What we learned, Monday 6 September

That’s where I will leave you for today. Here’s a wrap of what we learned:


“Morrison seemed to grasp on Monday that a number of women were still angry. But the prime minister seemed to think the solution to the tempest was that he should be forgiven.”

Political editor Katharine Murphy on today’s National Summit on Women’s Safety.


Scott Morrison has travelled to Sydney and back to the ACT over the father’s day weekend. Morrison flew to Sydney on Saturday and returned on Monday morning with an exemption from ACT chief health officer, Kerryn Coleman.

ACT Health strongly advises residents against travelling into NSW and the ACT usually requires residents returning from NSW to undergo a two-week quarantine period, although Morrison and other federal parliamentarians are classed as essential workers and can apply for exemptions.

The ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, was asked about the prime minister’s travel at the Covid briefing earlier today. Barr said:

I understand he may have travelled back to Sydney ... I’m sure he has abided by the requirements.

In July Labor queried whether Morrison was pushing the bounds of home quarantine at the Lodge, by holding outdoor press conferences there despite advice from Australia’s chief medical officer that anyone who attends his Canberra residence should be vaccinated against Covid-19 and take daily saliva tests.


Hi, this is Michael McGowan, back in the chair.

Incredibly distressing news here from our Indigenous affairs editor Lorena Allam, who reports that more than a thousand Aboriginal people in NSW now have Covid-19, with half of those cases in the west and far west of the state.

It comes after a 70-year-old woman from the small town of Enngonia who has been described as a “much loved elder” became the second Indigenous person to die from the virus during the outbreak.

Residents of rural New South Wales who have to self-isolate will be able to do so at NRMA Dubbo Holiday Park from today.

The holiday park will be used by NSW Health as “special health accommodation” for individuals, couples and families who may not be able to immediately return home to isolate because they live in a rural or remote area.

Residents will be provided all meals, internet access for school and work, and medical care as needed.

NRMA Parks and Resorts CEO Paul Davies said the organisation was pleased to become part of the western NSW effort against the pandemic.

“NRMA has a long history of be helping out in a crisis and we are pleased to be able to offer a well-suited option for people needing to safely isolate while we are unable to accommodate regular guests,” Mr Davies said.


There’s also been some good news out of Victoria today with this in from the AAP:

There has been a booking frenzy among Victorian year 12 students and teachers ahead of a priority Covid-19 vaccination blitz.

Victoria wants to get all year 12 students vaccinated with at least one dose before their final exams through a 10-day priority access scheme beginning on Tuesday.

Pfizer bookings opened for year 12 students, teachers, exam supervisors and assessors on Monday, with a dedicated hotline fielding 30,000 calls across the morning.


Hi all, this is Royce Kurmelovs, I’m stepping in for the next 45 minutes to give Michael a break.

As I get situated here, I note Senator Matt Canavan is currently doing an interview on ABC news where he said he opposed mandatory vaccines for bus workers. I haven’t been following it closely, but if you want a sense of tone, I caught words like “medical apartheid” and the “laptop class” sprinkled in.


Sorry to all of my single friends.

Compassionate reasons does NOT include meeting up with a stranger you’ve met on a dating app 🍑

📱 Keep your dates online and spread love, not COVID.

💬 More info: https://t.co/TLzHYwdFNx pic.twitter.com/6gufCPemaf

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) September 6, 2021

Telstra considers mandatory vaccination for some staff

Telstra wants to make coronavirus vaccination mandatory for many of its workers but appears headed for debate with those who may have valid reasons not to have the jab.

The telecommunications provider on Monday proposed about 8,300 staff who regularly come into contact with customers and colleagues be vaccinated as a condition of employment.

In an email to employees, chief executive Andy Penn said Telstra served millions of people in metropolitan and remote areas and was obliged to protect them.

Telstra is proposing workers in people-facing roles have their first jab by 15 October and second by 15 November.

Penn said exceptions would only be considered on medical grounds. Workers would need to provide medical evidence and have it assessed by a medical practitioner.

The company would try to find an alternative role for workers whose claims were justified. If another role could not be found, the worker may be medically retired.

Telstra officials will discuss the proposed policy for one week with staff, unions and customers.

A spokeswoman for the Communications Electrical Plumbing Union said Penn should be wary of sacking workers who may have a genuine medical exemption to vaccination.


The minister for women’s economic security Jane Hume is speaking on the ABC following the national summit on women’s violence today.

She’s asked why the federal government has only implemented six of the recommendations of the Respect@Work report, after Scott Morrison previously said the government would implement all of them. She says:

Well, that’s important. I’m very glad you asked this. It’s really important to clear up. Of the 55 recommendations, not all were directed to government, some were directed to state governments and some were directed to businesses. Of the 15 that were to government, there were a number that were legislated last week and they’re really about strengthening the framework around sexual harassment and sexual violence, which is really important to do. There are some recommendations that are more complex and more work is required on those and more work is currently being done. They’ve taken on them immediately. The others should be directed to business. There’s some that didn’t require legislative change, things like the Respect@Work council, that’s something we’ve already implemented. This is one part of the puzzle.

Host Patricia Karvelas asks about the recommendation for 10 days’ domestic or family violence leave, which the government hasn’t yet supported. Hume says it is “not a policy that’s without implications, both for business and for individuals”.

“It’s quite a complex decision. It sounds easy, but it in fact is complex. There are implications,” Hume says.

Karvelas asks whether the main complication is that it will cost business money, which Hume agrees with. She suggests it could lead to people hiring fewer women, which Karvelas points out is illegal.


Matthew Guy to challenge Michael O’Brien for leadership of Victorian Liberals

Former opposition leader Matthew Guy is set to challenge Michael O’Brien for leadership of the Victorian Liberals, AAP reports.

O’Brien confirmed he had arranged an in-person meeting for Tuesday.

“It’s time to put these issues to bed because Victorians want the Liberal party focused on Victorians, not on ourselves,” he said outside his Spring Street office. He left without answering questions.

AAP understands Guy will make a tilt for the position during the meeting at the party’s headquarters on Tuesday morning, before parliament resumes for the first time since the state’s sixth coronavirus lockdown was announced.

Guy and two of his key backers, Kew MP Tim Smith and Brighton MP James Newbury, resigned from their shadow ministry roles on Monday morning, ahead of the vote.

Benambra MP Bill Tilley has also resigned as Liberal party whip in the Legislative Assembly.

The leadership challenge comes less than six months after O’Brien fended off another from Gembrook MP Brad Battin.

Battin failed to garner the support of enough MPs to bring on the challenge.

At the time, Guy denied he was harbouring leadership ambitions.

The 47-year-old former opposition leader resigned after a disastrous loss in the 2018 state election.

He was replaced by O’Brien, who has faced criticism for failing to land any blows on premier Daniel Andrews and his government amid the pandemic.


Man dies at copper and gold mine in South Australia

A man has died at a fly-in fly-out copper and gold mine in South Australia, AAP reports.

Mining company OZ Minerals and contractor Byrnecut said on Monday an underground mine worker was fatally injured at the Prominent Hill mine on Sunday afternoon.

“This incident has had a profound impact on our workforce and our priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone at site,” OZ Minerals boss Andrew Cole said.

“Byrnecut and OZ Minerals are providing support to the worker’s family.”

Police said the 43-year-old from Aberfoyle Park in Adelaide was crushed by machinery and died at the worksite.

State resources minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan said his heart goes out to the man’s friends and family.

This is very sad, very serious and I know all of the workers and everybody in the company take it incredibly seriously and will do everything they can to discover what went wrong.

The death is being investigated by the South Australian Police and Safework SA.


There’s a bit of pushback around today about the appointment of Murdoch University legal academic Lorraine Finlay to the Australian Human Rights Commission by attorney general Michaelia Cash.

Crikey has written an excellent report detailing Finlay’s Liberal links – including that she was a former upper house candidate in Western Australia and president of the state’s Liberal women’s council.

In 2017, the Institute of Public Affairs publicly spruiked for Finlay to be appointed to the AHRC. She shares the IPA’s views on abolishing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits speech that offends, insults or humiliates a person based on their race; and also opposes Indigenous constitutional recognition on the basis the constitution should make no distinctions based on race.

Most of the criticism is not the substance of Finlay’s views – but rather the fact the AHRC vacancy created by Ed Santow leaving the commission was not advertised.

Human Rights Law Centre executive director Hugh de Kretser, said:

Fair, open and merit-based selection processes for commissioner positions are critical in ensuring the commission’s independence and effectiveness. Instead, it appears that this is a hand-picked appointment that goes completely against best-practice processes. We don’t prejudge Ms Finlay’s contribution to the commission. The issue is how Senator Cash came to the conclusion that she is the best person for the job.

Before her appointment as human rights commissioner, Finlay was a senior human trafficking specialist with the Australian Mission to ASEAN and a state prosecutor at the WA Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.


Back to superintendent Tracy Chapman, she’s asked about some reports that CCTV footage on the property has been damaged. She says that will form part of the ongoing police investigation.

“No, I don’t understand what has happened with some footage [but that will form] part of our subsequent inquiries”.

And that’s all from the press conference.

Gerry Pyke from NSW Ambulance says Anthony Elfalak’s conditions was “quite remarkable actually”. Calls him “a survivor” and says he had some cuts and a nappy rash.

He’s been taken to Maitland Hospital for observations and to check for infection given it’s possible he has been drinking contaminated water from the creek bed. Pyke says his “spirits are high” and that he’s been eating banana and some pizza in hospital.

“He persevered, he had a will to survive,” Pyke says.


A SES member who was nearby was the first to get to Anthony Elfalak after he was spotted by the helicopter.

SES chief inspector Simon Merrick says the SES member found him kneeling in a riverbed. Anthony gave him a “massive smile”.

The SES member was able to walk to him and put his hand on his shoulder. He turned to him with a massive smile on his face that he will not forget.


She says the “assumption” is that Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak was in the bush on the property for the entire three days. There are some questions about searches at other properties nearby, and Chapman says that was because a local community member had heard “sounds and noise that person felt may have been a child crying or screaming and we investigated that”.


She says police will continue to investigate “to understand what has occurred over the past three days ... how it came to be [and] what occurred during the course of those three days”.

“I know everyone has lots of questions,” she says.

Police address media after missing boy Anthony 'AJ' Elfalak found

New South Wales police superintendent Tracy Chapman is speaking to media in the Hunter Valley after the discovery of missing three-year-old Anthony “AJ” Elfalak.

She says her overwhelming feeling is “relief”.

I think like anyone, the longer something goes on, I guess the more worried you become that you won’t get an outcome like this.

She says about 11.30am a police helicopter spotted him in a creek bed, and she says the fact he found water is “potentially what gave him that opportunity to survive”.


NSW police release footage of moment missing boy spotted by helicopter

NSW Police have released footage of the moment three-year-old Anthony “AJ” Elfalak was spotted after a three day search.

Elfalak, who is autistic and is nonverbal, went missing from his family’s rural property at Yengo Drive in Putty just before 12.30pm on Friday.

A three-year-old child missing on a rural property in the Hunter region since Friday has been located following a large-scale search.https://t.co/VrlVwL4sYW pic.twitter.com/byOXFCiD1j

— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) September 6, 2021


Most of New Zealand to exit lockdown

Jacinda Ardern’s government is ending New Zealand’s lockdown outside Auckland after seeing a dip in Covid-19 cases.

After 20 days in lockdown cases in NZ have slipped to 20 a day over the past three days from a peak of 83 cases on 29 August.

With a lack of cases outside of NZ’s biggest city, AAP reports Ardern has given the rest of North Island and the Covid-free South Island more of their freedoms back, shifting them to the country’s level two alert from 11:59pm on Tuesday.

On Monday, Ardern reaffirmed the country’s commitment to an elimination strategy with the virus, saying:

We are making progress but we have some real challenges ahead. Moving to level two is progress and it is positive but it comes with a warning. We’re within sight of elimination but we cannot drop the ball.

The alert level shift means from Wednesday, most businesses will be able to reopen and studying Kiwis will be able to schools and campuses.

However, Ardern has announced tougher rules than applied at previous level two settings.

A mask-wearing mandate will apply to almost all indoor venues, which Ardern says is due to the increased infectiousness of the Delta variant. Checking in at venues will also become mandatory in an effort to aid contact-tracing in the event of future outbreaks.

A new limit of 50 people will apply to indoor venues in an effort to reduce super-spreading events.

Gyms and other public facilities must also provide spacing of two metres between patrons.

The caseload in Auckland – responsible for 807 of the 821 infections in the outbreak – meant Ardern had already confirmed it would spend at least another week in level four lockdown.

The New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern
The New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern. Photograph: Getty Images


Interesting information for the residents of western Sydney.

Deputy Premier @JohnBarilaroMP tells regional media briefing he won't support introducing a #covid curfew in Dubbo - 'because they don't work"#nswpol

— kelly fuller (@kelfuller) September 6, 2021

Over to the Senate hearing into media diversity, where the Australian Communications and Media Authority are showing their worth.

ACMA saying they haven't received complaints about @SkyNewsAust content so they have "no evidence" there's a problem.

— amanda meade (@meadea) September 6, 2021

Melbourne Star observation wheel to close permanently

Personally I did not know that this large Melbourne wheel existed, but operating company MB Star Properties assures me it was an “iconic” attraction.

A statement from the company reads:

The giant observation wheel has been a part of the city’s skyline for more than 15 years, during which time it has welcomed more than 300,000 visitors every year, with international and interstate tourists making up 45 per cent of the business.

Unfortunately, the global Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent travel restrictions and sustained shutdowns, adding to pre-existing challenges of operating amid increased high-rise development and changes in the Docklands area, has made it impossible to sustain the business.

#BREAKING: The Melbourne Star giant observational wheel will close permanently after almost 13 years of operation.

Directors said ongoing #COVID19 restrictions and high-rise development in the area meant it was "impossible to sustain the business".#9News | Nightly at 6pm pic.twitter.com/3XhkonaK4L

— 9News Melbourne (@9NewsMelb) September 6, 2021

Covid Casualty: "It is with a very heavy heart that the directors of Melbourne Star, Melbourne’s giant observation wheel at Docklands, today will announce the iconic attraction will shut down permanently".
Operating company MB Star Properties is going into liquidation.

— Heidi Murphy (@heidimur) September 6, 2021


Cheng Lei, the Australian journalist detained in China for more than a year, has thanked supporters for reminding her that she’s “not alone”.

Friends, former colleagues and other media industry figures were among 60 people to sign a statement of support for Cheng, published on 13 August, the first anniversary of her detention in China on national security grounds.

Cheng, an Australian citizen who was business anchor for the state-owned China Global Television Network (CGTN), was told about the letter of support at her most recent visit by Australian consular officials, and is said to have become visibly emotional. The following message was taken down by consular officials:

“It means so much that I’m not alone and that I’m remembered and thought about. The appreciation I feel is too big to put into words.”


Gareth Ward, a former Liberal party minister now on the crossbench, raising concerns about the functionality of NSW QR codes.

My letter to the NSW Health Minister requesting an immediate fix to a flaw in the QR code contact-tracing process that is putting our community at greater risk. pic.twitter.com/J5hsm7tocj

— Gareth Ward (@garethjward) September 6, 2021


Meanwhile in Victoria, several outlets are reporting that there will be a leadership spill in the opposition Liberal party tomorrow morning.

It’s all happening. @MatthewGuyMP and @TimSmithMP have resigned from shadow cabinet. Now @michaelobrienmp needs to find a COVID safe room for the vote. @7NewsMelbourne

— Sharnelle Vella (@SharnelleVella) September 5, 2021


The chief of the Australian defence force says he was surprised by the speed of Afghanistan’s collapse to the Taliban – but it was accelerated by “some interesting force deployment choices”.

General Angus Campbell made the comments amid intense discussions in the UK and the US about intelligence failures over the speed of the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, which culminated in the Islamic fundamentalist militants taking the capital city on 15 August.

Daniel Hurst has the full story:

This is very cool. An interactive that lets you search NSW Covid vaccination rates by suburb. Mine is not very good! (20% - 29% fully vaccinated).

The ministers for women from all of the Labor states and territories (so, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, the ACT and the Northern Territory) have released this statement following the Women’s Safety Summit today. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems to be directing blame towards the federal government.

The statement calls for a number of short-term commitments from the commonwealth including more investment in housing for women escaping violence, more funding for legal services for victim-survivors and “action to support women on temporary visas who are fleeing violence”.

The Women’s Safety Summit represents an opportunity for all governments and decision makers to listen to victim-survivors and their advocates. State and territory governments are committed to playing our part in working to address family, domestic and sexual violence.

For years the commonwealth’s contribution to national gendered violence efforts has fallen short of what is needed to address the scale of the problem. It is time for the commonwealth to step up to its responsibility, and act on the issues that are within its capacity to change.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers a keynote speech via video link during the National Summit on Womens Safety from Canberra.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers a keynote speech via video link during the National Summit on Womens Safety from Canberra. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


The father of Anthony “AJ” Elfalak – also named Anthony – is speaking to reporters now. He says his son has been taken to Singleton hospital to be assessed.

He has been bitten by ants and he has fallen over but he is alive. He is alive. It’s amazing. My leg, my hips, my ankles, I can’t walk. I have been in the bush for four days with no sleep. We didn’t stop.

He says AJ was found near a creek drinking water.

He was all wet and he was drinking water. The creek is probably 500m [from the house]. We have searched that area head to toe, SES, police the first day it happened, I went around with the police, I don’t know. It’s a miracle.

He’s just clinging to [his] mum. As soon as he heard his mum he opened his eyes and looked at [her] and fell asleep.


This piece, written by a Melbourne ICU clinical assistant, puts the experiences of our frontline health workers during this pandemic into sharp relief.

There is no pandemic loading on our pay, no bonus, no official recognition – the only form of reward seems to be an influx of sweet buns and packaged hospital food being made available. Is it possible to imagine, in any other industry, having equivalent types of stress suddenly put on you without any consequent remuneration?

Some remarkable scenes here. The family of Anthony “AJ” Elfalak react to the news he’s been found safe and well on their property near Singleton in the NSW Hunter Valley.

"I haven't slept til now, and I told ya I wouldn't sleep until we found him."

Scenes of jubilation after missing three-year-old Anthony 'AJ' Elfalak was found in rural NSW.

Watch LIVE on @channel9. #9News https://t.co/ozSwuLxMdD pic.twitter.com/lF3MiDlPZV

— 9News Sydney (@9NewsSyd) September 6, 2021


Prime minister Scott Morrison made a (remote) speech to the National Women’s Safety Summit earlier today. Here’s some of what he had to say:

We need to change behaviours and attitudes so that we stop violence before it starts. Our country must become a place where every woman feels safe and can live free of fear. That’s what freedom is. That’s every woman’s right. But it’s far from every woman’s reality, as we know. Right now, too many Australian women do not feel safe, and too often, they are not safe. And that is not OK. There is no excuse and sorry doesn’t cut it. They are not safe at home. They are not safe at work. In broad daylight, you are not safe. In public space, you are not safe. You are not safe. Here in this place, even this place, where I speak to you from today, you are not always safe. And what started as a conversation about longstanding and serious failings in this very workplace, in this Parliament House, turned into a conversation necessarily about women’s experiences everywhere. It’s not a new problem and it’s not a simple problem. But Australia does have a problem.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison delivers a keynote speech to the National Women’s Safety Summit on Monday. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Victoria’s Covid response commander Jeroen Weimar has dismissed suggestions that contact tracing is falling behind in Victoria.

He says every positive case is “interviewed and engaged with, within 24 hours”.

We do our best to get as hold of as many primary close contacts as we can and to make sure they isolate.

He says all the national and state metrics for contact tracing “continue to be green”, meaning they are hitting their KPIs for contacting people in set time frames.

With significant community transmission in those northern and western suburbs in particular, the number of people in isolation becomes an increasingly less important metric because actually we’re dealing with significantly large groups of households, significant transmission in public settings and an increasing number of people who are active in the community whilst they’re infectious.

Weimar said they are now dealing with pandemic fatigue, which is making people less vigilant.

I think everyone in Victoria has had enough of this entire discussion. Everyone in Victoria wants this to be over.

We’re absolutely seeing people saying: it’s just too hard, I can’t do this anymore. And we’re seeing small breaches here and there of all those rules that have held us back [from high Covid numbers] for so long … We are battling fatigue and frustration at this same time. This is collectively within our ability to slow down and to control. Whilst that vaccination program drives on, the small breaches will continue to spread the virus and we’ll spread beyond the inner northern and western suburbs. The consequence of that [will be] far larger numbers of people being positive, far larger numbers of people going to hospital, and far larger numbers of people ending up in intensive care and in a really bad place.

Victorian Covid Commander Jeroen Weimar.
Victorian Covid Commander Jeroen Weimar. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/EPA


ACT to bring forward second AstraZeneca vaccine

Back in the ACT, chief minister Andrew Barr says that as a result of the outbreak, the timing of vaccinations will be brought into line with NSW and Victoria.

That means that the period of time between AstraZeneca doses can be revised. So if you are in the ACT and have received a dose of AZ – or plan to soon – your second dose can be administered four to eight weeks after the first. Our health editor Melissa Davey recently wrote this piece explaining the significance of having your second dose sooner.

Barr says in his press conference that the territory wants to get the first dose rate in the ACT up to 75% in the next seven days.

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr speaks to the media in Canberra, Monday, 6 September 2021.
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr speaks to the media in Canberra on Monday. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Second Aboriginal death from Covid-19 in western NSW

A second Aboriginal person in the west of NSW has died: a 70-year-old woman and much loved elder from Enngonia who died in Dubbo hospital overnight.

Scott McLachlan, CEO of the western NSW local health district said:

Our condolences go to her family and friends, and to the community. We know it’s a very tight knit community [in Enngonia] and you are in our thoughts.

Enngonia is a town of about 200 people, most of whom are Aboriginal, on Muruwari country an hour’s drive north of Bourke, close to the Queensland border.

It has already recorded 19 cases of Covid-19, a devastating number of cases in such a small community. We understand the woman was a much loved elder in the community.


Good afternoon, let’s get straight into it.

The ACT’s chief minister Andrew Barr says there are 11 people hospitalised with Covid-19, but only one person in intensive care. That person is on ventilation.

Barr says he’s concerned that there is “still a proportion of the community who are delaying getting tested when they’re developing symptoms”.

They’re waiting a day or two. This is one of the major reasons why there are still cases infectious in the community. So, if you have any symptoms, please come forward for testing.


With that, I shall pass you over to the truly amazing Michael McGowan who will take you through the afternoon!

See you bright and early tomorrow!


Victorian press conference:

Victorian health minister Martin Foley said the first of the 4m Pfizer doses from the UK are arriving this week.

One flight has arrived, but over coming days and weeks, they go through a batch processing check with the TGA at the commonwealth level. We’re hopeful they will be landing in Victoria and into arms both through our GPs and our state run clinics by the end of this week.

Foley said the priority booking line for year 12 students this morning had been “extremely busy” with an “extremely enthusiastic group of year 12 and year 11s”.

Please hang in there. There’s heaps of resources going in to make sure that targeted group of somewhere between 50,000-67,000 young people can get booked and get the certainty they’re looking for.

Victoria’s Covid testing commander Jeroen Weimar said there were 30,000 calls to the dedicated vaccine booking line for year 12 students between 8am and 11am today.

He said:

Can I just assure every VCE student, I’ve got one at home myself, there’s a dose set aside for you.

If you’re a year 11 student taking a VCE subject, you can phone from Wednesday. We’re trying to get the year 12s booked in. But you can book in today, tomorrow, Wednesday, as a year 12 student. There’s no frantic rush. The doses are set aside for you. Everyone who wants to get it done can get it done.


ACT records 11 new local Covid-19 cases

The ACT has recorded 11 new Covid-19 cases as the wait time between AstraZeneca doses is reduced, reports AAP.

Of Monday’s cases, nine are linked and at least seven had been in the community for some of the time while infectious.

It comes as year 12 students have a two-week window to get a Pfizer jab so they can sit their exams in person. As well, anyone getting an AstraZeneca vaccination does not have to wait 12 weeks between doses.

The gap has been reduced to between four and eight weeks because of the continued spread of the virus in Canberra.

ACT deputy chief medical officer Vanessa Johnston speaks to the media in Canberra, Monday, 6 September 2021.
ACT deputy chief medical officer Vanessa Johnston speaks to the media in Canberra, Monday, 6 September 2021. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


Telstra intends to mandate employees get vaccinated

In an email sent to Telstra employees, the company has confirmed their intention to make Covid-19 vaccinations mandatory for all staff who have “regular contact with customers, the public or other employees”.

Chief executive Andy Penn wrote in the email:

Today I am announcing that we will start a one-week consultation period with you, our unions and some of our partners on a proposed Covid vaccination policy.

This policy would make getting vaccinated a requirement for roles where they are in regular contact with customers, the public or other employees, such as our frontline and business critical teams, and those who need to visit customer premises at times. The requirement to be vaccinated would not apply to those who can work from home or employees outside of Australia at this stage.

This is an important and necessary step.

We are a team of many thousands serving many millions of customers. More than most other companies our teams stretch across the far reaches of Australia – from our cities to remote outback towns. We are part of these communities and we have an obligation to keep them safe and well – and to protect each other.

He goes on to confirm those required to be vaccinated should have their first dose by 15 October and the second by 15 November.

That said, we would be flexible if there are vaccine supply issues...

At this stage we are not proposing to make getting vaccinated a requirement for people who can work from home. But this is something we may consider down the track, particularly once more of us start to head back into the office and meet up in person.

A Telstra retail branch in Sydney.
A Telstra retail branch in Sydney. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP


Victoria planning to ease regional restrictions, but won't say when

The Victorian government says it plans to ease restrictions in regional Victoria – with the exception of the Goulburn Valley – but will not say when that will happen.

Victorian health minister Martin Foley said the easing would be “not a snapback, but certainly an easing of restrictions”.

It shouldn’t be seen as a snapback to where we were, say, in April or May, but certainly a recognition that the chain of transmission in the regions are different and in most of the regions very different to what they are in metropolitan Melbourne.

Foley said he was also keen to make sure there were no leaks of the virus from Melbourne into the regions.


BREAKING | AJ is eating and drinking and in good spirits. He was found near Yango Road, next to a creek @7NewsSydney https://t.co/cmWf5EkgS2

— Laura Banks (@laurakatebanks) September 6, 2021

Victorian Liberals update!

Nationals Leader @PeterWalshMP outside 157 Spring St (Opposition Offices) says he’ll work with whoever the Liberal Party leader is, and the leadership is a matter for the Libs. He says any change won’t affect the coalition agreement. @10NewsFirstMelb #springst pic.twitter.com/3cX0y05Tdh

— Simon Love (@SimoLove) September 6, 2021

Yet to be independently confirmed by Guardian Australia, but other media are reporting that missing three-year-old AJ was spotted from the air near the family property in thick bushland scrub.


Victorian press conference:

Half of the new cases reported in Victoria on Monday were reported in the northern suburbs, Victoria’s Covid response commander Jeroen Weimar said.

Of the 246 cases, 126 are in the northern suburbs, 71 are in the western suburbs, 21 are in the southeast, nine are in the inner city and inner south, and eight are in the eastern suburbs.

There were also two cases in the Mornington Peninsula, identified and isolating close contacts of another case elsewhere in the city; one case in Greater Geelong who was isolating as a known close contact of another case, and four more in Shepparton that were again identified close contacts.

Weimar said:

We’re continuing to see significant household transmission particularly in our northern and western suburbs. We’re also seeing a number of small community businesses with very high levels of positive cases both amongst their customer base and amongst staff.

Victorian Covid commander Jeroen Weimar (centre) speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne.
Victorian Covid commander Jeroen Weimar (centre) speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne. Photograph: Daniel Pockett/AAP

He said cases are also spreading among essential workers, including construction, with 81 active cases linked to a construction site at Box Hill.

If essential workers aren’t on top of their symptoms, are not out getting vaccinated and not testing regularly, that presents a significant risk in terms of onward transmission.

Among the positive cases reported today are a woman who works at a Covid testing site on Hampstead Road in Maidstone. She was partially vaccinated and contracted the virus in the community not at work, Weimar says.

The testing station is closed today for deep cleaning and to test other staff working at the centre.

Weimar said there are also two separate instances of Victorian truck drivers who have tested positive and are believed to have acquired the virus NSW, not in Victoria.

It’s genetically different to the strain currently circulating in Victoria, he says.

We believe both have acquired their infection interstate, in NSW, as a part of their normal work duties.

He thanked the truck drivers for testing as soon as they experienced symptoms and for isolating early.

The Mooroopna truck driver has passed the virus on to one person in their household, who was also isolating.


Back to the NSW press conference and NSW Health’s Dr Nhi Nguyen is being asked about regional hospital capacity.


Do we have a breakdown of how many of the 1,550 surge capacity beds are beds in major regional hospitals? And what the contingency plan is for transfer to the city?


That’s a good point. We talk about a whole-state capacity. But the work behind that has been at the hospital level and how many beds they can ramp up.

As you would imagine, we know that the ability for Broken Hill to ramp up quadruple capacity is not possible. Alright? So, we know that. We appreciate it. We talk to our clinicians. So, there is a breakdown, but it’s a combination of they may have a lot of operating theatres that they can move into and make into an intensive care, but as we say, it’s limited by staff. Alright?

So, in regards to contingency plans, we have aeromedical services, extra helicopters and planes and teams out over in western New South Wales.


Missing three-year-old found alive, police confirm

And we have confirmation! Three-year-old AJ Elfalak has been located alive.

He will be assessed by paramedics shortly.

BREAKING NEWS: Missing three-year-old boy Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak has been located a short time ago. He is yet to be assessed by NSW Ambulance paramedics. More info to come.

— NSW Police Force (@nswpolice) September 6, 2021


Victorian press conference:

Victoria has announced a rent relief package for people who are paying more than 30% of their income in rent, and have lost at least 20% of their income due to the pandemic.

It’s a one-off payment of $1,500.

Which, if you are paying 30% of your income in rent and have lost at least 20% of your income, is not a lot.

Victoria’s housing minister, Richard Wynne, announced the package at Monday’s press conference.

He said:

We’re also asking the landlords, as they did last year, to show a level of compassion to people who find themselves in sometimes very, very desperate circumstances, unable to work – they have lost their hours. And we think that this is an important initiative, a targeted initiative that is actually going to make a significant difference to people’s lives because we absolutely understand just how critical it is that particularly those who are vulnerable have safe, affordable and secure housing in the private rental market.

Victoria also extended its homelessness program until 30 June next year.

To date, 1,100 people have been moved from hotels into longer term secure housing, but there are still 1,600 people living in hotels, Wynne said.

Signage for a real estate property is seen in Carlton North, Melbourne
Signage for a real estate property is seen in Carlton North, Melbourne Photograph: James Ross/AAP


I usually would wait a little longer for confirmation to post this, but given it was mentioned on live TV at the presser it’s worth adressing.

Nine news says they have “unconfirmed reports” that the missing three-year-old child in the Hunter region of NSW has been found alive on the family’s property.

BREAKING: We have unconfirmed reports a child has been found alive on the property. Details to come. @9NewsSyd

— James Wilson (@WesternWilson9) September 6, 2021

This obviously has not been independently confirmed by Guardian Australia.


Interesting slide from NSW Health showing where ICU patients are being treated. About 40 per cent of ICU patients are being treated in either the western sydney or south-western sydney local health districts.https://t.co/E01x1NfqGE pic.twitter.com/MdWzdTnyAB

— Michael Read (@michael_read_) September 6, 2021

Here is prominent sexual assault survivor advocate Saxon Mullins’ reaction to the prime minister’s keynote address at the national woman’s summit.

The PM speaking at the Women's Safety Summit, acknowledging that women are not safe at work. Yet his government votes against a majority of the Respect@Work report?? He clearly doesn’t believe a word he’s saying so why should we

— Saxon Mullins (@SaxonAdair) September 6, 2021

Look I have to ask, did the PM get consent to share those survivors harrowing stories for his own gain? I hope so but based on the govts track record …

— Saxon Mullins (@SaxonAdair) September 6, 2021


Some potential breaking news coming through. The premier has been asked about reports that the missing three-year-old, AJ, in the Hunter region of NSW has been found alive.


Premier, can I just ask you a question?... My information is that the child has been found alive up at Putty at the moment. If that’s the case, your reaction to it?


Oh, look, I’m sorry, I don’t know if that’s the case, but if it is, I would be absolutely delighted.

I mean, I think all of us have been crossing everything to make sure AJ is brought back safely.

And if that’s the case, it’s a much-needed good news in otherwise difficult circumstances.


Victoria records most infectious day in over 12 months

Victorian press conference:

Victoria has recorded its highest daily case number since 16 August 2020, with 246 new cases reported on Monday.

That figure back in August last year was 266.

There are currently 92 people in hospital in Victoria, 26 ICU, 14 on a ventilator.

Of those in hospital, health minister Martin Foley said, 13 were unvaccinated because they were not eligible (under the age of 16) at the time they were diagnosed; 67 were unvaccinated but were eligible at the time they were diagnosed; and 10 were partially vaccinated.

One person in hospital yesterday was fully vaccinated, but Foley said they were able to be discharged from hospital today.

He repeated the new line from the Victorian government: “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

On vaccines, Victoria recorded its busiest Sunday in state vaccination clinics so far, with 26,955 doses administered.

About 30,000 vaccine bookings were made, Foley said.

There are now just 10,000 first dose AstraZeneca bookings available in state clinics and 1,000 Pfizer doses. More doses are available in GP clinics and pharmacies.

The priority booking for year 11 and 12 students doing year 12 exams starts today. Foley said parents and carers of students would have received a priority booking code.



Based on the modelling, it looks like it’s a couple of weeks after that we reach these peaks to when we reach 70%. Can you guarantee those changes for freedoms are still going to occur at 70%, even though we won’t have peaked?


Yeah, absolutely.

And the reason why it’s really important for us to get this information available to all of our citizens is that the biggest determinant of whether someone ends up in hospital or not...is whether they have been fully vaccinated.


New Zealand records 20 local Covid-19 cases

New Zealand has reported 20 new cases of coronavirus in the community, for the third day in a row, bringing the total number in the outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant to 821.

It is another encouraging sign that the outbreak has peaked and that strict lockdown measures are containing the virus.

Of the total cases, 117 people have now recovered from the virus. There are 40 people in hospital, with six people in intensive care.

The country recorded the first death from the outbreak on Saturday – a woman in her 90s who died in Auckland’s North Shore hospital, on Friday night.

As of Monday morning, 38,058 close contacts had been identified, with 91% of those having had at least one test result.

There were 38,710 vaccine doses administered on Sunday, bringing the number of doses administered in the vaccine rollout to more than 3,890,000.

Speaking to media on Sunday, the deputy prime minister Grant Robertson said: “We are heading in the right direction when it comes to getting in control of the virus, but the job is not done yet.”

Cabinet ministers will decide whether to reduce the lockdown settings for regions outside of Auckland on Monday afternoon.



Is this [modelling] based on New South Wales still being closed? So pubs and clubs and restaurants and things being closed? Or does it take into account the fact that we are going to open up, so that on 1 November we’re going to have some things open?


Yeah, but obviously when we do open about 70% double dose, anyone who interacts with each other will be completely vaccinated.

So that massively reduces the chance of anybody acquiring hospitalisation. So what you have in front of you is what we best anticipate will occur, but that is why the Doherty modelling, the plan that the national plan is based on, the modelling, the research the national plan is based on assumes, which is the case, that higher rates of vaccination prevent people from coming into hospital...

You will note that it is very rare for somebody with no underlying conditions, with double dose vaccination, to end up in ICU. It does happen occasionally but it is extremely rare.


Here is that data, in case you are interested.

It's worth noting the modelling presented by the NSW government today is based on data from Monday 23 August, two weeks ago.
It predicts a peak of 560 Covid-19 cases in the ICU towards the end of October. pic.twitter.com/eAHzIdcZnw

— Matilda Boseley (@MatildaBoseley) September 6, 2021

Berejiklian has been questioned over this modelling, which appears to have been produced on 25 August, based on data from 23 August, two weeks ago.

The best modelling I received last Friday is an indication of what the numbers, the projections are likely to be. So what you have in front of you is the best and most recent advice I received on Thursday and Friday last week.

I am just telling you that I asked for the up-to-date modelling last Thursday and Friday, so I could relay it to the public.


Next up at #WomensSafetySummit is the panel on Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples’ experiences of family, domestic & sexual violence. Privileging & prioritising the views of First Nations experts, practitioners & victim-survivors is absolutely critical for change.

— Dr Kate Fitz-Gibbon (@Kate_FitzGibbon) September 6, 2021

We are hearing a lot about the intensive care system in NSW at the press conference now, but the long and short of it is, “it’s a challenge, it will be hard, but we are ready for it”.


NSW Health’s Susan Pearce:

What we are experiencing now is not normal for our community, it is not normal for our hospital system, but we will get through this as the wonderful health system that we are, and that we have always demonstrated we are for our community.

My message is to reassure the community that anyone who requires ICU care during this period will get it, and it will be continued to be delivered by exceptional staff who are out there working every day...

At least 90% of people with Covid are cared for in the community and that is also a very important reminder.



Can I put a call out to the people in the community of Narrabri and Wee Waa. That had one of the lowest vaccination coverage over the weekend, and we set up walk-in clinics over two days.

Almost 1,000 people were vaccinated and that is an unbelievable result for the communities of Narrabri and Wee Waa. We are still there today and I call out to everybody to get vaccinated. Vaccination is the key to protect regional and rural communities from these outbreaks, more importantly about our path into the future.


Here is the NSW deputy premier John Barilaro with the regional update:

In western New South Wales...there were 44 cases, 35 cases were in the Dubbo local government area, six cases in Burke, two in Orange and one in Narromine.

Seven cases overnight in the far west, six in Broken Hill and one in Wilcannia. Southern New South Wales has seen an increase in cases as well, three cases in the Queanbeyan area, two cases in Goulburn, and we have been notified of an additional two cases and 8pm last night, one Cooma and one in Batemans Bay.

Five new cases in the Hunter New England area, one in Port Stephens, one in Maitland and three are from the lake Macquarie local government area.

The Illawarra Shoalhaven area is starting to be an area of concern, nine cases, 21 cases all up, nine in the Wollongong area, eight cases in the Shoalhaven local government area and four cases in the Shellharbour local government area.

And again, eight new cases on the Central Coast.

Cars queue up at Dubbo showgrounds for Covid tests.
Cars queue up at Dubbo showgrounds for Covid tests. Photograph: Jessica Hromas/The Guardian


It’s worth noting that NSW vaccination levels seemed to have dipped significantly from last week.

Last Monday the number of doses administered was around 49,000, today they are just under 32,000.

NSW recorded 1,281 new locally acquired cases of #COVID19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night. pic.twitter.com/xtImb5eF8x

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) September 6, 2021

Just back to the prime minister’s speech, here is Australian of the Year Grace Tame’s response.

Scott has just finished his opening keynote address at the Women’s Safety Summit in which he appropriated private disclosures from survivors to leverage his own image.

Gee, I bet it felt good to get that out.

— Grace Tame (@TamePunk) September 6, 2021


NSW case numbers will peak in the coming week, premier says


According to the modelling I have received, we are likely to reach a peak in cases in the next week or so, that is what the modelling tells us, there will likely be a peak in intensive care beds required around early-mid October.

So that is what the best modelling tells us at this stage but I do want to qualify that by saying that a number of variables are associated with that modelling.

I am really pleased and grateful that Dr Nguyen has made herself available today to explain all the planning that has been made, the allocation of resources, and also a status report.


Berejiklian is reassuring the NSW public that the state’s ICU surge capacity can handle the current outbreak.

Dr Chant will outline that we have 177 patients in our intensive care units with Covid. At any given time in our hospital system, there would be around 400 people with non-Covid related issues in ICU.

And so our surge capacity including staff in our intensive care units is 1,550. Just to give people that reassurance.

We certainly don’t want to have to use of all those beds and staff, because we know what pressure it will put on the system but we want everybody to be reassured that the capacity is there.

NSW ambulances park in the receiving bay for the emergency department at the Blacktown hospital in Sydney.
NSW ambulances park in the receiving bay for the emergency department at the Blacktown hospital in Sydney. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP



Last week I received modelling on when our health experts think the peak will hit in terms of the number of cases, what ICU requirements might be and what the number of people in hospital might be.

And I am pleased to say that today we will be making all of that public, but I do want to qualify a lot of that to say that modelling depends on a number of things, a number of variables. If too many of us do the wrong thing, there are too many super spreading events, we could see those numbers be what they are.


Five people have also died due to Covid-19 in NSW.

Sadly, NSW Health has been notified of the deaths of five people who had COVID-19.

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) September 6, 2021


NSW records 1,281 local Covid-19 cases

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking now, confirming the state has recorded 1,281 local Covid-19 cases.

Here is former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins response to the prime minister’s keynote address at the national women’s summit.

While I respect the Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP’s “ambitious spirit” for the National Women’s Security Summit 2021 - I just can’t match this Government’s actions with the platitudes and warm sentiments they are all extending today. (1/2)

— Brittany Higgins (@BrittHiggins_) September 6, 2021

On another note, I’d like to give a big thank-you to the ACT Government and the Victims of Crime Commission who kindly stepped in at the last minute to have me invited as a delegate to listen in to today’s event. (2/2)

— Brittany Higgins (@BrittHiggins_) September 6, 2021


Sky News boss fronts media parlimentary inquiry

Sky News Australia chief executive Paul Whittaker has told the media inquiry Lachlan Murdoch has no role in directing Sky News Australia.

Whittaker said he talks to Lachlan often and had lunch with him when he arrived in the country earlier this year, but the Murdochs relied on their executives to run the company.

Whittaker said YouTube’s actions made it clear that it is not a neutral platform, “but a publisher selectively broadcasting content and censoring certain views, while allowing videos that are patently false, misogynistic, and racist to proliferate.”

Sky News videos on crucial Covid-19 issues, ranging from important discussions about treatments, to prevention measures, have been removed from public view, while tawdry tutorials on drug taking, videos glamorising gang violence, and a rich diet of crackpot conspiracy theories are freely and widely available on YouTube.

Whittaker said Sky News and News Corp did not deny climate change.

Sky News Australia CEO Paul Whittaker speaks during a Senate inquiry at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, 6 September 2021.
Sky News Australia CEO Paul Whittaker speaks during a Senate inquiry at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, 6 September 2021. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP


If you or someone you know is experiencing violence you can get assistance by calling the national help line 1800Respect.

In Australia, mental health support is also available at Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, Lifeline on 13 11 14, and at MensLine on 1300 789 978. In the UK, the charity Mind is available on 0300 123 3393 and ChildLine on 0800 1111. In the US, Mental Health America is available on 800-273-8255.


Morrison is wrapping up now:

So, over these two days and, indeed, the roundtables before, we want to hear from you, your perspectives. I want to hear from you, your perspectives, your ideas, your wisdom, for how we go forward on this together because with your help we can create the national plan that sets a course for a country and a culture of Australians that knows not violence in the future, one that honours respect – that is our task.


By the way, NSW’s press conference will be held at 11am as normal.

Victoria will follow at 11.15am.

Victorians: the press conference is at 11.15am, with health minister Martin Foley, planning/housing/multicultural affairs minister Richard Wynne, and Jeroen Weimar.

Looking back through the numbers, it seems the last time we had numbers higher than today was 17 August 2020.

— Calla Wahlquist (@callapilla) September 6, 2021

Some more reactions from the summit’s Twitter hashtag (it’s pretty unanimously negative about Scott Morrison’s speech over there).

If @ScottMorrisonMP is serious about trauma then he MUST commit to fixing the coercive & unresponsive mental health care system that women tell us are traumatising #WomensSafetySummit

— Jenn (@QuestioningJenn) September 6, 2021

I cannot listen to this PM speak about violence against women
This PM told women protesting against the violence they're subject to that they were lucky to live in a country that didn't shoot them for protesting
Have we forgotten that?#EnoughIsEnough#WomensSafetySummit

— Si.Si. (@FamiliarNoir) September 6, 2021


Morrison is now discussing what his government is doing to help prevent sexual assault and harassment in Australia.

In March, senator Payne and I launched the cabinet women’s taskforce with which we co-chair and which has women’s safety and economic security at its very heart. In April we responded to the Respect@Work report and last week we passed legislation to implement our response to that report. More than $64m was committed in the 21-22 budget to support the implementation of the roadmap including additional legal assistance for specialist lawyers and workplace and discrimination law expertise...

Our response to the Respect@Work inquiry led by sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins is about creating a new culture of respect and Australian workplaces. It is based on values we all believe in that unite us. Respect, dignity, choice, equality of opportunity and justice. Preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace is central to boosting women’s economic participation.

But in turn, a lot of people are pointing to this headline from last week.

Today the Morrison Government voted against 49 of the 55 recommendations made in the landmark Respect@Work report by @Kate_Jenkins_ .

These reforms would have had a real long term impact on the lives of all Australian women ensuring safer and more equitable workplaces. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/4DQIrm3xtw

— Brittany Higgins (@BrittHiggins_) September 2, 2021


Morrison’s speech is already copping criticism online.

Morrison today at the Women's Safety Summit: "Your stories, your expertise, your experiences are critical to the next national plan"
Grace Tame said she was the only lived experience survivor at the roundtable discussion.

— Amber Schultz (@AmberMaySchultz) September 6, 2021

You can’t talk about women’s economic security while ignoring growing homelessness amongst older women & women fleeing #DV - or being forced to stay because they have nowhere to go. Poverty is a political choice by Govt, real funding could *end homelessness* #WomensSafetySummit

— Larissa Waters (@larissawaters) September 6, 2021

Jumping back to Covid for a second.

Box Hill hospital in Victoria was listed as a tier 1 exposure site on Sunday by the department of health and human services, before being removed from the list altogether later that day. A reader contacted Guardian Australia to ask why the site was removed.

The time of concern was between 5.30pm and 9.30pm on 3 September, in the emergency ward.

Guardian Australia asked the hospital why the exposure site is no longer listed, and a hospital spokesman said:

The Covid positive case that attended the Box Hill hospital was managed in the appropriate areas and under appropriate precautions.

As such, it was identified that no significant exposure has occurred and the site was removed from the list.


Morrison goes on to describe some of the letters he has received from women this year.

Through all the letters and emails, I felt that rage. The dread and the frustration that our culture is not changing.

And there was something more. It was quieter. There was fatigue. One letter explained. ‘I’m exhausted just thinking about these things, I’m exhausted making what is now automatic adjustments to my behaviour. I’m exhausted having to try to explain why I’m exhausted. I’m so sick and tired of being scared,’ she said.

Something I have been pondering even more after reading these letters is this. In various ways, we have become a more tolerant and enlightened society over recent decades, that is true. And yet Australian women still don’t feel safe, and indeed they are not safe.

Every day they are forced to change their own behaviours because men won’t, holding their keys like a weapon. Going for their run before it gets dark. Having to say to their friends, message me when you get home, ignoring a new window and putting up with the boys clubs.

The foundation of respect for women in Australian society is not what it should be. All of us, but Australian men in particular carry both private obligations and public duties to build those foundations every day. And so to all who wrote to me, again, I’d say thank you.


Scott Morrison has touched on why we are having this summit in the first place, as a response to allegations and criticisms of the behaviour from within Parliament House and within the Liberal and Labor party ranks:

We need to change behaviours and attitudes so that we stop violence before it starts. Our country must become a place where every woman feels safe and can live free of fear. That’s what freedom is. That is every woman’s right. But it is far from every woman’s reality as we know.

Right now, too many Australian women do not feel safe and too often, they are not safe and that is not OK. There is no excuse, and sorry doesn’t cut it. They are not safe at home. They are not safe at work. In broad daylight, you are not safe. In public space, you are not safe. You are not safe.

Here in this place, even this place where I’d speak to you from today, are not always safe, and what started as a conversation about long-standing and serious failings in this very workplace, in this Parliament House*, turned into a conversation, necessarily, about women’s experience everywhere. It is not a new problem and it is not a simple problem. But Australia does have a problem.

*A reminder that the subject of some of these allegations (which have have been denied) still sit in Morrison’s Liberal government, even in his cabinet.


Scott Morrison:

This summit is a gathering of Australians from different backgrounds and experiences lived. It is a place for sharing, it is a forum for listening. It is a platform for change.

Your stories, your expertise, your experiences are critical to the next national plan. A national plan that seeks to end violence against women and their children, a national plan that builds on the outstanding work of my predecessor prime minister Gillard who set us on this course more than a decade ago. A bipartisan course, I’d go further, an anti-partisan course that has taken us through the last 10 years and establishes the platform for us to go further. It is a big goal that we share and it is a shared goal to end violence against women and their children.

Prime minister Scott Morrison is speaking at the national women’s summit now.

A child was one of the cases in the Queensland cluster, requiring 900 families associated with the child’s school to go into isolation.

Chief health officer Jeanette Young says almost all close and casual contacts have tested negative, but two testing holdouts mean it isn’t safe to release the school’s population out of quarantine.

We’re just working with the last two children, two young girls who, at this stage, their family does not want them to be tested. So we’re just working through with the family until we get those results.

Unfortunately, those 900 families will need to remain in quarantine until we get those results...

If [the two girls] get tested and they test negative, they, of course, will have to stay in quarantine because they were at the childcare centre, but it means all those other families who go to the Windaroo State School will be able to be released from quarantine, but not yet.


Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says “the risk is decreasing” from a small Covid-19 cluster associated with an infected truck driver, confirming the state will not go into lockdown.

Dr Young will talk to you about the situation of the Beenleigh cluster, but the risk is decreasing which is good news.

I know a lot of people were coming up to me on the weekend, concerned about whether or not we were going into a lockdown, but we have less risk now that is easing and Dr Young will go through that.

So, another reminder again – use that check-in app. Remember, we had the issue at the nail salon where people were not using the check-in app, and I will remind business owners again: please, make sure people are checking in before they come and use your services.


Queensland records no local Covid-19 cases

Okay! It’s good news in Queensland with no local Covid-19 cases.

Monday 6 September – coronavirus cases in Queensland:

0 new locally acquired cases.

5 new overseas acquired cases, detected in hotel quarantine.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/ypHsRAuhQr

— Annastacia Palaszczuk (@AnnastaciaMP) September 6, 2021

The state recorded five cases in total but these were from hotel quarantine.


We are just standing by for the Queensland Covid-19 update now.

I mentioned Scott Morrison was speaking this morning (at 10.15am) but I didn’t mention why.

Well, the prime minister will be kicking off the two-day online national woman’s summit, which will canvass topics including preventing and responding to violence, the specific needs of Indigenous women and financial independence – will be used to inform a new national plan on women’s safety.

Check out Daniel Hurst’s post from earlier this morning for all the details.


Google executives Lucinda Longcroft and Samantha Yorke are the first witnesses at today’s media diversity inquiry which is examining YouTube’s suspension of Sky News Australia for a week for breaching its Covid-19 misinformation policy.

Longcroft told committee chair Sarah Hanson-Young a total of 23 Sky News videos were removed, the majority due to the violation of Covid-19 and two were removed due to violations of the platform’s election integrity policy.

Google is proud to be one of the first signatories to the Australian Code of Practice on misinformation and disinformation and we continue to take additional steps to reduce the spread and the visibility of harmful misinformation...

Over the course of the last 18 months we’ve worked with, and relied on information from health authorities from around the world to combat false and harmful claims and getting certain treatments and public health issues, as well as basic information about Covid-19 vaccines.

Sky News Australia chief executive Paul Whittaker will give evidence later, followed by former prime minister Kevin Rudd.


In case you were wondering how the Victorian Liberals’ leadership spill was going:

Michael O’Brien’s office maintains he has the support of a majority of MPs. Wants a party room meeting to proceed but seems @VicParliament are indicating it can’t be held there. @10NewsFirstMelb #springst

— Simon Love (@SimoLove) September 5, 2021

James Newbury has resigned as shadow assistant minister for watewatch and freedom of information. More resignations are expected to follow. https://t.co/caKKjDN6nr

— Sumeyya Ilanbey (@sumeyyailanbey) September 5, 2021


Looks like we will also be hearing from Queensland at 10am (AEST). I’ll try to bring you updates from both Palaszczuk and the prime minister.


Indigenous affairs minister Ken Wyatt and the head of the national peak body for Aboriginal medical services, Pat Turner, have met with religious leaders to encourage them to counter misinformation about coronavirus vaccines that have been spread by fringe Christian groups in remote communities.

Guardian Australia has reported on how misinformation spread by Christian groups is driving vaccine hesitancy in remote areas. The head of the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service in WA told us last week that people were being told “you don’t need to have the vaccine because God’s going to save you”. WA senator Pat Dodson, who is also based in the Kimberley, said such messages were “as evil as the evil that they purport to be defending people from”.

Wyatt said the meeting he hosted on Friday was about getting “advice” from religious leaders “on how to talk in a way that is respectful of people’s beliefs while keeping people safe from serious illness and death”. They will meet again this week to finalise the messaging for an anti-misinformation campaign.

Wyatt said:

Indigenous vaccination rates are increasing but I remain very concerned about reports that vaccines are being rejected as a result of conspiracies and misinformation stoking fear and doubt.

Our spiritual leaders will be crucial in ensuring positive messages succeed. To that end, uniting faith-based and medical messaging will be key to stamping out the dangerous rhetoric and boost vaccine uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Turner, the CEO of Naccho, said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities should be aiming for 100% vaccination rates, which would be “very challenging in the face of this dangerous misinformation”.

She said:

Social media might be the vehicle for anti-vax messaging in urban areas, but in regional and remote areas, word-of-mouth is also incredibly powerful, which is why positive messaging straight from our pastors will be key.

Wilcannia Oval where the Rural Fire Service has set up a base camp for police, NSW Health and emergency services to assist in the Covid outbreak.
Wilcannia Oval where the Rural Fire Service has set up a base camp for police, NSW Health and emergency services to assist in the Covid outbreak. Photograph: Jenny Evans/Getty Images


A senior UN official has warned the climate crisis will “wreak havoc” across the Australian economy if coal is not rapidly phased out, and joined those explicitly calling for the Morrison government to adopt more ambitious emissions reduction goals.

In a pre-recorded speech to an Australian National University forum to be held on Monday, Selwin Hart, the UN’s assistant secretary general for climate action and special advisor to the secretary general, reiterated calls for OECD countries such as Australia to stop using coal by 2030.

Hart, a former top diplomat and climate official for Barbados, highlighted the extent to which the Morrison government has become isolated by resisting calls to set a net zero greenhouse gas emissions target for 2050, but said greater action this decade was just as important.

You can read the full report below:

A heads-up: the prime minister is expected to give a keynote address about 10am (AEST).

We’ll bring you the updates here.


Major search for missing boy in NSW Hunter

The search for a missing three-year-old boy in the NSW Hunter region is stretching into the fourth day.

Anthony “AJ” Elfalak, who has autism and is non-verbal, went missing from his family’s rural property at Putty, near Singleton, about 11.45am on Friday, reports AAP.

AJ’s family fear he may have been taken from the property, but NSW police have refrained from speculating about what may have happened to him.

If he is lost on the property he will have endured three nights alone as temperatures dropped to as low as 6C, wearing a grey jumper, pants and sneakers.

Superintendent Tracy Chapman told the ABC over the weekend more than 130 people were involved in the search of the property and volunteers are helping police on foot and on dirt bikes.

Detectives assisted by specialist resources have formed (a) task force ... to investigate the circumstances surrounding the missing three-year-old,’’ she said.

NSW police have issued a geo-targeted message asking people in the area to look out for the child and divers also searched and drained a large dam on the property.

AJ is described as being of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern appearance, with short, dark hair.

Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak was last seen at a home on a rural property on Yengo Drive, Putty, about 75km south of Singleton about 11.45am on 3 September.
Anthony ‘AJ’ Elfalak was last seen at a home on a rural property on Yengo Drive, Putty, about 75km south of Singleton about 11.45am on 3 September. Photograph: NSW police


Matthew Guy and Tim Smith have resigned from shadow cabinet. Louise Staley, David Southwick and Ryan Smith in the mix for deputy. Libs want Michael O’Brien to step down today, otherwise a spill motion is set to be introduced in tomorrow’s (socially distanced) party room meeting

— Sumeyya Ilanbey (@sumeyyailanbey) September 5, 2021

Oooft, you can really see that jump up in Victorian cases on the Guardian’s Covid-19 graph.

Graph of Victorian Covid-19 cases with 7-day rolling average.

We should be hearing more from Queensland at their press conference sometime this morning. I’ll bring you all the updates as soon as they step up.

Speaking of Queensland, their health department still trying to track down five to eight people who were in a nail salon at Beenleigh with a known Covid-19 case, a 46-year-old truck driver, last Monday.

Chief health officer Jeannette Young said the people didn’t use the government’s check-in app and may still be in the community while infectious, reports Marty Silk from AAP.

So I’m very worried that there are a lot more people who went and attended last Monday morning and we need to get hold of you,” she told reporters on Sunday.

So we’re using the check-in data that we’ve got, but it’s not enough.

Another close contact of the truck driver was recorded as a locally acquired case on Sunday.

She is the mother of a four-year-old girl, who also caught the virus from the truckie, and was in-home quarantine when she tested positive.

Queensland has placed more than 1,000 families in home quarantine after they may have been exposed to the girl at a primary school and a daycare centre in the Beenleigh area.


Tweed mayor says Queensland border must shift

A border town mayor is calling on the Queensland and NSW governments to shift border checkpoints south and to lift the latter state’s regional lockdown to reunite his community, reports AAP.

Tweed Shire Mayor Chris Cherry says TV news images of local residents celebrating Father’s Day at the closed Queensland-NSW border on Sunday were heartbreaking.

Cherry told Nine’s Today program. the ongoing toll on local people’s mental health and the economy from the border closure, which Queensland implemented in late July, has been devastating.

Nobody with a heart could look at what happened yesterday and not think that something has to be done and urgently ...

These are our families’ lives that are being affected like this. I know people are suffering all over the state and I don’t want to take anything away from that, people are hurting everywhere, but this is an area that hasn’t had Covid for more than 12 months.

The mayor is calling for NSW to lift regional lockdown in the area and for border checkpoints to be moved south to include Tweed Heads in a border bubble zone administered by Queensland police.

The NSW has already ruled out that option, saying it would create even more administrative difficulties for Tweed Shire residents who live outside Tweed Heads.

Cherry said:

So the MPs all along the northern rivers region here and joined by the Gold Coast MPs are still calling for those border checkpoints, so the Covid checkpoints to be moved further south ...

Whether that’s Tweed Shire or the whole northern rivers – that’s our main aim.

Obviously I joined with the other northern rivers mayors on Friday to have a joint call out for NSW government to release us from the regional lockdowns because of the lack of Covid cases that we have ...

So there’s a lot of things. We’re also asking if they could tighten up those exemptions that come up from Sydney because that’s the last thing that we need at the moment.

People talk to each other over the barriers at the Queensland-NSW border on 2 September.
People talk to each other over the barriers at the Queensland-NSW border on 2 September. Photograph: Jono Searle/EPA


And speaking of Victorian disasters:

Matthew Guy and Tim Smith resigned from Shadow Cabinet at 8am, @10NewsFirstMelb is told. Could be more to come.. #springst

— Simon Love (@SimoLove) September 5, 2021

For reference, that daily total of 246 local Covid-19 cases is the most infectious day Victoria has had in over a year, and by far the worst day so far in the current Delta outbreak.


Victoria records 246 local Covid-19 cases

Oh, well we didn’t have to wait long.

Victoria has recorded 246 cases overnight. 121 are linked to known outbreaks.

Reported yesterday: 246 new local cases and 0 new cases acquired overseas.
- 26,955 vaccine doses were administered
- 42,258 test results were received

More later: https://t.co/lIUrl1hf3W#COVID19Vic #COVID19VicData [1/2] pic.twitter.com/5ETUfjc2hG

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) September 5, 2021


Now the wait is on for the Victorian Covid-19 numbers. Oooh, I forgot how suspenseful the 8.45-9am hour is.

Federal Assistant Treasurer @MichaelSukkarMP is also a senior member of the Victorian Liberal Party.

He wouldn’t be drawn on @BreakfastNews on the leadership speculation surrounding @michaelobrienmp. #springst pic.twitter.com/mPcZArbR5P

— Michael Rowland (@mjrowland68) September 5, 2021

Blue-tongue lizards have developed a resistance to the venom of the red-bellied black snake, according to new research.

The largest animals in the skink family, blue-tongues seem to have evolved a chemical resistance to the snake venom, while carnivorous monitor lizards – goannas – that feed on Australia’s venomous snakes have not.

Researchers at the University of Queensland have analysed the effects of seven snake venoms on the blood of two species of blue-tongues – the common blue-tongued skink and the shingleback – and three goanna species, all of which would interact with these snakes in the wild.

In a study published in the journal Toxins, they found the blue-tongues seemed to have evolved a specific blood component – a serum factor – that prevents their blood from clotting when exposed to red-bellied black snake venom.

You can read the full, delightful, report below:

OK, let’s talk about the hot mess that is the Victorian Liberal party!

Basically, the Age and Herald Sun have both led their papers today with news that former state Liberal leader Matthew Guy (you might remember him from such hits as “lobster with the mobster” and “losing the last election in a landslide”) is putting out feelers hoping to gain support for a coup, hoping to oust current leader Michael O’Brien.

Well, as is customary when a leadership spill is on the way, everyone is denying it.

Federal assistant treasurer, Michael Sukkar, who is from Melbourne, was asked about the drama going on in the state factions while speaking to ABC News Breakfast.

Host Michael Rowland:

Do you have confidence in state leader Michael O’Brien?


I’m not going to engage. These are all matters for the ...


You must have a view. You’re engaged in the Victorian Liberal party. Should he have the right to contest the next election?


I’m not going to engage. These are all matters for the state parliament.


You don’t have a view on Michael O’Brien at all?


I’m not going to share any views on the state parliamentary party with you. These are matters for the state parliamentary party.


Michael Sukkar, thanks for joining us this morning.

Host Lisa Millar to Rowland:

That’s called dodging the question, Michael.


Here is that full chat with lieutenant general John Frewen in case you were interested.

With the additional four million doses coming from the UK, Lieutenant general John Frewen tells @mjrowland68 that supply is no longer an issue.

"It really is about people coming forward and I really encourage everybody who hasn't done so to get a booking and get vaccinated." pic.twitter.com/gNjtds7SVC

— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) September 5, 2021

To be clear, premiers being “locked in” to the national plan doesn’t actually mean anything by the way, given that states have control over their borders and health order.

Western Australia and Tasmania have already started talking about wanting double vaccination rates of 90% to open up; Queensland seems like they might even want more.

So you know take what the deputy premier has to say with a grain* of salt.

*Maybe a few grains. A small pinch.


Barnaby Joyce says premiers are 'locked in' to reopening plan

The deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce has issued a warning to hesitant states and territories that the Covid reopening plan will forge ahead, saying premiers are “locked in”.

The Nationals leader was asked if the vaccination thresholds for reopening be “changed at any time?”

No, they cannot. They are locked in at 80%.

The only thing we can’t change is the views of the states and if the states have a different view, we won’t so much be locking ourselves in, but there will be from their own admission locking themselves out? ...

They signed up to a national agreement and let’s hope they stick to it but we see right now that the states are going their own merry way and we have ridiculous statements by premier Anastacia Palaszczuk that talks about 2,000 people dying and scaring the living bejeezus out of people.

When they do open up, and they will, what will happen then is that some people will get sick, unfortunately, and tragically, most likely, almost overwhelmingly, unvaccinated people, a small proportion will die and that is what happens with the flu and it is a terrible thing to say it is a tragedy but it is the truth. There are locked in at 80% and that is the national agreement and that is the national agreement and that is what has got to happen.

I get what Joyce is saying, but gosh it is brutal to hear politicians say “some people will die but that’s just the truth of it” day in and day out!

Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce.
Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian


Even as the Taliban swept across Afghanistan, overrunning cities and ultimately seizing the capital, the Australian government was telling some Afghan asylum seekers they should leave Australia and return to a country plunging back into civil war.

As late as 28 July this year, with the Taliban brutally ascendant across Afghanistan and days from capturing the capital Kabul, Afghan nationals were told by the Department of Home Affairs they were “expected to depart Australia”.

After the subsequent rapid fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, the Australian government announced “no Afghan visa holder currently in Australia will be asked to return to Afghanistan while the security situation there remains dire”.

You can read the full report below:

Universities have begun a new national survey to collect data “on the scale and nature” of sexual assault and sexual harassment on Australian campuses.

Universities Australia, the peak body, says the 2021 National Student Safety Survey “deploys today across Australian universities as a crucial step in preventing sexual violence and supporting those who have experienced it in their communities”.

The survey, to be conducted online by the Social Research Centre in partnership with violence prevention expert Dr Anastasia Powell of RMIT University, will run until 3 October.

It will randomly sample students from universities across the sector, with up to 10,000 students asked to participate from each university, depending on its size, according to a statement issued by Universities Australia today. It will also allow all current and recent university students enrolled in the past five years to share their story anonymously online.

The chief executive of Universities Australia, Catriona Jackson, said any incident of sexual violence that occurred inside or outside of Australia’s university communities was “one too many”.

Our universities recognise their responsibility and are determined to build on their commitment to prevent sexual violence and support those who have experienced it.

Line up in Bathurst 1.5 hours before the walk in vaccine clinic starts. A family member got there early. The line wraps around two blocks. @abcnews pic.twitter.com/xXxWmM7wlU

— Jen Browning (@jen_browning) September 5, 2021

National Women’s Safety Summit will be held today

The National Women’s Safety Summit will take place today, but domestic violence and homelessness groups have raised fears that the agenda does not devote enough attention to the critical role of affordable housing.

More than 130 organisations, including the Australian Council of Social Service, Shelter and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, have signed a joint statement that calls for a commitment to safe and affordable social housing. The signatories also include women’s refuges, homelessness services and community legal centres.
Everybody’s Home, the national campaign against homelessness, said in its own statement:

Housing only has a fleeting reference in the agenda, despite the fact 7,690 women return to perpetrators of violence each year because they have nowhere to live. And an alarming 9,120 women a year become homeless after leaving their homes due to domestic and family violence and being unable to secure long term housing.

A spokesperson for Everybody’s Home, Kate Colvin, said it was unacceptable that “thousands of women across Australia are currently having to choose between staying in a violent home and homelessness”.

You simply can’t talk about women’s safety without talking about safe and affordable homes. Women and children in danger need a safe haven and it is incumbent on the commonwealth government to address this crisis.

The joint statement calls on the federal government to set a target to end homelessness for women and children and other victim-survivors fleeing violence; investing in the delivery of an adequate supply of new social and affordable housing; and fix social security to protect women and children from poverty and homelessness. Labor backed the calls. The party’s housing spokesperson, Jason Clare, and NSW senator Jenny McAllister issued a statement saying the government had “failed to listen to the voices of advocates, experts and victim-survivors who have been crying out for social and affordable housing funding for years”.

Everybody’s Home says it has arranged its own special online event focusing on the importance of housing and women’s safety, from 8.15am AEST, which is separate from the National Women’s Safety Summit.


A little more from Frewen:

Look, I think that the waiting times are very different around the nation. In some places, the waiting times are already pretty good. But I think now with these amounts of supply over the next couple of weeks, people should be able to get bookings within a fortnight or so.

We also have 12- to 15-year-olds from next Monday. They’ll be able to access the Pfizer doses but we, of course, also will have pharmacies coming on with Moderna – another mRNA vaccine – in the next couple of weeks also.

So that will be a lot more opportunity and a lot more places and I think that there’s a really good chance to start moving things along more quickly.

Pfizer vaccines are unloaded off a Qantas flight on Sunday. Australia has secured an additional 4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in a swap with the United Kingdom.
Pfizer vaccines are unloaded off a Qantas flight on Sunday. Australia has secured an additional 4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine in a swap with the United Kingdom. Photograph: James D Morgan/Getty Images


Speaking of the new Pfizer vaccines, Lieutenant General John Frewen (he is that the army guy that kinda popped out of nowhere and seems to be in charge of the vaccine rollout) is speaking with ABC News Breakfast now.

He confirmed the new vaccines will be distributed on a per-capita basis, rather than preferencing heavily hit areas in Sydney.

There will be another set of flights in a couple of days, but we’ll pretty much be getting a million of the four million every week over the next four weeks ...

This will be twice the mRNA [vaccines] we were looking to have this month. Around about the level we were hoping for in October. And we also have a million doses of Moderna turning up in a week or so. So this is going to be great news. It means that there will be plenty of mRNA vaccines. We’re bringing on additional points of presence.

Interestingly, Frewen says the main obstacle to overcome now isn’t the supply chain, but convincing people to actually put their arm out.

Supply isn’t the great challenge now. It really is about people coming forward and I really encourage everybody who hasn’t done so to get a booking and get vaccinated.

Lieutenant General John Frewen.
Lieutenant General John Frewen. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP


Good morning everyone and welcome to the new week!

It’s Matilda Boseley here, back in the saddle and ready to bring you all the news of the morning.

Now for those of you not yet fully vaccinated, I have something exciting to tell you.

Two flights from London carrying 164,970 and 292,500 doses of the Pfizer vaccine landed in Sydney on Sunday evening, representing a significant injection of supply into the Australian system. (Get it, it’s a vaccine, and I said “injection”. Do you get it?)

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, announced the 4 million dose deal with the UK last week. Originally we thought we would only get 190,000 jabs in the first shipment, but we now have a batch of 450,000 to work with, with the rest due to arrive through September.

And that’s not all! Some 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine secured by the federal government from Singapore are now being dispatched around the country after getting the nod of approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

We have Pfizer galore this morning!

And while we are on that emotional high, why don’t we jump into the day!


Michael McGowan (now) and Matilda Boseley and Royce Kurmelovs (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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