Interesting line for a Labor leader to take.
On looking forward, RN breakfast host Fran Kelly asked Capp if Melbourne would be able to host events like its New Years Eve fireworks this year.
Capp said they were currently working on socially-distanced contingencies to the usual event, but that “we do know at this stage that it’s highly unlikely we are going to be able to welcome 400,000 people into the city centre”.
She said it was important, this year in particular, to give people the chance to collectively see the back of an awful year.
We are thinking about how do we help people say goodbye to 2020, because I feel like there’s going to be a lot of people who want to kiss goodbye to 2020 and say hello to a hopefully better 2021.
Melbourne lord mayor Sally Capp says that 8% of the hospitality businesses in the Melbourne CBD which are currently closed due to coronavirus restrictions have told the council that they will not reopen. A further 7% say they are unlikely to be able to reopen.
The figures come from a council survey, Capp told Radio National this morning. She says about 45% of all hospitality businesses in the CBD are currently closed, while the remaining 55% are trying to remain viable through offering take-away and delivery services.
It’s the most difficult circumstances i’ve ever seen in my lifetime… there is no rule book for this. Everybody I think is genuinely trying their best to survive in very uncertain and challenging times.
Initiatives like jobkeeper certainly give hope.
Capp said the CBD businesses are “very heavily regulated” and regularly visited by both Melbourne city council staff and police officers to ensure they’re complying with coronavirus restrictions and social distancing rules.
Many of them have commented to us that they feel they get more than due attention.
It comes as Victorian health officials said 80% of the new transmissions of the coronavirus in the Melbourne region come from workplace interactions. Said Capp:
A big part of the transmission in workplaces has bene the mobility of people across different workplaces… certainly our offices are doing their best to make sure the businesses are supported in understanding what the restrictions are in adherence to them.
Capp said there was “a lot of frustration at the situation we find ourselves in” but urged people to keep looking forward and following the stay-at-home restrictions.
The Australian Medical Association has called on the NSW government to match the Australian government’s commitment of “zero healthcare worker deaths” from Covid-19.
In a statement this morning AMA NSW president Dr Danielle McMullen said:
The Federal Government’s commitment to zero healthcare worker deaths is reassuring, but it is not enough. The State Government also needs to be accountable to healthcare workers and give frontline workers confidence that they are supported during this crisis.
As the number of new cases rise, so does the anxiety of healthcare workers. Committing to a target of zero deaths sends a strong signal to the profession that their work and the sacrifices they are making during this pandemic are valued.
If you (like me) are wondering what such a commitment looks like in practice, McMullen says it is: providing appropriate PPE in all healthcare settings; transparent information about the range and usage of PPE; appropriate reporting of healthcare worker infection data particularly where the infection was caused by work-related exposure; and making the safety and welfare of healthcare workers a key priority in decisions around restrictions or closures.
There have been issues around the reporting of data about healthcare workers who have contracted the coronavirus in Victoria or are a close contact of a known case. Melissa Davey has been following this issue for Guardian Australia, and reports today that the AMA in Victoria has called for greater transparency.
AMA Vic president, associate prof Julian Rait, told her:
We still don’t have transparency around the true numbers of cases being acquired in the workplace despite assurances we would be in receipt of that information.”
There are 429 Victorian healthcare workers who have been infected with the virus and 164 of those cases are active, with hundreds more in quarantine.
McMullen said healthcare workers in NSW were concerned they could be in the same position as Victoria if the spread of the virus continues.
On the jobseeker payment, Cormann would not say what the fortnightly rate would be after 28 September but said some form of supplementary payment would continue for the next six months.
It will not be the full $550 coronavirus supplement, which effectively doubled the rate of jobseeker to $1,100. Cormann said the supplementary payment to be provided for the next six months, through to March 2021, would be at “somewhat lower levels”:
What the ongoing arrangements will be after that will be a matter for the budget in October.
Cormann rejected the suggestion that extending the payments was simply pushing the economic problems of withdrawing income support into next year. He said the government was working on “a transition out of the transition … instead of imposing a fiscal cliff which would have been the case if we had stopped payments from one day to the next at the end of September”.
Mathias Cormann said the reduced jobkeeper rate would not be enough to solve the problem of “zombie businesses” – those that are no longer viable entities but are just continuing to exist as a conduit for their employees to receive jobkeeper payments.
The reduced payment will run until March 2021. Cormann said jobkeeper had been introduced in March 2020 because it “was very important to get macroeconomic support into the economy very quickly” but that “it certainly does create certain distortions”:
You keep businesses afloat that might not otherwise survive without this support being ongoing. And it is temporary support. It is not ongoing support. So this is why we’re starting to lower those payments in an effort to start weaning businesses off, because ultimately, we need to get back to a situation after this six months where all businesses can pay for the wages of their employee out of their income, rather than having to rely on taxpayer support.
To be eligible for the existing jobkeeper payment, businesses had to show a 30% reduction in their turnover. Cormann said that turnover test would be reapplied in October and again in January, to make sure businesses still required the support.
Mathias Cormann has been on ABC News Breakfast this morning, talking about the changes to the jobseeker and jobkeeper payments to be announced today without, er, actually announcing anything.
The current $1,500-a-fortnight jobkeeper rate and $1115.70-a-fortnight jobseeker rate (that’s the base rate of $565.70 plus the $550 fortnightly coronavirus supplement) will expire on 28 September and be replaced by lower-rate payments, although the federal government has not yet said what that lower rate will be.
The finance minister said the lower rate for the jobkeeper payment, which was introduced at the start of the coronavirus-induced economic shutdown in March, was “in recognition of the fact that some Australians have been getting higher payments through jobkeeper than is reflected in the hours worked”.
He said the new payment would have two tiers – a full-time rate, understood by Guardian Australia to be around $1,000 a fortnight, and a lower, part-time rate. He told the ABC:
It means that it more closely aligns the level of support with the level of income that would be received in the ordinary course of events.
Essentially, under the existing flat rate too many people were getting paid more than the government thought they were worth.
Federal MPs should have their pay docked for cancelled parliament sittings, Rex Patrick says
The South Australian senator Rex Patrick says federal MPs should have their pay docked by $1,000 for every scheduled parliamentary sitting day that gets cancelled rather than rescheduled.
The federal parliament has sat for fewer days in the first half of 2020 than during the same period in any other year in the past 10 years. The lower house sat for just 27 days from January to July 2020 and the Senate 23. That’s almost half the number of sitting days of the next lowest year – the first half of 2019, when the lower house sat for 45 days and the Senate 40 despite being suspended for the federal election on 18 May:
Millions of Australians are facing huge financial difficulties as a consequence of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions. All too many Australians have lost their jobs and many others are working reduced hours with significantly reduced pay. Federal politicians should not be insulated from the impacts, especially when many MPs are not doing fundamental work they are rightfully expected to do; oversight of Government and reviewing and voting on legislation.
The Centre Alliance senator said the health advice of the chief medical officer should be followed but Scott Morrison’s decision to cancel a fortnight of sitting days rather than reschedule them was “highly disappointing and sends precisely the wrong signal to Australians”:
There were only 30 Senate sitting days left for 2020. The prime minister’s decision reduced those planned sittings by more than 20 per cent. Those August sitting days should not have been cancelled, but rather rescheduled to September, which has only three sitting days planned. There is a lot of work to be done.
Patrick said parliament was not able to do its work properly on such a restricted schedule because it reduced the time to properly scrutinise legislation:
When Parliament does reconvene, the Government will no doubt seek to ram through its legislative agenda in the shortest possible time and with the least possible debate and scrutiny.
Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg will today announce changes to the jobseeker and jobkeeper programs, reducing the coronavirus supplement on the former by an unspecified amount and cutting the latter to $1,000 a fortnight. The changes will be effective from 28 September, and jobkeeper will continue until March 2021.
According to a summary of the jobkeeper review, circulated in Canberra yesterday, the Treasury found that the payment should continue to be available past September for businesses most impacted by the pandemic, but that:
It may … be appropriate at this juncture to consider reducing payments to wean off businesses from ongoing support.
You can read more on that from our political editor, Katharine Murphy, here.
The changes to the NSW-Victorian border will come into effect at midnight tonight, making it much harder to cross. They’ve been roundly criticised by the mayors of the twin city of Albury Wodonga, who say the NSW government has not been consultative.
Meanwhile, police in NSW are preparing to go to the court again to stop another proposed Black Lives Matter rally, planned for Tuesday 28 July. The police commissioner, Mick Fuller, told Sky news that holding a protest could “put NSW back five or 10 years economically” and alluded to the repeatedly disproven claim that the Melbourne Black Lives Matter rally of 6 June had a role in the second wave outbreak in that city. The Victorian chief health officer has repeatedly said it didn’t, and said the whole of the outbreak could be attributed to breaches in hotel quarantine.
Tomorrow marks two weeks since greater Melbourne and Mitchell shire were put back into lockdown. Authorities have repeatedly said they would expect numbers to drop at this point — but despite a substantial reduction yesterday the trend is not going down yet. NSW recorded its highest number of cases in several months but all were linked to known outbreaks.
Let’s crack on. You can follow me on Twitter at @callapilla or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.