But in the way things go in Australian politics, we are, of course, talking about ideas which had been dismissed, by one side of politics or the other, for no other reason than a different side of politics once suggested it, or tried to enact it.
One being, a carbon price.
Which Labor is in support of. As are the unions. As are the main business lobby groups. But which the Coalition was very much not in support of. But that could be changing, because it is popping up quite a bit lately, and that is actually a good thing, because maybe, just maybe, there could be a grown up discussion on the issue.
Anthony Albanese was also asked about that this morning:
One of the things that has happened over recent times of course is that the cost of energy, the cheapest form, is new renewables. What it needs is a government that is prepared to provide certainty in terms of the energy market and providing a policy framework that will drive that investment.
We’ve seen investment in 2019 fall off the cliff for renewables but we also need to look at the way that renewables and clean energy can drive advance manufacturing, can add to our industrial growth with new industrys and new energy sources such as hydrogen as well can play an important role.
There has been a lot of talk lately about whether or not the new bipartisanship and openness to ideas we have been seeing over the last six weeks will extend to a post-Covid Australia, at least politically.
Part of it will have to – the economy is not going to look anything like it has, and pulling Australia through the next years is not going to be easy. Or pretty.
But this is Australian politics, so I don’t think anyone is overly hopeful.
Anthony Albanese gave his opinions on that this morning, when speaking to the ABC:
I would hope that some of the Government’s rhetorical changes last beyond the current crisis.
They’ve acknowledged that unions play a constructive role in society rather than their previous concentration on attacking the rights of working people and the trade union movement.
They have acknowledged that we need to listen to the science and I hope that that translates into other issues beyond medical science, into environmental science, into listening to what the scientists are telling us about the need to act on climate change and they have acknowledged there is a role for Government in providing support for the private sector to operate.
We certainly will need a strengthening of the private sector coming out of this crisis but we will also need to acknowledge the vital role the Government plays, the contracting out, for example, of Centrelink services meant that we weren’t in a position to actually look after people when it was needed during this crisis.
Peter Dutton spoke to the Nine network this morning and said banks that did not pass on bridging finance to businesses which were struggling to pay their staff should be “publicly shamed”.
Australia’s banks have access to some pretty cheap credit at the moment, the idea being that they use those credit lines, which are basically secured by the government, to provide credit lifelines to businesses.
Businesses need those credit lines because there was a time gap between when the government’s wage subsidy was announced and when the ATO started paying it out. If you have no one coming in and spending money in your business, you have no way to pay your staff. And round and round it goes.
But the banks, which got in massive amounts of trouble in Australia for lending to just about anybody with a pulse and identification not that long ago, are now getting in trouble for not rushing those loans out.
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg held a phone hook-up with the banks yesterday. The morning TV and radio shows will tell you it was a FURIOUS phone call, which means the political spinners can give themselves a pat on the back this morning. Morrison and Frydenberg both spoke about the call yesterday and gave a public warning to the banks to start the credit flowing.
This morning it was Dutton’s turn:
The banks have got a lot of stepping up to do. There’s been a lot of activity already, where you can point to case where is they have provided significant assistance, but it needs to be more widespread.
We want people to remain connected with their businesses.
We hope that, over the next few weeks, we can start to see the economy take its first steps back to normality, and that will require the banks to be involved, for credit to be extended, wages need to be paid, and businesses need to be paid, and businesses need to be able to put themselves in a position where they can reopen and re-function.
at 11.26pm BST
It’s just gone NSW press conference o’clock.
Gladys Berejiklian says there were seven new cases in the last 24 hours, but added that the state had increased the amount of testing it was doing.
Can I again thank all of you and say the New South Wales government is considering what we can do moving forward to ease everybody’s stress that you are going through and part of that strategy is increasing the number of testing, making that more available to everybody across the state but also making all of us aware that if we do consider going forward in the future with lifting restrictions we also have to be prepared to practice social isolation because we know that cases will go up and people will need hospitals. That is why we have bought ourselves good time in New South Wales and in preparing our health system and other institutions for what the next few months might look like.
at 11.15pm BST
The Victorian parliament sat to pass its coronavirus legislation yesterday.
Its emergency bills passed last night. As AAP reports:
The government now plans to borrow $24.5 billion to help the state combat the economic carnage from the virus.
The mammoth COVID-19 omnibus also includes temporary changes, including the introduction of judge-alone criminal trials, virtual meetings for state and council politicians, WorkCover extensions and a ban on evictions and rent increases, with a sunset clause of six months.
As well, the Victorian government has set up a dedicated taskforce to help keep the state’s building and development industry running through the crisis.
It has approved four new projects worth more than $1.5 billion.
The state government’s omnibus bill passed with the support of the coalition, despite Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien’s concerns it grants unprecedented powers to the justice system.
at 11.15pm BST
Karen Andrews was given the job of filling Australia’s manufacturing gaps (there are a lot of them, so it is mostly the most crucial, such as medical PPE which has been the focus) as the government turns towards what broken supply chains would mean for an island nation.
There is still no talk of subsidies to reanimate the manufacturing sector in Australia. Instead, there is a lot of talk of “identifying the gaps”. As you would know, there is no hope of a long-term manufacturing resurgence, without government assistance. That is an issue for another day – at the moment, Andrews is happy when an Australian company can switch its focus for something the nation needs.
Clets Linen & Co Pty Ltd, which normally specialises in linen and garments for hospitality and other industries, will provide 3,750 disposable isolation gowns to the national medical stockpile in its first production run.
at 11.06pm BST
Greg Hunt has committed an additional $6m to drug and alcohol addiction support during the pandemic.
· $2m to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation to deliver an information and awareness campaign to make Australians aware of the support that is available, and to develop resources specific to the isolation context.
· $1.5m to Turning Point to scale up treatment episodes provided by Counselling Online, and enable better integration of the service with primary care providers.
· An additional $1.5m to Hello Sunday Morning’s Daybreak Program. Daybreak is a treatment and early invention mobile app that provides online support to individuals seeking assistance in reducing their alcohol consumption. The service helps Australians reduce risky drinking habits by simultaneously addressing the psychological and relationship issues that can sometimes drive drinking in the first place.
· $0.4m to SMART Recovery to support adaptation of their service delivery model to an online format.
· $0.6m to the Matilda Centre to support enhancements to Cracks in the Ice and Positive Choices portals, to target Australians impacted by isolation. Cracks in the ice provides information about crystal methamphetamine for community organisations. Positive Choices is an online portal to help school communities access accurate up-to-date drug education resources and prevention programs.
In addition, the National Organisation for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Australia will deliver a Covid-19 Alcohol and Pregnancy campaign addressing increased alcohol consumption leading to unplanned alcohol-exposed pregnancies during the pandemic.
The campaign will be implemented largely via social media and target women impacted by Covid-19 restrictions, particularly social isolation and quarantine.
at 11.04pm BST
The national cabinet will meet today as part of its normal schedule.
Australia has just finished the first week of the four-week suppression phase, which I guess would be better described as a holding pattern, so we don’t expect any big changes or announcements from this meeting.
Queensland will move to have its changes to funeral restrictions – from 10 people to 20 – given the OK by the national cabinet. Scott Morrison will continue to push for schools to be reopen, although that doesn’t look like happening much beyond the fifth or sixth week of term, as the states give parents time to get used to the idea.
Basically, everyone is in agreement that if the infection rates stay this low, restrictions can be lifted. But with nations like Singapore, which suppressed the virus only to see a surge when restrictions were lifted, as an example, the national cabinet is taking a softly, softly approach to how it will relax the physical distance rules.
at 11.03pm BST
The woman speaking here, Sophie, would not be alone.
And that is despite Australia’s rates being quite low.
As AAP reports:
A final-year medical student has been thrown out of her Brisbane share house because a housemate feared she would infect him with coronavirus.
The student, identified only as Sophie, has told the ABC she was told to get out because she was on a placement at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s hospital.
She said one of her housemates had become convinced that she would become infected with the virus and pass it on to him.
The student said she picked up on her flatmate’s anxiety and all four housemates sat down to chat about minimising risks, how they’d support each other if any one of them got sick, and how they’d isolate in a shared environment.
“I thought the conversation went reasonably well,” she said. “The next morning I received a message asking me to leave. He said he was sorry things had to be this way, but he was uncomfortable with the risk of me being a medical student and attending placement.”
Sophie has since moved in with a friend but says her experience becoming suddenly homeless due to her job in health isn’t rare.
“I have friends, personally, who’ve been asked to leave then their landlord has retracted that when it’s become apparent societally that it’s not acceptable,” she said.
“Others have elected to move house to try and isolate themselves from their families if they’re working in a high-risk area, and really struggling to find somewhere to live.”
She urged people to consider more than themselves during the coronavirus crisis.
“I think we run into trouble when people only consider pandemics and coronavirus in terms of what’s the risk of you giving it to me.”
at 11.02pm BST
The Ruby Princess has left Port Kembla and the nation is preparing for a very low-key Anzac Day.
Other than that, it’s situation stay suppressed as Australia ends another week with a flatter curve.
Anzac ceremonies will go virtual this year. Most RSLs have arranged for veterans to pay homage how they can and to ensure there is community support for those who want or need it. Ceremonies will be broadcast for those at home.
Winston Peters, the deputy New Zealand prime minister, has been talking about reopening the trans-Tasman borders when possible as a sort of trans-Tasman “bubble” for some time. Yesterday Scott Morrison said it was New Zealand that Australia was looking to “reconnect” with as soon as possible. The leaders of both nations have been speaking every week, as usual, with both optimistic their countries can manage to suppress – or in NZ’s case, almost eliminate – Covid-19 from their populations ahead of a vaccine.
Which means Australia is heading into the “sentinel” testing phase – testing people to ensure that the virus hasn’t spread to more of the community than anticipated. NSW is now opening testing to anyone with symptoms, not just those in the cluster areas. One in 70 people in Victoria are being tested as that state ramps up its procedures as well.
We’ll cover all of the day as it happens. Thank you again for joining us. You have Amy Remeikis with you for most of the day.
at 11.01pm BST