World news – Coronavirus Australia live update: regional Victoria opens up but Melbourne faces ‘ring of steel’ – latest news


Covid-19 restrictions ease in regional Victoria today as economists and international students call for expansion of jobkeeper. Follow all today’s news

Senior Liberal Andrew Constance has just slammed Deputy Premier John Barilaro for refusing to rule out splitting the Coalition. Constance says he’s angry and relations in the coalition have never been worse. @2GB873

Click through to the blog embedded in the article when you have time. It is worth the read.

The OECD’s interim economic outlook for Australia is out – and shows a slower than expected recovery for the economy.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development now believes the Australian economy will grow by just 2.5% rather than 4.1% as it had originally predicted for 2021.

There is some good news – it thinks the economy will contract by 4.1%, not 5% for this year.

The yellow worm has dived by more than 10 per cent today, thanks to just 28 new cases and a particularly big day falling out of the 14 day window.

The rolling 14 day average for metro Melbourne is now 44.4 (from 3 September to 16 September)

But there were still 83 cases of Covid with an unknown source between 1 September and 14 September in metro Melbourne. In regional Victoria, there was just one mystery case.

The number of new cases here made me gasp. I know it is about the 7 and 14 day averages, but this, in terms of case numbers, is very good news.

#COVID19VicData: Yesterday there were 28 new cases reported and 8 lives lost. Our thoughts are with all affected. The 14 day rolling average is down from yesterday as we move toward COVID Normal.Info: #COVID19Vic

Lyell Strambi the chief executive of the Melbourne Airport, was talking to ABC News Breakfast this morning about raising the arrival caps for Australians wanting to return home:

The constraint is these arrival quotas. And in Victoria’s case, that’s zero. But that is driven by hotel quarantine. But here in Victoria, you know, we did have those problems with hotel quarantine early on, but, you know, that’s been taken over by the Department of Corrections and it’s now working very well. And there is spare capacity. And I just think, you know, there’s a real danger here that we’re starting to lose our humanity on this issue. It seems to be Covid protection as a priority over everything else. And I don’t think that’s acceptable.

National cabinet is tomorrow but don’t expect any more progress on an agreement to what a Covid hotspot should be defined as.

On Queensland’s quarantine rules, which will keep Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese out of the state election campaign, unless they quarantine for two weeks, Morrison told the Nine network:

Look, I don’t think there should be double standards. I don’t think I should be treated differently to anybody else. There has been a lot of discussion about some of the hardship that people have gone through terribly in relation to how this border operates, and same rules should apply to me as anyone else. Those rules should be fair, they should be sensible, and they should be compassionate too, I think. Look, I’ll follow the rules like everyone else, even if those rules from time to time seem a bit hard to work out.

The prime minister is right when he says there are commercial planes capable of flying Australians who are stuck overseas home – but commercial plane airfares are out of reach for many.

As many Australians living overseas had booked their flights home before the caps were introduced, while others have since left the country for short trips (having secured exemptions from the exit ban on compassionate grounds), the caps are creating a bottleneck of Australians trying to fly back.

Frustrated airlines have acknowledged they are cancelling economy and, increasingly, business class tickets so they can prioritise higher-paying customers to remain profitable. Some planes are flying with as few as four economy passengers.

Some stranded Australians who have contacted the Guardian said their airline had told them their tickets could not be honoured until 2021.

And some happy news – the Canberra MP, Alicia Payne, and her partner, Ben, have welcomed baby Elena Patricia to the world.

Well this is a change in language. After weeks and weeks of criticism from members of his government about the closed borders, particularly the Queensland one, Scott Morrison told the Seven network, he doesn’t believe the borders need to be brought down “right now”.

Morrison may have shied away from the nub of the border debate but his proxies haven’t. He said:

We have got to get this resolved and we have got to get his borders down eventually. Not right now. I understand the concerns that are there. I never said they had to bring them down immediately.

I have just said we have to have a sensible and fair exemption system and not have double standards and explain that we are doing.

Every state has a different situation and I respect that but the same time, have got to get to a situation where having these things doesn’t mean we are winning as a country when we deal with the virus. We have to deal with the virus. We have to deal with the virus, not let the virus destroy the way we live.

Over on the Seven network, Scott Morrison said there was no need to use the RAAF VIP fleet to bring home stranded Australians from overseas:

Our advice is there is no need for that. There are plenty of commercial planes they just need to lift the cap. So they just need to lift the cap so they can run the services to Australia.

It’s the caps that were stopping the planes. We are happy to agree to the premiers request back in July but we are over that hump now and we can start lifting those caps.

I really want to thank the New South Wales government. They are carrying half the load here and they are not just Sydneysiders and New South Wales people coming home. They are Tasmanians, Queenslanders, Western Australians. They are making sure they can get home.

Australian Citizenship Day is a day to celebrate the importance of Australian citizenship – a common bond that unites us all.

Australia is a nation built on migration. Generations of permanent migrants from all backgrounds have built both their lives and our country, and their contribution must never be taken for granted.

Gaining Australian citizenship is often the most significant step in a person’s migration story and must always be encouraged, respected, and protected.

Unfortunately, as at 30 July, there were more than 150,000 people living in Australia waiting to have their citizenship applications processed and take their oath of Australian citizenship.

Future citizens are being forced to wait almost two and a half years for their citizenship applications to be processed with the average wait time for 90 per cent of applications sitting at an astonishing 27 months.

This is unacceptable and the Morrison Government cannot force people who are working hard, paying taxes, and contributing to our economy and society wait even longer to take their oath of Australian citizenship.

Once their applications are processed, future citizens are then forced to wait even longer for a citizenship ceremony – often one of the most important days in a person’s life.

Labor will always protect Australian citizenship because we know what it means to future citizens who have invested in our country, want to call it home, and share in our collective future.

Of course Australian citizens should understand and accept Australian values. But today’s announcement from the acting Citizenship Minister overlooks the fact that people taking Australian citizenship have already been accepted by the Government as permanent residents and have lived here for years.

What Scott Morrison and his Government should have announced today is a plan to clear the two and a half year backlog of citizenship applications.

Scott Morrison was asked about the changes to the citizenship test while talking to the Nine network:

One of the things I learned when I was immigration minister and the social services minister is that people’s employment outcomes as a migrant to Australia rapidly increase if they I’ve got a good strong command of English, and that is such an important skill that migrants who come to Australia need to have the best possible life in Australia.

And so this puts an even greater emphasis on English language, it’s in their interest it’s in Australia’s interest it’s our national language.

New Australians will need to correctly answer questions about domestic violence, equal opportunity and freedom of speech under changes to the citizenship test, the federal government will announce.

The 20-question multiple-choice test, which requires a 75 per cent overall mark to pass, will from November include five questions about Australian values – all of which must be answered correctly.

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge is due to introduce the changes on Thursday to coincide with Australian Citizenship Day, as more than 100 citizenship ceremonies will take place across the country.

“Our Australian values are important. They have helped shape our country and they are the reason why so many people want to become Australian citizens,” Mr Tudge told News Corp publications.

“The updated citizenship test will have new and more meaningful questions that require potential citizens to understand and commit to our values like freedom of speech, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, the importance of democracy and the rule of law.”

The new values-based queries will include questions such as should people in Australia make an effort to learn English, are people free to choose who they marry or not marry, do religious laws override Australian law and is it acceptable for a husband to be violent towards his wife if she has disobeyed or disrespected him.

As we reported two weeks or so ago, Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese can’t enter Queensland without quarantining – so they can’t help with the state election campaign.

Federal parliament is sitting during most of October, which is when the Queensland campaign is at his height, so there is not a lot of time for either leader to attend.

Happy not-Friday. Time may not matter in 2020 but Thursday remains the worst day of the week, when politicians try to eke out the last vestiges of an announcement before everyone switches off on a Friday, and we all have at least one day of the grind to get through before the mental relief of “we’ve almost made it” washes over us the next morning.

Today’s Thursday is no different. Politically, the government is doing what it can to push its latest attempt at an energy policy framework.

Angus Taylor was on ABC radio talking about the government’s “gas-led recovery” and also mentioning how electric vehicles form part of the government’s energy strategy. (This is not new – they have been part of the strategy for a while.)

But this was Scott Morrison’s response when Labor announced, at the last election, a commitment to have half of all new car sales be electric vehicles by 2030:

Bill Shorten wants to end the weekend when it comes to his policy on electric ­vehicles, where you’ve got Australians who love being out there in their four-wheel-drives.’

Regional Victoria has opened up but Melbourne is still locked down, with a strengthened “ring of steel” around the city. We should have more clarity on who is allowed out, and why, later today.

Meanwhile, it is still all about opening the borders, particularly Queensland. South Australia still has New South Wales on a watch and wait, but it was Queensland that was singled out again by Gladys Berejiklian yesterday. Not just for the border community at the Tweed but for everyone in NSW.

The federal government is facing increased pressure from the opposition to solve the problem of 23,000 stranded Australians. Michael McCormack announced he had written to the states demanding they take more people through hotel quarantine. Mark McGowan said that was something that should have gone to national cabinet before the media. All the main players in national cabinet seem annoyed at someone else and we still have so long in the pandemic to go.

We’ll bring you all the news as it happens. You have Amy Remeikis with you for most of the day.

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