Australian Politics 2020-04-30 15:29:00
Total virus cases in Australia fall below 1000, only one new case in 24 hours as UK toll soars
Senior officials from the Department of Social Services have told a parliamentary committee the number of people on JobSeeker rose by about 500,000 from February to April, with another 400,000 expected to apply by September. The estimates haven’t changed despite the government announcing its wage subsidy program since projections were made.
The government has doubled the JobSeeker payment - formerly known as Newstart - and expanded eligibility to income support for the period of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the department’s secretary Kathryn Campbell remained tightlipped on whether the government would consider maintaining the higher rate after the pandemic is over.
She said all options were on the table but the department was in the early steps of creating advice for the government.
Ms Campbell said the disability pension was ineligible for the boost because it was designed for people who were in the workforce.
Almost 600,000 businesses have applied for the JobKeeper wage subsidy - a payment of $1500 a fortnight - to support more than 3.3 million workers. The figure is well under the estimated six million workers over a six-month period when the policy was costed at $130 billion.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the emergency measures have a set lifespan and a wind back will be needed to ensure the federal budget does not blow out further.
“Labor has serious concerns about the impact this will have on the hundreds of thousands of Australians whose jobs remain uncertain, and the impact this will have on the economy when or if the government suddenly snaps back the payment,” Labor senator Katy Gallagher said.
The number of active coronavirus cases in Australia has fallen below 1000 for the first time in more than five weeks.
And in the 24 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday, only one new case was reported Australia-wide as the number of COVIDSafe app downloads passed three million.
A total of 986 people were confirmed to have the deadly virus as of Thursday morning, with 5670 of the 6744 cases recovered. Ninety people have died.
The remaining 13 cases identified on Wednesday were close connections to other known carriers, meaning Australia is successfully tracing the virus and limiting its reach in the community.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt described the statistic as possibly “the most important” in the fight against COVID-19 so far.
“There was only one case from an unknown source, only one case of community transmission across Australia,” he said.
“That is perhaps the most important figure I have had the privilege of raising since coming into this role and dealing with the coronavirus issue.”
Coronavirus Queensland: Zero new cases recorded
Queensland continues to smash the coronavirus curve with zero new cases again recorded on Thursday and just four cases this week. The state’s tally still sits at 1,033 with 943 of those sufferers now recovered.
There have been 13 new cases since last Thursday and four since Monday.
Tragically, six Queenslanders have died from the virus during the pandemic. More than 108,000 tests have been conducted.
Just one new case was recorded on Wednesday and that was from a person returning from an overseas trip.
It comes as Queensland scientists lead the world in edging closer to a vaccine with UQ researchers confident millions of doses of the cure could be in mass production within months.
Australia has successfully flattened the curve of coronavirus infections, but is it too soon to re-open the country?
Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth says random testing is not the answer to controlling coronavirus.
Dr Coatsworth said there were now 6746 cases across Australia, with only eight new cases recorded in the past 24 hours.
“There have been 90 deaths due to coronavirus, and in our intensive cares at the moment, there are 36 patients with coronavirus, and 25 of those are having their breathing supported with a ventilator,” Dr Coatsworth told Today on Thursday morning.
But he said the idea of testing random members of the public was not a way to bring the virus under more control in Australia.
“Random testing of the public, while it may seem a good idea, does have problems associated with it,” he said.
“If you test very, very large numbers of people, you can get what’s called false positives, so results where the person didn’t actually have the virus.
“Where we test people with no symptoms, in the first instance, it is more likely to be in areas where we know there might be transmission - so, in the health care, the residential aged care setting we have just spoken about.
“But really what we want people to do at the moment is if they have got symptoms, any symptoms of a cold, go and get a test. That’s the first priority at this point in time.”
Stokes calls for Canberra to back down on China
China bashing is moronic. You might as well bash a brick wall
Media mogul Kerry Stokes has used the front page of The West Australian newspaper to call on the Prime Minister Scott Morrison to appease China's anger at Australia's push for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Stokes, who controls the paper's publisher Seven West Media, also mounted a defence of the exotic animal wet markets where the virus is believed to have broken out.
"If we're going to go into the biggest debt we’ve had in our life and then simultaneously poke our biggest provider of income in the eye it's not necessarily the smartest thing you can do," his newspaper reported him saying.
Mr Stokes is the second Western Australian billionaire to attempt an intervention in Australia's relationship with China this week.
Yesterday, iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest was accused of ambushing the Australian government after he parachuted one of China's top diplomats into an official event, blindsiding Health Minister Greg Hunt.
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