TUESDAY, November 30
Queensland will mandate COVID-19 vaccines for all workers in state and private schools, childcare centres, correctional facilities and airports.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced all staff must have had at least one dose of a vaccine by December 17 and must be fully vaccinated by January 23 – before the start of the 2022 school year.
“We are taking this strong action to protect vulnerable Queenslanders,” Ms Palaszczuk told Parliament.
“It is action that is consistent with other states and territories such as New South Wales and Victoria.
“Children under 12 cannot access the vaccination and … we want to do everything we can to protect these young people.”
Meanwhile, Queensland recorded no new community cases of COVID-19 but two cases were detected in hotel quarantine in two travellers from Melbourne.
Queensland Health administered 6,612 vaccines yesterday.
The Premier said 86.27 per cent of Queenslanders over the age of 16 have now had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 76.08 per cent were fully vaccinated.
*Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says the government’s “overwhelming view” is that the Omicron variant is “manageable” and that advice is that it may be milder than other variants.
Mr Hunt said the government’s decision to pause planned easing of border restrictions for international students and other eligible visa holders was done out of an “abundance of caution”.
Wednesday’s planned partial border reopening has been pushed back until December 15.
“All of this is done on the presumption that we will recommence from 15 December, but medical advice will guide our decision-making throughout,” Mr Hunt said.
“We’re doing this out of an abundance of caution but our overwhelming view is that while it’s an emerging variant, it’s a manageable variant.”
Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said the government did not take the decision lightly.
“We have been very focused on doing all we can to open our international borders as safely and quickly as we possibly can do,” Ms Andrews said.
As for changes to quarantine and a return of 14-day hotel quarantine, Ms Andrews said it would be a matter for states and territories.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the five people who had tested positive to the Omicron variant in Australia were experiencing “mild or, in fact, no disease”.
However, he said, there were still many unknowns about the variant.
“We don’t know still about the vaccine effectiveness,” he said. “We don’t know about severity and there’s mixed reports on that from South Africa itself.”
Professor Kelly said the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) had met with the Department of Health to look at what international information there was on vaccine effectiveness and the variant.
The Chief Medical Officer met with ATAGI this morning to discuss whether the interval in booster shots should be reduced from the current advice of six months after a second dose.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders are expected to discuss the response to the Omicron variant at National Cabinet this afternoon.
*Victoria has recorded 918 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths.
There are now 11,417 active COVID cases in the state and 512 people have died during the current Delta outbreak.
The new cases were identified from 45,658 test results.
There are 305 COVID-19 patients in Victorian hospitals, with 41 active cases in ICU and 19 patients on ventilators.
The Health Department said there were a further 53 patients in intensive care whose COVID infections had cleared.
Pioneering Indigenous actor David Dalaithngu AM has died aged 68.
Dalaithngu was from the Mandhalpuyngu clan of the Yolŋgu people and was raised in Arnhem land, reports the ABC.
Dalaithngu was better known by a different surname at the height of his stardom, but the ABC said it had been advised that for Indigenous cultural reasons that name can’t be used.
Wityana Marika, Dalaithngu’s son by lore and Higher Ground actor from the Rirritjingu clan said the Yolŋgu man left a legacy.
“We are grieving the loss of our famous Yolŋgu man who started a great journey on his own. That name he carried, speaks for itself. That name he carried he was born powerful,” he said.
“He came from the bush and became our biggest and brightest star for all Yolŋgu people and all races. I thank him, love him, rest in peace my father.”
News of the actor’s passing was shared in a statement from South Australian Premier Steven Marshall.
“It is with deep sadness that I share with the people of South Australia the passing of an iconic, once-in-a-generation artist who shaped the history of Australian film and Aboriginal representation on screen – David Dalaithngu AM,” said the statement.
“An actor, dancer, singer and painter, he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen.”
Dalaithngu was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, and was told he only had months to live.
A documentary about his life was created following the diagnosis — about the actor’s journey.
Mr Marshall wrote: “I was lucky enough to meet David Dalaithngu on a number of occasions – most recently in March this year at the premiere of a documentary about his life — in which he tells his own story, directed by Molly Reynolds.“
“This final film, 50 years after his breakthrough on screen, saw David Dalaithngu credited for the first time in his career as a producer — alongside Reynolds, filmmaker Rolf de Heer and Yolŋgu filmmaker Peter Djigirr.
“He was a man who loved his land and his culture, and he was a man who took it to the world.”
Speaking from Yirrkala in the Northern Territory Wityana Marika said family in Ramingining and Melbourne would communicate about plans to bring the actor back to his homeland for ceremony.
“The ceremony will be held in his homeland (Marwuyu). Every actor who wants to come the name will call them to his homeland,” he said.
“All the clan is going to come around and celebrate the connection, celebrate the spirituality and celebrate him.“
Former US president Donald Trump has made it back into the White House — at least in the form of a picture hanging on the Bidens’ Christmas tree.
It is no exaggeration to say there is bad blood between the Trumps and Bidens, largely because Mr Trump continues to push his unprecedented attempt to persuade Americans that Joe Biden did not really beat him in the 2020 presidential election.
But first lady Jill Biden’s Gifts from the Heart theme for this year’s Christmas decorations is delivering seasonal goodwill.
A gold-framed photo of Mr Trump and his wife Melania hangs on the tree in the State Dining Room, along with snaps of the Obamas, the families of both presidents Bush, the Reagans and the Carters.
Democrats Bill and Hillary Clinton also get a place on the presidential family tree.
More photos of former first families, again including Mr Trump, decorate a hallway. Hanging on another wall are framed holiday greetings cards from Mr Biden, Mr Obama and Mr Trump.
The Christmas truce of sorts contrasts with the bitter relationship between the Trumps and Bidens.
After Mr Biden’s victory, Mr and Ms Trump scratched the longstanding traditional invitation to tea that outgoing presidents and first ladies extend to their replacements.
In another disruption to the more genteel customs of the White House, Mr Trump never hosted his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama for an official portrait unveiling.
The Republican has also yet to have his own portrait hung up in Mr Biden’s White House.
Century-old November rainfall records are on track to be broken as thunderstorms roll across much of an already sodden state, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) says.
Forecaster Helen Reid said the BOM would be examining records with a fine-tooth comb over the next few days.
“It’s looking like there’s a couple of places that have even had over 100 years of records, in the Wide Bay Burnett region that are going to be able to break a record or two,” she said.
“Further west towards Charleville, that might be another option through there — and Bundaberg as well.”
While the rain had not been quite that impressive in the state’s south-east, Ms Reid said heavy falls could be on the way today.
“I know there was a couple of locations through there that are not quite record-breaking candidates but by the time we get through [today] they may well be on the list as well.”
Much of the state can expect showers and thunderstorms until tomorrow, with some isolated wet weather in eastern regions later in the week.
Those showers and thunderstorms will extend to more of the state into the weekend, with no clear indication as to when the wet weather will clear.
A man had to be rescued this morning after he drove his truck into floodwater on the Cunningham Highway near Goondiwindi.
Minor, moderate, and major flood warnings are in place for a number of rivers across Queensland.
Rivers in eastern and southern areas not currently affected by flood warnings are on flood watch.
The arrival of rain across the central Queensland inland has been welcome news for Claremont grazier Dyan Hughes, who said recent falls at her property had “definitely” broken November records.
“We had 70 millimetres the day before [yesterday] but our farming neighbours had 150 and 190mm and all that rain goes into the creek, our main creek, that flows through here and ends up in the Burdekin, so we had a lot of dams filling and overfilling.”
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