Billions of dollars will flow in a big-spending federal budget but there are fears that the government’s efforts to stimulate job growth could be held back if the international border is not opened this year.
With the budget forecasting the international border not opening until the middle of 2022, it forecasts a decade of deficits and debt that is set to peak around the $1 trillion mark in 2025.
The bulk of new government spending goes to the nation’s most vulnerable — children, the elderly and people with a disability & women — all sectors the government has faced criticism for failing to do enough to support.
The Treasurer has dubbed it a budget that showed the Australian economy was “soaring back to life” after going into a coronavirus-induced recession last year.
“The economy is coming back. Australia is coming back,” he said.
But Labor’s Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the budget would deliver little despite the tens of billions it was spending.
“This budget is just all about more marketing, mismanagement and missed opportunities,” he said.
A traveller who arrived from Papua New Guinea posed “no risk” to airport staff, Queensland’s chief health officer says, after reports emerged ground employees were told to “open the door and run”.
The Courier Mail reported today that Qantas staff had described the arrival of Air Niugini flight PX003 on May 7 as an “absolute cock up”.
They were reportedly told there was a COVID-positive passenger on board, which has since been vehemently denied by health authorities.
A Qantas spokesman confirmed to NCA NewsWire that Brisbane Airport had been alerted 30 minutes prior to the flight’s arrival that there was a “potential case on board”.
However, Jeannette Young said the man in question had fully recovered from the virus and would not have been allowed to fly if he had been positive.
“The good thing that we’ve seen in Queensland is that everyone has been very cautious … That has stood us well,” Dr Young said.
“There was no need for this to have happened. This was a fully recovered, historic case – that’s why he was given permission to travel to Australia.
“Anyone who tests positive before getting on a plane is not allowed to travel until they are fully recovered.
“I do not criticise the airport or anyone there for taking an ultra-cautious approach … but they do not need to have been concerned. He was fully recovered.”
The Qantas spokesman said there were a “number of strict procedures in place for managing aircraft arriving from overseas”.
“Qantas ground staff followed all procedures,” he said.
Fully decked in PPE, Qantas ground staff were instructed to open the doors and leave the area, as is standard procedure, and had no contact with anyone inside the plane.
The aircraft was taken over by health and border authorities, in line with protocol.
Dr Young said while the man concerned did not have the virus, “we do not know that anyone else on that plane did not have COVID”.
“There could always be a positive case on that plane … We need to treat every single person on one of those flights from PNG, or anywhere, as potentially being infectious,” she said.
“This particular individual did not cause any risk, but there might have been others who did.”
The man is currently in hotel quarantine, where he will serve the mandatory 14 days.
Queensland recorded three new cases of COVID-19 today, all overseas acquired and in hotel quarantine.
There is a looming unease of a “full-scale war” between Israel and Palestine after a rise in violence in recent days with overnight Palestininan militants Hamas firing a barrage of rockets at Israel’s economic hub Tel Aviv in retaliation for an Isralei strike that destroyed a tower block in Gaza, as the foes traded their heaviest fire for several years.
A 13-story residential building in Gaza collapsed after it was hit by an air strike, one of hundreds that Israel said it had carried out against Hamas targets.
Israelis ran for shelters or flattened themselves on pavements in communities more than 70 kilometres along the coast from Gaza amid sounds of explosions as interceptor missiles streaked into the sky.
In Tel Aviv, air raid sirens were heard around the city. One rocket made a direct hit in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon, according to Israeli local media.
Hamas said it had fired more than 130 rockets towards the city after 22 people were killed in Gaza overnight, including nine children.
Dozens of rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system.
The fighting was triggered by clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque on Monday.
In the 24 hours that followed, 700 Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and across the West Bank.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres demanded an immediate halt to the “spiraling escalation” in Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the UN was “working with all relevant parties to de-escalate the situation urgently”.
“Israeli security forces must exercise maximum restraint and calibrate their use of force,” Mr Dujarric said.
“The indiscriminate launching of rockets and mortars towards Israeli population centres is unacceptable.”