Welcome to the second week of parliamentary sittings, which will be a lot like the first – not a lot going on.
Covid travel restrictions mean we have pretty much the same cast in the parliament in Canberra this week, which is not many, although the main players will of course be around.
You’ll hear a lot about how polls don’t matter – the latest Newspoll, first published by the Australian, shows the two-party-preferred vote has moved one point in Labor’s favour – 54 to 46, with the Coalition’s primary vote dropping three points to 36. That support seems to have gone to minor and fringe parties – neither One Nation or the Greens saw much movement.
The drop in primary will be one of the most worrying results for the Coalition. While there has been a lot of commentary about Labor’s primary vote, the Coalition’s has been largely ignored. And in the end, on election day, the only issue will be where those preferences flow – do they go to the Coalition, or to Labor?
The results come while NSW continues to record ever-higher Covid daily cases (1,218 yesterday) at the same time as ongoing reports of the health system under increasing pressure.
If you haven’t already, read this story from Elias Visontay which goes into some of the detail of what is happening in NSW hospitals:
Two ICU nurses from Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred and St Vincent’s hospitals have independently raised concerns that when working in non-Covid ICUs in recent weeks, the pressure that surging Covid cases had placed across the health system has left them understaffed to the point that increasing sedative dosage is the safest way they can manage their patient load.
Guardian Australia does not suggest the nurses have administered sedatives their patients were not already prescribed by a doctor.
Rather, the ICU nurses, who oversee the infusion of sedatives and administer varying levels within a certain dose range prescribed by a doctor – known as titration – report that when staff are stretched, decisions have been made to increase sedation to the maximum allowed dose “to knock the patient out” so nurses can ensure the patient will remain safe when they need to divert their attention elsewhere.
Victoria has also not managed to get a lid on its outbreak, and both states are dealing with a lot of lockdown-fatigued people. Which is where the national plan comes in – but the rest of the country, which has seen lockouts but not as many lockdowns, is not as willing to open up as the plan demands.
Throw in the Afghanistan withdrawal, and the federal government is on the back foot in more than one way.
We’ll cover all of that, as well as what is happening with Covid as the day unfurls. You have Amy Remeikis with you on the blog, along with Mike Bowers who is of course, already at work. Katharine Murphy, Sarah Martin, Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst will be with you during the day, with the Guardian brains trust ensuring you don’t miss anything.
It’s going to be a busy day – I’m on coffee number three.