Exclusive: A leaked government database shows hospital transmission is key to Victoria’s recent Covid-19 cases, as new concerns are raised about access to protective equipment.Hospitals have become a key risk area in this phase of the pandemic. Staff at some of these hospitals have not been told about the transmissions happening in their workplaces and are not being offered extra protection.
Victoria’s upper house has passed a six-month extension of state of emergency powers, following a marathon debate overnight that pushed the final vote to 2am this morning. The compromise deal grants a one-off extension of powers for the chief health officer to issue legally binding health directives, not the permanent legislative change sought by the Andrews government. Health minister Jenny Mikakos agreed to provide Parliament with the chief health officer’s advice each time the government renews its state of emergency. “This is the most important bill . . . in the 21 years I have been in the Victorian Parliament,” she said. The Liberal opposition and some crossbenchers opposed the bill, wanting month-to-month extensions. Former prime minister Tony Abbott condemned the Melbourne shutdown as a “health dictatorship” and called for the world to end lockdowns. Victoria recorded 70 new Covid-19 cases and five deaths on Tuesday.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is today expected to announce the biggest drop in Australian GDP since the Great Depression, with an estimated 6 per cent plunge for the June quarter officially confirming the country is in recession. It comes after legislation was passed by the federal parliament yesterday, splitting JobKeeper wage subsidies into a two-tiered system and extending the program for another six months. The $1500 flat fortnightly rate will end later this month, with people who worked less than 20 hours a week before the crisis to be paid $750 a fortnight from the end of September, while all others will receive $1200. The maximum payment will come down to $1000 from December to March.
China has suspended barley imports from Australia’s largest grain exporter CBH Grain, as trade tensions between the two nations continue to escalate. China’s General Administration of Customs said barley shipments would be halted after pests were found on multiple occasions, the administration said on its official WeChat account. CBH, which is owned and operated by about 3900 Western Australian grain growers, rejected the claims and said it was disappointed by the decision. “We will work with the Australian Government to challenge the suspension,” it said in a statement. It comes as concerns mount over the detention of Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist working in China, for unknown reasons. University of Technology Sydney academic and China studies professor Feng Chongyi warned the ABC that Cheng may be subjected to torture by sleep deprivation.
The AFL is today expected to announce that Queensland will host this year’s grand final, the first time the marquee game will be held outside Victoria, due to the Covid-19 crisis. South Australia was reportedly the runner-up in the bid to host the game. AFL senior executives flew to Queensland on a charter flight on Tuesday ahead of the announcement. The Gabba is set to be the venue selected, with a capped crowd of about 30,000 slated to attend a twilight or evening match on October 24.