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Australian News

Scott Morrison banned from entering Queensland for election campaign


Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be banned from entering Queensland for the duration of the state election campaign unless he is prepared to pay $2800 to quarantine for 14 days in a government facility.

Nearly seven weeks after he last entered the sunshine state, there’s no signs that the Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk will lift the border bans before the October 31 election.

Queensland’s border ban will effectively stop the Prime Minister, Labor leader Anthony Albanese and any other frontbenchers from entering the state for the duration of the election unless they are prepared to spend a fortnight in quarantine.

It follows an ugly war of words between the Prime Minister and the Queensland Premier over the plight of hardship cases including a young woman who was unable to attend her father’s funeral.

Last week, the Queensland Premier hit back at the Prime Minister, accusing him of “bullying” her to intervene in the case of a woman who was unable to attend her father’s funeral.

“I will not be bullied nor will I be intimidated by the Prime Minister of this country who contacted me this morning and who I made [it] very clear to, the fact that it is not my decision,” she said.

“The Prime Minister at the time said to me that he had not gone public, but Mr Speaker, I knew that he would go public.

“To use the tragedy of this personal family is disgusting.”

Both leaders have confirmed they have no plans to travel to Queensland while the tough border restrictions remain in place.

The current border closures, which prohibit anyone from a ‘hotspot’ area including Canberra coming to Queensland without a 14 day quarantine period will be reviewed at the end of every month.

The only alternative is to fly from Canberra to “COVID-free” Adelaide, which reopened the border to the ACT this week and spend a fortnight there, before travelling on to Brisbane.

According to Queensland Health Department guidelines, the border will remain shut to NSW, ACT and Victorian residents unless there are 28 days without community transmission in those jurisdictions.

And while there is provision for MPs’ to enter the state to conduct their work, the requirement they complete a quarantine period is non-negotiable.

“(Elected representatives) can enter Queensland from a declared COVID-19 hotspot, such as the ACT, to return to their electorate or to perform official duties,” a Queensland Health spokesman said. “They must enter via air and will be required to quarantine for 14 days from the date of arrival as per global quarantine requirements.”

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has previously defended the decision to declare Canberra a hotspot despite the fact the nation’s capital hasn’t had a case in months.

“Canberra is declared a hotspot because it is in the middle of NSW,” Dr Young said, adding that many people in Canberra have holiday homes on the NSW south coast where there have been cases more recently,’’ she said.

In July, the Prime Minister unveiled a $400 million package to attract international blockbusters to film in Australia on the Gold Coast.

However, the Queensland opposition leader Deb Frecklington did not attend the event as she had a prior engagement.

“I let her know I was coming up here today, and she was pleased with the announcement we were making today for Queensland,” Mr Morrison said.



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Australian News

AFL Indigenous players required to have pneumococcal vaccine before entering Queensland


Tensions between players and the AFL are rising as clubs prepare to move into a new hub in Queensland, with Indigenous players being made to have pneumonia vaccinations before arriving.

The Queensland Government says it was the AFL’s decision to tell Indigenous players and their families to get the injection by this weekend, before they travel to Queensland.

The ABC understands club doctors were informed that along with influenza vaccinations for all players, Indigenous players were requested by the Queensland Chief Medical Officer to also have a pneumococcal vaccination before travelling, due to a, “tightening of Queensland’s border controls”.

Research shows that Indigenous people are more likely to contract pneumonia. The vaccine is recommended for Indigenous people over 50 years of age.

Dr Jeannette Young speaks at a press conference at Parliament House in Brisbane.
The ABC understands that Indigenous players were requested to have a pneumococcal vaccination before travelling.(AAP: Darren England)

But some Indigenous players and their families are uncomfortable with the requirement to have the injection, saying it is an infringement on their human rights.

The family of one Indigenous player said they were concerned the AFL did not advocate for an exemption from the Queensland Government.

However, a spokesperson for Queensland Health said the vaccination was never a travel requirement.

“The decision for some players to have pneumococcal vaccinations was made by the relevant sporting code [the AFL],” the spokesperson said.

“People can apply for relevant exemptions directly with the sporting code.”

The CEO of the AFL players’ association, Paul Marsh, says he’s concerned about the issue.

“The fact that these vaccinations were not discussed with the AFLPA as part of the return-to-play protocols or otherwise, is a significant issue we have raised with the AFL.

“We are now working directly with players to ensure they understand their rights and options available to them regarding any requested vaccinations.”

The AFL are expected to release a statement shortly.



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Australian News

Victorian virus hotspot residents face fines, jail time for entering NSW


Victorians from virus hot spot suburbs will face fines of up to $11,000 or jail time if they enter NSW from midnight tonight.

The draconian new public health orders were flagged by NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard today and will include a legal requirement for NSW residents returning from hotspot suburbs in Victoria to enter into 14 days of quarantine.

NSW residents will also be banned from visiting the hotspot suburbs across the border in Victoria, with the same penalties applying to those that are caught defying the orders.

“Look, normally we love having Victorians and Queenslands and everyone else coming to visit us,’’ Mr Hazzard said.

“It’s people from hotspots. They are not welcome here. It’s not something we want to do but we must do for our own safety. Do not leave the hotspot. But if you come to NSW…you will be exposed to the possibility of six months jail and an $11,000 fine.

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“If you are found here in NSW you face very heavy penalties. So, don’t come.”

Some exemptions will apply but only for “very special circumstances” such as for medical care or compassionate reasons.

Anyone who then returns to NSW after visiting the hotspot areas would need to go into 14 days isolation if they return to NSW.

“If you choose to go there, when you really shouldn’t be, you will be required to go into isolation,’’ Mr Hazzard said.

“Victorians living in virus hotspots have to take the Victorian and NSW health orders seriously and should be very aware that NSW will impose additional penalties if they seek to leave their suburbs to enter NSW.

“If you go to any of these hotspots that have been identified by the Victorian Government, you’ll be liable to the same penalties as any Victorian.”

Queensland has also implemented heavy fines for Victorians and anyone who has visited the state — not just the hotspots — within 14 days.

Anyone travelling to Queensland from Friday will have to sign a declaration form saying they haven’t come from or visited Victoria, and those found to be falsifying information will be hit with a $4000 fine.

Earlier, the Prime Minister flagged that state and federal leaders had discussed tougher fines for Victorian residents who refuse virus tests.

“It is disappointing. But, you know, we’re doing this in an Australian way. We’re looking to do it through incentive, through the use of carrot, not stick,’’ he said.

“But occasionally the stick will have to be put about, whether it’s fines or other sanctions that are in place to ensure that we keep everybody safe.”

The Morrison Government has come under fire for criticising Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk for closing borders given the situation now evolving in Victoria.

Mr Morrison denied “singling out’’ Queensland.

“Well, I haven’t. There’s an election in Queensland, so I’m not surprised that the political rhetoric is amping up,’’ he said.

“Look, we’re keeping all of the country together to focus on this. I made similar comments about the changes in borders in South Australia yesterday. So, look, I think you can file that under a Queensland election.”

“Well, on borders there’s never been a National Cabinet decision to have internal borders. That was never the medical expert advice that was given to National Cabinet. States have gone their own way and the reason a lot of the other states haven’t had the same impact is because they haven’t had the same number of returning travellers that have come into Sydney and Melbourne.

“I mean, if Sydney and Melbourne said, you know what? If people if Queenslanders or South Australians or Tasmanians or Western Australians want to go straight through Sydney or Melbourne and go back to your home states without quarantining, well, I think they would been presented with a lot more risks.”



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Local News - Victoria

Country kids committing their first crime after entering child protection


Almost half of these children were from regional areas, including Wangaratta, Shepparton, Bendigo, Horsham and Latrobe Valley, and were more likely to be known to child protection and younger (between the ages of 10 and 13) at their first offence than children from Melbourne.

Child protection could be involved with regional families earlier because of the lack of support services, the council was told.

Victoria’s Commissioner for Children and Young People Liana Buchanan said the findings were not surprising, but the report was the most rigorous analysis of data yet. It confirms the child protection and care systems were not working, she said.

“We don’t have a system that’s properly equipped to provide that child with the stability and safety and therapeutic support to recover,” Ms Buchanan said.

“Our systems are not effectively getting into families … even when child protection does step in and remove the child, which should be the last resort, often the outcomes for those children are very poor.”

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The report analysed the cases of more than 5000 children who were sentenced or granted a diversion order in the Children’s Court in 2016-17. Of these, almost 40 per cent had been the subject of a report to child protection. For these crossover children, the report found:

  • Nine out of 10 were known to child protection before they were before the court.
  • Country children were likely to be younger, aged 10 to 13, at their first offence.
  • About 80 per cent of children from out-of-home care backgrounds who entered the justice system had multiple carers. One in four had 10 or more different carers. One child had 50 care placements with 36 different carers.

The council’s deputy chair Lisa Ward said traumatised children needed more targeted programs and more support when they enter out-of-home care.

When they are before the court, the impact of trauma on the ability to comply with an order and refrain from offending should be a key consideration at sentencing, Ms Ward said.

“Most children who have contact with child protection don’t end up in the youth justice system,” she said.

“For those who do … their past experience of trauma, abuse and distress may contribute to serious and prolific offending, causing considerable harm to the community.”

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