Daily News Roundup

March 16, 2020

Scott Morrison calls for coronavirus calm
Image: ABC News

MONDAY March 16

As coronavirus cases continue to climb in Australia and travel restrictions and bans on mass gatherings come into force Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for calm.

Mr Morrison and his senior ministerial colleagues went on an early morning media spree in a bid to reassure Australians, as Victoria declared a state of emergency and the ACT declared a public health emergency.

“A state of emergency is not a state of panic,” the Prime Minister said.

“A state of emergency puts in place special powers for state governments to help manage the spread of a health epidemic.

“Yesterday it was an issue discussed by the state premiers, that they would be all moving effectively to that footing.”

The Prime Minister said the Federal Government would continue to monitor whether schools should be shut down.

But he said the advice of medical authorities was that schools currently remained safe.

“That situation may change in the future, but when it does, that’s when we’ll act,” he said.

Federal leaders also urged shoppers to stop panic buying, as supermarket chains announced restricted opening hours solely for elderly and disabled people.

Concerns have been raised about whether some of the most vulnerable members of the community are missing out on essentials as panic buying and stockpiling continues.

“Let’s all look after each other and be respectful to each other and help each other out,” Mr Morrison said.

The Prime Minister’s early morning media blitz came as new ban on non-essential mass gatherings of more than 500 people came into force.

Meanwhile, NRL boss Todd Greenberg says players may be asked to take a pay cut as the league grapples with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The word catastrophic is not one that we use lightly,” Greenberg said on AM when asked about the impact a shutdown would have on the code.

“This will have significant financial and commercial implications, not just for the game and the centre as a governing body, but our clubs and more broadly as an industry.”

Melbourne Storm captain Cameron Smith called for the league to be suspended after playing in his side’s 18-4 victory over Manly Sea Eagles in front of 10,315 fans at Brookvale Oval on Sunday, saying the COVID-19 crisis was “bigger than rugby league.”

Greenberg said Smith “certainly had a point”.

“As you’d imagine, there are lots of voices in this issue,” he said.

“But we’ll always do what’s best for the players. You can rest assured that is at the forefront of our decision making.”

“We have a huge, fixed-cost base,” he said.

“There’s very, very few businesses that I know that can continue to get by when their fixed costs are higher than their revenues.

“We have a number of games we have to fulfil to provide content to our broadcasters, and the broadcasters pay us a fee for that.

“Clearly, if we don’t provide the content as scheduled, there are commercial impacts to that.

“That’s an issue we’re facing.” 

As a growing  number of countries around the world imposed tough new restrictions,  the UK may soon instruct people over 70 to stay in strict isolation at home or in care homes for four months.

The ‘wartime-style’ mobilisation effort by the government is likely to be enforced within the next 20 days.

It is part of a series of measures being prepared by the prime minister, health secretary, chief medical officer and chief scientific adviser to prevent the health service from ‘falling over’ and to save lives as coronavirus, Covid-19, becomes an epidemic in the UK.

Other measures already being planned include:

  • the forced requisitioning of hotels and other buildings as temporary hospitals;
  • the requisitioning of private hospitals as emergency hospitals;
  • temporary closure of pubs, bars and restaurants – some time after next weekend’s ban on mass gatherings.


US President Donald Trump says he is considering a full pardon for his former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about dealings with Russia’s ambassador before Mr Trump took office.

Prosecutors had initially said Mr Flynn could avoid prison time with extensive cooperation

Mr Flynn attempted to withdraw his guilty plea in January, saying federal prosecutors had acted in “bad faith” and broke their end of the bargain when they sought prison time for him.

“I am strongly considering a Full Pardon!” Mr Trump tweeted.

The President also cited an unspecified report that the Justice Department had lost records related to Mr Flynn’s case.

A West Australian man who bound the hands and feet of his children at bedtime for six years has been sentenced to three years imprisonment.

The 51-year-old tied up two of his biological daughters and a stepson with packing tape repeatedly from 2005 to 2011, with the abuse starting when they were respectively aged four, seven and nine.

The District Court of WA heard he had a difficult upbringing and was under considerable stress living in a “not huge” house with six children all having medical and mental health issues, including two with intellectual disabilities.

He was taking antidepressants at the time and claimed in a police interview he had no memory of the offending.

He then said: “If they’re all saying the same thing I guess it’s got to be true and if they’re all saying it, if that’s the sort of s*** I done, then I need to be punished for it.”

He also said: “I wish none of this ever happened. I’m sorry for the nightmares.”

The man also claimed to have experienced blackouts for 23 years after an assault.

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