Hobart entering lockdown; NSW to reopen international borders; international travel ban to lift 1 November – as it happened
What we learned, Friday 15 October
My goodness, what a day! With that, we will wrap up the blog for the evening. Here’s what we learned today:
- While the ACT took its initial steps out of restrictions today, Hobart entered a snap three-day-lockdown to contain the threat of a Delta outbreak after an uncooperative interstate traveller who escaped quarantine tested positive to the virus. The ACT recorded 35 Covid-19 cases and one death.
- NSW premier Dominic Perrottet caused quite a stir this morning when he declared international borders would be open, without caps, to vaccinated travellers quarantine free from 1 November. He also said regional travel would be delayed to resume 1 November. The state recorded 399 Covid-19 cases today.
- Prime minister Scott Morrison welcomed the announcement from Perrottet, but clarified the quarantine-free travel would only apply, at least in its initial stages, to returning Australian citizens, permanent residents and their immediate family members. He reiterated the decision for opening borders lies with the commonwealth, not state governments.
- Morrison also confirmed he will be attending the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow next month.
- Victoria recorded 2,179 local Covid-19 cases and six deaths as the border with NSW came down, at least on Victoria’s end. Fully vaccinated people in NSW will now be allowed to enter Victoria without quarantining for 14 days from 19 October, provided they test negative to Covid-19 upon departure and arrival.
- And Queensland recorded two new Covid-19 cases - a flight crew member who has since gone on to PNG, and a fully vaccinated truck driver who was not infectious in the community.
Meanwhile, this post from the Queensland premier is proving divisive on social media.
A Melbourne barrister attended one of the city’s most prestigious legal chambers when he was supposed to be isolating as the close contact of a Covid-19 positive case, and then did not inform the building manager nor his professional association when he himself tested positive.
The revelations were included in an email sent on Friday by the Victorian Bar Council president, Christopher Blanden QC, to some occupants of the legal chambers Owen Dixon Chambers East.
Blanden said in the email that the council had received the results of an investigation into the circumstances of a barrister who was positive with Covid-19 when he attended work on 30 September.
Blanden said the investigation found the member was aware he was a close contact when he attended chambers that day between 8am and 1pm. Later that day, the man tested positive, the investigation found.
But he did not report the positive result to Barristers’ Chambers Limited (BCL), a subsidiary of the council which manages bar chambers, nor to the council.
On 2 October, another member of the man’s floor contacted Paul Clark, the chief executive of BCL.
It became clear the man had been in his office and in other common areas of the building while infectious.
The offices were subsequently deep cleaned, and the barrister had his building access suspended for 14 days, Blanden said.
Blanden said it was a “small mercy” nobody else had tested positive as a result of the barrister’s behaviour:
It is most unsatisfactory that the member attended chambers in the circumstances. It is entirely unacceptable that he did not report the fact that he had tested positive to either BCL or the Bar. I have written to the member informing him of the same and reminding him of his obligations under the chamber rules of occupancy.
Nothing screams Australia like an awkward vaccination video outside Bunnings Warehouse.
The School Strike 4 Climate rallies held around Australia today drew thousands of people. AAP’s Tim Dornin has a wrap of the numbers.
Thousands of students, parents and their supporters took part in the national day of action on climate change, calling on the federal government to stop funding gas and coal projects and commit more to renewable energy.
Organisers said about 3,000 people took part in Brisbane, about 1,500 in Adelaide, 1,000 in Perth, 650 in Darwin and more than 500 in Hobart.
They said taking into account smaller regional events, about 10,000 were involved across the country.
The Tamworth Parents and Friends for Climate Action group read stories about saving the planet outside the regional NSW electorate office of the deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce.
Parent Tessa Rainbird:
Our region is ideally placed to reap huge benefits in a renewable economy. Our solar and wind resources are amongst the best in the country.
Yet Barnaby Joyce often paints a picture that regional communities aren’t concerned about climate change, or are reluctant to transition away from a fossil fuel economy.
We are here to tell him that is simply not the case. We understand the science, we are very worried, and we want to move with the rest of the world on this issue.
At the upcoming Cop26 climate conference in Glasgow, countries are being asked to come forward with ambitious 2030 emissions reduction targets that align with reaching net zero by 2050.
They are being urged to accelerate the phase-out of coal, curtail deforestation, speed up the switch to electric vehicles and encourage investment in renewable energy.
The Australian government has so far committed to reducing emissions by between 26% and 28% by 2030.
But it is also working on a plan on how to reach net zero by 2050.
Mildura could well be emerging from lockdown at the same time as metropolitan Melbourne.
The Senate committee hearing on the government’s submarine plans has become quite heated in the afternoon session.
Some senators note the careful language the prime minister, Scott Morrison, used when he announced the Aukus partnership last month:
The government’s intention is to build the nuclear-powered submarines in South Australia, maximising the use of Australian workers.
Senators want to know whether that leaves open the possibility that the government may not actually build the subs in South Australia, after the recently launched 18-month study ends. The chief of the nuclear powered submarine taskforce, Vice-Admiral Jonathan Mead, repeats the language used by Morrison.
Asked if he’s leaving the door open, he says: “I’m not leaving any door open, senator.”
The South Australian senator Rex Patrick asks Mead if he has provided the government with a rough cost estimate for the acquisition of the nuclear-powered submarines.
Mead replies: “I’ll take that on notice.”
As the Senate committee hearing continues, Patrick questions why Mead needs to take it on notice, and adds: “I think you’re coming very close to being in contempt of the Senate.”
Patrick says the Australian public has a right to know. During the Senate committee hearing, Patrick tells Mead: “Stop playing to political masters and behave more properly like an admiral.”
Mead says the cost will be “significant” – and the cost will be more than the Attack class submarines that were to be built in partnership with France.
Asked about the scheduling, Mead says the prime minister has made it clear the new submarines will be in use before the end of the next decade (before the end of the 2030s).
Mead says there was “advice provided by the department [of defence] to government over many months”.
Patrick thanks Mead: “It gets much easier if you just answer the questions, thank you.”
Ben Roberts-Smith's defamation trial postponed
The former soldier Ben Roberts-Smith’s oft-delayed defamation trial has been postponed again – indefinitely – unlikely to restart before the new year.
Deferred several times because of pandemic lockdowns and travel restrictions – Roberts-Smith first sued three newspapers over what he says are defamatory accusations in 2018 – Justice Anthony Besanko said on Friday he was not prepared to nominate a date to restart the trial.
“It seems to me the circumstances are too uncertain to do that,” the judge said, but indicated he was hopeful it could recommence in January next year.
The major impediment to the trial recommencing is the situation of witnesses from Western Australia who would be unable to return to their home state – without the burden of quarantine – after giving evidence in Sydney. Most of those witnesses are serving and former SAS soldiers and their evidence, carrying significant national security sensitivities, cannot be heard by video.
Nor would Besanko entertain moving the Roberts-Smith trial to another city – Adelaide had been proposed – because of the security machinations required.
The trial has already heard evidence from Roberts-Smith himself, and from three Afghan witnesses who were in Darwan in September 2012, the site where the newspapers claim Roberts-Smith killed an unarmed prisoner. Roberts-Smith claims the person killed during the incident was a legitimate target shot dead in accordance with the laws of war.
Roberts-Smith, a former SAS corporal and a recipient of the Victoria Cross, is suing the Age, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Canberra Times for defamation over a series of reports published in 2018 that he alleges are defamatory because they portray him as someone who “broke the moral and legal rules of military engagement” and committed war crimes, including several murders.
Roberts-Smith claims the newspapers’ reports are defamatory because they accuse him of killing several unarmed civilians as well as bullying comrades and committing acts of domestic violence in Australia.
Roberts-Smith has strenuously denied all of the allegations, describing them as “completely without any foundation in truth”.
The newspapers are defending their reporting as true.
NSW supreme court dismisses challenge on Covid vaccination mandates
Public health orders requiring NSW health workers, teachers and some construction workers to be vaccinated to keep working are valid, the NSW supreme court has ruled.
The Weber Women’s Big Bash League matches in Hobart are yet to be cancelled, but crowds are off the cards.
James Packer has been summoned to face a Western Australian royal commission examining whether Crown should retain its Perth casino licence, AAP reports.
Packer, a former Crown Resorts director and the company’s major shareholder, will front the inquiry via videolink on 29 October.
Other witnesses scheduled to appear in coming weeks include Crown’s chair, Ziggy Switkowski, and chief executive, Steve McCann.
Evidence has previously been heard about Packer’s links to the former Crown director and Perth investment banker John Poynton. Poynton replaced Packer on Crown’s board in 2018 as a nominee of the billionaire’s company Consolidated Press Holdings.
The inquiry is due to deliver its final report in March 2022.
Another Covid exposure site has been listed in Hobart.
Qantas to resume international flights from 1 November
Qantas has confirmed it will bring forward the resumption of its international flights to 1 November.
The Save the Children Australia CEO, Paul Ronalds, has released a statement welcoming the prime minister’s decision to attend the Glasgow climate meeting:
The climate emergency is already taking a dreadful toll on children everywhere, including here in Australia. Save the Children’s research shows children in Australia and the Pacific face up to 10 times more climate disasters under current climate pledges. It’s not good enough to do the bare minimum and the truth is that net zero 2050 is too late.
World leaders must take urgent and drastic action to limit warming to 1.5C as soon as possible for the sake of our children. We hope that that Mr Morrison will listen to children and work alongside other world leaders at Glasgow to commit to climate action worthy of the Australian people and our region.
Meanwhile, School Strike for Climate strikes are continuing across Australia, including, in cities with ongoing transmission, via virtual forums:
There’s absolutely no need to be confused.
A defence department official says the government doesn’t know the precise cost of terminating the submarine contract with France’s Naval Group.
Australia had contracts with Naval Group and with another defence contractor Lockheed Martin as part of the now abandoned attack class submarine project (which is being replaced with nuclear-propelled submarines to be built in partnership with the US and the UK).
Greg Sammut, general manager of submarines at the defence department, tells a Senate committee there is “no break fee, but there will be costs associated with termination”.
The terms are being negotiated, he says, adding: “That’s different to what we will have to do under termination for convenience to settle costs for the decision to cancel the program.”
Sammut acknowledges he is making a “fine” distinction, but notes there has been a lot of reporting about “break fees”. He says:
Break payment fees were not payable until a later point of the program.
So how does he characterise the current negotiations? He says Australia is currently working to “transition out of the contracts” and “settle the costs” as per contracts.
The Labor senator Kimberley Kitching asks whether he can estimate the costs that are likely to be incurred. Sammut replies:
No I can’t give you an estimate at this stage.
Sammut says the cost of ending the contract with Lockheed Martin is likely to be known by early 2022, and the costs for France’s Naval Group cancellation are likely to be known by mid-2022.
He is asked about a 2019 ABC report that said a 250m euro (A$391m) payment would apply if the French delivered a detailed submarine design and Australia then chose to go no further. Sammut won’t confirm the figure outlined in the contract, but adds:
We have not reached a point in the contract where a break payment fee would apply.
So, welcome news for the some 40,000 Australians still stuck overseas, as well as the parents eager to reunite with their children.
But Morrison was quite clear, the caps will initially be lifted for returning Australians, residents, and their families. It won’t be a free-for-all for international travellers:
The commonwealth government has made no decision to allow other visa holders, student visa holders, international visitors travelling under GTA and other arrangements, visiting visa arrangements, to come to Australia under these arrangements.
Morrison’s press conference ends abruptly with a downpour of rain.
Before sheltering from the storm, he is asked when the government will outline its position on climate:
The position will be set up before I leave to Glasgow. Thank you.
Back to the Tasmanian press conference, premier Peter Gutwein says the Covid-positive man who breached quarantine had not been forthcoming with authorities, which was a key reason Hobart needed to head into lockdown.
The lockdown will start at 6pm tonight, and last for three days.
Unfortunately, it took two days to verify that he was at Woolworths and there is growing concern now that he has been to several touch points in the community. We can’t continue to wait another two days to find out more about what has been going on.
A further primary contact in the northern suburbs also breached home quarantine last night, and has been apprehended and fined.
Prior to reaching our vaccination goals and readiness to open our borders before Christmas, we simply cannot afford for an outbreak to occur and put the health and safety of Tasmanians, especially the health and safety of vulnerable Tasmanians, at risk while we get our vaccination rates up. We are at a crucial stage of the vaccination rollout.
The resumption of international travel will be for Australian residents, permanent citizens and their immediate family first, followed by skilled migrants, students and tourists.
We are not opening up to everyone coming back to Australia at the moment. I want to be clear about that. We will take this forward in a staged way as we have done in all these things.
We are only extending this to Australian residents, citizens and their immediate families. It is not extending broader than that, we will have a much greater volume, it is constrained to the volume of Australian citizens and residents returning.
Morrison is asked whether NSW premier Dominic Perrottet flagged his decision on international travel with him prior to the announcement today.
The premier and I, and indeed prior to him becoming premier in earlier discussions with ministers in the New South Wales government, this has been a topic of discussion for some time and so I welcome the announcement today that is consistent with the advice I have had from my own chief medical officer and we’re looking forward to those arrangements coming into place.
I’ve written to the premiers and chief ministers earlier this week and also consistent with the decision of the National Security Committee, asking them to confirm the arrangements they would have so we could make a decision about whether and when Australians will be able to travel overseas again and return. The premier wrote back to me today and confirmed that would be on 1 November and under those no quarantine arrangements for vaccinated Australians.
Hobart to enter three-day lockdown
What we expected has just been confirmed.
Hobart and southern Tasmania will go into a three-day snap lockdown from 6pm tonight after an interstate traveller who breached quarantine tested positive to the virus.
PM to attend Glasgow summit
Morrison has confirmed he will be attending the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
It is an important event. The government will be finalising its position to take to the summit. We’re working through those issues with colleagues and I look forward to those discussions over the next couple of weeks.
The plan that I am taking forward together with my colleagues is about ensuring that our regions are strong, that our regions’ jobs are not only protected but have opportunities for the future. It is not just about hitting net zero. That is an important environmental goal but what is important is that Australia’s economy goes from strength to strength.
Morrison says the National Security Committee agreed on Tuesday the definition of “immediate family” would be expanded to include parents of Australian residents and citizens.
I know that will be very welcome news to Australians right across the country who were hoping to be reunited with their family members, their parents who are overseas. In New South Wales’ case, it means those family members will be able to come into Sydney if they are vaccinated and not have to quarantine under the arrangement that the premier has announced today. That is a welcome step forward.
This is demonstration of Australians getting the vaccination is enabling them to do more and more and more. New South Wales is hitting 80% double-dosed vaccination rates. The city is becoming one of the most vaccinated cities in the world today and that is a great achievement for Australia and in particular for those across greater Sydney and it is one hard fought for and hard won.
Prime minister Scott Morrison is speaking now.
He says he is “very pleased” for NSW to lift quarantine caps on vaccinated international travellers.
It enables us to be in a position to lift caps for returning Australian citizens, residents and their families from 1 November into New South Wales. What this also means is we will be allowing Australians, permanent residents and citizens and their families, to leave Australia from wherever they live in Australia and return but obviously the capped arrangements in other states will continue because of the vaccination levels in those states and territories.
Feeling uncertain about Covid-19 restrictions? Why? The government could literally *not* be more clear.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says the benefits of regional quarantine facilities at Wellcamp and Pinkenba are “unaffected” as a result of the NSW premier’s announcements.
We should be hearing from the PM in the next 10 minutes or so.
Denis Handlin stripped of Aria award
Not the most detailed of press releases.
Sacked Sony Music boss Denis Handlin has been stripped of his 2014 Aria award.
This is a ridiculous take!
Up to 25 people can attend a public library (with density limits in place), head to a walking tour (outdoors) or attend an indoor entertainment theatre for the purposes of broadcasting a performance.
Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese is up now, responding to the resignation of Anthony Byrne from the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security in the wake of Ibac hearings.
He says Byrne will wait for the Ibac process to finish before determining his political future:
It is important that these independent processes are allowed to take their course, make recommendations. I note that the head of Ibac, the commissioner made comments about Anthony Byrne’s evidence when it was concluded, saying that he thanked him for the honesty of his evidence in coming forward. He has put his hand up and said this is a wrong practice and needs to be weeded out and indeed it does.
Myself and Daniel Andrews last year intervened to suspend the operation of the entire Victorian branch when some of these revelations came to light in the 60 Minutes program ... we support Ibac in its processes, we support the independent commission against corruption. We support independent practices, integrity and we take action when we see issues and that is why we have expelled a number of members.
Looks like we’ll be hearing from the PM at the same time Tasmanian health authorities provide a Covid-19 update.
A reminder, if Hobart does enter lockdown, essential stores (i.e, supermarkets) remain open. As a Melburnian, I can be trusted on these matters.
The chief of navy, Michael Noonan, is giving evidence to a Senate inquiry into naval shipbuilding – specifically the cancellation of the French submarine contract in favour of nuclear-powered submarines to be acquired in partnership with the US and the UK.
Under Aukus, the three countries are now studying the best way to proceed. Noonan is asked whether that means, as it stands today, Australia does not have any contract in place to deliver new submarines.
Noonan notes that work is underway to conclude the current contractual arrangements with France’s Naval Group. It’s unclear how long that will take (and how much Australia will have to pay as part of the settlement). But Noonan accepts that this “means that there is not yet a follow-on capability under contract”.
The inquiry is told that the first submarine under the defunct French deal would have been expected to be operational about 2034 or 2035.
National Association of Testing Authorities CEO Jennifer Evans has released a statement, cautiously welcoming the NSW move to open international borders:
While the NSW premier’s announcement may entice more people to visit, please remember that vaccinated people can still carry the virus. This will require a diligent testing approach at the border. The NSW premier did mention that a PCR test will be required for pre-departure, and we’re asking that we ensure that testing means something by mandating all testing be conducted by accredited facilities.
Testing at international borders is going to be even more important as we move away from hotel quarantine, particularly for those who, for whatever reason, are unvaccinated. Displaying a testing facility’s accreditation status on a patient’s test report is the direction we need to move towards, to give everyone assurance that there is a robust protection regime around the virus spreading.
Ultimately it’s about putting measures in place to avoid a negative impact on Australians’ health, our businesses and the economy.
The end of lockdown in the ACT is clearly going extremely well!
Industry leaders in New South Wales are continuing to weigh in on the news of the end of quarantine for fully vaccinated people travelling into the state.
Sydney airport chief executive Geoff Culbert has said “our operations teams have been preparing for this moment since the international border closed, and we can’t wait to welcome people back to the airport.”
This is the news we’ve all been waiting for. The last 18 months have been incredibly tough for everyone who has a stake in the aviation industry, from Mum and Dad airport café owners to international airlines. With this news businesses can reopen and people can get back to work. We are so proud of the 800 organisations and thousands of workers here at Sydney airport for how they’ve supported each other and dealt with everything that’s been thrown their way.
The people of NSW have earned this – dust off your passport, here we go.
Committee for Sydney chief executive Gabriel Metcalf called the announcement “wonderful news”.
For Sydney, this is especially important. It means we can open back up for international students, for tourists, and for business meetings. It means those of us with families overseas can reconnect. Sydney is a global city, it’s no wonder reconnecting to the world means so much to us.
Amid Covid-19 news, School Strike for Climate protestors are out in every state and territory of Australia today, calling for the transition to a net zero economy and a greater investment in renewable energy.
Looks like there’s quite a crowd in non-locked down Adelaide.
OK, so vaccinated NSW residents can take a leisurely stroll to anywhere in Victoria provided they get a test, but Melburnians can’t travel more than 15km from home (or visit someone’s household), regardless of their vaccination status.
And Sydneysiders can travel to the US, but not Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Tasmania, the NT or Canberra without facing tough quarantine restrictions or complete bans. It’s not that hard to understand.
Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive Margy Osmond is speaking with the media on premier Dominic Perrottet’s surprising resumption of quarantine-free international travel for vaccinated arrivals from 1 November.
She says the industry will “need a little bit of time” to get geared up (won’t we all) but 1 November works for her.
She says the suspension of 14 days quarantine is “critical” to attract travellers to Australia:
Nobody coming to Australia for other business or a holiday or study is actively going to quarantine when they get there. It is not going to happen.
In the first instance this really is about visiting friends and family and reconnecting with the ones you love. Secondly, it is going to be very much about university students, it’s going to be about bills we need to get the industry up and running, and not just ours, the whole range of others. And then it will be a bit more about the leisure and tourist and hopefully by that stage other states will have seen the light and we will have opened borders throughout the country.
Queensland will move to reassess the NSW border restrictions after the southern state announced it would scrap mandatory quarantine for vaccinated international travellers, AAP reports.
Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young says the border settings will have to be reassessed if NSW allows quarantine-free international travel from November, but she doesn’t have enough information about the plan yet.
There’s just been an enormous change this morning that I haven’t been able to get my head around.
So I need to go and work out what that change means, and it’s not just a change that will impact on NSW, opening the borders to NSW then leads to a flow on to every other state.
So, I just have to recalibrate my thinking that I’ve been coming to over the last few weeks.
The chief health officer could not say whether the border travel restrictions would be tightened.
Let me see it please, let me go through it all, I’ve seen so far is a very brief text message. I need to have a bit more information than that, to work out what should be done.
Health minister Yvette D’Ath said the NSW announcement made it even more critical for unvaccinated Queenslanders to go and get the jab.
As of Wednesday, 71.4% of eligible residents had received one dose of a vaccine and 54.8% were fully vaccinated.
The announcement today by NSW makes it even more critical. If you get your vaccination today it is going to be five to six weeks before you are fully covered by that vaccine, and that’s why you can’t afford to wait.
Queensland is yet to set a date or vaccination threshold for opening its borders, but has been hinting in recent weeks that is might be aiming for some time around the end of November or early December.
D’Ath said more people needed to get the jab before the government released a formal roadmap for reopening the borders.
Meanwhile in the ACT, you may not be able to go to a bookshop today but you can go to the pub or enjoy a (capped) walking tour.
Interesting point from Amy Remeikis.
The PM, aside from being apparently blindsided by the decision, won’t have to grapple with 14 days of quarantine if he attends Glasgow.
Looks like Hobart might be heading into a snap three-day lockdown, for the first time since 2020.
Victoria’s shadow minister for Gaming and Liquor regulation Steph Ryan has released a statement calling for the Andrews government to release the findings of the Crown Royal commission final report, which was delivered today:
The Royal commission was hamstrung before it even started after the Andrews government excluded the performance of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) from the terms of reference.
As a result, key whistleblowers were never called to give evidence, despite allegations surfacing that the VCGLR turned a blind eye to alleged money laundering at the casino and links to organised crime.
The premier’s directions have ensured high-profile witnesses were never called to give evidence. No one senior from the VCGLR. No senior Andrews government officials.
It’s several years since journalists revealed allegations of money laundering at the casino, with damning evidence also aired at royal commissions in New South Wales and Western Australia.
Victorians need to know why Daniel Andrews is so desperate to avoid scrutiny of his dealings with Crown.
Thanks as always to Matilda Boseley for expertly guiding us through quite a sequence of announcements.
I’ll be with you, and suitably caffeinated, into the evening.
With that marathon of a day, I shall hand you over to the wonderful Caitlin Cassidy.
Parliament is on for the next fortnight so you will have the amazing Amy Remeikis instead of me, you lucky things!
See you in a few weeks!
Speaking of Tasmania, a supermarket in Hobart’s northern suburbs has been declared an exposure site after it was visited by a coronavirus-infected NSW man who escaped hotel quarantine, reports AAP.
Anyone who visited the Bridgewater Woolworths between 3.15pm and 4.30pm on Tuesday should isolate at home immediately.
Tasmanian public health director Mark Veitch said in a statement:
This site was visited by a case who may have been infectious at the time.
The 31-year-old man flew to Hobart via Melbourne on Monday night without a valid border entry pass.
He went missing from a Travelodge hotel quarantine facility on Tuesday and was arrested hours later at a home in northern Hobart.
The man, who Tasmanian premier Peter Gutwein has described as being uncooperative, later returned a positive test.
Authorities have identified 38 primary and 16 casual contacts of the man, prior to the Woolworths store being declared an exposure site.
Seven primary contacts have returned negative tests so far and all are in quarantine.
The man, who has been fined $3,000, was driven away from the Travelodge by a friend but it remains a mystery as to how he absconded.
Gutwein says extra CCTV cameras have been installed at the hotel and security tightened.
Monday’s Jetstar flight JQ715 from Melbourne to Hobart had already been declared an exposure site, as have several spots at Hobart airport that night.
The man was ordered to undergo hotel quarantine as there were no flights available on Monday night to send him back to NSW.
By the way, we obviously will not know for sure until 2.3opm but there has been plenty of chatter going around about a potential three-day lockdown in Tasmania’s south to curb the spread of infection.
Barry Abrams, the executive director of the Board of Airline Representatives of Australia, has welcomed the New South Wales government’s announcement that all quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers will be scrapped from 1 November.
However, Abrams said airlines were unsure how they would incorporate a limited number of seats for unvaccinated passengers within their existing booking system, with this cohort to be limited to a cap of 210 passengers per week and forced into 14 days of hotel quarantine.
He told Guardian Australia that airlines were discussing coordinating with the government for one charter flight per week just to carry the entire 210 unvaccinated passengers under that week’s cap.
It would make little sense to have one or two unvaccinated passengers per flight, and difficult for airlines to manage.
Additionally, Abrams called for guidance as to how airlines should verify vaccination status of travellers before boarding flights to Australia, and certainty about rules for managing international air crews.
Abrams also said each airline would need to make individual calls as to how or if they prioritise stranded Australians who have been bumped from flights, amid an influx of interest from foreign nationals who may also be seeking to travel to Australia.
With already some 6,000 seats coming into Sydney airport everyday, we’ll have more than enough capacity to bring back all the stranded Australians shortly.
There are 45,000 Australians who have registered with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as being stranded overseas and requiring assistance to return home.
Here is the full statement on the changes to Victoria’s border permit system.
The ACT will look to expand the number of areas in regional NSW that Canberrans can travel to, as the national capital comes out of lockdown, reports Andrew Brown from AAP.
While there are 27 postcodes that ACT residents can go to in NSW without requiring an exemption, travel to the rest of regional NSW and greater Sydney has been put on hold until 1 November.
It come as the ACT recorded 35 new cases of Covid-19 on Friday, along with the death of a woman in her 70s, marking the eighth death of the current outbreak.
The woman was a resident at an aged care facility in Canberra’s north and is the seventh death linked to the centre.
ACT chief minister Andrew Barr said the government was aiming to have more areas in the surrounding region free from quarantine measures.
We are leaning into more areas to not have a quarantine requirement, and then we are going to assess the case load and vaccination status of particular areas within NSW.
However, the chief minister warned ACT residents not to go over the border into NSW for non-essential reasons, such as going to the pub.
Barr also welcomed a decision from the NSW government to scrap quarantine requirements for fully vaccinated international travellers from 1 November.
While Canberra isn’t likely to have international flights return to the capital in the near future, negotiations were ongoing about transfer arrangements.
It’s a sensible distinction to draw at a national level, but it’s not a pertinent issue because there’s no expectation of international flights...
We will work with the NSW and Victorian governments in relation to what transit arrangements will be.
It comes as Friday marked the end of Canberra’s nine-week Covid lockdown, which will see cafes, restaurants, pubs and hairdressers reopen.
Retail, however, will not be able to reopen to customers in-store until 29 October.
The ACT’s first-dose rate for Covid also passed 99%, keeping Canberra on track to be one of the most vaccinated cities in the world.
We continue to see first doses creep up, but at a slower rate because we are running out of people to provide first doses to...
Our focus is to ensure the 25% of the eligible population who have received their first dose get their second.
There are 16 patients in Canberra hospitals with the virus, eight of whom are in intensive care.
ACT records one death and 35 new local Covid-19 cases
The Australia Captial Territory has recorded 35 new cases overnight.
Sadly a woman in her 70s at the Calvary Haydon retirement community has died.
Narrator voice: “It was in fact...complicated.”
Ping for Tasmanian readers, there will be a Covid-19 update for you at 2.30pm.
Here is some more northern Victoria hail footage. Wow.
6,000 weekly seats for flights into Sydney to come online in next two days
International airlines are frantically working to add thousands of tickets for flights into Sydney airport into their booking inventories, after being blindsided by the New South Wales government’s announcement that all quarantine requirements and passenger caps would be abandoned for fully vaccinated travellers from November.
An airline source has told Guardian Australia that over the coming 48 hours, 6,000 seats per week will become available to book across all of the airlines currently operating flights into Sydney.
This is because 6,000 seats are currently being flown empty into Sydney each week under the strict arrival caps, which NSW premier Dominic Perrottet announced on Friday would be lifted entirely for vaccinated travellers from 1 November.
While airlines are today working through the logistics of adding an additional 6,000 seats per week into their booking inventories, and how to ensure only vaccinated passengers book them, the task of scheduling additional flights into Sydney will take airlines longer to organise.
We’ve been caught by surprise on this, we’ve had zero consultation it was happening today. There is no formal guidance for us, but we’ll at least be able to add those empty seats on the existing flights we’re running, sometime within the next 48 hours people will see those tickets come online.
Another industry source told Guardian Australia they were “stunned” by the announcement that home quarantine would not be enforced for vaccinated travellers.
They said they were aware that airlines had raised concerns with authorities about how the system would run, and that given the burden it would place on public servants to enforce compliance, this led the NSW government to scrap the requirement.
Airline sources who spoke to Guardian Australia on Friday morning were sceptical the relaxed travel rules announced by the NSW government will be mimicked by any other Australian jurisdiction.
Ummmmmmmm, so according to 2GB radio, apparently Perrottet didn’t speak to the PM before making the international border annoucment?
Would [knowing about the NSW international border announcement] change your decision now that you know?
Not at all. If anything it reinforces the decision. This is another series of common sense steps designed to make sure that, based on high levels of vaccinations and the delivery of reliable negative tests before you come, it’s the same principle.
So we say good luck to New South Wales and we look forward to a closer integration of Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT based on a high vaccinated community increasingly moving around freely in a safe way that gets us back to the kind of lifestyle that we knew before the pandemic.
Foley says he was not aware of NSW’s international travel plans before making today’s announcement about Victoria’s northern border.
No, I wasn’t. There would be no need for me to be so. Each state is responsible for its own circumstances*.
*But each state isn’t in charge of its one international border though?
Victoria will 'absolutely' still build Mickleham quarantine facility
Okay, good someone at the Victorian press conference has asked if the state government still plans to build the Mickleham quarantine facility.
Absolutely. That facility being delivered in partnership with the commonwealth will be needed for quite some time. From the New South Wales media release, indeed other arrangements, I understand that this will apply to approved double-dosed vaccine people returning to New South Wales.
As we get into 2022, we will see people from around the globe wanting to return to Australia, some from very high-risk countries and we would imagine when we see things like the agricultural workforce arrangements and others, some pretty risky situations with the status of vaccines being uncertain.
In that regard, the Mickleham facility will have an ongoing role for some time as part of the national response.
Foley seems to be saying that it will still be difficult to leave Australia, even if you are able to freely fly back to NSW. What?
We don’t control the international borders. The commonwealth government approve who comes back. They approve who can leave. It would be easier to come back into New South Wales than it will be to get around New South Wales. These are matters for the New South Wales government...
The Victorian government is signed up to a process of entry from New South Wales and any other state-based on risk, easing that based on risk.
For the international [arrivals] they are issues from the Victorian government’s mind, for the commonwealth government. We have signed up to a national process through national cabinet to be as consistent as possible around those arrangements. What New South Wales do is a matter for them. We wish them every success.
If someone comes from London via Sydney into Melbourne, will you enforce extra quarantine on them?
They will have to comply with the permit systems that apply in the Victorian circumstances. The New South Wales government has just announced this, as I understand it. We are yet to see the details.
We don’t know beyond the media release what the particular circumstances are. We will look at it. Many other states will be facing the same issue. What New South Wales do is a matter for them.
We will make sure we put the interests of Victorians in the national context of what national cabinet’s approach to international borders is and we will work through that as we always do.
However, Foley seems to be saying that recently arrived international travellers landing in NSW would still be able to travel to Victoria.
Honestly I’m lost. Let me know if you can figure out what on earth is going on with this whole NSW international border deal.
Under the rules, somebody could fly from London to New South Wales without quarantining and then fly from New South Wales to Melbourne on 1 November without any quarantine.
Under the new arrangements we have just announced today, we are putting in place a flexible system that gradually and safely reopens Victoria. New South Wales is responsible for New South Wales, as part of the national plan...
Get a negative test and permit and come to London to Victoria in just a couple of days?
I understand their position to be is that you have to have a negative test 72 hours before you come to Australia. You have to be double dosed. That is the same position that we are seeking people under the new more flexible system that will come in as of next Tuesday for returnees into Victoria from New South Wales and the ACT, be they New South Wales residents or Victorians.
That is a sensible risk base as vaccination levels increase. If you’re not double dosed, you’re subject to the more rigorous system. Whether you are from the ACT or from New South Wales or a Victorian coming back into Victoria, in regards to the international border system, we have signed up to the process that the national cabinet has put in place.
We are supporting the home-based trials for other parts of technology and how that works and we will continue down that path. If national cabinet takes a different view, we will be part of that process also.
Foley has been asked about NSW’s new international traveller plan, and he seems somewhat bewildered by it all. Looks like Victoria won’t be following suit until the national cabinet gets the green light.
Good on New South Wales. I can’t speak for what their thinking is. Victoria is signed up to the national cabinet plan for the reopening of international borders.
We are participating in the trial of home-based quarantine as part of that arrangement and that is what we’ll do. Our hotel quarantine system continues to be in place, it continues to deliver on the caps for the international returnees.
Increasingly, our hotel quarantine system is there to support the outbreak of people who can’t quarantine safely here in Victoria. That’s overwhelmingly now the majority of cases in our hotel quarantine system.
Our quarantine system will continue to evolve as our vaccination levels grow and as double-dosed returnees return to Australia, be they Australians, be they others, in accordance with the national cabinet plan.
Victorian press conference:
Only 12% of the people who turned positive yesterday were vaccinated. Only 10% in hospital yesterday were vaccinated and only 2% of those in intensive care yesterday were vaccinated. This is why vaccination is our way out of this and this is why it is critically important that we protect ourselves to get fully vaccinated as swiftly and safely as possible.
Our Victorian data, based on the work that our clinical teams have done shows unvaccinated people here in Victoria now are ten times more likely to catch Covid than somebody who is fully vaccinated.
New Zealand reports 65 new local Covid-19 cases
New Zealand recorded 65 new cases of Covid-19 in the community on Friday, bringing the total in the Delta outbreak to 1,855.
In a statement, the ministry of health said 34 of these news cases are linked to existing subclusters, 10 are household contacts, and 31 remain unlinked with investigations continuing. There have been 107 unlinked cases in the past 14 days.
The country reported 71 cases on Thursday, which health officials said was a sobering, but not unexpected number, due to where the country is in the outbreak.
Thirty-four people are in hospital, with six in intensive care.
More than 80% of the population over 12 years old has had its first dose of the vaccine, and more than 59% is fully inoculated.
Victoria’s Covid-19 response commander Jeroen Weimar says yesterday’s records cases are clearly not a one-off, with 55% of the new cases in previously Covid-free households meaning we have more large days to come.
2,179 cases yesterday so that backs up the high number we had yesterday. We are not dealing with a one-off high number from yesterday’s numbers.
We are seeing another step up in the number of cases we are dealing with here in Victoria ... that means with 55% of new cases overnight being new cases in new houses, that is over a thousand households again today, yesterday getting the news that they have a Covid positive case.
With the high attack of the Delta strain of coronavirus, within households, we expect to see more numbers coming out of the new households over the coming days and weeks. These are worrying numbers.
Christian Porter still battling Dyer on costs and 'principle'
The federal court this morning held a case management hearing relating to Jo Dyer’s case removing Sue Chrysanthou from representing Christian Porter.
Porter is appealing the ruling – which included a costs order against him and Chrysanthou – despite having settled the main case, the defamation case against the ABC.
At the hearing on Friday, Porter’s counsel Callan O’Neil said he has brought an interlocutory application seeking fresh evidence about former solicitor general, Justin Gleeson, who O’Neil said “appears” to have been briefed by Dyer in the Chrysanthou matter, returned the brief, and went on to represent the ABC in the defamation proceeding. Dyer is resisting the application and, if it is granted, wants fresh evidence of her own put on.
Asked if the dispute is about costs, O’Neil said “on one view” it is about costs, but it is also a matter of principle, whether it was right that Dyer had brought separate proceedings to remove Chrysanthou, and how such matters should be conducted in future.
Justice John Middleton wryly observed that, at times, matters of principle fall away when money is handed over. He asked whether the matter could be mediated – which elicited a laugh from O’Neil. O’Neil said he would need instructions but did not hold out much hope for mediation.
Dyer’s counsel, Shipra Corda, told the court that Dyer is considering making an application for security for costs, but no decision has been made yet.
The matter was adjourned. The interlocutory application will be heard along with the appeal in February.
Other changes are coming to the Victorian permit system as well.
People coming from orange zones will no longer be required to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result. No requirements will apply to them other than the need to hold a valid permit.
Orange zones conditions won’t change for people who are not fully vaccinated, including those with a valid medical exemption. That meaning that you will still have to get tested and you will still have to isolate until that test result comes through.
These changes have a series of consequential changes for people who are seeking to be exempted or the permitted workforce but what they all point to is the increasing relaxation of border arrangements between Victoria and interstate jurisdictions who want to reflect those, overwhelmingly it’s the position into the ACT and New South Wales who continue to have not dissimilar outbreak challenges.
Okay, we have moved on to the Vic/NSW border now.
As the risk profile between the two states changes, and as both states move towards a more integrated reopening position, we’ve got further announcements to make as to how that will work.
We’ve had our travel permit system in place since January of this year, and today we’ll be announcing that fully vaccinated people in New South Wales red zones will be able to enter Victoria without facing 14-day quarantine arrangements, including people who are not Victorian residents...
Under these changes, which will come into operation from 11.59 pm on 19 October, you’ll still require the easy Vic services permit. But what that will mean for fully vaccinated people entering Victoria from red zones will simply need a negative result from a test taken no more than 72 hours prior to that entry to Victoria.
And then, once having entered to Victoria, they must isolate whilst they get another test within a further 72 hours. And once they get that negative result, go about their business.
Unvaccinated people coming from NSW to Victoria must still test negative before arrival and must then quarantine for the full 14 days.
Regional Victorian city of Mildura to remain in lockdown for another week
Victorian health minister Martin Foley is speaking now, and before he gets to the big border news he has confirmed that the Mildura area will need to remain in lockdown for another week.
Border comes down between Victoria and NSW
Okay! More big news!
From 19 October (next Tuesday) fully vaccinated NSW residents will be allowed to travel to Victoria without quarantining.
However, they must test negative before crossing the border, then isolate and test again until they return a negative result.
According to Queensland’s health minister Yvette D’Ath, NSW’s new plans to swing open international borders was not discussed at national cabinet.
I’m sure that national cabinet will be discussing these issues and how this would work.
Queensland records two new local Covid cases
Ummm okay, despite what the premier’s tweet just said it seems Queensland has in fact had two local cases (perhaps they will be included in tomorrow’s numbers).
One is a flight crew member who has since gone on to PNG, the other is a fully vaccinated truck driver who was not infectious in the community.
Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young says neither case is of any concern to authorities.
Oh and no Covid-19 in Queensland by the way!
I’m only posting this for Chloe. Please only pay attention to her.
So what does this NSW news mean for all those purpose-built hotel quarantine facilities that states have already sunk millions into?
More on submarines and we have just learnt that small businesses spent an average of $200,000 each trying to get work on the now cancelled Attack-class submarine project.
Australian Industry Defence Network chief executive Brent Clark has told a Senate inquiry into naval shipbuilding that hundreds of businesses spent money upgrading their capabilities to try to get work on the $90bn program, which has now been ditched in favour of a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.
What we’re discovering is that for any of the companies (trying to) enter the supply chain it would appear at least $200,000 had been spent at that stage.
Small businesses have less ability to absorb the loss. .. the reality is they’re going to have to accept the loss and move on.
Clark called for those businesses to be put at the front of the queue for other defence work.
If you are wondering how the Australian Capital Territory is feeling about international tourists flooding in all around them, well you don’t have to wait long.
Here is ACT chief minister Andrew Barr sharing his reaction.
Basically, the general vibe is that Canberra won’t be accepting international flights any time soon so it’s basically more of a matter of border rules concerning people who have been in Sydney coming into the territory in general.
The NSW government have made some announcements in relation to not having hotel quarantine requirements for vaccinated people. That is still having hotel quarantine for those unvaccinated. At a sensible distinction at national level.
It is not particularly pertinent an issue in the ACT because we have no expectation of direct international flights into Canberra in the next few weeks or months. So the outstanding issue that we will need to resolve with NSW will be what are the transit arrangements for people once they have landed in Sydney.
I expect there will also be some implications for other states where there are international arrivals so Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, in particular, I am basing this on assumptions that arrivals into WA will continue to be restricted and travel across the WA border will continue be restricted for a longer period.
We will work with particularly NSW and Victorian governments in relation to what the transit arrangements would be.
Australians overseas who are fully vaccinated who want to come to Canberra but will do so via Sydney or Melbourne, that might extend to Brisbane as well. We will talk with the Queensland government on that. So that’s just been announced so I haven’t confirmed those arrangements but I can confirm that we will look to put them in place to ensure that that can occur but those changes don’t come to into effect until 1 November.
There are still A LOT of questions about exactly what the federal government has agreed to when it comes to NSW’s international travel and how much power Perrottet actually has to make these decisions.
Australia’s nuclear organisation was consulted in March about a plan to buy nuclear-powered submarines, about six months ahead of September’s surprise announcement.
Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation chief executive officer Shaun Jenkinson told a Senate inquiry this morning that he was asked about Ansto’s ability to support the endeavour.
Initial conversations started in March and we had a number of consultations between then and the announcement.
At the same inquiry, Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency chief executive officer Carl-Magnus Larsson said his agency was briefed on the plan at the end of June or the beginning of July.
OK, so what about close contacts of Covid-19 positive cases from here on out? Perrottet is addressing that now.
We have made it clear in relation to close contacts that there will be greater restrictions in place. But for the fully vaccinated, the isolation period has been restricted to seven days.
Hmm, I wonder what this international border announcement means for NSW communities like Byron Bay who’s double vaccination rate is currently only at 49%?
One reporter is suggesting that the prime minister’s office thinks that this NSW move is only for Australian citizens.
But the NSW premier says the PM is on board for everyone coming in, including tourists, which is important because at the end of the day it’s Morrison that controls the international border, not Perrottet.
We have had numerous discussions with the federal government and we want to open up.
Returning Australians will naturally be the first cab off the rank. That’s clear and that’s important.
Whether that’s returning Australians from other states as well, if we can play a role in that, I’m very passionate about doing that.
Does the prime minister agree with the plan?
We have had numerous discussions with the prime minister about the state on 1 November, bringing it forward ... They control the international border ... You can open the international border but returning Australians and tourists aren’t going to come into Sydney if they have to sit in a hotel for two weeks locked away.
Perrottet has confirmed that “there is no delineation between Australian citizens and other citizens of countries around the world”.
The focal point here is a delineation between vaccination status, so vaccinated and unvaccinated. We will require the commonwealth ... to ensure that a person is fully vaccinated.
There is no doubt that the commonwealth will be able to do that with some countries faster than others and they will also be able to do that in conjunction with many airlines ... There will be some incremental staging that has brought about by the ability for the commonwealth to verify vaccination status but we are delineating between countries.
Now you might be wondering “but what happens if there is a new strain that appears overseas? One that’s even more infectious or deadly than Delta. What happens then?”
Well if you weren’t, one of the reporters at the press conference was. Here is the tourism minister’s reply.
The first thing we do is consult our public health officials on what impact they will have. We should recognise that all the way through, the vaccination rates will continue to protect us against variations and variants of the Delta variant, sorry, of the coronavirus that emerged but if we have to make adjustments, our roadmap is always saying that we listen to health advice and make localised adjustments based on vaccination rates.
If we are presented with a challenge and, God, I know over the last 20 months this virus throws a few curveballs at you. We will have to adapt ... From 1 November, 90% plus of the state will be fully vaccinated.
An extraordinary achievement and world record, built on a fantastic work of people like Susan Pearce and the health team that it been out across communities, doing that in regional NSW now. That gives the government so much confidence to be able to back in the health advice and health decisions so if we get presented with that challenge, we will respond to it but we are in a much better position than when we were even just three months ago.
Still on that short-lived, small scale trial of home quarantine.
This trial has only been going for two weeks. It’s only about a couple of dozen people. Correct me if I’m wrong. How have you got any data, but if you haven’t been able to do that, what was the point in having it to begin with?
The trial has been critical. What the trial has told us is the technology works for identifying that people are in their home, following restrictions and quarantine requirements.
It also told us in the first two weeks but unequivocally, without doubt, there is also a requirement by the government to monitor. That system does not make sense when you are operating within a 90% plus vaccinated community.
We definitely don’t need to allocate or deviate resources away from getting people through our hospitals, back into schools, making sure our police force returns to the general duties. We’ve deviated those resources for the last 40 months to fight this pandemic. We asked people to get their vaccine. They followed our instructions and now we have to keep removing these restrictions and one of those things is removing quarantine.
The tourism minister, Stuart Ayres, has been asked if this means the home quarantine trial did not work.
The home quarantine trial has been incredibly effective. It identified that location and facial recognition-based services works well and told us that our ability to do that at scale is immensely challenging.
There is no reason why we should take health staff or police staff or other public servants away from their frontline duties for them to monitor people in quarantine when you have exactly the same vaccination status as 90% of people in NSW.
This is about bringing our road map into alignment, [to] reopen to the world and do so in a safe way. We’re being very clear. People who are not vaccinated, we are having a low cap, 210 people a week who are unvaccinated who will still have to quarantine.
People won’t be able to fly to Australia unless they conduct a PCR test before departure and have a TDA recognised vaccine and that vaccine status has been verified by the commonwealth.
This operates exactly the same way people travel into Australia now ... states aren’t responsible for border security, we have made our role in quarantining people in our states but now is the time for us to transition from where we have been.
This is consistent with what is in the national plan. Phase C and D say that only reach these rates of vaccine, we should remove quarantine.
The premier has been asked what he has to say to other premiers around Australia, particularly in those states with hard border policies such as Queensland and Western Australia.
I think people in New South Wales will be flying to Bali before Broome ... We need to rejoin the world.
We can’t live here in a hermit kingdom. We’ve got to open up, and this decision today is a big one, but it is the right one to get NSW connected globally.
The businesses that rely on tourism for business and trade, they have done an incredibly tough 18 months.
Okay back to the NSW international travel news.
Just to confirm, no home quarantine, no facial recognition app we have been extremity with, and how do you check for the vaccination status of people coming in? How do we know that they really are vaccinated with a proper vaccine?
I will ask Stuart to provide further information in relation to that, we will be working closely with the Commonwealth.
So, nobody was fully vaccinated will be able to come into Australia unless that evidence been clearly provided to Commonwealth authorities. The Commonwealth government will be running that aspect of this program, but there is no reason as to why people right across the world who are fully vaccinated should need to hotel quarantine or home quarantine for two weeks...
Quarantine is a thing of the past. It will still exist at a much smaller nature for those people who are vaccinated, so we will have a smaller cap for those on vaccinated returning to Australia. They will have to hotel quarantine.
But there is absolutely no reason. If you are fully vaccinated, when you are attending Australian or tourist, that you should have to hotel quarantine. This will be a boon for most people coming home and it will be a boon for our tourism industry is really the nation out of this pandemic.
Premier, right now the area with the largest source of new infections is the Hunter New England local health district. Now, people from that area right now are freely able to travel right across the region. So if you say that you are doing this to protect people in the regions, who are you protecting them from?
It is not a precise science. You could go through every single LGA, and you could go through every single town centre, what we have done is make a decision based on where the vaccination rates are.
We set out a roadmap. We wanted to stick to that roadmap as much as to provide certainty and confidence to people across the state, but ultimately, when you look at those details, you have to make decisions about what we believe is the best way to open up as safely as possible.
They are not easy decisions. There are always competing views. We accept that, that is going to happen from time to time. You have got to weigh up to help the device and the economic advice. We put it all together, the support for regional NSW, where the vaccination rates were, and we believe it is the right call.
Perrottet has been asked if he considered reviewing regional travel on an LGA by LGA basis instead of the blanket delay for all of greater Sydney.
We understand that. That was certainly discussed, it was on the table, about what we could provide for certain LGAs and other regions.
But ultimately the view was that regional NSW should move as one, and in terms of enforcing it would become too much of a challenge, but I can assure you we looked at this in depth, with every possible way that we could release those restrictions in a safe way, and ultimately we landed here.
As premier, the buck stops with me. I believe this is the right decision in the interests of the state.
A reporter has asked the NSW premier if it seems strange to him that they are announcing the opening of international borders but Sydneysiders can’t yet get in the car and drive up to a regional town in NSW like Coffs Harbour.
Well, ultimately this is about today, we are announcing about taking NSW to the world from the 1st of November. So from November 1 these dates will all marry up.
For those who are fully vaccinated, NSW says we welcome home every Australian overseas, we want tourism back, we want people back into work, we want to get our economy moving. That is what today’s announcement is all about.
Ultimately, we have got to weigh up the health advice and economic advice and the elected officials make the call. As the deputy premier said, it was a long meeting, a robust discussion, and it was a difficult decision to make, but ultimately we have to make calls to ensure that we keep communities safe as we open up.
And when we see the vaccination rates in Sydney higher than they are in regional NSW, it is a couple of weeks. It is two weeks. I know it will create some inconvenience.
We have provided additional financial support for those businesses in regional NSW, I know there will be different views on this, but ultimately I believe where the cabinet landed is the right call moving forward.
'Welcome home Australia': NSW tourism minister says state is open for tourism
Just to clarify it’s not just hotel quarantine that’s ending for double vaccinated international travellers, it’s quarantine all together! And in just two weeks time.
Here is tourism minister Stuart Ayres:
Well, today the message is welcome home Australia. From 1 November for fully vaccinated people, quarantine will no longer be required.
That is not hotel quarantine, that is not home quarantine, you will be able to return home if you are a person from another country who wants to visit or work in Australia, and you are fully vaccinated, you will be able to come to Australia and not have to quarantine.
We know from the 1 November our vaccination rates will be incredibly high across the city and across the state, and we want to be able to say to the world that we treat everybody equally.
We will be working closely with the commonwealth to make sure that pre-departure PCR tests are undertaken and the commonwealth will be verifying every single person’s vaccination status before they access a flight.
We have taken this decision with two weeks of lead time to allow airlines and the commonwealth to start to put on extra flights and put those processes in place for people who are fully vaccinated.
However, there will still be quarantine spaces for a limited number of unvaccinated people.
If you are not vaccinated you will still need to quarantine, and that quarantine will be capped at 210 people per week.
This clearly prioritises fully vaccinated people returning to Australia and coming here for work and for leisure. This is a huge pick-up for our tourism industry.
It is a huge pick-up for our economy, and it is a really is that really clear signal to Australians who have had to operate overseas in a constrained aviation market that we are removing those barriers and allowing you to come home.
These restrictions will be lifted from Monday, as we head to the 80% over the course of the weekend, and to celebrate the feat, on Monday evening we will be lighting up the Opera House with images of our frontline workers who have made enormous sacrifices, particularly our nurses, and to celebrate everyone across NSW for the effort they have made to ensure that NSW leads the country out of the pandemic.
NSW to end hotel quarantine, open international travel from 1 November
In a rather unexpected announcement, the NSW premier has confirmed the hotel quarantine program will end from 1 November, including for international travellers.
In addition, probably the most significant announcement we are making is an end to quarantine.
From November 1st, those people returning Australians and tourists who want to come back, who want to visit Australia and coming to Sydney, hotel quarantine will be a thing of the past.
We will require, working with the Commonwealth government, that people coming into here, you’ll need to do a PCR test before you board the flight stop, you will need to show proof of your double vaccination.
For double vaccinated people around the world, Sydney, New South Wales is open for business.
We want people back. We are leading the nation out of the pandemic. Hotel quarantine, home quarantine is a thing of the past. We are opening Sydney and NSW to the world, and that date will come in on November 1st ... This is a significant day for our state.
Next stage of NSW reopening confirmed for Monday
NSW premier Dominic Perrottet is up and says the state is likely to hit its 80% double vaccination goal sometime tomorrow, but regional travel will not resume until 1 November.
We have set out a roadmap that from Monday will provide a removal of a number of restrictions put in place.
As of Monday, home visitations will increase from 10 to 20. Outdoor gatherings from 30 to 50. Standing up in pubs will be back. They will be no limits on weddings and funerals.
We have made a decision today – and I know for many it will be unpopular, but as premier I believe it is the right decision, and that is to defer regional travel from Sydney – from Greater Sydney – until November 1. The reason we have made that decision is based on vaccination rates in front of us.
If you look at where a percentage of LGAs have reached that 80% double-dose here in Sydney, that is where regional NSW will be on 1 November.
He noted this decision was an attempt to retain consumer confidence in the regions.
Importantly, as well, this is a confidence game, that was our success last year – instilling consumer confidence, business confidence, and when you look at the figures, we have seen confidence in Sydney grow during this time, but regional NSW is in negative territory.
We believe that a lot of that concern has been in relation to the vaccination rate in regional NSW not being up where it quite is in Sydney, so we have decided to defer that to November 1. I know for many people in Sydney. and some in the bush, this will be an unpopular decision but we are elected to make the right decisions and I believe the decision we have made today with our cabinet committee is an important one, and ultimately the right decision.
Just in, royal commissioner Ray Finklestein has delivered his report into Melbourne’s Crown Casino to the Victorian governor.
But we will have to wait for it to be made public.
The Queen has criticised world leaders’ [including Scott Morrisons] inaction on addressing climate change, admitting she is “irritated” by individuals who “talk but don’t do”.
She made the remarks, which were picked up on a livestream, at the opening of the Welsh parliament in Cardiff on Thursday.
During a conversation with the Duchess of Cornwall and Elin Jones, the parliament’s presiding officer, the Queen referred to the Cop26 climate change summit in Glasgow starting on 31 October, which she is scheduled to attend along with other members of the royal family.
She said: “Extraordinary isn’t it. I’ve been hearing all about Cop ... still don’t know who is coming. No idea.”
You can read the full report below:
I mean... this is prime advertising space in New York’s time square, but I’m not sure this ad is exactly what Scott Morrison was hoping for.
Senior Morrison government ministers are confident the Liberals will strike a deal with the Nationals to get a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 over the line, reports Georgie Moore from AAP.
The junior Coalition party room will meet on Sunday to thrash out a majority position on the target Australia wants to take to the looming COP26 climate summit.
Defence minister Peter Dutton told the Nine Network on Friday he had has sought to reassure lingering dissenters “there is nothing the government will be putting forward that destroys jobs or destroys economies”.
I want [net] zero [by] 2050, but I want to do it, particularly from a state perspective like mine, where we can have certainty for those communities ... We’ll get the balance right. I think we can achieve an agreement and this will happen over the next few days.
It’s incredibly important that the Nats are allowed to have their party room, to discuss it, to air all of these issues.
Prime minister Scott Morrison previously made net zero by 2050 a “preference”.
But there is pressure ahead of the COP26 talks in Scotland from business, industry, green groups, unions and global partners to make it a firm target.
The government is also looking at setting a more ambitious 2030 target beyond its current pledge to reduce emissions by between 26 and 28% on 2005 levels.
Liberals will meet early next week, when parliament is due to sit, and then all Coalition members will come together to share their thoughts.
Ultimately, I hope that we will arrive at a position that’s going to do right by our country.
That’s, I think, what the prime minister’s promoting and what he wants to take to Glasgow.
Nationals minister David Gillespie was also confident an agreement could be reached without splitting the coalition parties.
We will sort it out ... I have some concerns about unintended consequences of this target which could destroy the livelihoods of many industries.
He rejected suggestions the Nationals had a “price tag” that Morrison would need to meet to get the policy over the line.
Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud acknowledged there would not be a universal agreement in the party room.
But if the majority of the room get to a position where we can understand a plan that protects regional jobs ... and that agriculture won’t pay the bill but in fact can be part of the solution, then we’ll pragmatically look at that.
Just a reminder we are expecting to hear from the NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, in about 15 minutes, where we should hear more about the expected delay to regional travel.
Ummmmm, a touch of snow (or heavy hail) in Melbourne anyone?
Kristina Keneally has warned the government against playing “wedge politics with women and children’s lives” after pressure from the immigration minister, Alex Hawke, to pass the Coalition’s visa cancellation bill.
Hawke will use the October and November sittings of parliament to push for a vote on the controversial Strengthening Character Test bill, which lowers the bar for cancellation of visas after conviction of offences such as breaching an apprehended violence order.
Labor opposes the legislation on the basis the minister already has broad powers to cancel visas on character grounds, but the Hawke push will put pressure on the opposition and crossbench in the Senate, where the bill has been stalled since 2019.
You can read the full report below:
And here is the much more friendly looking NSW graph.
And there are the new numbers on the Victorian outbreak graph.
Many thanks to Josh Nicholas for whipping that up.
Okay, speaking about that worrying report from the AMA about the potential crisis coming for Australia’s public hospital system, I want to just jump back a bit and bring you an interview the deputy president did with ABC radio earlier.
Dr Chris Moy says public hospitals were already at or close to capacity before the pandemic.
So essentially this report called “The public hospital cycle of crisis” uses, in fact, the government’s data.
So it lays really, in really hard numbers, what I see every day as a GP when I care for my patients, but also what the patient sees. Which is essentially being ramped up in front of the emergency department, it taking too long to be seen in the emergency department, taking too long to be taken up to the ward, because there’s no bed, and also having to wait for surgery, for elective surgery.
Basically, it says that the whole system is choked up and that was even without Covid and walking into now. Now, what it really shows is that there’s a really frightening picture of where the predictions are going now and what is going to happen from here.
A memory from better times.
NSW records 399 local Covid-19 cases and four deaths
The NSW numbers are also in.
The state has recorded 399 new local cases and sadly four people infected with Covid-19 have died.
Victoria records 2,179 local Covid-19 cases and six deaths
Victoria has recorded another day about 2,000 cases with 2,179 new infections.
Sadly six people infected with Covid-19 have died.
Lupus sufferers pleaded for more supplies of hydroxychloroquine two months before the federal government told billionaire Clive Palmer it didn’t want more of the 33m doses he wanted to donate as a potential Covid-19 treatment.
One tonne of Palmer’s hydroxychloroquine – equivalent to 5m doses – was destroyed after it was left unclaimed in Melbourne due to a lengthy standoff with the commonwealth, Guardian Australia revealed on Wednesday.
When Palmer first promised to donate 33m doses of hydroxychloroquine to Australia, there was some optimism – since disproven – that it could be used as a treatment for Covid-19.
You can read the full report below:
We will no doubt be hearing more about the next stage of NSW’s reopening when the premier steps up to speak to media at 10am.
"Really irritating": Queen slams world leaders snubbing Glasgow climate summit
It seems from this video that the Queen isn’t delighted by world leaders like Scott Morrison who are yet to commit to attending the Cop29 UN climate summit in Glasgow.
You can tell from the audio and with some light lip-reading she says:
We only know about people who are not coming … and it’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.
Welsh politician Elin Jones replies
Exactly, and it’s a time for doing, and watching your grandson on television this morning saying there is no point going to space, we need to save the Earth.
To which the Queen says:
I read about that!
The delays to NSW regional travel were confirmed when NSW deputy premier Paul Toole spoke the Sydney radio station 2GB earlier this morning.
Sydneysiders won’t be allowed to travel to the regions until November because of the risk posed to communities where Covid-19 vaccination rates lag behind the cities.
I will confirm with you this morning ... that regional travel will be allowed from the first of November.
This comes after cabinet met on Thursday night. The government opted to delay regional travel as only 36% of regional local government areas have populations where 80% are double vaccinated against Covid-19.
I know it’s frustrating. It’s not an easy decision.
But we have a responsibility to make sure that we keep our regional communities safe.
It’s important that we don’t actually open up businesses and then ... case numbers escalate putting those communities and those businesses in jeopardy.
The Coalition government had promised unlimited travel in the state from the Monday after NSW reached its 80% double vaccination milestone.
Rural Liberals are backing a move towards a net-zero emissions target despite warnings from some within the federal Nationals that regional Australia would “pay the cost” of decarbonising the economy.
The shifting support for the target – including from conservatives who have previously railed against emissions reduction policies – comes as a new report reiterates that Australia ranks among the worst performers in the G20 in addressing the climate crisis.
Ahead of a crucial meeting of the Nationals party room on Sunday where MPs will consider the Morrison government’s plan for emissions reduction cuts, Liberal MPs are speaking in favour of more ambitious targets.
Here is a bit more from that slightly fiery discussion between Anthony Albanese and ABC News Breakfast host Michael Rowland.
You expelled Adem Somyurek for branch-stacking, and Anthony Byrne admitted to doing the same thing, why won’t you expel him?
Let’s be very clear. The allegations against Adem Somyurek were of a very different nature and went to behaviour and an attempt in his own words to essentially control the Victorian branch.
But Anthony Byrne’s breached rules by branch-stacking. So on that basis, why ...
That is a matter for ...
No, this is a matter for the Labor party, separate to what Ibac does, he’s breached party rules, you are the leader, what action will you take against him?
Well, we’ll wait for the Ibac processes ...
I’m talking about Anthony Byrne.
I know what you are talking about. From time to time there are breaches of party rules and the processes kick in to deal with that. But while Ibac is undertaking these investigations, it’s important that they be allowed to take their course.
OK, it’s time to talk about Labor branch-stacking ... again.
The Victorian Ibac hearings are still going on, and earlier this week federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne admitted to breaking party rules and misusing taxpayer resources in the first day of hearings into branch-stacking in the Victorian Labor party.
Now the federal party leader, Anthony Albanese, is out and about, speaking to ABC News Breakfast this morning, to defend why he hasn’t booted Bryne out of the party yet.
Host Michael Rowland:
Do you support Anthony Byrne staying in parliament as a Labor MP?
Well, yes, what he has said is that he’ll wait for the Ibac processes to be concluded before he determines his political future and it’s important that these independent processes are allowed to take their course, make recommendations.
I note that the head of Ibac, the commissioner made comments about Anthony Byrne’s evidence when it was concluded, saying that he thanked him for the honesty of his evidence in coming forward.
NSW to learn fate of regional travel
The senior NSW government members charged with leading the state’s Covid-19 response have reportedly decided to postpone regional travel, which is currently part of the roadmap for 80%, AAP reports.
There’s concern that opening up to travellers from Sydney would put communities with lower vaccination rates at risk.
Premier Dominic Perrottet met with his Covid-19 and economic recovery committee to discuss the matter on Thursday.
He is expected to provide an update on Friday morning.
Late on Thursday NSW Health said that from Friday restrictions for people entering NSW from the ACT would be eased and people would no longer need to complete a declaration form on entry into NSW or follow stay-at-home rules on arrival.
It also said Queensland residents would also no longer have to complete a declaration form on arrival due to low rates of community transmission in that state.
Some 91.4% of eligible NSW residents have had at least one Covid-19 jab.
Of 12- to 15-year-olds, 72.11% had received at least one vaccination by Wednesday, with 26.01% fully immunised.
It’s the highest full vaccination rate for that age group in the nation.
The state reported 406 new Covid-19 on Thursday, down from 444 the previous day.
Six more people died, taking the total for the outbreak to 454.
Perrottet on Thursday announced further stimulus measures to boost the economy after the state recorded tens of thousands more job losses.
NSW adults will be able to use two extra $25 Dine and Discover vouchers at restaurants, cafes and entertainment venues by next June.
Al fresco dining and drinking will be encouraged with a loosening of restrictions and a grant program for venues and councils to expand outdoors.
Teachers are warning that schools in New South Wales and Victoria are not yet ready to go back, raising concerns over poor ventilation, a lack of air filters, and no guidance on how to safely manage class sizes.
“We have situations where room capacity leaves eight to 10 students out in the cold, literally,” the senior vice-president of the NSW Teachers Federation, Amber Flohm, said.
Teachers had asked the government to audit classroom sizes three months ago but had been ignored, she said.
In NSW, teachers say the government’s policy to have schools open their windows for natural ventilation means some students have already been forced to learn in freezing conditions.
You can read the full report below:
Victorian radio presenter Raf Epstein (who is usually pretty on the money when it comes to Covid-19 numbers) is reporting that case numbers for the state will be similar to yesterday’s 2,297 infections.
This has not been independently confirmed by Guardian Australia, but we should find out one way on another when the state’s health department tweets out the numbers in the next hour or so.
Multiple media publications have reported this morning that travel between regional NSW and Sydney will be postponed by at least a week as vaccination rates lag outside of the city.
The ABC and Daily Telegraph have both reported that the decision was made during a NSW cabinet meeting yesterday.
Regional travel was meant to restart the Monday after the state hit 80% full vaccination for the 16 and overpopulation. But here’s the problem, it looks like the NSW could well hit 80% on Sunday, therefore starting its next stage of reopening on next Monday, just one week after the 70% “freedom day”.
And while Sydney may be forging ahead with vaccinations at a record pace, many regional towns are lagging, raising fears among mayors that the virus could soon be imported into regional hubs and run rampant.
For example, the LGA of Byron Bay only has a double-dose rate of 47.1%.
Looks like we might get confirmation of this change to the reopening plan when the premier steps up to speak today.
AMA report says public hospitals in crisis
The Australian Medical Association has issued a dire warning over the country public hospital capacity as wards brace for an influx of Covid-19 patients.
“Our hospitals are full – there simply aren’t enough hospital beds or enough doctors and nurses – and tragic stories of deaths, deterioration and delayed care are becoming increasingly commonplace,” says the report, entitled Public Hospitals: Cycle of Crisis.
The report reads:
Our hospitals are full – there simply aren’t enough hospital beds or enough doctors and nurses – and tragic stories of deaths, deterioration and delayed care are becoming increasingly commonplace.
The report was released on Friday and says a shortage of hospital beds, overcrowded emergency departments and longer waits for elective surgery are “risking the lives of all Australians”, reports AAP.
It warns of dire consequences if all governments fail to act and says the hospital crisis was in full swing long before Covid-19 arrived.
Hospital beds will increasingly be taken up by emergency admissions, doubling as a percentage of hospital beds by 2030-31, resulting in even longer waits for elective surgery such as cancer diagnostic procedures.
It says the funding arrangements underpinning the hospital system are not fit for purpose and fail to meet the demands of a growing and ageing population.
The way to break free from the cycles of crisis is to change the way hospitals are funded – moving beyond just the focus on activity and volume to a partnership based on community demand and timeliness of treatment.
AMA president Omar Khorshid said the report had been sent to the prime minister and every state and territory leader as its findings required immediate action.
Australians expect to receive treatment when they need it. They expect an ambulance to turn up when they call one, and they expect to be able to get into the hospital when they arrive.
At the moment, these expectations can’t be met and that is a symptom of a public hospital system in crisis.
Hello everyone, it’s Matilda Boseley here and we made it to Friday. Just a little bit to go, we can do it!
So first up, a big congratulations to everyone reading this from the Australian Captial Territory. They have woken up this morning to their first day of freedom after the territory’s two-month lockdown ended at midnight last night.
While there has been some criticism the easing of lockdown restrictions are too cautious – with retail not able to reopen to customers in-store until 29 October – ACT chief minister Andrew Barr defended the measures, saying it put public health first.
It ensures the safest activities are recommencing and the riskiest ones will wait until more of the population are fully vaccinated.
The latest figures show 98.8% of Canberrans aged over 12 have received one dose of the vaccine, while almost 75% are fully vaccinated.
It’s also an important date in Victoria with the vaccine mandate deadline kicking in for more than 1.25 million essential workers.
The Victorian government gave authorised workers a fortnight to get at least their first vaccination – or show proof of a booking within the next week – otherwise, they would be stood down.
The public health order covers retail workers, personal trainers, journalists, faith leaders, judges, police, lawyers, actors, professional sportspeople and many other professions.
It’s estimated that hundreds of thousands of workers were still yet to get the jab and Tim Piper, the Victorian head of the peak employer association Ai Group, said “V-Day” was creating huge issues and some businesses were contacting it to report workers were refusing to get vaccinated.
The workers have often been in their jobs many years, they may be key people in the business...
Skilled and experienced employees are at a premium and some businesses are at their wits’ end trying to decide what to do.
Premier Daniel Andrews said he made no apology for his government’s vaccine policies, however.
These mandates, these requirements, push people to do what needs to be done.
OK with all that fresh in our minds why don’t we get cracking with this Friday’s news.