Sydney curfew lifted after NSW Premier’s meeting with mayors - Asfour, Christou, Faker
10 Sep 2021
(See Translation in Arabic Section)
Sydney - M E Times Int'l The curfew in the 12 local government areas (LGAs) of concern will be lifted from Wednesday night one day after the New South Wales Premier met with local mayors to discuss the harsh lockdown measure.
Under the curfew – which came into force on August 23 – residents in 12 LGAs deemed high risk were ordered to stay at home between 9pm and 5am in a bid to reduce community transmission of the virus.
Frustrated local leaders met with Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Tuesday where they called for the end to the curfew in hotspot areas and the relaxing of restrictions in line with the rest of Greater Sydney.
Ms Berejiklian announced the end to the curfew on Wednesday morning at a COVID-19 press conference, claiming the move was based on advice from NSW Health and police.
“This is a whole of government decision based on a number of factors,” she said.
Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour welcomed the news via Twitter shortly after the Premier’s announcement on Wednesday.
“This comes just a day after meeting with her and other Mayors of locked down areas,” he wrote.
“I am grateful she has listened and show goodwill. A step in the right direction and I expect more will come.”
Mr Asfour – along with Cumberland Mayor Steve Christou and Burwood Mayor John Faker – earlier gave an insight into the local leaders’ “heated” meeting with Ms Berejiklian.
"I raised a number of issues on behalf of my community from pool closures, to business anger over check ins and curfews," he said.
"The meeting got quite heated when the issue of people being discriminated against because of the area they live in was raised.
"The health advice was being questioned and it was suggested by (Fairfield) Mayor (Frank) Carbone that maybe the Government needed new health advice."
Ms Berejiklian stressed at the press conference on Wednesday the NSW government couldn’t move on any other restrictions in place at the current time.
“We can all see the light at the end of the tunnel but we will have work to do,” she said.
Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant reiterated the Premier's call to "hold the line" and increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake as cases begin to stabilise particularly in the 12 LGAs of concern. NSW recorded 1,259 new COVID cases in the past 24 hours as the state hits its 80 per cent first dose vaccine threshold.
Australian PM off to Washington DC at US President's invitation
Canberra: At the invitation of US President Biden, I will travel to Washington D.C. from 21-24 September.
This will be my first visit to the United States since President Biden took office. I look forward to reaffirming our 70-year alliance, and to discussing ways to further strengthen our security and economic partnership.
I will also participate in the first face-to-face meeting of Quad leaders, with President Biden, Prime Minister Modi of India and Prime Minister Suga of Japan. Reconvening this important group reinforces our commitment to the Indo-Pacific COVID-19 recovery, and our efforts towards peace, prosperity and stability in our region.
The Quad represents four great democracies working in partnership for an Indo-Pacific region that is open, inclusive, resilient and anchored by shared principles.
On my return to Australia on 26 September, I will be complying with the health advice and quarantine requirements, as will accompanying staff, officials and media.
Where is Australia-United States alliance heading?
Washigton: A News reporter from Washigton Annelise Nielsen says there is a “significant couple of weeks” coming up for the Australia-United States alliance.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Minister Marise Payne are currently in the United States and Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be visiting from September 21 for an in-person Quad summit.
Ms Nielsen said there has been a lack of engagement at senior levels during the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the difference of opinion on how to handle climate change has undermined the relationship.
However, she pointed out countering the rise of China is the “one thing” Australia and the US are on the same page about.
“It’s going to be the really graceful moment for Scott Morrison to come in and make this connection with the Biden administration,” she told News host Andrew Bolt.
Decision to reopen NSW parliament attacked by government minister
Sydney: An NSW Government decision to allow parliament to resume on October 12 amid an easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the state has been attacked by Finance Minister Damien Tudehope.
The minister is also Small Business Leader of the House in the Legislative Council.
He said he told the President of the Legislative Council on September 10 that no government minister or parliamentary secretary would attend the Legislative Council sitting this week and that the council should postpone this week’s sitting.
The decision to proceed was made when Labor and the Crossbench “joined forces”.
“This is a political and selfish stunt, a move which only satisfies their own agenda and as a result puts parliamentary staff, their families and our communities at risk of transmitting COVID-19,” Mr Tudehope said.
“I call on the Leader of the Opposition Chris Minns to maintain his bipartisan support for the NSW Government’s focus on the health and safety of the people.”
Temporary Visa Holders part of group to be included in NSW assistance
Sydney: Temporary visa/no visa holders, test and isolate payment and community support grants will now be a part of the covid support payment across NSW.
The NSW Government made the announcement that an additional $287.5 million in COVID-19 financial support to assist workers and vulnerable communities in metropolitan, regional and rural NSW.
Included in this assistance is a one-off payment of $400 administered by the Red Cross which has been expanded to temporary visa/no visa holders in NSW who are not eligible for other government income, the test and isolate payment of $320 and community support grants to help organisations.,
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said, “We’re providing those under severe financial strain money in their bank accounts to help them through the lockdown and we’re supporting workers to test early and isolate so we can save lives and livelihoods across the State.
“We’re also supporting multicultural organisations which are best placed to connect migrant communities with vital health services.
A dire warning to Australia about the real economic implications of China's volatile behaviour.
Canberra: Australia has been issued a grave warning about the true economic impacts of China’s volatile behaviour by one of the most powerful international organisations in the world.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development released a report on Wednesday urging the Australian government to pivot away from our largest trading partner and find new countries to ramp up trade with.
“Over the past two decades, the share of Australia’s merchandise exports destined for China has increased from 10 per cent to around 40 per cent and now surpasses Australia’s total merchandise exports to all OECD countries combined,” the report said.
“The increased concentration of export flows makes Australia more vulnerable to a future shock in the Chinese economy or import restrictions being imposed on additional commodities, such as iron ore.”
The OECD stressed that while a strengthened trade relationship with China had brought benefits for Australian businesses, households and government incomes over recent years, relying on this relationship into the future is a dangerous move.
China has already weaponised trade to try to coerce Australia to alter its strategic behaviour, imposing destructively high tariffs on key Aussie exports such as wine, beef and barley.
The OECD warned that if this spread to other important industries, the impacts could be devastating for Australia’s economic future.
“The further imposition of trade restrictions by China, in areas such as iron ore and education, would substantially dent the pace of economic recovery,” the report said.
“(Australia should) explore the potential for trade diversion to other export markets and provide targeted support to the impacted industries as they transition to new markets.”
While the report noted that resolving trade tensions with China could potentially boost Australia’s export growth, diplomatic relations with our increasingly volatile neighbour would always have the potential to get even worse.
Parliamentary inquiry: Housing supply will equal demand in a few years with expectations of a rate hike
Canberra: Millenials should see easing prices on homes in a few years when supply catches up to demand, a parliamentary inquiry has been told.
Younger people are currently paying 7.3 times more for their first property than their parents’ generation.
Record-low interest rates and a rapidly rising population have also caused the housing market to become fiercely competitive.
Treasury’s Macroeconomic Division head Crystal Ossolinski told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday housing supply had not kept pace with population.
“We've had some periods of strong population growth in Australia, particularly in the early 2000s, where population growth has risen quite rapidly,” she said.
“Supply in the housing market is constrained … it takes a very long time to build dwellings.”
But she said there had been a strong response to supply issues which should start to ease prices in coming years.
“We‘re going to have relatively strong increases in the number of dwellings,” she said.
“We have had over 200,000 (building) approvals over the past year, and that will play out in supply over the next couple of years.”
Ms Ossolinski also highlighted that interest rates were not expected to drop any further, with the number actually expected to increase within the next few years.
“Those factors point to a period now where we have supply coming in and demand is stabilising or tapering,” she said.
The inquiry also heard that the increase in people studying at university before starting their careers, along with the shift towards contract and casual work was creating barriers to entering the property market.
“The extent to which you work on contracts, or have insecure sources of income is certainly a barrier to getting financed,” Department of Treasury Social Policy Division head John Springer told the committee.
“When a bank looks at somebody as a prospective borrower (for a house) they’re going to assess the credit risk of whether they can repay a loan – obviously the less secure your work is the harder it is to satisfy them.
“Often people who are self-employed or have slightly riskier income profiles go to the non-bank lenders to borrow money.”
Flights to London to resume as Qantas unveils international travel schedule
Sydney: Qantas has unveiled the schedule for its first international flights in nearly two years with trips departing from Melbourne and Sydney from mid-December.
Bookings are now open for services to Los Angeles, Vancouver and Singapore on December 18, along with flights to London, via Perth or Singapore.
Tokyo and Fiji are to join the list of destinations on the following day while flights departing Brisbane for Singapore and Los Angeles are also scheduled for the same day.
Meanwhile, Sydney to Honolulu services will recommence on December 20.
New Council Building a Strategic Investment
Sydney: The $64 million new administrative building that will house the City of Paramatta Council is expected to eliminate rental obligations and take advantage of the capital appreciation.
“With major projects such as Parramatta Square, Powerhouse Parramatta, Sydney Metro West and the Parramatta Light Rail transforming our City, Council needed an office space that would serve our organisation and community well into the future,” City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer said.
“Parramatta boasts some of the best commercial office space in the country, and the CBD is already a key centre for a range of leading corporations, along with numerous State and Federal Government departments. It is important to us that Council continues to be part of this great mix.”
“As is the case across many workplaces, the pandemic has changed the way we work and the new building will offer a mixture of activity-based and flexible-working environments.”
Upon reaching 80% of the vaccination, then entertainment will be allowed
Sydney: The City of Paramatta will not have any live music, festivals, theatre, opera, dance or comedy from local and international acts until 80 percent of its citizens is vaccinated.
These were the words of the City of Parramatta Lord Mayor Cr Bob Dwyer after a Council meeting last night as the council supports the #VaxTheNation campaign, which urges eligible Australians to get vaccinated to speed up the safe return of live entertainment.
More than 400 artists, performers and industry groups have already joined the nation-wide advertising campaign, spearheaded by the newly established Live Industry Venues + Entertainment (LIVE) Alliance.
“Until we reach the 80 per cent fully vaccinated target, there will be no live music, festivals, theatre …getting vaccinated will allow us to come together and enjoy the magic of live performance once again,” Cr Dwyer said.
Before the pandemic Paramatta’s performing arts sector generated $32 million a year for the local economy.