NSW Premier warns residents to brace for a 'difficult time' ahead as the state begins to reopen
October 10, 2021
(See Translation in Arabic Section)
Sydney-M E Times Int'l: The Premier Dominic Perrottet has warned of a "difficult time" ahead as the state begins to open up from Monday.
NSW recorded 580 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and 11 COVID-related deaths in the 24 hours to 8:00pm yesterday.
Mr Perrottet warned NSW residents to be prepared for more COVID-19 infections as restrictions were eased.
"We will see … case numbers increase and hospitalisations increase, that is a natural part of opening up," he said.
"That's why we've done this in a safe way and ensured that we haven't done so until we've had that vaccination rate where we wanted to be."
The Premier said while health was his "number one concern", he was keen to get businesses open again and as cases rise, "we will learn to live alongside the virus".
The new Premier said he was taking a "more conservative" approach to the road map out of the pandemic compared to the federal government.
"We believe that our conservative approach here ensures that we keep people safe but importantly get people back to work as quickly as possible," he said.
Dr Chant was asked if she was "comfortable" with the changes to the road map made under Mr Perrottet.
"The revised road map changes were formulated in the usual way where public health advice is put on the table," she said.
She said she had personally briefed the Premier and presented her advice at this week's meeting of the NSW crisis cabinet.
"I note that some of the changes are clearly very low risk," she added.
She said she would continue to give health advice to the government and was satisfied that the health advice was being considered.
"I am very appreciative that the government has given that a good airing," she said.
NSW ready to take first step on road to reopening
Sydney: The NSW Government will lift some of the restrictions caused by COVID-19 for fully vaccinated people from this Monday.
The announcement made by the Premier Dominic Perrottet follows NSW having reached its 70 per cent double-dose vaccination target.
The new rules will mean that people will be able to have up to 10 visitors (not counting children 12 and under) to a home.
Outdoor gathering will be able to have up to 30 people, while weddings and funerals can have 100 people.
Indoor pools will also be re-opened for swim lessons, squad training, lap swimming, and rehab activities.
All school students will now return to on-site learning with a range of COVID-safe measures in place by October 25, with the second and third stages of the return-to-school plan now combined. Kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 students will still return to face-to-face learning on October 18, with all other years now returning on October 25.
Deputy Premier Paul Toole noted that workers in regional areas who have received one vaccination dose will be permitted to return to their workplace from Monday and will be given a grace period until November 1 to receive their second dose.
“This move ensures we get businesses in the regions re-open and local economies buzzing again. It’s about ensuring we make this a roadmap that works for everyone,” Mr Toole said.
Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said these changes would help get more people back into work, especially in Western Sydney.
“We’re on the road back to normal and most importantly reaching these vaccination targets means people can reunite with family and friends and businesses can get back to work in a safe way,” Mr Ayres said.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard said NSW residents aged 12 and have led the charge to get vaccinated and ensure the state was among the safest places in the world.
“Getting to 70 per cent double-dose is a badge of honour for every fully vaccinated NSW citizen to wear proudly but we can do so much more and 90 per cent is within our grasp,” Mr Hazzard said.
Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said schools were ready to welcome students back.
“The return remains safe and sensible with enough time for schools to prepare for a faster return of students over two weeks instead of three,” Ms Mitchell said.
“Principals have received guidance and checklists of everything required to ensure COVID-safe settings in their school. Parents and carers will also receive a detailed guide today and more specific information from their school in the coming days.”
China is acting like a bully, former Aust PM Abbott tells Taiwanese conference
Former prime minister Tony Abbott has described China as a “bully” and stressed the importance of “solidarity with Taiwan” at a regional conference on the island.
Mr Abbott made the visit to Taiwan and met President Tsai Ing-wen after a weekend in which China flew dozens of military jets near the island.
Mr Abbott, who is visiting Taiwan in a private capacity under a “diplomatic bubble”, said he previously “hesitated to attend this conference lest that provoke China” but said the superpower’s actions in recent years had changed his stance.
Ms Tsai launched the Yushan Forum with a more restrained speech, omitting any direct mention of China, before Mr Abbott listed transgressions in his keynote address.
“Beijing has torn up the ‘one country, two systems’ treaty on Hong Kong. It has put upwards of a million Uyghurs into concentration camps,” he said.
“It’s boosted cyber spying on its own citizens, cancelled popular personalities in favour of a cult of the red emperor, brutalised Indian soldiers in the Himalayas, coerced other claimants in its eastern seas and flown ever more intimidatory sorties against Taiwan.
“It’s weaponised trade — especially against Australia — with our barley, wine and coal exports all stopped on spurious grounds. And its embassy has published 14 demands, essentially that we become a tributary state, that no self-respecting country could accept.
“The trigger for all this was politely seeking an impartial inquiry into the origins of the (corona)virus. So this year I’m here having concluded that China’s belligerence is all self-generated.”
Mr Abbott then referred to the positives, including China’s economic growth and former steps Australia took to help include China in the global order, saying “collaboration is still possible, and trust could yet be rebuilt”.
“Be a friend, that experience shows, and you’ll have friends; be a bully and you’ll only have clients who can’t wait to escape,” he said.
Navy to buy $1.3 billion fleet of US-made choppers
Canberra: The Royal Australian Navy is set to dump its troubled fleet of European-made MRH 90 Taipan helicopters, replacing them with US-made Seahawks in a deal worth around $1.3 billion.
The US Defence Security Cooperation Agency said it had approved the sale of 12 Sikorsky Romeo Seahawk helicopters to Australia, expected to eventually replace the navy's six Airbus-made MRH-90s.
Australia’s fleet of MRH 90s were first acquired from 2006 but have suffered from poor availability since entering service, forcing the army to recently lease interim helicopters for non-combat transport roles.
Australia’s navy already operates 24 MH-60R Seahawks based at HMAS Albatross, near Nowra, and this next purchase would mean a common fleet of 36 aircraft.
Opposition Assistant Defence Minister Pat Conroy claims the latest sale highlights the government's mismanagement of large military acquisitions.
“The Howard government’s $3.7 billion decision to acquire the MRH-90 and the current Coalition government's eight years of mismanagement of it looks like it has now cost taxpayers another $1.3 billion!” Conroy said on social media.
Thousands to be released from quarantine as Victoria records 1,965 COVID cases
Melbourne: Victorian health authorities are changing the rules around secondary close contacts and releasing thousands from quarantine after the state reported a record 1,965 new COVID cases and five deaths.
A woman in her 90s and a man in his 70s, both from Moreland, a man in his 60s from Banyule, a man from his 60s from Hobsons Bay and a man in his 50s from Hume died.
It brings the total number of active cases in the state to 17,199 and the total death toll for the current outbreak to 80.
There are 578 people currently in hospital with COVID-19, including 117 in ICU and 83 on a ventilator.
The Department of Health will no longer actively manage secondary close contacts in response to rising case numbers.
Secondary close contacts will no longer have to isolate, however primary close contacts will still be asked to isolate away from the rest of their household.
Health authorities said this strategy had worked effectively in Melbourne and would now be employed across the state.
Around 16,000 secondary close contacts will receive a text message this weekend advising them of the change and releasing them from quarantine.
The Victorian creative industry will receive a $15 million funding injection in an effort to revive the ailing industry.
Small and medium-sized creative organisations will be able to access $10 million in funding, while $5 million will be available through grants to freelancers and sole traders.
Federal Cabinet Reshuffle
Canberra: Angus Taylor, Tim Wilson, Melissa Price, and Ben Morton have each been sworn in during a virtual ceremony at Government House in Canberra this afternoon. Alex Hawke was promoted to Cabinet, but did not have to be sworn into his ministries again. The reshuffling of the federal cabinet comes after the resignation of former Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Christian Porter.
These changes, as noted by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, have been brought about with the intention of boosting Australia’s sovereign capabilities in the new energy economy and securing a stable Indo-Pacific as the nation recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
French Ambassador says it 'remains to be seen' if submarine rift can be healed
France's ambassador is returning to Australia to see if the "breach of trust" created by the sudden axing of the submarine deal between the two countries last month can be repaired.
Paris was furious after Canberra decided to acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines from the United Kingdom and United States as part of a new trilateral security pact – AUKUS – cancelling a $90 billion submarine deal with France in the process.
French Ambassador Jean-Pierre Thebault, who is returning to Australia after being summoned back to Paris last month in protest at the aborted deal, told the ABC his task going forward will be to see whether Australia can be trusted as a partner that is “true to its word”.
“It remains to be seen, which is exactly the reason I have been instructed to come back," he said.
“I have a clear mission which has been officially stated. First, to contribute to the assessment of our bilateral relationship – where do we stand now.
“Because I want to remember, like the Prime Minister said, our relationship was not only about the contract, and that is exactly the problem.”
Mr Thebault was referencing comments by Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a press conference on Thursday where he said the French and Australian bilateral relationship was “bigger than a contract”.
Things ‘looking up’ for Melbourne property market
Melbourne: realestate.com.au’s John Healy says things are looking up for the Melbourne property market.
A “Super Saturday” is scheduled for this weekend, with 1,118 houses going to auction in Victoria’s capital.
“Which is an increase of 55 per cent week on week in terms of auction volumes,” Mr Healy told media Australia.
Reserve Bank warns home loan restrictions 'may be adjusted' if housing market doesn't cool
Sydney: The RBA has warned the community not to expect instant results from the banking regulator's move to tighten home loan application tests, with the changes potentially taking months to filter through to a cooler property market.
In its latest Financial Stability Review (FSR), published today, the Reserve Bank said it was likely to take a few weeks for the changes to even filter down to many home loan applicants.
"The maximum impact of this policy change could take several months to be realised," it cautioned.
"It may take some lenders several weeks to adjust to the new settings and some households will have already planned or committed to purchase based on previous lending policies.
"Indirect effects may take even longer than the direct effects, although changes in potential buyers' expectations could bring forward the impact of the policy change."
The policy change referred to was the banking regulator APRA's move on Wednesday to increase the interest rate buffer on their mortgage serviceability tests for loan applicants.
It told banks that, from November 1, households must be capable of making mortgage repayments if home loan interest rates rise 3 percentage points above their current rate, rather than the previous 2.5 percentage points.
APRA estimated that, for most borrowers, this change would cut their maximum loan amount by around 5 per cent.
So, for example, if under the old rules the maximum someone could borrow was $500,000, the maximum they would be able to borrow under the new rules would be $475,000.
However, the Reserve Bank today noted that the effect could be greater for some groups of borrowers than others.
"For a given income and initial net income surplus, the effect on borrowers with existing mortgage debts (such as investors) would be larger, as the increase in the serviceability assessment rate also applies to a borrower's existing debts," the FSR noted.
"Estimates from survey data suggest that FHBs [first home buyers] are more likely than other owner occupiers to take out a loan that is very close to their maximum.
"While this suggests that FHBs are more likely to be constrained than other owner-occupier borrowers, the overall share of FHBs that will be affected is estimated to be very small."
'China's financial system could collapse': What the Reserve Bank says?
The Reserve Bank of Australia has made some startling observations about the possible consequences of the collapse of China's second largest property developer, Evergrande.
The central bank made no reference to China or Evergrande in its October Monetary Policy statement, but it's more than made up for that in its latest Financial Stability Review.
The RBA warns: "Vulnerabilities in China's financial system remain elevated and authorities face a difficult balancing act."
The slow-motion train wreck that is Evergrande remains a crucial aspect of those "vulnerabilities".
"If they act too quickly in addressing these vulnerabilities, confidence in the implicit guarantees that underpin much of China's financial system could collapse, which would lead to financial distress," the RBA says.
Rumblings of a debt crisis began earlier this year, when Chinese authorities demanded several of the country's heavily leveraged property developers rein in their debt exposures.
Developers were told that if they failed to meet one, two, or all of the three debt "red lines", regulators would place limits on the extent to which they can grow debt.
The crisis shifted up a gear last month when Evergrande failed to meet several debt payments. It became clear to global financial markets that Evergrande had been relying too heavily on debt for growth.
The fear was that Evergrande was insolvent which, in a worst-case scenario, could lead to a company wind-up, crashing property prices as investors and off-the-plan buyers fled the market, and a Chinese economic collapse — given China's reliance on the property market for economic growth.
If we park the possibility of an international financial crisis, the next step is to consider the ongoing threat of a contained domestic economic crisis (despite suggestions of government financial support).
Reuters this week reported that court filings showed two Hong Kong property agencies were suing China Evergrande Group over unpaid commissions. Centaline is trying to recover $HK3.1 million in overdue commissions, while Midland Holdings, according to the South China Morning Post, is claiming unpaid commission of $HK43.45 million for two developments in Hong Kong.