What we learned, Friday 9 October.
That is where I will leave you for this evening. Here’s what we learned today:
- Victoria recorded 11 new Covid-19 cases overnight, and no new deaths. The state’s 14-day rolling average remains above the point at which the state government said it would ease restrictions on 19 October, and the Doherty Institute professor Jodie McVernon said there was “probably less than a 50% chance” the target would be reached.
- The Victorian hotel quarantine inquiry published its final submissions ahead of the release of the report early next month. The now-former health minister Jenny Mikakos blasted the premier Daniel Andrews, saying the inquiry should treat his evidence with “caution”.
- In New South Wales, five new locally acquired cases were reported. The state’s premier, Gladys Berejiklian, said she anticipated there would be more in the coming days as a new cluster of cases linked to a private health clinic emerged.
- The border stoush between NSW and Queensland continued. NSW health minister Brad Hazzard accused the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, of keeping the border between the two states closed because she was in an “election phase”. Labor dismissed that accusation.
- The federal opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, did a media blitz following his budget reply speech. He was pushing the party’s new childcare and energy policy commitments, but refused to say whether Labor would reverse the Coalition’s changes to higher education funding (which they opposed) in government.
Supermarket giant Coles has been forced to turn away shoppers and close some stores due to a widespread IT issue affecting cash registers.
Here’s what the company has said in a statement:
Coles supermarkets are being closed temporarily due to a technical issue with processing payments in our stores. Our team is working hard to fix the issue and stores will reopen as soon as possible. We apologise to our customers for the inconvenience. Coles Express and Coles Liquor stores remain open for trade.”
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has added himself to Australia’s register of foreign influence after the British government pressed ahead with his appointment to a trade position, my colleague Daniel Hurst reports here.
Abbott had previously been asked to consider registering as an agent of foreign influence for speaking at a conference organised by the Hungarian government, at which he gave a controversial speech on migration and praised the country’s far-right prime minister, Viktor Orbán.
NSW health department issues new alert
The New South Wales health department has just issued a new alert for venues visited by a person who has tested positive for Covid-19. This is a new case that will be reported in tomorrow’s numbers. The venues are in Sydney’s northern beaches and north west.
- Palm Beach Fish & Chips, Barrenjoey Rd Palm Beach - 5 October, 3.45pm to 4pm
- S-mart Eastwood, Rowe St Eastwood - 5 October, 7.30pm to 7.45pm
- Aldi Eastwood - 6 October, 11.00am-12pm
NSW Health says anyone who attended the following venues is considered a casual contact and must monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop. After testing, they must remain in isolation until a negative test result is received.
Here’s a short excerpt from an interview opposition leader Anthony Albanese did on Canberra radio today. You can see below that he has again declined to say whether Labor would reverse the Coalition’s university fee reforms:
Q: The Senate yesterday voted to support the government’s universities fee reforms. Is that something you would seek to reverse if you were in government?
Albanese: Well, we, of course, will examine all of our future policies down the track. And we’ll make them in an ordered way looking at costs. But the other thing is, we opposed these changes. We think they’re very short-sighted. Education, whether it be university or Tafe, helps not just the individual, but it helps our society.
We need to compete in the 21st century on the basis of how smart we are, how innovative we are, our skills of our workforce. We don’t seek to compete with developing nations on the basis of having the same wages and pensions as they do. We need to compete on the basis of how smart we are.
And the idea of doubling fees that has occurred under this legislation, a part of a cutting funds as well for the universities, is very short-sighted by this government, a government that has no vision. A government has racked up a trillion dollars of debt, with no real long-term plan for reformable or for the future.
Here’s the latest on a possible shark attack near Esperance in Western Australia.
Prof Jodie McVernon, the director of epidemiology at the Doherty Institute, is speaking on the ABC. She’s says there is “probably less than a 50% chance” of Melbourne reaching a rolling 14-day average of five daily cases or fewer of Covid-19 by the goal of 19 October. That was the target the state’s premier, Daniel Andrews, set to reduce restrictions.
But McVernon says that shouldn’t be viewed as a failure, and suggests that even if that target isn’t met the government should consider loosening the reins. She wants the Victorian government to consider “whether that hard number should be the right thing to focus on”.
We have seen flexibility in interpretation of targets and we have seen daily more and more discussion of what the numbers mean and where they come from and what the mystery cases are. That is dialogue that we are seeking, I guess, to invite with the powers that be over the coming week-and-a-half to see how those will be flexibly interpreted and I guess to just try and pull attention away from a single number that has become such an overarching force in our lives.
Some of you may have been following the Liberal party MP Craig Kelly’s constant and vociferous demands for the government to use the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid during the pandemic.
I’ve previously written about Kelly’s support for the drug, which health bodies such as the CDC in the US and TGA in Australia say is absolutely not recommended to treat the virus.
I thought it was worth pointing out that when Donald Trump announced he had the virus last week, Kelly was very confident the drug would be part of his treatment.
After all, Trump was one of its earliest supporters. Back in May, the White House confirmed he was taking the drug. He has since stopped, but Kelly was sure that when Trump was diagnosed with Covid-19 he’d resume taking the drug.
Here’s what he wrote on Facebook on 2 October:
Reports state that President Trump ceased taking HCQ as a prophylaxis back in May. But you can bet your last dollar, that having tested positive he’s already started on a course of HCQ + Zinc + AZ. And like almost everyone that has taken this protocol – he’ll be fine.”
And, in a separate post on the same day:
“CALLING Dr ZELENKO, CALLING Dr ZELENKO – PLEASE REPORT TO THE WHITE HOUSE IMMEDIATELY HCQ + Zinc + AZ as per the Zelenko protocol and POTUS will be fine.”
(Vladimir Zelenko is a New York doctor who made headlines back in April for his use of the drug to treat the virus.)
But, since then, things have quietened down a little. Trump, as we know, has instead been touting a monoclonal antibody cocktail developed by Regeneron as a potential “cure” for the virus.
It hasn’t stopped Kelly promoting HCQ, of course, but the only mention of Trump’s treatment on his (very popular) Facebook page since those 2 October posts was this two days later:
It will be interesting to find why President Trump’s doctors put him straight on Remdesivir. I’ve spoken with doctors here in Australia, and they have some theories, and time will tell.”
Authorities investigate possible shark attack in Western Australia
Authorities in Western Australia are investigating a possible shark attack at Kelp Beds Beach near Esperance in the state’s south east.
The WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development says it received “a report of a possible shark bite incident” just before 11am this morning. Per the ABC, police say a surfboard was found floating in the water, but the surfer had not been located.
An ABC journalist at the scene has reported seeing surf lifesaving jet skis in the water.
We’ve got a reporter on it and I will bring you more as I have it.
Good afternoon all. TGIF, am I right? Yes, I am right. It is Friday. Thanks as always to Amy Remeikis for her coverage this week.
I am going to hand the blog over now to Michael McGowan, who will guide you through the rest of the afternoon.
Thank you to everyone who has joined me again this week – budget week is always a doozy, but we all got through it. I’m taking next week off the blog, so I am fresh to blog estimates the week after. I’ll still be at work, so if you have a question, feel free, as always, to drop me a line. It’s just been about nine months or so of daily blogging and it’s best for all of us if I take a little time off the daily merry-go-round to work out what else is happening in this building – as well as the Queensland election, which I know many of you are keenly following.
You’ll be in excellent hands though – the blog, as always, goes on.
I hope you get a moment to yourself this weekend, and I hope there is some sunshine and time for small pleasures. And remember, as my oma used to always say (and Oprah, I think) no is a complete sentence. Feel free to deploy it.
Thank you again to everyone and I’ll see you soon. Please – take care of you.
And a breakdown:
In Victoria at the current time:
- 4,277 cases may indicate community transmission – an increase of one since yesterday
- 195 cases are currently active in Victoria
- 17 cases of coronavirus are in hospital, including one in intensive care
- 19,192 people have recovered from the virus
- A total of 2,811,114 test results have been received, which is an increase of 15,585 since yesterday.
Of the 195 current active cases in Victoria:
- 189 are in metropolitan Melbourne under the Second Step of our roadmap
- Five are in regional local government areas under the Third Step of our roadmap. Mitchell shire has all four active cases.
- One case remains under investigation.
Of the total cases:
- 18,858 cases are from metropolitan Melbourne, while 1198 are from regional Victoria
- Total cases include 9661 men and 10,583 women
- Total number of healthcare workers: 3559, active cases: 19
- There are 45 active cases relating to aged care facilities
Victoria Health has put out its official update:
Anyone who visited Chadstone shopping centre between 23 September and 1 October should get tested – even if they have the mildest of symptoms. Testing is available at Chadstone car park drive through – Level 2 Chadstone Carpark, outside Coles and a walk-in clinic is open for staff only at Central Amenities on the Ground Level between M.J.Bale and Marimekko. Both sites are open from 12-8pm today and will be open this weekend from noon to 5pm.
Anyone who visited Oddfellows Café in Kilmore between 30 September and 3 October are classified as potential close contacts and should come forward for testing, even if you don’t have any symptoms at all. Testing has been set up at The Kilmore and District Hospital from 9am – 5pm and Kilmore Soldiers Memorial Hall pop-up testing site from 10am – 5pm today. There are currently around 295 people isolating in Kilmore following cases linked to the Oddfellows Café.
Victoria has recorded 11 new cases of coronavirus since yesterday, with the total number of cases now at 20,257.
The overall total has increased by 10 due to one case being reclassified.
Six of today’s new cases are linked to known outbreaks and complex cases. Two cases are linked to aged care (Uniting AgeWell Preston) and single cases are linked to the Frankston family outbreak, the Oddfellows Café in Kilmore and the Chadstone Shopping Centre outbreak. The one remaining case is linked to a complex case. The other five cases remain under investigation.
The new case today linked to the Oddfellows Café is a close contact of a known case and was already isolating.
Of today’s 11 new cases, there are two cases in Wyndham and single cases in Bayside, Darebin, Frankston, Greater Dandenong, Hobsons Bay, Knox, Port Phillip and Mitchell Shire. There is one case still under investigation.
Following further testing, investigation and review, the positive case reported in Mildura yesterday has been rejected. This rejection will be reflected in tomorrow’s numbers.
There has been an additional case in a staff member linked to an outbreak at Box Hill hospital, which now includes three staff members and one patient. All staff on the affected Covid ward are being tested and will isolate pending results. The source of acquisition is currently unconfirmed and all avenues of possible transmission are being investigated.
There have been no new deaths from Covid-19 reported since yesterday. To date, 809 people have died from coronavirus in Victoria.
The average number of cases diagnosed in the last 14 days (25 Sep 2020 – 08 Oct 2020) for metropolitan Melbourne is 9.4 and regional Victoria is 0.4. The rolling daily average case number is calculated by averaging out the number of new cases over the past 14 days.
The total number of cases from an unknown source in the last 14 days (23 Sep 2020 – 06 Oct 2020) is 12 for metropolitan Melbourne and zero from regional Victoria. The 14-day period for the source of acquisition data ends 48 hours earlier than the 14-day period used to calculate the new case average due to the time required to fully investigate a case and assign its mode of acquisition.
Rex Patrick wants a rethink about whether or not Australia goes to the Beijing Winter Olympics – and he wants the government to make that decision:
And the response to the “you’re welcome”.
(There seems to be a lot of people watching Moana and I’m not mad about that.)
To be fair, some of the questions, at least in the short term, need to change on our side of things too. “How will you pay for it?” might once have been valid, but in a pandemic, with an economic impact we haven’t seen in our lifetimes, thinking has to change.
The question is not how will you pay for it, in my opinion. It’s what benefit will this bring? Who benefits from this? What does this spending lead to?
We need to all make a shift – governments borrowing money to spend productively on society is not a bad thing no matter what colour the government’s flags. We saw it with Chifley after the second world war. We saw it with Menzies in the 60s.
Australia’s budget will be in deficit for at least a decade. Let’s start asking about the flow-on effects of that borrowing, rather than just where will the money come from.
The government is pleased to be able to chalk up this (easy, given Labor supported it) win:
For those wondering about Melbourne’s numbers today:
Mathias Cormann gets the final word at the press conference:
“It’s been fun. See you at estimates.”
Q: Prime minister, just on Labor’s childcare reforms, do you agree that it will help low- and middle-income families and boost female workplace participation?
Well, look, there are many questions that the leader of the opposition still has to answer for us to understand exactly what he’s put forward. He hasn’t released the detailed costings of his policies, he hasn’t told us what the changes are to the activity test and how that impacts on things.
What I do know is that someone who is in the top 10% of income earning in this country are the big beneficiaries of that plan. When we announced our childcare changes, it was focused on those on low- and middle-income earners. That’s where all the money was spent.
That’s where the majority of the $9 billion goes under our plan, to support those on low- and middle-income earners. And we put our plan in place, that’s why I wasn’t surprised that workforce participation increased to record levels, that women’s participation in the workforce rose to record levels. That the arrangements we put in place to ensure that rebates were based on a price cap meant that we could start bringing the costs of child care down.
And, indeed, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has confirmed that, since our package went into place, that those costs actually did come down.
So, there are many unanswered questions about what the leader of the opposition said the other night. You know, for the most part, we’ll file it under ‘fiction’.
What this is is law. Our plan is law. Our plan is in place.
I might just reinforce a very important point here.
After six years of Liberal-National government, and implementation of our reforms and implementation of our plans to strengthen the economy and create more jobs, workforce participation by women in Australia was at its highest on record.
And the gender pay gap was at its lowest ever on record, under our government, as a result of the policies of our government. So, we don’t need an unfunded policy prescription. We need to go back to what got us into that position before, as we work our way out of this Covid recession.
(The Coalition has been in power since 2013. So there must be at least one year Cormann wants to forget).
Scott Morrison says it is the GST top-up with has allowed WA to declare a budget surplus.
So, you’re welcome, Mark,” he says.
Q: The RBA has warned today that Australia’s historically low population growth rate will heighten the risk of falls in property values in the future. And Treasury has said your housing measures bring forward demand for future years. What will the government do?
Well, the impacts from the Covid-19 recession are obvious. Whether it’s programs like homebuilder and others, there will always be an excess of demand over the supply of housing in this country. Always has been. And that’s what has fundamentally driven house price values all around the country.
And that is still true today. There is still a surplus of demand over supply. And that’s why our homebuilder program - and to give you an idea of its impact, what we’ve done in the housing sector is we’ve been unlocking and bringing forward the decisions that home builders want to make. And that will see some 20,000 homes built at a cost of around $500 million.
If I hark back to the GFC - and Mathias will remember this - the then government had a scheme to build just under 20,000 homes, and it cost $5 billion.
So, I think I can leave it to you to work out which is the better way to get homes built when it comes to the taxpayer and generate the construction activity in the residential building sector, to get things moving in that area. See, this is what our plan is all about.
Our plan, as Mathias just said, is about enabling investment in the private sector. We don’t see government as the solution forever. We see government’s role in the middle of this Covid-19 recession to assist the private sector get back on its feet, to bridge this gap during the course of this Covid-19 recession.
But back the fact that our long-term prosperity and the jobs that depend on it will come from those businesses going forward again. And that’s why what has passed today is so important. So important. It’s important because businesses can go now and say,
“We can purchase that equipment, we can go and purchase that new header, we can go and purchase that new blast freezer, we can go and purchase that new fridge, we can go and purchase that new fleet of vehicles, or those trucks or those utes, or the testing equipment and medical laboratories,” or whatever it happens to be.
What we’ve said today in the parliament, through the law, is we’re backing you to invest and employ people. And they can go out there with that confidence. Not off a speech, off the law. This is real. And the parliament just made it real.
Earlier today, in the Senate, the government was successful in having the tax relief, the bringing forward of personal income tax cuts, to ensure that working Australians all across the country can keep more of what they earn – some 11 million of them.
Also as part of that bill we were successful in being able to pass what are critical tax changes for businesses to be able to invest in their future, creating jobs right across the country to ensure that we can come out of this Covid-19 recession.
In addition to that, there is the important changes to our tax laws, which will mean that businesses, through no fault of their own, who are performing well as they came into this Covid-19 recession, making profits, paying taxes, and they’ve been hit with what I’d call Covid losses.
We won’t make them wait for years and years before they get back into profitability, if they can achieve that. They can offset those losses, those Covid losses, against the taxes they paid out of their profits before they came into this Covid crisis. Which means they can get back on their feet quicker.
Which means they can keep more people employed. Which means they can invest in their business. Which means, importantly, they can create more jobs. In addition, $2 billion worth of special incentives on research and development, which will drive forward particularly our manufacturing industries, as part also of our manufacturing plan.
And important changes that says that you’re a small business, and medium-sized businesses, up to $50 million in turnover, where you can access important concessions that cut red tape and enable you to go about your business. All of this means more jobs. This was all in the budget speech on Tuesday night from the treasurer, and it’s law on Friday. This is real change.
This is a real budget that is going to have a real impact on Australians as we come out of this Covid-19 recession. This is the budget that Australians needed. This is the plan that Australians have needed. And this is the plan that has been legislated, made law in our parliament, in three days. In just three days. That’s how serious we are about our plan. That’s how serious we are about making this real for Australians. We know they need that support now.
This is a plan to boost business, to boost jobs, to boost investment, to boost research and development and technology, to drive jobs in our economy. And I want to thank the finance minister, and in this particular case, as leader of the government of the Senate, to ensure we were able to take this through the parliament THIS week, to ensure that Australians can go into this weekend, turn up to work on Monday, even those working over the weekend, I’m sure, knowing that our plan for the economic recovery from the Covid-19 recession is moving. It’s happening. It’s law. It’s real.
Scott Morrison press conference
The prime minister is thrilled the tax package has passed.
We have heard “Covid crisis” and “Covid losses” about 80 billion times so far this monologue.
And after one of the longest sessions of valedictories I have ever witnessed in my our and a bit years in this place, the Senate adjourns.
Scott Morrison will hold his press conference with Mathias Cormann at 1.30 (presuming the Senate valedictories in reply finish by then).
Mike Bowers was in the chamber for Mathias Cormann’s valedictory speech and reply:
The South Australian police commissioner’s ringtone appears to be ‘I’m too sexy” by Right Said Fred
Peta Credlin questions Daniel Andrews at press conference
Former prime minister Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff turned Sky News After Dark host Peta Credlin has raised eyebrows in turning up to the daily Dan Andrews press conference to probe the Victorian premier on the hotel quarantine program.
Credlin has taken a keen interest in the inquiry since it finished last month, and turned up to the daily press conference on Friday and asked Andrews dozens of questions over 45 minutes about the mystery around the recruitment of security guards and concerns she had over the emergency management commissioner Andrew Crisp revising his evidence about who he informed about the program.
As we reported yesterday, Victoria Police say they can’t access incoming call records for former police commissioner Graham Ashton for six vital minutes on the day the program was launched.
These records might reveal who told Ashton before the program was announced that private security would be used in the botched program.
Credlin first asked whether the inquiry had the powers it needed to get to the bottom of that. Andrews replied that the inquiry had not sought more powers from him.
Then Credlin asked whether he, and others including the head of his department and other ministers, would be willing to hand over their outgoing call records to the inquiry to see if they were the ones who called Ashton. Andrews replied that the inquiry had not sought this information.
One of the more interesting parts is that Credlin repeatedly referred to the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act, meaning the inquiry would need a warrant to get that data.
That is not correct. The mandatory data retention laws (passed by parliament in 2015 when she was CoS to Abbott) do not require law enforcement (i.e. Victoria Police) to obtain a warrant to get those records. It was a major debate around the passing of those laws at the time that a warrant requirement would be too burdensome for law enforcement.
The inquiry itself isn’t one of the listed agencies with powers under the data retention law, but Victoria police is and, as we reported, experts say Victoria police could use its powers to get those records, despite Telstra saying otherwise.
Scott Morrison will be holding a press conference with Mathias Cormann very soon.
We imagine after that the farewell tour will move on to somewhere where there is some “very good red wine” – something Cormann is also known for providing to his guests (of which your scribe has never been).
Penny Wong’s new Senate sparring partner and counterpart is Simon Birmingham, who also went to the University of Adelaide, and both are part of what is called the “Adelaide mafia” – a group of Adelaide MPs and advisers who all came up around the same time, and have known each other since before they all wore suits every day of their lives.
Mathias Cormann bows out
With the tax cuts through, the finance minister has said his farewell to politics. It was a genial speech. A couple of quick takeouts.
Of the current uncertain environment, Cormann said this was not a time for “fences”.
He said it would be tempting in the current climate to turn inwards, to “lose touch with the rest of the world” but he said this would be a recipe for falling behind.
He says Australia needs to remain an open trading nation, even if that’s tough.
He’s said of political life, what you stop is sometimes as important as what you achieve. Cormann says he was proud to stop Labor’s mining tax. Interestingly the carbon price doesn’t get a mention.
He’s said being finance minister involves “a lot of meetings in rooms without windows”. Of the postal survey on marriage equality, he says he was proud to achieve a resolution of that debate in a way that “kept the country together”.
Cormann reflects on his relationships with prime ministers. Tony Abbott worked very hard and gave him an opportunity to be finance minister.
Of Malcolm Turnbull (the pair were close and famously fell out when Cormann moved against him in 2018) he says he, Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison “worked very hard to make him the most effective prime minister he could be”.
Of Morrison, he says the two are close. Conventional wisdom says otherwise, but Cormann says they are close even though they don’t always agree. He says they have had robust debates, and that’s how things should be.
He ends by saying he won’t be back, which is of course a Terminator reference.
Labor’s Senate leader, Penny Wong, gives a gracious farewell. Cormann and Wong are close. Wong says Cormann is a formidable opponent and a trustworthy man.
She says they have never betrayed a confidence and that’s rare in politics.
She says they have been in conflict, but they have always worked too to de-escalate conflict.
She ends by telling the chamber Cormann is her friend and she will miss him.
Josh Taylor will be with you with his update very soon.
Here is how he saw it at the time.
Here is some of what Mathias Cormann had to say about Penny Wong.
A keen blog reader and Daniel Andrews press conference watcher has just informed me that Peta Credlin was at the Andrews press conference today.
Josh Taylor was all over it – he’ll have a report on that exchange very soon.
Penny Wong is now giving a speech in reply.
Mathias Cormann is wrapping up his final speech.
After today, I won’t be back,” he says in his Belgium accent.
The whole chamber gives him a standing ovation.
On the 48 hour deadline – Dr Jeannette Young says it is about contact tracing (Gladys Berejiklian has criticised Annastacia Palaszczuk for setting an arbitrary deadline.)
Dr Young says it is a decision of the health expert panel:
It is ... 48 hours from where the case interview occurs, that is the timeframe so I discussed this with the chief health officer in NSW yesterday and was given all of the information about the seven contacts they had found links to so there is only one that they have not and then today, the five, I understand, they have links to all five. They were linked to healthcare so it is really finding out from NSW and, indeed, they have now found the link for that case they had a while back that could not find a link to that time. It is around 2-3 days from when the case occurs.
As I said, it is 48 hours ... the national decision is ... you have to start the 48 hours at some point.
Do you started when the person had the swab taken?
When the pathology lab gets the results et cetera et cetera.
A decision was made that the 48 hours would start from when the case interview occurred and that makes sense because that is when you have the information from the patient as to where they have been and where they might have contracted it.
So far, it looks like NSW is on track to be able to enter Queensland from 1 November, but the situation will be monitored.
Dr Jeannette Young:
At the end of each month is where we assess what has gone in the previous 28 days and so we will make that assessment then because there are a range of issues.
Most issues NSW are well on top of, they are very good, we also want to see significant testing.
They also have sewage testing which has proven to be a useful strategy and indeed that some of the more recent cases before they pick them up in people.
Queensland CHO Dr Jeannette Young is not restarting the clock on opening the border to NSW as yet.
She has praised NSW’s contact tracing, and says it is “unlinked” cases which worry her – so far, NSW is able to link back its cases.
There has also been a good outcome for NSW. They have found links to seven of the eight cases that they notified yesterday and I understand they have a further 10 cases today, five of them in hotel quarantining which are not any risk at all and five in the community but all five of them, they know how they have acquired those cases are NSW has extremely good contact tracing capability and they are using that at the moment is that we just need to wait a bit longer before we decide whether or not there has been any need to change that planned opening to NSW.
At this point in time, it is planned for the 1 November.
As you would know, we use the 28 days of no unlinked community cases to assist us in determining whether it is a safe and at that point in time, at the end of the month, to open to another state and that has stood us very, very well in Queensland so we will continue to monitor what is happening in NSW.
They do have a concern, which they are well aware of and well on top of, at the Liverpool hospital and also at a private clinic so those five cases today that they have announced, I understand, are all related to healthcare facilities and that is why, although it is very difficult and very difficult decision each time it is made, but we do ask people who have been to healthcare facilities in either Sydney or Melbourne that they do need to quarantining when they come back to Queensland because we know they have been a lot of cases that have occurred out of healthcare facilities.
Indeed, here in Queensland, we saw that small cluster at Ipswich hospital but they manage it so well and got on top of it very quickly but it can be hard getting on top of those clusters in healthcare facilities for a whole range of reasons which are quite understandable. That is where we going at the moment in of assessing what is going on in NSW.
Queensland has reported no new cases – that makes 28 days since Queensland’s last case, which chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant has declared the last outbreak officially over.
On to Daniel Andrews.
As expected, the questions are about Jenny Mikakos’s final submission to the hotel quarantine inquiry, where she asked the commission to treat Andrews’s evidence with “caution”.
Q: Is your alleged subversion of the normal cabinet process partly to blame for some of the hotel quarantine problems?
Well, we have a board of inquiry that is writing a report. I don’t accept that criticism but ultimately that will be a matter for the board to report on among many other matters. That is an arm’s length process and one that we should allow to run its course. In just a few weeks’ time, there will be a report and we will all be in a position to have a more detailed discussion about whatever it is that the board finds and recommendations that are made.
Q: Should the board be cautious?
I have written in testimony and the board can draw that conclusion as I am sure they will. That is exactly the role they have to play.
It is an ongoing process and I know it is frustrating. I would like to report to come tomorrow but it does take some time. The board has gone through the best part of 300 pages and have heard from many witnesses and that report is eagerly awaited by all of us because it will give us findings and advice on what we should do in terms of next steps but it is not appropriate for me to try to predict what that report will uncover, where they will land. It is entirely a matter for them. It is just a few weeks off and at that point Victorians can be confident I will take the action necessary to make sure these sorts of mistakes are not made again.
Q: What actions could you take?
Let’s not speculate too much. My judgment will be there will be findings and then a series of different advice. The board will recommend to government and its agencies that certain changes could be made. That is what I think will come out of that report but it is a matter for them, they will do the work and I am confident they. As I have said many times, we will not hesitate to take up the findings and any recommendations made to ensure the changes are made so that we can not have that sort of thing happen again.
Andrews says he has not spoken to Mikakos since her resignation
Q: The numbers have been dropping fairly steadily for quite some time, and since Wednesday it has sort of plateaued. If it stays there for the next week or so, would you be more nervous about opening up next Monday or when that announcement is due?
Yes, I think obviously we have a target of five per day. As I have said, the reassuring thing is the outbreak contribution to that daily number ... You know, we could see that fall away pretty quickly as outbreaks come under control to that underlying number of two or three. That would be much more reassuring. But it doesn’t mean that there can’t be a consideration on that day. We just need to look at exactly what changes can be made with those numbers.
Q: Obviously we were at 11 as a rolling average when we ended our first stint of lockdown. Things are definitely different, but why should we continue to put up with these restrictions if we ultimately were not going to see a second wave of were not for the hotel quarantine outbreaks?
No, I think hotel quarantine was the source of the second wave, but the contributions there were the number of mystery cases that were happening at that time and the rolling average. So having that in mind and taking those lessons about exactly where you are at a point in time when you ease restrictions are really critical. And it is telling us that we can get to a point where a slow and steady approach with a very measured easing of restrictions means that we can have appropriate confidence that we sustain those low numbers or get to know community transmission for the long-term. So it is not just a case of throwing our hands up and giving up. We just need to be happy that those numbers are guiding us as we take the next step.
So is Victoria still towards the end of its hard line of restrictions, even with these new outbreaks?
Prof Brett Sutton:
I still believe it. We shouldn’t be complacent. I am telling everyone not to be complacent, because this could fail.
This could fail if people don’t come forward for testing, if people don’t follow the restrictions and if people certainly don’t isolate or quarantine when absolutely have to.
But those things being done well, we will get there. There is no question we will get there if people come forward for testing, isolate and quarantine, where masks and do all of the things that we are asking of them. It has been a long haul.
There is no question people are tired, there is no question it has been really the most challenging year in many, many people’s lives, and that our reserves are low. But it is also amazing to see the resilience of people through this, and I think people have been resilient seeing that slowly but surely we are getting to a point where we can have a much easier and less restricted summer going forward.
I make references to Europe. Australia is not Europe. I am not trying to say that we are.
But they are going into a phase overwinter where they have months and months of mask wearing and staying at home and not being able to visit other households in the foreseeable future.
It will be really tough for them. We are trying to be on a 1-way track where every point where we go through another step is easier and less restrictive. I think people have that in mind. I know it is tough, but I think the resilience that we have got will get us over that line.
Prof Brett Sutton says it is not just about contact tracing – people need to take their own precautions:
It is absolutely clear that we need to pivot to a significant preventative approach, a significant engagement approach, that really maximises all of those things that we need people to do each and every day.
The primary one is isolation, when you are symptomatic. Getting tested and going home.
You have $450 if you have to wait for a test result, you have $1500 if you have to quarantine for four days or if you are isolating as a case. I think they are really key messages that we need everyone to understand.
The other bit is masks. I have seen so many people wearing masks, it is absolutely fantastic, but I do still see people including in conversation, less than 1.5m apart, both not wearing masks.
A fitted mask has between 40 per cent and 80 per cent, if both people wear it, reduction in transmission risk. Why would you not do that? I know the reason why people don’t do it.
They think this is my mate, I won’t catch coronavirus from someone I am familiar with or I won’t catch coronavirus from a family member.
These other people who transmitting to others. The people we are familiar with and our family members. Obviously our household members, we are not wearing a mask at home.
But if you are meeting outdoors, and this is the advice in the public health direction, with two households and five or fewer, you have to wear a mask. It reduces that risk by about half if both people wear it. It is really important.
The tax changes have passed the senate (the cut price jobkeeper program – the labour hire credits, have been sent to a committee for review).
The tax changes means the rate will change from the moment the bill becomes law – and then anything else you are owed will form part of next year’s tax return.
Mathias Cormann delivers valedictory speech
The finance minister is delivering his final speech to the Senate.
He’s taking a light-hearted approach – Penny Wong appears to be enjoying it.
The pair have been sparring partners, but (usually) take the same approach – getting things done. The biggest blowups have occurred when one has disappointed the other by playing politics.
Victorian chief health officer Prof Brett Sutton is up now:
Eleven new cases, a total increase of 10 with one reclassification.
It is great to see that the total number of active cases is below 200 for the first time in a long, long time.
Only 17 patients in hospital and only one in intensive care and no-one on a ventilator at the moment so that is really a positive and also to have healthcare worker current active cases below 20 today is terrific and the active cases in aged care are still at 35 but it has come down significantly.
It was over 100 one or two weeks ago. That is another positive. The numbers for today, again, six already linked to known outbreaks or existing nine complex cases. Another five under investigation.
The majority of those I am sure will be linked to known cases or outbreaks.The numbers are primarily driven by these complex outbreaks, they are challenging but we are throwing everything at them.
The Kilmore outbreak is a case in point but additional cases linked to United aged care Preston, an outbreak in Frankston, the Kilmore case I have spoken of, and an additional case to the Chadstone shopping.
We will have fewer and fewer outbreaks emerge and the underlying trend.The good news is that getting on top of those outbreaks means that the really hard to shift numbers are only two or three per day. All the rest will be controlled when we control those out and that is a real positive but it is, of course, frustrating to see that slow, even if steady movement, down.
We have seen a bit of a plateauing in recent days and I am as frustrated as anyone but the underlying trend will get us there.
From Monday, Victorians must wear a fitted face mask – no more face shields. (This was announced two weeks ago.)
All Victorians must wear that masks when they leave their homes as restrictions ease and movement increases, the effectiveness of masks is even more important and obvious. Super-spreading events can be avoided by people wearing masks and we are grateful to all Victorians and I think it is the vast, vast majority of Victorians who have accepted mask wearing.
No one enjoys it, and as the temperatures get higher it becomes a less enjoyable experience but low cost and high potential public health benefit and on that basis you must wear a fitted mask that covers the nose and ask and that means facial shields or scarves, or bandanas will no longer, from midnight essentially on the 11th, they will no longer be seen as sufficient in terms of the legal requirements on each and every Victorian.
We do give people some time to make that change and those new requirements will be in force from 11.59pm on the 11 October. Again, I remind people that Victoria Police can enforce these rules.
It is not matter of anyone challenging other people. I think is best not to get into those sorts of debates and there are legal and lawful exemptions. Again, no-one for a moment is suggesting that wearing mask is something that is pleasant or something we would choose to do if you were not for a significant public health benefit. If we’ll stay the course on that and any other ways in which we have changed the way we live our lives and continued to see these numbers drop, we can keep them low we can find the Covid normal and a Covid safe Christmas and summer will be vastly different to 2020 in 2021.
Victoria press conference
Happy 99th Dan Andrews consecutive press conference day.
[There are] 195 active cases of coronavirus in Victoria, with 11 new cases since yesterday’s update.
The last time we had less than 200 active cases in Victoria was 26 June, so this is an opportunity, really important opportunity, to congratulate Victorians right across the state for following the rules, sticking to the strategy.
These are the results that come from a really determined effort to defeat this second wave, to see this virus off and then to lock in that Covid normal.
So 195 cases, the first time under 200 June. Six linked to known outbreaks and complex cases, five under investigation and one reclassified.
There are no new deaths to report today, but we take this opportunity to again send our condolences and our best wishes to all of those who have lost a loved one because of this global pandemic.
There are 17 Victorians in hospital, one is in intensive care and that person is not on a ventilator. A total of 2,811,114 test results have been received since the beginning of the year, and 15,585 test results have been received since yesterday.
Again, that is a very strong number. More than 30,000 tests these last two days and I want to thank and congratulate that almost 15,600 Victorians who just the day before went and got tested.
As we come into the weekend, my messages are really simple one around testing. If you have got any symptoms whatsoever, please don’t put off getting tested until, say, Monday.
Go and get tested as soon as you possibly can.
Apart from following the rules, which the vast, vast majority of Victorians are doing, there is arguably nothing more important than symptomatic Victorians, even with the mildest of symptoms, coming forward, attending one of those more than 210 testing sites, getting tested. If you are positive, then we are able to protect you, we are able to protect your family and we are able to prevent you unknowingly, given how infectious this virus is, spreading it to others.
NSW CHO Dr Kerry Chant has also given an update:
As the premier indicated, we have had 12,868 tests reported in the 24-hour reporting period.
We have reported 10 new cases, five are returned travellers in hotel quarantine and five were locally acquired. They were all linked to a known case or cluster. Four of the new locally acquired cases reported today are associated with the private health clinic cluster.
Three of these are household contacts, the case reported yesterday, and the fourth is a coworker of the case reported yesterday. There are now seven cases associated with this cluster and investigations into its source are ongoing.
One of today’s locally acquired cases is included in the total numbers for New South Wales, but all indications are that it is an old case and was most likely acquired when the virus was circulating in low levels in South-Western Sydney around August.
We believe that this case was associated with Liverpool Hospital cluster. New South Wales is working with a restaurant in Potts Point to assess the risk to patrons and staff who may have been exposed to Covid when a person who was infectious visited there from 6pm to 8pm on the evening of Sunday 4 October.
Contact tracing is under way and New South Wales Health will contact close and casual contacts directly. But anyone who was at Monopole that evening should monitor their symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop. After testing, they must remain in isolation until a negative test result.
Obviously we will contact casual and close contact and give them specific information.
NSW records five new locally acquired infections
Gladys Berejiklian is asking Sydney residents to get tested for Covid if they have any symptoms.
There have been 10 cases in total recorded for NSW – five are in hotel quarantine:
In relation to the cases of community transmission, four were linked to that new cluster around the private clinic and one, Health believes is an old case linked to Liverpool Hospital. It is believed the infection was acquired back in August and so that person is no longer infectious, yet the disease was picked up in them.
We are urging everybody to keep updated on the Health website. Make sure you follow the instructions. This morning there are additional venues and locations put therefore the community to respond to, and we are asking everybody with the mildest of symptoms to come forward.
We certainly don’t want to see these clusters grow. Importantly, four that were identified overnight in relation to the private clinic, three of those are in one household, which is of some comfort given that it is not multiple sources at this stage. Obviously we are concerned because, as you see on the list of venues, they are across a wide range of suburbs.
We need to make sure that geographically everybody in those areas, everybody in those suburbs, even if they haven’t been to any of those locations listed, there is always the chance the virus can still be lurking in those communities. We are urging everybody in those suburbs where there is also infectious cases to make sure you get tested even if you have the mildest symptoms.
While the Senate is debating the omnibus tax cut bill, it’s worth noting that the second stimulus bill, to give the government power to create the jobmaker hiring credit (youth wage subsidy) has been referred to an inquiry.
The Senate Economics Legislation Committee will examine the bill and report by 6 November.
So while Labor will wave through tax cuts today, there’ll be a few days of hearings to dig into the hiring credit.
The omnibus tax bill just passed the second reading stage, 30 votes to six, a foregone conclusion because only the Greens are opposing it.
Just a reminder that childcare as an industry makes money as well.
And it should not be treated as welfare.
Dan Tehan was on ABC radio with Hamish Macdonald this morning as well, talking child care.
Macdonald: Labor is promising an extra $6bn for day care. That will work, won’t it, on two levels: helping families doing it tough in this recession. Also, though, getting Australia working again, as Anthony Albanese puts it.
Well, ultimately, Hamish, every family is a taxpayer, and, once again, we’re getting from the Labor party a $6bn expense and no way to pay for it. And, if they’re baking it in, and we haven’t heard anything from the leader of the opposition as to how he’s going to pay for this. So, what we’re seeing is, ultimately, the taxpayer going to be paying more for something that the Labor party has no way of paying for.
Macdonald: They, Labor, though, is targeting a bit of a sore point, though, for this government, that it’s been a fairly blokey budget. Aren’t they?
Well, no, let’s take child care, for instance. What we’ve seen in this Budget is $9.2 bn, growing to $10bn over the forward estimates, for child care. We’ve seen this government deliver $900m for child care through the pandemic, which has seen 99% of all providers across the nation remaining open and viable, and making sure that they can provide that essential care for children, especially for those essential service workers that had to work throughout the pandemic. There’s been a big focus on child care from this government, right throughout this pandemic, and we are confident that the sector is ready, willing and able to support workforce participation as we grow out of the pandemic…
Macdonald: … With respect, minister, you’re talking about the past, they’re talking about the future here and the recovery, and getting more people into work and enabling more women to return to the workforce. Why don’t you do something to support women back into the workforce, specifically?
Well, because we put forward changes to child care two years ago. We’re implementing those changes, and they’re working. Overall workforce participation was at the highest on record in August 2019 for men and women. And, for women, under our system, workforce participation has increased from 58.7% in September 2013 to 61.5% in January 2020. And, that was a record.
Macdonald: But, you do acknowledge, though, don’t you, under the current system that we have with the subsidy cap, there is a disincentive for some individuals in a two person relationship with a kid to go back to work more than two and a half days a week. That the financial scenario under the current subsidy means there’s a disincentive. You accept that, don’t you?
Well, under our system, what it does is it helps and supports those that earn the least to get access to affordable child care. And, it’s worked. 72% pay no more than $5 per hour in day care, and for 24%, it’s no more than $2 an hour. So, we have targeted our support to help those who earn the least. And, one of the things that the Labor party …
Macdonald: … I understand that. I’m just trying to get you to speak to the disincentive that’s there. I mean, you would have read the, the figures yourself. This is not something that’s come from Labor. You acknowledge that there is a structural disincentive for people to work over three days, if they’re the second partner in the relationship?
Well, ultimately, what our system does is target our assistance to those who earn the least. Now, it increases gradually, it’s scaled up as your income goes up. And, obviously, you get less support the more that you earn. But, that was the design that the Productivity Commission recommended to the government, and that is what we have implemented, and implemented successfully. And, we’ve seen, as I’ve said, 72% of families are paying no more than $5 per hour for their child care.
Daniel Andrews will hold his press conference at 11am as well.
As previewed many, many times by the government, mental health funding was increased in the budget. More people than ever are struggling with their mental health, given *gestures wildly at everything*.
AAP reports that includes people who are dealing with it for the first time:
Three in five Australian workers experienced a mental health condition this year and many struggled for the first time during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.
A survey of more than 10,000 Australian workers found the number of workers who reported experiencing a mental health condition in 2020 had risen by nine percentage points.
The study, Australia’s largest on workplace mental health, also found over a quarter of those who experienced ill mental health did so for the first time during the pandemic.
National mental health organisation SuperFriend’s Indicators of a Thriving Workplace Report asked respondents about work stresses, supports, and the impact of the pandemic on their professional life.
They found productivity was lower for many respondents, more were extremely stressed at work, and more were hesitant to change jobs even if they hated them.
Almost 60% of those surveyed said they had been less productive this year because of mental health concerns, and 26% reported work was extremely stressful or very stressful for them this year.
Workers from the transport, postal and warehousing industries reported being under the most strain, followed by those in public administration and safety and retail.
The survey also found more people are staying in jobs despite fewer finding their work interesting or important, due to fears over rising unemployment.
The survey found that casual workers were the least “thriving” cohort, and that half had their work hours cut involuntarily.
“Casual workers have very little job security, and fewer opportunities to access workplace mental health programs and resources compared with their securely employed peers,” SuperFriend chief executive Margo Lydon said in a statement.
But it wasn’t all negative. Nearly half of the respondents said the pandemic has resulted in a better work-life balance and a range of mental and physical health benefits.
Almost 30% of respondents said they’d become more productive during the pandemic, thanks to a reduced commute to work (38.4 per cent), more comfortable clothing (31.3%) and flexible work hours (29.4%.
“Time usually spent getting ready for work, commuting and attending unnecessary meetings is instead spent with loved ones, exercising, pursuing personal interests or getting more sleep – all known factors to improve wellbeing and increase productivity,” Lydon said.
The research also found that working remotely had boosted workplace connectedness for many.
Lydon said the mental impacts of the period were clear, and it is “hugely disappointing” to note more than half of workplaces – 55.1% – had not implemented initiative to support workers’ mental wellbeing.
“Lost productivity due to mental ill health is estimated to cost the Australian economy between $10bn to $18bn every year, but on the flip side, every dollar invested into workplace mental health is estimated to deliver a return on investment of five to one,” she said.
However the survey also found one in three workplaces had implemented new initiatives since March to support workers’ mental health, such as paid mental health days off, sick pay for casual workers, meeting-free blocks of time and substantially longer break times.
It’s 11am for Gladys Berejiklian today.
The former Victorian health minister, Jenny Mikakos, has delivered an explosive final submission to the hotel quarantine inquiry on her way out.
Mikakos quit the ministry and parliament after premier Daniel Andrews gave evidence to the inquiry that he believed she was responsible for the botched program that caused Victoria’s second wave of Covid cases.
However, in her final submission to the inquiry published on Friday, Mikakos has placed the blame on the premier for tasking another department, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions with the program, meaning she was not kept informed about it.
The haste with which this program was established saw the usual Cabinet processes subverted with the premier, through the Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC), tasking the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) with responsibility for its design and implementation.
Mikakos said her resignation should not be viewed as an admission of responsibility, and said the failure of the program in part could be due to the lack of the regular cabinet committee process in the establishment of the program in March.
She said his belief she was responsible for the program was inconsistent with the evidence of the crisis council of cabinet submission from that time which listed the program as being the joint responsibility of DJPR and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The former minister also suggested the inquiry should “treat with caution” Andrews’ claim that a decision to use private security had not been made by the time he held a 3pm press conference on 27 March where he mentioned private security.
It is submitted that had the decision not already been made by that time, the premier would not have announced the use of private security in the program.
In this regard, it is observed that no evidence was led about what briefings were provided to the premier by his office in advance of that media conference.
The state opposition has called for Andrews’s staff to be called before the inquiry about their involvement on the day the program was established.
'Nonsense' to hold Jenny Mikakos solely responsible for hotel quarantine
It has been quite the morning, so I am only now reading through the final submissions to the hotel quarantine inquiry.
Jenny Mikakos has quite the interesting one – the former health minister will not be going quietly. Her submission includes a warning for the inquiry to treat her former leader, Daniel Andrews’s evidence with “caution”.
...it is respectfully submitted that the Board ought to treat with caution the Premier’s evidence where he sought to explain the reference to the use of private security in the Hotel Quarantine Program made by him during his media conference that commenced at 3pm on 27 March 2020.
It is submitted that had the decision not already been made by that time, the premier would not have announced the use of private security in the program.
Mikakos’s submission also included this:
It would be a nonsense, it is submitted, for the DHHS, and through it, Ms Mikakos, to be considered to be solely responsible and solely accountable for the Hotel Quarantine Program during the relevant period, by reason of the DHHS’s “control agency” status in respect of the pandemic as a whole.
The DHHS held no contracts with the hotels, nor with security guard contractors or providers of cleaning services, and was not responsible for contract management in respect of those services.
Meanwhile, here is how the Oz saw Anthony Albanese talking to his colleagues, more than the Australian people (as per Peter Dutton’s assertions).
Of course, deflection is one of the best tools out there, which then leads to this exchange.
Peter Dutton: Well, I just think if you drill down, last night was all about Anthony Albanese talking to his colleagues, more than the Australian people. The leadership drum is already beating in the Labor party. I mean, Richard’s, you know, he’s got that, that killer, you know, the assassin look there – that smiling assassin look. I don’t want to give it away, Richard but–
Richard Marles: I am the least assassin–
Dutton: You need to empty out his pockets.
Host: He has been called many things. Richard, I don’t think that though.
Dutton: You need to empty out his pockets and see what’s there.
Marles: You’ll need to teach me what that look looks like, Peter.
Dutton: Albo, Albo will not see the next election. Albo will not see the next election and last night was all about a pitch to his colleagues, to say give me a bit more time. Nothing more, nothing less. The election’s two years away and Labor promising to spend more money, as Richard just said, he agrees with everything we said. But the debt is too high, and we should spend more money. So, it’s pretty confusing.
Host: Is Albo going to be your leader at the next election, Richard?
Marles: Yes. Yes, he absolutely is. And I enjoy the – I enjoy Peter’s comedy. But I do want – you know, Peter will be the guy who gives the assassin-look lessons in this parliament. But I do enjoy his comedy today. It’s about spending money better, that’s the question, and they have been spending it badly. They’ve spent a trillion dollars in debt and what is there to show for it? That’s the real point about Tuesday night’s budget, what on Earth is there to show for that?
Peter Dutton did his regular Dutton on the Nine network this morning.
Australia is headed for a trillion dollar debt in the medium term – as a BEST case scenario – but apparently, Labor is still to blame for how money is spent in this country (the debt doubled under the Coalition, before the pandemic – not that debt and deficit really matter, because money has never been cheaper for governments, the bonds they buy have those low interest rates locked in for years and years, and well, governments should be building and paying for things. It’s the job).
Dutton was defending the Coalition’s lack of new policies on child care costs – the figure he quotes here is the existing subsidies, and includes the three months of free childcare:
We spend about $9bn a year on childcare. Now we want to do more. In fact, during Covid, we’ve spent about $900m supporting services so that they can stay open. So, with tax cuts and other support for families, the budget was really about making sure that people have extra dollars in their pocket, so that they can help pay for childcare or they can help with other expenses, if their kids are a bit older at primary school or secondary school. But Labor has spent the week since the budget saying, you know the deficit’s too high, but you should spend more money and it doesn’t add up.
I don’t know where the money comes from.
But one thing that Anthony Albanese has in common with Bill Shorten, is that they love to spend money, and that’s the trade of a Labor leader, always has been.
The money for the government comes from borrowing – which is apparently fine (and is) but when Labor announces a policy, it needs to be entirely paid for, says Dutton. Sound logic there.
The federal Labor president has responded to Brad Hazzard:
Simon Birmingham spoke to Adelaide radio 5AA about the man he is replacing this morning:
I think, one of Matthias Cormann’s lasting legacies will be the fact that he settled many of the disputes between the states about how GST is allocated, in terms of, together with Scott Morrison, he works through a really good process to refine parts of that allocation formula, but it is done by a formula.
And of course, all states are taking a haircut in GST revenue this year, because when you do, as the country had to in terms of shutting down large parts of economic activity and people can’t spend as much as they normally would, well your GST revenue will drop.
But that’s the same challenge we’re facing in terms of the federal budget; that so much of the revenue decline we’ve got is attributable, in a sense, to why we’ve got the budget challenges we have.
But it’s not just a case that we are spending more.
Yes, that’s the case and we’re doing it because we want to make sure we have cushioned the blow of Covid and that we help create jobs out of it.
But we’re also receiving a lot less revenue as governments right around the country – the states, in terms of GST revenue; us, in terms of the collapse in company tax and income tax, whilst at the same time there’s a huge growth in terms of payments out in supporting people and businesses.
The Senate is about to resume its sitting, to pass the budget bills.
Brad Hazzard accuses Qld premier of having 'political agenda' in NSW border row
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard has made some bold, and mysterious, claims against the Queensland premier during a radio interview this morning.
On ABC’s RN Breakfast, host Hamish Macdonald asked Hazzard why it was wrong for Annastacia Palaszczuk to try and protect Queenslanders from the virus with a hard southern border.
If that were the only reason that would be entirely appropriate. It’s not the reason. The reason is that she just decided that she’s in an election phase, and she is playing games basically with the rest of the community.
Macdonald: What’s the evidence of that? With respect.
I have the evidence, we’re not going to share that. But there’s no doubt about it, but it is a political exercise ... It is a political agenda. It’s as simple as that they’re not gonna go into how or why I know that but I do know that.
Hazzard declined to expand on this point but went on to provide a scorching condemnation of the Queensland premier.
This is a completely reprehensible, uncaring and cruel approach by the Queensland premier. I haven’t criticised any other premier or any other minister during the country during this because we’ve all worked together. Premier Palaszczuk – it is about time she woke up to the fact that politics and looking after patients and families don’t mix. Just cut it out.
The Queensland has given NSW 48 hours to determine the source of a number of mystery cases before they reset the clock on the required 28 days of no community transmission required to open their borders.
Remember how Michael McCormack tried to sell fruit picking as an opportunity to jazz up their Insta feeds?
Well, turns out farmers aren’t so into it.
Next you’ll be telling me that fruit picking isn’t where you find love either.
NSW Health minister Brad Hazzard spoke to ABC radio this morning.
He is very upset at the Queensland border closure:
This is a completely reprehensible, uncaring and cruel approach by the Queensland premier. I haven’t criticised any other premier or any other minister during the country during this because we’ve all worked together. Premier Palaszczuk – it is about time she woke up to the fact that politics and looking after patients and families don’t mix. Just cut it out.
The Queensland border is open to northern NSW residents.
Health authorities are racing to contain at least two Covid-19 outbreaks in Sydney as the number of locally-transmitted cases grow, dashing hopes of the Queensland border reopening next month.
New South Wales recorded eight more locally-acquired coronavirus cases on Thursday, including three flagged on Wednesday, that ended a 12-day streak without any community transmission.
Multiple cases diagnosed on Thursday will also be added to the tally on Friday.
Five of the cases announced on Thursday are linked to a Liverpool Hospital dialysis cluster – one healthcare worker in her 30s, two women who visited her, and two household contacts aged in their 60s and 80s.
The source of the second cluster – the three cases revealed on Wednesday – is under investigation.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said it is likely more cases would be diagnosed in coming days.
“We anticipate that because we’ve identified these eight cases, that a number of close contacts and family members could be found to be positive as a result, so it’s really important for everybody to stay on high alert,” she said.
A spokesperson from Macquarie University confirmed that a student was among the recently diagnosed cases, and contact tracing was underway.
While these new local cases have threatened the prospect of the Queensland border reopening on 1 November, Berejiklian accused her northern counterpart Annastacia Palaszczuk of “making up rules”.
Queensland on Wednesday gave NSW 48 hours to find the source of three new cases before restarting the 28-day countdown clock that triggers border reopenings.
“I don’t know where they got that 48-hour deadline concept from and I certainly want to send a very strong message to our health experts in NSW – just continue to do your jobs well (and) ignore those artificial deadlines other governments are imposing on us,” Berejiklian said.
Authorities are alerting people to new locations identified as having been visited by confirmed Covid sufferers.
An infectious person attended Potts Point’s Monopole restaurant on Sunday evening. There are also eight train services and two bus-replacement services between Sunday and Wednesday, which pose a contact risk. Stations visited by the services include Parramatta, Liverpool and Moss Vale and more details can be found at www.health.nsw.gov.au.
Berejiklian said the NSW government was considering making the Service NSW QR scanning code a compulsory feature for venues and businesses, after a restaurant visited by a virus case failed to record all patrons’ details.
“I have no patience anymore for people, and businesses in particular, that aren’t doing the right thing … we can’t have a few people let down the whole community.”
Hotel quarantine inquiry final submissions published
Its report is due to be handed down very soon.
And on Mathias Cormann leaving, Jacqui Lambie is equally as blunt:
I just get up here and do the job I have to do. I deal with any minister that has a bill up there, it doesn’t really matter who it is, but what has killed it off in the end for Mathias is that he has a job for mates.
That’s really disappointing. How unusual that you can’t walk out, stand on your own two feet and you’ve been given a high-profile job.
I think that always puts a dampener on things when you’ve been given something else passed to you on a silver platter.
But you know what? That’s the Liberal government for you, and that’s why the university kids are paying the full price, especially those from poorer backgrounds.
Speaking of vaccines, Jacqui Lambie is chatting to ABC News Breakfast, where she is asked for her opinion on the budget:
I’m concerned that they are planning that there will be a vaccine by the end of the year, and I think they’re absolutely delusional.
I don’t believe that.
I think it is really short-term thinking instead of long-term planning and that’s very, very worrying, so I guess we will see what happens I think we are going to see the results of the cutbacks in jobseeker and jobkeeper and I think after that Christmas period, around the end of March, it’s going to be an absolute bloody disaster.
Deputy CHO professor Michael Kidd took to facebook to give a vaccine update:
Victoria reports 11 new cases and no deaths
The no deaths is wonderful news, although another 11 cases is worrying.
The government is continuing its tactic of sending out its women ministers to defend the budget this morning, something which began yesterday, following criticism that in what’s being called a ‘pink’ recession (women have been harder hit than men) there wasn’t much in the budget for women.
Karen Andrews is up this morning with the CSIRO chief.
She will also, per the media alert “respond to Anthony Albanese’s abysmal plan for manufacturing outlined in the Budget Reply”.
Albanese said he wanted to make things in Australia, such as train carriages. That was immediately ridiculed by Coalition MP Dave Sharma, who said it was a “200 year old technology”.
So I guess no one should re-do their plumbing given the Romans invented that. Vaccines are probably out too, since it’s been decades since penicillin was discovered.
Hopefully Andrews will do a better job of defending the budget than Anne Ruston, the social services minister, who yesterday declared:
Women can take advantage of driving on the new infrastructure and roads. To suggest the budget doesn’t focus on women I think is wrong.
Well then. Women can drive on roads largely built by men, by contractors largely owned by men, from contracts largely awarded by men. Be still my feminine heart.
We have all made it to Friday and Daniel Andrews’s 99th (I am pretty sure) consecutive press conference.
If it was me, I would troll everyone by not holding a press conference tomorrow, but that is just one of the many, many reasons I’d never be in politics.
It’s the Chadstone cluster which everyone is watching, as Melbourne anxiously waits to see if case numbers get low enough to take the next step on the road map on 19 October.
Meanwhile, Queensland’s ultimatum to New South Wales, to find the source of its new community transmissions or the border closure clock gets restarted for another month, is about to expire.
NSW almost made it two weeks before some new cases popped up.
Its authorities are scrambling to find links between the cases, to make sure the state doesn’t have its own outbreak on its hands.
Queensland is one week into a four-week election campaign, so the talk has been tough.
Ultimately though, in Queensland, the law says it is for the chief health officer to make the decision.
The government is in caretaker mode, so the CHO will announce whether 1 November remains the border reopen date.
The Northern Territory announced it was taking Greater Sydney off its list of declared hotspots as of today.
But on borders, WA won’t be shifting. Its Labor government handed down its budget, predicting a surplus yesterday, a trend which has bucked every other government in Australia. Its budget assumes the hard border won’t be brought down until at least June next year. (There doesn’t seem to be the same chorus screaming to open the border as there is for Queensland though, it must be said.)
In federal politics, Anthony Albanese has started his budget reply media blitz very early, as Labor pushes its childcare package and energy transmission grid revamp.
The Senate will sit today to pass the budget legislation and farewell Mathias Cormann, who is Australia’s nominee for the OECD.
We’ll bring you all of that and more as the day goes on. You have Amy Remeikis with you for most of the day.