Australia’s peak medical body has warned it’s “too early” to scrap Covid-19 isolation requirements, with the nation set to be hit by another wave of infections, AAP reports.
National cabinet agreed to dump the five-day isolation period for positive cases at their last meeting in September.
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, announced the changes will come into effect on 14 October.
Australian Medical Association president Prof Steve Robson told AAP it was “too early” to ease these protections for the community.
All the signs are that we’re looking at another wave of Covid.
We’re coming out of one of the biggest waves of Covid yet and it has absolutely crushed [the] hospital workforce and left us with a massive logjam and backlog in hospitals at the moment that has to be dealt with.
If we have another wave over the holiday season, then it spells bad news for the country because we can’t tackle that backlog.
Robson said information from the northern hemisphere showed the newer variants won’t be affected by immunity from previous infection or from vaccinations.
We’re seeing a major wave beginning again in the northern hemisphere, we’re very concerned that this doesn’t happen in Australia.
The federal health department will release its weekly Covid-19 case notifications report on Friday.
Minister says government will not be “lectured” by opposition on stage three tax cuts
Sky News has shadow finance minister Jane Hume squaring off against shadow climate change minister Jenny McAllister. The topic is stage three tax cuts.
Hume is coming out with her new favourite verb “crab-walk” to describe Labor’s speculated u-turn, which she was using in her media round yesterday too. However, crabs usually walk sideways, not backwards but no one seems to have asked Hume to explain that.
If Labor crab walks away we’ll see their true colours.
McAllister says that the government is “working through all those issues” on stage three tax cuts. Two days away from the tenth anniversary of Julia Gillard’s anti-misogyny speech, McAllister has echoes of the former Labor leader when she responds to Hume:
We’re not going to be lectured to people who were unable to make an energy policy, address the skills crisis for 10 years.
Victorian emergency services respond to over 300 requests for assistance amid flooding
NCA bomber Perre jailed for life
National Crime Authority bomber Domenic Perre has been jailed for life and will be in his 90s before becoming eligible for parole after being sentenced for the 1994 Adelaide attack, AAP reports.
Perre faced the South Australian supreme court today with Justice Kevin Nicholson confirming his mandatory life sentence for the murder of Detective Geoffrey Bowen and the attempted murder of lawyer Peter Wallis.
With Perre already behind bars for drug offences, Nicholson extended his existing non-parole period by 30 years and seven months.
That means the 65-year-old will be aged over 95 before being able to apply for release.
Nicholson said Perre’s targeted murder of a serving police officer was violent, barbaric and ruthless. The judge said:
Your conduct was brutish. That is totally devoid of any human sensibility.
Your conduct was motivated by matters that do you no credit.
It was not just premeditated but intricately devised and planned over a lengthy period of time and was executed in cold blood.
Bowen died from horrific injuries, including the loss of his left arm, when a parcel bomb built and sent by Perre exploded in his office.
Wallis, who was standing nearby, lost an eye and suffered severe burns in the blast. He died in 2018.
Handing down his guilty verdicts in June this year, Nicholson found that Perre had intended to kill Bowen or anyone else who happened to open the package or be close by when it detonated.
Perre was first charged with murder soon after the bombing but the case against him was dropped six months later because of a lack of evidence.
He was arrested again in 2018 after a joint investigation, lasting more than two years, by a number of state and federal authorities including the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
In an incredibly detailed and complex case, prosecutors argued the bombing was a personal attack on Bowen.
They said Perre’s hostility towards him had grown because of their interactions following the seizure of a multimillion dollar cannabis crop in the Northern Territory in August 1993.
Bowen’s son Simon, who followed his father’s footsteps into the police force, was just seven at the time of the blast. He told Perre in a victim impact statement last month:
I struggle with the motive and relevance of your actions.
You caused so much irreparable damage and suffering all so you can grow some dope and walk about South Australia like a would-be gangster with your big black glasses.
Bowen’s widow Jane Bowen-Sutton said her husband was killed on their ninth wedding anniversary and she had experienced never-ending grief.
That day I told my seven and five-year-old sons that their much-loved dad had been killed and we would never see him again. I’ve relived that conversation for 28 years.
Genevieve Wallis, who was eight years old when her father was injured, said the attack had left him traumatised, depressed and debilitated. Wallis said:
The bombing had torn any sense of safety, belonging and privilege of being a child and it sickens me that a blatant disregard for human life can exist within another human.
In defence submissions, Perre’s lawyer Gilbert Aitken told the court that his client sympathised with the families of the victims but maintained his innocence.
He has lodged an appeal against his convictions.
Melbourne Zoo marks 160th anniversary with pledge to continue fighting wildlife extinction
RBA financial stability report to reveal rate-increase stresses
We’ll soon get the Reserve Bank’s semi-annual financial stability review, which should update the central bank’s assessment of how households and businesses are coping with the higher interest rates.
Their last such report landed, of course, before they started lifting the cash rate in May, with the increase now reaching a round 250 basis points with last Tuesday’s hike.
While we await the report, CoreLogic has released September quarter data tracking how much more it is costing to build a new home.
Their Cordell Construction Cost Index (CCCI) showed such costs were rising at a record rate in the 12 months to September – if you exclude the bulge in costs after the GST was introduced by the Howard government in March 2001.
According to index, residential construction costs increased by 11% over the 12 months to September, quickening from the 10% annual pace for the June quarter.
On a quarterly basis, the jump was 4.7% or about double the 2.4% increase in the April-June period. So much, then, for the easing of Covid restrictions producing some relief on the home-building front.
The federal opposition leader, Peter Dutton, has said Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, “is well and truly past his use-by date,” in a stinging attack over the issue of Essendon football club and Andrew Thorburn.
He also flagged the Liberal party, under his leadership, would more strongly speak out about social and culture issues like freedom of speech.
Dutton appeared on Sky News last night, where he was asked about the Thorburn case, where the former banking executive quit as Essendon CEO after just a day following the surfacing of sermons from the church that he chaired likening abortion to concentration camps and claims that “practising homosexuality is a sin”.
Andrews criticised Thorburn, Dutton then criticised Andrews, then Andrews criticised Dutton for criticising him. In the next round of the circular sledging match, Dutton took aim back at Andrews again last night.
Dutton told Sky host Andrew Bolt:
If ever there was a time for a change of government, it’s now in Victoria.
I hope and pray that they can change government down there because Daniel Andrews is well and truly past his use-by date and the gratuitous comments that he provides, I mean, there’s nothing substantive in what he says. He doesn’t argue the merit, you’ll notice, he attacks the person and that’s how he gets away with skating over the issues where he’s had a complete failure.
Dutton again called on Andrews to throw his support behind Thorburn: “He would say that he’s in favour of inclusion, he would say that he’s in favour of freedom of choice and freedom of speech and instead he’s supported a decision which has crucified somebody for their religious beliefs.”
The opposition leader flagged he would have a big focus on social and cultural issues such as the Thorburn case – and more broadly, freedom of speech and individual rights – as this term of government plays out. He said:
The Liberal party has very strong values, particularly around the rights of the individual and I’ll take every opportunity to assert those because people will know by the time of the next election that there is a big difference between the Liberal party and the Labor party – not just on social issues, but on economic and national security issues as well.
The Australian defence force’s contribution to the national response to Covid-19 concludes today, as the ADF announces an official end to “Operation Covid-19 Assist”.
The pandemic saw over 19,000 ADF personnel deployed at border checkpoints, testing and vaccine hubs, quarantine hotels and aged care facilities.
The ADF said in a statement that across more than 26,000 deployments helped assist the “most vulnerable to the effects of the virus” as well as critical supply chain management.
Deputy prime minister and defence minister, Richard Marles, had these words of thanks for the ADF:
We are extremely proud of Defence’s response to the pandemic which tested the resilience of all those involved.
As it did during the outbreak of Spanish influenza over a century ago, the Australian defence force rose to the challenge imposed by Covid-19, offering a significant capability to deal with the impacts of the disease.
Defence personnel enhanced services, provided relief to organisations under pressure, increased the effectiveness and speed of the national response and, importantly, provided reassurance to a concerned public.
I thank our Defence personnel for their commitment, compassion, patience and professionalism during one of the most challenging periods in Australia’s contemporary history.
Sydney’s Warragamba spill to pick up this weekend
More rain is falling today across the sodden inland regions of NSW.
The coast, though, including Sydney, will feel dry, certainly compared with the 91mm in the 24 hours to 9am Friday that tipped the city into wettest-year-ever territory with about a lot of 2022 to set a new high bar.
The lull, however, won’t last, with the weekend looking damp, particularly on Saturday when as much as 50mm will fall in Sydney and 70mm in the city’s west.
For the Warragamba Dam region, falls should approach 60mm on Saturday and as much as another 30mm on Sunday.
The dam has again been a focus of attention, with the NSW premier Dominic Perrottet this week repeating his determination to lift the dam wall even though it’s highly contested. (With the bill likely to top $2bn, the NSW government will be hoping half the funds will come from the feds. A tad unlikely.)
According to WaterNSW, Warragamba has so far been spilling only about 8 giga (or billion) litres a day since last Thursday (continuing an off and on again spill pattern for months).
Warragamba’s expected peak outflow will reach 275GL/day (based on a relatively low 25% chance), likely by Sunday PM. As of 6am today, inflows were at 36GL/day, and the spill was 30GL/day.
The dam, which is about 80% of Sydney’s capacity, holds 2000GL, and since March 2021 has received enough water to fill 2.2 times. Since November 2021, WaterNSW has made controlled releases of 1,000GL (or two Sydney Harbours’ worth).
As for the big inland NSW dams – Burrendong, Wyangala, Copeton and Burrinjuck – they have enough spare capacity with only modest spills based on the current forecasts. Those spills, of course, would be larger if conditions turn out a lot wetter than predicted, WaterNSW said.
They’ve been helped by the midweek rain being less than has been forecast, giving WaterNSW a chance to release water in those dams to gain “air space” to accommodate what’s coming in the next 48 hours.
Large policing operation supporting Bathurst 1000 event amid flooding
Superintendent Bob Noble also spoke at that press conference about the Bathurst 1000 event going ahead amid the threat of flood:
Obviously we’ve got a very large event in Bathurst this weekend. It is really important from an economic and social point of view, not just for this district but for the whole state.
We have a very large policing operation around that support the event. On the mountain itself, in and around Bathurst and on our roads in surrounding districts and that is to ensure that we have a safe event, everyone does well and everyone get as way safely.
What we don’t need is people entering flooded causeways and water across the road. It wasn’t very long ago that we had a five-year-old boy, not far from here who was killed, drowned in a car washed off the bridge. You can imagine how devastating that is for that family. It is a terribly hard way for a lesson to be learned by society.
NSW SES receive 24 calls for assistance, including four flood rescues
SES operational readiness officer, Joshua Clark, is providing an update:
We are looking at quite a significant weather event that is moving across the state from the west to the east at the moment. The areas of impact and concern for the SES are Gunnedah, Bathurst, Forbes, Warren and most of inland New South Wales.
This weather event has the potential to bring some significant heavy rainfall and as a result New South Wales SES and our partner agencies have provided and pre-positioned resources right across inland. We have here in relation to Bathurst, we have an additional flood rescue team from fire & cue, we have PolAir based out of Orange with helicopter support, aviation assets across New England and the north-west and a lot of those activities are reply and, resupply and flood and rescue support as and when required.
Thankfully, only 24 calls for assistance over New South Wales. Of note, four have been flood rescues.
A press conference is happening in Bathurst giving an update about the state’s deteriorating weather conditions expected over the next 36 hours.
Paul Toole, the deputy premier and member for Bathurst, one of the areas being hit by flooding, is the first to speak:
Over the coming days, we are expecting to see consistent rainfall across various parts of New South Wales.
We are expecting to see significant rainfall around the Bathurst area, the Gunnedah area and also around Forbes. Please, everybody, do the right thing over this weekend as we are continuing to see significant rainfall across the state.
Toole also warned drivers returning from school holidays to prepare for traffic:
We are expected to see congestion on the Great Western Highway, on the Princes Highway and on the M1 Motorway. We are asking people to plan their trips, to take their time. There will be congestion. It means that people will have delays. We also want people to drive to the conditions. There will be wet weather, so therefore when you’re braking, it will take extra distance to actually brake before you come it a stop.
The timing of the severe weather is also particularly bad for Bathurst, which is holding their annual supercar event which kicked off yesterday and continues through this weekend. Toole said:
I also want to point out that here in Bathurst, we have a major event this weekend as well. This is the Bathurst 1000. We are expected to see thousands of people here in the city enjoying the car race. But, again, we want to remind campers to not set up alongside the river. Do not set a campsite up underneath a tree. This is for your safety.
NSW emergency services minister Steph Cook said:
We are in the middle of two wet-weather systems at present and the next 24-36 hours we are likely to see increased rainfall across southern inland places like here in Bathurst and also across Sydney.
So here we are expecting weather conditions to deteriorate over this time and on that basis, we are asking communities to work with us over this time, and particularly those communities in the Hawkesbury-Nepean area – we are very aware of the fact that your communities have experienced four floods within an 18-month period and acknowledge the anxiety that some of you will be feeling at this time. I want-to-reassure communities across New South Wales that the SES are very well prepared.
Poll shows over-50s feel ageism pain
On ageism awareness day, national polling has been released showing nearly 70% of people over 50 agree that ageism against older Australians is a serious problem.
Australians in their 50s and 60s are significantly more concerned about ageism than older people, AAP reports.
Nearly three-quarters of over-50s believe Australia is not doing enough to raise awareness about ageism and fight against it, while 58% want a government awareness campaign.
However, people in their 50s and 60s are more likely than those in their 80s or 90s to think ageism is a serious problem, according to the research by RedBridge Group for the EveryAGE Counts campaign.
Nearly three-quarters of people in their 60s believe ageism is a serious problem, and 37% of people in that age bracket are most likely to have experienced ageism in the past year.
That was compared with about a quarter of over-50s generally, and 15% of people in their 80s.
EveryAGE Counts campaign director Marlene Krasovitsky said:
The way most polling has traditionally lumped ‘older Australians’ together into one monolithic group is ageist in and of itself. What this new research shows is that attitudes to ageism and experiences of ageism vary significantly across a very diverse ‘over-50’ group.
Nearly 30% of people over 50 have been ignored or made to feel invisible, according to the research.
Among those in their 50s, 28% had been rejected for jobs because of their age, and a quarter of people in their 50s and 60s had been made to feel like they are too old for their work.
Krasovitsky said those in their 80s and 90s, conversely, are more likely to report experiencing ageism in the health system, either by being denied treatments or by being ignored in favour of a carer.
The research was based on a representative national sample of more than 1,040 Australians.