Wednesday, 27 Oct 2021

Australia news LIVE: Small drop in Victorian COVID-19 cases as IBAC inquiry resumes; NSW set to ease further restrictions in October

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Key posts

  • Child care centre, hotels and RSL added to regional Victoria’s COVID exposure list
  • Restrictions may ease sooner in NSW and Victoria
  • The morning’s headlines at a glance
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Child care centre, hotels and RSL added to regional Victoria’s COVID exposure list

A childcare centre in a suburb of Bendigo, a hotel in Ballarat and an RSL in Wangaratta were among several tier-1 exposure sites in regional Victoria added late on Tuesday.

Shine Bright Early Years Hub in Maiden Gully was listed as an exposure site on October 6 from 9am to 12.55pm and October 8 from 9am to 4pm.

A hotel in Ballarat is among the new COVID-19 exposure sites.Credit:Penny Stephens

Also in Bendigo, The National Hotel Complex was a listed on October 4 from 6.56pm to 9.30pm.

The City Oval Hotel in Ballarat was listed on October 3 from 7.25pm to 8.25pm. Anyone who was at these sites at those times must immediately get tested for COVID-19 and isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.

In Wangaratta, the Old’N’Country Tavern was listed for October 6 from 8.45pm to 11pm and October 7 from 5.34pm to 11pm. Also in Wangaratta, the RSL was listed on October 6 from 4.30pm to 5pm and the Pinsent Hotel from 5.02pm to 8.30pm.

In Trafalgar in west Gippsland, Alto Motor a farming equipment trader was listed for October 8 from 8am to 4.30pm. And the Wakiti Creek Resort Caravan Park and Shower in Kotupna in the state’s north were listed for October 5 from 8am to 11am and October 6 from 8.30am to 11.30am.

And finally Bomboras restaurant in Torquay was listed on October 6 from 11.50am to 12.50pm.

Read the full list of exposure sites here.

‘Cautious optimism’ in Victoria amid slight drop in COVID-19 case numbers

In case you missed it yesterday, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the state’s gradually declining COVID-19 case numbers, but has warned the community should not let its guard down.

On Tuesday the state recorded 1466 new, locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths. That was down from Monday’s total of 1612 cases, and Tuesday marked the third consecutive day that case numbers have dropped.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.Credit:Jason South

“I think most people feel cautiously optimistic about that – I’m cautiously optimistic about that,” Professor Sutton said during yesterday’s coronavirus update.

However, coronavirus testing rates were slightly lower on Monday (68,000 tests were conducted, compared with testing above 70,000 in previous days), which may be a factor.

Restrictions may ease sooner in NSW and Victoria

As coronavirus vaccination rates rise in NSW and Victoria, state leaders are foreshadowing that some restrictions may be eased sooner than anticipated.

In NSW, Premier Dominic Perrottet has suggested restrictions may be eased for a second time in Greater Sydney on October 25 as the state’s double-dose vaccination rate continues to climb.

Seventy-four per cent of people in the state aged 16 and over had received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the weekend, federal government data released on Monday afternoon showed.

The current average time between first and second doses in NSW – about 38 days – suggests NSW will hit 80 per cent full vaccination late next week, resulting in a change in restrictions on the following Monday, October 25.

At the 80 per cent stage of NSW’s road map, Sydneysiders can travel to regional areas, capacity limits for hospitality will increase, nightclubs can operate without dancing and places of worship will reopen for the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

A raft of restrictions were eased in Greater Sydney on Monday for fully-vaccinated people after the 70 per cent milestone was reached. Sydneysiders flocked to gyms, shopping centres, pubs and hairdressers this week as a result of the rule changes.

Melburnians may also be back in pubs and restaurants by the end of next week as Victoria powers towards its 70 per cent double-dose vaccination target several days ahead of schedule.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, said if the threshold was met early, he was open to triggering the exit from lockdown sooner than the projected date of Monday, October 26 that was outlined in the reopening road map.

The ACT will exit lockdown on Friday (11.59pm on Thursday). As of yesterday, 72 per cent of the territory’s eligible population (people aged 12 and over) had been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Our first dose levels indicate that this will reach close to 99 per cent fully vaccinated towards the end of November,” ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said yesterday.

The morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thank you for reading our live coverage of the day’s events. I’m Michaela Whitbourn and I’ll keep you informed of the latest news throughout the morning.

First, let’s take a look at what’s making headlines:

  • Chinese government-controlled media has threatened Australia with further trade strikes after former prime minister Tony Abbott accused Beijing of bullying Taiwan and claimed China could “lash out disastrously” if it was not stopped. China Daily, which is managed by China’s State Council Information Office and is seen as an indicator of Chinese government international positioning, said in an editorial that

    “Australia, a country that relies heavily on trade with China, has persistently prodded the most sensitive nerve of its biggest trading partner. With politicians in Canberra continuing to act and sound increasingly hostile toward China, the worst is probably yet to come.”

China’s President Xi Jinping, left, and former prime minister Tony Abbott at a press conference in 2014 during happier times. Credit:AP

  • Regional Australia will be promised a jobs boom from clean energy in a looming federal climate policy that lifts spending on hydrogen projects in a bid to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. The federal government is naming Queensland as a big winner from the hydrogen plan as Prime Minister Scott Morrison seeks to overcome concerns from the Nationals about the impact of a bigger climate target on voters outside the big cities.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

  • Dominic Perrottet has signed off on Australia’s largest hydrogen strategy in his first major cabinet decision as NSW Premier, in a move expected to see green hydrogen jobs in the state outstrip those in the coal industry by 2050. The strategy says a green hydrogen industry, which involves using renewable sources such as wind and solar to split hydrogen from water, would “pave the way for a net zero emissions future while driving economic growth”.

Former Victorian Labor minister Adem Somyurek.Credit:Jason South

  • Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission is continuing its public inquiry into allegations of branch stacking in the state Labor Party. While branch stacking is in breach of Labor Party rules, it is not illegal and would not normally be subject to an IBAC investigation. The commission is exploring whether public funds were used for factional purposes. You can catch up on the latest from the hearings here. Yesterday, former ministerial staffer Ellen Schreiber told IBAC she had been wary of working for then Labor minister Adem Somyurek as he “didn’t have a good reputation”. She also revealed as much as 80 per cent of her taxpayer-funded working day was spent on branch stacking tasks and that factional operatives aligned with Mr Somyurek were illegally accessing a database containing the personal information of Victorians. Mr Somyurek has yet to give evidence and has denied wrongdoing.

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