NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian will address the media at 12.30pm – along with treasurer Dominic Perrottet, health minister Brad Hazzard and the chief health officer, Dr Kerry Chant.
Annastacia Palaszczuk is speaking now, addressing reports that her opponent in the upcoming state election, Deb Frecklington, was referred to the electoral commission by her own party over potentially illegal donations.
Frecklington has denied the report, published by the ABC, saying that she has not been referred to the electoral commission, and did nothing wrong.
“Let me say very clearly that there is a ban on property developer donations going to political parties,” Palaszczuk says. “That was a ban that my government proudly introduced. It is a very serious offence for people to be engaging with property developers in getting donations from them when it is against the law to do so.”’
Frecklington said that she may have attended dinners where developers were present, but they did not donate.
Palaszczuk says that she has not attended any fundraisers where property developers have been present.
“Not to my knowledge because the party does very, very detailed investigations about people who are attending those events.”
The Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is about to speak as well.
The treasurer, Cameron Dick, starts the press conference, and says that Deb Frecklington should resign, because her own party is leaking against her.
“One thing is sure and certain about Queensland politics, if you can’t lead your party, you can’t lead Queensland,” he says. “If you can’t govern your party, you can’t govern Queensland.
“These are not the Labor party’s words. These are leaks and destabilisation that’s coming from the LNP, targeting their own leader.”
‘I attend dinners all the time’: Frecklington denies wrongdoing
Deb Frecklington, the Queensland opposition leader, is speaking now about reports that she has been referred to the state’s electoral commission.
Frecklington denies any wrongdoing and says “as far as I’m aware”, the electoral commission is not investigating.
The ABC reported today that she had been referred over a series of dinners with property developers. Donations from property developers have been illegal in the state since 2018
“Let’s make it really clear, I stand by my integrity,” she says.
“In relation to any fundraising dinners, anyone who donates fills in a declaration and it is on the EQQ website. In relation to private dinners, I attend dinners all the time. I’m a politician and I attend supporters’ dinners. Of course I do.”
She says it is legal for prohibited donors to attend fundraisers as long as they do not donate.
“On the ECQ website, anyone can attend a fundraiser but a prohibited donor cannot donate,” she says. “It’s on the ECQ website that prohibited donors can attend fundraising events, they just cannot donate”.
A reporter asks her: “Your party warned you not to go to a dinner and did you still go?”
Frecklington responds: “That’s not a correct assertion.”
He says that vote of no confidence against him today, planned by the Victorian opposition, is “cheap politics”.
“Cheap politics does not work against this virus,” he says. “Cheap politics does not
work against this wildly infectious virus. If it did, then those who are completely irrelevant would have a much greater part to play.”
Andrews responds to questions about whether he will resign.
He is asked:
You’ve said repeatedly that you’re ultimately accountable and responsible as head of your government for what goes on. So far, you’ve let your health minister and your departmental secretary take the fall for the hotel quarantine program. You’re still here.
What gives you confidence that you should remain as premier, given you’ve said that two of the most senior members of your team did the right thing by resigning?
I don’t run from challenges. That’s not who I am. And if that’s not clear to you, then you perhaps don’t know me particularly well.
My accountability is very obvious. I want a report to be handed down and then I will take the decisive action to make sure that these sorts of mistakes can never happen again. I’m not doing any cut and run here.
He says that people should wait for the report of the hotel quarantine inquiry.
NSW records seven new locally acquired cases
NSW has reported seven new cases of locally transmitted Covid‑19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night.
Six cases are overseas travellers in hotel quarantine, meaning there were a total of 13 new cases.
Two of those newly diagnosed people are two GPs at the A2Z Medical Clinic in Lakemba, which was announced last night.
Another five new locally acquired cases today are members of the same household in south-western Sydney.
They have now been identified as part of the ongoing investigation into four previously reported unlinked cases, including a nurse from St Vincent’s hospital.
NSW Health can advise one of these new cases is a disability support worker who has worked at three small group homes in south-western Sydney. Contact tracing and investigations with seven clients and their staff is underway.
Another one of these new cases attended the Great Beginnings Oran Park childcare centre on 1, 2, 8, and 9 October while infectious. The centre is closed today. Contact and investigations are underway.
NSW Health can now also advise the five new cases provide a link between the previously four unlinked cases that include a nurse from St Vincent’s hospital, and a previously reported cluster of five people in south-western Sydney linked with Liverpool hospital. This means 14 people reported between 8 October to today are now linked.
The chief health officer, Bret Sutton, says he is confident that numbers will fall, and is defending the state’s contact tracing.
We’re following, at a minimum, the national guidelines for outbreak management and contact tracing. And we’re going above and beyond that. We are following casual contacts, and we’re asking them to test when they have been exposed at exposure sites. So, we are doing an approach that is the same across Australia.
Anyone who has been through Chadstone who hasn’t even been to the Butcher Club, hasn’t been to Jasper’s Coffee, are being prompted to get tested. That is much, much broader than the previous approach to outbreak management. It is akin to the Kilmore outbreak.
He says that the numbers will fall, because Victoria recorded no new cases of unknown source today. One of the cases reported today was a person who already had Covid-19 and who retested as positive.
The 12 cases today – one is probably not real, and 11 are linked to known cases. That means, by definition, there are no cases of unknown acquisition for today. That’s what we want every day.
And when we have cases who are in isolation at the time that they get tested and get that positive result, they’re not gonna be exposing anyone else. And so we’ll see these numbers drive down.
Ten could be ‘the new five’ for opening up, Andrews says
Andrews indicates again, after what he said yesterday, that Melbourne could open up even with higher numbers than what was initially planned for under the roadmap to eased restrictions.
The premier says that five could be “the new zero”, and he could change the threshold for reopening.
“Yesterday at some length, I went to the notion that we are reviewing daily, we are reviewing weekly, what a likely outcome is in the days and weeks to come,” he says.
“And if upon that further analysis, five is the new zero, and ten is the new five, well, then we’ll have to factor that in, and we will.
“We’re not about keeping these restrictions on in an indefinite way, unless and until we reach a target.”
Victoria to hire 4,000 tutors to help students next year
The deputy premier and education minister, James Merlino, is now announcing a $250m education package that will employ additional tutors for the state’s students next year to help them catch up.
He says that more than 4,100 tutors will be provided to more than 200,000 students, starting from term 1 next year.
“Of those 4,100 additional tutors, we expect about 80% of those will be women, and women have been so severely impacted through this pandemic,” Merlino says.
“Every single government school in Victoria will receive funding. Every single one. And it will be weighted to disadvantage.
“That’s $209.6m for government schools to deploy and recruit around 3,500 tutors. For our non-government schools, targeting disadvantaged students in Catholic and independent schools, there’s $30m to deploy and recruit around 600 tutors. And there’s also a further $8.6m to recruit a further 16 Koori support workers across our state, and an additional 60 multilingual and bicultural workers to support students where English is not their first language.”
Merlino calls on relief teachers and retired teachers to put their hands up for the program.
He says there are six active cases in regional areas, but one of those is a person in Geelong who previously contracted Covid-19, who has re-tested positive. The remaining five regional cases are in the Mitchell shire.
A man in his 70s has died, whose infection was linked to aged care.
Daniel Andrews is speaking now.
He says he will answer all questions as usual, but he does have to leave later for parliament – where he will be facing a vote of no confidence, brought by the opposition.
Meanwhile at the NSW casino inquiry:
Meanwhile, the trade minister, Simon Birmingham, says he is investigating those reports that China has suspended imports of Australian coal.
Birmingham confirmed there had been some disruptions to Australian shipments of coal into China, but said there was no evidence to verify a full-blown import ban.
“I have seen the reports and we have certainly been in touch with the Australian industry,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“We have also been working to seek a response from Chinese authorities in relation to the accusations that have been made publicly.”
Birmingham has not been able to contact his Chinese counterpart for many months, with diplomatic relations in the deep freeze, AAP reports.
It is not the first time in recent years Australian coal imports into China have been disrupted.
“There have been patterns of things that look like there are some formal quota systems operating,” the minister said.
“But we take the reports seriously enough to try and seek some assurances from Chinese authorities.”
Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Tania Constable believes informal Chinese quotas might be to blame but remains upbeat about coal exports.
“The trade with China changes through the year based on a range of factors, including quotas,” she told AAP.
“Australia will continue to see demand for its high quality of coal and the medium term outlook remains positive.”
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is speaking now, addressing reports that China has told some factories to stop importing Australian coal.
He says Australia will work through any issues with China.
“There have been, in the past, some issues around in relation to coal, and we’ve worked through those,” he says. “And we’ll continue to work through these and in the future there will be other issues and we’ll continue to work through those as well and we’ll do so in a constructive way.
“That relationship is important, it is challenging from time to time, but it is critical to Australia’s economic prosperity.”