Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Marles has defended the actions of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews through the pandemic, telling the Today show that he wants to see the same leadership from Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
“Daniel Andrews is governing through the most appalling of circumstances, but he’s standing up every day. He’s taking the heat,” Mr Marles said.
“He established a judicial inquiry into the situation here almost instantaneously and he’s made this clear that at the end of the day he will take responsibility as the Premier of Victoria.
“Now, that’s leadership, and in a really tough time, and what we hear from the Federal Government is – I think we’ve heard it this morning – is a pretty clear attempt to say “this is all Victoria’s problems, it’s got nothing to do with us.”
“I don’t hear the Prime Minister standing up every day and taking the kind of responsibility that we’re seeing being taken by Daniel Andrews in relation to aged care, for example. This disease has got in there, and we should be hearing from the Prime Minister in similar terms.”
NRL boss Peter V’landys has said there was “no excuse” for Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett visiting a restaurant while under the league’s biosecurity restrictions, claiming he would have known the rules.
Mr Bennett has been placed on a 14-day “COVID hold” after admitting he had visited a restaurant in Leichhardt, in Sydney’s inner west, with his wife multiple times on Thursday.
“He knows the rules, we have education days … the one rule they’re all aware of is that they can’t be going out to restaurants and cafes,” Mr V’landys told 2GB on Friday.
Dragons player Paul Vaughn has been dealt the same punishment after visiting an Illawarra cafe on Thursday morning.
“The majority of our players have been conscientious and done the right thing, so it’s unfair on them,” Mr V’landys said.
Earlier in the program, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he supported the suspensions, and he expected the Souths coach would feel similarly about the need to adhere to restrictions.
“The rules are there to protect everybody, and importantly so that the NRL can keep functioning,” he said. “I’m sure Wayne [Bennett] would agree.”
Asked about the future of Victoria’s spring racing carnival, Mr V’landys, who is chief executive of Racing NSW, said he was hopeful that events such as the Melbourne Cup would be able to occur in Victoria later this year.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young says holders of the new cross-border passes will be able to travel between the state and NSW for “any reason” as authorities work to finalise new conditions ahead of tougher restrictions this weekend.
From 1am Saturday, the Queensland-NSW road border will go to a hard closure as the southern state and the ACT are declared COVID-19 hotspots, allowing only freight workers and those living in to-be-identified communities through.
Dr Young said she expected the new system, set to go online today, should make things easier for residents with less “competition” to get through.
“Once we get the rush through, it might be a little bit easier for them,” she told ABC Radio Brisbane.
And though police will still be monitoring checkpoints, particularly in the busy Gold Coast region, she said those carrying the new X-category passes will in most cases be let through without having to justify their travel for essential reasons.
Dr Young flagged a return to some normality for aged care home visits from Monday pending any increase in new cases over the next three days, though restrictions barring workers from moving between centres would likely remain.
The centres were locked down across Brisbane’s south and west after fears of a cluster linked to two women who returned from Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was on the Today show a short time ago, saying the government had no choice but to expand the JobKeeper scheme.
“Nobody really picked the failings around the hotel quarantine arrangements in Victoria,” Mr Dutton said.
“It hasn’t happened in other states and it’s resulted in this consequence now, and so from a federal government perspective, how can we help Victoria? Those businesses that had reopened, that re-employed, re-stocked and are now re-closing can’t be left hanging. I think we’ve made the right decision and we’ll adjust it if needed as circumstances change.”
Mr Dutton said the Victorian lockdown was a devastating blow to the state’s small businesses.
“You just have to feel for these businesses, small businesses … they’ve put money back into restock. They’ve re-employed staff. They’ve reopened and now they have to close and this really is a devastating blow.
“I hope that the Victorian government now is able to calibrate with some of the arrangements that they’ve put in place, because for distribution centres, for workers in abattoirs, etc., there was great difficulty. We just have to help the Victorian government as best we can and help people get out of this dire situation.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says people from outside of Victoria will benefit from changes to Victoria announced today.
As reported this morning, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is set reverse the tougher eligibility rules announced less than three weeks ago to ensure more companies can qualify for the payment, which drops to $1200 a fortnight from September.
The change is principally to support Victorian businesses, as the state endures tough coronavirus restrictions for the next five weeks.
“The JobKeeper program is there when the virus hits, and it’s hit hard in Victoria,” Mr Morrison told 2GB this morning, although eligibility would not be geographically restricted.
“There will be some additional people across the country who will have access to it in other states and territories.”
Mr Morrison said the federal government had been working to “keep a pilot light on” in the Victorian economy this week, introducing childcare support and a disaster payment to assist through the state’s tough shutdown.
“We’ve done a lot of work this week to ensure the measures were as balanced as they should be,” he said.
The Prime Minister said it was “hard to say” if the state’s cases would drop next week, although he was hopeful the restrictions would be effective.
Newcastle Mayor Nuatali Nelmes has said the confirmation that three members of the same family in Newcastle have now tested positive for COVID-19 has raised the prospect that the second wave has now reached NSW’s second largest city.
Last night, NSW health issued a warning after a man in his 20s tested positive to coronavirus yesterday morning. The man is a close contact of the Newcastle teenager and man announced the previous day.
Cr Nelmes told Radio National’s Breakfast program the city was now on high alert after the man visited a number of venues over the weekend.
As a result the following list of venues was published, with anyone who may have attended them at the same time asked to immediately isolate and get tested:
- Bennett Hotel, Hamilton – Friday 31 July, from 5.30pm to 10.00pm
- Bar 88, Wests New Lambton – Sunday 2 August, from 5.00pm to 7.15pm
- Sydney Junction Hotel, Hamilton – Saturday 1 August, from 11pm midnight to 1.15am Sunday 2 August
- Greenroof Bar and Restaurant, Hamilton – Friday 31 July, from 10.30pm to 12.15 midnight
- Sushi Revolution, Hamilton on Saturday 1 August, from 12 noon to 12.45pm
- Queens Wharf Hotel – Saturday 1 August from 9.30pm to 11.00pm
- McDonald Jones Stadium – Sunday 2 August, 7:30pm to end of game, Newcastle Jets match
“We had a similar incident earlier in the week where we had a tradesperson working in Newcastle from Sydney and they had tested positive and been to, over three day, maybe four or five venues as well,” Cr Nelmes said.
The Mayor also said about three thousand students and their families deemed possible contacts through the two teenagers’ schools.
She said health authorities were still searching for the source of the original infections in the city. Newcastle residents are now being recommended to wear face coverings and to stop to all non-essential travel to and from Newcastle from Sydney.
Gold Coast police fear traffic delays will be worse this weekend than in late March when the interstate border was first shut.
From 1am on Saturday, NSW and the ACT will be considered COVID-19 hot spots, along with Victoria, meaning anyone from these areas will be turned around, except freight carriers and border residents.
However, Gold Coast business owners fear tourists are losing confidence in booking Queensland holidays.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk defended the fresh crackdown, warning a second wave of COVID-19 cases would deliver an almost $5 billion blow to the state’s economy.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has suggested that NSW could host some major sporting events usually held in Melbourne, as the southern state attempts to bring its coronavirus outbreak under control.
Speaking on 2GB this morning, Mr Barilaro said events such as the Melbourne Cup and Australian Open could be relocated to NSW, rather than not occur at all – or occur under strict restrictions – in Victoria.
“I said this a while ago, maybe a bit tongue in cheek, but the crisis has worsened,” he said.
“Some of these events down in Victoria are national events that are hosted in Victoria, [they’re] important to the Australian economy and important to the Australian psyche when it comes to sport.”
Mr Barilaro said he had written to Victorian government ministers with a proposal.
A third coronavirus case has been identified in the Newcastle area.
The case is a male teenager who is a household contact of the teenager and the man in his 20s announced earlier this week.
Hunter New England Health is continuing to investigate the source of infection for all three cases, the district said in a statement.
St Francis Xavier’s College at Hamilton East, where the teenager attended, is closed for cleaning today
Anyone who attended the high school on Monday 3, Tuesday 4, and Wednesday 5 August is urged to be on the lookout for COVID-19 symptoms and get tested immediately should any respiratory symptoms or fever occur.
Here’s what is making news on the front pages of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age today.