Victoria reports 723 new cases; masks mandated

We divert from the Prime Minister’s press conference for a moment for an update on the elusive trans-Tasman travel bubble.

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham has flagged Australia could green light a trans-Tasman bubble with New Zealand on a state-by-state basis given Victoria’s quarantine situation, plus concerns around Sydney’s present infection rates.

His comments are a clear break with the Morrison government’s longstanding commitment to only create a bubble across the pond when all Australians could potentially access it, with all state and territory borders open, allowing airlines to achieve reasonable passenger loads.

Senator Birmingham said he hoped the bubble could still go ahead “at some point this year”, even if the government’s position had to be revisited.

“In terms of New Zealand, we have to be realistic right now, and … look at it from the perspective of New Zealanders,” Senator Birmingham told a leadership virtual summit this morning hosted by the Tourism & Transport Forum.

“What has unfolded in Australia over the past few weeks obviously slows down their decision making and means they take a higher degree of caution, and that’s entirely understandable. Clearly [New Zealanders] are not going to want to fly in or out of Melbourne any time soon, just as other Australian states are showing nervousness around what is happening in NSW.”

His remarks came as Victoria introduced mandatory face masks after the state recorded 723 new cases. Cases are also rising in NSW, prompting the Queensland Government to close the border to people from Greater Sydney yesterday after declaring it a hot spot.

When asked directly if the federal government would green light a trans Tasman bubble without Victoria (or other states for that matter), Senator Birmingham said “if we came to pass where New Zealand was ready to move and the rest of country in Australia was ready to move – but we had this quarantine still in place around Victoria – well that’s an idea that’s worth entertaining: to see if we can manage to work it out with the Kiwis so they have confidence they can travel safely to Sydney, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Perth”.

The malls giant, which took over the ASX-listed owner of Westfield centres in the US and Europe two years ago, has already dumped its July distribution.

Brisbane bar and cafe owner Guiseppi Petroccitto said customers had begun returning to the CBD but new border closures have “flared up everyone’s insecurity”.

Seven West Media has secured a new debt deal with its banks, giving it time to get through the coronavirus pandemic and turnaround the business.

In an update on its business performance, Macquarie Group revealed its first quarter performance has fallen slightly from last year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has emphasised the problems of the virus and how it gets into the “nooks and crannies” of the community.

“Now, on some days, the virus wins. On other days, we beat it. But I think we’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there is some golden immunity that Australian has in relation to this virus,” he said. “This virus will be around for some time and we will direct every effort and every resource we have two stop its impact across our community.”

The Australian Financial Review political editor Phillip Coorey has pushed the Prime Minister to confirm how serious he is about post-pandemic leave. But no dice.

“I’m not going to be drawn on those questions at this point because we’re still working those discussions through as part of the process that the Minister for Industrial Relations is engaged in,” Mr Morrison said.

“It is best those discussions are held there. We’re conscious of the issues and seriously pursuing them.”

The Prime Minister has said he thinkg there has been “significant progress from yesterday” in the aged care outbreaks.

Mr Morrison said that Services Australia had contacted every family contact of patients in the affected facilities.

He also confirmed that this morning it was agreed that failure to comply with PPE requirements will lead to marking down on people’s accreditation.

“But I can confirm you to again that it is only a small number of facilities that I would still say are in the acute stage of the critical list that we have of just over a dozen centres,” Mr Morrison said. “Stabilisation in many of those other centres has been established. But we are keeping them on a close watching brief.”

He also said that the AUSMAT teams and South Australian nurses have arrived in Melbourne and that nurses from Western Australia could be called upon if needed.

Ken Wyatt has said that work is continuing on accelerating the case for an Indigenous voice to parliament.

“The three groups are reaching a point at which they are considering models for government to consider,” Mr Wyatt said.

“The Coalition of Peaks is a very distinct group that will lead in many fronts in the closing the gap, but this is about giving all Indigenous people across this nation a chance to exercise their views on issues that impact directly on them at the community level as well.”

Pat Turner also hopes closing the gap will allow Aboriginal community-controlled health services to be heard and consulted with the country’s COVID-19 response.

“We stepped in very early this year in our preparations for COVID-19,” Ms Turner said. “We worked in full partnership with every level of government, from the shires through to the state governments, and the Federal Government of course, and we were able to keep our communities pretty safe.

“Less than 1 per cent of our population, Australia-wide, or out of the COVID numbers today, have tested positive. Overall, we had 59 cases confirmed. There’s been a further 45 in Victoria since the – as of 28 July, and three, that I know of, in Western Sydney. Fortunately, we’ve had no deaths.

“Now, the Aboriginal community-controlled health sector has play a critical role in working in full partnership with governments to ensure that our people are protected and are safe.

“We don’t want any more people in Australia to suffer the consequences of this dreadful virus, and every Australian must pull their weight to keep our people safe.”

Pat Turner says she’s hopeful about the reframed closing the gap program because it’s indigenous lead, and will hopefully be properly resourced.

“The program and policy responses are informed by our experience and expertise,” she said. “We get much better outcomes when we deliver the services to our people ourselves.

“I believe because we’re involved in all of those decisions from now on, that we will actually get better results.

“But you have to understand that in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, there’s been a long history of under-investment by governments and we’re dealing with that legacy, and we will deal with that legacy.”

Pat Turner says today marks a turning point and is a day for celebration, but the hard work starts tomorrow.

“This is the first time our community-controlled leadership have come together in this way to bring our collective experiences and expertise to the task of Closing the Gap, and it has been a real privilege to work with my colleagues in the peaks,” she says.

“It is important that we celebrate today’s achievements. We are marking a turning point in Indigenous affairs and the relationship between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representatives.

“The real hard work starts tomorrow, as we begin the implementation of the national agreement in full partnership between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, organisations and representatives.”

Morrison praised the closing the gap document as a “very practical document,” adding that closing the gap isn’t just about “buckets of money”.

“Pat and Ken. I commend you on the work that it’s done. It’s realistic, it’s shared, it’s evidence-based and led, it’s transparent, it’s practical, it’s ambitious.

“And from this point, the real work starts. And the plans that are needed from the federal government, from the state governments, the plans that need to find their way into budgets… But I tell you where we start – we start with what we have to do, and then we apply the resources to achieve that.

“This isn’t about buckets of money, this is about changing the way we do things and ensuring that we apply the resources most effectively to achieve that.

The prime minister is talking in Canberra alongside the federal member for Indigenous Australians, Ken Wyatt, and the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (NACCHO) chief executive Pat Turner, about the new closing the gap targets in the new report they have authored.

Morrison said that the closing the gap process – initiated by the Rudd government in 2008 – “was an entirely worthy initiative, and an initiative deserving of credit.”

“But, innocently, there were elements of how that was done which was misguided. That’s not a criticism, that is a learning”.

“We’ve looked at this as a federal government, we’ve decided what the gap is. We didn’t look at the gap through the eyes of Indigenous Australians. We told Indigenous Australians what the gap was that we were going to close. And somehow thought they should be thankful for that.”

“That was wrong-headed. That wasn’t the way to do it. We needed to understand what the gap was, looking through the lens and the eyes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. They needed to tell us what the gap was that needed to be closed. And that’s what this task has been about.”

The malls giant, which took over the ASX-listed owner of Westfield centres in the US and Europe two years ago, has already dumped its July distribution.

Brisbane bar and cafe owner Guiseppi Petroccitto said customers had begun returning to the CBD but new border closures have “flared up everyone’s insecurity”.

Seven West Media has secured a new debt deal with its banks, giving it time to get through the coronavirus pandemic and turnaround the business.

In an update on its business performance, Macquarie Group revealed its first quarter performance has fallen slightly from last year.

Source: https://www.afr.com/politics/federal/us-says-russia-is-spreading-virus-disinformation-20200730-p55gra

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World news – AU – Victoria reports 723 new cases; masks mandated

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