FRIDAY 29 MAY
**UPDATE – 3:00pm
Prime Minister Scott Morrison provided a COVID-19 update following the National Cabinet meeting this afternoon. Prime Minister Morrison announced that The Council of Australian Governments will be abolished in place of National Cabinet, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.
Mr Morrison convened the new national cabinet in March in response to the coronavirus crisis. States and territories have met with the Prime Minister, sometimes several times a week, to coordinate key messages and debate policy responses to the pandemic.
Mr Morrison has shifted national cabinet’s focus from an initial consideration of social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the virus, to focussing on reopening the economy and recreating jobs.
“The processes we’ve established for the national cabinet may prove to be a better way for our federal system to work in the future, but this will be a matter for another time,” he said.
The 20 ministerial forums, which include portfolio-based groups such as the Attorney-Generals’ Ministerial Forum and issue-based groups such as the Ministerial Forum on the Great Barrier Reef, will be “consolidated, reset” the Prime Minister said.
The main reason for this consolidation is to create a simplified approach with the main focus on creating jobs out the back of this crisis. The National Cabinet will meet on a fortnightly basis in the coming months while we still have COVID-19 in the communities and it will then move to monthly meetings at a later date.
The Prime Minister also announced that all States and Territories had signed up to a five-year hospital agreement to guarantee the “essentials they rely on”.
“Today, an agreement that will see an investment by the Commonwealth of an estimated $131.4 billion be made in a demand-driven public-hospital funding model to improve health outcomes for all Australians to health system now and into the future,” Mr Morrison said.
The new 20-25 national health reform agreement provides an additional $34.4 billion in funding to public hospitals from July 1 this year.”
Australia’s youngest coronavirus victim, Nathan Turner, held a party in his Queensland home just days before his death, sparking fears multiple people could have been exposed to the virus.
The 30-year-old was found unresponsive in his home in Blackwater by his fiance, Simone Devon, when she returned home from work on Tuesday afternoon.
He could not be revived and was declared deceased at the scene. Despite having respiratory symptoms for weeks, Mr Turner and Ms Devon hosted a party in their home last Friday, according to 7 News. Mr Turner died just four days later, with tests conducted after his death returning a positive result for COVID-19. Health authorities have been scrambling to test anyone who may have come into contact with Mr Turner and have so far tracked down 20 people who were in close contact with him. Of those people 18 have so far tested negative, with the results of the other two tests pending. Ms Devon had shown symptoms of the virus but had previously tested negative. She will be tested again and is currently isolated in her home.
Three testing clinics have opened in the coal mining town and sewage from its 5000 residents will be screened to determine infection levels in the community. More than 120 Blackwater locals have been tested for the virus but Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young says that figure was disappointingly low.
“There is a significant fly-in, fly-out workforce so all of that’s being investigated as well,” Dr Young said.
Mr Turner is the youngest person in Australia to die from COVID-19, with the national death toll now at 103. It is understood the 30-year-old had been suffering some seizures and had been on workers compensation since November.
US President Donald Trump is escalating his war on social media companies, signing an executive order challenging the liability protections that have served as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet, reports the ABC.
The move follows the President lashing out at Twitter in recent days for applying fact checks to two of his tweets.
Mr Trump said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter and amounted to political activism.
He said it should cost those companies their protection from lawsuits for what is posted on their platforms.
The order, which proposes modifying a law known as Section 230, directs executive branch agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to study whether they can place new rules on the companies.
Section 230 protects internet companies from liability for content posted by their users.
Mr Trump’s proposal has multiple, serious legal problems and is unlikely to survive a challenge, according to Matt Schruers, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a Washington-based organisation that represents computer and internet companies.
“The irony that is lost here is that if these protections were to go away social media services would be far more aggressive in moderating content and terminating accounts,” Mr Schruers said.
“Our vibrant public sphere of discussion would devolve into nothing more than preapproved soundbites.”
Protests have continued into their second day in the US city of Minneapolis prompting Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to call in the National Guard.
The violent protests were sparked by the death of an African American man who was pinned by a white police officer to the ground before his death.
In the footage recorded by a bystander, Mr Floyd can be heard pleading that he can’t breathe until he slowly stops talking and moving.
The unrest ravaged several blocks in the Longfellow neighbourhood, with scattered clashes reaching for miles across the city. Another protest is planned for Thursday evening (local time) near county offices downtown.
Some stores planned to close early, fearing more strife. The city shut down its light rail system and planned to stop all bus services “out of concern for the safety of riders and employees”, a statement said.
The shocking death of George Floyd has caused outrage across the US and protests have sprung up in other cities, with hundreds of demonstrators calling for action against the police.
A man was shot to death during the Minneapolis riots and police said they were treating it as homicide and had a suspect in custody but were still investigating what led to the shooting.
In Los Angeles on Thursday protesters were filmed burning the American flag at a rally in Downtown LA, as more protests also kicked off in Memphis in Tennessee.
The demonstrations began after footage emerged on Tuesday showing Mr Floyd being pinned to the ground by a white police officer who was kneeling on his neck.
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