What we learned, Tuesday 13 October
That’s where we will leave the live blog for Tuesday.
My colleague Calla Wahlquist will be back in the morning to bring you more of the latest in Covid-19 news, but here’s what we learned today:
- Victoria recorded 12 new cases of Covid-19 overnight, and one more death. Almost all of the new cases are connected to known outbreaks. The Victorian opposition has moved a motion of no confidence in the Victorian parliament’s lower house over premier Daniel Andrews’ handling of the pandemic, however the motion is all but certain to fail given Labor has an 11-seat majority.
- New South Wales reported 13 new cases, including seven new local cases. The figures include two GPs from the A to Z clinic in Lakemba, and five new locally acquired cases in members of the same household in south-western Sydney. NSW Health has issued new warnings for venues where people infected with Covid-19 have previously been.
- The NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (Icac) has heard former New South Wales state MP Daryl Maguire told a former business associate that his phone and iPad had been involved in an “unfortunate” tractor accident after he became aware the state’s anti-corruption watchdog was paying attention to him.
- The NSW opposition leader, Jodi Mckay is moving a motion of no confidence against premier Gladys Berejiklian because she says Berejiklian “failed to report her knowledge of Maguire’s business dealings for six-and-a-half years” and failed to report “a number of discussions she had over a number of years about his business dealings, including congratulating him on the amount of commission he was earning from his business deals.”
- The Victorian hotel quarantine inquiry has requested phone records directly from Telstra, after Guardian Australia revealed on Friday that Victoria police had never formally requested the records for former commissioner Graham Ashton. It is unclear yet whether it was Ashton’s records being sought, but is one of a number of requests made for records in the past few days to shed light on who made the decision to use security guards for the botched program.
- Tasmania will wait another week to decide whether it will open its borders to NSW. It is due to open borders to every part of Australia bar Victoria on 26 October, but premier Peter Gutwein said the state will wait and see another week before making a decision on NSW.
Until tomorrow, stay safe.
George Christensen and Craig Kelly’s foray into the Queensland election is of course not the first time the backbenchers have marketed hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19.
Kelly has used the issue to attack the Andrews government in Victoria, despite the most authoritative trials concluding it is not an effective treatment for Covid-19. That prompted ire from Labor and not a word of condemnation from Scott Morrison.
In September, the Australian Communications Media Authority chief executive, Creina Chapman, agreed that Kelly’s misleading claims about the drug on social media should be removed under new proposed codes of conduct. Kelly posted Guardian Australia’s article to social media, accusing ACMA of trying to censor him.
I suppose what is new here is that the backbenchers are prepared to use the issue to sway voters in the state election, in the context of the Queensland government’s handling of Covid-19 being the most important issue.
Without truth in political advertising laws, there is nothing to stop backbenchers printing misleading claims like “many doctors worldwide believe [it] is highly effective to substantially reduce the risk of death in Covid-19 patients”.
Snapshot of current coronavirus cases in Victoria
Here’s the latest from the daily Victorian chief health officer release.
Two of today’s 12 new cases are confirmed as linked to known outbreaks and cases – one is linked to the Chadstone outbreak (household contact of a case), one is linked to Estia Keilor aged care facility. Nine cases are provisionally linked to known outbreaks and cases – seven are being investigated for links to a case from the Box Hill hospital outbreak, including four cases from the same household, one is being investigated for links to a case from the Chadstone Shopping Centre outbreak and one is being investigated for links to Uniting Age Well Preston. One case remains under investigation.
Of today’s 12 new cases, four are in Banyule, two are in Hume and there are single cases in Casey, Darebin, Greater Dandenong, Manningham, Melbourne and Greater Geelong.
There has been one new case linked to the outbreak at the Chadstone Shopping Centre, taking the total to 35, and no new cases linked to the Oddfellows Cafe in Kilmore. The additional case at Chadstone attended the shopping centre during their acquisition period.
The 13 mystery cases in the last 14 days (27 Sep 2020 – 10 Oct 2020) are located in the following postcodes, 3025 (2 cases), 3024, 3184, 3015, 3037, 3175, 3130, 3027, 3147, 3046 and 3019.
There are 186 cases currently active in Victoria, including 23 cases of coronavirus are in hospital, there are no cases in intensive care.
There are 16 active cases among healthcare workers, and 30 active cases relating to aged care facilities.
The former New South Wales state MP Daryl Maguire told a former business associate that his phone and iPad had been involved in an “unfortunate” tractor accident after he became aware the state’s anti-corruption watchdog was paying attention to him.
On Tuesday, Maguire’s former business associate, Maggie Wang, told the Independent Commission Against Corruption (Icac) the former MP had told her about an “unfortunate accident where my phones and iPad have been run over by a tractor” after Icac began an earlier investigation that led to Maguire’s resignation in 2018.
Read more from my colleague, Michael McGowan’s report on today’s Icac hearing below:
In a heated session of question time on Tuesday, NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian was questioned over revelations she was in a relationship with the disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire. This video shows just how raucous it got.
Here’s my colleague Melissa Davey’s report on the roof collapse at Curtin University in Western Australia.
Liberal MP Craig Kelly and Liberal National MP George Christensen are extolling the virtues of hydroxychloroquine to Queensland voters, it seems.
Not sure why they might have left out the fact that among the cocktail of often experimental drugs US president Donald Trump was on to treat Covid-19, hydroxychloroquine was not one of them.
Remember that “secret government modelling” published in the Australian that apparently showed Victoria getting to 1,000 cases a day, but looked very similar to a graph produced by some bloke on Twitter?
The Australian Press Council has dismissed a complaint about the report (despite the modelling being wildly inaccurate).
No-confidence motion debated in Victoria parliament
There’s also a no-confidence motion being debated in the Victoria parliament against premier Daniel Andrews by the Liberal opposition over the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien said the premier bungled the hotel quarantine program, ignored offers of Australian defence force support and imposed tough coronavirus restrictions that “make no sense”.
“This government is hostage to a premier who is pursuing an elimination strategy that is only going to eliminate jobs, that is only going to eliminate hope, that is only going to eliminate the bright future this state deserve,” he told the Legislative Assembly.
The motion is doomed to fail given Labor’s commanding 11-seat majority.
“Find your voice. Find your conscience. Find your heart for Victoria,” O’Brien told Labor MPs, urging them to cross the floor and support the motion.
Andrews, who usually refrains from attacking the opposition and never refers to their leader by name, hit back at his daily press conference.
“He and the cheap politics he trades in is of no consequence when it comes to fighting this virus. His cheap politics is not a vaccine against this virus,” Andrews said of O’Brien.
The debate is expected to continue into the evening, with all lower house MPs given at least 15 minutes to speak on the motion.
The Victorian Greens earlier indicated they will not support the motion.
“The Liberals are using this no-confidence motion as a stunt to play political games with the pandemic, they want Andrews’ scalp,” Greens MP Ellen Sandell said.
“And right now, we think Victorians want politicians more to focus on how we actually get through this pandemic and out of restrictions.”
Hotel quarantine inquiry seeks records from Telstra
The Victorian hotel quarantine inquiry has sought records directly from Telstra, a spokesman for Telstra has confirmed.
This is in addition to records sought from former Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles, the premier Daniel Andrews and his staff.
On Friday, we reported Telstra had not received a formal request for former police commissioner Graham Ashton’s call records from Victoria police.
It is understood police believe they do not have the legal authority, even under data retention legislation, to obtain the records.
It seems likely that the records being sought directly by the inquiry could be Ashton’s, but the inquiry is not commenting at this stage.
NSW attorney general Mark Speakman was on ABC earlier, where he was asked about the ongoing Icac scandal surrounding the premier, Gladys Berejiklian.
He said he thinks all of the parliament was surprised to learn the premier was in relationship with Daryl Maguire. But he thinks she will still be premier by the end of the week:
Q: Will Gladys Berejiklian be the premier of New South Wales by the end of the week?
A: I believe so. I believe so. She is, I think, the strongest, one of the strongest government leaders in the world. As I said before, the record is a one-in-100-year pandemic, we have fought that pandemic and kept numbers relatively suppressed and kept the economy going and people in jobs better than any other government. The number of new jobs created in the last couple of months are one state, New South Wales.
Q: Would you put your hand up for the job if she steps down?
A: I don’t think is going to arise.
Q: Would you put your hand up?
A: I am not going to jump at shadows and I will express my strong support for Gladys Berejiklian. She is an outstanding premier and done an outstanding job and shown outstanding leadership in making sure New South Wales gets through the pandemic.
I’ve been tuning in and out of the NSW parliament, but there are some emotional scenes right now with jobs minister Stuart Ayres giving his condolence speech for John Fahey.
Ayres and his partner, foreign affairs minister Marise Payne, were close to Fahey. Ayres said he never met Payne’s father, and losing Fahey felt like losing a father in law.
He says both he and Payne would not have been able to achieve what they have without his mentorship.
NSW Health releases new public health alert for Covid cases
NSW Health has just provided this list of venues in its latest alert for Covid-19 cases:
- Woolworths Oran Park, 351 Oran Park Dr, Oran Park on the following dates:
- Wednesday 30 September from 5:30pm to 6:30pm
- Thursday 8 October from 5:15pm to 6pm
- Friday 9 October 6pm to 6:30pm
- Prasadi Nepali Emerald Hills, 2 Hurricane Drive, Raby on Friday 2 October from 3:30pm to 4pm
- Emerald Hills McDonalds 101 Raby Rd, Leppington on Friday 2 October from 5pm to 5:15pm
- Aldi Emerald Hills, Shop 2/03, 5 Emerald Hills Blvd, Leppington, on Friday 2 October from 5:30pm to 6:15pm
- Fantastic Furniture Campbelltown, 4 Blaxland Rd, Campbelltown, on Friday 9 October from 3:30pm to 5:20pm
- Bunnings Gregory Hills, 2 Rodeo Rd, Gregory Hills, on Tuesday 6 October from 7pm to 8:00pm
- Ikea Tempe, 634-726 Princes Hwy, Tempe, on Wednesday 7 October from 1:30pm – 5:30pm
Here’s the information on the no confidence motion Labor is moving against NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian.
In Question Time, the NSW Labor Leader Jodi McKay said the Premier should not have the confidence of the House because she:
- Turned a blind eye to corruption in her government by failing to report her knowledge of Daryl Maguire’s business dealings for six and a half years, even after his resignation from Parliament in July 2018
- Failed to report a number of discussions she had with Daryl Maguire, over a number of years, about his business dealings – including congratulating him on the amount of commission he was earning from such deals
- Failed to fulfil her legal obligations under the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act to report corrupt conduct, and her obligations under the Ministerial Code of Conduct to manage conflicts of interest in her Government
- Has failed to uphold any standards of propriety across all levels of her Government
South Australia reports one new cases of Covid
One new case of Covid-19 has been reported in South Australia. A woman in her 20s who recently returned from overseas and was already in quarantine.
NSW parliament is still hearing condolence speeches for former premier John Fahey. Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is giving a speech now.
How the CovidSafe app is being used
The Health Department has provided this information to me today on how useful the CovidSafe contact-tracing app has been:
- NSW has successfully accessed the App to identify 68 close contacts, including 14 contacts that were not identified by manual contact tracing.
- In one instance their access to Covid app data revealed a previously unrecognised exposure date from a known venue, Mounties. This resulted in the identification of an additional 544 contacts. Two people in this group presented for testing and were subsequently confirmed to have Covid-19.
- Victoria has now fully integrated app usage into their contact-tracing processes, and more than 1,842 people with Covid-19 have agreed to transmit their app data to public health authorities. Due to the strict lockdown in Melbourne, there are limited close contacts of positive cases to be identified but the data is being used to validate other information.
- No reportable information is available to share with the other states due to low case numbers.
So essentially, NSW has had limited success in downloading data from the app, but has been able to find two people with Covid-19 it would not have otherwise found via checking with those 544 contacts at Mounties.
In Victoria there have been 1,842 downloads but still no close contacts identified who were not already found through manual contact tracing.
Health has been able to collate this data now it has signed agreements with the states and territories to hand over this data.
I again asked the department how many of the 7 million downloads are still actively using the app but a department spokeswoman said she had “nothing more to add”.
The government has previously refused to disclose this data under freedom of information laws, on the grounds it would risk public safety.
Active users numbers would give us an idea of how many people are still using it, and thus an indication of how effective the app might be in finding close contacts.
Hi there, Josh Taylor taking over the blog from my colleague Naaman Zhou.
We are still keeping an eye on NSW parliament, and will update you if anything happens.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian is back speaking now, paying tribute to the memory of former premier John Fahey, who died a few weeks ago. Fahey’s family are in attendance.
And yet the parliament is currently discussing digital driving licences.
We have now moved on to other matters, mostly tabling reports, and Gladys Berejiklian and opposition leader Jodi McKay appear to have left the chamber for now.
The heat is taken out of the moment as we go to a question from the independent member for Wagga Wagga, who asks about health issues.
The vote on the no-confidence motion is still yet to be taken.
In 2011, I reported a number of issues to the Icac and suffered personally and professionally but I knew as a member of parliament it was the right thing to do and it was my legal obligation. Premier, why did you fail to fulfil your legal obligation, and report Daryl Maguire to Icac?
Berejiklian says: “If at any stage I knew that anything was going to happen that was wrong, or ... ”
She is interrupted by more scoffs, and the deputy Speaker says she will not continue without silence.
Chants of “woohoo!” go up on the Labor benches, referencing something Berejiklian said to Maguire over the phone when he told her about a business deal.
McKay asks again: “You did not report it. Why?”
The deputy speaker says that McKay is on two calls for interrupting, and she will eject the leader of the opposition if she interrupts further.
Berejiklian is asked why it “took her eight days to take action” against Maguire after he was called to give evidene to Icac, in July 2018, when she was premier.
McKay says Berejiklian “concealed [his business dealings] for two years”.
Berejiklian says: “From memory I was away at the time and rung him and asked him for his resignation I think within an hour.”
She says the eight days figure is wrong and “my best recollection is that he actually resigned that day and if you look up the records you will find that I asked for his resignation that day”.
McKay says again that Berejiklian is “delusional”.
A fractious start to question time, with members from both sides interrupting each other.
Deputy speaker Leslie Williams is frequently calling for order as Berejiklian answers a question from McKay.
Berejiklian says: “It is in the public interest for the public to know their premier has at all times made sure that she or he has fulfilled their obligations in relation to all matters.”
McKay says: “You’re delusional, completely delusional.”
Berejiklian goes on to say that she “acted under the full letter of my responsibilities”, to laughs and scoffs from the Labor benches.
No-confidence motion to be moved against Gladys Berejiklian
Question time has just begun in the NSW parliament.
NSW opposition leader Jodi McKay has just told parliament she will move a no confidence motion against premier Gladys Berejiklian.
She says this because Berejiklian “failed to report her knowledge of Daryl Maguire’s business dealings for six and a half years” and failed to report “a number of discussions she had over a number of years about his business dealings, including congratulating him on the amount of commission he was earning from his business deals.”
McKay also says Berejiklian “failed to fulfil her legal obligations under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act to report corrupt conduct, and her obligations under the ministerial code of conduct to manage conflicts of interest in her government”.
The Speaker says the motion will be voted on later, in accordance with the standing orders.
And for an audio explainer of yesterday’s Icac revelations, listen to the Full Story podcast:
Western Australia’s health minister is urging the commonwealth to assist after a second Covid-19 outbreak on a ship off the coast of Port Hedland, AAP report.
Seven of the 20 crew from the Vega Dream iron ore bulk carrier, which arrived from the Philippines, have now tested positive.
The vessel left the Port Hedland terminal on Sunday and is now anchored 22 nautical miles off the coast and under the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction.
It is the second time in a fortnight that a ship has arrived from Manila with Covid-positive crew. There was also an outbreak on the now-departed Patricia Oldendorff bulk carrier.
The WA health minister, Roger Cook, is urging the federal government to ensure Filipino authorities strengthen their maritime crew arrangements.
“These poor crew are having to join these vessels under very arduous circumstances and conditions anyway,” Cook said on Tuesday.
“The fact that they are put on the vessel in a manner that potentially gives them the coronavirus is really of great concern and the commonwealth should be reaching out to the Filipino government to say ‘get your house in order’.”
One man who was removed from the ship on Saturday was taken to Hedland Hospital’s isolation ward after becoming symptomatic will be transferred on Tuesday by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to a quarantine hotel in Perth.
Cook said it was up to the commonwealth to determine the next steps.
“We’re not trying to wash our hands off this, we’re simply saying it’s beyond our legal jurisdiction,” he said.
The transport minister, Andrew Constance, is on the ABC now, and says he supports Berejiklian as premier.
“She is awesome, and she is a great leader,” he says.
Constance, one of the more senior members of the NSW Liberals, said he did not know about the premier’s relationship with Daryl Maguire.
“It’s not a matter of what I knew or what my views are on this, all your views,” he says. “This is profoundly private, a matter for her in terms of her personal relationships. She has done nothing wrong, she will not resign, and ultimately, she will continue to do the great job that we have seen from her over many years now.”
He is asked whether he is nervous about Maguire himself fronting the commission tomorrow, and what evidence he may give.
“I would ask everyone to remember that this is an inquiry of him. The premier has done nothing wrong. It’s an inquiry into him.”
The easing of restrictions in NSW for outdoor music have been welcomed by Stephen O’Doherty, from the Roundtable of Vocal, Instrumental and Music Education Organisations.
“The checklist provided by NSW Health will be of great assistance to groups in planning outdoor performances and rehearsals,” he said. “It is a helpful and sensible way to phase in the return of group music.”
Home affairs minister Peter Dutton says he is “absolutely confident” he has not broken any donations laws.
The Queensland opposition leader, Deb Frecklington, is facing questions today over a dinner where she and Dutton were guests, that was attended by property developers. It is illegal to obtain donations from property developers in Queensland, but Frecklington said none of the property developers present actually made donations.
And that ends the Morrison and Dutton press conference.
Morrison addresses reports that China has told its factories to stop importing Australian coal.
He says people should not get ahead of themselves, and it is unclear whether that is due to domestic quotas rather than an import ban.
“At the moment this is speculation and the trade minister is running that down,” he says.
Morrison says Berejiklian has his 'absolute support'
Scott Morrison says that Gladys Berejiklian has his “absolute support”.
“Gladys is a tremendous premier and has my absolute support, and I thought she showed a lot of courage yesterday, but I also thought she showed a lot of humility,” he says. “We are all human, and particularly in those areas of our lives, and Gladys is an extremely private person ... that would have been really tough, to have that all out there in front of everybody yesterday.
“I would like to thank [NSW treasurer] Dom Perottet and [health minister] Brad Hazzard and the whole the whole team down there in the New South Wales government getting in behind her, and certainly they were the messages sent yesterday.”
Prime minister Scott Morrison is also speaking now, from Brendale in Queensland.
In Sydney, the Berejiklian press conference has just wrapped up, with some parting questions on the racing season.
The Gladys Berejiklian press conference is still continuing, even though the ABC has cut away from it.
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant is speaking now, providing more information on the new Covid-19 cases.
Berejiklian is asked when she started her relationship with Maguire.
Well, can I say, it is a very subjective and personal thing as to when you think something changed from a friendship to a close personal relationship.
It is a very subjective thing. And I have provided information to the best of my recollection and in full openness. And in fact, I was as open as I could be for someone who is very private.
A back and forth between Berejiklian and the reporters about any improper conduct.
Berejiklian says: “I was absolutely not aware, which is why I didn’t report anything.”
Reporter: “Premier, he told you on the call.”
Berejiklian: “The matters before the Icac involving Mr Maguire are subject to those investigations. I stress again I did nothing wrong. If I had, I would be the first to put my hand up.
“Mr Maguire approached a number of people in government, a number of public servants. He was rigorous in his attempts and his attempts amounted to nothing. His attempts amounted to nothing.
“This person had been in parliament for 15 years. And unfortunately sometimes people are able to get away with things without a lot of people realising.”
Berejiklian is also asked whether it is acceptable for an MP to do business deals with developers, even if they are not found to be corrupt by Icac.
She says that she does not set the rules around what MPs can and can’t do.
“There are various rules and obligations and business interests which are outlined in the code, that parliamentary secretaries and members of parliament are able to engage in. Those activities are not determined by me. They’re determined by various bodies.
“If people want to put to me in a further restriction of what business activities and what business interests members should have, that is something the government is happy to consider.”
Gladys Berejiklian is now being asked about her relationship with disgraced MP Daryl Maguire, who is being investigated by Icac, and whether she knew of any wrongdoing.
She is asked why it did not “ring alarm bells” when Maguire spoke to her about his potential business deals.
She says that “at all times” there was a distinction between her personal life and her public office.
“I have always acted in the best interests of the people of this state, I’ve not done anything wrong,” she says. “I will not tolerate, I never have and never will, any improper conduct.
“Had I known any wrongdoing was done at any stage I would have not have hesitated to act and I have acted very swiftly when I needed to.”
Dr Kerry Chant says two pop-up testing clinics have been set up. One at Lakemba and one at Oran Park.
“The Oran Park testing is established today at 1pm until 6.30pm and depending on demand the operational hours can be amended.”
NSW to allow outdoor music events with 500 people
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking now.
She announces that from Friday, outdoor venues will be allowed to have the two square metre rule – rather than four square metres – outside.
She also says musical performances can have 500 people as long as they are seated, it is outside and complies with the four square metre rule.
But businesses who want to adopt the relaxed restrictions will need to use a QR code sign-in system.
Youthlaw, Victoria’s free legal service for young people, has criticised new laws expected to be passed this week that it says expand police powers “under the cover of Covid”.
The Victorian government last week amended its omnibus bill – which expanded police powers – after concerns were raised about overreach.
But Youthlaw’s chief executive, Ariel Couchman, says that there is a “second-tier police force bill” that will pass unnoticed.
The bill will expand the reach of armed protective services officers (PSOs).
“In the same week as the amended omnibus b ill we will see a bill enter the Senate which will permit armed PSOs, with just 12 weeks of training, to operate in any public space – including shopping centres, roadways, public entertainment venues and sports grounds – with powers to detain, arrest and search,” she said.
“This bill represents a significant blurring of the roles outside of the original parameters of the PSO program which saw them only deployed in and around the transport network. We can now expect to see more and more PSOS carrying out the work of the Victorian police force.
“Under cover of Covid, the state government is effectively building a second-tier police force, with a fraction of the training and no independent accountability.”
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian will address the media at 12.30pm – along with treasurer Dominic Perrottet, health minister Brad Hazzard and the chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant.
Annastacia Palaszczuk is speaking now, addressing reports that her opponent in the upcoming state election, Deb Frecklington, was referred to the electoral commission by her own party over potentially illegal donations.
Frecklington has denied the report, published by the ABC, saying that she has not been referred to the electoral commission, and did nothing wrong.
“Let me say very clearly that there is a ban on property developer donations going to political parties,” Palaszczuk says. “That was a ban that my government proudly introduced. It is a very serious offence for people to be engaging with property developers in getting donations from them when it is against the law to do so.”’
Frecklington said that she may have attended dinners where developers were present, but they did not donate.
Palaszczuk says that she has not attended any fundraisers where property developers have been present.
“Not to my knowledge because the party does very, very detailed investigations about people who are attending those events.”
The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is about to speak as well.
The treasurer, Cameron Dick, starts the press conference, and says that Deb Frecklington should resign, because her own party is leaking against her.
“One thing is sure and certain about Queensland politics, if you can’t lead your party, you can’t lead Queensland,” he says. “If you can’t govern your party, you can’t govern Queensland.
“These are not the Labor party’s words. These are leaks and destabilisation that’s coming from the LNP, targeting their own leader.”
'I attend dinners all the time': Frecklington denies wrongdoing
Deb Frecklington, the Queensland opposition leader, is speaking now about reports that she has been referred to the state’s electoral commission.
Frecklington denies any wrongdoing and says “as far as I’m aware”, the electoral commission is not investigating.
The ABC reported today that she had been referred over a series of dinners with property developers. Donations from property developers have been illegal in the state since 2018
“Let’s make it really clear, I stand by my integrity,” she says.
“In relation to any fundraising dinners, anyone who donates fills in a declaration and it is on the EQQ website. In relation to private dinners, I attend dinners all the time. I’m a politician and I attend supporters’ dinners. Of course I do.”
She says it is legal for prohibited donors to attend fundraisers as long as they do not donate.
“On the ECQ website, anyone can attend a fundraiser but a prohibited donor cannot donate,” she says. “It’s on the ECQ website that prohibited donors can attend fundraising events, they just cannot donate”.
A reporter asks her: “Your party warned you not to go to a dinner and did you still go?”
Frecklington responds: “That’s not a correct assertion.”
He says that vote of no confidence against him today, planned by the Victorian opposition, is “cheap politics”.
“Cheap politics does not work against this virus,” he says. “Cheap politics does not
work against this wildly infectious virus. If it did, then those who are completely irrelevant would have a much greater part to play.”
Andrews responds to questions about whether he will resign.
He is asked:
You’ve said repeatedly that you’re ultimately accountable and responsible as head of your government for what goes on. So far, you’ve let your health minister and your departmental secretary take the fall for the hotel quarantine program. You’re still here.
What gives you confidence that you should remain as premier, given you’ve said that two of the most senior members of your team did the right thing by resigning?
I don’t run from challenges. That’s not who I am. And if that’s not clear to you, then you perhaps don’t know me particularly well.
My accountability is very obvious. I want a report to be handed down and then I will take the decisive action to make sure that these sorts of mistakes can never happen again. I’m not doing any cut and run here.
He says that people should wait for the report of the hotel quarantine inquiry.
NSW records seven new locally acquired cases
NSW has reported seven new cases of locally transmitted Covid‑19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
Six cases are overseas travellers in hotel quarantine, meaning there were a total of 13 new cases.
Two of those newly diagnosed people are two GPs at the A2Z Medical Clinic in Lakemba, which was announced last night.
Another five new locally acquired cases today are members of the same household in south-western Sydney.
They have now been identified as part of the ongoing investigation into four previously reported unlinked cases, including a nurse from St Vincent’s hospital.
NSW Health can advise one of these new cases is a disability support worker who has worked at three small group homes in south-western Sydney. Contact tracing and investigations with seven clients and their staff is underway.
Another one of these new cases attended the Great Beginnings Oran Park childcare centre on 1, 2, 8, and 9 October while infectious. The centre is closed today. Contact and investigations are underway.
NSW Health can now also advise the five new cases provide a link between the previously four unlinked cases that include a nurse from St Vincent’s hospital, and a previously reported cluster of five people in south-western Sydney linked with Liverpool hospital. This means 14 people reported between 8 October to today are now linked.
The chief health officer, Bret Sutton, says he is confident that numbers will fall, and is defending the state’s contact tracing.
We’re following, at a minimum, the national guidelines for outbreak management and contact tracing. And we’re going above and beyond that. We are following casual contacts, and we’re asking them to test when they have been exposed at exposure sites. So, we are doing an approach that is the same across Australia.
Anyone who has been through Chadstone who hasn’t even been to the Butcher Club, hasn’t been to Jasper’s Coffee, are being prompted to get tested. That is much, much broader than the previous approach to outbreak management. It is akin to the Kilmore outbreak.
He says that the numbers will fall, because Victoria recorded no new cases of unknown source today. One of the cases reported today was a person who already had Covid-19 and who retested as positive.
The 12 cases today – one is probably not real, and 11 are linked to known cases. That means, by definition, there are no cases of unknown acquisition for today. That’s what we want every day.
And when we have cases who are in isolation at the time that they get tested and get that positive result, they’re not gonna be exposing anyone else. And so we’ll see these numbers drive down.
Ten could be 'the new five' for opening up, Andrews says
Andrews indicates again, after what he said yesterday, that Melbourne could open up even with higher numbers than what was initially planned for under the roadmap to eased restrictions.
The premier says that five could be “the new zero”, and he could change the threshold for reopening.
“Yesterday at some length, I went to the notion that we are reviewing daily, we are reviewing weekly, what a likely outcome is in the days and weeks to come,” he says.
“And if upon that further analysis, five is the new zero, and ten is the new five, well, then we’ll have to factor that in, and we will.
“We’re not about keeping these restrictions on in an indefinite way, unless and until we reach a target.”
Victoria to hire 4,000 tutors to help students next year
The deputy premier and education minister, James Merlino, is now announcing a $250m education package that will employ additional tutors for the state’s students next year to help them catch up.
He says that more than 4,100 tutors will be provided to more than 200,000 students, starting from term 1 next year.
“Of those 4,100 additional tutors, we expect about 80% of those will be women, and women have been so severely impacted through this pandemic,” Merlino says.
“Every single government school in Victoria will receive funding. Every single one. And it will be weighted to disadvantage.
“That’s $209.6m for government schools to deploy and recruit around 3,500 tutors. For our non-government schools, targeting disadvantaged students in Catholic and independent schools, there’s $30m to deploy and recruit around 600 tutors. And there’s also a further $8.6m to recruit a further 16 Koori support workers across our state, and an additional 60 multilingual and bicultural workers to support students where English is not their first language.”
Merlino calls on relief teachers and retired teachers to put their hands up for the program.
He says there are six active cases in regional areas, but one of those is a person in Geelong who previously contracted Covid-19, who has re-tested positive. The remaining five regional cases are in the Mitchell shire.
A man in his 70s has died, whose infection was linked to aged care.
Daniel Andrews is speaking now.
He says he will answer all questions as usual, but he does have to leave later for parliament – where he will be facing a vote of no confidence, brought by the opposition.
Meanwhile at the NSW casino inquiry:
Daniel Andrews will give his daily update at 10.30am.
Meanwhile, the trade minister, Simon Birmingham, says he is investigating those reports that China has suspended imports of Australian coal.
Birmingham confirmed there had been some disruptions to Australian shipments of coal into China, but said there was no evidence to verify a full-blown import ban.
“I have seen the reports and we have certainly been in touch with the Australian industry,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“We have also been working to seek a response from Chinese authorities in relation to the accusations that have been made publicly.”
Birmingham has not been able to contact his Chinese counterpart for many months, with diplomatic relations in the deep freeze, AAP reports.
It is not the first time in recent years Australian coal imports into China have been disrupted.
“There have been patterns of things that look like there are some formal quota systems operating,” the minister said.
“But we take the reports seriously enough to try and seek some assurances from Chinese authorities.”
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable believes informal Chinese quotas might be to blame but remains upbeat about coal exports.
“The trade with China changes through the year based on a range of factors, including quotas,” she told AAP.
“Australia will continue to see demand for its high quality of coal and the medium term outlook remains positive.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is speaking now, addressing reports that China has told some factories to stop importing Australian coal.
He says Australia will work through any issues with China.
“There have been, in the past, some issues around in relation to coal, and we’ve worked through those,” he says. “And we’ll continue to work through these and in the future there will be other issues and we’ll continue to work through those as well and we’ll do so in a constructive way.
“That relationship is important, it is challenging from time to time, but it is critical to Australia’s economic prosperity.”
Victoria’s opposition are calling on Labor MPs to cross the floor and vote out premier Daniel Andrews, but the state’s Greens say it is a “stunt” and they won’t be voting against the premier.
The state’s Liberals and Nationals will move a no-confidence motion against Andrews over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, AAP reports.
“Today Labor MPs have to make a very simple decision, a very simple choice,” said opposition leader Michael O’Brien.
“Are they going to vote to protect Daniel Andrews’s job, or are they going to vote to protect Victorians’ jobs? You can’t do both.”
He said it was “quite clear” that privately many Labor MPs were critical of the government.
But Greens leader Samantha Ratnam labelled the motion a stunt, accusing the opposition of “Trump-style politics”.
Fellow Greens MP Ellen Sandell also said she would not support the opposition.
“Certainly, the government has made many mistakes during the pandemic,” Sandell said.
“But we think Victorians right now actually want us to work together to get us through this pandemic, out the other side, and then we can ask all those questions.”
The opposition only has one chance to move a motion of no confidence in the premier each parliamentary term.
Federal government too busy with pandemic to set up federal Icac this year
Trade minister Simon Birmingham has just told the ABC that the federal government has been too busy dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic fallout to establish a federal integrity commission this year.
Calls for a prompt federal anti-corruption body have been renewed this week after NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian fronted the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption yesterday.
AAP has this report:
The federal government has promised to establish a national integrity commission since January 2018.
Damning audits into a Western Sydney Airport land purchase and the sports rorts affair have fuelled calls to speed up the process.
But Senator Birmingham says the government has been too busy dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our top priority has been keeping people safe and getting them back into their jobs,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“Now of course, the attorney-general works on these other matters, and I’m sure continues to do so.
“But I think Australians rightly expect our priorities this year have been about saving their lives and saving their jobs, and that’s where we continue in the economic recovery plan we outlined last week.”
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has renewed calls for a national corruption watchdog.
“I’ve seen enough evidence about a whole range of issues — sports rorts and other scandals that have happened at the federal level — to know that one of the things that Icac has done is expose corruption,” he told the ABC on Monday night.
“We need a national integrity commission to restore faith in the political process.”
Tasmania to 'wait another week' on NSW border decision
Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein is speaking now, on the state’s current border restrictions.
He says the state will open to most of Australia from 26 October – but is still undecided on NSW.
Gutwein says it’s possible that NSW residents will be allowed into the state along with everyone else, but he will “wait another week” before they make that decision.
“I’m not ruling out easing the restrictions with NSW at this stage,” he says.
Gutwein says he will provide another update next week on 19 October.
He adds that Victoria will continue to be closed to Tasmania, but they will monitor the situation.
Greens to declare 'war on privatisation' and seek Senate inquiry
The leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt, will today declare “war on privatisation” and seek to gather political support for a Senate inquiry into the failures of outsourcing.
Bandt will accuse the government of “outsourcing the recovery” during an address to the National Press Club in Canberra today - a speech the Greens have characterised as the “real opposition” response to last week’s federal budget.
According to extracts distributed in advance, Bandt says the economic recovery “must be green, pink, quick and safe” - and should be based on an expansion of the public sector and publicly funded not-for-profit sector. “Right now, the most efficient way of creating jobs to get us out of this economic crater is to directly employ people.”
Bandt will argue the last four decades have been characterised by economic rationalism and trickle-down economics by both Liberal and Labor governments - but essential services such as aged care, employment services and private health had “delivered big corporations massive profits at public expense”.
The Greens will try to build sufficient support in the Senate to launch a wide-ranging inquiry into the failures of privatisation, which would make the case to bring some essential services back into public and community hands.
“Given the likely supportive views of the crossbench, we hope we can shame Labor into backing it so that it begins before the end of the year. This will be the first ever comprehensive inquiry into four decades of privatisation, contracting out and deregulating essential and public services.”
Victoria records 12 new cases and one new death, as Melbourne average rises
Today’s statistics from Victoria are out. The state has recorded 12 new cases of Covid-19 and, sadly, one death.
This means the 14-day rolling average for Melbourne has risen again – from 9.9 yesterday to 10 today.
The federal government will today launch a tourism campaign aiming to encourage people to take domestic travel “for Australia”.
Amid ongoing curbs on international travel due to coronavirus restrictions, and states tentatively easing their border restrictions, Tourism Australia has turned to Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster-Blake to help revive travel within the country.
In one of the ads to begin airing from today, which can be seen here, Blake and Foster-Blake share a video conference call from different rooms of their house and talk about how they need a holiday. They also discuss possible experiences they’d like to try – such as surfing with the kids – because the campaign hopes to encourage people to not just book a holiday but to also spend up on activities.
The government hopes that about $12bn of the $65bn that Australians usually spend overseas each year can be substituted into the domestic market to help struggling tourism operators.
The trade minister, Simon Birmingham, said tourism employed one in 13 Australians and was “the backbone of so many businesses across Australia” but had been hard hit by the Covid-19 crisis.
He said Australians had already been supporting the tourism sector by taking regional trips where restrictions had allowed – but as some interstate travel returned, the campaign “urges them to start thinking about going one step further and taking a trip to a destination that has always been on their bucket list”.
“With interstate travel now possible to many parts of Australia, there isn’t a better opportunity than right now for Aussies to book a plane ticket, head to an interstate destination and help save a tourism business or the job of a fellow Australian.”
The government says the campaign is the latest stage of Tourism Australia’s Holiday Here This Year campaign and will include print, social media, search, radio and outdoor advertising as well as campaign content across Tourism Australia’s social media and digital channels.
Queensland LNP denies it referred own leader to the electoral commission
The Queensland Liberal National party has categorically denied claims it referred its own party leader, Deb Frecklington, to the electoral commission due to concerns about her fundraising events.
The ABC reported this morning that the party referred Frecklington to the Electoral Commission of Queensland over a series of events – including one where Peter Dutton was a guest – involving property developers.
The state Labor government banned donations from property developers in 2018.
But the LNP has denied the ABC report.
“The ABC’s allegation that the LNP has referred Deb Frecklington to the ECQ is false. It has not,” an LNP spokesperson told AAP. “The LNP regularly communicates with the ECQ to ensure that we comply with the Act.”
New hotspots as GPs test positive in Lakemba
NSW Health have set up a pop-up testing clinic and alerted to more venues after two GPs in the Sydney suburb of Lakemba tested positive for Covid-19.
Both doctors worked at the A2Z Medical Clinic and are linked to a patient who was previously diagnosed with Covid and who attended Lakemba Radiology.
NSW have issued the following alert:
Anyone who attended A2Z Medical Clinic, 96 Haldon Street, Lakemba, at the following times should self-isolate and get tested if symptoms occur. Some people will be managed as close contacts. NSW Health will contact everyone directly to provide tailored advice depending on their exposure:
- Thursday 1 October, 2.30-3.30pm
- Friday 9 October, 3-4.30pm
- Saturday 10 October, all day
The patient also attended Isra Medical Services, 102A Haldon Street Lakemba, and anyone who attended at the following time is considered to be a casual contact:
- Monday 5 October, 7.15-7.40pm
Previously reported cases attended the Ingleburn hotel on Sunday 4 October from 3pm to 6pm.
- Ingleburn hotel bar room: anyone who spent an hour or more in the roombetween these times is considered a close contact and must immediately isolate and be tested. Anyone who spent less than an hour there is considered a casual contact.
- Ingleburn hotel bistro and gaming room: anyone who attended either or these areas in the hotel is considered a casual contact.
Anyone who used the following train services at the specified times is also considered a casual contact:
- Thursday 1 October, from Wiley Park station to Lakemba station, between 12.02 and 12.14pm
- Thursday 1 October, from Lakemba station to Wiley Park station, between 3.14pm and 3.27pm
- Tuesday 6 October, from Wiley Park station to Lakemba station, between 12.10pm and 12.30pm
- Tuesday 6 October, from Lakemba station to Wiley Park station
A new pop-up testing clinic has been established at:
- Lakemba Uniting Church, cnr Haldon Street and the Boulevard, Lakemba. Opening hours are 12pm-4pm Monday 12 October and 10am-4pm Tuesday 13 October.
For a recap of what happened in Victoria yesterday, Nino Bucci has the story.
Chris Eccles, the head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, resigned after he was given new phone records that showed he had spoken to the former Victoria police chief commissioner Graham Ashton on the day the decision was made to use private security firms to staff quarantine hotels.
Eccles had previously given evidence to the inquiry investigating failures in hotel quarantine that he did not recall speaking to Ashton.
He said he was “emphatic” that neither he nor his department made the decision to use private security guards.
Hello everyone and welcome back to our continuing coverage of politics and the coronavirus.
Well, after a truly madcap day in state politics, we’re back. It’s Naaman Zhou here, bringing you the latest news as we watch the dust settle – and potentially kick back up again.
Both the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, and the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, are likely to face no-confidence motions today after a whirlwind of a day yesterday that seemed to mark every premier a threatened species.
Berejiklian says she is not going anywhere, after “one of the most difficult day in my life”, when she revealed to the Independent Commission Against Corruption that she had been in a relationship with the disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire.
Icac will continue its investigation today, meaning that more could be revealed.
NSW Health has set up a pop-up testing clinic in the suburb of Lakemba after two GPs at a clinic were diagnosed with Covid-19.
In Victoria yesterday’s numbers meant the 14-day rolling average for Melbourne rose for the first time in two months, and the state’s top public servant, Chris Eccles, resigned over new phone records that contradicted some of his testimony before the hotel quarantine inquiry.
The Victorian Liberals and Nationals are expected to move a no-confidence motion against Andrews today, with the opposition leader, Michael O’Brien, calling on Labor MPs to cross the floor.
They only get one go at a no-confidence motion each parliamentary term, meaning they will have to wait until after 2022 state election if this one fails.
Elsewhere, the Crown Resorts director Andrew Demetriou will return to front the NSW casino inquiry – after yesterday he was caught looking at notes while testifying.
In Queensland Scott Morrison continues to help the state LNP on the campaign trail before the state election, but the opposition leader, Deb Frecklington, faces questions about a Peter Dutton fundraiser.
Buckle in and we’ll bring you all the news as it happens.