s the premier on that:
It is very important to note that in unlike most cases in the world if you are not vaccinated you will have to wait at least four or five weeks after we’ve already hit the 80% double dose rate in order to participate in things that the rest of us can participate in.
We anticipate, fingers crossed, by the time that third stage of reopening on 1 December, we anticipate to have 92%, 93% of our adult population completely vaccinated. That is a big high jump for people to have to go through if you are not vaccinated.
NSW deputy premier John Barilaro has doubled down on warning that unvaccinated people will not be able to partake in the freedoms being announced:
The message to the unvaccinated is you will not achieve any further freedom until you get vaccinated.
Barilaro also outlined the key restrictions that will be eased between the 70 and 80% vaccination marks:
The changes from 70% to 80% in road map are really five key areas – community sport, 10 visitors to the home, of course vertical drinking, which is something we know as we head into spring and summer it is something that the public would like to see, no caps on funerals and weddings and no caps on personal services such as hairdressers.
That is the key change again for the 80% road map.
Finally, Barilaro also said there has been one change to the 70% reopening plan – that travel to regional areas has been moved to the 80% mark.
Dr Kerry Chant, the NSW CHO, has given an update on the 12 deaths (which makes yesterday one of the deadliest in this outbreak), saying six men and six women passed away.
Four of them were in their 60s, two in their 70s, four in their 80s and two in their 90s. Half were unvaccinated, five had one dose and one person was double vaccinated.
Chant also said that the virus has been detected in sewage in Grafton, Wardell and Dareton, as well as seeing increasing cases in Illawarra, especially in Wollongong and Shellharbour.
Of note in her opening remarks, Berejiklian said the following on hospitalisations:
Pleasingly the hospitalisation rate has not been as high as we had seen in the modelling and the ICU admissions have been a bit lower as well but it doesn’t mean we are out of the woods in terms of overwhelming our hospitals.
Technically we are still looking at our system being overwhelmed in October and I ask people to exercise caution there.
We know that once we start reopening at 70% double dose that the case numbers will go through the roof but what will protect us is the fact that so many people have received at least the first dose of the vaccine and those people will have that extra layer of protection against ending up in hospital or worse.
Berejiklian announced 11 October as day restrictions ease
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has laid out some clear details for the state’s reopening plan for the first time.
The premier announced three stages NSW will go through to reopen, and saying that the state will hit 70% doubled vaccinated on 11 October, when some freedoms will kick in.
At 80%, people will be able to travel anywhere freely in NSW, and the state is expected to hit the mark around a week after hitting 70%.
The third stage of reopening will happen on 1 December, which is around five weeks after hitting 80%. The 2 sq m rule will kick in then, (before then, it’ll be the 4 sq m rule).
The premier said that although she is laying out the dates, that people shouldn’t see them as “freedom days”:
I don’t want to be the party pooper but I’ve said let’s not think about this as a freedom day but let’s think about this as a sustained reopening to getting back to normal but there is no doubt that for those of us who are fully vaccinated at the 70% double dose life will feel so much better.
Life will feel getting back to normal ideally and obviously a number of things kick in at 80%, including community sport, regional travel and a whole range of other things and then on 9 December will be the final stage of reopening where unvaccinated people will be able to participate.
Now the only exception is for places of worship: at 80% double-dose vaccinated people will be able to attend places of worship ... but that is it and we ask people to exercise a huge degree of caution.
NSW records 787 new Covid cases and 12 deaths
New South Wales has recorded 787 new locally acquired cases, and sadly reported another 12 deaths to 8pm last night.
The drop in cases is considerable considering the state has hovered at around 1,000 cases for around a week.
OK, so now we are on standby for the NSW Covid update, due any minute.
In the meantime, Victoria announced it will hold its press conference at 11:15am, which means we will have press conference crossover again (and in a rare treat, they may be talking about the same things – that being the national reopening plan.)
Queensland records no new Covid cases and announces two new vaccination centres on Gold Coast
Queensland has recorded zero new locally acquired cases, as premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced two new vaccination centres on the Gold Coast.
Palaszczuk, however, would not be drawn on the PM’s comments earlier today on borders opening at 80%, repeating (quite often) that she was very excited for this Friday’s national cabinet meeting:
“We’ve got national cabinet happening this Friday, I’m really looking forward to that,” she said, a couple of times. I guess there might be fireworks.
We are on standby for the Queensland press conference, due to begin in a couple of minutes.
New Zealand records 12 new Covid cases
New Zealand has recorded 12 new cases in its coronavirus outbreak, bringing the total cases to 1,177, as the country hits a new milestone in its vaccine rollout.
All of the cases are in Auckland and two are yet to be epidemiologically linked. Thirteen people are in hospital, and four of those are in intensive care. One of the cases reported on Monday had previously been under investigation and is now confirmed. That person has since recovered.
More than 5 million vaccine doses have now been administered – 74% of the eligible population (12 years and older) have had their first dose, while just over 41% are fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, in Auckland, health officials are going door-to-door, testing people for Covid-19 in their homes in suburbs where cases have been recorded.
The Senate committee has heard evidence from the Accountability Round Table and the Grata Fund about their concerns regarding the bill to make national cabinet deliberations exempt from freedom of information access.
Isabelle Reinecke, the executive director of Grata Fund, told the committee that Australia’s freedom of information regime was already restrictive, and operating contrary to its intent, with the proposed bill making the situation worse.
“If passed, the proposed amendment will see secrecy increase without appropriate justification, and to the detriment of the public good, and the quality of Australia’s democracy,” she said.
“Transparency and accountability are foundational pillars of a functioning democracy. Fundamental to this is the public’s general right of access to government information, a practical ability to learn what decisions governments are making, as their public representatives, and on what basis.”
Accountability Round Table chair Fiona McLeod, a respected barrister and also a former Labor candidate, said the bill in its current form was “untenable”.
“The bill subverts responsible government accountability and transparency, and the government’s own commitment to the Open Government Partnership,” McLeod said.
So Darren Chester, the Nationals MP who has decided to take a “break” from the party, was on the ABC this morning, and explained that he wanted a break because of the “very hard rightwing agenda” of some members of the Nationals.
Chester said the leadership at the party was “dysfunctional” and he had raised concerns about some comments made by some of his colleagues, to little effect:
It’s about some of the comments colleagues made, particularly around the withdrawal from Afghanistan and some comments around the protests in Victoria.
I found them very unhelpful … and having asked them to not make them privately, then them continuing, I felt I was unsupported in trying to moderate our voice.
My concern and my frustration has been that there are some that want to push a very hard rightwing agenda which isn’t something I’m comfortable with.
I’m concerned about where some in other arms of the party are wanting to take the National party.
I think the Nationals have a great future if we represent the mainstream regional values, and that’s not the extreme right wing that others seek to represent.
Queensland will be the first press conference out the gate this morning, scheduled for 10:45am and will feature premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.
She will be followed by NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian providing an update at 11am.
We are still waiting for confirmation for when the Victorian press conference will be though.
More than 100 prominent Australians, including Tamie Fraser, the widow of former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, have signed an open letter calling on Australia to take greater action to assist the people of Afghanistan, following the fall of that country to the Taliban.
Included on the list are actors, sportspeople, musicians and advocates, including Fraser, Nova Peris OAM, Craig Foster, Peter Greste, Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame.
The letter calls on the Australian government to:
- Commit to an additional humanitarian migration intake of at least 20,000, prioritising the most vulnerable persecuted people of Afghanistan.
- Grant permanent protection to more than 5,100 refugees from Afghanistan, predominantly from the historically persecuted Hazara ethnic groups, who are currently on temporary protection visas in Australia.
- Prioritise family reunification visas for Afghanistan-Australians.
- Lift the ban on resettlement of refugees to Australia through the UNHCR in Indonesia.
The letter states:
After almost two decades of intervention and promises to the people of Afghanistan, promises of protection for persecuted groups, women, democratic freedoms and rule of law, prime minister Scott Morrison has a moral obligation to act in response to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan.
Australia has a moral duty toward the people of Afghanistan and should not abandon them, particularly in light of alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers as documented in the Brereton report in November 2020.
Fraser said it was imperative the government worked towards helping people in Afghanistan:
Many women, men, and children in Afghanistan at the moment are desperate for food and shelter and are at risk. It is little enough to demand the government accept and welcome them as refugees to this wonderful country where they can join people from Afghanistan who have been here for a hundred years.
It comes as around 180,000 people signed a petition in support of the group’s call.
Australia was part of the US-led military coalition in Afghanistan for 20 years before a hurried and violence-plagued withdrawal last month. Since then, the Taliban have installed a new hardline government and begun to reintroduce the repressions that blighted its last rule, between 1996 and 2001. Girls have been banned from schools, and women from work, and the Taliban have reinstated violent corporal and capital punishments. At the weekend, Taliban authorities in the western Afghan city of Herat killed four alleged kidnappers and hung their bodies up in public to deter others.
The Senate’s finance and public administration committee is holding a hearing this morning into the federal government’s proposed legislation to keep national cabinet deliberations secret.
The hearing kicked off with senators upset that the secretary of the prime minister’s department, Phil Gaetjens, is not attending as expected, with the program changing late last week.
Labor senator Tim Ayres and independent senator Rex Patrick (who initially challenged the secrecy ruling) have called for an explanation for Gaetjens’s absence, saying it is important the committee hears from someone who knows about the national cabinet structure.
“He is the principal architect of this,” Ayres said.
“He led the department and the government to this humiliating defeat in the tribunal.
“So it’s either cowardice, or hubris. I want to know what arrangements we’re going to make to make sure that this secretary gives the evidence that he’s required.
“I want to know whether this committee is going to stand up for its role scrutinising pieces of legislation like this. That’s what the parliaments charged us with doing, we either do it properly or we squib it.”
The government introduced a bill into parliament on the last day of the sitting fortnight, which would effectively overrule a finding in the administrative appeals tribunal that national cabinet was not a subcommittee of the federal cabinet.
The national cabinet is effectively the rebranded version of the Council of Australian Governments, and is attended by the prime minister, premiers and chief ministers.
Expert push to reduce Pfizer jab intervals
A leading epidemiologist has called on NSW and Victoria to redouble vaccination efforts in under 40s, and to reduce the dose intervals for Pfizer jabs.
Professor Mary Louise McLaws was on ABC News this morning, and said she thought those Covid-hit states should reduce the gap between Pfizer jabs from six to four weeks.
There’s only one small study that had nearly 300 healthcare workers who hadn’t ever had infection and they looked at extending that dose.
Mostly, it worked well during the Alpha (variant) period in England, but not Delta.
I’d suggest that they go back to that 28-day period between first and second dose to try to get young people under the age of 40 vaccinated as soon as possible with two doses.
The Nationals senator Matt Canavan has doubled down in his opposition to net zero emissions, saying it’s “about as silly as zero Covid”.
Speaking to 2GB this morning, Canavan said he couldn’t speak for his whole party, but said net zero was a “utopian target”:
Before we blindly pursue something like this, surely someone would show us the bill.
The National party in the past at least has been against net zero emissions.
What [Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce] has said is that he wants to make sure the party room has an opportunity to discuss these matters.
In our party room we provide people the liberty to take their own positions.
Northern Territory charging ahead with reopening plans
The Northern Territory government is charging ahead with its reopening plan, despite concerns some of its remote communities still have low vaccination rates.
The NT’s chief minister Michael Gunner says the low vaccination rates “won’t stop the Territory’s progress” towards easing restrictions, and moving away from snap lockdowns and supervised quarantine.
Health authorities are working towards the 80% vaccination rate, but the latest data shows the Territory’s remote communities won’t reach that rate until late January.
The data also shows that there are still 19 communities with less that a quarter of their population vaccinated.
But in a statement, Gunner says the NT “cannot wait forever” to reopen, and that the government was considering restricting movements in some communities instead of delaying reopening plans (or working to get those communities vaccinated I guess).
Police in Perth have arrested a man following a “firearm incident” in the CBD.
A spokeswoman for WA police said they were called to the incident in Lord Street, Perth, at 5.20am local time this morning.
Cordons were set up around the area and the public was advised to stay away. About 90 minutes later, police said, they arrested a man who was in a car on the Graham Farmer Freeway.
There are traffic delays around the Graham Farmer tunnel but police said there is no further risk to public safety.
Victoria records 705 new Covid cases and one death
Case numbers for Victoria are out, with a drop on yesterday, coming in at 705 new locally acquired cases.
Sadly, one person lost their life overnight.
We’re expecting the NSW government to unveil what life will look like at 80% double vaccinated today, and deputy premier John Barilaro said the plan will include details of what freedoms unvaccinated people can expect as well.
Barilaro was on 2GB this morning, and was asked about the rumours that the government was intending to set a “freedom day” for unvaccinated people:
I can promise you this, that under the 70% road map, unvaccinated people will have very little changes to their freedoms to what they have today.
It doesn’t mean we’re going to open up soon after that to unvaccinated people.
If you want the freedoms we are talking about right across the board you’re going to have to be vaccinated.
As he said that there will be a “stark difference” between the freedoms for vaccinated and unvaccinated people, he also confirmed the plan would be unveiled today at 11am.
So stick around and we’ll go through it together.
Vaccine passports to be trialled in regional Victoria from 11 October
So the vaccine passport trials will begin in 20 regional LGAs in Victoria from 11 October and we have some idea of what that will look like now.
The trial LGAs include Buloke, Pyrenees, Bass Coast, Greater Bendigo, East Gippsland and Warrnambool, and were picked for their high vaccination rates.
“No jab, no entry” rules will be implemented at those 20 LGAs, with pubs, clubs and entertainment venues to host up to 30 people indoors and 100 outdoors.
To enter, people will need either a physical or digital copy of their vaccine passport and staff at the venues will be required to enforce the rules.
There is still an element of uncertainty here, with one key role the trial will play is telling the government how best to check on a person’s vaccination status.
Currently, the easiest way is via the MyGov app, but with evidence that vaccine certificates and histories can be forged, this may change in time.
The Victorian government has indicated it intends to train the staff in how to enforce the rules, and will be providing support for for business owners and public communication of vaccine requirements.
“Support officers” will also be deployed to support the trial.
The rules are meant to emulate what the government intends to roll out across the state, so it will be interesting to see how the trial pans out.
Some restrictions have been eased today in New South Wales, including around face masks and swimming pools.
From today, outdoor swimming pools are allowed to reopen to both vaccinated and unvaccinated swimmers, coming as a relief to all those suburbs that don’t have a beach within their 5km radius.
Other restrictions eased from today include allowing retailers like Bunnings and plant nurseries to reopen in LGAs of concern, as well as allowing people in those areas to exercise without a mask.
The public health orders were amended on Saturday, and take effect now, with more restrictions expected (or hoped) to ease this week.
Picking on the thread about borders reopening (what I’m sure will be a recurring theme this week, especially as NSW steams ahead towards 70% double vaccinated), yesterday Queensland’s deputy premier criticised Scott Morrison for giving people false hope for reopening.
PM Scott Morrison had earlier appeared on Weekend Sunrise, saying state premiers should honour the national reopening plan at 70% and 80% double vaccination rates:
There comes a time when you’ve got to honour the arrangement you’ve made with the Australian people, and that is when you get to 80% vaccination, it’s very clear that you can start opening up.
But Queensland’s Steven Miles was not having it, telling media yesterday that the PM should worry more about the “health and wellbeing” of people in NSW and Victoria than on Queensland’s border:
It’s not that simple and it’s misleading people to tell them that it should be that simple.
This bloke should focus on his job. You know, diplomacy is his job, international trade is his job, vaccination should be his job but we’re doing it.
Quarantine should have been his job, but we’re doing it. Keeping Covid out of NSW was his job and he failed at it.
I don’t think Queensland does want to just give in this close to the end of the pandemic. I don’t think Queenslanders will want to let Covid in for Christmas if we don’t have it but NSW still does.
Good morning everyone, Mostafa Rachwani with you today to take you through the morning’s news.
We start in New South Wales, which yesterday passed 60% double dose Covid vaccination, with the 70% mark not far off. We’re expecting the NSW government to provide more details on their reopening plan this week, as numbers continue to drop.
Yesterday the state recorded below 1,000 cases for the second time in a week, raising hopes the case number baseline can be lower than expected. But testing numbers also dropped in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, reflecting the trend towards lower Covid testing rates on the weekend.
In Victoria, we’re expecting some restrictions to be eased by Wednesday, but with the state recording 779 cases yesterday, there are fears case numbers could equal or surpass NSW this week.
It also comes after another protester tested positive on Sunday, with authorities racing to investigate the case and his close contacts.
It came as the prime minister yesterday, who is expected back in Australia this week, urged the states to stick to the national reopening plan after some leaders indicated doubts about opening borders at 80% double vaccinated.
Elsewhere, Nationals MP Darren Chester yesterday announced he is “taking a break from the party”, as discussions around the announced 2050 emissions reduction target begin to bite. It came as his colleague, Queensland National Matt Canavan, said he was prepared to defy his party if they accept a commitment to net zero.
We’ll keep our eyes across the board, and on any headlines that come up throughout the day.