Good evening, here are the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic in Australia. This is Elias Visontay and it is Friday 29 May.
Coag is dead, long live national cabinet
Scott Morrison has indicated that cabinet norms of solidarity and secrecy will be applied to future intergovernmental meetings aiming to boost job creation, announcing the Council of Australian Governments “is no more”.
After the latest meeting of the national cabinet on Friday, Morrison said the governing body composed of federal, state and territory leaders will replace Coag by continuing fortnightly teleconference meetings during the Covid-19 pandemic and monthly meetings thereafter.
Morrison also announced a new $131.4bn five-year hospital funding agreement with the states, including an extra $31.4bn for public hospitals and a guarantee no jurisdiction will be left worse off by Covid-19 spending.
Under the new federal structure, the council of federal financial relations – the treasurers’ meeting – will gain responsibility for all intergovernmental partnership funding agreements.
Israel seeks quarantine-free travel with Australia by December
Israel wants to introduce direct flights to Australia and waive quarantine requirements for travellers by December, as countries that have so far successfully contained Covid-19 jostle to be the next destination added to the Australia-New Zealand tourism bubble.
Israel is also working with other nations to position itself as a gateway hub for Australian travellers to transit quarantine-free on their way to European “first mover” countries considered safe, such as Greece, Norway, Denmark and the Czech Republic, Israel’s ambassador to Australia told the Guardian.
Australia considers Pacific labourers for ‘travel bubble’
Australia is considering allowing Pacific labourers to travel to Australia to work where possible as part of a new foreign aid “policy pivot” that includes the redirection of $280m from Australia’s existing aid budget.
The pivot, Partnerships for Recovery, detailing Australia’s regional and development response to the Covid-19 pandemic, has been released by the foreign minister, Marise Payne, and the minister for international development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke.
Covid-19 study on hydroxychloroquine under question
More than 120 researchers and medical professionals from around the world have written an open letter to the editor of the Lancet raising serious concerns about a large and widely publicised global study that prompted the World Health Organization to halt several Covid-19 clinical trials.
On Thursday Guardian Australia revealed that the Australian data in the study, published last week, did not reconcile with health department records or databases.
Coronavirus job losses in Australia mapped by electorate
An analysis by the Grattan Institute has revealed that the areas in Australia hit hardest by job losses related to Covid-19 are concentrated in regional and rural New South Wales and Queensland, with nine of the 10 hardest-hit seats held by the Coalition.
This may be due to a larger proportion of jobs in these areas being in industries hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis – tourism and hospitality.
The governor of the Reserve Bank has warned the government the jobkeeper program may need to be kept going beyond its current cut-off date in September to avoid the Australian economy falling off a cliff.
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