World news – Coronavirus Australia live update: national cabinet split over quarantine and flight caps – latest news

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Scott Morrison tells states to increase capacity of hotel quarantine programs, but WA to oppose the move. Follow live

The parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of the Aboriginal heritage sites at Juukan Gorge will hold remote hearings with Western Australian witnesses on Monday.

The inquiry was intending to travel to WA to hold on-country hearings with the traditional owners of Juukan Gorge, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, and other traditional owners. But the coronavirus border restrictions has nixed that idea, to the concern of the PKKP.

Yesterday, BHP told the hearings that it intended to save 10 of the 40 Aboriginal heritage sites it received permission to destroy in May, after Guardian Australia revealed that the Banjima traditional owners objected to their heritage being damaged but were bound by a gag clause in their agreement with the mining company from speaking publicly.

Warren Entsch, the chair of the Northern Australia committee, said the committee remained committed to travelling to WA when it is able.

Giving evidence remotely on Monday will be Woodside energy, which operates alongside the Murujuga world heritage nominated rock art site; the Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation, which has Rio tinto mining leases on its land; Western Australian Greens MP Robin Chapple, a long-time heritage campaigner; and geologist Cedric Davies.

As always, you can follow our rolling global coverage of the coronavirus pandemic with the inexhaustible Helen Sullivan, here.

The federal government will double the mutual obligation requirements for all states other than Victoria, trade minister Simon Birmingham said.

The changes will apply from Monday, 28 September. Currently people who are receiving the jobseeker unemployment benefit have to apply for at least four jobs per month. That will double to eight jobs. Pre-pandemic, it was up to 20 jobs per month.

Around the rest of the country we are moving slowly, steadily back to where it was. Not jumping right back there, but just increasing that expectation for people to be out there, looking for work.

You don’t need me to tell you that this narrative that people on unemployment benefits need incentives like mutual obligation requirements, and a payment that’s due to drop back below the poverty line, in order to be motivated to find a job, is false. But just in case: it’s a false narrative.

As Labor’s Richard Marles pointed out, there are currently 13 unemployed people for every available job. And that’s only the national average – in areas that have been particularly hard hit, the odds are even longer.

A 100-year-old man has been discharged from hospital in Melbourne after spending six weeks battling Covid-19. He has moved back home to the aged care facility where he caught the virus.

His granddaughter, Lauren Elizabeth, wrote a pointed message on Facebook to those who have suggested Melbourne should reopen now because the risk of serious illness has been concentrated in aged care homes. She wrote:

He may be old, but he still matters to us. That was a very long 42 days but he finally had two negative test results. All lives matter young and old.

Meanwhile, national treasure Magda Szubanski has also been on ABC24 this morning, and made some comments about the absolutely appalling comments directed her way after she starred in a Victorian government public health campaign on Covid-19.

When people criticise me for being a fat lesbian, I say, ‘Yeah! Yeah, I am! And the problem is?’

So I just refuse to actually be drawn into it. I genuinely don’t care. But if I can bring a lightning rod to bring out into the light the Covid-deniers then that’s great.

I think there are two types of Covid-deniers. I think there are people actually who have really defaulted to a denier position because this is a scary time and I have sympathy and empathy with those people. But the concerted, orchestrated – I’ve spoken to the e-Safety Commissioner about this, the Commonwealth e-Safety Commissioner. There are particularly white supremacist groups but they are concerted, they’re orchestrated and what they’re trying to do – there’s also the bot farms – they’re trying to rip apart discourse which is the underpinning of democracy, sensible, civil discourse.

You look at the wayVictoria has actually dealt with this really hard second wave of Covid and despite the sort of understandable anger about the botch-up of hotel quarantine, people have actually just gone on and done it and that’s because we have, you know, a sensible underpinning in society. And so, bring out your crazy arguments, and let’s see what they’ve got.

Hunt said that national cabinet would consider the report of former senior public servant Jane Halton, who reviewed the hotel quarantine system. The review was commissioned in response to the Victorian outbreak, but looked at the strength of the national system.

He said Halton has been “very positive, overwhelmingly, about the performance of the states”, with the view on Victoria “still to come”. Halton’s report is not intended to compete with the judicial inquiry into hotel quarantine in Victoria.

The indication from Jane Halton is there’s capacity, massive hotel capacity around the country to bring Australians home, to bring our sons and daughters home, to bring our parents, to bring people who want to return to their own country, home.

So the caps have been a function of the hotel quarantine levels. But we’ve been very clear that the advice from one of the toughest public servants ever to work in Australia, one of the finest public servants ever to work in Australia, is there’s a clear capacity that can be increased and that means more Australians coming home before Christmas.

Around the country, the hotel quarantine system has worked well. Almost 2,500 cases have been detected in hotel quarantine. That’s prevented those cases escaping to the community. We would’ve been a massively different country now but for this system.

Now, we know the consequences when there was a breach in Victoria and we lived – as have you – the challenges of those outcomes. So we can see how fundamentally important it is both to bring Australians home on the one hand but to protect Australians on the other.

The federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said the escalation of telehealth in response to the pandemic has been a “revolution” in the way Australia delivers healthcare.

The medicare rebate for telehealth has been extended, as have medicare rebates for the home medication delivery service, and free pathology for Covid-19 tests. The federal government has also extended agreements with private hospitals to provide surge capacity, particularly for the aged care response in Victoria.

We’ve had over 30 million telehealth consultations and it’s a system which effectively was brought forward by 10 years in 10 days…

Universal telehealth has helped to protect doctors and patients. We’re extending it and we’re working with the medical groups on the long-term retention. That’s our clear goal. This has been a revolution in the way we deliver medicare and medicine and health services around Australia.

The community service sector is approaching a “crisis point” because of the anticipated collision of cuts to income support, worsening financial pressure and a potential end to government funding for equal pay, Acoss has warned.

Dr Cassandra Goldie, chief executive of the Australian Council of Social Service, made the comments as a new report showed a fifth of community service organisations surveyed would need to cut jobs when the job keeper wage subsidy ends.

About a third of organisations surveyed reported that they had already frozen recruitment, while a fifth of respondents had reduced staff hours, according to the report (pdf) published by several groups including Acoss.

Community services are vital at all times but especially in crisis. Workers in the community service sector provide support to people when they need it most, when they’re facing homelessness, escaping domestic violence or dealing with mental health issues. These services are more important than ever in the current health and economic crisis.

Demand is particularly strong for migrant and multicultural services, given the lack of income support for temporary visa holders, international students or people seeking asylum. Nearly nine in 10 community service organisations working in that space had reported an increase in the number of people seeking help during the pandemic.

Access called on the government to commit to renew funding to help community sector organisations ensure its workforce (80% of whom are female) to receive fair pay. The Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) supplementation has been in place since 2012 but as it stands is due to expire in the middle of next year. It is worth $554m this financial year.

The community sector survey, conducted in July, heard from 264 senior managers in the sector, together with 201 frontline workers and 279 staff in other roles.

Aviation workers from Sydney airport have taken out a campaign office in the same building as Scott Morrison’s electorate office, the Transport Workers Union has said.

The TWU’s NSW branch secretary, Richard Olsen, said they were frustrated at the lack of federal support for the aviation industry. Olsen said the anger is directed the actions of airline management, who have received $800m in government support, including jobkeeper, but are still axing workers. The TWU began legal proceedings against Qantas on the outsourcing of work last week.

Hundreds of aviation families in Scott Morrison’s own seat of Cook have been let down by the prime minister as their local member and head of government. This office has been created by them because they are demanding more from their representative….

Thousands of Qantas workers across Australia face being axed and outsourced by a spiteful out of control management that has received $800m in public money, including jobkeeper which is supposed to keep workers connected with their employer.

Dnata workers continue to be shut out of jobkeeper while the future of Virgin is still uncertain. Aviation workers feel very let down by the federal government and want to let the prime minister know this.

Victoria’s hotel quarantine inquiry will continue today, hearing from psychologist Dr Robert Gordon, a consultant to the Victorian department of health and human services and trauma recovery specialist.

Yesterday’s witness was the former chief commissioner of Victoria police, Graham Ashton. He denied recommending the use of private security guards to enforce the mandatory quarantine, saying that accounts of meetings that suggested the private security guards were his idea were “absolutely untrue”.

Victoria uses private contractors for much of its emergency management response. It is standard practice in bushfire management in this state. So using a private contractor is extremely regular – it just didn’t work well in this case.

The hearings have been running for several weeks now, and no one has yet claimed personal responsibility for the decision to use private security guards in hotel quarantine. The murkiness around this decision is has become almost more significant than the decision themselves. In inquiries like these, being unable to elicit a clear answer to such a key and really simple question is usually not a good indicator of the underlying governance protocols in place.

The international arrivals cap will be the focus of the national cabinet meeting today. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, has told the states to increase the capacity of their hotel quarantine programs, promising to lift the weekly cap on international arrivals from 4,000 per week to 6,000 per week from next Friday. That means the states – except Melbourne, which is still not taking international arrivals – will have to quarantine a further 50 people a week. Morrison said yesterday it was a “decision, not a proposal”.

But the federation being what it is, Western Australia will oppose the move. Treasurer Ben Wyatt told reporters on Thursday:

I don’t think any state has said no to this but having a commonwealth simply try to use the bludgeon attempt to get an outcome is not a particularly sophisticated one.

The WA premier, Mark McGowan, is talking about reopening the quarantine program on Rottnest Island, which is where some cruise ship passengers were housed. But Rottnest is now open for local travellers again, and it’s school holidays – so people in quarantine would have to be managed around holidaying families.

In Melbourne, residents of the south-eastern suburbs of Narre Warren and Hallam in the City of Casey have been urged to get a Covid-19 test to stamp out a growing cluster of new cases. There are 34 cases linked to the cluster as of yesterday. Three pop-up testing sites have been established. The full list of testing sites is here.

On borders, the NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has reached another stalemate with her Queensland counterpart, Annastacia Palaszczuk.

Berejiklian told reporters this week that all conversations on borders with Palaszczuk had ceased, again. Could make national cabinet awkward.

The door is completely shut as far as Queensland is concerned. [It’s] locked, bolted and no conversations are continuing, unfortunately.

NSW has eased its restrictions with Victoria – people living in the border bubble can now cross the border to visit a restaurant, cafe or club. This has been interpreted by people living in Victorian bubble towns as meaning they no longer need a reason to travel into the bubble area of NSW. The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, told reporters:

Let’s crack on. You can follow me on twitter at @callapilla or email me at [email protected]

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SOURCE: https://www.w24news.com

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