Labor MP for the federal seat of Chifley, Ed Husic, whose electorate covers the Blacktown local government area has told the ABC his constituents are confused, and concerned about the financial support they will be able to receive after Blacktown was added to the LGAs where only essential workers are able to leave:
I am concerned in a number of fronts, the immediate one is about people being able to work, and how they will be able to earn a living through this period of lockdown and the fact that financial support is quite frankly are nowhere near as strong as what they have been and are causing a great deal of confusion, people in my area, based on the calls we are receiving in the office, and the broader one is the one the one the whole nation is hanging on, which is to get the vaccine rollouts, priority for the nation now is to get supply of vaccine and to ensure manufacture of vaccine here, so we can get as many people vaccinated as possible.
Husic said he would like his area to get more vaccine, but understands the position of other states as to why they don’t want their own supply redirected. He said GPs in his area were struggling to get vaccine supply:
“I noticed in today’s coverage that the prime minister apparently told Premier Gladys Berejiklian that he was not in the business of taking vaccines out of the hands of GPs. Based on local experience here, he is not much good at getting vaccines in the hands of GPs here. In fact 48 hours ago I had a conference call with a number of GPs in my area where they cannot work out a rhyme or reason behind how vaccine allocation is determined by the federal Department of Health. Some practices are getting more than they can handle, others not getting enough, others missing out.”
He said vaccine hesitancy remained a “real and live issue” around the AstraZeneca vaccine, and said it showed the need for a mass public information campaign.
The NSW press conference will be at 11am as usual, but it appears the premier, Gladys Berejiklian will not be there.
The alert states it will be health minister, Brad Hazzard, NSW Health’s Dr Jeremy McAnulty and NSW police deputy commissioner, Gary Worboys.
An anti-lockdown protest planned for Adelaide is extremely disappointing and undermines the ability of authorities to contain the spread of Covid-19 during the current outbreak, police say.
AAP reports the car rally protest is planned for Saturday but police have warned those taking part could face action if lockdown rules are breached.
“Those who are intending to protest are warned that police will be out and about watching for any unnecessary movement in direct deliberate violation of current restrictions,” police said in a statement.
“SAPOL will take positive action in deterring and preventing any unlawful activity.”
The protest comes after record testing picked up one new coronavirus case on Friday giving premier Steven Marshall “cause for optimism” that SA can emerge from its week-long statewide lockdown on schedule next week.
Friday’s single new infection came on the back of 23,572 virus swabs on Thursday with SA now into the fourth day of a seven-day shutdown.
“It’s early days but all of the early indications are positive,” Marshall said.
Victoria declares NSW ‘extreme risk zone’
Since last night, Victoria has declared NSW an “extreme zone”, which is one up from a red zone.
Non-residents will be sent back except if they are one of the limited people with exemptions, which they must apply for before they arrive.
Residents will be put into hotel quarantine for 14 days.
People who arrive without a permit will be fined up to $5,452.
Normal red zone rules apply for SA, the ACT and Norfolk Island.
Queensland records zero cases
Queensland has reported no new cases, with over 14,000 test results returned.
The prosecution of whistleblowing former spy Witness K and his lawyer, Bernard Collaery, has now cost the Australian government $3.7m, new figures reveal.
The government’s external legal costs in connection with the high-profile cases have risen significantly since mid last year, when the tally was $2m.
The latest figures have prompted the independent senator Rex Patrick to describe the prosecution as “unjust” and “hugely costly”.
There’s also another anti-lockdown protest planned for today, AAP reports.
Police say they are concerned about “entitled” protesters planning to mass in Melbourne on Saturday.
They say the gatherings have the potential to thwart the state’s efforts to emerge from its fifth lockdown.
A rally involving a few hundred people could involve flares and the blocking of an inner-city bridge, chief commissioner of police Shane Patton said on Friday.
“Where you have the vast majority of Victorians doing the right thing, sitting at home, it’s such a sense of entitlement to say ‘I can go out and protest just because I disagree’ and potentially breach all of the CHO guidelines and spread the virus,” he told 3AW.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews labelled the idea of protesting against lockdown “ridiculous”.
“Protest against this virus by staying at home, following the rules and getting out of lockdown,” he said.
NSW to reportedly get more Pfizer from national stockpile
AAP is reporting NSW will get an additional 150,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the national stockpile after the other states on Friday refused to allow their own vaccine supplies be redirected.
The commonwealth will send the jabs from the national stockpile after other states and territories rebuffed the NSW government’s plea for more vaccines on Friday.
The prime minister’s office told AAP that the extra vaccines are in addition to 150,000 Pfizer doses already sent to NSW, and are expected to arrive within a week.
“Where there is potential to put more vaccines into NSW, even beyond what we are doing, of course we will seek to do that,” Scott Morrison said following a meeting with state and territory leaders on Friday.
“But we’re not going to disrupt the vaccination program around the rest of the country.”
His comments followed NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian’s appeal for extra Pfizer doses to vaccinate residents in the worst-hit local government areas.
Berejiklian’s request came as the state recorded 136 locally acquired cases on Friday and chief health officer Kerry Chant declared the situation a national emergency.
NSW was given an additional 150,000 doses of Pfizer and the same amount of AstraZeneca earlier in the month as the disease began to grip Sydney.
Other states would have had to redirect highly sought-after Pfizer supplies to meet the premier’s request.
Victoria, WA and Tasmania indicated they would not sacrifice their own state’s vaccine rollout.
12 new cases in Victoria, all linked
There were 12 new cases recorded in Victoria overnight, all linked to the current outbreak.
Pleasingly, 10 of the 12 were quarantining throughout their infectious period.
I have a story up this morning on how WhatsApp is trying to combat misinformation being spread through private messaging.
It’s harder than say, Facebook or Twitter because the messages aren’t public, but WhatsApp says it is now indicating when messages are being sent from contacts you don’t know, and limiting the amount of groups the messages can be sent to.
Australia shouldn’t be singled out in reef danger declaration, Ley says
In non-Covid news, the environment minister, Sussan Ley, has been on ABC News Breakfast this morning to discuss the World Heritage Committee’s decision overnight not to put the Great Barrier Reef on the “in danger” list.
She said the Australian government has been given a deadline of February next year to report back on “what policies will be in place to help the reef recover”:
Remember that the technical advising bodies to Unesco have not visited and, if you like, inspected our reef and the brilliant management of $3bn of investment and all of the work that we are doing since 2012, nor have they looked at the latest science, some of which is very positive. So that mission is important and I welcome them as soon as they can arrive, and I welcome the showcasing of the wonderful work that our reef managers are doing.
Ley argued Australia should not be singled out for its climate change policies when it comes to the impact of climate change on the reef:
It was a callout on global not on Australia’s contribution to climate change. There was recognition in the committee last night that Australia cannot control the emissions trajectory of the whole world, but we are playing our part on the reef, and the various interviews by the bodies leading up to this decision clearly called out the global challenge of climate change, and the need, if you like, to showcase our Great Barrier Reef to demonstrate that.
If you read through what they said, they made it very clear: Why single out Australia? There are 82 properties on the World Heritage list that are at risk of high or very high climate change. Only our properties were singled out.
Ley said she has “never stepped away” from climate change being the biggest threat to the reef, but the “in danger” listing would have damaged Australia’s reputation and is usually only reserved after extensive consultation with a country that hasn’t done the things they’re supposed to.
Viral fragments found in Moss Vale
Late on Friday night NSW Health alerted that fragments of Covid-19 had been detected at the sewage treatment plant at Moss Vale in the NSW southern highlands when there were no known cases in this area. The department said this was of “great concern”.
Moss Vale area residents are asked to be vigilant for any symptoms and if they appear to immediately be tested and isolate until a negative result is received.
The Northern Territory chief minister, Michael Gunner, has blasted a group of Victorian travellers for allegedly lying on their border entry forms so they could attend a wedding, AAP reports.
The six people, aged between 29 and 31, left Victoria – a declared hotspot – on 15 July and travelled into South Australia before arriving in Darwin on Tuesday.
“I’m furious that six wankers from Melbourne thought they could gamble with Territory lives for a holiday and a wedding,” Gunner said in a statement after NT police released a statement about the group’s alleged actions.
Officers found the group was staying at the Winnellie Hotel in a Darwin industrial area.
They have since been moved to the Centre for Nations Resilience quarantine facility where they will “spend the majority of their time in the Territory”.
“They’re now in Howard Springs and are collectively going to be about $30,000 poorer,” Gunner said.
“Our message is simple – don’t lie. Don’t come here if you’ve been in a hotspot. Don’t put Territorians at risk.”
Police issued each of the two men and four women with a $5056 infringement notice for failing to abide by the NT Chief Health Officer’s directions.
It will be alleged the group was travelling together and provided false information to border entry personnel on arrival in Darwin.
“It’s absolutely unacceptable that these people were willing to put the rest of our community at risk by their selfish actions,” police commander Hege Burns said.
Good morning and welcome to the live blog for Saturday. I’m Josh Taylor and will be taking you through the news of the day for Saturday.
New South Wales health officials will be spending this weekend developing a roadmap out of lockdown after the state recorded 136 cases of Covid-19 on Friday, with 53 of them not isolating during their infectious period.
Divisions are emerging in the federation, particularly between NSW and Victoria, after NSW sought more first doses of Pfizer, particularly focused on essential workers in south-west Sydney.
NSW was rejected by national cabinet, with the prime minister, Scott Morrison, confirming no Pfizer would be taken away from other states to meet this need:
We’re not going to disrupt the vaccination program around the rest of the country. That vaccination program is going and is hitting its marks and we want that to continue.”
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews was the most vocal against any redistribution of the vaccine. He has called on the state to put a “ring of steel” around greater Sydney, and argued he does not want vaccines redirected from Victoria to New South Wales while Victoria is also in lockdown.
National cabinet agreed to extend the wait period for second doses of Pfizer out to up to six weeks to maximise the supply of first doses in NSW, and the prime minister urged younger Australians to speak to their GP about getting the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Eyes will also be on Victoria and South Australia, which also remain in lockdown, reporting 14 and two new cases on Friday, respectively.