Australia politics live: four states on edge as Covid cases rise and bold plan for vaccination providers flagged

It seems like Monday was years ago, but we have made it to the last sitting day of the first week of spring sittings.

Barely.

After today, the MPs will go back to their respective corners and prepare their lines for the coming week, as politics becomes the driving force in every response.

The election will most likely be held in March, with Scott Morrison hoping everyone will have forgotten most of this year and instead focus on getting vaccinated and watching Australia open up, while painting Anthony Albanese in the light he wants you to see him in, before you make up your own mind about the opposition leader. Albanese is hoping you’ll remember what much of the past year has been like, and see Morrison as he wants you to see him, no matter what you had previously decided, and will be too busy focusing on the government to think about what Labor’s alternatives are.

It means the rest of the political year will be a tad nasty – we have already seen that play out this week – but strap yourselves in, it is only going to get worse. Morrison may be down but he’s not out, and both sides know it.

A lot of how the next few months play out will depend on how the states, NSW in particular, manage the latest Covid outbreak, with already pandemic-fatigued and emotionally exhausted populations.

Right now, 41 days into lockdown, Gladys Berejiklian can’t say whether NSW cases have reached their peak or not. Authorities are waiting to see what impact the anti-lockdown protest, a potential super spreader event, has had.

Victoria went from celebrating having zero cases to finding a mystery case yesterday, which it is now scrambling to investigate. As more people become vaccinated, zero cases is something Australia is going to have to learn to let go of, in another battle for governments. Australian have become used to aiming for Covid-free communities, something that will be unsustainable once borders reopen (if it was ever sustainable in the first place).

Queenslanders in the south-west are still hoping they can come out of lockdown on Sunday but authorities have been laying the groundwork for that not happening. The most likely scenario is another week of lockdown, with cases stubbornly hanging around in the mid-teens.

WA called a snap press conference after finding a case yesterday. This one seems the most easy to manage, with the person having shown a very low viral load – having had Covid previously. His partner has tested negative already but it’s enough for warnings to go out, reminding everyone, even in the most Covid-resistant communities, that things can change at any time.

Meanwhile, Australia’s healthcare workers are fatigued after operating on high alert for the past 18 months, rearranging everything to deal with both a bungled vaccination program, and demands for normal healthcare needs, as well as administering as many vaccinations as possible.

Sarah Martin reports they could be getting some help as part of a plan to take the load off, while ramping up the program as mRNA supplies start to arrive.

So it is one eye on the politics, one eye on Covid, and thoughts with everyone struggling as we trudge through August and this sitting.

You have Amy Remeikis with you on the blog, with Mike Bowers providing the heart and soul. Katharine Murphy, Sarah Martin, Paul Karp and Daniel Hurst are your Canberra team, with the whole Guardian brains trust at your disposal.

Being Thursday, always the worst day of the week, I’ve gone with cake for breakfast. Choose your own treat and let’s get into it.

Source link