Daily News Round-up

February 11, 2022

AAP: Joel Carrett


Gladys Berejiklian has been appointed to Optus’ executive team in a “game changing” move, four months after she resigned from politics.

The former NSW premier has been appointed managing director, enterprise, business and institutional for the telecommunications giant.

Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said Ms Berejiklian was a proven leader who “demonstrated her renowned strength, leadership, discipline, and composure in successfully guiding Australia’s largest state through one of the biggest challenges in its history.

“She also builds and fosters loyal and dedicated teams who really go above and beyond for her,” Ms Bayer Rosmarin said.

“I believe she will be a game-changer for Optus. In bringing our business-focused teams together under this newly created role, I truly believe that our collective energies can deliver superior customer outcomes in market segments that continue to be dominated by the incumbent.”

Ms Berejiklian resigned from politics in October after the state’s Independent Commission Against Corruption announced it would be investigating whether she breached public trust due to an undeclared relationship with disgraced former Wagga Wagga MP and ex-partner Daryl Maguire.

Despite being touted as a Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Warringah in this year’s election, Ms Berejiklian declared she was looking forward to a “private” life away from politics.

In December, Ms Berejiklian said federal politics was “not something” she wanted to do.

“I’m going in a different direction and I’m looking forward to the opportunities that next year brings,” she said at the time.

Speaking about her new appointment, Ms Berejiklian said she was “excited and proud” to join Optus.

“(Optus) impacts the lives of millions of Australians every day and prides itself in providing outstanding customer service,” she said.


Pharmacists will be given the power to diagnose diseases and prescribe medications as part of a state government pilot program, but some doctors say it will put patients’ lives in danger.

The pilot would allow chemists in 37 local government areas in north Queensland to diagnose 23 conditions, including asthma, type 2 diabetes and heart failure, without consulting a GP.

Some doctors have taken issue and one of their peak bodies, The National Council of Primary Care Doctors, will raise concerns at a public hearing in parliament today.

The Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMA) has also expressed concerns it will lead to significant misdiagnosis of potentially serious conditions while fragmenting care and undermining efforts to control antibiotic prescribing.

The AMA said the trial would also allow pharmacists to prescribe the oral contraceptive pill, a move outlawed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

President Chris Perry said pharmacists were not qualified to treat complex diseases without medical supervision.

“They want people in north Queensland to be treated by somebody with a four-year qualification compared to somebody like a GP with 12 years of training,” he said.

“People with asthma will die. People with diabetes have a good chance of dying.”

In protest the AMA has withdrawn its representative from a steering committee formulating the trial.

“It’s second-rate medicine for people in north Queensland,” Professor Perry said.

“It’s just dangerous.”

Queensland Rural Doctors Association Queensland president Michael Reinke is a GP in Bowen, where there is an ongoing shortage of doctors.

He said the pilot program was a cheap solution to a systemic problem.

“This appears to be a bandaid measure to provide the ability for patients to get repeat prescriptions for their regular medicines without having any medical review by a qualified doctor,” Dr Reinke said.

“The people in rural Queensland deserve proper medical services.”

He said better training is needed to make rural medicine an attractive career.

“By having pharmacists prescribe [medication] makes it less attractive for doctors to go to the area.

“You need to have qualified doctors to provide emergency care.

“This is just going to exacerbate the problems we have at the moment.”

A Queensland Health spokesperson said the department has been working with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and other stakeholders.


Queensland health authorities say they are “cautiously optimistic” about the status of the COVID-19 pandemic now hospitalisations are in decline and a “wall of immunity” has been built among the population.

With the state’s mask-wearing mandate set to be reviewed at the end of the month and many freedoms reinstalled for Queenslanders, it might be easy to think the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us.

But with the flu season ahead and the possibility of new COVID-19 variants arriving, a Brisbane virologist has warned Queenslanders of the many uncertainties still at play.

University of Queensland virologist Kirsty Short said cases would never get down to zero. 

“It’s just not going to be like that,” Dr Short said.

“We’re probably going to get another little peak from schools reopening … that’s going to take at least a week or so to come through in the case numbers.

“I think people should be reassured the cases haven’t peaked at a higher number, but be aware it’s not going to go back down to what we had before the borders reopened.

“Another variant could emerge — we don’t know — the big unknown is also the upcoming winter season.

“What’s going to happen with the flu season and what’s it going to look like when influenza is circulating in the community?

“What effect will that have on our healthcare burden and respiratory disease?

“I think we just have to be cautious — I am not scared, I’m just not planning too far ahead.

“So I’m not assuming that as of this date, everything would go back to normal … we’ve just got to accept a level of uncertainty because we haven’t been in this situation before.”

The warning comes as large parts of Queensland have either passed the peak of the Omicron wave or are approaching a peak.

Authorities said Gold Coast, Metro North, Metro South, Cairns, Sunshine Coast, West Moreton and Mackay health regions have passed the peak of the Omicron outbreak.

Townsville, Wide Bay, the North West and Torres Strait-Cape are approaching their peak, while the Darling Downs and Central Queensland are yet to reach a peak in infections.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said while much of the state was still coming down off the peak of infections, we could expect to see a “tail end” in March ahead of the flu season.

*Queensland has recorded 14 deaths and 5,977 new cases of COVID-19 in the latest reporting period.

There are 535 people in hospital, down from 579 yesterday, including 43 in intensive care units.

Twenty-seven people are on ventilators.

Of the people who died, one was in their 60s, five in their 70s, five in their 80s and three in their 90s. Ten of the deceased were in aged care.

There were 1,149 positive cases recorded in children aged between five and 17.

Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said 60 per cent of eligible Queenslanders have now received their booster shot.

Chief Health Officer Dr John Gerrard said the government would not be enforcing further restrictions in schools in the face of rising cases.

“We’re not taking any greater measures. We’re just watching this closely,” he said.

“We’re not taking a very strong restrictive stance on isolating members of the school community because we know this virus is widespread and it will continue to be widespread.

“We expect that over the coming weeks the numbers will decline.”

*Victoria has recorded another 13 COVID-19 deaths and hospitalisations have risen slightly across the state.

The number of people in hospital after contracting the virus now sits at 553, up from the 543 reported on Thursday.

Of those patients, 82 are in intensive care units, with 23 people on ventilators.

The state reported 8,521 new infections — 3,162 from PCR results and 5,359 from rapid antigen tests.

It takes the number of officially reported active infections to 55,617, down from 55,946 yesterday.

*Another two people with COVID-19 have died in South Australia, with the state’s Premier declaring state health authorities will consider the latest federal advice around vaccinations.

The state recorded 1,445 cases of the virus in the 24 hours to midnight, continuing a downward trend of daily totals.

Hospital numbers appear relatively stable, with 210 COVID-19 patients currently receiving treatment in hospital, 16 in intensive care and 5 patients on ventilators.

Australia’s definition of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is set to change, with people aged over 16 years now only considered “up to date” with their vaccinations if they have had booster shots.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended moving away from the term “fully vaccinated”.


Koalas are now considered an endangered species in NSW, Queensland and the ACT, as numbers plummet due to climate change, land clearing and disease.

The Australian icon had previously been rated “vulnerable” under the federal government’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, but it’s status has now been upgraded.

Federal Environment Minister Susan Ley said: “This listing ads priority when it comes to the conservation of the koala.”

The government requested the Threatened Species Scientific Committee —  a Commonwealth agency which provides independent advice to the Environment Minister — to review the koala’s status in the wake of the Black Summer bushfires, which wiped out significant amounts of habitat.

Ms Ley cited the impacts of climate change, land clearing and disease as the key threats facing the koala.


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