TGA grants provisional determination of Pfizer vaccine for ages 5-11 – as it happened

By Caitlin Cassidy and Matilda Boseley (earlier)

What we learned, Wednesday 13 October:

With that, we’ll wrap up the blog for this evening. Here’s what we learned today:

  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration has told Pfizer it can apply for vaccine approval for five- to 11-year-olds.
  • The former senator Nick Xenophon is planning to run as an independent for the upper house in the next election. It comes as the NSW Liberal MP Melanie Gibbons quits state politics to contest the federal seat of Hughes, currently held by Craig Kelly.
  • NSW recorded 444 new local Covid-19 cases and four deaths. The state will confirm its 80% reopening plan tomorrow.
  • Melbourne’s Royal Children’s hospital is on high alert after a Covid-positive person visited the neonatal ward.
  • Victoria recorded 1,571 new locally acquired cases and 13 deaths as the state’s youngest ICU patient urged anyone eligible to get the vaccine. The Mitchell shire will be released from lockdown at midnight.
  • The high court has ruled against Clive Palmer and his company Mineralogy in a challenge against a Western Australian law banning him from seeking billions of dollars in compensation.
  • The academic Peter Ridd lost his high court appeal against James Cook University.
  • The ACT recorded its second-most infectious day ever, with 51 local Covid cases. The vaccination will become mandatory for teachers.
  • All frontline workers in the Northern Territory must get vaccinated as the territory pushes to boost vaccination rates in vulnerable communities.
  • The former New South Wales premier Mike Baird and the newly sworn-in deputy Liberal leader, Stuart Ayres, have been called to give evidence at next week’s hearings into the conduct of Gladys Berejiklian.
  • And a traveller who breached hotel quarantine has tested positive to Covid-19 in Hobart. The airport has been listed as an exposure site.

Updated

Reports Australia will cease locally producing the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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A stonemason has died after being crushed by a forklift at a factory in Melbourne’s north, as a solar installer was handed a hefty fine for multiple worksite safety breaches, AAP reports.

The forklift was being operated on a sloping driveway at the Somerton factory on Tuesday when it tipped and crushed a worker standing nearby.

The 25-year-old stonemason was killed and WorkSafe is investigating the incident, the watchdog confirmed on Wednesday.

It comes after solar panel installer Global Renewable Energy Solutions was on Monday found guilty of five workplace safety breaches at sites across Victoria and ordered to pay $500,000 in fines.

Werribee magistrates court heard three workers were installing a solar electrical system on a 4.5-metre-high Werribee South shed in June 2019 when one of them fell through a skylight to the concrete floor below.

The worker fractured his spine and pelvis, and spent more than a week in hospital.

WorkSafe found there was no perimeter guardrail on the roof or fall protection around the skylight, none of the workers were using a safety harness and a “method statement” did not identify skylights were in the roof.

It also ruled Global Renewable Energy Solutions had engaged in unsafe practices at four other rooftop solar installation sites at Cobram, Truganina, Newham and Corio that same year.

Andrew Keen, WorkSafe’s executive director of health and safety, said the company had shown a continued disregard for its workers’ safety:

This case should serve as a wake-up call to any employer that thinks it can put profits above the safety of its workers.

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TGA tells Pfizer it can apply for vaccine approval for five- to 11-year-olds

Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration has issued a release granting a provisional determination to Pfizer for children between five and 11:

On 12 October 2021, the TGA, part of the Department of Health, granted a provisional determination to Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd in relation to its Covid-19 Vaccine, Comirnaty.

Currently, Comirnaty is provisionally approved for use in individuals 12 years of age or older. The granting of this determination means that Pfizer is now eligible to apply to vary the provisional approval for the vaccine to include children aged 5 to 11 years.

This provisional determination is the first step in the process and does not mean that an application for variation has been made by the sponsor – or that any such variation will be provisionally approved by the TGA.

In making its decision to grant Pfizer a provisional determination for use in individuals 5 to 11 years, the TGA considered eligibility criteria, including factors such as the evidence of a plan to submit comprehensive clinical data in relation to use in this age group – and the seriousness of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

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Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, has told the ABC’s Raf Epstein there is a possibility lockdown restrictions will be lifted earlier than planned if vaccination targets are met.

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Tasmania to legislate for net zero emissions by 2030

Net zero commitments are rolling in thick and fast, as the federal cabinet debates its own plans for 2050.

Tasmania became fully powered by renewable energy in November last year, in large part due to its wind and hydro-electricity projects.

It has achieved net zero emissions in six of the past seven years.

An industry-wide strike of delivery workers planned for next week may be avoided after one courier company reached an in-principle agreement with staff over conditions and job protection, AAP reports.

The union hopes other companies will soon follow suit.

Union members from Toll, Linfox, StarTrack, FedEx and BevChain voted last week for a day of national strike action, an escalation after six months of stalled negotiations.

But workers at Toll have now reached an in-principle agreement with their bosses, which will go to union delegates for a vote on Friday. If the agreement is endorsed, they will pull out of the planned strike.

The Transport Workers’ Union is pushing for its members to get better job security, with limits on the use of outsourcing.

Contract workers are paid less, which the TWU says makes them more attractive to employers, thereby creating job insecurity for permanent staff.

The union says the Toll deal would mean outside workers are paid the same as employees, outsourcing is limited, and employees get first dibs on work before it is sent elsewhere.

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The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is getting around donuts.

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Case numbers have increased by 36% in regional NSW.

NSW Liberal MP Melanie Gibbons quits state politics to contest federal seat of Hughes

NSW Liberal MP Melanie Gibbons will quit state politics to contest preselection for Craig Kelly’s federal seat.

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Prime minister Scott Morrison has been urged to put regional communities at the centre of his plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050, AAP’s Georgia Moore reports.

Morrison was meeting with cabinet colleagues on Wednesday afternoon to thrash out the final details of his “new energy economy” plan, which would set a 2050 target and update the target of cutting emissions to 26 to 28% below 2005 levels by 2030.

A cabinet-approved plan will need to run the gauntlet of a Nationals party room meeting scheduled for Sunday afternoon, just ahead of a two-week parliamentary sitting and the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow later in the month.

Speaking before the meeting, cabinet minister Bridget McKenzie demanded the Nationals be “respected as the second party of government” in negotiations where calls for agriculture and resources sector concessions have been a sticking point.

This actual debate isn’t about climate change, it’s about regions. We haven’t supported anything that has been put before this parliament previously because it hasn’t been right for the regions.

Agriculture minister David Littleproud has seen the detail of the plan and indicated the junior coalition partner wouldn’t simply roll over.

Barnaby Joyce won’t be accepting any deal unless the National party room accepts it. No individual will make a determination of that. We are a party room of 21.

Energy minister Angus Taylor maintained the coalition would stick by Australia’s resources sector while talking up rural and regional opportunities for carbon abatement.

You have to make sure that you’re abating (emissions), that you’re carrying them in your soil, that you’re sequestering them under the ground so those industries can continue to have a great future.

The Morrison government has so far only expressed a “preference” for a target of net zero by 2050.

But other countries and business and industry groups have been pressing for a strong commitment from Australia ahead of Cop26.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has committed his party to legislating a net zero by 2050 target and raising the existing 2030 target, which he says has the ability to create jobs while cutting emissions.

He questioned the Liberal-National coalition’s commitment to climate action.

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Hobart airport listed as Covid exposure site

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Covid-19 exposure sites have been listed in the northeast Victorian rural city of Wangaratta.

Some 50 Queensland schools will have on-site GPs next year as part of a pilot program to roll out from May.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk:

For many young people, getting in to see a GP is often difficult and expensive. We know that one of the greatest barriers for many young people is the difficulty in finding a GP that bulk bills.

The last 18 months have affected us all. Our students, in particular, have had to overcome great challenges throughout the pandemic. This has undoubtedly had an impact on their health and wellbeing.

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Victoria’s minister for energy, environment and climate change, Lily D’Ambrosio has responded to a report by the state’s auditor general that has found the government can’t demonstrate how well, or even if, it is managing to halt the decline of endangered wildlife.

We reported some of the findings of this review earlier including that the state’s environment department relies on old, potentially outdated data on threatened species, tells the public little about the “cost, quality or effectiveness” of its work, is significantly underfunded by the Andrews government and does not make use of all of the powers available to it under the law to protect the state’s unique plants and animals.

D’Ambrosio has provided Guardian Australia with a statement, though it doesn’t go directly to the findings of the report:

The decline in biodiversity is a global challenge – exacerbated by climate change, and Victoria’s early history of land clearing. In response we’re making record investments to protect our precious native flora and fauna.

We are also leading the way on our climate change response - cutting our greenhouse gas emissions at the fastest rate in the country as we work towards halving our emissions by 2030.

D’Ambrosio said since the Andrews government released in 2017 a 20-year plan for protecting Victoria’s biodiversity it had provided an extra $400m “to deliver environmental initiatives and we have invested more than $270m in the past two state budgets to protect our key waterways and catchments”:

Responding to this global challenge is urgent and we make no apologies for prioritising on-the-ground action to protect the largest amount of species possible.

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Josh Nicholas has just updated the Guardian’s chart comparing how the Delta outbreak is tracking in NSW, Victoria and the ACT.

Satisfyingly, there is a definite bending of the curve in NSW.

Victoria’s health authorities are combining Melbourne’s hatred of lockdowns with its love of sport.

Over at Ibac:

The Queensland government has agreed to terms of a memorandum of understanding with the Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands, which could soon lead to the exporting of hydrogen to Europe’s largest port.

The Port of Rotterdam has an ambition to import up to 20 million tonnes of hydrogen by 2050, starting with imports of ammonia in 2025.

The agreement would see Queensland and the Port of Rotterdam collaborate on opportunities to develop a hydrogen export supply chain between Queensland hydrogen producers and Rotterdam.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk:

This is the start of the green industrial revolution and the announcements this week prove that Queensland has what it takes to be a global leader in renewable energy and hydrogen.

Mining magnate Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest says green energy will one day dwarf the size of the iron ore and coal industries and he is demanding “short-termists” stop betraying the trust of voters, AAP reports.

Up to $3bn in government incentives for “green hydrogen” energy projects will be on offer as part of NSW’s new hydrogen strategy, unveiled today.

The state will also exempt green hydrogen production from government charges, significantly discount electricity network charges, and roll out a hydrogen refuelling network.

Green hydrogen power involves the use of renewable energy sources to split water molecules and extract energy which can be used for household power, vehicles and industry. The NSW government hopes to attract more than $80bn in private investment to the sector.

Forrest, appearing alongside premier Dominic Perrottet and treasurer Matt Kean, said he intends to co-develop green hydrogen hubs in NSW through Fortescue Future Industries.

A plan by Forrest to build a hydrogen-gas turbine power station in the Illawarra region was declared in August to be “critical state-significant infrastructure” and will be fast-tracked.

The Port Kembla station will use up to 5% green hydrogen.

Forrest told reporters fossil fuels had enjoyed a “magnificent day” but belittling green energy was tantamount to denying the future:

There will be no bigger industry than green hydrogen, ammonia, electricity ... it will dwarf the scale of iron ore and coal. I just say this to everyone concerned about this massive global-scale green energy and green product future coming our way ... do not deny your voters, constituents, their future.

To talk down and belittle the huge green energy sector, which will be the largest in the world, to your constituents, means you’re betraying their trust in you, you’re giving them absolute falsehoods. It will last as long as mankind is on this planet.

Kean said he hoped to make NSW one of the world’s best places to invest in green hydrogen:

Nothing will secure our energy future more than taking advantage of our abundance of renewable energy (sources) and providing products like hydrogen to the rest of the world. And we’ll make a lot of money doing so.

News of the incentives comes days after Queensland announced Gladstone will become a world-leading hub for the manufacture of electrolysers - vital to the production of renewable hydrogen.

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The federal education minister, Alan Tudge, has released a statement on the high court’s upholding of Peter Ridd’s sacking.

He says he is “concerned that employment conditions should never be allowed to have a chilling effect on free speech”.

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Victoria's auditor general publishes scathing report on management of threatened species

In other environmental news today, Victoria’s auditor general has published a scathing report on the state government’s management of threatened species.

The audit finds the state’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning can’t demonstrate if, or how well, it is going in halting the decline of Victoria’s endangered wildlife.

Among the issues, the audit finds the department relies on old, potentially outdated data on threatened species, tells the public little about the “cost, quality or effectiveness” of its work, is significantly underfunded by the Andrews government and does not make use of all of the powers available to it under the law to protect the state’s unique plants and animals.

The report is reminiscent of another audit that was released last year by the federal auditor general that made similar findings about the federal environment department’s work managing assessments under national environmental laws.

The Victorian audit makes nine recommendations, including that the department develop a new monitoring program to assess how well wildlife is responding to environmental management work and that it make use of all tools available to it under the law.

It also recommends the department develop criteria to help it prioritise species after the audit found some plants and animals at extreme risk of extinction were being missed in the department’s work.

The department has accepted all nine recommendations.

Brendan Sydes, of the Australian Conservation Foundation, said although the report was very critical of the department, it was the Victorian government that needed to take responsibility:

The auditor general’s report shows the Victorian government isn’t even attempting to protect some of the state’s most endangered threatened species.

The lack of monitoring or reporting on progress to protect threatened species highlighted by the audit should be a great concern to all Victorians.

Without the commitment, systems or resources to track progress the public is being kept in the dark about the perilous situation faced by our threatened species and the lack of government action to address the situation.

Guardian Australia sought comment from Victoria’s minister for energy, environment and climate change, Lily D’Ambrosio.

Victoria’s environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio
Victoria’s environment minister Lily D’Ambrosio. Photograph: Richard Wainwright/AAP

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Traveller who breached quarantine in Hobart tests positive to Covid-19

The Tasmanian premier, Peter Gutwein, has confirmed a 31-year-old man who breached quarantine in Hobart has tested positive to Covid-19:

A 31-year-old New South Wales man arrived in Tasmania via Melbourne on Monday evening, despite his to go pass having been refused. He was placed in quarantine at the hotel in Hobart that night, the following welfare check undertaken by security on Tuesday afternoon he was found not to be in his room. The police were immediately notified and tried to locate him.

Late yesterday afternoon he was located in the northern suburbs of Hobart by police. He was immediately returned to hotel quarantine and additional security was allocated to him. The man has been tested overnight and through this morning for Covid-19.

It has been confirmed that he has returned a positive result ... It bothers me greatly that when the vast majority of Tasmanians do the right thing, day in and day out, people will put others at risk ... The 31-year-old will receive two fines totalling just over $3,000, one for breaching quarantine and one for attempting to enter the state without necessary approvals.

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Former NSW premier Mike Baird called to Icac hearings

The former New South Wales premier Mike Baird and the newly sworn-in deputy Liberal leader, Stuart Ayres, have been called to give evidence at next week’s hearings into the conduct of Gladys Berejiklian.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has just released the witness list for the first week of hearings, which will investigate whether Berejiklian broke the law by failing to report the conduct of her ex-lover, the former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.

Berejiklian’s bombshell resignation a fortnight ago followed Icac’s announcement that it had broadened its investigation to include an investigation into whether she had been involved in “a breach of public trust” between 2012 and 2018 because of her relationship with Maguire.

In its statement a fortnight ago, Icac also announced it was investigating whether Berejiklian’s conduct “involved the dishonest or partial exercise of any of her official functions”.

The former premier has consistently denied she acted improperly during her relationship with Maguire. During her resignation speech she said: “I state categorically that I have always acted with the highest level of integrity.”

Among the witness names released ahead of next week’s hearings are Berejiklian’s predecessor, Mike Baird, who led the state from 2014 to 2017, and Ayres, the minister for western Sydney and tourism who was sworn in as the deputy leader of the Liberal party last week. Ayres was formerly the sport minister.

The witness list also includes Nigel Blunden, a veteran political strategist who worked for Baird when he was premier, Chris Hanger, a deputy secretary in the Department of Regional NSW, Michael Toohey, a director in the NSW Office of Sport, and Paul Doorn, a former Office of Sport director who now heads up Rugby NSW.

At the centre of the Icac investigation are grants to two organisations: the Australian Clay Target Association in 2016-17, which Maguire had championed, and the Riverina Conservatorium of Music in Wagga Wagga in 2018.

Gladys Berejiklian and Mike Baird at Parliament House in Sydney, January 2017
Gladys Berejiklian and Mike Baird at Parliament House in Sydney, January 2017. Photograph: David Moir/AAP

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It certainly shows what stage Victoria is at in the pandemic – prioritising vaccination rates over Covid-19 transmission – that Greater Shepparton won’t head back into a snap lockdown despite 21 new local cases overnight.

The Mitchell shire was also released from lockdown today despite ongoing transmission in the LGA.

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Over in the rich marine world, turtles have come out of their shell early for nesting season in Queensland this year.

One of the world’s most important nesting sites in Bundaberg has welcomed its first turtle a month earlier than expected.

The state member for Bundaberg, Tom Smith, said on Saturday night 9 October the first flatback turtle had arrived on the shores of Mon Repos.

This is the earliest recorded beginning to nesting season on the Woongarra Coast. To mark the arrival of the first turtle, Bundaberg has the long-standing tradition of ringing church bells.

Mon Repos acting ranger Nicole Murnane said the ringing of the bells was based on an ancient Scottish tradition to welcome fishing boats back to port.

Mon Repos supports the largest concentration of nesting marine turtles on the eastern Australian mainland and has the most significant loggerhead turtle nesting population in the South Pacific region.

The success of nesting and hatching turtles at Mon Repos aids the survival of the endangered loggerhead turtle.

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More from Ibac, which has just adjourned for lunch:

Here is some more clarity on the Northern Territory mandating the vaccine by 14 November from a ministerial release.

Workers who are required to get the Covid-19 vaccine are:

  • Workers who come into direct contact with people who are at risk of severe illness from Covid, including Aboriginal people and people who cannot be vaccinated due to age or a medical condition.
  • Workers who are at an increased risk of contracting Covid-19 because they work in a high-risk setting where there is a known risk of Covid-19 transmission or outbreak.
  • Workers who perform work in essential infrastructure, food or essential good security or supply, or logistics in the territory.

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This hasn’t been independently confirmed by the Guardian, but hopefully we will receive an update from health authorities later today.

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The National Tertiary Education Union has released a statement on the termination of the employment of Dr Peter Ridd.

It says the high court has “endorsed the key principles of academic and intellectual freedom” despite finding James Cook University was within its right to terminate Ridd.

Ridd was issued with two censures by James Cook University and in 2018 his employment was terminated for serious misconduct under the enterprise agreement. Ridd fought the university, arguing his conduct was an exercise of intellectual freedom.

In its judgment delivered today, the court found:

The 2016 Censure and part of the basis of the Final Censure were unjustified because they related to the expression of honestly held views by Ridd within his academic expertise.

It also found “intellectual freedom is not qualified by a requirement to afford respect and courtesy in the manner of its exercise.”

The NTEU general secretary, Matthew McGowan, said:

As the High Court found ... Ridd was exercising his legitimate rights to academic freedom ... James Cook University should never have taken disciplinary action against Ridd in the first place.

The High Court’s findings demonstrate the only real protections for academic freedom in Australia are in the enterprise agreements negotiated by the NTEU. Enterprise agreements are the only effective legal remedy to protect academic and intellectual freedom.

We reassert the NTEU’s commitment to academic freedom, even where its expression contains statements that are controversial or unpopular. Academic staff must have the right to engage in robust scientific, political and academic debates without fear of retribution, otherwise universities will cease to be worthy of the title.

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More updates from the Ibac hearing, where the Labor staffer Adam Sullivan continues to be questioned.

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Back in Victoria, the Guardian reporter Josh Taylor has found the state’s vaccination certificates, which are contained in the Service Victoria app, can be faked within minutes.

The certificates are key to proving a person’s vaccination status when the state emerges from lockdown at 70% vaccination targets.

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The Northern Territory chief health officer, Hugh Heggie, is urging his community to get vaccinated.

We’ve seen Heggie relatively infrequently, because the NT has managed to have just two short lockdowns and no lives lost throughout the pandemic. He addresses anti-vaccination influencers who have been infiltrating Aboriginal communities:

I know some of the influencers and they are from the US anti-vax lobby and faith organisations. They may be the same. They’re using social media particularly in Aboriginal communities and they’ve done this before when we had the measles outbreak.

There’s a whole explanation that people won’t get it, God will save us. I’ve said ‘well maybe God sent us the immunisation and the vaccine ... to help us’. The Pope and his representative said recently getting the vaccine and indeed before Christmas is a gift from God.

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Border rules between NSW and the ACT are likely to be fully loosened in December.

Northern Territory to introduce home quarantine from December

From December, fully vaccinated travellers from hotspots can undertake home quarantine instead of quarantining in Alice Springs or Howard Springs.

Gunner says:

In the New Year, we’ll take more steps, bigger steps, to safely relax quarantine restrictions. These steps could include reducing the 14-day quarantine period of vaccinated people or allowing vaccinated people to leave quarantine as soon as they’ve returned a negative test result and comply with an ongoing testing regime.

It will also include welcoming back vaccinated people from overseas on the same conditions. Just a reminder – these changed rules will only be for vaccinated travellers. Unvaccinated people from hotspots outside the territory will see no changes.

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Gunner:

This is not about stigmatising or demonising those communities. I don’t want that to happen and I ask the media, let’s not do that. It is about highlighting there is still a lot of work to do. All this points to one conclusion – despite the high overall vaccination rate, we are not where we want to be in all parts of the territory. This is not a remote versus urban thing. This is not an Aboriginal versus non- Aboriginal thing. I want to remind everyone, the vast majority of remote Aboriginal Territorians are getting vaccinated.

There is one thing I can promise you – 100% guarantee, Covid-19 will hit the territory at some stage. It will spread here. We have held it off for more than 18 months but we cannot hold it off forever. Because we are not keeping our borders closed forever.

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Gunner is turning to the vaccination rollout, which is, worryingly, lagging in certain high-risk communities. This week, the NT reached 80% first vaccination doses for people over 16.

Gunner says he doesn’t want to single communities out, but cites Yuendumu as sitting at just 20% first doses despite six separate visits from health teams.

The overall numbers are really good and the regional numbers are pretty good. There are many remote communities that have incredibly high rates, but some that have worryingly low rates.

I am making sure we do everything possible to get everyone vaccinated, but the reality is this. At the end of the day, with all the best information, with all the goodwill, with all the repeated attempts, there are some people and some communities who have said no to the jab and could keep saying no. You can’t hold people down and stick a needle in their arm. It is their choice and some are choosing against it.

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The same rules for mandatory vaccinations in the NT apply to the second vaccination dose.

This means all workers who interact with members of the public must be fully vaccinated by 24 December. Double dosed by Christmas!

All frontline workers in Northern Territory must get vaccinated

The Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, is up.

From today, the Covid-19 vaccine will be mandatory for all frontline workers in the NT. If workers haven’t received their first vaccine by Saturday 13 November they will not be permitted to attend their workplace. Failure to comply will cop a $5,000 fine:

You must receive the vaccine if in the course of your work you come into contact with vulnerable people, your workplace has a high risk of infection or you perform maintenance of essential infrastructure or logistics in the territory. Workplaces where workers must have the vaccine is not an exhaustive list.

If you are not sure if it applies to you, ask yourself these three questions. In my work, do I come into contact with vulnerable people? Is my workplace a higher risk of infection? Do I work on infrastructure or logistics that are critical to the territory? If your answer is maybe or I don’t know then you need to get the jab. Critically, the direction also applies to industries who directly face customers and circumstances where the worker may not know the vulnerability of the person they are interacting with.

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Thanks as always to Matilda Boseley. I have my fingers poised to bring you updates from the NT.

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With that, I shall hand you over to the amazing Caitlin Cassidy, who will bring you all the updates from the Northern Territory press conference and the afternoon to come.

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Clive Palmer’s Palmer Group has sold all its shares in Qantas in protest at the airline’s mandatory vaccination policy.

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We should be hearing from the Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, soon with some big news on mandatory vaccinations.

I will bring you updates from that as soon as he stands up.

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Victorian press conference:

Every Victorian is likely to catch Covid once the state opens up, Brett Sutton says.

We’re going do everything we can to protect those who are not eligible yet for a vaccine and some who won’t be eligible in the longer term, so there are good prospects for the TGA approving a vaccine for kids five to 11 years of age, maybe before the end of the year.

I think, over the course of another big year, another two years, absolutely, everyone will get it as we open up because we are not going to hold back in terms of how we live our lives and move around when we are a fully vaccinated population, the fully vaccinated – my fullest vaccinated population we can be – that means there will be widespread transmission of this virus.

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ACT chief health officer Kerryn Coleman says the territory may soon phase out daily press conferences, in favour of social media and website updates.

As foreshadowed yesterday, there will be some changes to the way the ACT treats close contacts once lockdown ends.

Victorian press conference:

Brett Sutton is asked if he remains “cautiously optimistic” Victoria’s case numbers are trending downwards. He says the state is probably “on the plateau”, but they “will, unfortunately, see days of significant deaths”.

Sutton:

Even though today’s number is a little bit more than yesterday, it is well below the peak of 1,900 plus cases that we have seen previously. I think we are very likely to be headed down from here. But it will be a bit of a bumpy numbers ride day-to-day.

On deaths, as the minister has reflected, we see people who relapse, people who develop their severe illness a week or two weeks after they have been confirmed with Covid. We will, unfortunately, see days of significant deaths. I am also pleased that we have seen a lower relative hospitalisation rates and ICU occupancy compared to NSW with similar cumulative confirmed cases.

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Some updates from the Victorian Ibac hearings into branch-stacking in the Labor party.

(ICYMI branch-stacking is when a party member signs other people up to their branch, potentially paying their membership fees for them, in order to gain power and votes when it comes to pre-selection time.)

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A few things.

One: This clip is weirdly short.

Two: Was the dramatic vignette really necessary?

ACT to mandate vaccines for teachers

ACT Health has announced in a pre-press conference media release that those working as teachers and a range of other educational roles will be required to have the Covid-19 vaccine in order to work.

This is in order to “help to reassure parents of children under 12 – and particularly vulnerable children – that everything possible is being done to reduce the risk of Covid-19 as we go back to school and early childhood education and care”.

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Perrottet:

We’ve always committed that we will have the next stage of the roadmap on the Monday following. We’ve made that commitment.

There was a lot of pressure for us to bring [drinking while standing up] forward when we hit the 70% mark*. But you know, that’s obviously part of the 80% roadmap.

It’s something that’s on the table and it will obviously be part of the discussions tomorrow. And we don’t want to speculate in terms of what that day will be.

We didn’t set a date. We didn’t set a date for this specific reason. We set a vaccination target and every single person across our state has made an enormous effort.

We haven’t just led the nation**, we’ve led the world. That’s the key to keeping people safe. Your friends and your family. And the faster we can do that, the better that’s going to be for everyone across NSW.

* We are discussing this as Perrottet made a bit of a blunder when skulling a freedom frothy while standing in a pub up during a press event on Monday.

** They haven’t, ACT is leading the nation in vaccines.

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Perrottet has been asked if regional travel will be on the table at 80%, and while he says they are committed to the general shape of the plan, concerns have been raised by regional communities whose vaccination rates are lower.

As I said, the key here, and while we’re having this conversation, is an incredibly positive one, because what it’s shown is that we did not expect to be in a position where the double vaccination rate has come forward in the way that it has and what a great thing that is.

And our commitment to the people of our state has been – we can get vaccinated and reach those target, we can open up freely. That has been our commitment. That has been our agreement with the people of NSW.

Having said that, there has been concerns raised about regional NSW. If you look at those double vaccination rates.

I have not had many discussions with my ministerial colleagues in relation to that aspect, yet. We are having that meeting tomorrow. That will be an issue that will be discussed. The deputy premier, as the National party’s leader in New South Wales, will obviously have a view. And that will be considered.

But in government, we have these constructive discussions with each other before we have them with the media. That’s where policy is determined and that’s where we will be tomorrow.

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NSW minister will confirm 80% reopening plan tomorrow

OK, jumping over to the NSW press conference now, where Dominic Perrottet was speaking a short time ago.

He is discussing what the state will look like once the 80% vaccination milestone is reached. (Which is coming up sooner than expected, potentially as soon as Sunday.)

What we’ve said is that once we hit the 80% double-dose that we will ease further restrictions in our state.

Obviously, we’ll be sitting down with the health teams tomorrow. I will look at the data. So will the members of the cabinet.

And, as we said, it will be the Monday following where we hit that 80%, that’s the commitment that we’ve made. That’s the commitment that we will sustain.

So we need to look at that. There might be some other issues that come through that. I will work through that with the cabinet ministers tomorrow with our economic and health teams. And we should be able to provide a clearer update at back end of this.

Updated

Australia has signed a deal with Nasa to send an Australian-built rover to the moon, supporting a mission to collect lunar soil and examine how its oxygen could support human life in space.

The $50m project will be supported by the federal government’s Moon to Mars program, with the rover to be launched as early as 2026, provided it meets a range of Nasa’s conditions during development.

The partnership comes after Australia signed up to Nasa’s Artemis Accords late last year, an agreement that outlines principles to “guide space exploration cooperation” between nations and allows Australia to work with the space agency.

Under Nasa’s Artemis exploration plan, the agency hopes to land the first woman and person of colour on the moon, and “establish the first long-term presence on the moon” at the Artemis base camp. It then wants to send astronauts to Mars.

You can read the full report below:

Victorian press conference:

Oooft! Foley has snuck in a pretty sharp jab at the federal government’s delayed acquisition of vaccine supplies.

Reporter:

Are the new ways of administering vaccines really a sign of what options open up when supply is guaranteed and is more plentiful?

Foley:

Yes, I think that’s a fair description. Now into mid-October with the commonwealth program having commenced in February, we’ve now got enough certainty of supply, enough distribution points across state-run clinics.

Victoria has delivered more vaccines than any other jurisdiction through its state-run clinics, our GPs, our pharmacists, our community health centres and now with support from a range of those groups, we’re able to really drive these locations down, particularly at the most at-risk communities to that really local level. And the mini pop-ups are all about making sure that we get those vaccine opportunities in your neighbourhood.

And I’d encourage everyone to reflect on Saela’s story and do your bit, come forward and get vaccinated.

Updated

Perrottet's record attacked in NSW Labor's budget reply

Jumping back up to NSW and the state opposition leader, Chris Minns, has attacked treasurer-turned-premier Dominic Perrottet’s latest budget, calling for more support for businesses and students, AAP reports.

Minns said Perrottet’s financial record is scarier than his personal views in a lockdown-delayed speech attacking the state budget while calling for an extension of lockdown business support and a building blitz for schools and social housing.

Back in June – four days before Sydney was thrust into lockdown – Perrottet announced a 2020/21 state budget deficit of $7.9bn, with a $500m surplus by 2024/25.

But the circumstances in which Perrottet outlined his economic vision have shifted greatly since then. NSW has changed premier, parts of the state have been locked down for more than 15 weeks, and the budget’s bottom line has been hard hit. And – Minns argues – the city of Sydney has been divided.

No one can make the case that the devastating effects of this outbreak have been felt evenly.

No one in the state has been spared. But the people of west and south-west Sydney have paid the highest price.

The areas were coronavirus hotspots and subject to stricter rules than the rest of Sydney – “the harshest lockdown of any place in Australia at any time during the pandemic.

More jobs have been lost in that part of Sydney than elsewhere, and businesses have suffered greater declines in turnover.

Support – from both the federal and state government – is going to be cut off too early, he said, calling for measures like jobsaver and payroll tax reductions to continue. He stated that if Labor were in government, it would also make a huge investment in social housing and schools, to help boost the economy and repair social housing and classroom shortages.

Minns is badging his budget reply as a “positive plan” for “inclusive growth”.

The taxpayers of this state should be far more concerned about the premier’s record of tolls, taxes, fines, charges – and record debt – than about the Perrottet collection of Trump hats and toy nuclear power stations.

Every time you pay a toll, send your kids to an overcrowded school, are stuck in traffic, or find the cost of living just that little bit harder – that’s the record of the former treasurer – the new premier, Dominic Perrottet.

Updated

Victorian press conference:

A reporter has asked 17-year-old Saela what her final message is for people at home.

Saela:

To get vaccinated, at all. To avoid getting coronavirus.

I’ll say, it’s best to get vaccinated, to protect yourself and the people around you.

Her mum, Michelle, added:

Definitely. Just glad to have my mini-me back!

The pair receive applause from the media as they leave the podium.

Updated

New Zealand records 55 new Covid-19 cases

New Zealand has announced 55 new cases of Covid-19 today, taking the total cases in the outbreak to 1,719.

Director general of health Ashley Bloomfield said one of the cases was a teacher in an Auckland early learning service centre who tested positive yesterday, and six children had been exposed.

The centre of the outbreak is still Auckland, and almost all of the day’s cases were there. Two cases were in Waikato. Northland and parts of the Waikato will remain in level 3 lockdown for at least another five days, Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said. Auckland also remains at level 3.

The country has hit some new milestones in its vaccination rollout. 80% of the eligible (aged 12+) population have had at least one dose of the vaccine, and 68% of the full population. 49% of the full population is fully vaccinated with both doses. 57% of the eligible population are fully vaccinated.

Twenty-six of the cases today were yet to be linked to existing infections, and there are 75 unlinked in the last 2 weeks, suggesting New Zealand could have wider spread happening in the community.

Thirty-two New Zealanders are in hospital with the virus.

Updated

The Australian Rugby League Commission has confirmed the Dolphins will become the NRL’s 17th team, beating the Brisbane Jets and Firehawks to a licence.

The ARL Commission on Wednesday ended a process lasting more than two years and means the Dolphins – the first expansion team since the Gold Coast Titans in 2007 – will enter the competition in 2023 as part of a push to grow the game in Queensland. Wayne Bennett is widely expected to be named as inaugural coach, after leaving South Sydney after this month’s grand final loss.

The competition will expand to 26 rounds with every team continuing to play 24 regular-season games and receiving two byes each.

The Dolphins have agreed to invest $1m per annum on grassroots rugby league and pathways as well as an additional $1m per annum on women’s rugby league pathways and development. The club will be required to submit an annual budget for commission approval which sets out how the $2m in funding will be spent each year.

ARL Commission chairman Peter V’landy said:

Rugby league is part of Queensland’s DNA and to have four teams based in Queensland will further strengthen our game as the No 1 sport in the state.

The key to long-term success is growth.

Updated

Michelle:

I do believe she wouldn’t have been this sick if she’d been vaccinated in time. Please. No family should have to go through what we did. No parent should see their child suffer and almost die. Don’t leave it until it’s too late. Please consider the vaccine.

Michelle has acknowledged that by speaking up about her Covid-19 experience Saela may be subjected to online abuse.

She wanted to share her story. She wasn’t forced. I admire her bravery. Maybe anonymous people online will try and make her feel bad for speaking out but they should know nothing will make her feel worse than Covid did.

We’re all over this – I hate Covid. I’m done with lockdown and soon we won’t need it because enough of us will be vaccinated. We have the option to get back to some sort of normal and the vaccine will protect us and provide reassurance to our family and loved ones.

I personally have seen how Covid has affected my family from the fully vaccinated and unfortunately to the unvaccinated like Saela. I honestly believe the vaccine protected my parents and I’m so grateful they got it and that one dose that me and my husband got had helped and that says so much.

My parents should have been the most at risk because of their age but they were vaccinated so they were OK and Saela should have been the least at risk because of her age. But she wasn’t vaccinated and she almost died.

Updated

Michelle:

I thought someone was going to die and it was much easier for me to prepare for a loss than to hope. I was watching Covid rip through every member of my family and hurt them and it was so painful ... I was alone. I was helpless.

My daughter responded to treatment. Her body was fighting the virus. I would call her bedside every night and, even though she was sleeping, the nurse would put that speaker near her ear and I would talk to her. She wasn’t awake. I don’t think she heard it but I spoke to her and did a bit of a podcast, my way of connecting with her. My husband came home from hospital after three days and got the all-clear to continue recovering at home.

I got clearance from Covid and I was finally allowed to visit Saela. I was escorted to the Covid ICU. It was so daunting. I saw her just lying there. She wasn’t awake. Once the tracheotomy was done, where they took the ventilator out of her mouth and put it through her throat, they began to wake her up.

We were so happy. But she wasn’t ... She was so sad and it was a long way to go and she didn’t understand what was going on. She woke up nine days later.

Updated

Michelle:

In the next 24 to 48 hours, she was critical. It was hour by hour. Her lungs had filled with so much fluid and there was little air for her to breathe. She needed a lot of help from the ventilator and I wished that she had been vaccinated. But it was too late. She was will already in ICU.

I remember speaking to the doctor and I said, “Please. You need to save my baby”. And he said, “Michelle, I promise you we are doing everything that we can.”

He said, “At this moment, she is the sickest person in this hospital. At this movement, she is the sickest person in Eastern Health.”

Covid, without the protection of the vaccine, had done this to her. There was no other reason she was in ICU. Last week, she was in school and next week she was in a coma.

At the same time, my dad became Covid positive and I was so grateful he was fully vaccinated. My older son was becoming sicker. He was going through his relapse. He had high fevers and nausea and I was so worried about him because he was unvaccinated.

And then my husband started coughing up blood. He didn’t tell me at first. But I found out. His coughs were so powerful it left him weak. He struggled to breathe. He struggled to lift his head up and keep his eyes open. He didn’t want to go to the hospital. He was so worried about Saela. But he did.

And again I saw another ambulance take another one of my family members away to a different hospital and I was like, come on, who next?

Updated

Saela’s mother, Michelle, is speaking now at the Victorian press conference about the trauma of watching her teenage daughter ventilated and in a coma.

It’s still so sensitive when I hear her talk about it. I’m still hurting from this experience because of Covid and I’m so thankful I have my daughter standing next to me right now.

I admire her bravery and resilience and it’s sad to know there are still a lot of families out there who are affected by Covid. When I got the call from the doctor to say that Saela’s health had deteriorated so rapidly and was getting transferred to ICU and put on a ventilator I was in shock.

I thought how? Literally I just talked to her two hours ago. And we were talking about coming home in the next few days and I said to the doctor, “Please, please, let me talk to her before you do this.” And he said, “It’s best that you don’t, she is so distressed.”

And before that call ended I heard her screaming. I don’t know if it’s my imagination or a mother’s intuition but I heard her screaming.

Updated

Saela:

With each passing day, I slowly got better. I started breathing on my own and, five days later, I waved goodbye to the ventilator. My strength was coming back. I had to learn to walk again. I cried every day but I worked very hard on my recovery so I could be home for the AFL grand final, which I was. I spent nearly a month in the hospital and 15 of those days was in ICU.

I’m so thankful to the team at Box Hill hospital, they’re amazing. I’m so grateful I was gifted with life again. I was close to death. There are a lot of people my age who think they’re invincible and don’t need the vaccine. They think they are young, they don’t have just like conditions. They won’t be affected but Covid almost killed me.

I know people in their teens and 20s have not been eligible for long and its numbers are catching up and growing fast but we’re still the least vaccinated age group above the age of 17. I don’t want anyone my age to have to lie in a hospital bed and tell their family they’re sorry they did not get vaccinated in time.

I don’t know the lasting effects of Covid will have. I’m still recovering. I’m not 100%. My mind is still fragile. My bruises are fading. I’ll have this scar from the tracheotomy on my neck for the rest of my life.

At the time I was the youngest person to be on a ventilator because of Covid.

There’s still Covid in our community. There are still so many families right now being affected and it makes me so sad. I’m blessed I’m home now with my family. I just want things back to the way it was and when we have that chance, please don’t wait.

If you can get the vaccine, please consider it.

Updated

Saela has gone into details of her second week of Covid-19, when her condition worsened.

My coughing fits lasted longer and I struggled to breathe. My whole family looked at me with worry.

As I got worse, we had to call the ambulance. I knew that if I went with them, I would be alone. They took me to Box Hill hospital, a 40-minute drive away. I decided to go to the hospital as I thought it was only a check-up and I’d be home the next day. I sat alone in the ambulance and I had never been in an ambulance before. I said goodbye to my family. I was so scared and lonely.

My health progressively got worse and then one night I couldn’t stop coughing. I was struggling to breathe. The day before, they said I had pneumonia. I had no idea it was. I felt so many needles. I couldn’t catch my next breath. There was commotion around me. I didn’t know what was going on. I was so scared I was screaming and I thought I was going to die and then I felt nothing.

They had put me to sleep. They woke me up nine days later. I had no idea what had happened or how much time had passed. I wasn’t fully awake and I was hallucinating. I had a tube coming out of my neck. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t talk. I was scared to sleep again. I just stared at the ceiling and I was alone. There was so many machines around me, so many wires and needles, so much beeping and everything made me scared. I was broken. None of this was fair.

Updated

Seventeen-year-old VCE student Saela* is speaking now at the Victorian press conference, sharing her experience of being ventilated due to severe coronavirus in late August.

Last month, I nearly died from Covid-19. In late August, my family got Covid from my baby sister’s daycare. At the time I was not eligible for the vaccine and now I wish I was vaccinated before I got Covid.

My whole family was sick. Everybody was covering and suffering from aches and pains and a sore throat. We couldn’t taste or smell. My symptoms were worse with coughing fits that left me breathless.

As a family, we were more worried about my grandma as she was older. We thought she would be at risk the most. I thought I was safe, I was young and Covid usually affects older people.

*Confirming the spelling of her name now.

Updated

Victoria will begin doing pop-up vaccination “blitzes” in order to help lagging LGAs catch up with the rest of the state.

Foley:

Over the coming weeks, we will roll out a local neighbourhood pop-up vaccine program, which means Victorians will be able to get vaccinated in an increasingly vast array of places – gyms, local clubs, shopping strips, culturally safe locations in increasingly diverse and really localised range of settings.

The first neighbourhood pop-up is opening today at a coffee shop in Melbourne’s outer north, with more locations to follow, particularly in our high-risk local government areas that are the subject of our greatest attention.

These neighbourhood pop-up models are designed to support Victorians to get access to vaccines, Pfizer in particular, in the most convenient, familiar and easy to deal with locations. And equally, in culturally safe and protective locations for those Victorians who might need that further reassurance as to the need to come forward and get vaccinated.

The pop-ups will vaccinate dozens of people over two, three, four-hour periods of blitzes in those local communities.

Updated

Victoria's Mitchell shire released from lockdown from midnight

Victoria’s health minister, Martin Foley, has announced that the large local government area of Mitchell shire, just north of greater Melbourne, will be released from lockdown from midnight tonight.

As a result of the changing patterns of the Covid-19 in the Mitchell shire, the chief health officer has recommended that Mitchell shire be released from its lockdown as of midnight tonight.

The public health team are confident that that outbreak is now understood and is being well managed and that Mitchell shire will come back into alignment with the rest of regional Victoria as of midnight.

The limited reasons to leave home and the 15km travel radius will no longer apply in Mitchell shire.

Updated

WA premier Mark McGowan has labelled the state’s high court win again Cline Palmer a “monumental victory for all Western Australians”.

Updated

VIC health minster gives details of 13 Covid-19 deaths

Victoria’s health minister Martin Foley is giving the state’s Covid-19 update now after the state recorded 1,571 cases overnight and 13 deaths.

Very sadly, 13 people have lost their lives in the most recent reporting period to COVID-19.

  • These were a man in his 50s, a man in his 60s, a man in his 70s and two men in their 80s, all from the Whittlesea area.
  • A woman in her 90s from Darebin.
  • A man in his 80s from Hume.
  • A woman in her 80s from Moonee Valley.
  • A man in his 70s from Brimbank.
  • A woman in her 70s from Banule.
  • A man in his 70s from Moreland.
  • A woman in her 6 from Stonnington and a man in his 60s.

Can I take the opportunity to pass on our deepest sympathies to the families, friends and communities of those Victorians and we pay our deepest sympathies and concerns to all involved.

IPA gives Ridd appointment for 'Project for Real Science'

The high court’s decision in the Ridd case has now been published – and despite the academic losing his case, it’s not all doom and gloom for those hoping for protection of intellectual freedom in enterprise agreements.

Basically, Ridd’s case was an all-or-nothing, he had to prove that every alleged breach of JCU’s code of conduct was invalid or he would lose the case.

In the majority judgment, the justices said that the university’s enterprise agreement did guarantee that “intellectual freedom is not qualified by a requirement to afford respect and courtesy in the manner of its exercise”.

They said:

That interpretation aligns with the long‑standing core meaning of intellectual freedom. Whilst a prohibition upon disrespectful and discourteous conduct in intellectual expression might be a “convenient plan for having peace in the intellectual world”, the “price paid for this sort of intellectual pacification, is the sacrifice of the entire moral courage of the human mind”. The 2016 Censure given to Dr Ridd was, therefore, not justified.

So some of his speech was protected but he lost on other grounds including breaching the confidentiality of the disciplinary process.

JCU dismissed Ridd after he publicly questioned the scientific evidence upon which rested claims that the Great Barrier Reef was being damaged by climate change, including through publications for the Institute of Public Affairs.

The IPA has come riding to Ridd’s defence again today. Its executive director John Roskam said:

Dr Ridd’s battle for integrity in science will not end today. The IPA is pleased to announce that Dr Ridd will become a fellow of the IPA to lead a new research program at the IPA entitled the Project for Real Science.

Dr Ridd will donate his time to the IPA as fellow without salary to work to improve quality assurance in science, making documentary and educational films, and ensuring that no academic speaking out for integrity in science will endure the ordeal Peter suffered.

Updated

Here is what those ACT numbers look like on the outbreak graph:

Updated

ACT records its second-most infectious day ever, with 51 local Covid cases

The ACT has recorded 51 cases of Covid-19 in the last reporting period, its second-most infectious day ever after recording 52 cases on 1 October.

ACT Health has just released a statement:

Out of the total cases, 32 are linked to known cases or ongoing clusters with 19 of these household contacts.

13 cases were in quarantine during their whole infectious period and 22 have been assessed as presenting a risk of transmission to others.

Updated

We will be hearing from the Victorian health minister and chief health officer at 11am AEDT by the way.

It’s the same time as the NSW premier is up to chat about his new hydrogen plans, but I’ll try to bring you updates from both!

Nino Bucci will be updating us on the Victorian Ibac hearings this morning, which have just begun their third day.

Updated

Queensland clock eighth Covid-19 free day

Queensland has recorded another doughnut day, its eighth in a row!

Let’s hear a little more from the Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, while we are at it.

It’s hard to hear the exact questions but he is being asked about the ongoing Ibac hearings into branch-stacking in the Labor party, as well as how engaged he is with the inner party workings.

I’m sure I attended many different caucus meetings. As the leader of the party.

Let’s be very clear about the context in which I’m providing when asked yesterday. It’s been put to me that I’m some sort of linchpin, and I was making a point. We don’t have time to be involved in some of these matters. I’ve got some of these to do and I do them full-time and as a leader of the party, it’s not appropriate to be.

Before then I was not the leader of the party, but there is nothing inappropriate about a group of MPs sitting around and talking about things in here. If you want a brand that, fine.

As the leader of the party, I’ve not been involved in those matters.

Updated

Things are looking hopeful when it comes to Victoria potentially getting out of lockdown ahead of schedule.

Andrews says he will be able to give residents “greater clarity” by the end of the week.

Things are getting spicy on “Auspol climate change Twitter” today.

The general vibe today.

More from Queensland parliament:

Academic Peter Ridd loses high court appeal

Academic Peter Ridd has lost his high court appeal against James Cook University.

Ridd was sacked for breaches of the university’s code of conduct relating to public commentary about the Great Barrier Reef which the university said denigrated a colleague.

At first instance he was awarded $1.2m compensation by the federal circuit court for the dismissal but this was overturned by the federal court on appeal.

At issue was whether Ridd could be sacked for breaching the code of conduct despite the fact the enterprise agreement gave staff a right to “intellectual freedom”.

On Wednesday the high court unanimously dismissed the appeal.

Peter Ridd.
Peter Ridd. Photograph: Jennifer Marohasy

Updated

Clive Palmer and Mineralogy lose high court appeal

The high court has ruled against Clive Palmer and his company Mineralogy in a challenge against a Western Australian law banning him from seeking billions of dollars in compensation.

Mineralogy is in dispute with WA over the stalled Balmoral South iron ore project rejected by the then-premier Colin Barnett in 2012.

When Palmer sought arbitration of the dispute in the Queensland supreme court the WA parliament rushed through legislation to extinguish his claim, warning it could cost the state up to $30bn.

On Wednesday the high court unanimously held that the WA law is “not invalid or inoperative in its entirety”. The court ordered Palmer and Mineralogy to pay costs.

Mining magnate Clive Palmer.
Mining magnate Clive Palmer. Photograph: Albert Perez/AAP

Updated

Some extinction rebellion drama is going down at Queensland Parliament.

From the backdoors at Victorian parliament.

Albanese has been peppered with questions about the branch-stacking scandal in Victoria. Federal Labor MP Anthony Byrne admitted to engaging in branch stacking in an Ibac enquiry earlier in the week.

The federal Labor leader responded by comparing his party’s response to political scandals to the government’s.

I think the Victorian Liberal party have a lot to answer for ...

What I did within 24 hours, along with Daniel Andrews of the Channel Nine revelations on 60 Minutes, was expel Adam. We then went and intervened into the Victorian branch ... We suspended operations of the membership committee. We wrote to every member who had been signed up over many years and asked them to verify their membership, and if it didn’t stack up they were removed from the roles.

We took strong, decisive action ... compare what Labor has done with the Liberal party or with our view that we need a strong national anti-corruption commission, with Scott Morrison who continues to attack Icac because they have the former premier of New South Wales giving evidence next Monday.

I welcome inquiries, I welcome transparency. Inside our party or inside the political processes in general. The Liberal party cover-up, attacked these independent bodies, and won’t have a national anti-corruption commission. What they want is a body whereby the only thing they look at other things that are referred to them by the government itself.

Updated

Albanese is on the warpath this morning and the federal energy minister (and now industry minister) Angus Taylor is in the firing line.

Can I add something about Angus Taylor to think about?

Tritium is a company in south-east Queensland. It is producing some of the fastest electric vehicle charging stations in the world with Australian science and innovation, Australian resources, made by Australian labour on-site in Queensland.

What we have from Angus Taylor, with regard to electrical vehicle charging stations – that are fastest in the world are being exported to America and northern Europe – this government says that electric vehicles would destroy the weekend. That is the alternative here.

Are you going to believe someone who is now an industry minister and an energy minister who is a part of that scare campaign with the Morrison government during the last campaign? This man speaks about embracing technology while he trashes it, when he trashes Australian technology what he is really doing is trashing Australian jobs.

Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese.
Federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese. Photograph: Joel Carrett/AAP

Updated

Federal opposition minister Anthony Albanese is out and about this morning talking about all things jobs and the environment. (And he is wearing high-vis, so you know he is feeling particularly salt-of-the-earth today.)

Why aren’t we making batteries here? Why aren’t we making solar panels, more of them here? Why aren’t we making wind turbines here? We have every natural resource that goes into the products that will be in demand in the future, and what we have done is set back from people like [federal environment minister] Angus Taylor who has no credibility - no credibility on these issues, on energy or industry which he is now in charge.

The truth is, it will take a Labor government prepared to shape the future, prepared to take up the opportunities that are there to create jobs and to really drive Australia forward.

50 greyhounds have now been killed on NSW racetracks this year, more than the total death toll of 2020.

According to the Coalition for the Protection of Greyhounds who track dogs deaths and injuries during racing events, fatalities have increased by 39% this year, cementing NSW’s place as the deadliest state for racing greyhounds.

2,342 greyhounds have also been injured on NSW tracks in 2021.

In a press release, the coalition’s president Dennis Anderson has called on NSW racing minister Kevin Anderson to move more races from curved tracks to straight.

Greyhound racing is inherently dangerous for greyhounds. Curved racetracks are the most lethal and the most common, with only one straight track in the state.

NSW racing minister Kevin Anderson has admitted that curved tracks are dangerous, but refuses to shift more race meetings to the new straight track at Richmond...

90 percent of fatalities were dogs euthanased with broken legs. Many of these injuries would have been treatable but greyhounds are often considered disposable products. More dogs should have been treated under the Race Injury Rebate Scheme and their lives saved.

Fifty greyhounds have been killed and 2,342 injured on NSW racetracks so far this year.
Fifty greyhounds have been killed and 2,342 injured on NSW racetracks so far this year. Photograph: Nicki Kohl/AP

Updated

Here is what today’s Victorian numbers look like on the outbreak graph.

Thanks to Josh Nicholas for whipping that up:

Updated

Victoria records 1,571 Covid-19 cases and 13 deaths

Victoria has recorded its most deadly day of the outbreak so far, with 13 people infected with Covid-19 dying in the last reporting period.

The state recorded 1,571 cases, a slight jump up from yesterday.

Updated

The prominent Murdoch commentator Andrew Bolt says News Corp Australia’s major editorial campaign to speed up climate action is “rubbish” and the “global warming propaganda” provides political cover for Scott Morrison.

After the company published 16-page wraparounds in every tabloid, Bolt told his Sky News Australia audience:

Millions of Australian readers would have got a shock this morning when they picked up their Murdoch newspapers around the country. Prime minister Scott Morrison will actually be delighted because he can now have the Malcolm Turnbull-type policy that he wants – net zero emissions – and take it to the next big global warming conference in Glasgow in November, knowing that he has the backing of the Murdoch media.

On Monday Murdoch’s Australian arm launched Mission Zero, to “inform Australians about the key environmental and climate issues of our time” in support of net zero emissions by 2050.

You can read the full report below:

Updated

Melbourne’s Royal Children’s hospital is on high alert after a Covid-19 positive person visited the neonatal ward. A spokesperson for the hospital spoke about the matter this morning:

We have had another exposure in our Butterfly ward, which is our neonatal intensive care ward, and that was the result of a positive parent who came into the hospital ...

There were 29 babies in at the unit at the time, so all families of those 29 babies have been contacted and have been tested, and continue to be tested and checked. And they have been no transmissions for babies as a result of that exposure, which is great.

She also announced the start of a new outbreak prevention program, where visitors to the hospital will undergo rapid antigen Covid-19 tests:

This morning we come to you to let our community know that we are commencing with rapid antigen testing for our visitors to the hospital, especially those parents going into clinical wards.

We know that mums and dads need to see their children, and children need to see their mums and dads, especially when they are in hospital, but we need to protect everyone, given the rising numbers of Covid in the community.

Updated

The NSW press conference will be at 11am AEDT.

Updated

The NSW numbers are a slight jump up from yesterday, but nothing overly dramatic.

Here is a look at today’s cases on the outbreak graph:

Updated

NSW records 444 new local Covid-19 cases and four deaths

The NSW numbers are in and the state has recorded 444 local cases of Covid-19.

Sadly, four infected people have died.

Updated

It’s nearly 9am, which means the Victorian Ibac saga is kicking off again.

Updated

Environment minister Sussan Ley says she wants Australia to be “heading to net zero and doing it with confidence and seizing the opportunities in provides”.

Speaking to ABC Radio National Breakfast, Ley said she would leave the prime minister to make statements about government policy, but she believed there were “huge advantages” for rural and regional Australia, and opportunities for agriculture.

Asked about Bridget McKenzie’s earlier comments, which seems to emphasis the threat to regional Australia, Ley said:

I don’t see, I don’t get a sense of feeling worried or threatened around me and I feel that I know my community very well, but each community is different. Let’s not forget that. I’m a rural Liberal … we’ll all bring different perspectives, as I know the national party members will, as I know the National party leadership has made clear.

This is a good discussion to be having, because it thrashes out perspectives – every single point of view, and of course I will bring mine. And of course I want us to be heading to net zero and doing it with confidence and actually seizing the opportunities that it provides.

Asked about the growing diplomatic push to strengthen Australia’s 2030 target (which is now just a 26% to 28% cut on 2005 levels), Ley pulled out the “meeting and beating” talking point. Ley said she would leave that issue to the “very live” internal government discussions.

Updated

So there has been a bit of drama in the South Australian parliament, with a Liberal party defector somehow taking the Speaker of the House role in a late-night upset.

Dan Cregan, who left the Liberal party to sit on the crossbench last week, managed to take the job in a secret ballot.

This came after Labor and several independents teamed up to pass legislation which made it a requirement that the Speaker be independent from the two major parties.

While the upset won’t cost the Liberals the government, it’s a considerable blow as the the state election looms next March.

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The federal government is chipping in to support the push to increase Tasmanian tourism in the lead-up to Christmas.

It is offering $3m in holiday incentives, with 10,000 $300 vouchers available for residents of South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland who book a holiday in November and December.

Sightseers take in the view of Hobart from the lookout on top of Mount Wellington
Sightseers take in the view of Hobart from the lookout on top of Mount Wellington. Photograph: Genevieve Vallee/Alamy

Here is what federal tourism minister Dan Tehan had to say about it:

A recent Tourism Australia Travel Sentiment Tracker found 59 per cent of Australians want to take a holiday in the next six months.

Pent-up demand combined with this innovative voucher program represents a fantastic opportunity for Tasmanian tourism to welcome back visitors and give local businesses and the economy a much-needed boost.

Australians want to travel again so they can visit family and friends and take a holiday, in places like Tasmania. All Australians can help to make that a reality by getting vaccinated so we can reach our 80 per cent vaccination targets to trigger the resumption of travel.

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Five million doses of hydroxychloroquine imported by Clive Palmer were sent for destruction after a standoff with the commonwealth over who should take responsibility for a shipment sitting unclaimed in Melbourne airport.

Last year Palmer promised to donate 32.9m doses of the antimalarial drug to the Australian government, in the hope that it could aid the country’s Covid-19 response, if trials proved it to be an effective treatment.

The commonwealth took about 22.4m doses into its stockpile by June but its enthusiasm for the drug waned, given mounting evidence of its ineffectiveness as a Covid-19 treatment.

The government told Palmer it wouldn’t take any more donations in May, according to documents obtained by the journalist William Summers for Guardian Australia.

You can read the full report by Christopher Knaus and Michael McGowan below:

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Nicks Xenophon makes fresh tilt at federal politics

Former senator Nick Xenophon is looking to make a return to federal politics after a more than four-year absence, reports Andrew Brown from AAP.

The South Australian powerbroker plans to run as an independent for the upper house at the upcoming election.

He told ABC radio this morning:

Like Al Pacino in The Godfather, once I thought I was out, they try to drag me back in ...

I would run as an independent – it’s where my natural habitat is as a pesky independent.

His decision to throw his hat back into the ring follows a long-running legal battle with the US footwear company Dekkers over use of the term “ugg”.

The Sydney bootmaker Eddie Oygur was sued by Dekkers in 2016 for selling 13 pairs of ugg boots to US customers, after a US court found Dekkers had the sole rights to using the term “ugg”.

While the federal government has contributed $200,000 to fight the case, Xenophon said the commonwealth had fallen short of assisting Oygur as a “friend of the court”, which means there’s little chance an appeal would be heard by the US supreme court:

“The [Australian] government is being so out of touch on this. I don’t know why they won’t do what’s needed for every ugg boot maker in the country.

Xenophon resigned from politics in 2017 at the height of the dual citizenship scandal, after he announced he was unsure whether he was a dual citizen, which would have made him ineligible to run for parliament.

But the high court later found Xenophon was validly elected and able to run for office.

Xenophon said he had spoken about his potential move with Stirling Griff, who was his replacement in the Senate as part of the Nick Xenophon Team, before the party name was changed to Centre Alliance.

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The ABC is reporting that the Victorian case number will be in the 1,500s today.

We shall know for sure when the numbers are released in about an hour.

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A majority of Australians are worried about the threat posed by global heating and want serious action to address it, but Queenslanders are less concerned than people in other states, according to the latest Climate of the Nation report.

The authoritative annual survey of 2,626 voters – now in its 14th year and managed by the progressive thinktank the Australia Institute – suggests three-quarters are worried about the climate crisis, the largest proportion in its history.

As cabinet meets on Wednesday to consider a new climate roadmap the prime minister, Scott Morrison, wants to unveil before the Cop26 talks in Glasgow, the poll suggests a clear majority – 69% – want the Morrison government to put Australia on a path to net zero emissions. The same proportion wants the Coalition to do more to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

You can read the full report by Katharine Murphy and Adam Morton below:

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ABC radio host Fran Kelly is not copping Bridget McKenzie’s politicking this morning.

McKenzie:

We represent the poorest of marginalised people in the country, out of sight out of mind, outside of big business out of sight of [Greens leader] Adam Bandt.

Fran Kelly:

Big Business! Big businesses?! The mining companies are out the in regions. What are you saying?

McKenzie:

We have been out of sight out of mind of the Greens, the Labor party, big business. The National party has done our job over the last decade. And all we’re asking is that we are respected, as the second party of government.

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Federal Nationals frontbencher Bridget McKenzie is on ABC radio now, trying to convince people that the net-zero emission debate ... isn’t about climate change?

Here are the reasons she gives as to why the decades-long delay on meaningful climate change action from Australia is actually a good thing:

We’ve actually been able to avoid very bad outcomes for our country and our communities.

We don’t have a carbon tax*, the big emitters like India and China are now going to be included in that global infrastructure. And we now have a framework, where countries like Australia can put forward plans to reduce emissions that are in our national interest.

We’ve had that for quite a while in the sector, and agriculture has created jobs in the region, which is something the National party is very very keen on, and we’ve cut our emissions by 20%.

So, this actual debate isn’t about climate change, it’s about regions.

*Weird flex.

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Good morning everyone, it’s Matilda Boseley on the blog with you this morning. Get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in, because right off the bat we are talking about climate change.

Yep, today the federal cabinet will thrash out the details of a plan to achieve net zero emissions by 2050*, and potentially a more ambitious medium-term target. But first, the prime minister needs to find a way to placate the Nationals about regional jobs and power prices.

At the moment, the Coalition has a 2030 target of reducing emissions by between 26% and 28% below 2005 levels and a “preference” to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Watch this space.

Now to the states and the ever-present Covid-19 situation, where we actually have some good news.

NSW is now rapidly approaching its next vaccination milestone, 80%, just three days after the state’s 70% reopening.

75.23% of residents over 15 are fully vaccinated and 90.77% have had at least one dose. That means NSW could reach the 80% fully vaccinated milestone by Sunday, and potentially start the next phase of reopening next week.

Victoria is also slightly ahead of schedule, with the state expected to reach 70% in the next week or so and the ACT could well achieve almost complete vaccination coverage, upwards of 99% of the eligible population, by the end of November.

The territory is also set to relax its lockdown at the stroke of midnight Friday, with 98.2% of over-12s in the ACT having received a first dose (72% are double dosed).

OK, with all of that going on, let’s not delay any further and jump right into the day!

*Known in environmental circles as “the bare minimum”.

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