Sunday, 29 March 2020

Federal Parliament suspends inquiry into migration in regional Australia until later in 2020

The Joint Standing Committee on Migration has decided to suspend its inquiry into migration in regional Australia, in light of the economic effects of the public health situation changing the nature of the needs of communities in regional Australia.
“Given the fast evolving situation in Australia and around the world, and the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Committee felt it best to suspend its inquiry,” Mr Julian Leeser MP, Committee Chair said. “The Committee was unanimous in this decision, which it does not take lightly.”
“The Committee will reconsider the matter later in 2020 but would like to sincerely thank everyone who has contributed to the inquiry so far. Your input and dedication to supporting and developing Australia’s regions is greatly appreciated.”
Any questions about the suspension of the inquiry should be directed to

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020: across the Clarence Valley major retailers have shut up shop

Across the Clarence Valley major retailers have shut up shop.

The Daily Examiner, 26 March 2020:

Mosaic Brands, which owns Rivers, Millers, Noni B, Autograph, Crossroads and Rockmans, among others, announced it would be closing its stores as of yesterday evening and stood down 6800 staff.

When The Daily Examiner contacted one local retailer affected by the announcement, staff had not yet been told they would be stood down.

The move will have significant ramifications for the Clarence, with at least eight stores being affected, seven of which are situated in Grafton Shoppingworld.

Carol Durrant, assistant manager at Rockmans on Prince St, said while the impact could be “disastrous” for the local economy in the long term, it was not unexpected.

She said there had been a significant decline in the number of shoppers during the past week.

“Well, we knew it had to come as both my daughters are in retail in Queensland and they had been shut for the last week – it had to come,” she said.

Ms Durrant said the downturn in shoppers was a sign the community understood the new social distancing measures.

“I think people are realising it is non-essential and we haven’t seen a soul all day,” Ms Durrant said.

“They are really getting the message.” For anyone who ventured into Grafton Shoppingworld it was impossible not to notice the impact the pandemic was having at a local level.

The chairs have been removed from the food court with the recently announced ban on indoor eateries and there were few people out shopping.

Mosaic Brands said in their announcement the measures were temporary. “All team members affected by the store closures will be stood down with access to leave entitlements while the group reviews government support schemes that may be available to them,” they stated.

“The group has recently seen a significant drop in store traffic and revenue, a direct result of the community’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the government’s social distancing recommendations.” A Grafton Shoppingworld spokesperson said the announcement would affect seven stores in the centre but noted the centre would remain fully open.

“The centre is constantly liaising with all relevant authorities and will follow all directives in regard to its operation to ensure a safe environment for all,” the spokesperson said.....

Saturday, 28 March 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020: NSW local government elections postponed for twelve months from September 2020

Shelley Hancock – Minister for Local Government, media release,  25 March 2020:

Local Government Elections

The NSW Government has made the regrettable decision to postpone the September local government elections for 12 months in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local government elections are a vital part of the democratic process, ensuring local councils are accountable to their local communities.
Therefore, the decision to postpone them has not been taken lightly but is necessary to ensure the health and safety of voters, NSW Electoral Commission staff and election candidates.
The decision follows Parliament passing amendments to the Local Government Act to provide me with the power to postpone the elections.
The NSW Electoral Commissioner has also requested that the Government postpone the council elections.
This decision provides certainty for local councils, communities and election candidates.
The postponement of the next round of council elections will not change the future schedule of council elections, and the subsequent elections will still proceed in September 2024
Mayoral elections will still be held in 2020.

Tweet of the Week

Cartoons of the Week

Matt Golding
Mark David

Peter Broelman

Fiona Katauskas

Friday, 27 March 2020

COVID-19 advice to the Morrison Government - details of which it never expected the general public would become aware

"The reduction in doubling time is an indicator that the window for proactive intervention is very small." 

At the current rate of infection Australia could theoretically expect over 6,000 COVID-19 cases by next week and over 50,000 by Easter.

COVID-19 cases quickly climbing in the NSW Northern Rivers region

COVID-19 infection rose from 7 to 17 cases within a 24 hour period in the NSW Northern Rivers region. Total number of cases now stands at 22 individuals.

Northern NSW Local Health District (NNLHD), media release, 24 March 2020:

10 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed within the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) since our last update, bringing the District’s total to 17 cases.
The Public Health Unit is in the process of contacting close contacts, and investigations are underway to determine the sources of these cases.
The confirmed cases to date are spread across the length of the Local Health District, from Clarence right up to the Tweed Valley.
We’d like to thank those who have been cooperating with our Public Health Officers to date, working with our staff and self-isolating correctly at home.
We can’t emphasise enough how important it is for all our community to heed the advice of authorities in efforts to slow the transmission of the virus.
It’s critical to adhere to self-isolation guidelines if you’ve been instructed by health authorities or mandated to quarantine as a result of overseas travel.
For general members of the public, the most important things you can do at the moment are:
  • practising good hygiene – hand washing or sanitising, and coughing/sneezing into a tissue which you then discard
  • staying at home if you’re sick
  • minimising close contact with others by following the social distancing measures.
It’s also important to remember that locations where cases live, work or have visited don’t pose an ongoing risk to members of the public. If you are considered a close contact of a confirmed case, a Health officer will contact you directly.
COVID-19/flu clinics
COVID-19/flu clinics are established at The Tweed Hospital, Lismore Base Hospital and Grafton Base Hospital, open from 10am to 6pm daily.
These clinics are for those most at risk with respiratory symptoms or fever, those returning from overseas or in contact with a COVID-19 case, or people like our health workers. It is vital that these respiratory clinics are not overwhelmed with people who are not in the high risk groups, which could result in delays identifying those most vulnerable. People without symptoms do not need to be tested.
The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, headache, runny nose, or shortness of breath. Anyone with symptoms should isolate themselves from others.
Identification and isolation of contacts is a critical measure that limits the spread of COVID-19. Compliance with self-isolation by all contacts and returned travellers is essential.
When social distancing actions are combined with good personal hygiene measures the spread of an epidemic through the community can be slowed.
This helps protect the most vulnerable members of the community. It also reduces the impact of the epidemic on essential, life-saving health services by reducing the size of the peak of the epidemic so health services can continue to provide high quality care to all patients.
Everybody must play their part.
For advice and information about COVID-19 visit
Northern NSW Local Health District (NNLHD), media release, excerpt, 26 March 2020:

As at 8pm Wednesday 25 March there were five new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in residents of the Northern NSW Local Health District. This brings the District’s total to 22.
The new cases are:
  • Case 18 – currently not residing in Northern NSW LHD, in home isolation
  • Case 19 – in home isolation after returning from overseas
  • Case 20 – in home isolation after returning from overseas
  • Case 21 – in home isolation, source currently being investigated
  • Case 22 – in home isolation, source currently being investigated
The Public Health Unit is following up close contacts of cases who are located within NNSWLHD, who are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days from last contact with the confirmed case.
They will be contacted daily to check that they are well and anyone who develops COVID-19 symptoms will be tested for the virus.
If you are considered a close contact of a confirmed case, a Health officer will contact you directly.
 The cases for NNSWLHD include:
  • 15 overseas acquired cases
  • 2 contacts of a confirmed case/ or in a known cluster
  • 2 contact not identified
  • 3 under investigation – source unknown
Of these previous 17 cases, 14 are currently in self-isolation at home and two are in hospital. One person is considered to have recovered.