Local News - Victoria

Quarantine hotel guards pumped up Working for Victoria job scheme numbers

The hotel program and the ministers responsible remain under intense scrutiny after breaches of hygiene protocols and other failings led to some of the outbreaks currently running through Melbourne’s suburbs, which have been linked to hundreds of new coronavirus cases.


The state government says the Working for Victoria scheme, part of its $2.7 billion pandemic economic survival package, has helped nearly 7500 Victorians whose employment was hit by the pandemic back into work.

The program, launched in April, is designed to place workers in jobs with the state and local governments, and act as a jobs portal for the private sector. Guards employed at quarantine hotels were already on the books of the security companies appointed to the scheme.

The teams of cleaners patrolling Melbourne streets sanitising public infrastructure are the most visible presence of the scheme.

But the scheme also includes the nearly 1274 security guards deployed to the quarantine hotels, according to internal “jobs placement breakdown” lists from the Department of Jobs, Precincts and the Regions, which runs Working for Victoria and was instrumental in setting up the ill-fated hotel isolation program.


With some of those guards now blamed for the breakout of the virus from the hotels into the Melbourne community, the government insists that it did not hire the guards through Working for Victoria, saying they were nearly all existing employees of the three security companies contracted for the quarantine hotels.

The internal lists go on to disclose that “new roles through government demanding additional services or goods beyond what would otherwise be provided,” without the pandemic are included in Working for Victoria’s numbers.

Mr Pakula’s office confirmed anyone working in a job created as direct result of the COVID crisis might be counted as a Working for Victoria placement.

Mr Pakula’s office has previously confirmed the three firms, Unified Security, MSS and Wilson, were chosen on the basis of their ability to quickly deploy a large number of trained guards to the quarantine hotels.

A spokesman for Mr Pakula said it would allow the judicial inquiry established to investigate the quarantine debacle to do its work.

“A judicial inquiry has been established at arm’s length from government to examine issues relating to hotel quarantine,” the spokesman said.

“We will let the inquiry do its work – our focus remains on containing this virus.”

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Australian News

Powerball Lotto $50 million jackpot winning numbers

Tonight’s $50 million Powerball jackpot has not managed to score a lucky winner, with the prize boosted to a whopping $80 million for next week’s draw.

The lottery draw 1259 winnings numbers include: 26 – 15 – 16 – 6 – 1 – 21 – 10.

One-in-six Australians are predicted to have gotten their hands on a ticket for the Powerball after the jackpot rocketed to $50 million after last Thursday’s Powerball draw.

The lucky numbers have evaded a winner for four weeks and the jackpot was the third biggest prize offered by any Australian lottery this year.

The last Powerball division one winner was crowned in May when a Logan man won $17 million and planned to break the news to his family by pulling into the driveway in a flash new car.

RELATED: Oz Lotto $30 million jackpot unclaimed

But the biggest winner of this particular game this year was a Port Macquarie man who pocketed a massive $80 million. The first thing this incredibly lucky winner did was buy his own brand new television.

“We certainly hope he’s enjoying that new TV and the rest of his $80 million prize,” The Lott’s Lauren Cooney said.

“We can’t wait to see where the next Powerball jackpot lands. Will the winning streak continue this Thursday for the Sunshine State or will the Powerball prize light up somewhere else in Australia? We will just have to wait and see.”

Powerball draw 1259 closes at 7.30pm AEST.


Winning the lottery is the stuff of fantasies for most Aussies – but sadly, most of us will never know what it’s actually like.

But if you’ve ever wondered exactly what would happen if you received a life-changing call informing you that you’ve hit the jackpot, the mystery has just been solved.

That’s because Australia’s official lottery provider, The Lott, has just shared a recording of a phone call with a Queenslander who won a division one prize earlier this year.

The unnamed man – who was one of four division one winners – ended up pocketing a staggering total of $1,095,232.87.

In the clip, The Lott spokeswoman Lauren Cooney can be heard asking the man if he’d had the chance to check his online entry to the Saturday draw before confirming he was one of the lucky winners.

The clearly stunned man could respond with little more than a few expletives initially before telling Ms Cooney his “heart is just racing”.

He then told Ms Cooney he had “a good feeling” about the ticket, although he had no idea he had won big before the call.

“Oh, you don’t understand, that’s just amazing … oh my God,” he said.

“That’s just crazy, it made my day. I was actually having a cr*p morning, thank you very much.”

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Australian News

Oz Lotto $30 million jackpot winning numbers

Tonight’s $30 million Oz Lotto draw is set to jackpot yet again after failing to score a division one winner.

The winning numbers for tonight’s 1376 draw are: 28 – 26 – 17 – 39 – 1 – 44 – 38. The supplementary numbers are: 14 – 41.

It comes after no one won last week’s draw which saw tonight’s prize jackpot to $30 million. Next Tuesday’s draw 1377 will now jackpot to $50 million.

So far in 2020, nine players have won the Tuesday drawn division one prize for a combined $76 million, with the largest taken home by a Parramatta man who pocketed nearly $17 million.

But The Lott’s Lauren Cooney said her favourite winner of the year was a Wagga Wagga family who collected $15 million.

“The family had no idea their dad had been secretly buying lottery tickets for the family for decades, always hoping they’d one day share a big lottery prize,” she said in an email to

RELATED: The Lott shares call to $1 million lottery winner

“I had to bring the family together on a conference call to break the news and half of them didn’t even know they had a ticket in the draw, so you could imagine the shock and surprise when I told them they’d won $15 million.

“We’re looking forward to seeing if we crown the country’s biggest Oz Lotto winner of the year tonight.”


Winning the lottery is the stuff of fantasies for most Aussies – but sadly, most of us will never know what it’s actually like.

But if you’ve ever wondered exactly what would happen if you received a life-changing call informing you that you’ve hit the jackpot, the mystery has just been solved.

That’s because Australia’s official lottery provider, The Lott, has just shared a recording of a phone call with a Queenslander who won a division one prize earlier this year.

The unnamed man – who was one of four division one winners – ended up pocketing a staggering total of $1,095,232.87.

In the clip, The Lott spokeswoman Lauren Cooney can be heard asking the man if he’d had the chance to check his online entry to the Saturday draw before confirming he was one of the lucky winners.

The clearly stunned man could respond with little more than a few expletives initially before telling Ms Cooney his “heart is just racing”.

He then told Ms Cooney he had “a good feeling” about the ticket, although he had no idea he had won big before the call.

“Oh, you don’t understand, that’s just amazing … oh my God,” he said.

“That’s just crazy, it made my day. I was actually having a cr*p morning, thank you very much.”

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Local News - Victoria

Indigenous prisoner numbers ‘unacceptably high’ in Victoria

This represents a 70 per cent growth and a shift in the proportion of Indigenous inmates from 7 per cent of the prison population to 10 per cent.

Though overall prison numbers have decreased during the pandemic, the number of Indigenous prisoners last month was still almost twice the number from November 2014.

The Indigenous imprisonment rate has also soared, rising 40 per cent in the latest available figures comparing June 2015 with June last year.

The government has established a $40 million Aboriginal Justice Agreement and was the first jurisdiction to set a Closing the Gap target for rates of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people under justice supervision by 2031, a spokesperson said.

The government has also committed to decriminalising public drunkenness, an offence that disproportionately impacts the Indigenous population.


“Across Australia, rates of Aboriginal over-representation in the justice system are unacceptable – which is why reducing those rates is now a key priority of the national cabinet,” a state government spokesperson said.

Nationally, the average daily number of Indigenous prisoners has risen in the March quarter this year by 5 per cent compared with December and March last year, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this month.

And while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up 3 per cent of Australia’s population, they account for 29 per cent of the total adult prisoner population and more than 50 per cent of the juvenile detention population.

“It’s the wrong direction,” Change the Record’s Sophie Trevitt said of the increasing numbers.

“We’re in this new national and global moment where we’re talking about black deaths in custody.

“State and territory governments have a direct responsibility in terms of preventing deaths in custody by decreasing incarceration rates.”

The rise in overall prisoner numbers in Victoria has been driven by multiple reforms toughening parole, restricting bail and sentencing laws, more police and a larger population.

Dr Read called for an urgent reform to bail laws so minor offenders are not imprisoned unless they pose a high risk to the community.

His call comes as Victorian judges and lawyers involved in the International Commission of Jurists said on Wednesday the over-representation of Indigenous people in custody remained unacceptably high.

They want the government to adopt a section of Canada’s criminal code to mandate imprisonment as the last resort.

Protesters at the Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney this month.

Protesters at the Black Lives Matter rally in Sydney this month.Credit:James Brickwood

Both the Greens’ and ICJV’s calls echo reforms led by Change the Record, an Aboriginal-led justice coalition.

Ms Trevitt said raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 years old to 14 would also make a difference.

“The incarceration process starts so young,” Ms Trevitt said.

“This is a legal change that could be changed overnight and it would change the entire trajectory of a child’s life.”

The renewed focus on incarceration rates follows Black Lives Matters protests in capital cities this month following the death of African-American man George Floyd in police custody.

Federal and state governments issued a draft target in December 2018 to reduce adult Indigenous incarceration by at least 5 per cent by 2028, but have never put it into formal agreement or action.

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Australian News

SANFL to kick off with double-headers at Adelaide Oval as authorities discuss crowd numbers

Full length football matches will return to Adelaide Oval from June 27 after the SANFL released a revised fixture for its opening two rounds.

With crowd numbers yet to be determined, all eight clubs in the reduced league will play two home-and-away games over two weekends to kick off the season.

SANFL general manager of football Matt Duldig said playing the first two rounds at Adelaide Oval — a venue usually reserved for SANFL finals — would allow for an even number of home-and-away games when the competition returned to suburban venues from round three.

“In such an extraordinary and challenging year for players, coaches, umpires, club staff, and volunteers, we’re thrilled that they have the opportunity to experience a return to competition at the world-class Adelaide Oval,” he said.

Unlike the AFL which has controversially shortened its quarters to 16 minutes, the SANFL said its games would not be altered.

Opening double-headers

The season opener on June 27 will be played between Central District and Sturt, followed by South Adelaide verses Woodville-West Torrens.

Football players wrestle for the ball.
Sturt and Central District will start the SANFL season on Saturday June 27.(Supplied: Central District Football Club)

The following day will see North Adelaide play West Adelaide, followed by reigning premiers Glenelg against Norwood.

Four double-headers will also be played at Adelaide Oval the following weekend.

Mr Duldig said the fixture for the remaining 12 minor rounds at suburban ovals would be confirmed within the fortnight but the SANFL was still awaiting the release of the AFL fixture and broadcast schedule.

AFL reserve sides Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Magpies have this year withdrawn from the competition after the AFL barred senior-listed players from playing in state leagues due to its own strict medical protocols in place to prevent any spread of coronavirus.

High hopes for crowds

Health authorities are assessing the success of allowing 2,240 people into Adelaide Oval for Saturday night’s AFL showdown between the Crows and Port Adelaide.

Crowds were required to follow strict social distancing and hygiene measures and had to sit at a distance from one and another, even if they were members of the same family or household.

A Norwood player marks during the SANFL finals
The SANFL hopes its crowds will be allowed to be much bigger in July.(Supplied: Deb Curtis)

State Health Minister Stephen Wade said discussions were underway with SA’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier to get more people into the venue for the next football game.

“We had about 2,000 people as patrons and we had about 10 per cent of that as staff, and that’s not a financially viable model,” he said.

While outdoor crowd numbers were an exemption from usual COVID-19 restrictions, the SANFL has confirmed that 900 people would be permitted in Adelaide Oval’s indoor areas.

This is because Adelaide Oval is classified as three venues and the total cap for SA venues from this Friday is to be lifted from 80 to 300.

The SANFL last week said 500 spectators would be allowed into suburban venues, subject to the usual social distancing guidelines, along with community football matches from July 3.

There are hopes, however, that much larger crowds will be allowed by then if federal guidelines are relaxed in July as flagged by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

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Local News - Victoria

Is anyone flying? Melbourne Airport passenger numbers at record low

Madeleine, of Hawthorn, whose GP partner is working for three months in remote Northern Territory communities, was relieved to have Suzy here to support her.

While other states such as Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania have strict controls over who can enter, visitors can now enter Victoria without permits or quarantine, although those flying in from overseas must still quarantine in a hotel for 14 days.

The departures screen at Melbourne Airport on Wednesday morning.

The departures screen at Melbourne Airport on Wednesday morning.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Yes, some of us are flying but passenger numbers through Melbourne Airport plunged to record lows during COVID-19 restrictions.

In April — the latest month tallied — there were 63,240, not including transiting passengers, which airport CEO Lyell Strambi said was the lowest ‘‘since the airport first opened 50 years ago’’.

It was an extraordinary 98 per cent drop on the 3.1 million passengers in April, 2019.

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Mr Strambi said the low in flight numbers during COVID-19 came on Easter Saturday, April 11, when there was just 29 flights taking off and landing.

But on Wednesday, almost eight weeks later, there were still just 31 passenger flights — 16 departures and 15 arrivals.

‘‘The lack of passengers is not only hurting airlines, but also our café and restaurant owners and their staff, our transport operators and hotels,’’ Mr Strambi said.

‘‘The flow-on effects are huge, especially since the airport supports around 20,000 jobs.

‘‘A full recovery is going to take time but we know demand for air travel is strong and we’re supportive of a domestic re-start as soon as it is safe to do so.’’

Another passenger on Wednesday, Rod McKenzie, 65, said Melbourne Airport seemed ‘‘like a ghost town’’.

On the bright side, ‘‘normally there’s queues everywhere and you have to allow a lot more time’’.

Mr McKenzie, from Aireys Inlet, was flying to Brisbane with Qantas to pick up a $50,000 motor home imported from Japan, which he plans to drive back to Melbourne.

'Like a ghost town': Rod McKenzie was off to Brisbane on Wednesday.

‘Like a ghost town’: Rod McKenzie was off to Brisbane on Wednesday.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Mr McKenzie needed a special pass to enter Queensland, giving ‘‘a good reason’’ for travelling.

‘‘And they accepted it,’’ he said. ‘‘I didn’t think I’d get one, I was shocked.’’

Meriana Ferris, 39, said the airport seemed ‘‘so empty’’ compared to her last time here late last year when it was ‘‘packed’’.

On Wednesday, she and her five children, ages 6 to 17, were returning to live in Brisbane, after trying out Melbourne for eight months.

Moving back to Brissie: Meriana Ferris, centre, and her children at Melbourne Airport.

Moving back to Brissie: Meriana Ferris, centre, and her children at Melbourne Airport.Credit:Wayne Taylor

Her husband Anaru, 38, will follow in December.

Ms Ferris said Melbourne was ‘‘too cold’’, and the lifestyle too fast for her. ‘‘I like Melbourne. I just haven’t given myself enough time to love it’’.

Ms Ferris was confident Qantas’ ‘‘precautions and procedures’’ would ensure flying was safe from COVID-19, and the family carried masks and hand sanitisers.

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Five key numbers from the US protests against police brutality since George Floyd’s death

Mass civil unrest has gripped the United States since George Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25.

Mr Floyd, a black man, died after he was pinned down by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who had his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck for several minutes while ignoring Mr Floyd’s gasping for air.

His death sparked mass demonstrations across the country, prompting law enforcement to respond in force in an attempt to quell the unrest.

Some have died and scores more have been injured, including protesters being tear gassed and struck with rubber bullets, and police officers being shot.

As the country approaches two weeks of protests with no sign of slowing down, here are some key numbers:

Protests have been held in all 50 states

Protests have been held across all 50 US states, as well as the nation’s capital, Washington DC.

US media estimate at least 430 towns and cities have held demonstrations so far.

Since protests began nearly a fortnight ago:

The National Guard was deployed in at least 25 states

Up to 30,000 National Guard members from 31 states have been called into at least 25 states in response to the civil unrest.

To put that into perspective, just over 51,000 Guard members were activated to help in the response to Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.

Mr Trump has “strongly recommended” every state governor deploy the Guard to “dominate the streets” of their cities.

But some leaders have resisted the Guard coming in.

New York Mayor Bill De Blasio rejected the President’s recommendation, saying out-of-town Guardsmen unfamiliar with city dynamics could spark confrontations.

Police and Guard troops have used tear gas, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to try to disperse the crowds of protesters demonstrating, often peacefully, across the country.

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Police charge and tear gas peaceful protesters near White House

At least 29 curfews were imposed

Governors and mayors announced curfews for areas where protests were being held on a large scale.

At least 29 curfews were announced for cities, counties, and even the entire state of Arizona.

Crowds of people defied the curfews, continuing their often peaceful protests.

In Washington DC, one man ushered in more than 50 people into his home after he noticed them running from police dressed in riot gear. It was two hours after the 7:00pm curfew.


More than 9,000 people have been arrested

Nationwide, at least 9,300 people have been arrested, according to a tally by the Associated Press.

The map represents cities where the most arrests have been made, although due to rapidly changing circumstances and inconsistent reporting across jurisdictions, the map is by no means exhaustive.

Los Angeles has recorded at least 2,700 arrests since the protests began, followed by New York with at least 1,500.

Police in Dallas, Houston and Philadelphia have also arrested several hundred people.

At least 11 people have been killed

David Dorn, a 77-year-old retired police captain in St Louis, Missouri, was shot and killed by looters at a pawn shop.

The shooting apparently was streamed on Facebook Live but has been taken down.

Police have not released details about what led to the shooting, and no-one has been arrested.


David McAtee, a 53-year-old barbecue restaurant owner in Louisville, Kentucky was killed by gunfire in a crowd.

The city’s mayor fired the police chief after finding out officers did not turn on their body-worn cameras.

Mr McAtee was known for offering free meals to officers who stopped by his restaurant. His death is being investigated.

Law enforcement officer Dave Patrick Underwood was killed during a protest in Oakland California when someone fired shots from a vehicle.

The 53-year-old had been patrolling a federal courthouse with another officer when he was killed. The other officer was critically injured.

Italia Kelly was killed while leaving a protest outside a Walmart in Davenport, Iowa.

The 22-year-old and a friend were getting in a vehicle to leave because the protest had turned unruly when she was struck in the back by a bullet, her aunt said.

Italia Kelly
Italia Marie Kelly was shot and killed outside a Walmart while leaving a protest against police brutality.(AP: Courtesy of the Kelly family)

James Scurlock, a 22-year-old black man, was fatally shot in Omaha, Nebraska after a tussle with a white bar owner.

Surveillance video shows a group of people, including Mr Scurlock, approach bar owner Jake Gardner.

Two people shoved Mr Gardner to the ground, and he fired shots in the air. Seconds later, Mr Scurlock is seen jumping on Mr Gardner, who then fires the gun over his shoulder, striking Mr Scurlock.

Authorities have declined to press charges in the death, calling the shooting self-defence.

An unnamed 21-year-old man was killed in downtown Detroit, Michigan, after someone fired shots into a vehicle during a protest.

According to a police report, he was sitting in the driver’s seat of a car in a parking lot with two others when someone opened fire and then ran away.

Two people were killed in Chicago, Illinois, during unrest on Monday in the suburb of Cicero, according to a town official.

A spokesman did not provide details about those who were killed but they said it happened during protests.

Police shot an unnamed man several times and killed him in Las Vegas, Nevada after he allegedly reached for a weapon outside a courthouse.

Sean Monterossa was shot and killed by police in San Francisco, California.

Officers were responding to reports of looting at a Walgreens where they confronted about a dozen people in the parking lot, one of whom rammed into a police vehicle.

Officers spotted Monterrosa near the building with what appeared to be a weapon in his waistband and opened fire. The suspected gun turned out to be a hammer.

Calvin L Horton Jr was fatally shot outside a pawn shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in what is believed to be the first killing since the protests broke out.

Police are investigating the 43-year-old’s death.

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Australian News

Cedar Meats cluster continues to increase coronavirus case numbers in Victoria

The number of coronavirus cases connected to a cluster outbreak at a Melbourne abattoir has grown again, rising to nearly 100 as 11 new patients were recorded in Victoria today.

Health Minister Jenny Mikakos told reporters this morning the state’s total number of cases had grown to 1554, with seven currently in intensive care.

The Cedar Meats Australia plant in Melbourne’s west was revealed as a major cluster site for the deadly virus earlier this month after a staff member with a severed thumb from a workplace incident was identified as the third case connected to the meat processor.

“Today’s new cases include two linked to the Cedar Meats outbreak,” Ms Mikakos said.

RELATED: Coronavirus Australia live updates

RELATED: WorkSafe investigates Cedar Meats

“I understand that four previously reported cases have also now been linked to Cedar Meats, taking the total for that cluster to 98. And that includes 64 staff and 34 close contacts.”

The outbreak at the meat processor in Brooklyn, 10km west of Melbourne, is the largest cluster site in the state and has caused the Victorian case numbers to continue rising while new patient numbers in the rest of the country remains low.

Some of those infected cannot self-isolate at home and have been staying in hotels in Melbourne including the Rydges in Swanston St, according to reports.

Another new case in Victoria was connected to the cluster site at a McDonald’s chain in Fawkner, in the city’s north, which was closed for deep cleaning but reopened on Wednesday.

A second McDonald’s restaurant has also been closed for deep cleaning after a staff member at its Craigieburn premises tested positive for COVID-19. The Craigieburn worker was a relative of a staff member at McDonald’s in Fawkner.

“We have spoken with the employee and confirm they are self-isolating at home with little to no symptoms,” a McDonalds spokeswoman said on Friday.

While many Victorians enjoy social visits this weekend, Ms Mikakos told reporters on Saturday the health advice remained to stay cautious and get tested if unwell.

Victorians can now socialise in small groups of no more than five guests to a home.

“We set ourselves a target of 50,000 (tests) from Monday to the end of this week, being Sunday. I’m pleased to report we have already exceeded that target and as of close of business yesterday we have already collected more than 56,000 swabs,” Ms Mikakos said.

WorkSafe launched an inquiry into the outbreak at Cedar Meats this week as the case numbers continued to rise.

The investigation will examine whether social distancing measures were in place at the abattoir and if workers were provided with appropriate personal protective equipment and hand sanitiser.

The state government and Cedar Meats’ management have defended their handling of the outbreak, including the decision to allow staff to work for several days after workers tested positive.

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Australian News

Tasmania and NSW still recording infectious COVID-19 numbers

There are just two states causing a problem in Australia’s fight against coronavirus.

NSW and Tasmania are this only two states with case numbers high enough to warrant an important graph used by health authorities to track the spread of the deadly infection.

Chief medical officer Brendan Murphy showed the graph in a press conference this afternoon, highlighting each state’s “Effective Reproduction Rate Number”.

The reproduction number is used to reflect how infectious a disease is and measures the average number of secondary infections caused by a single case.

“The case numbers in every other jurisdiction are so small that the modellers feel that they can’t usefully use the Effective Reproduction Number,” Prof Murphy said.

“Only in New South Wales and Tasmania are there enough numbers to show an effective reproduction number.

“And even then, they’re pretty much at the lower limit of what you would expect … Tasmania is comfortably now below the 1 benchmark, as they have so expertly brought the North West Tasmania outbreak under control.”

A “1 benchmark” means one person infects less than one other on average.

READ MORE: Follow all our coronavirus coverage

Prof Murphy said Tasmania needed to be congratulated for complying with what was a “very burdensome but necessary” public health intervention.

He said Australia had “pretty convincingly” flattened the curve.

“You can see that our numbers of cases each day continue to be pretty flat,” he said.

He highlighted how we were recording fewer cases than predicted.

“So we’re doing better than the modelling would have predicted from the previous data,” he said.

Prof Murphy said case numbers in Australia were now so low “that we can examine each case, each cluster, and get really detailed epidemiological information on what’s happening”.

“And so we can get a feeling at whether there is a cluster that’s breaking out and that we need to control,” he said.

He said if we were going to get on top of those small outbreaks we needed to have more people tested.

South Australia, the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory have all been able to get the virus under control, either recording no new cases consecutively or having no active cases altogether.

SA has even been described as one of the “safest places in the world”, recording no new infections for a week.

Yesterday the ACT was declared the first jurisdiction coronavirus-free with no active cases.

The jurisdictions have all credited increased testing and tough border measures in their success.

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Markets jump as COVID-19 numbers encourage investors

The result was a broad-based gain in equity markets yesterday, with major stock indices stretching from Asia, through Europe, and finally the US surging to begin the new week.

3. Lower volatility and surging stocks: Implied volatility dropped to levels not registered for approximately a month, with the VIX closing at the (still relatively high) 45-level. That underpinned a 7.05 per cent surge in the S&P500, with that index closing at its highest since March 13.

European and Asian stocks registered a strong Monday, too. The DAX finished 5.77 per cent higher, while the FTSE100 jumped 3.08 per cent. In Asia, the Nikkei leapt 4.24 per cent, supported by the announcement from Japan’s Abe Government of a new fiscal stimulus program.

4. US stocks bullish day’s trade: The gains in US stocks were very broad-based. Breadth came-in at 97 per cent, as every sector finished in the green. The gains were slightly skewed to defensive stocks; however, the tech-sector topped the map, rallying 8.78 per cent by the close.

Volumes were slightly down on the averages seen throughout March, but they were reasonably ample in the bigger picture. And with beaten up share’s like Boeing rocketing nearly 20 per cent for the session, the desire to move past the COVID-19 crisis was tangible.

5. Stabilising markets lifts confidence: In other positive signs, government bond yields lifted, and growth-proxy currencies climbed. US financial conditions are improving, and market liquidity is stabilising. Credit spreads, especially in high-yield corporate debt, have narrowed, as markets move past fears, for now, of a potential solvency crisis.

In commodities, oil is still retracing from its highs as the market prepares for this week’s emergency OPEC+ meeting. And gold lifted, as the promise of greater financial stability in this low rate environment increases the appeal of the metal as a hedge.

6. Growth over safety in FX markets: FX markets possessed a pro-growth bent to it. The Australian Dollar led the G10 map yesterday, rallying 1.5 per cent. Naturally the Japanese Yen was the laggard, recording broad-based losses.

The US Dollar was higher, but not this time on its liquidity and safe-haven appeal. The market opted marginally for Dollars, as confidence about European economic fundamentals keeps traders away from Euros, and as traders sold the Pound on news that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was admitted to ICU overnight, as he fights the COVID-19 virus.

7. ASX to open higher on RBA day: SPI Futures are pointing to a roughly 2.39 per cent jump for the market this morning now. It’ll extend yesterday’s rally for the ASX200, which jumped 4.33 per cent, led by energy and financial stocks.

Market participants will turn their attention to the RBA’s meeting this afternoon. Markets are pricing-in that the RBA will cut rates by the equivalent of 10 basis points today, despite the RBA’s recent proclamations it sees no benefit in cutting rates below its “effective lower bound”.

8. Market watch:

ASX futures up 124 points or 2.4% to 5397 at 6.59am AEDT

  • AUD +1.4% to 60.83 US cents
  • On Wall St: Dow +7.7% S&P 500 +7% Nasdaq +7.3%
  • In New York: BHP +6.3% Rio +2.9% Atlassian +5.3%
  • Dow advancers: Boeing +19.5% Raytheon +15.3% Amex +14%
  • In Europe: Stoxx 50 +5% FTSE +3.1% CAC +4.6% DAX +5.8%
  • Spot gold +2.2% to $US1656.55 an ounce at 1.53pm New York time
  • Brent crude -3.4% to $US32.95 a barrel
  • US oil -6% to $US26.63 a barrel
  • Iron ore flat at $US83.30 a tonne
  • Chinese markets were closed Monday for a holiday
  • LME aluminium -0.4% to $US1475 a tonne
  • LME copper +1.1% to $US4891 a tonne
  • 2-year yield: US 0.26% Australia 0.20%
  • 5-year yield: US 0.44% Australia 0.39%
  • 10-year yield: US 0.67% Australia 0.76% Germany -0.43%
  • US prices as of 4.38pm New York Monday

This column was produced in commercial partnership between The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and IG

Information is of a general nature only.

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