Berejiklian issues warning to unvaccinated – as it happened
What happened Monday 13 September 2021
With that, I’ll bid you adieu for this evening.
Here were the top headlines today:
- The Morrison government has released a plan for vaccine passports, with a digital passenger declaration to replace the physical incoming passenger card and the Covid-19 Australian travel declaration web form when the international border reopens.
- The NSW Yass local government area will enter two weeks of lockdown after recording a positive Covid-19 case.
- NSW recorded 1,257 new local cases overnight, with unvaccinated people to be potentially denied freedoms at the 80% vaccination target.
- Victoria recorded 473 cases overnight, with 202 so far linked to current outbreaks. It is the most infectious day of the outbreak this year. A “building site blitz” has been announced to prioritise vaccines in the construction sector, with ongoing concerns over the level of transmission in workplace tea-rooms.
- Queensland has recorded two new local cases and two new cases in hotel quarantine, but both local cases were close contacts in home quarantine.
- The ACT has reported 13 new local cases, with just two in isolation for their infectious period.
- SA and WA recorded no new local Covid cases, however the SA Pfizer program has expanded to include over-60s and year 11s and 12s will be able to walk in to select state-run hubs to receive the jab.
- There were 33 new local Covid cases in Auckland, bringing active cases in New Zealand to 582.
- Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon will quit politics after the next election, taking a parting swipe at “idealist” progressives for keeping Labor in opposition for all but six of the past 25 years.
- And by mid-October, there will be enough vaccines for every eligible person in Australia to be vaccinated, Lt Gen John Frewen said this morning.
Former Labor party politician Craig Emerson is speaking on ABC’s The Drum about the prospect of vaccine passports.
He says the idea of expecting businesses to enforce rules is “unreasonable”:
There’s a sense in what the authorities are saying to people which is, ‘you better get vaccinated, because you will not have some freedoms if you’re unvaccinated’. Whether that turns out to be the case is another question. But I don’t have a problem with raising that prospect.
Just over in the UK, there’ve been vaccine passports not to go overseas but to go to pubs and clubs and so on. And then they’ve said, ‘actually, we’ve had a rethink about that’. In terms of civil liberties and even expecting pubs, clubs and coffee shops to enforce these laws is pretty unreasonable. And I actually have a feeling that that’s what’s going to happen.
Interestingly, here in the ACT, Andrew Barr is not from the libertarian right – he’s from the left. He’s actually raised this question as to whether we should deny basic civil liberties to people who, for their own reasons, have decided not to get vaccinated. So I think there’s this debate’s ongoing, but as long as people feel they have a strong incentive to get vaccinated, might miss out on some liberties, I’m OK on that.
No new cases in WA
There are just three active cases across the state.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese has released a statement on the recent 70 year anniversary of the Anzus treaty, centring climate as key to the US-Australian alliance and a priority for national security.
He says the relationship is entering a “new phase” in the face of changing geopolitical conditions.
A further manifestation of how our alliance relationship needs to keep evolving is climate change. We know the risk climate bears on our security. We have vividly seen its impact on ADF operations already, whether responding to the 2019-20 bushfire crisis or disaster assistance missions such as Operation Fiji Assist. We also know it will have major impacts in our region, destroying hard-won development gains and increasing fragility.
Australia’s action on climate change will shape whether our interests prosper in partnership with our neighbours and our US ally. On coming to office, I will make comprehensive US-Australia cooperation on climate change a hallmark of our alliance.
Some (potentially) good news for Victorians as the vaccination rate increases.
As of September 12, 66.2% of Victorians had received a first dose, and 40.8% had received a second dose.
Plan for vaccine passports revealed
A Digital Passenger Declaration (DPD) will replace the physical incoming passenger card and the Covid-19 Australian Travel Declaration web form when the international border reopens.
The Morrison government last week flagged the release of a vaccine passport system to reopen international travel, which would free up overseas travel and allow students and citizens to return in greater numbers.
Accenture has been appointed to run the new digital platform, which will capture essential information including passengers’ vaccination status up to 72 hours before boarding. Passengers coming into Australia will be able to complete the DPD on their phone or computer.
Minister for home affairs Karen Andrews says the DPD will have digitally-verified Covid-19 vaccination details:
This will help us to welcome home increasing numbers of Australians, and welcome the tourists, travellers, international students, skilled workers, and overseas friends and family we’ve all been missing during the pandemic.
Following the rollout of the DPD at major Australian airports later in the year, the technology will be assessed to deliver upgrades to other government services including visas, import permits, ID cards, licenses and registrations.
The DPD will be able to collect, verify and share Australian government approved travel, health and vaccine status information of international travellers with state and territory health authorities.
At the same time, epidemiologist Tony Blakely has told the ABC the average daily increase of Covid cases in Victoria is higher than at the same time during the NSW outbreak.
There is growing concern over transmission at construction sites and workplace tearooms.
New South Wales may have hit, or be soon to hit, its peak of Covid cases since the Delta outbreak began.
We’ve been following the trend of vaccination rates by suburb in NSW on our interactive map.
Australia’s long-term future in dealing with Covid will include a balance of vaccinations, effective treatments and ongoing infection control measures, a panel convened by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) has argued.
The panel, consisting of laureate professor Peter Doherty, University of NSW head of biosecurity Raina MacIntyre, Ceda CEO Melinda Cilento and GSK Australia managing director Christi Kelsey focused on Australia’s post-pandemic future.
Doherty said treatments for Covid were set to play an important role alongside vaccines to keep hospital rates low:
It is up to us, as many as possible, to get vaccinated. But we would also positively benefit from more treatments that we could use at diagnosis stage. That may prove enormously important and save many lives over the next few months. Once the Delta variant is established as it has been in New South Wales and Victoria we [are] not going to get rid of it. We need to get used to this idea.
We need more than just vaccines in this interim period. We need to use masks, social distancing and every little measure we can to help reduce contact between people. But we also need to think about clean and safe indoor air. We don’t accept dirty water out of a tap but we accept dirty air all the time. Whether it’s bushfire smoke or viruses, we need to pay a lot more attention to safe indoor air.
We are trying to get confirmation on this from the Victorian government, but there have been some significant “adjustments” to the vaccination rates of First Nations people in the state.
First doses were at 47,954 last week, and have since reduced to 21,559, while second doses have shifted from 30,951 to 12,209.
More on that Yass case.
NSW Health has confirmed the Yass Valley will return to stay-at-home orders from 12.01am Tuesday, September 14.
The new restrictions will be in place for two weeks.
It comes after a Covid case was confirmed in the area following a recent positive sewage detection. Contact tracing is underway.
Following updated health advice from the chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant about the growing risk to the community, stay-at-home orders will apply to all people who live in the Yass Valley Council area or have been there on or after Thursday 9 September.
Everyone in these areas must stay at home unless it is for an essential reason, including:
- Shopping for food or essential goods and services
- Medical care of compassion
- An outdoor gathering of up to five people for recreation as long as you are fully vaccinated or under 16
- Work, or tertiary education, where you cannot work or study from home
- To attend a wedding or a funeral
Face masks must be worn outside of the home.
Yass Valley to go back into lockdown after positive Covid case
Yass had only been out of lockdown for two days.
Bill Shorten says he doesn’t like a Hunger Games approach to vaccinations, but is concerned the clinically vulnerable are disproportionately unvaccinated despite being listed as a priority group.
Scott Morrison says all eligible Australians will be offered a vaccine by the end of next month. How confident are you that that target will be reached?
Oh, listen, this bloke’s made more promises than I’ve had hot dinners about the vaccination rollout.
My concern now is that they’re saying that 80% of people should be vaccinated, and that’s good and I understand the logic of that, but I’m concerned that the people who are clinically vulnerable, that’s people with disabilities, for example, that are people in very low socioeconomic backgrounds, you know, poor people, are not disproportionately under-vaccinated.
I think the government needs to do a blitz to reach out to people to get vaccinated. There’s a lot of people with disabilities who are not mobile, who can’t get out and about and not getting their fair share of vaccinations and Mr Morrison needs to pull up his socks quick smart because these people don’t deserve to be left behind.
I don’t necessarily like a Hunger Games approach. I’m not going to tell you that a 12-year-old is more or less important than a person with multiple sclerosis. But the government should be thinking about people who are vulnerable. Not everyone has got a set of parents who will drive them to the vaccination hub. I think that the government needs to release data on an almost daily basis, start with the categorisation of people on the NDIS, not just the 27,000 who live in group homes, but the other hundreds of thousands of peopleThese people are invisible according to the government, as far as I’m concerned. I think there should be outreach, I think they should blitz it, I think they need to reach out to people and go to their homes.
Should there be quotas for that kind of diversity? I know the Labor party has embraced the gender quota, but do you think that might be a good idea?
Well, I haven’t heard that raised before. But I can point to my own experience when I was leader of the Labor party. I thought that Labor didn’t have enough First Nations people as our parliamentary representatives.
I remember giving a speech at the beginning of 2016 just saying what we need to do is make sure we just don’t make laws about First Nations people, but First Nations politicians get to make laws on behalf of all Australians. When I was able to convince Pat Dodson, that’s the election we got Linda Burney and Malarndirri McCarthy.
I think we’ll have this issue move along too and the progress in my experience, the process of social change progress, is a series of movements and bumps and collisions and sometimes it moves quickly, and other sometimes it can be like a glacier. So sometimes it takes longer than you like.
Labor’s Bill Shorten is on the ABC with Patricia Karvelas, being questioned on the decision to parachute Kristina Keneally into the safe seat of Fowler.
At the end of the day Kristina Keneally will make a significant contribution as the member for Fowler. It is really hard to get into parliament. Always has been. Labor’s the party, I think, to encourage women, to encourage people of diverse backgrounds. I think the other candidate, she’s the 30-year-old lawyer, active in the community, the Vietnamese-Australian community. I don’t think this the last we’ve heard of her.
Selections were never easy. There were two talented women vying for the number one spot in the Senate in New South Wales.
Kristina tried her hand in running in the House of Representatives. There were two good candidates running in the pre-selection of Fowler ... Tu Le is 30. Your life doesn’t end at 30 if you won’t win a pre-selection and I think she represents the sort of candidate in the future that we need to support and I’m sure we’ll hear more of her.
South Australia has published today’s Covid wrap.
There has been one new case detected in hotel quarantine, bringing active cases to 11.
Melbourne principal at centre of outbreak admits he's 'done the wrong thing'
The school principal at the centre of a Covid outbreak in Melbourne is speaking live on ABC 774 with Raf Epstein.
More than 30 positive Covid cases have been linked to the inner-north school.
Fitzroy Community School principal Tim Berryman says he has “done the wrong thing” but had to “follow his conscience” and hasn’t made up his own rules:
The health department rang me up and said ... you’re not allowed to let everybody come, that’s breaking the rules and I said: ‘I know, share some evidence with me on children and Covid and I’ll retract that email’. They said ‘we don’t have access to any evidence’ and I said ‘do you want me to share some’?
Positive case at CSL's Broadmeadows manufacturing facility
Biotech company and vaccine manufacturer CSL has released a statement confirming a positive Covid case was detected at its Broadmeadows facility last week.
It says there has been no interruption to manufacturing:
All employees and contractors who were present at the same time as the confirmed case have been tracked and traced, and close contacts isolated. We are pleased that there have been no further positive cases identified. A deep clean was undertaken at the facility and it continues to operate as usual with no interruption to the production of CSL’s lifesaving therapies and vaccines, including production of AstraZeneca vaccine at our Parkville site.
An Olympic shooter and former coal miner has emerged as a leading candidate to replace retiring Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon in his NSW seat.
Daniel Repacholi, who represented Australia at his fifth Games in Tokyo, is being touted as the potential pre-selection pick for Hunter at the next federal election.
Mr Fitzgibbon on Monday announced he would quit politics after a quarter of a century in parliament.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese told Sky News Repacholi was in the Cessnock hall of fame and was employed in mining:
He certainly would be very strong candidate. He’s one of the candidates that will be given due consideration, but I’m very confident we will have a strong candidate to replace Joel in Hunter.
Albanese said he and Fitzgibbon had “more beers than ... differences” and remained close mates after division in policy in recent years.
Labor currently holds Hunter with a 3% margin.
Low-income migrant families will be plunged into poverty and migrant women will be more vulnerable to controlling and violent relationships if permanent residents are barred from accessing family and carer payments, Luke Henriques Gomes reports.
Henriques-Gomes has been following a Senate inquiry today that has been hearing from multicultural groups, migration and welfare organisations.
Under proposed government changes, permanent migrants would need to serve a four-year waiting period for all income support payments, which is expected to save the budget $671m:
Fitzgibbon joins criticism of Keneally parachute into safe seat
Outspoken Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon has weighed in on the party’s decision to parachute Kristina Keneally into a safe lower-seat house, AAP’s Matt Coughlan reports.
The NSW senator and former premier has been anointed as Labor’s candidate for Fowler in Sydney’s south-west at the next federal election.
That is despite retiring MP Chris Hayes backing local lawyer Tu Le, who has Vietnamese heritage, over the northern beaches based senator Keneally.
Fitzgibbon, who has announced he will retire at the next election, has joined criticism of the move.
I always prefer the selection of local community candidates but you can understand why the party is seeking to retain someone like Kristina Keneally. It is a shame that she couldn’t be deployed to a marginal government held seat which we need to win government, but these are not matters for me.
Over the weekend, Labor MP Anne Aly savaged the decision as a huge failure for Labor on diversity and inclusion:
Keneally, who is Labor’s deputy leader in the upper house, had faced an uncertain future.
Fellow right faction member Deborah O’Neill received strong support to take top spot on Labor’s NSW Senate ticket at the next election.
With the left’s Jenny McAllister taking second position, Keneally would probably have been relegated to the hard-to-win third spot.
Australia’s first dedicated Covid vaccination bus has hit the road.
Aptly named ‘Jabba the Bus’, 188 vaccines have been administered on its first week on the job, touring regional Victoria’s Goulburn Valley.
With no new cases in Greater Shepparton overnight, there are just 42 active cases left linked to the outbreak.
Adrian Horton has a wrap of this year’s much anticipated MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs).
Notable winners were boundary pushing TikTok star Lil Nas X, teen star Olivia Rodrigo and former teen star Justin Bieber.
The Northern Territory Labor party has declared victory in the Daly byelection, AAP’s Aaron Bunch reports.
It is the first time the government has won a seat off the opposition in a byelection.
First time candidate Dheran Young is set to snatch the seat from the Country Liberal party, who look destined to lose out for the first time since 2012.
Voters in remote Aboriginal communities came out in their droves on Saturday to support the 31-year-old, but attendance in rural areas south of Darwin was down.
As of 10am, Young had had received 55.9% of the vote, with about 200 postal votes outstanding.
That puts him 402 votes ahead of the CLP’s Kris Civitarese, who polled 1,503 two candidate preferred ballots.
The byelection was triggered in August when the CLP’s Ian Sloan announced he was quitting politics due to health issues.
And now for some marine news.
A ‘megapod’ of about 150 humpback whales has been filmed feeding off the New South Wales coast near Bermagui.
Sapphire Coastal Adventures and David Rogers have the footage:
Thirty-three new Covid cases in New Zealand
All of today’s new cases are in Auckland, bringing active community cases to 582.
National Tertiary Education Union spokesperson Alison Barnes is up on the ABC talking about ongoing job losses in the tertiary education sector.
New research released today by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work has found 40,000 jobs – one in five – were lost in the past 12 months, and women have been disproportionately affected.
The job loss has been quite catastrophic across tertiary education particularly in our public universities....Initially, casual staff, people employed casually in the sector, lost jobs in the first wave and then we saw those job losses moving into our professional and administrative services and also our traditional teaching and research academics.
Essentially, the problem of these job losses is that they are eroding universities and their core function, the capacity to deliver high quality teaching and deliver research which will help us deal with problems created by, for example, Covid-19. Unfortunately, this crisis will continue for much longer than it takes to get 70 or 80% of the population vaccinated.
SA expands access to Pfizer vaccine
Good news coming out of South Australia.
From today, the Pfizer vaccine is now available for anyone aged over 60.
Bookings can be made online via the SA Health website, with more appointments to become available when vaccine access expands.
Year 11 and 12 students will be able to walk in to get the Pfizer vaccine at certain state-run clinics during September, in a push to get students vaxxed come exam time.
Sixty-three per cent of prisoners have received at least one vaccine:
There have been calls for greater transparency on vaccine rates in correctional facilities since an outbreak at the privately run Parklea jail in NSW was sparked last month.
In Victoria, the prison system recorded its first Covid case in more than a year today.
Nationally, 67.4% of people over 16 have had at least one dose and 42.3% have been fully vaccinated as of 12 September.
We’ve got some more information on the Victorian building site blitz from Callum Godde, AAP.
The compliance blitz has been launched across Victoria’s construction industry, with the government putting the sector on notice it could lose its authorised worker status during Covid-19 lockdowns.
The four-week enforcement blitz was announced earlier today by treasurer Tim Pallas:
Construction remains one of the few industries that are still operating. We’re seeing increasing case numbers coming out of that industry linked to this workforce.
What’s become clear to us is that the construction industry remains a major source of transmission.
We’ll do everything we can to ensure the construction industry can continue in a Covid-safe way. But the entire industry – employers, unions – are on notice. We’ve had significant transmission on building sites and we simply cannot afford not to act if that continues to grow.
Of particular concern to Victorian authorities is the geographic spread of construction linked cases, with the average construction worker living five times further away from the original outbreak site than outbreaks in sites like retail and hospitality.
The treasurer added the industry’s young and mobile workforce often visited multiple sites a week, making it a high-risk environment for transmission.
Four major Victorian vaccination centres will allow construction workers to get a jab without a booking from Monday until 26 September.
A further 20,000 further priority Pfizer appointments will also be made available to construction workers at all state-run hubs, except for drive-through sites.
A summary of today's numbers
The string of press conferences have come to an end. Here’s what we’ve learned this morning:
- Victoria has recorded 473 cases overnight, with 202 so far linked to current outbreaks. It is the most infectious day this year.
- Queensland has recorded two new local cases and two new cases in hotel quarantine, but both local cases were close contacts in home quarantine.
- NSW has recorded 1,257 new local cases and seven more deaths, as premier Gladys Berejiklian makes a surprise return to the press conference.
- The ACT has reported 13 new local cases, with just two in isolation for their infectious period.
- And by mid-October, there will be enough vaccines for every eligible person in Australia to be vaccinated, Lt Gen John Frewen has said this morning.
While we wait for an update from South Australia, due at 1.00pm AEST, Paul Daley has weighed in on “Picnic Day” in NSW.
But what if a picnic isn’t your cup of tea?
Good afternoon everyone, and a big thank you to Matilda Boseley for expertly handling the string of press conferences. I’ll be with you for the rest of the afternoon, so let’s dive in.
With that, I shall leave all you lovely people for the day. But never fear the fantastic Caitlin Cassidy is here to be your news tour guide for the rest of the day.
See you all tomorrow morning!
The ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, has warned businesses in Canberra that if poor compliance with public health orders persists, businesses could find themselves subject to temporary closure. Barr said breaches mainly relate to mask-wearing, but refused to single out particular industries.
Barr refused to be drawn on the content of Tuesday’s announcement about whether further easing of restrictions will be possible, but noted that today’s figure of only two of 13 new cases isolated for their entire infectious period may have an impact.
Barr was asked about choice of vaccine for older Australians – an issue that is heating up given there will soon be enough mRNA vaccines for everyone by mid-October. Barr replied that older Australians should be taking AstraZeneca, and the ACT has achieved vaccination rates of 95% or more in those age groups so there can’t be many people holding out for Pfizer. He pointed to the fact many teenagers and young adults who can only take mRNA vaccines are yet to be vaccinated.
Asked about the prime minister Scott Morrison continuing to come and go from Canberra despite living in Sydney, Barr replied:
I don’t make the prime minister’s travel decisions – I don’t set his diary. He needs to undertake some activities in Canberra, that’s very clear. Others have suggested there is a government funded and very nice place to live in Canberra – that’s the Lodge.
But really, it’s a matter for the PM to explain to the community his movements. Some people are very frustrated, others won’t care. It doesn’t absorb a lot of my time. I’m not his keeper.
SA nurses facing unprecedented levels of burnout and fatigue
About 70% per of South Australian nurses are working unpaid overtime, including double shifts, and more than 50% plan to leave the industry within five years, a new survey has revealed, reports Tim Dornin from AAP.
The survey of 3,000 workers over a six-week period in May and June came as the state’s health system was under increasing pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic prompting unprecedented levels of fatigue and burnout, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation said.
The union said it was particularly ominous that 56% of nurses intended to leave at a time when public health was already dangerously understaffed, under-resourced and struggling to cope with demand.
SA branch chief executive Elizabeth Dabars said:
We are facing a generational loss of younger nurses and midwives because of the pressure placed on them by the system to work in such demanding and fatiguing environments...
We have grave concerns for workforce capacity in the future which is intrinsically linked to burnout and fatigue.
Dabars said Health Workforce Australia in 2014 projected a national shortfall of about 85,000 nurses and midwives by 2025 and 123,000 nurses and midwives by 2030 yet there was no active work being done to build the future workforce.
Much of the fatigue being experienced now has arisen from shortages in the workforce, not due to Covid alone but through health system managers and governments being asleep at the wheel...
Less than half of graduates from our universities are able to enter into graduate programs within the public health system, meaning that we run the risk of losing them to interstate or overseas employment.
We have clear shortages in areas such as mental health, critical care, emergency nursing, peri-operative care and midwifery.
The chronic issue of fatigue and burnout amongst nurses and midwives has never been in such urgent need of redress as it is right now.
The survey results have been sent to SA Health and the leaders of state’s local health networks which run the major public hospitals.
Canberra has recorded 13 new coronavirus cases as ACT chief minister Andrew Barr warns businesses continuing to flout restrictions face closure reports, Georgie Moore, from AAP.
Of today’s cases, seven were linked with at least 10 in the community for some of the time while infectious.
Barr said eight out of 10 businesses visited by police on Sunday were not complying with public health directions.
This is a problem. We are now moving beyond warning...
Repeat offenders will have to be closed.
It comes as he prepares to unveil on Tuesday the timeline and steps to ease restrictions.
The ACT’s twice extended lockdown is scheduled to run until midnight on Friday.
Some additional freedoms have already been granted, including small outdoor gatherings.
Barr has consistently sought to temper community expectations, saying the steps out of lockdown will be gradual and cautious.
There are nine people in hospital with the virus, with three in intensive care including one requiring ventilation.
Speaking of Victorian vaccinations, it was announced yesterday that the state would receive a surge of Pfizer and Moderna doses.
(Possibly to make up for the extras that it turns out had been delivered through the NSW GP networks.)
Weimar says Victorian health authorities do not yet know how the outbreak at the Fitzroy school started, but there are currently 189 close contacts among students and staff.
Weimar says there is a positive case in the state’s prison system.
No, we understand there is a staff member who is a positive case at the Melbourne Remand Centre, obviously we do our usual protocols of testing extensively across the staff cohort and where necessary to people who are residing there but at this point in time we have no evidence of any onward transmission...
A significant amount of work as you know over the last number of months now to ensure the vaccination of prisoners and also staff working in a prison sector. I don’t have the numbers in my head but we have a very widely advanced vaccination program, happy to brief that in coming days.
Weimar is now breaking down some of the state’s most concerning clusters and outbreaks, including one that shut down Victoria’s regional train line on Sunday, after hundreds of staff were forced into quarantine.
The Fitzroy Community School, there are now 31 positive cases associated with the school, 189 primary close contacts and we will of course be continuing to support the school community to test and isolate over the days ahead...
We have one further case at V/Line which takes us to five positive stuff cases in total with V/Line, the latest case acquired the infection, we believe, in their tearoom. A lot of work happening over the last two or three days with V/Line as we were to identify which of their drivers and staff are associated as Tier 1 exposures and which ones are Tier 2....
We have one positive case at a Ballarat residential disability site. This is somebody who resides in metro Melbourne but works at the Ballarat facility. They were infectious on 9 and 10 September, when they worked an overnight shift. There are 10 primary close contacts but I’m pleased to confirm that of the four residents there, all have been vaccinated and we will obviously hope to get the test results over the course of today.
Finally, at the Ascot Vale public housing site, we have no new cases today. Six cases in total across four different households, a number of those have moved into alternative accommodation.
While there were six cases in region Victoria today, but no new exposure sites.
Testing commander Jeroen Weimar is up now, giving the breakdown of the state’s 473 cases.
We have 157 Victorian currently in hospital with Covid, 38 of those are in intensive care, 26 of those are on a ventilator and of course we send our very best wishes to everyone recovering from Covid in our state at this point in time.
Like recent days and in fact the last two weeks, 91% of the last 24 hours’ cases are in the northern and western suburbs.
We have 338 cases in a northern suburbs, in key suburbs such as Craigieburn, Roxburgh Park, Meadow Heights, Broadmeadows and Glenroy.
In our western suburbs, we have 97 cases in suburbs such as Truganina, Altona North and Tarneit.
And in our south-eastern suburbs, we have 23 cases in Casey, Cardinia, Dandenong Berwick, and Clayton.
And there are nine cases in suburbs including Doncaster East and Ferntree Gully.
Of the six cases in regional areas, three are from Mildura and all primary close contacts of the existing case we discussed a few days ago and three are in Geelong, again, all known contacts of two existing cases, again...no new exposure sites to report on which is encouraging.
More from the Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas:
We have heard from the industry itself who have told us they want more enforcement. And they want us to address those that aren’t doing the right thing.
So I do want to acknowledge industry associations and unions, major industry players, who have made the point they have themselves a zero tolerance for non-compliance with the requirements and importantly, we need to see that replicated in every industry player.
Everybody who constitutes the population of this industry needs to take these obligations seriously.
So we also recognise that the government has a part to play as well. And that’s what our priority access and the blitz are all about.
Victoria’s treasurer Tim Pallas has announced two new initiatives to try and get the state’s construction industry up and running at full capacity as soon as possible.
And it consists of both the carrot and the stick:
The nature of this workforce means that we have to go above and beyond the requirements for normal Covid compliance. So this is not about special provisions and exceptions for the construction industry. It’s about recognising that they have an obligation to go that little bit further given the opportunities that they have as permitted workers to continue to apply their trade...
That’s why today we’re announcing two new initiatives – a priority vaccination access for construction workers and an enforcement blitz.
So to support the construction industry, we’ll release 20,000 priority Pfizer appointments over the next week and unlimited access to AstraZeneca to all construction workers...
We’ll be stepping up compliance and making sure that the industry in all its different manifestations recognises their obligations with regard to the chief health officer’s orders...
We’ll have something like 50 teams out and about each and every day making sure that construction sites are doing the right thing and by themselves, by their employer, by their families and by their communities.
Over to Victoria, where the state recorded its most infectious day this year, with 473 local Covid-19 cases.
Health minister Martin Foley says there continues to be a large number of cases in the state’s younger population:
In regards to our active cases, we have some 529 of the active cases under the age of 9 years old. We have dealt with the teenagers. We have people in their 20s, some 840. And people in their 30s, some 627.
However, vaccination rates are still chugging along well:
We processed 49,037 Covid-19 tests yesterday and we delivered some 30,032 vaccines through the state-run clinics, the highest number we have delivered in our state-run clinics on a Sunday.
We’re now sitting at 66.9% of people over the age of 16 in Victoria who have had their first dose of vaccine and that is fantastic. And we have just passed 41% being fully vaccinated.
We have some 62,500 doses to go to reach our 1m target for the current five-week period, and at this rate, I’m confident that we’ll achieve that.
ACT records 13 local Covid-19 cases
The Australia Capital Territory recorded 13 local Covid-19 cases today.
Unfortunately only 2 out of the 13 were in isolation for their entire infectious period.
That’s about it for the NSW press conference, over to Victoria and the ACT.
Are you saying it wasn’t until the 26th, just hours before you called the city-wide [lockdown] that they advised you that they failed to control that outbreak? Is that information...?
No, as I said, we have the – and I can’t say this more proudly – criticise governments but our public health officials are the best in the land and the fact that we managed to keep the virus as suppressed as we did especially around the 200 case mark.
I look back now and think we did remarkably well suppress the virus with a largely unvaccinated population. I’m hopeful the higher vaccination rates will start kicking in.
Reporters are still pressing the premier on this point, but media advisers are calling out “last question” in the background. Very gripping stuff, although she is still talking around the question.
The West Hoxton party occurred on the 19th. Health knew about it on the 21st, they thought they found everyone. On the 24th, they realised there were people that they didn’t know were there, who had been in the community for five days. On the 25th, the next day, you lock down the eastern suburbs, not West Hoxton and wasn’t until the 26th you locked down the whole state. Why did you wait between the 24th and the 26th to lock down?
Look, these are decisions we took based on the health advice. Again, there’ll be people that said we went too hard and too soon. Others will say, you know, not hard enough. I mean, there are lots and lots of people who will have an opinion on this.
But what is the most important advice that I received, the government receives, is from the public health team. And we knew early on, obviously, when the health raised the issues with us how the Delta variant was difficult and I know with confidence and perhaps it’s a sign of immodesty because I will defend our contact tracers and public health team to the nth degree because I believe we have the best public health officials in the nation and I don’t say that lightly, and I also saw how they reacted and responded to the other strains we had, and in fairness to them and to everybody involved, Delta is a game changer.
And I don’t know anywhere in the world, please point to me anywhere in the world where countries haven’t struggled with it. The only difference for us is we had a largely unvaccinated population when Delta hit and that’s why our public health measures have had to be so harsh.
How long after health became aware of the West Hoxton party being something they could not control being a super spreader event was the lockdown? What was that time frame West Hoxton setting off alarms and the lockdown?
What does that mean, quite immediate.
We react to the health advice as soon as we receive it.
I could have waited an extra hour or extra day but I chose to come back on the same day and hold another press conference because as soon as we got upstairs, Dr Chant provided us with additional advice and we reacted within hours.
And, look, I’m sure that people will have lots to say about how this pandemic is managed and I’ll leave it to the commentators.
The premier is now being asked about this report from the ABC that shows that the New South Wales government waited two days to lock down all of Sydney after the health department learnt that they had failed to contain the spread from super-spreader event, the West Hoxton party.
But the premier doesn’t really answer.
Why did you wait two days? And when did you first receive advice, verbal or otherwise, that western Sydney and south-west Sydney should go into lockdown?
I think I have answered that question many times before as has Dr Chant. I think you’ll recall that day when we held two press conferences. It was within hours of getting advice...
It was within hours of getting the advice and I want to make that very clear, but as we also knew early on is that Delta is extremely different to anything ever experienced.
And I know a lot was said about when we locked down, was it too hard or too slow or too fast. But all of our major decisions have been based directly on the health advice in a shorter time frame as possible with a sense of urgency and immediacy...
I would never have assumed someone in my position would have to make the decisions we have had to make on behalf of the people of the state. They haven’t been easy decisions and we’d make sure we don’t impose burdens more than we have to on our citizens but if it’s to save thousands and thousands of lives, we have had to make those difficult decisions and, again, I think people will judge us around Christmas time when they look back to see how things have transpired – the thousands of lives we saved and what freedoms we’ll experience then and the rate at which we have worked hard to support the federal government’s vaccination program. The way New South Wales has stepped up.
OK, I mentioned earlier that the paramedic union was raising the alarm about the NSW health system, which they say is feeling the strain of the outbreak. The premier has just been asked about this.
Premier, the ambulance service said they’re getting ready to call up firefighters who have basic first aid training in case the system is overwhelmed when those hospitalisations peak. The HSU said that’s not useful, they’re rather for states to look at other states to ask if they can send over paramedics similar to what we do during bushfires. Is that a conversation you had with other state premiers? And is borders the barrier to that happening?
Obviously, as we have said, we anticipate that October is likely to be the time when the hospital system comes under the most pressure. When you have the cumulation of cases and as people develop serious illness in the second week of their illness is when we’ll see the rates of intensive care, in particular, go up...
So our decisions around ambulance, as commissioner Morgan was here the other day who heads up the New South Wales Ambulance Service, the paramedics, our emergency service workers, our hospital system is one network dealing with the pandemic and all of our plans, which were explained in some detail a few weeks ago, were informed by the specialists.
So I appreciate people might have a lot of input and a lot of views, I understand that the clinicians consulted during the course of putting the plan together, they have been working on it since about March last year, March 2020, so that plan has been informed by specialists, by people in emergency care and by epidemiologists around those practises have obviously already started to take place.
McAnulty says the possibility of declaring several inner city LGA with growing case numbers an “area of concern” and thus lock them down harder is “on the cards”.
These areas include Camperdown, Waterloo, Glebe and Redfern.
We have a continuous process everyday looking at the number of cases across the state including in areas of concern, but LGAs regardless of whether they’re in the area of concern or not, and we look at case numbers, but also the other factors that might influence whether or not additional measures are useful. So we’ll continue to do that. We’ll continue to do that, but over the weekend we have seen this increase in cases.
Are they close to being locked down?
We’ll assess that as we do everyday and we look at a range of factors. So, that’s always on the cards, but we need to make sure we’re making the right decisions at the right time.
Questions have now turned to the stress NSW’s contact tracing system is under with the colossal number of daily cases the state is recording.
Question about the contact tracers here in Sydney. Insiders are telling us unless there’s a case in prison or a hospital or an aged care home, they’re simply just not investigating at all because they’re simply overwhelmed is that correct?
NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty:
So the number of cases has escalated, we have rehoned how we do our risk assessments and how we follow up cases and contacts.
So as we alluded to some many days ago, we are focusing with experience we had over the last 18 months, we have been able to identify those places that are higher risk for Covid transmission and those that are less risk of Covid transmission.
So we have taken the deliberate decision to prioritise locations such as workplaces, high-risk settings such as prisons, aged care facilities, hospitals, where we know that there is an increased risk of transmission or places where we have identified transmission.
In addition, in regional areas we maintained where there are a few cases we continue to follow up even lower risk areas just because we want to make sure there’s not a transmission at all in those areas.
We do take a deliberate decision, we reassess on a regular basis.
Berejiklian says it’s too soon to lift the extra restrictions placed on the 12 western Sydney LGAs of concern.
So it’s a number of factors which health would give us advice on and what comes in and out of local government areas of concern and believe me, I would love to be in a position where we could proactively announce areas that are no longer areas of concern and the glimmers of hope are there.
There is some stabilisation in key local government areas which have had the highest number of cases. We suspect and hope, fingers crossed, it’s because the vaccine rate is starting to kick in, but we can’t tell you.
It’s too early. We need to at least get to the end of this week before we can make any of those conclusions.
Premier, just on the government requirement to be vaccinated, John Barilaro said that the requirement to be vaccinated to go to the pub won’t be permanent. Is that right?
Look, we have not yet put out our plans for 80%. We’re still formalising them. We have not received health input, we have not yet determined those plans.
Obviously, the national plan is a guide to what can happen at 80% double dose and that is always our guide as well but we want to be clear that there’ll always be things and not just because of government decision, but it might be - government might say it’s up to business to decide whether or not they accept unvaccinated patrons or government might decide what freedoms can exist for people, but we have not come to those conclusions yet.
The premier says there may not be a timeline on how long restrictions for unvaccinated people will be in place, as she expects private businesses to maintain their own policies well into the future.
In terms of the timeline for when the unvaccinated will get those same levels of freedom, would it be six months, 12 months after we reach 80%?
It might not even be a decision for government. As I said, private businesses, private organisations, may make the decision that they don’t want to welcome unvaccinated people and we’re seeing in places across Europe and North America where private businesses, private entities, are taking matters into their own hand. That’s their prerogative.
People who want not only the safety of their staff and the safety of their patrons, but also for business continuity reasons. Because obviously an outbreak of a case in any particular location at any time might mean that business has to shut its doors for a period of time. And that is a business risk as well as a health risk.
OK, more on those comments from the premier suggesting unvaccinated people will not automatically receive all the same freedoms as vaccinated people once the state reaches 80%.
She says this might be due to a mix of government policy and private businesses being allowed to refuse service to unvaccinated people.
The government has not yet confirmed what will occur at 80% double-dose vaccination. We’re still working on those plans.
I don’t want people to think they can sit back, let everybody else do the hard work and then turn up when it’s 80% and get everything else that vaccinated people are. That’s not the right message.
I want to say it clearly – that if you’re not vaccinated, you will not have the freedom or the freedoms that vaccinated people have even when we get to 80% double dose.
And it won’t only be a government decision. A private business might choose only to welcome patrons who are vaccinated. An airline might say you can only fly with us if you’re vaccinated.
So I just want to thank everybody – and I know lots of people, even in my own circle, as all of you would, who are hesitant or couldn’t be bothered to get the vaccine but everybody now is really noticing and say I don’t want to miss out, I want to keep my family safe, I want to keep great health workers...safe.
Berejiklian says there are pockets of the state which are lagging behind in the vaccination race.
The city of Sydney itself has below average vaccination rates and we have seen now how there are pockets of vulnerability and so that is [no] one local government area I’d call out compared to others.
And there are also pockets in the regions but fortunately we have identified where those pockets are and held walk-up clinics over a weekend and then seen numbers boosted. In some regional rural communities where they got smaller numbers in their township, obviously we can get those rates up quickly.
There are pockets across the state.
The NSW premier says today’s press conference appearance does not indicate a change of heart after she announced on Friday that the government would no longer necessarily be holding a press conference every day (despite this week expected to be the peak of the pandemic).
No, I was always scheduled to do today because of the key milestones we announced. Obviously today is the first day many people have freedoms they didn’t have before and I want to stress that nothing has changed from my comments from last week.
I’m on the job 24/7. In addition to managing the pandemic, we manage the state moving forward and I will be – I’m always available, but I won’t necessarily be here everyday at 11:00am.
Some weeks I might be here everyday, other weeks I might be here intermittently, but the important thing to note is that your government is not only on the job 24/7, but we’re also making sure we give timely information when we need to in the way we need to do that and I think the public understands that.
NSW will be using pop-up clinics across the state this week, aimed at making it easy for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to get vaccinated.
This will be for everyone aged 12 years and over.
Speaking of Victoria, here is their case number graph, which is looking a little too exponential for my liking.
Here was my reaction when the numbers came in this morning.
By the way, we are expecting to hear from Victoria’s health minister for the Covid-19 update at 11.40am (AEST) today.
McAnulty is also laying out the cases recorded in regional NSW:
In western New South Wales, we have had 12 cases of Covid reported yesterday bringing the total number in the local health district, to 978.
Yesterday’s number has included five in Bathurst, four in Dubbo, two in Bourke and one in Walgett an outbreak going out in Walgett. We’re concerned people who have been in Walgett or live in nearby communities where there might have been a contact travelling to and from Walgett to be particularly vigilant and come forward for testing particularly concerned about Coonamble and we have seen a callout for people to get tested in Coonamble just in case they have been exposed to the virus, please come forward for testing if you live in those areas.
In the far west, we had seven cases reported yesterday with four in Broken Hill and three in Wilcannia. As the premier mentioned we have seen an [uptick] in cases in the Illawarra, Shoalhaven area as well as in the Central Coast and Hunter areas over the weekend.
McAnulty has once again stressed that there are some concerning sewage testing results in regional NSW.
We had a number of sewage detections identified in recent days in places where we have no known cases. So we’re really urging people in these areas to come forward for testing if you have even the mildest of symptoms.
These are at Yass and Eden in the southern part of New South Wales. In Tamworth, in the Hunter New England, in Dunbogan and Carua on the mid-north coast. In Gerroa, at Illawarra Shoalhaven and Brooklyn in northern Sydney.
So, please, if you live in those communities, or been in those communities, come forward for testing even with the mildest of symptoms.
Here is what the NSW case numbers look like on graph form, and, perhaps I’m just being overly optimistic but the graph does seem to have at least a subtle plateau.
NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty is up now, giving us the state’s hospitalisation numbers.
We have currently 1,189 people in hospital admitted with Covid. 222 people are in intensive care, 94 of whom require ventilation.
Sadly, as the premier mentioned, we have seen the deaths of seven people yesterday.
Berejiklian says vaccinating 12 to 15-year-olds gives the state an extra layer of protection once the state opens up.
We also want to make sure that everybody is clear that from today, and next week, for 12 to 15-year-olds, Pfizer is available at GPs and from next week Moderna will be available at pharmacists for young children aged between 12 and 15.
We really want parents to take up this opportunity to vaccinate their children so by the time we go back to school, not only will we have high vaccination coverage for adults, but we’ll also start to see some vaccination coverage for 12 to 15-year-olds as an additional safeguard.
I want to stress again – for those of you who choose not to be vaccinated, that’s your choice, but don’t expect to do everything that vaccinated people do even when we hit 80%.
Unvaccinated people may not come out of lockdown at 80% vaccination
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned that unvaccinated people may not regain freedoms even once the state reaches 80% of the eligible population fully vaccinated.
I also want to make this very important point: That obviously once we get to 70% double-dose vaccination, we have outlined the freedoms that exist for vaccinated people. However, don’t assume that at 80% double-dose vaccination that unvaccinated people are are going to have all those freedoms.
I want to make that point very clear. The government is yet to finalise its plans in relation to what happens at 80% double dose. And our key message is - come forward and get vaccinated because once we start opening up at 70% double-dose vaccination, the higher the rate of adult coverage, of people 16 and over, that are vaccinated, the better it is for all of us.
Now, currently, that figure is at 78.5%. By the time we start opening up, we would like to see that figure at 85% or even closer to 90%. Now, that is our hope because that gives that extra level of protection because there is no doubt that once we start reopening, those that are unvaccinated are especially vulnerable.
Here are the details of the seven Covid-19 deaths from the NSW Health department:
A man in his 90s from Dubbo died at the St Mary’s Villa Aged Care Facility, where he acquired his infection.
A man in his 80s from Sydney’s inner city died at St Vincent’s Hospital.
A woman in her 60s from south western Sydney died at Campbelltown Hospital.
A man in his 80s died at Nepean Hospital. He acquired his infection at the Hawkesbury Living Aged Care Facility in Sydney’s north west. His is the second death linked to an outbreak at this facility.
A man in his 90s from south western Sydney died at Liverpool Hospital.
A woman in her 90s from Sydney’s inner west died at Concord Hospital.
A man in his 80s from south western Sydney died at Sutherland Hospital.
There have been 184 COVID-19 related deaths in NSW since 16 June 2021, and 240 in total since the start of the pandemic.
Gladys Berejiklian says vaccination rates in NSW have slowed down slightly:
Fortunately for New South Wales, our vaccination rates keep increasing, however there has been a slight slowdown. So we encourage everybody to come forward and get vaccinated.
We have 46.2% double-dosed adults in New South Wales of 16 and over which is great, and 78.5% who have received their first dose. And obviously it’s when that 46.2% number gets to 70% double dose that we can look forward to those freedoms that we announced recently in our roadmap.
NSW records 1,257 local Covid-19 cases and seven deaths
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian is speaking now and has confirmed the state has recorded 1,257 local Covid-19 cases in the previous 24 hour reporting period.
Seven people infected with Covid-19 in NSW have also died.
Another little blog treat ahead of the NSW press conference, to keep you going.
We are just standing by now for the NSW press conference, where premier Gladys Berejiklian is expected to give the state’s daily Covid-19 numbers.
The Health Services Union is calling for the government to extend a deadline for aged care workers to be vaccinated against Covid, saying the sector cannot afford to lose even 5% of its workforce.
Before Friday’s deadline for workers in the sector to receive a first jab, the federal government has said that 90.8% of staff have now received a single dose and 70.5% two doses, with hopes the figure will continue to climb in coming days.
The HSU’s federal president, Gerard Hayes, said the federal government needed to extend the September deadline by between two weeks and a month given existing workforce pressures.
“They can not afford to have 5 to 10% of aged care staff not at work,” Hayes said.
You can read the full report below:
The consumer watchdog has blocked Qantas and Japan Airlines from coordinating flights between Australia and Japan, warning a proposed agreement would have likely led to reduced competition as international flights resumed.
In a statement announcing it had denied authorisation for the agreement, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission noted that before the pandemic, Qantas and Japan Airlines flew about 85% of flights between Australia and Japan.
The ACCC said that coordinating flights between the airlines would not only negatively affect prices for consumers, but that it would make it difficult for other airlines to operate routes between the two countries.
The Qantas and Japan Airlines alliance would have allowed the airlines to stop competing on all aspects of price and service for three years.
Watchdog chair Rod Sims said:
The ACCC can only authorise an agreement between competitors if it is satisfied the public benefits would outweigh the harm to competition. The alliance did not pass this test.
Airlines have been severely impacted by the pandemic and this has been a very difficult period for them. But preserving competition between airlines is the key to the long-term recovery of the aviation and tourism sectors, once international travel restrictions are eased.
Hurry, all my South Australian people! The tourism vouchers are back for another round!
Annastacia Palaszczuk is talking about the incursion of the virus from NSW into Queensland via truck drivers:
I think there is a lot more virus in NSW but they can’t cope with the testing.
Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young says one of the new Covid-19 positive students did have some exposure in the community while potentially infectious but she is not overly concerned:
There were two new locally acquired cases and both of those are students at St Thomas More College. They were both at home quarantine.
One had a short period of time infectious in the community before they went into quarantine so there are some additional exposure venues up on the website.
I’m fairly confident that that cluster is in hand because of the fantastic work done by the ... hospital and health service public health unit getting all those children into quarantine, and the response of the school and those 1,000 families.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says 38.08% of the state’s eligible population now have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, after a record-breaking week:
We now have 56.39% of eligible Queenslanders with their first dose and 38.08% fully vaccinated.
Today the vaccination program for 12- to 15-year-olds opens up, which is absolutely wonderful news. I know there are a lot of students out there looking forward to getting their vaccines so it’s a bit of a family is going out getting it together, which is great to see.
In a good record as well, last week, Queensland Health did hundred and 46,182 vaccines which is excellent. Boondall, which we opened up, delivered 7,095 in the first week including 1,500 yesterday so I thank everyone for coming out and getting their vaccines.
Queensland records two local Covid-19 cases, both in quarantine
The Queensland premier is speaking now, she says the state has recorded two local cases, but both were close contacts of last week’s school case, and both were quarantining for their infectious period:
We aren’t concerned about the two new local community cases because they are students from Sir Thomas More, linked to the Sunnybank cluster but been in their home isolation.
Dr Young will go through more details there but we consider them at this stage to be low-risk.
We have two cases in hotel quarantine from overseas but I give a very clear message to the 1,000 families from Sir Thomas Moore that are actually doing home quarantine at the moment for 14 days. We are thanking you for doing the right thing for Queensland.
We are just standing by now to get the numbers for Queensland today. We should get that news as soon as premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stands up for her press conference at 10am AEST.
A Hollywood film is coming to Victoria, creating more than 1,000 jobs and pumping $20m into the Australian economy, reports AAP.
Live-action animation movie Woody Woodpecker 2 will be filmed in Melbourne and regional Victoria.
Federal arts minister Paul Fletcher announced the production from Universal 1440 Entertainment will receive $2.7m in funding from the government’s Location Incentive initiative:
The Woody Woodpecker sequel is providing employment for more than 700 Australian cast and crew, and more than 300 Australian extras.
The production is also funded by the state government through its Film Victoria Victorian Screen Incentive.
Victoria’s creative industries minister Danny Pearson said the sequel would showcase the state’s local talent and stunning locations:
The production is injecting over $11m directly into the Victorian economy while providing jobs for our skilled screen practitioners, training opportunities for the next generation and stimulus for local businesses across the state ...
Victoria’s natural landscapes can double as almost anywhere in the world and this provides a lucrative opportunity for our regional communities.
Outspoken Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon has confirmed he will quit politics at the next election, while taking a parting swipe at “idealist” progressives for keeping Labor in opposition for all but six of the past 25 years.
The veteran MP for the seat of Hunter, who colleagues expected would depart the seat before the next election, has declared he believes Labor will win the next election under Anthony Albanese – as long as it remains “pragmatic”.
Fitzgibbon’s departure from the seat he has held since 1996 comes after he quit the shadow cabinet in November, vowing to use his time on the backbench to pressure the party to return to the issues of concern for its working-class base.
“That has been my mission for the past 28 months: urging Labor to take back the centre ground and to focus on the things that matter most to the majority of Australians,” Fitzgibbon said in a statement on Monday.
You can read the full report below:
Looks as though NSW Labor won’t be upstaging the government today after all.
Despite the daily NSW Covid-19 press conference technically ending yesterday, premier Gladys Berejiklian will still be appearing at 11am today to give an update.
The premier said the press conference would instead be held as needed, and she would appear at them when she felt she was required. It seems that today both are true, and I’ll bring you all the updates here on the blog.
Here is a little blog treat to keep you going through a fairly sour morning!
Wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott has been left choked by emotion after becoming the first man in any form of tennis to earn the calendar year golden slam of all four major titles and Paralympic or Olympic gold at the US Open.
The 30-year-old Melburnian looked close to tears as he admitted after his emphatic 7-5, 6-2 triumph over Dutch teenager Niels Vink in the quad singles final on Sunday that this could have been his farewell to Flushing Meadows.
And if it is the last time the New York slam sees this remarkable Australian entertainer, Alcott was happy to leave them with a typically effervescent farewell:
Thanks for making the dreams of a young fat disabled kid with a really bad haircut come true because I cant believe I just did it! I just can’t believe I just won the golden slam!”
You can read the full report below:
Heads up, we will be hearing from the Queensland premier at 10am AEST.
Paramedics union call for urgent action to improve NSW emergency resourcing
The NSW paramedics union is sounding the alarm for the state’s hospital system, stating on Twitter that Concord hospital, a major Sydney hospital, turned away ambulances last night after “hours of crippling bed block”:
In the afternoon, 8 crews waited outside, some for over 2.5hrs.
These scenes won’t disappear with optimism or denial. We need better resourcing, better triage, and better transfer of care at EDs
Fitzgibbon was also asked if, instead of running for the safe seat of Fowler, Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally should take his seat in Hunter to make her move to the lower house, rather than booting community candidate Tu Le.
He didn’t seem too hopeful that that would happen:
I always support the idea of selecting community-based candidates but you can understand, given she has lost that race for the Senate why the Labor party would be seeking to retain Kristina Keneally and place her somewhere where she will remain part of the team.
I would have preferred that we could use her profile to win a marginal government seat, a seat we will need to win the next election but this is not a matter for me, it is a matter for the party, and those processes will be progressed and we will see where it takes us ... We don’t lack talented candidates here in our local community.
It would solve a big problem though wouldn’t it for the Labor party at the moment if Kristina Keneally went from Fowler to Hunter. The highly regarded community candidate, the community candidate could therefore run in Fowler.
Kristina Keneally has expressed no interest in running for Hunter. We have talented people in the local party branches here in Hunter so we will let those processes follow as well and I’m sure we will run a very good candidate here, a community-based candidate someone capable of retaining the seat of Hunter.
I mentioned earlier that longtime Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon will not be contesting the next election. Well, the man himself was just chatting to ABC News breakfast.
By way of a super quick catch-up, Fitzgibbon was probably the strongest pro-coal voice in the Labor party and was often at odds with the rest of the party on climate change. He also nearly lost the last election after his seat of Hunter was plunged into marginality.
He claims that his decision not to run was not an indication that he believed Labor would lose the next election:
To steal an old Gough Whitlam slogan, it’s time, it’s time for Joel Fitzgibbon and it is time for a Labor government. I feel after 25 years and in my view satisfied that I have accomplished a lot, I can leave confident of the election of a Labor government led by Anthony Albanese.
Host Michael Rowland:
If you are confident there will be a Labor government why are you leaving and don’t you want to be part of that?
I have been there 25 years. It is a long time and I’ve been very grateful to a very supportive family, a Labor party and of course a very supportive local community here but I feel it is time for me to explore new opportunities and to give someone fresh and new and probably younger the opportunity to serve this local community.
That’s the highest daily total Victoria has had during this outbreak. In fact, the last day to beat that number was the peak of the Victorian outbreak, when 687 cases were recorded on 4 August 2020.
On the upside, I just got a text from the Victorian Department of Health saying I’m Covid-19 negative, so I’m not part of that number. (This was more of a personal “upside”, at a macro level it’s still pretty dark.)
Victoria records 473 local Covid-19 cases
The Victorian numbers are out and the state has recorded 473 cases overnight.
Just 202 of those have so far been linked to a known outbreak.
The Sydney lockdown has exacerbated inequity in the areas hardest hit by Covid and this is being made worse by a lack of access to green space, according to Guardian analysis of data from the Australian Urban Observatory.
The local government areas of concern – which are under the heaviest lockdown restrictions – have some of the lowest access to public open space in greater Sydney. Data from the census also shows a high proportion of larger families in these LGAs, with many of them living in situations of severe overcrowding.
Guardian Australia has previously found these areas have high numbers of essential workers and a disproportionately low number of people who can work from home.
“Covid is a magnifier of inequity across cities and [is] really widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots,” RMIT Assoc Prof Melanie Davern says.
You can read the full report below:
Commonwealth to being trialling QR code-based vaccination verification system
Australian officials abroad will begin testing a QR code-based system to certify that someone has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
The system is seen as key to the resumption of international travel. Readers may recall last week that Dan Tehan foreshadowed the government would be working on this system in “the coming weeks”. (He noted international travel would require “a system that can enable recognition of vaccination – a vaccination certification scheme”, something which has been given the shorthand vaccine passports.)
Well, Tehan yesterday gave some details of early testing of this scheme. He told Sky News:
So, the plan is once we get nationally 80% we open up, and we’re beginning to do the planning for that. So, this week the QR code that we’ve developed which gives you that vaccination certification system, we’re sending that out to our overseas posts [such as embassies] so they can start trialling that with those countries. So, we’re beginning the plan, the detailed planning, for that opening up … That will go out to all our overseas posts but, you know, obviously, the focus is making sure that it will work with Pacific Islands, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, the UK, the US. So, that QR code that will be linked to your passport which proves your vaccination certification, we’re beginning to trial that internationally as of this week.
We want to make sure we’re ready for people to be able to travel again and, you know, it’s incredibly important that we’re doing that preparatory work, and that’s what we’re doing now.
He said it would be “very difficult” to trade without having been vaccinated against Covid-19, because many airlines were saying travellers would need proof of vaccination and “most countries are saying that there will be some sort of proof of vaccination certification”. Tehan said that “might change” over time, “but we want to make sure that we’re ready to be able to do it”.
He said for people coming to Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration would need to have approved the vaccine in question. But he did not rule out the possibility of certifying China’s vaccines, saying the TGA would “consider all vaccines and then they will advise the government according to the assessment and the work on the efficacy of those vaccines and then we’ll act accordingly”.
Every eligible Australian to be offered a vaccine by mid-October
Discussion with Frewen has now turned to the teenyboppers of Australia now having access to vaccines. (He didn’t say “teenyboppers”, but I wish he did.)
This is really exciting news. It is great to have access open to 12-to-15-year-olds now. Access will be available for both Pfizer and Moderna from next week and the Moderna will be coming through the pharmacy networks. So we are also excited and that. Two very similar mRNA vaccines. People obviously need to get online and make the bookings. I do ask for a little bit of patience as we get them settled in over the next couple of weeks but people should be able to get on and get bookings within a couple of weeks.
And the army man has more exciting news in store!
So from the middle of October we believe we will have enough vaccines in the country to fully vaccinate every eligible person in Australia.
So really we are in a period now where we are shifting from any sense of supply constraint. We have a distribution network now, we will be getting close to 10,000 points of presence, GPs, pharmacy, state-run hubs and the lines where people can go.
We have the supply, we think we’ve got the distribution network now it really comes down to people stepping forward, getting booked in and getting vaccinated. As the ad says, for those people still making up their minds, there is one thing you have to do first and that is to get vaccinated before we can hope to get back to all the other things we want to do.
Lieutenant General John Frewen (the army guy who’s in charge of our vaccine rollout) is on ABC now, discussing what is being done to ensure remote Indigenous communities have access to the vaccine:
We are working very closely with the states and territories, the Indigenous health network and the Indigenous advisory council. We have developed a list of 30 areas that we will be giving priority attention to over the next weeks and months to make sure that we can get the vaccination rates up as high as we can as quickly as we can ...
There’s hesitancy in many of these communities too so that is a really important issue for us so again we are working with community leaders, with church groups and elders and we have plans to get the best information we can out and to get leaders to start encouraging their communities to take up these vaccination opportunities because it is really important for these communities.
If you want to know more about the whole Kristina Keneally saga, can I suggest this article from chief political correspondent Sarah Martin:
Victorian MP Peter Khalil has joined calls for the Labor party to do more to improve ethnic diversity in parliament after Kristina Keneally was parachuted into the seat of Fowler.
Khalil, the son of Egyptian migrants, said non-Indigenous people of colour made up only 4.1% of the federal parliament “compared to us being 21% of the Australian population”, and the party needed to do better.
Keneally’s move into the seat, which sidelined community candidate Tu Le, has sparked a split within the right faction and angered the outgoing MP Chris Hayes who had wanted Le to take his place.
So for those of you who were lucky enough to not be paying attention to the news at the weekend, you might have missed the kerfuffle Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally has got herself into.
In an attempt to resolve factional tensions in the Senate, Keneally announced her plans to leave the upper house, taking the safe lower house seat of Fowler in western Sydney. The only problem, this move sidelined community candidate Tu Le, who has close ties with the electorate’s Vietnamese communities, raising questions about how genuine Labor’s commitment is to improve racial diversity in the parliament.
Well deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce certainly had something to say about this, this morning, especially since the news broke that longtime Labor MP Joel Fitzgibbon wouldn’t be contesting his marginal seat of Hunter in the next election.
Joyce jokingly suggested Keneally should move up to Hunter, suggesting that she didn’t have the mettle to fight it out in such a competitive race:
Kristina Keneally now has an open seat so you can now move up to the Hunter. You don’t have to stand in Fowler anymore. Open seat in the Hunter, there you go, Kristina.
That’ll make it a very interesting time in your life rather than a free ride where you booted out the preselected incumbent from Fowler.
If you go there and we can have the debate there with the people ... of Singleton, and people in the Hunter Valley, about which plan is going to most likely keep them out [in a ] job, that is what I’m looking forward to.
Dylan Alcott wins Golden Slam tennis sweep after securing US Open Quad title
Australian wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott has become the first man to win the coveted Golden Slam tennis sweep, after securing the US Open Quad title.
For those who don’t know the Golden Slam requires the player to take out the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open Championships, plus a gold medal at the Olympics or Paralympics, and our man Alcott just did it!
Deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce says “certain ideas have evolved” when it comes to the Nationals making a deal with the Liberals surrounding potentially committing to net-zero emissions by 2050 ahead of the upcoming Glasgow climate summit, but refused to give any details about what those views might be.
The Nationals leader just spoke with ABC Radio where he was asked if his party was getting close to reaching a deal with the prime minister.
I wouldn’t be announcing it on radio but we are looking at it.
We will be making sure that as ideas come forward ... those views will then be taken back to the members of the National party in our party room and then we can have deliberations over and that ...
Certain views, certain ideas have evolved, but I’m not going to talk about them on the program.
Queensland deputy premier Steven Miles has hit out against federal Queensland MP George Christensen’s promotion of the anti-parasitic drug ivermectin, which is most commonly used to treat horses.
Spruiking the (very much unproven) benefits of ivermectin in preventing or treating Covid-19 has become common in anti-vaccination and anti-lockdown communities.
Good morning everyone and welcome to the new week! Don’t worry, we will beat these Monday blues together.
It’s Matilda Boseley here and, first things first, let’s talk about the NSW-Queensland border.
Guess what? The border bubble is operating again! This means vaccinated people in northern NSW, whose regions are no longer locked down, are allowed to travel north of the border for essential work, school or medical reasons.
You can also travel to provide compassionate care or carry out essential shopping, but travelling for social events, such as attending weddings or funerals or visiting family or friends, is still off the table.
Now that’s not the only exciting news for NSW residents.
From today, up to five fully vaccinated adults who live outside the 12 western Sydney hotspot LGAs can gather outdoors within 5km of their home.
Vaccinated households who do live in those 12 local government areas of concern will now be able to gather outdoors for recreation for one hour, outside curfew hours and within 5km of home.
But don’t worry, even if you aren’t in NSW, I have some exciting news for you too.
Twelve- to 15-year-olds across Australia can now book in for a Pfizer (or Moderna) vaccine!
Now, previously this age group could be vaccinated if they were Indigenous, had specific underlying health conditions or were a part of the NDIS. But now Australia is throwing the doors open to all.
OK, that was a lot to take in, so why don’t we jump straight into the day.