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Australia Covid live news update: Victoria records 2,297 cases, 11 deaths; NSW 406 cases, six deaths; and ACT 46 cases, one death Australia Covid live news update: Victoria records 2,297 cases, 11 deaths; NSW 406 cases, six deaths; and ACT 46 cases, one death
(32 minutes later)
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The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils will cancel their online forum event which included two members of the Taliban after the NSW government contacted them to ask for it to be called off, according to a release from the permier’s office. Barr:
Andrews has been asked if rapid antigen testing may ever be used to allow unvaccinated people into large events such as remembrance day ceremonies. From Tasmania:
Andrews: The ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, is speaking now. Despite relatively high case number and the death of a man who was in palliative care and subsequently infected with Covid-19, Barr is determined to move ahead with reopening now that the territory’s vaccination rates are so high.
Okay, now questions are turning to the ongoing Ibac hearings into branch stacking into the Labor party. Here is what the Victorian acting chief health officer, Prof Ben Cowie has to say about why the state’s cases have jumped so dramatically overnight.
Andrews has whipped out the expected line about not commenting on matters in front of the commission, but he did go into a bit more detail when he was asked if there were “zero cultural problems with Labor”. New Zealand has reported 71 new cases of Covid-19 in the community, all in Auckland.The deputy prime minister Grant Robertson said the government had expected to see cases in Auckland rise, but that they are growing more quickly than anticipated.He said health officials believe the outbreak can be contained under the current lockdown settings. Many of the cases are spreading at workplaces and through gatherings inside people’s homes, despite restrictions prohibiting gatherings indoors.
Reporter: Robertson said:
Andrews: There are now 1,790 cases in the Delta outbreak and 33 of those are in hospital, with five of those in ICU. Of Thursday’s cases, 28 are yet to be linked to an existing cluster.More than 80% of the population over 12 years old has had its first dose of the vaccine, and more than 58% is fully inoculated.
The Victorian premier says once the state opens up case numbers will become less and less relevant, but health teams will still be tracking and tracing as much as they can. The director general of public health Dr Caroline McElnay said Thursday’s cases were “sobering but not unexpected because of where we are in the outbreak”.
Andrews has been asked if people in Victoria have “given up on the lockdown” with cases now soaring above 2,000 cases. Dr McElnay said:
But the Victorian premier is not quite ready to say if the state will come out of lockdown early just yet: The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (Afic) has cancelled its planned online forum that was due to include two senior Taliban representatives.
Andrews: In a statement released this morning, Afic say they decided to cancel the event “in response to community concerns” with Afic president Dr Rateb Jneid saying the event was not intended to “legitimise any group”:
The Victorian premier Daniel Andrews is speaking now on his way into parliament house. The event’s announcement sparked outrage in the Afghan and Muslim communities in Sydney, with the Afghanistan-Australian Advocacy Network (AAAN), along with prominent community leaders, condemning the panel earlier today.
He says it’s likely that vaccination rates in the under 16 population will soon catch up with the adult cohort. The AAAN’s Arif Hussein had called on the event to be cancelled, and for Afic to offer an apology to the Afghan-Australian community:
The Australia Capital Territory has recorded 46 new local cases of Covid-19 today. The cancellation also comes after NSW premier Dominic Perrottet released a statement, saying the NSW government had asked Afic to cancel the event.
30 are linked to known clusters, but only 18 were in quarantine for their entire infectious period. Afic has yet to offer an apology for the event.
The territory also recorded one death, according to a release from ACT Health: Merlino has confirmed that, TGA approvals permitting, rapid antigen testing will be rolled out in school campuses across Victoria.
Three Royal Australian Navy have escaped with only minor injuries after they were forced to ditch their helicopter in the Philippine Sea. This has lead the navy to temporarily pause the flying operations of the MH-60R Seahawk fleet while the cause of the crash is investigated. VCE students who are close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases will still be allowed to sit their exams on campus, Victorian education minister James Merlino has confirmed.
According to a statement from the Department of Defence, the crew of the MH-60R Seahawk helicopter were doing a routine flight over the sea last night when “the crew conducted an emergency landing in the water”. Ummm, I sat my VCE exams six years ago, back in precedented times, and I’m still traumatised. I can’t imagine doing that while in Covid-19 isolation!
HMAS Brisbane, the boat that the helicopter was operating from, deployed sea boats and rescued the crew around 20 minutes later. Merlino:
The three members received first aid for minor injuries once they were safely returned to the ship.
Here is what commander of the Australian fleet, rear admiral Mark Hammond, had to say:
Two Victorian MPs will put forward an amendment on Thursday in a bid to allow them to attend state parliament without providing proof of vaccination.
The Liberal Democrats Tim Quilty and David Limbrick want PCR and rapid antigen tests used instead of proof of vaccination when admitting members to parliament.
They say the amendment will “safeguard” health and safety while averting the “undemocratic” move of preventing MPs who do not wish to provide their health information from voting on legislation.
The pair say the amendment echoes schemes announced by the state government for level crossings and the Royal Melbourne hospital.
The amendment is expected to be discussed in parliament later on Thursday.
Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout boss insists the gap is closing between immunisation rates of Indigenous people and the broader population, reports AAP.
Just 42.3% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have received both doses compared with 64.4% of the general population aged 16 and over.
The gap between first doses is even greater.
More than 83% of over-16s have received one shot among the broader population, while the figure is just 57.5% among Indigenous people.
Vaccine rollout co-ordinator, John Frewen, told a Senate hearing on Thursday the rollout was now catching up.
Frewen said the discrepancy was the government’s primary concern.
Of particular worry were Indigenous vaccination rates in Western Australia, where the state has some of the lowest levels of overall coverage.
Similar vaccine strategies rolled out to Indigenous communities in western NSW and northern Queensland are also set to be enacted in remote WA areas, such as door-to-door activities or pop-up hubs.
Labor has blamed the Morrison government for a supply shortage which significantly hampered the Indigenous vaccine rollout.
Frewen said that vaccine hesitancy, misinformation and complacency were also significant factors in lower immunisation rates.
The committee was told there had been stories of some members of the Aboriginal population believing the vaccine would reduce someone’s Indigeneity.
Australia’s four big banks appear to be split over their decision to mandate vaccines for staff.
Sydney-based Westpac and Commonwealth Bank have both released statements this morning confirming they will require all employees to be fully vaccinated.
Westpac CEO Peter King said:
In a statement to the Sydney Morning Herald, a spokesperson from the Commonwealth Bank confirmed it would be doing the same.
However, Melbourne-based NAB and ANZ have stated previously that they are satisfied with vaccine uptake among their staff and do not feel the need to make them mandatory, at least for the time being.
Bruce Lehrmann’s criminal case for the alleged rape of former Morrison government staffer Brittany Higgins has been adjourned until 5 November.
Lehrmann remotely appeared before the ACT magistrates court on Thursday via telephone, but the matter was delayed before it is expected to be committed by consent to the ACT supreme court.
Lehrmann intends to plead not guilty to one charge of sexual intercourse without consent and denies that any form of sexual activity took place. His appearance on Thursday was limited to brief greetings confirming his appearance, greeting the magistrate and confirming he could hear via audio link.
Lehrmann’s lawyer, John Korn, sought an adjournment, revealing that the brief he had received from police contained “material in it that I shouldn’t have had”.
Korn told the court he undertook not to read the material, and has not done so. Korn received a hard copy of the correct version of the brief on Tuesday, necessitating a delay of three weeks.
Korn said he would need two weeks to get across the material and would schedule one conference with his client, who is currently in Queensland.
The ACT director of public prosecutions, Shane Drumgold, said it remains “ready to commit” the matter but did not oppose adjournment. Justice Campbell adjourned the matter to 5 November.
The summons, seen by Guardian Australia, alleges one breach of the Crimes Act by Lehrmann for “sexual intercourse with Brittany Higgins, without her consent, and [that he] was reckless as to whether she had consented”. The offence is punishable by up to 12 years in prison.
Higgins alleges that Lehrmann raped her in the Parliament House office of the former defence industry minister Linda Reynolds in the early hours of 23 March 2019.
In August Lehrmann’s lawyer John Korn said in a statement:
Australian federal police began investigating the allegation Higgins had been raped by a colleague at Parliament House in 2019 after she made a formal complaint in February.
A brief of evidence was passed to the director of public prosecutions in June.
A quick update from Tasmania.