Tuesday, 31 March 2020

COVID-19 Pandemic 2020: individuals displaying an unacceptable level of ignorance, entitlement or aggression

NSW Police, media release, 26 March 2020:

Appeal for public help after man coughs on Hunter supermarket employee

Police are appealing for public assistance after a man deliberately coughed on a supermarket employee at a Hunter region store earlier this week.

About 7.30pm on Tuesday (24 March 2020), a 35-year-old female employee was working inside a supermarket on Glenelg Street, Raymond Terrace, assisting customers to adhere to social distancing rules.

Police have been told a man and woman approached the register before a verbal altercation occurred between the man and the female employee and he deliberately coughed on her.

Officers from Port Stephens-Hunter Police District were notified and commenced inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

As inquiries continue, police have released images of a man they wish to speak to who may be able to assist with their investigation.

The man is described as being of Caucasian appearance, between 170-180cm tall, with a shaved head, and goatee-style facial hair. At the time, he was wearing cream shorts and black thongs.

Anyone who knows the man or has information which may assist investigators is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

A number of COVID-19 ministerial directions been announced to date, covering incoming travellers, diagnosed persons, mass gatherings and social distancing rules, and the closure of social gathering places.

The Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) provides NSW Police with the power to enforce these orders. It is an offence for a person to fail to comply with an order, and severe penalties apply.

NSW Police can now issue Penalty Infringement Notices (PINs) to anyone found to be in contravention of a ministerial direction. PINs carry on-the-spot fines of $1000 for individuals and $5000 for businesses.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, David Elliott, urges anyone with information to come forward.

“This kind of dangerous behaviour needs to stop immediately. It’s potentially putting the lives of workers and their families at risk.

“This isn’t a time to practice poor hygiene habits.

“For a disgusting act like this, you could find yourself charged with common assault and jailed for up to two years,” Mr Elliott said.

Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au. Information is treated in strict confidence. The public is reminded not to report crime via NSW Police social media pages.

Daily Mail, 27 March 2020:

A woman has been slapped with a $1,000 fine after ignoring instructions to self-isolate during the coronavirus lockdown. 
The 65-year-old woman returned to Sydney from Bali on Saturday and was ordered to self-quarantine for 14 days amid the deadly COVID-19 outbreak.
Police received reports that the woman had broken her quarantine on Monday and visited her home in Redhead, south of Newcastle, and issued her with a warning. 
Later on Thursday, officers received further information that the woman had once again left her home and was breaching the public health order.
Officers returned to her house later that day at 1.45pm and issued her a $1,000 penalty infringement notice. 
Police from Thursday had the power to hand out fines of $1,000 to individuals and $5,000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions.....

The Daily Examiner, 28 March 2020, p.16:

COVID-19 is making it a trying time for accommodation providers in Byron Bay, including for providers of short term accommodation (STA) such as Airbnb. 

Some savvy hosts are scrambling to keep bookings up and are still attempting to lure guests to Byron, advertising it as a “haven” for self-isolation. 

But residents are pleading for travellers to stay at home as the STA hosts advertise the beachside town as a great place  to isolate in the wake of strict social enforcements due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Self-isolate in sunny Byron Bay,” one Airbnb advertisement reads. “Come and self-isolate at the beach,” says another.....

“Someone just asked the very good question as to why shouldn’t visitors ‘social distance’ or ‘self isolate’ in the Byron Shire rather than in at home in Brisbane or the Gold Coast. 

“Here’s why: a) because you could be bringing the disease to this area and potentially infecting people living here and other visitors who have done the same thing, and b) if you are socially distancing or socially isolating down here and then need medical treatment, regional areas don’t have as many medical facilities as cities/ towns. “This means that locals could miss out on an ICU bed — and that could be my relative or neighbour pays with their life.”

Monday, 30 March 2020

COVID-19 confirmed cases count for Australia, states and territories from 29 March 2020

Cumulative totals of confirmed COVID-19 infections across Australia, taken from official federal, state and territory sources.

  • 3,984 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 
  • 4,247 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 263 cases)
  • 656 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 31 cases)
  • 689 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (incease of 33 cases)
  • 1,791 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 174 cases)
  • 1,918 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (inrcease of 127 cases)
  • 77 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 6 cases)
  • 78 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (inrcease of 1 case)
  • 769 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 31 cases)
  • 821 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (inrcease of 52 cases)
  • 66 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 4 cases)
  • 66 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (no increase overnight)
  • 299 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 12 cases)
  • 305 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 6 cases)
  • 311 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (increase of 33 cases)
  • 355 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (increase of 44 cases)
  • 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases 29 March 2020 (no increase overnight)
  • 15 confirmed COVID-19 cases 30 March 2020 (no increase overnight)

Parliamentary oversight of the the Australian Government ceased on 23 March 2020

At 19:07pm on the 23 March 2020 the House of Representatives divided for a vote changing the House sittings schedule for 2020.

The vote was 48 Ayes to 37 Noes. [Hansard, 23 March 2020, p.85]

This change left Australia with no sitting federal parliament from day's end on 23 March until 11 August 2020.

The vote to end parliamentary oversight of government went thus:

The Greens and Labor lost this vote.

Scott Morrison and his hard right allies, including the Institute of Public Affairs, cannot fail to be pleased with this extension of unfettered political power.

The reason the opposition believes that we shouldn't make that decision today is that, as everyone is acknowledging, we don't know where we will be in May or June, and the presumption should be that the parliament will sit. The presumption should be that we will meet if it is possible for us to sit, because, during this period, during a time of crisis, is when the Australian public needs us to sit. I will be more than surprised if we can go from now until August and find that the legislation we put through the parliament today is all the nation needs for Australia to handle this pandemic, all the nation needs to deal with the crisis of unemployment and recession that we'll be facing. That means we will need to sit, so we shouldn't pretend that we won't. It also means during this period the government will be compelled in the interests of the nation to make some decisions of great magnitude. That will happen. We know that will happen; that's part of the story behind the supply bills that have just passed. To have decisions of that magnitude being made without the parliament convening and without there being a question time and an opportunity for people representing the different corners of Australia to hold the government to account is an unwise course for us to take.” [Tony Burke, MP for Watson & Manager of Opposition Business, in House of Representatives Hansard, 23 March 2020]

Lock the Gate & Knitting Nannas Against Gas sound a warning over Berejiklian Government's sly move to take advantage of the current pandemic in order to further coal and gas industry interests

Knitting Nannas Against Gas, Fossil Fools Bulletin, 25 March 2020:

NSW Planning Minister Rob Stokes’ push for the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) to proceed with public hearings during the covid-19 pandemic is has alarmed groups opposed to the Narrabri gasfield and the Vickery coal mine.

Stokes has instructed the IPC to continue with public hearings during the coronavirus crisis.

Lock the Gate NSW spokesperso Georgina Woods said people could not be expected to fully engage in the assessment process of major resource projects during a health crisis.

She called on the Berejiklian Government to suspend the IPC assessments of Narrabri and Vickery until the pandemic was over.

It is deeply disturbing Planning Minister Rob Stokes expects the
Independent Planning Commission to press ahead with a public hearing for controversial projects like the Narrabri gasfield and Vickery coal mine in the context of a global pandemic,” she said.

People will miss having say on projects

The Covid-19 outbreak is upending the lives of people globally and New South Wales is no exception.

People are frightened, and understandably so – the last thing many want to do is gather publicly, or miss out on their opportunity to have their say on these highly damaging projects.

The Planning Minister cannot possibly expect the Commission can
adequately or fairly undertake public consultation in this context.

People in rural New South Wales have limited internet capacity and in towns and cities we are bracing for further disruption while we put all our efforts into limiting the spread of this virus.

The Planning Minister needs to put public health and basic fairness first and allow the IPC to suspend its consideration of the Narrabri gasfield and Vickery coal mine until the pandemic has passed and people are able to fully participate, as is our right.”

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 migration@aph.gov.au.

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.