Daily News Roundup

March 20, 2020



NAPLAN exams will be cancelled this year due to widespread disruption to schools caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Each year students in years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are tested on literacy and numeracy.

This year’s exams were scheduled for May, but with high absenteeism, some private schools working remotely and public schools temporarily closing after infections, the test will no longer take place this year.

The decision was made by consensus at today’s COAG Education Council meeting which includes Commonwealth, state and territory ministers.

The Ministers reiterated their support for the decision to keep schools open.

This year’s Education Council Chair is Victorian Education Minister James Merlino.

Mr Merlino said the decision to cancel NAPLAN for 2020 was the right one.

“These are unprecedented times and our school communities need to focus on the additional challenge of preparing for remote learning,” he said.

“I want to acknowledge the exceptional contribution from our teachers, support staff and principals at all schools during these challenging times.

“They can be assured that we are acting on the very best medical advice.”


In another major boost to small businesses suffering because of the  coronavirus the Australian Banking Association (ABA) says all small businesses hit by the pandemic will be able to access a six-month deferral of all loan repayments.

ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said the relief package would apply to more than $100 billion in small business loans and expected it could put $8 billion back into the pockets of these companies.

“Small business can rest assured that if they need help they will get it,” she said.

Ms Bligh said the banks were yet to see households going into mortgage stress as a result of COVID-19 but would reassess their approach if the situation changed.

“If we start to see any other critical need … that’s something that [the banks] know they’ll need to look at,” she said.

Soon after the announcement, NAB said home loan customers could pause repayments for up to six months. The bank has also cut its fixed-rate home loans by 60 basis points.

It comes after the Reserve Bank cut interest rates to a record low 0.25 per cent on Thursday and announced extraordinary measures to help prevent a coronavirus-driven recession.


Health authorities in NSW have confirmed another death from coronavirus, bringing the state’s total COVID-19 fatalities to six, and the national number to seven.

NSW Health said an 81-year-old woman with the virus died last night.

She had close contact with another confirmed case of COVID-19 at Ryde Hospital.

Six people have died from the virus in Sydney, and one fatality has been recorded in Perth.

Between 11am and 8pm yesterday there were another 46 coronavirus infections in NSW, taking the state’s total number of cases to 353.

More than 40,000 people have been tested in NSW since the outbreak began.

In other coronavirus news it has been reported that farmers’ markets around Australia have official clearance to go ahead this weekend – and are preparing for a potential onslaught after unprecedented panic buying and hoarding at supermarkets.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said strict new bans on large gatherings to slow the spread of COVID-19 did not apply to supermarkets, food markets, grocery shops, retail outlets and shopping centres.

The term “farmers’ markets” was not specified, leading to confusion and concern.

But the Federal Health Department has confirmed to the ABC that farmers’ markets are an essential service.

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