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Australia news live: TGA mulls EU advice on AstraZeneca Covid vaccine and clots; pharmacies oppose NSW mass vaccination plan Australia news live: TGA mulls EU advice on AstraZeneca Covid vaccine and clots; pharmacies oppose NSW mass vaccination plan
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There have been some changes in staffing in Anthony Albanese’s office that might be of interest to any political nerds out there.
The shake-up sees the promotion of two women into Albanese’s circle of closest advisers - his so-called “leader’s executive”, which has been without a female voice since the controversial departure of Sabina Husic last year.
Liz Fitch has been promoted to the position of director of media, while Matthew Franklin will take on the role of senior press secretary.
The switch in roles will see Fitch sit on Albo’s executive team, while Franklin will spend more time on strategy, speechwriting and parliamentary tactics, along with his usual journo-wrangling.
The Opposition Leader’s office is also bringing in fresh talent, hiring Katie Connolly as strategic communications special adviser.
Connolly, who starts in Albanese’s office next week, was lead pollster for US Democrat Pete Buttigieg “Pete for America” campaign, and previously worked as a pollster and researcher for Barack Obama.
Connolly will be the team’s strategic communications special adviser as Albanese sharpens his pitch to voters in the lead up to the election.
How’s this for a cracking picture, from our British print edition yesterday.
Morning commuters in crowded boats on the Buriganga River in Dhaka, Bangladesh, despite Covid-19. Taken by Azim Khan Ronnie.
Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart will kiss goodbye to the sunshine this weekend when a “polar blast” of icy air will send temperatures plummeting on Sunday, bringing rain, snow and even hail in some regions.
Jonathan How, a meteorologist at the Bureau of Meteorology, said a cold front expected for Friday would be followed by a second front on Saturday, created by a “polar blast” moving north from the Antarctic.
Together they will deliver what may the coldest day of the year so far.
“This is looking to be the last hurrah of the warm season and the summer ... This will be the last time we see the high 20s and low 30s until next spring.”
On Sunday the conditions will move through to Sydney, making for a chilly weekend.
“Even though we’re not going to see any record broken, the main message is that it is going to be quite uncomfortably chilly,” How said. “This sudden swing will catch people by surprise.”
On current BoM projections, the weather in Sydney will hit a low of 13C on Sunday, with the mercury falling to 10C in Melbourne and 0C in Canberra on Monday.
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The Northern Territory is offering thousands of dollars to fruit pickers who travel to the Top End and help harvest the ripening melon crop.The Northern Territory is offering thousands of dollars to fruit pickers who travel to the Top End and help harvest the ripening melon crop.
Coronavirus travel restrictions and closed borders have stopped foreign backpackers travelling to Australia, leaving growers desperately short of labourers to pick their fruit.Coronavirus travel restrictions and closed borders have stopped foreign backpackers travelling to Australia, leaving growers desperately short of labourers to pick their fruit.
AAP reports the NT government wants Australian workers to fill the shortfall and help harvest the more than 75,000-tonne melon crop, which includes seeded and seedless watermelons and rockmelons.AAP reports the NT government wants Australian workers to fill the shortfall and help harvest the more than 75,000-tonne melon crop, which includes seeded and seedless watermelons and rockmelons.
The $70 million per year NT industry is critical to national melon supply and allows shoppers to buy the produce 12 months of the year.The $70 million per year NT industry is critical to national melon supply and allows shoppers to buy the produce 12 months of the year.
The NT government is offering $1,000 per worker for up to 200 people to pick the fruit, along with $480,000 for bonuses to help businesses retain them.The NT government is offering $1,000 per worker for up to 200 people to pick the fruit, along with $480,000 for bonuses to help businesses retain them.
A bonus of $200 per week will be available for people who work a minimum of 30 hours per week, for at least five weeks between 12 April and 12 July.A bonus of $200 per week will be available for people who work a minimum of 30 hours per week, for at least five weeks between 12 April and 12 July.
“We produce the best melons in Australia and we have to get them off our farms into grocery shops and supermarkets across Australia,” minister for agribusiness Nicole Manison said on Thursday.“We produce the best melons in Australia and we have to get them off our farms into grocery shops and supermarkets across Australia,” minister for agribusiness Nicole Manison said on Thursday.
“Our message is simple, come to the Territory to work in a great place, have a great experience, and pick our melons.”“Our message is simple, come to the Territory to work in a great place, have a great experience, and pick our melons.”
The jobs on offer include picking, packing, sorting and logistics roles.The jobs on offer include picking, packing, sorting and logistics roles.
Workers with licences to operate forklifts, trucks and production machinery will be in hot demand. Manison said the NT’s seasonal and overseas workforce has fallen by 73% over the past year.Workers with licences to operate forklifts, trucks and production machinery will be in hot demand. Manison said the NT’s seasonal and overseas workforce has fallen by 73% over the past year.
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has lashed the New South Wales government’s move to rollout mass vaccination sites, saying the plan “makes no sense”.The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has lashed the New South Wales government’s move to rollout mass vaccination sites, saying the plan “makes no sense”.
The guild said pharmacies are set to join the rollout from phase 2a, commencing in June, and that they can support rapid delivery of the vaccine in a way mass vaccination sites can’t.The guild said pharmacies are set to join the rollout from phase 2a, commencing in June, and that they can support rapid delivery of the vaccine in a way mass vaccination sites can’t.
The guild notes there are over 5,900 community pharmacies across Australia, and in capital cities, 97% of Australians live within 2.5km of their local pharmacy.The guild notes there are over 5,900 community pharmacies across Australia, and in capital cities, 97% of Australians live within 2.5km of their local pharmacy.
National president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Prof Trent Twomey, is calling for pharmacies to be considered one of NSW’s major vaccination providers, adding that pharmacists “are used to working over public holidays and being open for extended hours and on weekends”.National president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Prof Trent Twomey, is calling for pharmacies to be considered one of NSW’s major vaccination providers, adding that pharmacists “are used to working over public holidays and being open for extended hours and on weekends”.
Twomey said:Twomey said:
Twomey also claims the “most successful” vaccine rollout in the United States has been in West Virginia because “they’ve gone with the local pharmacy option as the vaccination provider”.Twomey also claims the “most successful” vaccine rollout in the United States has been in West Virginia because “they’ve gone with the local pharmacy option as the vaccination provider”.
An interesting update from the Guardian’s Brussels bureau chief, Daniel Boffey, related to the tensions between Scott Morrison and the European Union over its vaccine export controls.An interesting update from the Guardian’s Brussels bureau chief, Daniel Boffey, related to the tensions between Scott Morrison and the European Union over its vaccine export controls.
On Wednesday, as Morrison shifted to blame Australia’s slow vaccine rollout on the 3.1m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that haven’t arrived from Europe, he accused the EU of blocking vaccine shipments.On Wednesday, as Morrison shifted to blame Australia’s slow vaccine rollout on the 3.1m doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that haven’t arrived from Europe, he accused the EU of blocking vaccine shipments.
The EU hit back at the government on Wednesday, saying it had only blocked one shipment, of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses from Italy in early March, and that it hadn’t blocked any further shipments.The EU hit back at the government on Wednesday, saying it had only blocked one shipment, of 250,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses from Italy in early March, and that it hadn’t blocked any further shipments.
However the Morrison government returned fire and said the EU was “arguing semantics”. This was because it said the EU had signalled it would block future export requests, so AstraZeneca – which has to lodge the requests on Australia’s behalf – didn’t submit any.However the Morrison government returned fire and said the EU was “arguing semantics”. This was because it said the EU had signalled it would block future export requests, so AstraZeneca – which has to lodge the requests on Australia’s behalf – didn’t submit any.
It has since been revealed that the 717,000 AstraZeneca doses Australia has been able to import arrived from the UK, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, suggesting the EU has not approved any vaccine export requests to Australia.It has since been revealed that the 717,000 AstraZeneca doses Australia has been able to import arrived from the UK, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, suggesting the EU has not approved any vaccine export requests to Australia.
Boffey reports that a spokesman for the European Commission confirmed that officials in Brussels had held talks with the Australian government over the 3.1m jabs but insisted the EU would not permit exports by AstraZeneca as long the company failed to live up to its commitments to the bloc.Boffey reports that a spokesman for the European Commission confirmed that officials in Brussels had held talks with the Australian government over the 3.1m jabs but insisted the EU would not permit exports by AstraZeneca as long the company failed to live up to its commitments to the bloc.
The EC commission spokesman said:The EC commission spokesman said:
The spokesman refused to be drawn further on the content of the discussions with the Australian government.The spokesman refused to be drawn further on the content of the discussions with the Australian government.
You can read more about the vaccine export stoush, and Australia’s plea for 1m of its ordered doses to be sent to Papua New Guinea (low and middle income countries are meant to be exempt from the EU vaccine export control):You can read more about the vaccine export stoush, and Australia’s plea for 1m of its ordered doses to be sent to Papua New Guinea (low and middle income countries are meant to be exempt from the EU vaccine export control):
Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services have warned they expect Tropical Cyclone Seroja, could reach category 3 when it hits the state’s coast over the weekend.Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services have warned they expect Tropical Cyclone Seroja, could reach category 3 when it hits the state’s coast over the weekend.
On late Sunday or early on Monday, Tropical Cyclone Seroja is expected to cross the coast as a Category 2 and could even be a Category 3 system.On late Sunday or early on Monday, Tropical Cyclone Seroja is expected to cross the coast as a Category 2 and could even be a Category 3 system.
The will be experience most likely in the area between Carnarvon and Jurien Bay. Destructive winds with gusts and 150km/h and intense rainfall that could cause flash flooding are expected near the system, as it moves over the coast.The will be experience most likely in the area between Carnarvon and Jurien Bay. Destructive winds with gusts and 150km/h and intense rainfall that could cause flash flooding are expected near the system, as it moves over the coast.
A direct impact to Perth is unlikely, but there could be strong rain on Sunday.A direct impact to Perth is unlikely, but there could be strong rain on Sunday.
However there will be three weather systems that authorities are monitoring that could approach tropical cyclone classification over the weekend.However there will be three weather systems that authorities are monitoring that could approach tropical cyclone classification over the weekend.
Authorities believe the first system to hit, named tropical low 23U, will affect the coast off Exmouth on Saturday, and are warning travellers to consider leaving the area now.Authorities believe the first system to hit, named tropical low 23U, will affect the coast off Exmouth on Saturday, and are warning travellers to consider leaving the area now.
Seroja – which originated in Indonesia and was named by that country’s meteorological authorities – will become the main point of concern later on Saturday and on Sunday and Monday, following that first system.Seroja – which originated in Indonesia and was named by that country’s meteorological authorities – will become the main point of concern later on Saturday and on Sunday and Monday, following that first system.
The third system is a tropical low that is not expected to impact the WA mainland but it is forecast to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the Cocos Keeling Islands on Friday and Saturday.The third system is a tropical low that is not expected to impact the WA mainland but it is forecast to bring heavy rain and gusty winds to the Cocos Keeling Islands on Friday and Saturday.
New South Wales police have now taken a formal statement from a longtime friend of the woman who alleged she was raped by Christian Porter, but insist the investigation remains closed.New South Wales police have now taken a formal statement from a longtime friend of the woman who alleged she was raped by Christian Porter, but insist the investigation remains closed.
In answers to NSW estimates, police have said that Macquarie Bank managing director, James Hooke, a friend of both Porter and his accuser for 30 years, was known to them as far back as July but until recently did not wish to make a statement because “he understood why the investigation had been closed”.In answers to NSW estimates, police have said that Macquarie Bank managing director, James Hooke, a friend of both Porter and his accuser for 30 years, was known to them as far back as July but until recently did not wish to make a statement because “he understood why the investigation had been closed”.
Porter has been accused of raping a 16-year-old in January 1988 when he was 17. He strenuously denies the allegation.Porter has been accused of raping a 16-year-old in January 1988 when he was 17. He strenuously denies the allegation.
On 12 March Hooke publicly stated he had “relevant discussions” with Porter’s accuser from “mid-1988 until her death” in June 2020 and with Porter from 1992 onwards.On 12 March Hooke publicly stated he had “relevant discussions” with Porter’s accuser from “mid-1988 until her death” in June 2020 and with Porter from 1992 onwards.
The revelation prompted the NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, to promise to reexamine the case, which was closed when the alleged victim indicated to the NSW police that she no longer felt able to pursue the complaint, before taking her life in June 2020.The revelation prompted the NSW police commissioner, Mick Fuller, to promise to reexamine the case, which was closed when the alleged victim indicated to the NSW police that she no longer felt able to pursue the complaint, before taking her life in June 2020.
In answers to supplementary questions on notice in NSW estimates, the NSW police have revealed they were in possession of an email from Hooke that had been forwarded to them by a friend of the victim on 2 July, shortly after her death.In answers to supplementary questions on notice in NSW estimates, the NSW police have revealed they were in possession of an email from Hooke that had been forwarded to them by a friend of the victim on 2 July, shortly after her death.
Read more:Read more:
The Morrison government has warned a legal challenge to Australia’s outgoing travel ban brought by rightwing thinktank LibertyWorks, threatens to “drive a truck” through biosecurity laws.The Morrison government has warned a legal challenge to Australia’s outgoing travel ban brought by rightwing thinktank LibertyWorks, threatens to “drive a truck” through biosecurity laws.
In submissions to the federal court, the commonwealth said LibertyWorks’ argument that the health minister has no power to impose a blanket ban on all citizens leaving Australia ignored the “emergency context” of the Covid-19 pandemic.In submissions to the federal court, the commonwealth said LibertyWorks’ argument that the health minister has no power to impose a blanket ban on all citizens leaving Australia ignored the “emergency context” of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The case is the first major challenge to Australia’s strict external border restrictions limiting people’s right to leave the country, but does not seek to overturn the cap on the number of arrivals to Australia.The case is the first major challenge to Australia’s strict external border restrictions limiting people’s right to leave the country, but does not seek to overturn the cap on the number of arrivals to Australia.
Read more:Read more:
New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, has given an update on the new Covid-19 case detected in a 24-year-old Auckland hotel quarantine worker who had not been vaccinated.
In response, Ardern has announced a temporary suspension of travel from India into New Zealand, coming into effect from 11 April until 28 April, and it will apply to New Zealand citizens.
Ardern also said it was her expectation that frontline border workers be vaccinated, and that from Monday, those who have not been vaccinated would be moved into other roles.
The case is not expected to effect Australia’s travel bubble arrangement with New Zealand.
Thanks for taking us through the day so far Matilda.
I’m Elias Visontay, and I’ll be taking you through the next part of the day.
If you see anything you think I should be aware of, you can get in touch with me via Twitter @EliasVisontay, via email at elias.visontay@theguardian.com, and Wickr at eliasvisontay.
With that, I might hand you over to the fantastic Elias Visontay to help you stay abreast of the news and bust Covid-19 misinformation for the afternoon.
One story that I haven’t mentioned today so far is the death of an elderly woman with pre-existing conditions in an aged care home in Queensland who passed away in the hours after being vaccinated.
It is understood the 82-year-old received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine at the Springwood Yurana aged care facility on Wednesday, before she died in the afternoon.
On any given day more than 100 aged care residents die in Australia, sadly, and currently there is no indication the vaccine caused her death.
Greg Hunt has been asked about this case at his press conference:
The acting premier of Victoria, James Merlino*, said this morning the states have the capacity to do more to help with the vaccine rollout.
Hunt has been asked if he would consider changing the rules around which groups state-run facilities can vaccinate. (Currently, the states have only been tasked with vaccinating their essential frontline workers).
Hunt said the federal government would welcome that**:
*If you remember, the actual premier, Daniel Andrews, is off work for a number of weeks after fracturing his spine.
**Seems getting the rollout happening faster is worth the bruised pride of being saved by the states.
Hunt has outlined the process the Australian health authorities will go through in order to determine what, if any, action they will take in regards to the AstraZeneca vaccine, now the EU has declared blood clotting a possible but rare side effect:
Federal health minister Greg Hunt is speaking now.
He says the residents of 1000 aged care facilities have now received their first vaccine dose and 435 have received the second.
The impact of China’s trade actions against a range of Australian sectors has been “quite limited” in most cases because exporters have been able to find other markets, according to new analysis published by the Lowy Institute today.
The institute’s lead economist, Roland Rajah, says Australia’s merchandise exports to China were worth A$145bn in 2020, about 2% below the 2019 peak, despite the Covid-related downturn.
He says that at the headline level, “the effect of China’s trade sanctions on Australia’s export numbers has been completely swamped by the booming iron ore trade – which China hasn’t been game enough to touch”.
Rajah says exports to China “have predictably collapsed in the areas hit by sanctions, but most of this lost trade seems to have found other markets”. He describes this as a “reshuffling of global trade”.
In a piece for the Lowy Institute’s The Interpreter site, he crunches the numbers:
Rajah argues Australian coal exporters have been “quite successful in diverting to other markets”. He also says sales of barley, copper, cotton, seafood and timber to other markets rose sharply, “but only after China’s sanctions intensified in late 2020”.
One important exception is the wine industry. Rajah says wine exporters have “struggled to make up for the loss of the premium China market”.
The analysis has been published a day after the Chinese ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye, argued the “difficulties” in the diplomatic relationship were not initiated by China. Cheng also issued a warning that Beijing would respond “in kind” if Canberra followed other countries in imposing sanctions against its officials over human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
Earlier the prime minister was asked about a report from Guardian political correspondent Sarah Martin today which showed Laming awarded a $550,000 grant to a rugby club with links to one of his staff members as part of the government’s controversial female sports facilities grants program.
Morrison claimed that “rants aren’t decided by members of parliament,” but are instead decided by the department.
But as Sarah has pointed out that is simply not the case, according to the department, as the grants were allocated as part of election commitments, and was not open to applications.
This means the department did not assess applications as Morrison suggested, but instead they were nominated by the government
You can read Sarah’s full story below: