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Welcome to day 274 of 2020, and the last day of September. As far as we know. The clock could hit 23:60 on New Year’s Eve, and we could just end up doing this whole year again – none of us would be surprised.
With case numbers starting to drop, the federal government is once again putting pressure on Victoria to open up Melbourne but, at this stage, Daniel Andrews is staying firm. Last time Victoria eased restrictions there was still community transmission occurring and we know how quickly that jumped out of control. So the cautious response is understandable. But as the days tick by, the ceasefire between the two governments seems increasingly shaky.
In Queensland it is all about the election, which is now just a month away. Covid has become almost a side issue in the sunshine state – the closed borders means there have been no community transmissions for more than two weeks, although federal government MPs are also demanding those borders come down too. Northern NSW residents can enter Queensland from tomorrow but, with the Northern Territory and South Australia also welcoming Sydney and surrounds, pressure is increasing on the Queensland government to open up again
Even Mark McGowan, who leads the state with the hardest border closure in the land at the moment, felt some of the pressure – he announced that from next Monday, people travelling to Western Australia from Victoria won’t have to pay for hotel quarantine if they can complete 14 days of self-isolation in a “suitable premises” – like a house. That means a lot of people can go home for longed-for visits. NSW residents will also be treated the same as other visitors to WA – a Covid test on day 11 but entry won’t be so difficult to obtain.
NSW, often held up as the “gold standard” by the prime minister in terms of dealing with Covid, has gone four days without community transmission but authorities are worried about low testing rates. For the second day in a row, numbers were hovering at the lower end of the 8,000s, which, for Australia’s biggest state, is not great. There is still some risk of community transmission there, and, so far, its success in opening the economy and dealing with the virus has rested on catching any outbreaks before they take hold. But there seems to be some testing fatigue, which puts pressure on the system to keep up with the potential of an outbreak.
Federally, it is all about the budget, which yesterday Scott Morrison called the most important in a generation. That will be handed down on Tuesday but, the at the moment, most people are just looking for some reassurance there will be some big spending and ideas to help navigate the absolute shitstorm which is headed our way. The cuts to jobkeeper and jobseeker already have people worried – and the prime minister’s comment yesterday – “We’ve got to keep moving forward. We need to keep leaning into the next step to see our economy strengthen and not have it held back by keeping support measures in place for too long” – hasn’t done a lot to allay those fears.
Anthony Albanese will give a speech today laying out what Labor thinks needs to happen, as well as increase his criticisms of Morrison.
Meanwhile, Jacinda Ardern has been having a chat on the Nine Network about the travel bubble – she says negotiations have shifted to “hotspot regimes” which she seems a little sceptical of, so stay tuned there.
We will cover all of the news, in terms of Covid and federal politics (with a few bits and pieces from elsewhere) as it happens. You have Amy Remeikis at the helm for the day.
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Coronavirus Australia live update: Victoria reports 13 new cases and four deaths as pressure mounts over border closures | Australia news