Afternoon all and thanks to Naaman Zhou. We’ll recap the day shortly as there’s been plenty going on.
But before that, a little more from WA premier Mark McGowan’s press conference from a few minutes ago.
McGowan said a third of the jobs created across the country in August had been in his state and he wanted to “continue on this trajectory” and keep the state’s economy moving.
But he said he had asked Neville Power, the chairman of the national Covid-19 commission board, to talk to some national companies that he said were still asking their WA staff to work from home.
This is where institutions have national policies for conditions in Sydney and Melbourne that are not applicable here.
I’ll be handing the blog over to Graham Readfearn now, who will take you through the rest of the day.
McGowan is now addressing the lifting of arrivals caps, announced earlier today.
He says that the federal government initially wanted the state to double its intake of returned Australians by 28 September, which he refused.
He said that lifting the cap “overnight” would have been “reckless”.
WA has now agreed to a staggered system where they will gradually increase the number of arrivals, starting with 200 on 28 September, rising to 500 on 12 October.
“We have been asking for federal government support, given quarantine is a federal government responsibility under the constitution. However, the federal government is of the view that states need to continue to manage quarantine.”
McGowan says that WA may also need to delay some elective surgery across the state, as more medical staff are deployed to hotel quarantine.
“I’m glad the federal government agreed to provide more Australian Defence Force support and adjust the earlier decision.”
He adds that WA has received 4031 international passengers so far, which he says is the second highest number of overseas arrivals of any state.
Music festivals could be held in WA
The WA premier, Mark McGowan, is speaking now.
He says that under eased restrictions, outdoor events and music festivals could go ahead, if they have approved safety plans.
“Events like the Wave Rock festival, Spring in the Valley, and suburban and regional shows can now go ahead with Covid safety plans”.
Also in sport, Melbourne Storm player Christian Welch has said he is “incredibly remorseful” for a Covid-19 rule breach.
Welch is in isolation and is awaiting the results of a Covid-19 test after he invited an unregistered guest to his room overnight on the Sunshine Coast, AAP reports. The prop will now miss the Storm’s Saturday night match against the Wests Tigers.
From midnight, Melbourne players and staff were free of strict quarantine “bubble” conditions, given it had been two weeks since they’d played a team from NSW.
However it’s believed the woman, who was stopped by police as she departed, had arrived before that deadline while she wasn’t on registered guest list.
“I’m incredibly remorseful and sorry for my actions,” Welch said in a statement. “I love this game and everything it has given me and I’m shattered that I have let everyone down.
“Calling my parents to let them know about this was the worst phone call I’ve ever made. I know it’s a privilege to play in the NRL and I want to apologise to all for any damage I have caused.”
The Storm briefed the NRL Integrity Unit and Queensland government early on Friday once notified of the breach, which is their first since relocating from Melbourne to the Sunshine Coast in July.
Chief executive Dave Donaghy said he spoke to Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young on Friday who assured him there was very low risk of Covid-19 transmission among the community.
The club expects the results of Welch’s test in 24 hours.
“We’re confident the test won’t come back anything other than negative but it has to go through a process,” Donaghy said.
Storm and Welch will now await the findings of the NRL Integrity Unit, with the 26-year-old facing a potential fine.
NSW’s Bathurst 1000 to go ahead with fewer spectators
The Bathurst 1000 car race will go ahead at the Mount Panorama Circuit next month but the crowd will be limited to 4,000 fans per day, AAP reports.
The race usually attracts some 200,000 car enthusiasts, but the organisers say they will go ahead with a reduced crowd.
“Whilst we are disappointed that we can’t have a full crowd at Bathurst, we’re delighted to offer even limited attendance,” Supercars chief executive Sean Seamer said in a statement.
“We understand a number of fans will be disappointed that camping [is] not available this year, however the safety of everyone attending the event is our main concern at all times.”
Back to Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk has said that Cairns and Gladstone could be options for hotel quarantine locations to help the local hotel industry.
She says the state will ask for expressions of interest from Queensland hotels – in addition to Brisbane.
“We’re looking at some hotels in Cairns, I know that Cairns has been doing it quite tough,” she said.
Gutwein says that Tasmania will not receive any international flights, even as other states raise their caps. But he says he has offered to pay a small amount to support other states.
“We’re not in a position where we will receive [international] flights into Tasmania as a result of any increase in the caps,” he says. “But … I’ve made it clear that as we can’t take flights, that if we were able to or if it were required, we could make a financial contribution on the basis of around 2% of the people that are coming back are Tasmanian”.
He also said that if there was need for an emergency flight or similar, the state could help out with that.
Tasmania to increase sports crowd limits to 1,000
Tasmania’s premier Peter Gutwein is speaking now.
He says that from 25 September, the state will be relaxing restrictions on outdoor sporting events.
“The crowd capacity, venue capacity, will increase from 500 to 1,000 people from next Friday, 25 September, as long as Covid-safety plans are in place.”
Technical issues have just interrupted the ABC’s feed of Palaszczuk’s press conference, but in the meantime, here’s what was announced in Scott Morrison’s press conference today.
- NSW, Queensland and WA will all eventually take an extra 500 international arrivals a week, as Australians return home. That process will be staggered in Queensland and WA to give the states time to set up hotel quarantine capacity.
- There are 24,000 Australians currently overseas who want to return home, and Morrison said that the eventual aim was to have all arrival caps lifted.
- The PM said no states asked for the federal government to help pay for quarantine, and said the government was providing additional ADF personnel.
- He also said that the federal government would connect all state and territory contact tracing across one system.
- Morrison also said the national cabinet was working on a travel bubble with New Zealand, with no quarantine requirement for travel with some places like the South Island. That would allow Australians in New Zealand to return home, but also for tourists from both countries to travel between them.
Queensland’s premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, is speaking now.
She reiterates that Queensland will be increasing its intake of returning Australians.
“This is heartbreaking to hear the stories of people trapped overseas, Queenslanders trapped overseas,” she says.
“And we know that the virus is spreading in some of these countries, especially Europe where we’re seeing large numbers of Covid cases, and I understand the desperation of mums and dads wanting their kids to come home, or uncles or aunts, or parents, and I want to do everything we possibly can.”
She says the federal government agreed to provide more ADF personnel to help.
Morrison is asked whether the federal government will be financially contributing to the states to help them set up the hotel quarantine system faster.
He says that no states asked for the federal government to pay.
He adds that the provision of Australian Defence Force personnel is the federal government’s contribution and that the returning travellers are paying for the quarantine themselves.
“The commonwealth can be accused of many things but in this Covid-19 pandemic, not stumping up when it comes to costs – I mean, jobkeeper alone is over $100 billion. If you add up every single thing that the states are doing, in their Covid response, you won’t even get to the cost of jobkeeper.”
He says no state asked for the government to help pay for quarantine.
“We were providing that in-kind support from the ADF. That’s all that’s been suggested from us from the states and territories.
“They haven’t asked for [funding]. That didn’t come from the Queensland government or the WA government. They didn’t ask for that. They weren’t asking for money. They were asking for ADF support and the answer is yes.”
Morrison says there are 24,000 Australians who are stranded overseas, who wish to come home.
He says there are 4,000 people who have been identified as more vulnerable by the department of foreign affairs.
He also says that not every Australian overseas actually wants to come home.
There are quite a lot of Australians living in Bali at the moment. When you ask how many of them want to come home, it’s actually only a few hundred. But there is, I think, around 7,000 Australians who are in Bali currently. So that doesn’t mean they’re all looking to come home.
Morrison is asked whether he will relax restrictions on allowing Australians out of the country – so airlines don’t have to fly empty planes to collect returning Australians.
He says thousands of exemptions are made every week to allow Australians out of the country.
Whether it is to attend a sickly family member or an important event or business purposes, things of that nature. We’re continuing to provide those exemptions and I look forward to when we can have even less restrictions on those things.
Morrison says that he would want to see arrival caps increased again in future – and eventually lifted.
“I believe it will [be lifted again], and we spoke about that today,” he says.
“So, let’s get to this next level, and then ultimately we’d like to see those caps lifted, as they were back in early July. That would be my goal.”
The PM says there is no update on the debate over what constitutes a hotspot, as the AHPPC did not provide a paper on it today.