Travel to Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island), Moorgumpin (Moreton Island) and K’gari (Fraser Island) restricted

Source: Government of Queensland Regions

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Under a new directive to be issued today by the Chief Health Office, following consultation with local government, a person who does not live on the island can only travel to these areas for work, to access health care and other services or other permitted purposes including people travelling for compassionate reasons.

Travelling to a designated area for a holiday or any kind of recreation is not permitted.

People coming from a high risk area or from overseas will also have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon entering a designated area.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the three islands were popular destinations over the Easter period but this was no time for travelling outside where you live.

“This is a time for staying in your communities,” the Premier said.

“It’s a time for families to stay at home and stay safe and healthy.

“The last thing we need is people travelling outside their communities unless it’s essential.

“This travel ban will be enforceable, just as the other directives of the Chief Health Officer have been.

“If you are traveling to these islands and you don’t live there, if it’s not for work or for a permitted purpose, Queensland Police may fine you more than $13,000.

“There are exemptions in place for those who need to travel like parents and carers, workers and those travelling for other essential reasons.”

Woman arrested following house fire at Noarlunga Downs

Source: South Australia Police

Police have arrested a woman following a suspicious fire at Noarlunga Downs.

Just before 6.30am on Wednesday 8 April, patrols and MFS crews were called to Huntingdale Road after reports of a house well ablaze.

The victim, a 58-year-old man from Noarlunga Downs, was taken to the Flinders Medical Centre for treatment of burns and smoke inhalation. His injuries are not considered life threatening.

Fire Cause investigators are currently at the scene and damage is estimated at around $200,000.

A short time ago detectives from South Coast CIB attended a Hackham address and arrested a 60-year-old woman who was allegedly at the victim’s house at the time of the fire. She is currently at the Flinders Medical Centre undergoing a medical assessment and is expected to be charged with arson and acts to endanger life later today.

Investigations are continuing and anyone with information about this incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or online at www.crimestopperssa.com.au

Interview with Madeleine Morris, ABC News Breakfast, ABC

Source: Australian Treasurer

MADELEINE MORRIS:

We’re joined by the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, good morning to you Treasurer, thanks for your time.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Good to be with you Madeleine.

MADELEINE MORRIS:

First of all, let me just ask you about that issue which is still really an issue for Labor, any last minute changes, decisions, to include those 1.1 million short term casuals in the JobKeeper payment ?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

We’ll be putting the legislation to the Parliament as we previously announced. That means it’s a $1,500 flat payment for part time workers, for full time workers, for casuals who have been connected to their employer for 12 months or more, for sole traders and for not-for-profit organisations. See Madeleine, this is a program at $130 billion, it’s unprecedented in it’s scale and it’s scope and around six million workers should be able to use this program to stay in a job and to keep the connection with their employer which will help build that bridge to the recovery on the other side.

MADELEINE MORRIS:

But does that inequity of that worry you? So people who are on short term contracts, so many in the arts industries as we know, 1.1 million Australians will only be able to get JobSeeker at a lesser rate, but someone who might have done a shift in a bakery once a week for four years earning $250 a fortnight, they can now get $1,500?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well there’s a couple points I’ll make. Firstly we’ve provided additional support to businesses based on the size of their wages roll and that includes payments of between $20,000 and $100,000 to hundreds of thousands of businesses. So they will have access to this money to help meet the wages bill of some of those casuals that you’ve referred to. At the same time the JobSeeker payment is also very substantial and we’ve effectively doubled the size of the safety net. There’s also the ability for people to work a little while they’re also on that JobSeeker program. So we believe it’s a very fair system that we’ve laid out, it’s a very substantial system, it’s a very generous system, but it does reflect the significant economic challenge that the country faces at this time and that’s why we’ve gone ahead with it…

MADELEINE MORRIS:

…well its certainly, sorry to interrupt, it certainly is very generous, but to that point, someone who has been working, maybe getting $500 a fortnight, is now going to be able to access $1,500 paid for by the taxpayer, is that fair?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

I think it’s very Australian to ensure that it’s a flat payment and no one is getting paid more because they’re on a higher income. As you know, some of the schemes overseas adopted that approach. What we have tried to do is adopt an approach which has a flat payment, which uses the existing tax system which will be much more efficient and effective to implement and we’ll get the money into people’s pockets sooner rather than later.

MADELEINE MORRIS:

Can I just ask you about unemployment. We’ve seen various predictions from various economists, the RBA warning about it yesterday. With the implementation of this JobSeeker payment now, do you actually have a projection for what you think unemployment is going to get to over the coming months?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Look there’s no definite number on that because things are still very fluid. Obviously the health restrictions that we’ve put in place have had a severe economic impact, but we’ve pulled out all stops to do what we can, to keep people in a job and maintaining that formal connection between employer and employee is going to be really important and that’s why this legislation is so important. I mean, today is one of the most important days in the history of the Australian Parliament as we come together, across the political divide, to save millions of Australian jobs.

MADELEINE MORRIS:

Just on that, a lot of our viewers are very concerned about the fact that this is going to be the last day of Parliament sitting for four months. How are you going to be able to work this? Surely there is a technological way of making it work so that we can have adequate oversight for these huge spending plans that are being implemented?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well of course there’s oversight and we’ve supported the establishment of the Senate Committee…

MADELEINE MORRIS:

Not Parliamentary, sure, there is a Senate Committee, but not Parliamentary oversight, Treasurer.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well the Senate’s in the Parliament the last time I looked. I mean the point is we are obviously putting all the information out there that comes to hand and the Prime Minister made that very clear in his statement yesterday after National Cabinet. I mean this is truly a national crisis that we face. An economic and a health crisis simultaneously, effectively like fighting a war on two fronts, and I believe that the Australian people are with us as we go forward. The Parliament will meet as required to pass important legislation just as we did a few weeks ago.

MADELEINE MORRIS:

Just a final question. As Treasurer you’re presiding over the spending of $214 billion in one month, that’s one for the CV…

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

It’s not something I was looking to put on my CV, I can promise you!

MADELEINE MORRIS:

I’m sure it’s not. Two questions, the Prime Minster said that he wants this to roll back after six months. One, how do you know that’s going to be enough time? And two, how are you actually going to do it?

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Well in terms of the legislation, there’s sunset clauses that are in place, but clearly the measures will be rolled back when it is safe to do so in terms of the health advice that’s coming to us and the subsequent economic impact that it’s having. I mean what we are absolutely focused on is getting the support to people who need it most and we’ve had effectively three separate packages, Madeleine, of support measures. They’ve all been different in nature and in scale and in scope. Obviously today’s legislation and the JobKeeper payment is the most significant. We’ll do what is necessary but we’ll also continue to take the best possible medical advice.

MADELEINE MORRIS:

Okay we’ll have to leave it there, thank you very much for joining us on a busy day for you Treasurer.

JOSH FRYDENBERG:

Thank you.

Assistance to our community during COVID-19 pandemic

Source: Government of Western Australia

Although our customer service and administration centres are currently closed to the public, we are still open for business and continue to provide a service to our Ashburton community.

Shire of Ashburton President Kerry White said that as a local government we have a responsibility to our community members during an emergency event such as a health pandemic.

“In each of our towns Shire of Ashburton staff are activating community groups to provide assistance and support to a number of local organisations” said Councillor White.

“In Tom Price the Shire has assisted Gumala in closing off Wakathuni community, providing signage to close roads, helping community members with getting funding and in returning from town to land while also ensuring medicines and essential goods are continuing to be delivered.

“We are working with the Ashburton Aboriginal Cooperation and the Youth Centre to determine the distribution of Second Bite, a Coles and Brumby’s program to donate food to communities, and checking in with Tom Price Youth Support Association and the Department of Human Services who facilitate Centrelink and local employment opportunities.

“In Onslow we are working with VSwans, Wirrpanda Foundation, IGA Supermarket and Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation to assist and coordinate support to Peedamulla and Bindi Bindi communities.

“We are coordinating with EPIC and Foodbank WA to offer a free online nutrition education workshop.

“Across all towns arrangements are begin implemented to replace our usual services such as a library program for children and adults to read books online.

“Our school holiday programs are being delivered through the preparation and distribution of fitness and well-being packs, as well as kid’s school packs, through our Rio Tinto Community Partnership in our inland towns and through our Working Together for Onslow partnership in Onslow.

“We have extended outdoor lighting at our ovals where possible to enable the community to exercise and ensure our community members can continue to look after their physical and mental health.

“Internally, staff from our libraries, recreational facilities and other outbound customer focused areas have been redeployed within the organisation providing assistance across all directorates while many of our office-based staff have been working from home and ensuring social distancing while in workspaces.

“Our maintenance crews are continuing to look after each of our towns ensuring they continue to be vibrant communities for us to live in at this time.

“Council are aware of the challenging time this must be for our local businesses and will consider a comprehensive financial support and relief package for all towns at next week’s Ordinary Meeting of Council.

“Local businesses that are still operating are encouraged to connect with the Ashburton Business Directory and list themselves as Open during COVID-19.

“The Shire will continue to participate in emergency management and incident support groups alongside WA Police, the Department of Health and the Department of Communities and Child Protection to provide situational reporting and continued updates and shared information across the various agencies”.

Stay up to date on COVID-19 on our website, and through Facebook by following both Shire of Ashburton page and Ashburton Community COVID-19 Info page.

More news articles

Work progressing on Southern Remand Centre

Source: State of Tasmania Government

8 April 2020

Elise Archer, Attorney-General and Minister for Corrections

The Tasmanian Liberal Government is committed to addressing the challenges facing the State’s correctional facilities.

Early works for the new $79 million Southern Remand Centre and Risdon Prison Complex Upgrade have now commenced.

Managing Contractor, Hansen Yuncken, is undertaking the early works which include a new perimeter wall and civil works, and are expected to be completed in June 2020.

The new Southern Remand Centre is a key component of the Government’s infrastructure investment program to improve and upgrade Tasmania’s prison facilities.

Once complete, the Southern Remand Centre will significantly increase the capacity of the prison system.

The new facility, which is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2021, will deliver better conditions for remandees and allow separation from the general prison population.

More than 130 jobs are expected to be created during construction of the facility, with 50 ongoing jobs created upon completion.

In addition to construction of the new Southern Remand Centre, the project also includes almost $10 million of works to expand and upgrade shared facilities within the Risdon Prison Complex.

The Southern Remand Centre is just one element of a comprehensive $350 million investment the Tasmanian Government is making to modernise and improve corrections facilities across Tasmania.

New loan commitments for housing declined in February (Media Release)

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics 2

MEDIA RELEASE

8 April 2020 Embargoed: 11:30 am (Canberra time)

New loan commitments for housing declined in February

The value of new loan commitments for housing fell 1.7 per cent in February, seasonally adjusted, according to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures.

ABS Chief Economist, Bruce Hockman, said: “February’s fall in the value of new loan commitments for housing follows considerable growth in the series from mid-2019 onwards. New loan commitments for both owner occupier housing and investor housing were down this month, falling 1.7 per cent and 1.9 per cent respectively.”

The number of new loan commitments for owner occupier first home buyers rose 0.4 per cent in February following January’s rise of 0.5 per cent. The number of owner occupier first home buyer loan commitments were up 19.4 per cent on February 2019 with increases for all but two months over the year.

The value of new loan commitments for fixed term personal finance fell 0.5 per cent in February following a 2.1 per cent rise in January and were up 10.1 per cent on February 2019.

In trend terms, the value of new loan commitments to businesses for construction fell 1.6 per cent in February, while the value of new loan commitments to businesses for the purchase of property rose 1.3 per cent.

There was no notable impact of the COVID-19 virus on new lending commitments for February 2020. The reference period for Lending Indicators fell at a point where there was only a relatively low number of confirmed COVID-19 cases within Australia and before it was declared a global pandemic. The ABS appreciates the support of APRA and lending institutions in continuing to provide the data used to compile this publication.

More information is available in Lending Indicators, Australia (cat no. 5601.0).

Media note:

  • When reporting ABS data, you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or ABS) as the source
  • For media requests and interviews, please contact the ABS Media Team on 1300 175 070 (8:30am – 5:00pm Mon-Fri)
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Western Sydney man arrested for alleged online sharing of child abuse material

Source: Australian Federal Police

A 24-year-old man is due to face Penrith Court today following an AFP investigation into the alleged possession and sharing of child abuse material online.

The investigation began following a report from the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the United States. The report suggested an internet user based in Australia had transmitted more than 6,800 files categorised as child abuse material online.

The matter was referred to the AFP Eastern Command Child Protection Operations area and an investigation launched.

Investigators yesterday (Tuesday, 7 April 2020) executed a search warrant at a home in the western Sydney suburb of Whalan. A number of electronic devices were seized and will be the subject of further digital forensic examination.

The man was arrested and taken to Mount Druitt Police Station and charged with using a carriage service for child abuse material, contrary to s 474.22 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is 15 years imprisonment.

AFP Acting Commander Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) and Child Protection Operations Paula Hudson said these types of images often depict a child somewhere in the world that has been exposed to cruel and degrading abuse.

“Despite the current COVID-19 crisis the AFP and the ACCCE, as well as state and territory partners, will not lose focus on combatting child exploitation,” she said.

“Our officers are still working diligently to identify and prosecute those who prey on our children. Our work to put a stop to the sexual exploitation of children, be it online or physical abuse, will not stop for anything.”

Acting Commander Hudson said sharing these images fuelled the demand for the disturbing content, and the AFP remained committed to combating this crime type at all levels – now more than ever as people turn to spend more time on the internet.

“Even now as our society grapples with this health crisis, this is a warning to would-be offenders that we are still active and we will still catch you,” she said. 

The Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation (ACCCE) works alongside key stakeholders and partners to drive a collective global effort to counter the epidemic of child exploitation. It provides an integrated and collaborative capability to ensure cohesion by using the expertise of federal, state and territory, non-government agencies and private industry, and by allowing a cross-pollination of resources, knowledge and skillsets between stakeholders.

Members of the public who have any information about people involved in the possession or sharing of child exploitation material are urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

You can also make a report online by alerting the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation via the Report Abuse button at www.accce.gov.au/report.

Editor’s note: Vision of the arrest is available via Hightail link here.

Media enquiries:

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

ACCC concludes investigation into CBH’s Paddock Planner App

Source: Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

The ACCC has concluded its investigation into Cooperative Bulk Handling Ltd’s (CBH) promotion of its Paddock Planner App (PP App) which it had commenced after concerns were expressed by growers.

The PP App is an online estimates tool which collects data from growers about their paddocks, crops and expected yields. For the 2019-20 harvest, CBH offered growers a 50 cents per tonne discount off grain receival fees if they submitted their crop estimates through the PP App.  

The ACCC commenced its investigation after hearing concerns from growers and their representatives about the introduction of the PP App and the potential for anti-competitive and misleading conduct.

“We have now concluded our investigation. We considered all the information available, and concluded that there was no evidence that Paddock Planner App breached any of the competition or consumer laws,” ACCC Deputy Chair Mick Keogh said.

“Nonetheless we remind all businesses with substantial market positions that they must not engage in anti-competitive conduct or mislead suppliers or customers when collecting data from them.”

During its investigation, the ACCC assessed whether CBH:

  • misled growers about the extent of data they were required to upload to the PP App to obtain the discount; 
  • misled growers about how the data would be used by CBH and who the data would be shared with, including third parties and other divisions of CBH such as its grain trading arm or its fertiliser division; and
  • would be able to disadvantage its competitors by accessing data that was not otherwise available to its competitors or obtaining data it would not otherwise have access to.

The ACCC’s conclusion of the investigation was based on a number of factors, including the fact that growers only need to upload information to the PP App about grain they intend to deliver and store with CBH. Growers also have full control over who they allow to have access to data uploaded to the PP App.

Further, the use of the app is not compulsory and growers are free to provide crop estimate information to CBH through its existing LoadNet system, as they had previously done.

While the ACCC does not generally comment on investigations, it was considered appropriate to announce the conclusion of this investigation due to previous public statements regarding the investigation.

Background

CBH is a vertically integrated cooperative that handles, markets and exports grain grown in WA. Its grain trading arm, CBH Grain Pty Ltd, is the largest acquirer of Western Australian grain, while its bulk handling arm, CBH Operations, provides supply chain logistic services to growers and marketers of grain in WA.

Under the Bulk Handling Act Regulations 1967 (WA), growers have to provide estimate information for grain proposed to be delivered to a CBH receival site.

CBH introduced the PP App in 2018 for growers who used its grain storage and handling services.

Helping People Get Back To Work, Working For Victoria

Source: Government of Victoria 2

Almost 1,300 people who were looking for a job due to the coronavirus crisis are now working for Victoria thanks to the Victorian Government.

Premier Daniel Andrews joined Minister for Jobs Martin Pakula today to announce the first raft of positions secured through the Working for Victoria Fund – with thousands more to benefit in the coming weeks and months.

More than 60 people have taken up new roles with Foodbank – helping prepare care packages for people in need across Victoria. Foodbank has received a grant through the Fund to support the new team members.

Around 450 jobseekers have found work in roles connected to the quarantine program for returning international travellers – including transport operations, security and cleaning – while others are working in call centres, including as part of coronavirus contact tracing efforts, help lines and administration.

We are also putting the call out to businesses – if you need workers, we can match you with staff quickly. Free online courses in cleaning, food hygiene, first aid and other important skills are also now available to people who have lost their jobs and are registered with Working for Victoria – so they’re ready for the call-up to work.

More than 2,500 workers are expected to be placed through the $500 million Working for Victoria Fund by the end of next week. The Fund is part of the Government’s $1.7 billion Economic Survival Package that is providing a range of support to Victorian businesses.

Small businesses have taken up the offer of assistance with more than 16,000 applications for Business Support Fund grants – $50 million in grants will have been paid to 5,000 businesses across the state by the end of today.

The Government has also paid back more than $384 million in payroll tax refunds – putting cash back in the bank of nearly 17,000 small and medium-sized businesses.

Liquor licensing fees have been waived for more than 20,000 pubs, clubs, hotels and bottle-shops, and no tenant in a government building is paying rent – helping them survive to the other side of the crisis.

Working for Victoria is open to workers who have recently lost their job or casuals who no longer have shifts – including international students and temporary migrants. Relocation, accommodation and transport subsides are available to eligible participants. Businesses and workers can register at vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria.

The Government will continue to work closely with business and unions and will announce further support over the coming weeks and months, in consultation with the Commonwealth, as the impacts of the coronavirus evolve.

Quote attributable to Premier Daniel Andrews

“This is just the beginning – over the coming weeks thousands of Victorians will be matched with employers that need staff, and given the support they need to skill up and start work.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade Martin Pakula

“We’re supporting jobs by providing businesses with grants and cash refunds – and trained, willing workers.”

Quote attributable to Minister for Training and Skills Gayle Tierney

Giving Victorians new skills will be vital in getting through this crisis – that’s why we’re offering these free online courses through Working for Victoria.”

Vigour 800 tablets

Source: Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has tested a product labelled Vigour 800 tablets and found that:

  • The tablets contain the undeclared substance sildenafil.

Consumers are advised that sildenafil is a prescription-only (S4) medicine in Australia.

The supply of Vigour 800 tablets containing undisclosed sildenafil is illegal.

Vigour 800 tablets have not been assessed by the TGA for quality, safety or efficacy as required under Australian legislation, and the place of manufacture is not approved by the TGA.

Information for consumers

  • Stop taking Vigour 800 tablets and take any remaining tablets to your local pharmacy for safe disposal.
  • If you have any concerns arising from your use of this product, consult your health care practitioner.

Action the TGA is taking

The TGA is working with the Australian Border Force (ABF) to help stop future shipments of Vigour 800 tablets from entering Australia.

If these tablets are found at the border by the ABF they will be seized and destroyed.

The TGA is advising consumers to exercise extreme caution when purchasing medicines from unknown overseas Internet sites and has produced a short video on the risks associated with buying medicines and medical devices online. Products purchased over the Internet:

  • may contain undisclosed and potentially harmful ingredients
  • may not meet the same standards of quality, safety and efficacy as those approved by the TGA for supply in Australia.