Here are all the latest developments in the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Josh Taylor and it’s Friday 9 October.
Federal budget focused on Covid recovery
There is $98bn in spending in the federal budget, handed down by the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, on Tuesday, in what the Morrison government hopes will jumpstart the Australian economy as the country attempts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Included in the announcements are $17.8bn in tax cuts being brought forward – with high-income earners to benefit the most – cash payments of $250 for pensioners and a hiring credit for businesses that employ people under 35 years of age.
The budget is built on the assumption Australia will have a V-shaped recovery, contracting by 3.75% in 2020 before rebounding by 4.25% in 2021. It’s a gamble that needs an effective vaccine for Covid-19 to become available next year, borders to reopen and international students and migrants to return in the second half of 2021.
Morrison has said the spending measures will still go ahead even if the forecasts prove to be wrong.
In his budget reply speech, the Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, outlined proposals for rewiring Australia’s electricity grid for the 21st century, improving manufacturing in Australia and overhauling the childcare sector with more subsidies to make it more affordable for families.
NSW reports first community transmission in 12 days
After a 12-day streak of reporting no cases of community transmission, on Wednesday New South Wales reported three locally acquired Covid-19 cases.
By Friday 13 locally acquired cases had been reported. A number of the cases have been linked to a cluster at Liverpool hospital’s dialysis unit.
Local NSW cases threaten Queensland border reopening
The new cases threaten plans for Queensland to reopen the border to residents in the vast majority of NSW. The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has said NSW must go 28 days without any cases of community transmission, and set a 48-hour deadline on Wednesday for NSW to link the infection to a known outbreak.
As of Friday, Palaszczuk had not said whether the community transmission meant NSW residents would have to wait at least another 28 days for the border to open.
Chadstone outbreak threatens Victoria’s restrictions easing
The roadmap for Melbourne to move into the next stage of restrictions being eased requires the state to record an average of five daily cases over 14 days, and no more than five mystery cases.
The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has previously said the modelling suggested Melbourne would meet this target on 19 October, however an outbreak at the Butcher Shop in Chadstone, which spread to the regional town of Kilmore, has now accounted for 37 cases in the past few weeks, keeping Victoria’s case numbers in the double digits for several days.
On top of that, there were still 12 mystery cases for the 14-day period ending 6 October.
While Andrews has indicated some restrictions could still ease on 19 October, it is unclear whether the full plan will go ahead. The chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, has indicated the outbreaks could be under control in the next few days.
Former Victorian health minister rebukes premier over hotel quarantine
Victoria’s former health minister, Jenny Mikakos, on Friday delivered a stunning rebuke against her former leader, telling the hotel quarantine inquiry it was in part his rush to establish the botched program in late March, and bypass the usual cabinet process, that led to the failures of the program that ultimately caused Victoria’s second wave.
Mikakos urged the inquiry to “treat with caution” the premier’s claim that a decision about the use of private security had not been made when he announced the program in the afternoon of 27 March. The former minister also said she did not believe, contrary to what Andrews has said, that she was solely responsible for the program, putting some responsibility onto the jobs minister, Martin Pakula.
Victoria plans return to school for years seven to 10
The Victorian education minister, James Merlino, announced year sevens will return to school from next week, while years eight, nine and 10 will return to school for face-to-face teaching from 26 October. Primary school pupils will also return next week.
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