Daily News Roundup

June 25, 2020

 

THURSDAY, JUNE 25

The Australian Defence Force will send more than 1,000 soldiers to help with the coronavirus response in Victoria which intensified today after 33 new cases were recorded overnight – marking the state’s ninth consecutive day of double-digit increases.  

Seven of the new cases are in hotel quarantine, nine are from known outbreaks, six are from routine testing and 11 are still under investigation.

Premier Dan Andrews said numbers will continue to increase in the coming days as authorities test “entire suburbs” – listing ten suburbs that will be “blitzed” 

“We will see these numbers go up in coming days,” he said. “That will be a measure of the work that we’re doing, a measure of the success of this strategy.

News of the latest spike and the deployment pf ADF personnel came as:

  • Qantas announced it will cut about 6000 jobs, including cabin crew and ground staff, as it becomes a “smaller airline” in the short-term to deal with the fallout from the COVID-19 crisis.
  • World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says the world is on track to reach 10 million coronavirus cases within the next week. 

The Federal Government received the request for ADF help from Victoria overnight.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the 1,000 troops would include roughly 850 people to help with planning and assisting with the enforcement of hotel quarantine.

“Our soldiers are not law enforcement personnel … they are not security guards, but they are assisting those locations to make sure quarantine requirements are met,” she said.

“What we have been doing for many months now is assisting states and territories with a wide range of tasks.”

On Tuesday, 21,000 tests were carried out in Victoria, the highest number in a single day this year.

The Minister said about 200 medical personnel would work with Victorian authorities to speed up testing processes.

“What we’re doing is, we’re not doing testing ourselves, but we will be assisting the Victorian authorities at their 90 testing sites across the state,” she said.

“We will provide logistics and also a range of medical staff to actually help speed up the processing time.”

Assistance has also been sought from New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia and Queensland.

As Victoria’s infection rate spiralled more information emerged about what caused the outbreaks across Melbourne.  

It has been revealed that a family at the heart of one of Melbourne’s largest clusters held a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that broke public health restrictions.

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The pilots of a Pakistan airliner that crashed last month, killing 97, were distracted and preoccupied as they talked about the coronavirus pandemic while preparing for an initial failed landing bid, the country’s aviation minister has said.

The Airbus A320 of national carrier Pakistan International Airlines crashed on May 22 in the southern city of Karachi, killing all but two of those aboard as it came down a kilometre short of the runway on its second attempt.

The aircraft had landed on its engines on the first attempt, before taking off again, minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan told Parliament as he presented an initial report on the disaster on Wednesday.

The flight data recorder showed the landing gear was lowered at 10 nautical miles, Mr Khan said, but then raised again 5 nautical miles from the runway, which he described as “beyond comprehension”.

The aircraft was “100 percent fit to fly” and there was no technical fault, he said, but added that the pilots were not “focused” because of the pandemic.

“The discussion throughout was about corona,” Mr Khan said, referring to exchanges between the pilot and co-pilot he said he had listened to on the cockpit voice recorder.

“Corona was dominant over their mind. Their family was affected [by the virus].”

The minister says there was ‘no malfunction in the aircraft’ in initial report on plane crash that killed 97 people last month

The report, reviewed by Reuters, did not spell out the pilots’ conversation on the virus, but said they did not follow set protocols.

“Several warnings and alerts such as over-speed, landing gear not down and ground proximity alerts, were disregarded,” it added.

“The landing was undertaken with landing gear retracted. The aircraft touched the runway surface on its engines.”

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The High Court has written to more than 100 former associates, offering them the opportunity to speak up about conduct at the court during the time former justice Dyson Heydon was on the bench.

Earlier this week, Chief Justice Susan Kiefel revealed in a statement the High Court had commissioned an independent inquiry into allegations of sexual harassment against Mr Heydon, who served on the bench between 2003 and 2013.

Chief Justice Kiefel said the complaints of six women who had worked as judges’ associates had been “borne out”, and she was ashamed such harassment had happened at the High Court.

Mr Heydon has emphatically and categorically denied allegations of predatory behaviour, with his lawyers saying any offence caused by their client’s conduct was “inadvertent and unintended”.

The High Court’s chief executive and principal registrar, Philippa Lynch has now emailed more than 100 former associates who worked across all judges’ offices, and offered them the opportunity to share their experiences with Dr Vivienne Thom.

Dr Thom was commissioned to carry out the original investigation into the six women’s allegations. A broader inquiry or investigation has not been established.

Three of the women have announced they plan to sue Mr Heydon and the Commonwealth for compensation.

Yesterday, it was revealed the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions had written to police urging them to investigate the allegations against the former judge.

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