4 September 2020 / COVID-19

National Cabinet - Media Announcements

The following announcements have just been made at a press conference with the Prime Minister and Acting Chief Medical Officer:

Australia can’t be taken for granted, its federation is a happy work in progress with National Cabinet being part of that.

This year with the COVID pandemic and the COVID recession, has been one of the hardest in many generations.

If each National Cabinet state & territory just went their own way at the beginning of the pandemic, Australia would have fallen short in getting on top of the virus.

National Cabinet was set up to find a way to work through issues, challenges & disagreements.

All states and territories now have different priorities based on where they are in the pandemic so 100% consensus is not achievable and should no longer be the aim. Agreement should be the goal but “not everyone has to get on the bus”, but it is important that “anyone not getting on the bus knows it has to leave”.

7 out of 8 states & territories agreed to getting back to a cohesive plan by December (WA was the exception).

Currently fashioning a new plan to determine both health and economic outcomes that will work moving forward, e.g. how testing should work & surveillance testing arrangements (like sewage testing). 

As Australia opens up, it means making sure people can move around. National Cabinet agreed that central to this is the hotspot plan – which is a big part of the overall plan. Hotspots need to be more specifically defined and this is what is now being worked on.

Australia needs to move beyond a situation of hard borders, but instead look to creating a national hotspot definition and use that instead. States & territories will have some bilateral movement and multi-lateral movement plans that will form part of this plan.

VIC-NSW-SA borders – each of these states is keen to get them open to each other as soon as possible. 

TAS wants its border down by December. 

WA has said they won’t join in the journey of plan but will continue to work with the group. However, they have their own priorities and are quite different – there is virtually no large border towns along WA border and WA economy very different to states like SA/TAS.

More sustainable system is required as the world may not have a vaccine for years. No one is asking border closures to come down right now, but all need to be looking ahead to further stages in months and years to come. Need to get to an agreement on this.

Agricultural Code – five out of the eight states are on board. QLD, WA, TAS didn’t join onto this but will continue to listen in on discussions. VIC, SA, NSW will put immediately in place.

NSW has been doing all the heavy lifting on international arrivals with Australians coming home. Trying to now get flights to go into other states as well to spread the load.

Spoke to PM Ardern – Australia will be looking at applying national hotspot approach to NZ as well. NZers will be able to come to Australia at right time. If no COVID in QLD and no COVID in Christchurch, they should be able to come to Sydney, for example. 

Update from BOM – upcoming weather season, emergency processes should be seamless with prospect of bushfires, cyclones and floods – need for quick movement of firefighters and defence personnel across states/borders without imposing quarantine. 

Benchmark report on mental health was received – mental health supports and DV supports are being put in place as best as possible recognising the stresses people are facing right now.

Current case data: ~26,000 cases total in Australia and 737 deaths. This is in comparison to the total cases worldwide which is 26 million. That means Australia has 1 / 1000th of world cases.

Halved the number of cases in VIC in recent times which is great to see.

Less than 100 cases nationally declared today with no cases in 6 states. Particularly – no cases in QLD which is good to see whilst the state remains on high alert. 

~67,000 tests were conducted nationally yesterday.

In a separate news conference, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced he will detail the Victoria Roadmap to Recovery this Sunday including details specific to industry (which we will provide an update of immediately after announcement). 

The Premier stated that the primary objective of the roadmap is to ease out of the current restrictions in a safe and controlled manner, so that case numbers do not immediately jump up again (meaning everything done so far would have been for nothing). 

The Premier reiterated that keeping Coronavirus numbers down is to preserve health care not only for Coronavirus patients but for any and all emergency health care required (heart attacks, motor accidents, strokes etc). 

The Victorian Treasurer also gave details about extensions and relaxation of criteria to rental residents and landlord circumstances in light of the strict lockdown measures. 

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