Australian News

Victorian Racing Minister backs down on plan to allow owners, connections to attend Manikato Stakes and Cox Plate meetings

Victoria’s Minister for Racing has backed down on a decision to allow owners and connections to attend the 100th running of the Cox Plate this weekend.

On Twitter, Martin Pakula said he had heard community feedback and spoken to the Moonee Valley Racing Club to reverse the decision.

The Moonee Valley Racing Club (MVRC) had struck a deal with the Victorian Government allowing up to 500 owners and connections to attend Friday night’s Manikato Stakes, and the same number for the Cox Plate meeting the following day.

In a statement, the Victorian Government said measures in the COVID-safe plan approved for the events included a cap on numbers, staggered arrivals, time limits and temperature checks.

In total, there would have been a maximum cap of 1,250 people on the course for each race meeting including jockeys, club operations staff, security, COVID-safe marshals and media.

“No more than 1,000 people will be permitted on course at any one time — in normal times, the venue can host 38,000 people,” the statement said.

However, just after 9:00pm AEDT, Mr Pakula said the decision was “a mistake, given that other restrictions remain in place, and we’ve heard the community feedback”.


“Tonight I’ve spoken to the Moonee Valley Racing Club and the decision’s been reversed. Owners won’t return to the race track until we reach the next stage of the easing of restrictions. I apologise for any upset that has been caused.”

He said the initial agreement had been motivated “only by respect for the occasion and a desire to mark a small step on the path to reopening”.

Politicians from all sides have slammed both the initial decision to allow connections to attend the event, and the subsequent reversal by the Racing Minister.

Federal Nationals senator, Matt Canavan, described the whole process as an “own goal” by the Victorian Government.

“It seems absurd that you can let a thousand people go to the races when you still can’t have more than 10 people at a funeral,” Mr Canavan told Channel Nine.

“We’ve seen that, right through this crisis, that people can cop restrictions, they can bunker down to try to tackle the virus but what they can’t cop is a double standard and this is a blatant one.”

Victorian Animal Justice Party MP Andy Meddick said he was “blindsided and shocked” by the initial decision to allow people to attend and welcomed the reversal by the Racing Minister.

“I’m dumbfounded as to why the decision was even considered in the first place,” he said.

“When such hardship has been experienced by small business owners the support should have been for restaurant owners, for cafe owners.”

“We support and respect the Government’s decision on this matter,” MVRC chief executive Michael Browell said on Twitter.

Officials had been resigned to having no crowds at races when in early September the Government announced its initial roadmap for easing restrictions, But subsequent changes to that plan opened the door for an agreement to be reached.

“Changes to directions from the Chief Health Officer that allow persons with a business need to attend race meetings mean that connections will be able to attend metropolitan tracks that have COVID-safe plans in place ongoing, under set conditions,” the statement said.

The statement went to say food and beverage service would be takeaway only and a limit on the length of time owners could attend on race days was still being finalised, the statement said.

Mr Browell had hailed the agreement as a “fantastic outcome” for the industry.

“There have been a few curve balls thrown our way throughout this whole process,” he said.

“We’ve worked diligently over the past week to 10 days to finalise these plans and to get the support from the Government and the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services).

Australia’s premier weight-for-age horse race has the added challenge of being scheduled on the same day as the AFL grand final this year.

“We can work hand in glove here. It can be complementary. We take the afternoon and then the night-time grand final,” Mr Browell said.

“We’re just glad that racing can take centre stage in an historic weekend of Australian sport.”

No deal has been reached for crowds to attend the Melbourne Cup at Flemington on November 3.

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Australian News

Victoria signed off on New Zealand travel deal, minister says

Premier Daniel Andrews has called on the federal government to “work” with Victoria, saying the state never agreed to be part of the trans-Tasman travel bubble.

It comes after Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said the Victorian government “authorised” a group of 17 people who arrived from New Zealand to enter the state.

Under the deal between the two nations, New Zealanders are permitted to travel quarantine-free into both NSW and the Northern Territory, under the proviso they’ve not been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the 14 days leading up to their travel.

Mr Tudge savaged the Victoria government, saying: “The fact that people cannot recall being in meetings, people cannot recall emails being sent, people cannot recall making decisions, it is just deja vu in relation to the Victorian government. That just seems to be a pattern now of not being able to recall what is going on, not being able to recall being at meetings, not being able to recall sending emails to authorise such activities”.

However, Mr Andrews has hit back at suggestions Victoria agreed to be part of the travel bubble saying “we can’t just have people wandering into the place from another country”.

He said they had now been informed 55 travellers from New Zealand had arrived.

“We are having to find these people,” he said.

“We are ringing them, one of them was in Byron Bay. And yet we were told they had landed and travelled to Melbourne.”

RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus coverage

He said his “advice to Minister Tudge is, instead of stubbornly defending this, work with us and let’s make sure Victoria is not part of a bubble that we never agreed to be in.

“Now, if that isn’t possible, let’s talk about what else can happen. I don’t want to shut our border, but he should have a conversation with his boss.

“He should have a conversation with the Prime Minister, who, I have lost count of the number of times he has said to me, ‘thank you for not closing your border’.

“It is New Zealand today, but who knows what the other that what the next bubble is, who that is with? We have got authorised officers at the airport now, because this has happened. We didn’t think it would happen, but it has happened.

“We are going to follow up as much as we can. But I don’t control the borders and I don’t control what happens at Sydney Airport and I don’t think anyone can reasonably expect me to. I am not looking for a quarrel on this, I just wanted fixed.”

However, Mr Andrews said he couldn’t stop people from coming into the state.

“I have got no power to stop them coming here,” he said.

He said hopefully authorities would have “greater visibility” about the fact that they were coming so that they could they could chat to each of the travellers and make sure they knew what the coronavirus rules were.


As Mr Andrews and Mr Tudge exchanged a war of words, Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan revealed 25 travellers from New Zealand had flown into Perth overnight, despite his state also not being a part of the arrangement.

All bar one of the arrivals – a child traveller now in a “quarantine arrangement” with a family member – have been put into hotel quarantine.

Mr McGowan told reporters this afternoon the situation is “fluid”, adding his Government was “doing our best to manage it”.

RELATED: ‘I’m done with this’: Andrews erupts

“We would prefer better management of these arrangements, but this is something that happened that was outside of our control,” he said.

“If New South Wales and the NT want to open up to other countries, there is now an issue as to how to manage those people coming from other countries border-hopping.

“Our system has worked, we’ve managed to pick these people up and put them into quarantine.

“It would just be great if (the Federal Government) were to better assist us in managing these things with appropriate information being provided to the State Government about people who might be catching flights across state borders.”


Mr Tudge earlier hit back at the Victorian Government, saying it knew about arrangements that saw 17 New Zealanders try to enter Melbourne on Friday.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton “represented” the state at meeting to discuss what should happen if New Zealanders flew from Sydney or Darwin to another Australian state, Mr Tudge said.

“We further understand from The Age newspaper today that the Premier’s own department had in fact given authorisation to individuals who had arrived from New Zealand to Sydney to then travel on to Victoria,” Mr Tudge told reporters.

“So the Victorian Government was present when it was discussed, they were made aware that this was going to occur, they raised no objections in the meetings, and furthermore, expressly authorised individuals who were arriving into Sydney from New Zealand to be able to travel on into Victoria.”

Mr Tudge asked Mr Andrews to “reveal” the emails that “show, clearly and demonstrably, that they authorised the people to come into Victoria”, which would “completely clear this up”.

RELATED: What Victorians can and can’t do

Yesterday, Mr Andrews said he was “very disappointed” that the travellers had been able to enter his state.”

“We’re disappointed this has happened given that I had written to the Prime Minister on this very issue the previous day, saying at some point we will join that New Zealand/Australia travel bubble, but it is not appropriate now,” he said.

“We don’t want anything at all to undermine the amazing job that Victorians have done and are doing. Some things have gone wrong here. We are very much at the end of that, not necessarily part of it. We made it clear that we didn’t want to be part – could not be part of the bubble arrangements at this point.”

Mr Andrews said it was “not fair” when Victorians can’t freely move around their own state to have people arriving from another country, “without us knowing”.

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Premier Daniel Andrews lashes Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt for “insulting” Victorians in tweet

Premier Daniel Andrews has lashed the federal Health Minister Greg Hunt for “insulting” the sacrifice of Victorians by calling for a COVID-safe reopening of hospitality.

After it was revealed the state reported just one new coronavirus case on Saturday, Mr Hunt said the number was “great news” and the rolling average of new cases was well below 10.

“The epidemiological conditions for a COVID-safe reopening of hospitality, movement and family reunions, among others, have now firmly been met,” he said.

“Victoria should now be able to move to the next step, in line with NSW.”

Mr Andrews fired back at the minister during his daily press conference, telling reporters Mr Hunt was not an epidemiologist and it was not for him to determine whether the conditions have been met.

“He’s a politician and I think he’s making that very clear to everyone who follows these tweets and everyone else who listens to his criticisms,” he said.

“I’m done with this.

“It’s an insult to the sacrifice that Victorians have made.

“Politics doesn’t work on this and I’m going to call it out from now on because there are some people who have played politics every day of this pandemic, and Victorians are sick of it.”

Mr Andrews said he was prepared for blowback when steps to ease coronavirus restrictions in the state are announced tomorrow.

“I’ll boldly predict that whatever I stand up here tomorrow and announce, there will be members of that federal government, some who are from Victoria but I don’t think they’re for Victoria, who will be out there saying ‘it’s not enough, you should have done more’,” he said.

“What that says to me is we’re not going to be pressured, we’re not going to be engaging in what I think is a political exercise.”

Saturday was the first time the state had recorded one coronavirus case since June 5, and comes after just two cases were announced on Friday.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said the state was in a “very, very good position”, but does not want to be taking unreasonable risks.

“We’ve taken a slow and steady approach for a reason, and it’s borne out,” he said.

“To be gradually going in this one positive direction is a remarkable achievement.”

NSW earlier this week welcomed the first international flights from New Zealand under the travel bubble arrangement, which means the arrivals are not required to stay in mandatory hotel quarantine for two weeks.

But the program quickly ran into issues, after 17 travellers who landed in Sydney were caught entering Melbourne on Friday – day one of the bubble.

Mr Andrews said he had written to the Prime Minister on Saturday hoping to resolve the issue.

“We’re very disappointed that this has happened,” he said.

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Australian News

Prime Minister Scott Morrison hits out at border “double standards” in Queensland

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hit out at the Queensland Premier for “double standards” on border restrictions while on the campaign trail for the state’s election.

He joined Liberal National Party leader Deb Frecklington to visit Neumann Steel at Currumbin on the Gold Coast on Saturday afternoon ahead of the Queensland election at the end of the month.

Mr Morrison took aim at Labor leader Annastacia Palaszczuk when asked to comment on a Courier-Mail report about multi-millionaire tennis executive Janyne Hrdlicka being given an exemption to hotel quarantine because her husband had cancer.

“When state governments have made those decisions that have been done in a consistent way there can’t be double standards; there needs to be a clear understanding of how these rules work,” Mr Morrison said at a press conference.

He had “no quibble” with border restrictions being put in place in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic but he said there should be transparency.

“I’m just saying that wherever possible that’s got to be clear, they’ve got to be transparent, and they’ve got to be done without double standards,” he said.

It was important to limit the economic impact of strict border restrictions, Mr Morrison told reporters.

More to come

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Australian News

Lottoland singled out by Northern Territory Minister in push to change gambling laws

It has emerged the Northern Territory Government raised concerns about bookmaker Lottoland directly with the Territory’s gambling watchdog, sparking a Supreme Court tussle between the company and the NT Government.

Court documents reveal Gaming Minister Natasha Fyles sent a letter on November 11 last year to the Racing Commission with concerns from complaints raised with her office singling out Lottoland’s wagering products described as “jackpot betting” which gave the impression of a lottery, when in fact it was not.

The letter sparked a push to change licencing conditions for all bookmakers in the NT by October this year, which only emerged after Lottoland took the NT Government to court.

Those documents show Ms Fyles instructed the Racing Commission to take steps to prohibit the acceptance of a bet on a sporting event which is marketed in such a way that a person might think they believe they were purchasing a ticket in a lottery.

The Commission complied and wrote to all bookmakers on December 23 last year alerting them to two licencing changes:

  • First, a bookmaker would be prevented from marketing any bet types that someone may think could constitute a lottery.
  • Second, a bookmaker was barred from allowing punters to place bets on a proxy event, such as bets on the behaviours of overseas financial markets, rather than directly with a sports event.

But Lottoland successfully sought an injunction in the Supreme Court this month temporarily blocking those changes.

Lottoland’s lawyer, Sebastian Hartford Davis, told the court the proposed changes to the Betting Act would only negatively affect the company, despite applying to all bookmakers in the NT.

“This would destroy [Lottoland’s] business model here and seriously disrupt the plaintiff’s relationship with customers,” Mr Davis said.

Natasha Fyles stands in front of micrphones and looks serious.
Natasha Fyles is the Northern Territory’s Minister for Racing, Gaming and Licencing.(ABC News: Michael Franchi)

Lottoland has been the subject of a number of legal complaints in the NT alleging deceptive conduct involving jackpot competitions mistaken as Powerball draws.

Those matters were rejected in favour of Lottoland by the NT Racing Commission, which found Lottoland had no case to answer.

A peak body representing Australian lottery companies, Lottoland’s competitors, has in the past expressed concerns over the company’s business model.

The Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association criticised Lottoland for having “lotto” in its name when it is not a lottery.

The changes to the act are now on hold until the matter is resolved in court, with a hearing due in November.

The NT Government has said it will not respond to questions in relation to the case as it is before the courts.

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Australian News

Queensland Sports Minister Mick de Brenni denies pork barrelling claims amid intervention in sports grants program

Queensland’s Sports Minister Mick de Brenni has defended his intervention in a sports grant program and denied accusations of pork barrelling.

An auditor-general’s report of the grants program for women’s changing rooms found the minister intervened and overruled his department’s recommendations on 33 occasions.

Mr de Brenni said there were errors in some of the original recommendations and it was his responsibility to fix them.

Speaking to ABC Radio Brisbane, Mr de Brenni said he did not recommend one club because it was incorrectly listed as not having women’s teams when it in fact did.

He said another club was initially rejected because they had already received funding from another scheme for their sports field.

He said there was nothing in the scheme that said clubs could not receive both sets of funding.

“When I identified that error it was my responsibility to make sure that they weren’t ruled out because that was just simply wrong,” Mr de Brenni said.

“It was my authority and my responsibility to ensure that the outcomes were aligned to the policy intent and the program guidelines and that’s what I did in those cases.”

The minister said more eligible clubs across the state were able to access funding as a result of these interventions.

“Most of the time the department gets it right,” he said.

“But in that small number of cases that they don’t, it’s my responsibility to make sure that those errors are corrected.”

A woman in a hardhat talking to reporters
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington has demanded Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk explain why the grants were approved.(ABC News)

Speaking on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the report was “shocking” and showed “blatant pork barrelling by the Labor Government.”

“The Premier needs to immediately explain why 33 grants were approved by her sports minister against the expert advice of her department,” Ms Frecklington said.

The report also found the changes to recommended grants meant the proportion of grants awarded in Labor-held electorates had increased from 44 per cent to 68 per cent.

Meanwhile, the report found the number of grants awarded to LNP-held electorates decreased from 43 per cent to 28 per cent.

Mr de Brenni denied some electorates were favoured over others and said the changes were made to only 1 per cent of all grants recommended for approval.

He said he did not see a problem with it as changes were made in 12 Labor-held electorates and 14 in other electorates.

“The ones that weren’t successful, most of those have since been funded through other programs and we continue to work with other clubs that haven’t yet been funded.”

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Local News - Victoria

Victorian Health Minister resigns over botched hotel quarantine program

A day after her testimony to the $3 million Victorian government inquiry set up to investigate the ill-fated hotel quarantine program, evidence emerged throwing Ms Mikakos’ sworn statement into doubt.

Ms Mikakos on Friday denied she had misled the inquiry following her testimony a day before that she learnt in late May that private security guards were being used, two months after the hotel quarantine program had been established.

But footage emerged of her standing beside Jobs Minister Martin Pakula on March 29 as he told media that private security had been deployed to hotels.

Briefings to Labor state MPs from April, seen by The Age, also mention that private guards had been hired. Private security guards were also mentioned in at least 13 emails sent to the party’s caucus throughout April.

Hours after national cabinet announced on March 27 returned travellers would be quarantined in hotels, the Premier said at a press conference that security guards would be used for the program, alongside Australian Defence Force personnel and Victoria Police.

In an additional statement to the hotel quarantine inquiry on Friday afternoon, the day after she gave evidence, Ms Mikakos said she still had no personal memory of appearing in a press conference on March 29 alongside Mr Pakula.

“At the time of giving evidence to the Board, both by my First Statement and in person on 24 September 2020, I had (and at the time of swearing this supplementary statement, have) no independent recollection of the matters raised in the media today,” the Health Minister wrote.

Pressure had been mounting on the senior Labor minister over her handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the quarantine program, which led to Victoria’s catastrophic second coronavirus wave that claimed the lives of more than 750 people, cost the economy $12 billion and forced Melburnians into the strictest lockdown in the country.

Ms Mikakos and the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kym Peake consistently maintained the hotel quarantine program was a “multi-agency operation with shared accountability”.


In her resignation statement, Ms Mikakos said: “I have never shirked my responsibility for my department, but it is not my responsibility alone.”

But in an extraordinary testimony to the inquiry on Friday, Mr Andrews squarely held his Health Minister accountable.

In his statement tendered to the inquiry, the Premier said at the beginning of the hotels program, he regarded Ms Mikakos and Jobs Minister Martin Pakula as responsible for informing cabinet about “the initial overall service model and costings that had been determined for the program”.

“I then regarded Minister Mikakos as accountable for the program,” his statement says.

Ms Mikakos said she could no longer remain in cabinet following the Premier’s testimony to the inquiry, but denied her actions led to the catastrophic second wave.

“I have always put everything into my ministerial responsibilities,” Ms Mikakos said in her statement.

“I have never wanted to leave a job unfinished, but in light of the Premier’s statements for the Board of Inquiry and the fact that there are elements in it that I strongly disagree with, I believe that I cannot continue to serve in his cabinet.

“I am deeply sorry for the situation that Victorians find themselves in. In good conscience, I do not believe that my actions led to them.”

Ms Mikakos said “with the benefit of hindsight”, her department should have briefed her on the hotel quarantine program, after the inquiry this week heard Ms Peake failed to tell her minister about serious welfare concerns that Victoria’s three most senior health experts had with the disastrous hotel quarantine system.

“As I said to the Board of Inquiry, I take responsibility for my department, the buck stops with me,” Ms Mikakos wrote in her statement.

“With the benefit of hindsight, there are clearly matters that my department should have briefed me on. Whether they would have changed the course of events, only the Board and history can determine.”

On Wednesday, the hotel quarantine inquiry heard that Public Health Commander Dr Finn Romanes sent an email warning about “a lack of a unified plan for this program,” and saying the people running it were not “satisfied there is a policy and set processes to manage the healthcare and welfare of detainees, for whom this program is accountable”.

Dr Romanes wrote that “unless governance … issues are addressed there will be a risk to the health and safety of detainees”. Chief Health Officer Professor Sutton and his deputy Annaliese van Diemen have given evidence that they backed the email.

But when counsel assisting the inquiry, Ben Ihle, asked Ms Peake if she had briefed Ms Mikakos about these concerns, Ms Peake said: “No, Mr Ihle. I was satisfied that the issues that had been raised had been addressed”.

Following a suspected suicide in hotel quarantine, Ms Peake called for a review of the circumstances from Safer Care Victoria. But Ms Peake did not brief her minister about that report, or another from Safer Care Victoria about a delay in transferring a sick hotel quarantine detainee who wound up in intensive care. Both reports identified problems with the hotel quarantine program.

Neither the Premier nor any of his ministers or senior public servants were able to explain who made the decision to hire private security and knock back an offer of Australian Defence Force support to help with guarding returned travellers.

Genomic sequencing has revealed 99 per cent of coronavirus cases in Victoria’s second wave were a result of the hotel quarantine program, after security guards contracted the virus from returned travellers and spread it throughout the community.

More to come.

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Saudi energy minister sends a warning to oil market gamblers

The Saudi Energy Minister warned traders on Thursday (UK time) against betting heavily in the oil market saying he will try to make the market “jumpy” and promised those who gamble on the oil price would be hurt “like hell”.

The comments by Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, OPEC’s most influential minister, came after a virtual meeting of a key panel of OPEC and allies, led by Russia, known as OPEC+.

Anyone who thinks they will get a word from me on what we will do next, is absolutely living in a La La Land': Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

Anyone who thinks they will get a word from me on what we will do next, is absolutely living in a La La Land’: Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.Credit:AP

Prince Abdulaziz told the gathering OPEC+ could hold an extraordinary meeting in October if the oil market soured because of weak demand and rising coronavirus cases, according to an OPEC+ source.

“Anyone who thinks they will get a word from me on what we will do next, is absolutely living in a La La Land… I’m going to make sure whoever gambles on this market will be ouching like hell,” Prince Abdulaziz told a news conference when asked about OPEC+ next steps.

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Australian News

Prime Minister Scott Morrison says extended lockdown is “crushing news” for Victorians

The extended lockdown in Victoria is “crushing news” for people in the state but it’s vital for the country to curb the coronavirus spread, according to Prime Minister.

The decision to extend lockdown arrangements in the state “will be hard and crushing news” for Victorians, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a joint statement on Sunday.

“It is vital to the national interest to restore Victoria to a COVIDSafe environment, where we can reopen our economy and reasonably restore the liberties of all Australians, whether in Victoria or anywhere else,” it reads.

But the roadmap comes at a cost.

“The continued restrictions will have further impact on the Victorian and national economy, in further job losses and loss of livelihoods, as well as impacting on mental health,” they said.

The statement comes after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced there would be another two weeks of Stage 4 restrictions for metropolitan Melbourne on Sunday.

“I apologise for the circumstances we find ourselves in,“ Mr Andrews said.

But there have been minor changes brought in from September 13 to ease some of restrictions including changing the curfew to run from 9pm until 5am, increasing the exercise limit to two hours and allow a visitor “bubble” for singles.

It is part of a five-step plan to bring the state to COVID-normal by the end of the year.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologises for aged care bungle

Scott Morrison has been bluntly asked “how many more aged care residents need to die” of COVID-19 before he accepts responsibility after his admission that some of the care offered was not good enough.

In question time, the Prime Minister began by issuing another apology for deaths in aged care admitting that what has occurred in some nursing homes was not acceptable.

The Prime Minister said there had been 335 deaths in aged care since the pandemic began.

“In Victoria, where there’s been high levels of transmission, 126 of the 766 facilities have outbreaks among residents and staff,’’ he said.

“Those facilities who have experienced infections, the impact has been significant in 16 cases. And in four cases, the impact has been severe. And completely unacceptable. Again, I offer my apologies to the residents and families of those affected in those facilities. It was not good enough.”

RELATED: Follow our live coronavirus coverage

But Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles, a man not known for political hit jobs, then asked him what it would take for Mr Morrison to take full responsibility.

“My question is to the Prime Minister. The health department says 328 aged care residents have died from COVID-19. How many more aged care residents have to die before the Prime Minister accepts full responsibility for keeping them safe?,’’ Mr Marles asked.

In response, the Prime Minister said he stood by his argument that The Commonwealth is responsible for the funding and the regulation of aged care services in this country.

“But it is also true, in the course of a pandemic, Mr Speaker, that there are responsibilities that are held by other agencies of the federation,’’ he said.

“We both have responsibilities here. The Commonwealth is responsible for aged care facilities when it comes to their funding and their regulation, and their clinical practices.”

As Mr Morrison was speaking, Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck was offering his own grovelling apology in the Senate for being unable to recall how many seniors had died of COVID-19 during a Senate inquiry last week.

A contrite Senator Colbeck stood in the Senate shortly after question time commenced to describe his failure as “my fault, my responsibility.”

“Can I, at the outset, express my sincere condolences for every resident’s family who have lost a loved one during the pandemic,’’ Senator Colbeck said.

“Can I also say that I should have had the data on Friday and I apologise for not doing that.

“I should have had the information, my fault and responsibility and I take full responsibility for not having that information.”

RELATED: Problem with Australia’s virus vaccine deal

After weeks of caution over criticising the Prime Minister, Labor has gone on the attack during the first parliamentary sitting in over nine weeks.

The crisis in Victorian nursing homes has again dominated question time as Labor leader Anthony Albanese sought to go on the attack.

But Mr Morrison said many aged care homes had provided exemplary care.

“There’s 2706 residential aged care facilities in Australia. In 92 per cent of these facilities, there’s been no infections among residents,’’ he said.

“We are learning and applying the lessons of our experiences.”

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