The Andrews government cannot identify any legislation it needed to override, but experts say that is the point.When Daniel Andrews signed a declaration for a state of disaster in Victoria at 1.43pm on Sunday, it was a part of a final salvo in a battle to control a resurgent and invisible enemy.
Albury-Wodonga has recorded its first Covid-19 cases in weeks, as the Australian Defence Force mobilises to enforce the closure of the border between New South Wales and Victoria from midnight tonight. One confirmed case of the virus was recorded in Wodonga on the Victorian side of the border on Monday, and two suspected cases are being investigated across the border in Albury, one of which is linked to Melbourne. Nevertheless, residents are concerned about the economic impact of dividing the two cities. Up to 500 Defence personnel will be deployed to patrol the state boundary, reports The Daily Telegraph, after Victoria registered a record 127 new cases as well as two deaths over 24 hours. Victorians in NSW will be free to return to their home state. The infections include 16 cases detected in the public housing towers under a hard lockdown, with experts urging infected residents be allowed to leave ($) so they can be put in isolation. Meanwhile Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has declared all arrivals from Greater Melbourne will have to undergo two weeks of mandatory supervised quarantine when NT borders reopen on July 17. Those who fail to do so could face three years in prison.
Government Services Minister Stuart Robert will today promise faster welfare payments through a new “entitlement calculation engine” for Services Australia, which could be also used for health care and aged care. In an address to the National Press Club, Robert will also detail efforts to make MyGov the “Netflix” of government services, and “reimagined” telephone helplines with more than 1.5 million people signed up for voice biometric services. He will also detail plans to keep information on the public in a sovereign data set only hosted in Australia, rather than overseas. It comes as Guardian Australia reports that the public sector union calls on Robert to apologise to its members forced to administer the unlawful robodebt scheme. The Community and Public Sector Union said staff had expressed concerns about the program four years ago, with some feeling sick or losing sleep over interactions with victims of the scheme, including those who “talked about suicide on the call”. Lifeline: 13 11 14
In a submission to the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee, the Department of Home Affairs says a push to enhance the power of guards to confiscate mobile phones from immigration centre detainees won’t amount to a “blanket ban”. Confiscations will only happen in “certain circumstances” where wrongdoing is suspected, the Department claims. Human Rights Law Centre legal director David Burke told SBS News he was not convinced. “That doesn’t change anything when the law is specifically written to allow blanket bans to be applied,” he said. “This is a really harmful expansion of powers – they are essentially proposing to give private contractor detention centre staff more powers than even police have.” The Senate committee has received submissions from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the Australian Medical Association and Amnesty International warning against the proposal.
The Morrison government is considering a plan to grant ($) international students graduate work rights even if they are forced to remain overseas and study online because of the Covid-19 pandemic. According to The Australian, the plan would also see the reduction or waiving of visa renewal fees for students whose visas are expiring but who have stayed on in Australia because of the difficulty of returning home. It comes as all schemes to return international students to Australia are put on hold due to the outbreak in Victoria.