Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has been admitted to hospital with a suspected infection, bringing the number of Morrison government ministers that will miss today’s cabinet meeting to three. Hunt will be kept overnight for observation and is being given antibiotics. Hunt’s office said his condition was not believed to be related to the AstraZeneca vaccination he received on the weekend. Other missing federal frontbenchers include Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, on sick leave on the advice of her cardiologist in the wake of a sexual assault allegation in her office, and Attorney-General Christian Porter, who took mental health leave last week after denying a rape allegation. It comes as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been moved to a specialist trauma unit overnight after breaking ribs and damaging vertebrae when he fell on wet stairs at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental. Victoria’s Deputy Premier James Merlino will serve as acting premier as Andrews recovers, with the seriousness of his injuries casting doubt over a return to parliament next week. In the federal arena, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has taken on Reynolds’ portfolio and Employment Minister Michaelia Cash has taken on Porter’s, but there are no arrangements for another minister to take on Hunt’s duties.
WA Premier Mark McGowan has defended his strict border policy, after New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian described internal border closures as embarrassing. Berejiklian told a business summit that state border closures were never necessary and should be abandoned once all high-risk people are vaccinated. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said state premiers would need to better justify future border closures once the vaccination program had gained pace. McGowan, on the campaign trail for a WA state election he is expected to win in a landslide, disagreed with the suggestion to treat Covid-19 like a bad flu once the population is vaccinated. “We will keep the border option available to us to prevent the virus coming in into the future,” he said. It comes as his electorate office along with that of federal Labor MP Madeleine King were evacuated after receiving suspicious foil-wrapped packages.
Two Indigenous people have died in custody in New South Wales in the past week, with their deaths only reported because a bureaucrat was questioned in a parliamentary hearing. Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin revealed the news at a Budget Estimates session, due to questioning by Greens MP David Shoebridge. Severin said an Indigenous man in his mid-30s died last Tuesday at a hospital that treats prisoners. Authorities claim his death was natural and that he had multiple medical issues. An Indigenous woman in her mid-50s died in her cell at Silverwater women's prison three days later. Severin said it was believed she had killed herself. He added that the government does not publicise deaths in custody.
Fifteen police officers and four civilians have been injured during International Women’s Day demonstrations in Mexico’s capital city, as thousands of women protested against gender violence across the country. Feminist groups took to the streets of Mexico to protest violence against women in a country where about 10 women are murdered every day. In Mexico City, demonstrators marched to the National Palace, which had been fenced off, as were some 30 historical monuments across the capital. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador justified the fence as a way to avoid violence during the protests, while feminist groups described it as a “wall of shame”.