World News

Australia news LIVE: Morrison government won’t put corruption watchdog to Parliament before election; total COVID-19 cases continue to grow across the nation

Our live coverage of the coronavirus pandemic is free for all registered readers. Please also consider supporting our journalism with a subscription.

Key posts

  • Victorian parents, carers without a booster dose to be blocked from school events
  • NSW Treasurer confident Liberals will retain Willoughby, but ‘not going to count our chickens yet’
  • Aged care still waiting for ADF support as homes close amid staff shortages
  • Independent MP Haines steps up demands on donation disclosure
  • This morning’s headlines at a glance
  • 1 of 1

Victorian parents, carers without a booster dose to be blocked from school events

Victorian parents, carers and other adults will have to be triple-vaccinated from March 15 if they want to attend events at state schools, or volunteer in the classroom.

The Department of Education has confirmed the booster mandate will apply to all adult visitors wanting to enter school buildings unless they have a valid medical exemption.

The mandate will exclude parents and carers coming onto school grounds briefly – for example, for a quick drop-off or pick-up – as long as they do not enter buildings.

It also excludes students visiting another school to complete a secondary subject.

So far, 51.6 per cent of Victorians aged 18 and over have had three doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The mandate was introduced in the state’s school operations guide in recent weeks.

“School communities – from teachers to support staff, contractors and students’ families – know that vaccination is our way out of this pandemic, and the best way to keep our school communities safe and open is to ensure everyone on site is as protected as possible,” a Department of Education spokeswoman said.

NSW Treasurer confident Liberals will retain Willoughby, but ‘not going to count our chickens yet’

During his appearance on Sydney radio station 2GB earlier this morning, NSW Treasurer Matt Kean was asked whether he was still confident the state government would retain the seat of Willoughby.

The seat, previously held by former premier Gladys Berejiklian, was one of four in the so-called Super Saturday byelections last weekend.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean campaigning for Liberal candidate Tim James in the state seat of Willoughby over the weekend. Credit:Renee Nowytarger

ABC election analyst Antony Green last night said from the preference flows released so far, Willoughby remained in “doubt”.

“Who would have thought of these four by-elections that Willoughby would be the close one,” Green said on Twitter.

As of last night, with 32.7 per cent of the vote counted, the swing against the Liberals was 19.2 per cent.

The preference count projected Liberal candidate Tim James to have 51.9 per cent after preferences and independent candidate Larissa Penn 48.1 per cent.

Here is what Mr Kean had to say about the results:

We know that postals are coming in and they usually favour the Liberal Party.

But let’s not forget, the last time Willoughby went to an election, which was when Gladys ran in 2003, she only won it by 144 votes, so Tim’s got a landslide ahead of him compared to what Gladys had back in 2003.

I’m confident that we’ll get over the line, but we’re not going to count our chickens yet. We’ll go through the process and see what the people of Willoughby decide.

Aged care still waiting for ADF support as homes close amid staff shortages

Hundreds of aged care homes are yet to receive information on how to apply for Australian Defence Force help as staff shortages in the sector due to Omicron push some operators to close their doors.

More than a week after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that up to 1700 ADF personnel would be sent to help fill clinical and support roles in aged care homes, only a handful of the nation’s more than 2600 facilities have received military assistance.

Some aged care providers are closing their doors as staff shortages worsen.Credit:Louise Kennerley

Official ADF data shows there were just 129 personnel on the ground helping fill staff shortages in the sector yesterday, including 18 in NSW and 50 in Victoria.

Sources within the sector who asked not to be named said many aged care operators had not been told how to apply for ADF workforce support while a Defence spokesperson said requests for help were being funnelled through the Health Department.

Mr Morrison earlier this month said the initial ADF teams would be deployed to facilities in “extreme situations” due to Omicron but noted they could not fill all the gaps. The sector estimates thousands of staff are currently unavailable due to Omicron.

More on the situation in aged care here.

Independent MP Haines steps up demands on donation disclosure

Victorian-based federal independent Helen Haines has challenged all sides of Parliament to reveal every donor who contributes more than $1000 to their campaigns, amid a furore over payments from the family of a coal millionaire to fellow crossbencher Zali Steggall.

Dr Haines called for an overhaul of the donations regime to ensure voters knew the source of funding for every MP, saying she would report payments within five business days when the amounts exceeded the official $14,500 threshold for disclosure.

Member for Indi Dr Helen Haines.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

The commitment has heightened the argument over the transparency of political donations after Ms Steggall admitted a mistake with the $100,000 cheque from the family of John Kinghorn, founder of RAMS Home Loans and an investor in Cascade Coal and Felix Resources.

With the Liberals accusing Ms Steggall of hypocrisy and her supporters defending her “exemplary” record on integrity, Dr Haines set out a stricter approach that would reveal a series of small donations when their cumulative value exceeded $1000.

“Australia’s political donation laws are in need of urgent reform, and although the government has made recent changes, there are still millions of dollars in hidden donations that go to the major parties every year,” she said.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Wednesday, February 16. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started.

  • Attorney-General Michaelia Cash says the government is “not progressing” with its planned anti-corruption watchdog prior to the next election. Meanwhile, the federal crossbench is stepping up calls for political donations reform following Sydney independent Zali Steggall’s apology for the way her team initially recorded a $100,000 cheque from the family trust of a wealthy coal investor.
  • In NSW, former premier Gladys Berejiklian’s former seat is still in doubt after a series of byelections over the weekend. Meanwhile, NSW reported 8201 cases of COVID-19 yesterday and 16 deaths.
  • Victorian parents, carers and other adults will have to be triple-vaccinated from March 15 if they want to attend events at state schools or volunteer in the classroom. Yesterday, Victoria reported 8162 cases of COVID-19 and 20 additional deaths.
  • Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her state will continue to hold daily coronavirus press conferences at least for the next couple of weeks. Yesterday, the state recorded 5286 new infections and 10 deaths.
  • And in international news, Prince Andrew has reached a “settlement in principle” with sex abuse accuser Virginia Giuffre.
  • 1 of 1

Most Viewed in National

Source: Read Full Article