Australian News

Wild plan to split the Sunshine State

First Western Australia wanted out of the federation with their “WAexit” plan, now it looks like another plan to re-draw the map of Australia is gathering up a major head of steam.

With a proposed title of the “Reef State”, the idea is to give “North Queensland” the powers to make its own laws and split the current Sunshine State in two.

The wild plan is a major policy platform for Queensland’s newest party — North Queensland First — which was set up just was set up just 12 months ago by member for Whitsunday, Jason Costigan.

He told he used be ridiculed by his former Liberal National Party colleagues when they’d go for beers outside Brisbane’s Parliament House and he’d bring up the idea of North Queensland going out on its own.

However, Mr Costigan believes that if his plan to have a referendum on the split by 2020 ever makes it, he’ll be the one having the last laugh.

The breakaway is not a new idea — Mr Costigan claims it has been touted by some from as far back as 1865 — but he reckons northern Queenslanders have finally had enough of being told what to do by their southern neighbours.

He says they want to be able to “shoot crocodiles and burn coal” without being lectured to by the city-dwellers in Brisbane.

He reckons North Queenslander are also getting a raw deal.

“People up here aren’t stupid, they know we’re getting the crumbs when it comes to infrastructure and funding — despite us having a $70 billion economy and a population of around one million people” he said.

He said that despite the billions the region makes from the mining, sugar, cattle and tourism industries, many towns and communities across North Queensland are “dying”.

He said major roads like the Bruce Highway are filled with cracks, hospitals can’t perform basic services like maternity or renal dialysis and services are so poor that bodies are having to be transported up to 1000km for autopsies.

“The government in the southeast of the state is the sucking the life out of north and central Queensland, and it will continue to until there’s a 21st century version of a civil war unless we finally do something about it.

He said coronavirus recession has only made things worse.

“There’s a lot of noise coming from the gold fields and the cane fields because the wheels have fallen off,” he said. “A lot of people are struggling. They are wondering how they can they get a job, how they get ahead and how they’re going to pay the bills.”

He believes North Queensland could turn itself around by making its own laws instead of having to accept the “mumbo jumbo laws” and “red tape” conjured up by the two major parties in Brisbane.

He wants to see concrete poured on projects like the Urannah Dam and coal mines, but he says a “green” agenda from the Queensland parliament is holding them back.

He also claims there is also a big cultural difference between the southeast of the state and those in the north.

“There’s a difference in people, people in Brisbane have more in common with Sydney people than people in Airlie Beach for example,” he said.

“But the attitude is Brisbane knows best. I call bulls**t. That’s why they give us these ridiculous and absurd laws that don’t effect them but they effect us in big way.”

But it’s not only North Queenslanders who Mr Costigan claims will benefit from the proposed breakaway.

“We are a continent as well as a country. We should have more states,” he said. “And the immigration will just continue into in our cities, so we’re going to end up as a nation of five big cities and I don’t think that’s good for the nation. It’s dumb.”

Mr Costigan admits he’s go a “political mountain the size of Everest or Kilimanjaro” to climb before his dream of an independent Reef State is realised, but he claims now could be the time to make it happen.

The Queensland State Election is just around the corner, and he believes the state could be headed for minority government — meaning prospective crossbenchers might hold the balance of power.

“I don’t want people to bitch and whinge about how we’re being left behind by southeast Queensland any more,” he said. “We should finally do something about it and now is the time strike.”

Northern Queenslanders aren’t the only ones wanting to make changes to the map of Australia.

Their push comes as coronavirus border restrictions have added support to a plan — stemming from Western Australia — to essentially divide Australia into two nations.

Just last week more than one-in-four West Australians said they want the state to break away from the rest of the country for good in polling from market research group, Utting Research.

They found that 28 per cent of the 3500 Western Australians they spoke to said they’d like to see WA become its own country – a plan unofficially dubbed “WAxit”.

The research comes after the state shut itself off from the rest of the nation in April, and has refused to opens its borders ever since.

Perth Labor MP, Patrick Gorman, said the results were “deeply concerning” and that Western Australians feel “isolated and ignored” from the rest of the nation.

“This poll shows those in the eastern states need to understand the secessionist undertones which have always existed in WA,” he told The West Australian.

“The tyranny of distance between Perth and Canberra often leaves West Australians feeling isolated and ignored by our east coast allies, fuelling the discussion.”

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Mal Meninga joins Wayne Bennett’s Queensland State of Origin coaching staff to face New South Wales

Queensland’s underdog State of Origin outfit will be powered by a coaching dream team, with Mal Meninga joining Wayne Bennett’s staff for next month’s series.

Australia coach Meninga was pipped for the Maroons job by Bennett when Kevin Walters was forced to relinquish the role after being appointed Brisbane Broncos coach.

But Meninga’s follow-up offer of support to work as an assistant coach has been accepted by Bennett, and the Australian Rugby League Commission (ARLC) on Thursday conceded there were “exceptional circumstances” in approving the move.

With no Tests scheduled for this year, Meninga will temporarily step down from his national duties and forgo his Kangaroos salary to join Bennett, who he first worked with at Brisbane’s police academy more than 40 years ago.

Meninga was coached by Bennett at the Maroons, Canberra Raiders and Brisbane club Souths during his decorated playing career.

The pair boast 14 State of Origin series wins between them as Queensland coach, while the experienced Neil Henry — a key strategist behind some of Meninga’s nine series wins — has replaced Justin Hodges on Bennett’s staff.

“From my perspective, it’s great to be involved and to work under Wayne and the current batch of players is something that I’m really excited about,” Meninga said in a statement.

Meninga’s arrival gives unprecedented coaching punch to a greenhorn squad out to defy an injury list that includes Kalyn Ponga, David Fifita, Michael Morgan and Moses Mbye, while Valentine Holmes is suspended for the November 4 series opener.

“Mal will be a great sounding-board for myself, support staff and the players,” Bennett said.

“I’m really glad Mal has accepted the role, as his presence alone will be a great asset for us moving forward.”

ARLC chairman Peter V’landys said the disruption to the rugby league calendar caused by COVID-19 had cleared the way for Meninga to join the Maroons.

“Under normal circumstances you can’t be head coach of the Kangaroos and be involved in an Origin squad,” he said.

“But given there are no Test matches because of COVID, we have granted Mal permission to assist Queensland.

“Mal is an Origin legend and his presence in the series will add an additional layer of excitement for our fans and players.”


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Local News - Victoria

State records six new cases, no deaths as testing steps up in Shepparton

An additional testing site will open on Thursday morning. Australian Defence Force workers and members of nearby rapid response teams will also help to boost testing capacity.

About 20 people were queueing at one of the city’s testing facilities by 6am on Thursday, two hours before it was officially due to open. This rose to about 100 people by 7am, reported Nine’s Today program.

Locals interviewed by Nine expressed frustration at the testing delays and the actions of the man from metropolitan Melbourne who did not disclose to contact tracers that he had travelled to Shepparton after visiting Kilmore on September 30.

“I hope they act swiftly with him, because how can you forget you came to Shepparton?” one man said.

Queues of people waiting to be tested at the COVID-19 in Shepparton again on Thursday morning.

Queues of people waiting to be tested at the COVID-19 in Shepparton again on Thursday morning.

Another said: “I waited in line for five-and-a-half hours [on Wednesday] in the heat only to be turned away.”

The Melbourne man went to a hairdresser, ate at a Thai restaurant and visited a tyre shop in Shepparton.

Under current restrictions, Melburnians are not permitted to dine at regional restaurants or use personal services like hairdressers. Police confirmed on Wednesday night that the man’s case had been referred from DHHS. Police would now determine whether any criminal offences had been committed, a spokesman said.

The Victorian Health Department has urged the Shepparton community to get tested and then self-isolate for two weeks if they visited one of five hospitality or retail venues in Shepparton. Separately, health authorities have also asked the close contacts of these people to also be tested and self-isolate for 14 days.


Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said on Wednesday the truck driver would have been in isolation on September 30 when he travelled to regional Victoria if the same strategy had been used during the Chadstone outbreak.

People who attended another four exposure sites, including a local Bunnings and McDonald’s, are urged to get tested and self-isolate until they receive their test results. These sites are deemed less risky.

A new testing facility at the Shepparton Sports Precinct, on the corner of Numurkah Road and Brauman Street, will open from 10am-5.30pm at the netball courts carpark and from 12pm at the soccer fields.

Existing testing sites include the McIntosh Centre, Shepparton Respiratory Clinic and Goulburn Valley’s Health’s Acute Respiratory Clinic.

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State budget has to deliver and avoid past mistakes


If the lessons that these and other recent controversies provide do not temper the Premier’s language around this month’s state budget, then nothing will.

For Victoria’s, and the country’s, sake we should all hope that the budget delivers. But to do so the government must steer clear of earlier missteps.

The most important challenge is that the budget must be a prescription for the actual challenges we face. Words like “recession” and “downturn” do not do justice in explaining why we are in the predicament we find ourselves in. The fairest word to describe what we are going through is a “shutdown”. We are not in the predicament we are in because of market failure, a collapse on stock exchanges around the world or the bursting of bloated asset bubbles.

The budget needs to recognise that the precipitous fall in employment across the country, exacerbated by Victoria’s stage 4 lockdown, has been caused directly by government decisions based on public health orders, in many respects justified. The government needs to outline solutions to provide support to help those businesses open up and operate in a COVID-safe manner.


This is all the more important in Victoria which, since March, has suffered the largest drop in employment anywhere in the country, a fall of more than 5.5 per cent. Our second-wave outbreak has had national implications too, hitting GDP growth by about 2 per cent in the September quarter 2020 alone.

Based on past budgets, and the government’s recent electoral successes, the expectation is that the state budget will involve announcements of a further tranche of infrastructure projects. No one will seriously object so long as a few other key conditions are met.

To revive Victoria’s economy, businesses and households need immediate cash-flow support and relief from financial distress. By way of comparison, this week’s federal budget has outlined a spending program that will see 90 per cent of additional expenditure in the first two years of the forward estimates.

If Victoria’s budget is focused predominantly on an infrastructure program, the government must ensure spending is occurring now, when it is desperately needed, and not in the back end of the estimates period.

Here the government must avoid some obvious risks. First, as much as the government might strive for positive media around announcements of new infrastructure projects, a media plan will not substitute for urgent stimulus measures.

Secondly, there can be no excuses if announcements of infrastructure projects are made without fully developed business cases. It was the government’s choice to institute a crisis cabinet so it will face fitting criticism if it can’t show that it has done the work during the current shutdown to develop sound project analysis for each initiative.

If you doubt that this is a problem, just remember that with more than two years having elapsed since the announcement of the suburban rail loop, no business case has been released.

Thirdly, the government must avoid the significant cost overruns that have blighted the Melbourne Metro project, West Gate Tunnel project and Murray Darling Murray Basin Rail project, among others. The public’s comfort level right now with stimulus spending, involving significant new debt and deficits well into the next decade, doesn’t mean governments are off the hook to manage projects soundly and on budget.

The combined cost overruns on Victoria’s current portfolio of capital projects isn’t far off the actual cost of those projects when initially announced.


A fourth objective must involve improvements to the competitive processes for the letting of any new infrastructure projects. Just last year, Victoria’s auditor-general slammed the process around the West Gate Tunnel project. There can be no excuses this time around.

And nor can the government argue that it hasn’t had time to do the preparatory work to ensure that a new tranche of infrastructure projects is not mismanaged. The Premier has made his call to appear at daily press conferences for between one and two hours and also to fundamentally circumscribe normal cabinet processes. If that has compromised the government’s ability to present the best possible budget plan, then that is something the public will duly criticise.

Finally, the budget must be the product of genuine consultation, including with business stakeholders and businesses themselves, who will be so important to Victoria’s long-term recovery. Back in April the government forecast an unemployment rate of 11 per cent by the end of this year. That number is made up almost entirely of private sector jobs.

Along with all the normal fiscal priorities, this month’s budget must include regeneration of a private sector devastated by severe lockdowns. And, unless the government can find a way to start opening up Victoria’s economy again, it may not even matter what’s in the budget.

John Pesutto is a senior fellow at the school of government at Melbourne University, a panellist on ABC Melbourne’s The Party Line and was Victoria’s shadow attorney-general from 2014-18.

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Local News - Victoria

state to wait for $1 billion transport stimulus

As much as $1.1 billion of the money for building works — including upgrades on the Shepparton rail line, Warrnambool rail line, Barwon Heads Road and Hall Road, in Melbourne’s south-east — would not hit the state’s coffers until after mid-2021.

Sixty per cent of the funding, $721 million, won’t arrive until after mid-2022.

Only 7 per cent or $81 million will flow to Victoria this financial year.

Economist at SGS Economics and Planning Terry Rawnsley said the cash injection needed to hit the Victorian economy in the next six months or so if the funding boost was to be truly stimulatory.

“You hear these big numbers rolled out, but it’s going to take so long for that money to hit the pockets of the people you want to keep employed and spend money in the broader economy to keep it ticking along,” Mr Rawnsley said.

Tradies looking for work over the next six to 12 months are feared to “end up unemployed”, with a downturn in migration prompting the Housing Industry Association to forecast that around 60,000 fewer dwellings will be built by 2030 compared with a peak in 2016.

Job cuts in the industry could leave long-term shortages in coming years when bigger infrastructure projects start to ramp up, Mr Rawnsley said.

Grattan Institute director of transport and cities Marion Terrill said stimulus packages were designed to provide an immediate economic boost.

But she questioned whether transport infrastructure should be relied on to recover from the pandemic, noting Victoria’s mammoth infrastructure pipeline was under strain before the virus and was suffering from increased pressure due to ongoing restrictions.

Budget papers show Australian states and territories failed to spend $1.7 billion allocated to them in last year’s federal budget due to “slower than anticipated progress” resulting from the pandemic and last summer’s bushfires.

“There’s a limit to how much we can speed this up under conditions where you’ve got to have COVID-safe workplaces,” Ms Terrill said.

Ms Terrill also argued the hospitality and arts industries were in greater need of a boost than construction. These industries suffered a 17 per cent and 13 per cent drop in paid jobs respectively, compared with a 6 per cent drop in construction since March, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics weekly payroll data shows.

Sydney University economist and transport professor John Stanley said stimulus cash in the transport sector was best spent on smaller cycling and local road upgrades dispersed across the state. Building projects in “three years time” clearly wouldn’t stimulate the economy now, he said.

A spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said year-to-year spending on transport infrastructure in Victoria was driven by the state government meeting agreed construction milestones.

The federal government’s $110 billion investment in transport infrastructure over the next decade included $242 million for local roads and community infrastructure in Victoria, which would be “spent with local councils on priority projects in local communities”, he said.

“This is all about building shovel-ready projects sooner, creating local stimulus in local economies,” he said.

A Victorian government spokeswoman said the federal funding would add to the state’s multibillion-dollar pipeline.

“We know a strong Victorian economy helps the nation – the federal government’s infrastructure announcements are in addition to our $70 billion Big Build program and we look forward to working with the Commonwealth government to do everything we can to fast track our rebuild.”

Spokesman for federal Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure Alan Tudge said four commuter car parks funded in last year’s federal budget are being built in Beaconsfield, Craigieburn and Hurstbridge, while construction on another 20 is set to finish in the next 18 months.

Master Builders Victoria’s chief executive Rebecca Casson said while federal funding for major projects “won’t all flow immediately”, it would still “provide some assurance that a pipeline will exist in the medium term.”

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Kalyn Ponga ruled out of Queensland State of Origin squad with shoulder injury

Queensland’s hopes of winning State of Origin have been dealt a severe blow with star fullback Kalyn Ponga confirming that he will miss the series with a shoulder injury.

The 22-year-old Newcastle fullback was named in Wayne Bennett’s preliminary 15-man squad on Wednesday.

The surgery means Ponga will be fit to return for the 2021 NRL season.

“I’m devastated to miss out on Origin,” Ponga said in a statement.

“I love pulling on the Maroons jersey. It is a privilege to play in the NRL and a privilege to be selected to represent Queensland.

“As an athlete and competitor, I pride myself on performing no matter how my body feels but I also accept that both the Maroons and Knights medical staff have my best interest at heart in making this decision.

Ponga has played three State of Origin matches in his career.

A Newcastle Knights NRL player runs with the ball tucked under his left arm as a Cronulla opponent dives to tackle him.
Kalyn Ponga scored 10 tries and 46 goals for Newcastle this NRL season.(AAP: Darren Pateman)

The statement went on to say that Ponga’s decision to go under the knife had nothing to do with reports he was frustrated with living in the NRL bubble.

“Many people have made sacrifices throughout this trying period for the game and that commitment has not been lost on Kalyn or the family,” the statement read.

Returning Maroons coach Bennett will select his final 27-man squad after the NRL grand final on October 25, ahead of the series opener at Adelaide Oval on November 4.

The Adelaide opener will be followed by matches in Sydney on November 11 and Brisbane on November 18.

New South Wales has won the last two State of Origin series.

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Miami State High becomes home for three Gold Coast Suns AFL Women’s players

Miami State High School has become home to three Gold Coast Suns players with a student, past student and teacher expected to play in the 2021 season.

Year 12 student Lucy Single and 2019 graduate Maddison Levi were drafted to the team on Tuesday, joining teacher Sally Riley who signed with the Suns after playing for Adelaide in the 2017 AFLW premiership.

“It still doesn’t really feel real yet,” Ms Single said.

The hat-trick has been a culmination of the school’s partnership with the Gold Coast Suns aimed at mentoring emerging talent and providing young women with a pathway into the elite sport.

Building a culture of AFL Women’s

Ms Levi said it had been a difficult year for many emerging players to get noticed due to the pandemic, but she managed to break two records — the 20-metre sprint and the vertical jump — during the qualification process.

“We were lucky, our lockdown wasn’t like other states so I was able to do lots of fitness,” she said.

two women
Maddison Levi, left, and Lucy Single have benefitted from a program creating pathways into elite sport.(Supplied: Miami State High School)

Ms Single said Suns’ players conducted training sessions with students as part of its partnership program.

“It’s kind of making more of a culture around [AFLW] and making it quite exciting,” she said.

Ms Levi said AFLW’s exposure was just getting bigger and better.

“Having the women come through and the crowd roaring and the impact its having, is an unreal feeling.”

An ‘equal standing’ between genders

Miami State High School’s principal Sue Dalton said the sports program had helped create “equal standing among both genders”.

“We have had back-to-back success in the AFLQ Cup [AFL Queensland Schools Cup] as state champions in senior girls,” Ms Dalton said.

She said 33 students were involved in the program, with plans to include primary school students next.

“They get specialist coaching which is amazing. They learn how to conduct themselves, how to handle themselves,” Ms Dalton said.

With more students set to follow in her footsteps, Ms Single said her advice was to “keep doing it if you love it”.

“There’s no point trying to play a sport if you’re not enjoying it,” she said.

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Sunshine State could be clean energy world leader and create 20,000 jobs

As young Queenslanders struggle with unemployment in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, a new report from a leading independent body reveals the state could be sitting on a bonanza with the potential to create tens of thousands of new jobs.

The Sunshine State has a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to become a world leader in renewable energy industries, create about 25,000 new roles and contribute $500 billion to the national economy, according to a new study from the Climate Council.

The report, Leaders and Legends: Thousands of Clean Jobs for Queenslanders, has outlined how the state has a unique advantage to capitalise on the energy industry and export opportunities.

The council proposes the investment to come from both the public and private sector to unlock the benefits for the economy.

“There are so many reasons to be optimistic about Queensland’s economic future as it rebuilds from COVID-19,” Climate Council chief executive Amanda McKenzie said.

RELATED: Palaszczuk heads into her toughest seat

RELATED: Pressure mounting for major green energy policy

“The Queensland Government can seize this moment to create jobs that get people back to work now, and turn Queensland into a clean industry superpower.

“Generations of Queenslanders could work in these clean industries.”

Young Queenslanders in smaller communities outside the southeast corner of the state have been disproportionately impacted by job losses during the pandemic, presenting a rare opportunity for an industry revolution, Ms McKenzie said.

She noted cities such as Townsville, Gladstone and Mackay where youth unemployment in July was 15.8, 13.7 and 10.5 per cent respectively.

Ms McKenzie says these areas are prime for capturing renewable energy because of the strong wind and sun elements, while also having existing industrial infrastructure.

The Climate Council’s recent Clean Jobs Plan could create up to 20,000 jobs focusing on 12 policy areas.

These include large-scale renewable energy projects, ecosystem restoration, collection and processing of organic waste, electric car network expansion, and retrofitting inefficient public buildings and homes with sustainable energy alternatives.

The Climate Council claims the Copperstring 2.0 project — the connection of industrial power between Mt Isa and Townsville — will unlock wind and solar plants and increase demand for resources such as copper.

RELATED: Climate change plan to create 76,000 jobs

The report says this will create more than 4000 direct and indirect jobs and contribute to slashing power prices by 20 per cent in Brisbane.

The mining of materials used for the construction of solar panels, wind turbines and batteries could contribute $500 billion to the economy, the council’s head of research Martin Rice said.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for governments to invest in programs that will deliver secure, skilled and long-term jobs now and into the future for Queenslanders,” he said.

“It’s a win-win-win, for the economy, for jobs and for our climate.”

On Wednesday, the major party leaders vying for power in the upcoming state election presented their green energy projects.

In Brisbane, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the Liberal-National Party would invest nearly $500 million into the government-owned corporation Energy Queensland to help bring down the cost of electricity.

“This investment will secure the jobs of Queensland’s 163,000 manufacturing workers and create new jobs in the future,” she said.

“Cheaper electricity will make Queensland Australia’s manufacturing powerhouse and secure thousands of additional jobs by bringing more investment into our state.”

Meanwhile, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk headed northwest earlier in the day to spruik the Copperstring 2.0 project from Mt Isa.

“Our economic strategy is underpinned by traditional strengths like the resources industry,” she told reporters.

“It’s going to mean cheaper power prices for the industries to establish here. We want a competitive price for industries to come here, to set-up, and to manufacture here.

“That will eventually drive down power prices when you have it connected to the national electricity market.”

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Local News - Victoria

Chadstone outbreak spreads to Kilmore as state records 15 new cases, one death

There are now two confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kilmore after an infected Melbourne resident connected to the Butcher Club-Chadstone cluster took the virus to the area. The Kilmore cases are now being considered as a separate outbreak for logistical reasons.


The same person who took the virus to Kilmore by dining at the Oddfellows Cafe also went on to visit Benalla in the state’s north where a number of people are now being tested.

The person had permission to travel to Kilmore for work, but visitors from Melbourne are not allowed to dine out if allowed into regional areas for permitted reasons.

“We hope that we don’t end up with cases anywhere else out of this one,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Tuesday.

“The fact that [the outbreak] can go from Frankston to Benalla all the way up in the north-east, that just speaks as to how wildly infectious this virus is.

“One only has to spend a moment to imagine, if Chadstone were open at the moment, just how many more cases we might well be dealing with.”

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said anyone who visited the Oddfellows Cafe between September 30 and October 3 was classified as potential close contact and should come forward for testing, “even if you don’t have any symptoms at all”.

Professor Sutton also urged Chadstone shoppers to be on high alert for even the mildest symptoms.

“We need to ensure these numbers don’t get any higher, so I would call on anyone who was at the shopping centre between September 23 and October 1 to get tested if you have even the mildest of symptoms,” he said.

“We have a shared responsibility to do what we can to stop this outbreak from getting any bigger.

“And if you have a permitted reason to travel from metropolitan Melbourne to regional Victoria, please remember the current restrictions in Melbourne follow you into regional Victoria. That means take away only from cafes and restaurants.”

Testing is available at:

  • The Kilmore and District Memorial Hospital, Anderson Road, Kilmore, 9am-7pm.
  • Kilmore Soldiers Memorial Hall, 4pm-7pm on Tuesday and 10am-6pm on Wednesday.
  • Chadstone Shopping Centre level 2 car park, outside Coles.

Oddfellows Cafe confirmed a staff member had tested positive after being exposed to the customer with COVID-19.

Cafe owner Kim Short said she had made the decision to close her business until further notice, with all staff in quarantine after the “devastating” news.

“Please stay safe everyone, we are a small community that this could spread very quickly. If unsure stay home, get tested, I can’t stress it enough.”

On Monday, Ms Short expressed her frustration that her employees and other customers had been put at risk.

“We’ve worked so hard to keep our business open and following all the guidelines through the whole pandemic, to say I’m upset this has happened when it shouldn’t is an understatement,” she said.

Chief Health Officer ‘unhappy’ to see 15 new cases

Professor Sutton said he was unhappy to see 15 new coronavirus cases recorded in the state on Tuesday, but moved to reassure the public most were linked with known outbreaks.

“I don’t like to see a number that’s in double figures and not in single figures, and no one obsesses over the daily numbers more than me or my team,” he said.

“They are, again, predominantly related to known cases, to outbreaks, and we have to get on top of the outbreaks to really drive these numbers down.”

Three cases are linked to the Butcher Club-Chadstone cluster, while two are linked to Estia aged care home in Keilor. Embracia nursing home in Moonee Valley and the Oddfellows Cafe in Kilmore have each been connected to one new case. The seven remaining cases remain under investigation.

Three cases emerged in the Greater Dandenong and Wyndham council areas and two in Brimbank and Frankston, while single cases were recorded in Darebin, Melbourne, Moonee Valley, Moreland and Mitchell.

The state’s death toll rose to 807 after a previously unrecorded death of a woman in her 90s was reported.

There are now 216 active cases in the state and 21 people fighting the virus in hospital, including one in intensive care.

Anyone who has spent any time at any of the exposure sites listed below and develops symptoms should come forward for testing.

Tuesday’s numbers bring Victoria’s rolling 14-day case average to 10.9.

That number needs to be lower than five – and there also needs to be fewer than five mystery cases – for Melbourne to take the next step out of lockdown on October 19. On Tuesday there were 13 active mystery cases.

Professor Sutton has said he was unsure whether Victoria will meet the targets. “My gut feeling is it will be a line ball. It’s not certain one way or the other,” he told reporters on Monday.

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Local News - Victoria

State records 15 new cases of coronavirus, one death as 14-day average of new daily cases drops to 10.9

“My gut feeling is it will be a line ball. It’s not certain one way or the other,” he told reporters on Monday.

It is not known yet whether any of today’s new cases are connected to a cluster linked to a butcher shop in Chadstone, which authorities fear may be a super-spreading event.

The number of cases linked to that outbreak had grown to 24 by Monday.

“The composition of that 24 is seven staff, nine family and household members and three customers of the Butcher Club,” Professor Sutton said.

Customers caught the virus from infectious staff who they most likely stood very close to, he said.

The new case numbers come as the federal government prepares to deliver its budget later on Tuesday, with a focus on jobs.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Tuesday morning the nation now has a two-speed economy. “We have Victoria and we have the rest,” he said.

“But, fortunately, in Victoria, the number of daily cases has been coming down, and those restrictions have started to ease. And that will see more people in Victoria get back to work, just as we’ve seen more people around the rest of the country get back to work,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters on Tuesday morning.


Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese said his party would create an Australian Centre for Disease Control to handle future pandemics if it wins the next election.

The Australian Medical Association called for one after Victoria’s breach of hotel quarantine infection control led to a deadly second COVID-19 wave.

On Tuesday morning, Mr Albanese said he hoped the Morrison government would pick up the idea, but committed to a CDC under a Labor government as Australia was the only country in the OECD without one.

“This pandemic, this once-in-a-century pandemic, we were unprepared for. We hadn’t had an exercise of going through a crisis … exercise, as is recommended by the World Health Organisation since 2008,” Mr Albanese told ABC’s Radio National.

“We were massively underprepared. We need to make sure that we are prepared in the future, which is why we’re saying that in tonight’s budget, and if the government doesn’t do it, then a Labor government will establish this according with best practice”.

In June, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt dismissed the need for a new body, saying that the Australian model of “embedding” the federal Chief Medical Officer within the national cabinet along with state and territory counterparts had proven effective in suppressing the coronavirus.

The national incident room in Canberra effectively functioned as a Centre for Disease Control, while “being able to draw on the resources of the whole country and the states”, Mr Hunt said at the time.

– with Mary Ward

Trump Biden 2020

Our weekly newsletter will deliver expert analysis of the race to the White House from our US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up for The Sydney Morning Herald‘s newsletter here, The Age‘s here, Brisbane Timeshere and WAtoday‘s here

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