Daily News Roundup

August 19, 2020

 

WEDNESDAY, August 19 

Australians are likely to face mandatory coronavirus vaccinations if and when a vaccine becomes available.

The nation is a step closer to gaining access to a vaccine, with the Federal Government securing an international deal to produce a vaccine frontrunner locally if trials succeed.

If that happens, Mr Morrison expects Australians will have to undergo mandatory vaccination.

“I would expect it to be as mandatory as you could possibly make it,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis.

“We are talking about a pandemic that has destroyed the global economy and taken the lives of hundreds of thousands all around the world, and over 430 Australians here.”

The Government has signed an agreement with UK-based drug company AstraZeneca to secure the potential COVID-19 vaccine, being developed by Oxford University.

If the vaccine clears trials, the Federal Government would manufacture it and make it free for all Australians.

But that’s unlikely to be until next year at the earliest, Mr Morrison said.

While the Prime Minister outlined his preference, he said the Government was yet to make a decision on making the vaccine mandatory.

He said the Government would take medical advice on the rollout, including on who would get access first, with medical workers and the nation’s most vulnerable people likely to be a priority.

The vaccine news came as

  • Victoria’s health department revealed the state had recorded 216 new coronavirus cases and 12 further deaths.
  • Cross-border movement in Queensland’s southern inland should become easier, with the border bubble to be expanded, as the state records one new case of coronavirus in the past 24 hours.
  • South Australia’s Premier says the state can’t afford “to shoot itself in the foot” economically during the coronavirus pandemic by not allowing 300 international students to return to Adelaide.

The 216 new cases in Victoria is the lowest daily number of new cases detected in the state since July 13, when 177 new cases were reported.

The state’s COVID-19 death toll now stands at 363, which accounts for more than 80 per cent of Australia’s coronavirus deaths.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced today that the border bubble around Goondiwindi would increase in size to take in more postcodes.

From tomorrow, people in towns including Weengalloon, Limevale, Inglewood, Gore, North Star and Deepwater will be able to cross the Queensland-New South Wales border.

“These are very small numbers of people and, of course, it’s just to make that movement between those border communities a little bit easier,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“We are continuing to work with people when it comes to their health concerns, but also when it comes to the movement of agriculture.”

Goondiwindi Mayor Lawrence Springborg said he lobbied Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young for the change, and said she saw “the common sense and practicality in that”.

Since yesterday, Queensland police have processed 1,945 passengers on 28 flights arriving into Queensland.

No-one was refused entry, but 88 people were placed into quarantine.

At the road borders, 3,939 vehicles were intercepted, with 181 people refused entry and 110 placed into quarantine.

Deputy Police Commissioner Steve Gollschewski said police had seen an increase in people going into quarantine from the road borders. 

“That’s directly related to our work to streamline the ability for people to come into this state for medical treatment,” Deputy Commissioner Gollschewski said.

The latest case is a man in his 40s who is in hotel quarantine after returning from Papua New Guinea.

“We have absolutely no concerns about that case,” Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

As the numbers of cases rise in PNG, the state’s northern border will also be strengthened with the help of Border Force.

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Annabel Bassil decided to take a stand against harassment in the hospitality industry after an incident which she says well and truly “crossed the line”, reports the ABC.

The bar manager was smacked on the bottom by a male patron, who later pleaded guilty to common assault, and says she hopes her case will be a force for change for women in the industry.

Ms Bassil, 22, from south Sydney, was working in the pub in the Sutherland Shire last August when a man, with whom she’d had no previous interaction, slapped her on the bottom as she walked past.

She was left shaken, in tears and feeling “violated” by the incident, which was caught on CCTV footage.

The man was thrown out of the bar, the police were called and the next day Ms Bassil made a formal police complaint.

Last week, a 41-year-old man from south Sydney faced court pleading guilty to a charge of common assault.

Ms Bassil says it’s been a difficult time but she’s done the right thing, not just for herself, but for women across the industry experiencing bad behaviour.

“I’m a female manager, I work with so many girls and I would hate for them to be in a position where something happened to them and they were like, ‘But Annabel didn’t press charges when it happened to her’.

“I felt I had to lead by example.”

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US Postmaster-General Louis DeJoy says he will suspend all changes to mail services until after the November election, bowing to an outcry from Democrats who called the moves an attempt to boost President Donald Trump’s re-election chances.

Mr DeJoy’s announcement came amid rising pressure from critics who accuse Mr Trump of deliberately gutting the already cash-strapped US Postal Service (USPS) in order to slow the handling of mail-in ballots, which could account for as many as half of all votes cast in November’s election as the coronavirus pandemic raises fears of crowds.

Mr Trump has repeatedly and without evidence claimed that an increase in mail-in ballots would lead to a surge in fraud, though Americans have long voted by mail.

Mr DeJoy had planned to reduce overtime, put restrictions on extra mail runs, and bring in new mail sorting and delivery policies in an attempt to cut costs.

“I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded,” Mr DeJoy said in a statement, saying he was acting to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail”.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mr DeJoy’s announcement inadequate and said she would push ahead with legislation later this week to aid the Postal Service.

“This pause only halts a limited number of the postmaster’s changes, does not reverse damage already done, and alone is not enough to ensure voters will not be disenfranchised by the President [in the November 3 election]”, Ms Pelosi said in a statement.

“The House will be moving ahead with our vote this Saturday.”