First, a catch up from AAP on the latest developments in the Australian state of Victoria.
Victoria has woken up with a new health minister but Melburnians’ minds are on what freedoms are about to return to their restricted lives.
The state’s “roadmap” out of lockdown announced in early September is expected to be tweaked on Sunday following better-than-expected progress in fighting the spread of the virus.
Many will, once more, be hanging on the premier’s words at what has become a sombre tradition of weighty Sunday press conferences.
The two-week rolling daily case average of 23.6 is well under the 30-50 case average health authorities were aiming for.
Under the original plans to take effect from Monday, the 9pm curfew would remain, as well as the 5km travel limit and takeaway-only for restaurants and cafes.
Restrictions around public gatherings would ease to allow up to five people from a maximum of two households to meet outside for social interaction.
Childcare and kindergarten would reopen and some school students would return to classrooms in term 4.
The Victorian opposition is calling for rules to be loosened well beyond this, saying the curfew should go, all school students should return and restaurants, retail and offices should reopen.
Victorian premier Dan Andrews on Saturday. Photograph: Dave Hewison/Speed Media/REX/Shutterstock
It has been a dramatic few days in Victorian politics culminating in the resignation of Jenny Mikakos as health minister on Saturday morning.
By the afternoon, Daniel Andrews had announced mental health minister Martin Foley as her replacement and he was sworn in.
Mikakos’ resignation came a day after she heard her boss tell the hotel quarantine inquiry board she was responsible for the Department of Health and Human Services, which was ultimately responsible for running the quarantine scheme.
The hotel quarantine program in Victoria failed because private security guards breached infection control, causing the spread of the virus into the community and a devastating second wave.
To date, 782 Victorians have died of the virus and the entire state has been subject to strict lockdowns, workforce and school closures and prolonged social isolation.
“I have never wanted to leave a job unfinished but in light of the premier’s statement … and the fact there are elements in it that I strongly disagree with … I cannot continue to serve in his cabinet,” Mikakos wrote.
I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined.
I am deeply sorry for the situation that Victorians find themselves in.
In good conscience, I do not believe that my action led to them.
Mikakos will also be resigning from the Victorian parliament.
The premier, like all leaders who came before the $3m inquiry, told the board on Friday he did not know who made the decision to use private security guards.
He pushed back on suggestions from reporters on Saturday that he should also resign, saying he would not run from a challenge and remained focused on fighting the pandemic and repairing the state’s economy.