Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions

LIVE – Updated at 06:07

Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions
© Photograph: James D Morgan/Getty Images Passengers undergo Covid-19 tests prior to departure from Sydney International Airport on Sunday. NSW Health will now send people who have been overseas in the two weeks before their arrival into three days of home quarantine due to concerns over the Omicron variant.

Follow all the day’s news live.

Omicron variant detected in NSW


NSW Health has confirmed that the two overseas travellers that tested positive overnight have been infected with the new Omicron variant.

Both passengers arrived from southern Africa on Saturday evening, and underwent testing last night.

Both cases are asymptomatic and in isolation at Special Health Accommodation, and both are fully vaccinated.


— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) November 28, 2021



The federal government is pushing ahead with their much maligned model for a federal anti-corruption commission, but have signalled they won’t put it to parliament unless Labor backs it.

Katharine Murphy with the latest from Canberra:

Related: Scott Morrison digs in over federal Icac – and tries to shift blame to Labor for slow progress



Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said earlier today he “won’t hesitate” keeping the borders shut if the new Omicron variant threatens WA.

McGowan reaffirmed that borders are still due to be reopened next year, but warned that he would keep the borders closed if the variant spread in other states.

There is a lot we do not know about the Omicron variant but it is believed to be more transmissible than the highly infectious Delta variant and could have more severe impacts on people.

Details are evolving but the World Health Organisation has declared it a variant of concern based on what appears to be rampant and substantial growth seen in southern Africa.

There is a great deal of uncertainty about the recently emerged Omicron variant so it is important Western Australia has strong protections in place for states which have relaxed their international borders.

NSW no longer has a hotel quarantine system. It is a big risk and that is why we have had a very cautious approach about other states.

Borders are effective, if you stop the flow of people coming in you virtually eliminate the prospect of the virus getting here.



So earlier today federal opposition leader Anthony Albanese was asked about the government’s approach to the new variant and urged the commonwealth to be “cautious”.

Yesterday Albanese called for the border to be closed to southern African nations, and today said the variant showed why Australia needed purpose-built quarantine facilities:

This strain could cause a real problem and we need to make sure that the precautionary principle applies here.

The government needs to get the best health advice and act cautiously on all of these measures, because what we know from this virus and its variants is that it is a lot harder to put back in the bottle once it’s out.

We need to make sure as well that people coming into Australia from who potentially have had contact with that variant are quarantined properly.

We know that with Delta it’s spread very quickly and we need to take whatever measures are necessary.

Social media companies to be deemed ‘publisher’ of defamatory posts under proposed Australian law


Attorney general Michaelia Cash is providing more detail about the government’s new legislation concerning social media giants.

The “social media anti-trolling legislation” will do two things.

First, it will overturn the high court decision that found social media page owners will be considered as publishers of defamatory comments left by users on their pages, even if they did not know about those third-party comments.

Under the government’s legislation, social media services will be deemed the publisher. It will specifically state that the social media page user – like a small business or a newspaper – won’t be deemed as the publisher.

Second, the legislation will give social media companies a defence from being the publisher if they have a complaints procedure in place for defamatory and harmful posts. Under the complains process, the social media company will need to provide complainants with the details of the online troll, such as their email address, mobile phone number, or other relevant details. Cash explains this is so the complainant can take defamation action against the anonymous user.



South Australia has tightened its border rules after the emergence of the Omicron Covid-19 variant, AAP reports:

All international travellers and people arriving in SA from high-risk locations in Australia will once again be required to quarantine for 14 days.

People arriving from lower-risk locations interstate must also have a coronavirus test within the 72 hours prior to arrival and must show proof of a negative result.

The provision for people to have a COVID-19 test after they arrive in SA and isolate until they get a negative result has been removed.

The changes come days after SA lifted most of its border restrictions, which led to a number of infections being detected in interstate arrivals.

With three new cases on Saturday, the state is currently managing eight active infections.

Australia has shut its borders to nine southern African countries and NSW, Victoria, SA and the ACT have brought in new rules for all international arrivals amid concern over Omicron.

Urgent genomic sequencing is also under way to determine whether two people, who tested positive for the virus in Sydney overnight after spending time in Africa, have the variant.



Australia’s federal health minister Greg Hunt said with the prime minister and the chief health officer, he is meeting with state and territory counterparts to discuss developments around the Omicron Covid-19 variant.

We won’t hesitate if more is needed to take those steps. As we did our first briefing on Friday, we foreshadowed that … he would take steps. And overnight international evidence came in and we took the immediate steps yesterday and will continue todo that to protect Australians.

Yesterday, there were over 3,800 passengers who arrived in Australia and the relevant public health orders; 54 were from southern Africa. They had been there and identified in the previous 14 days across the nine countries and what we are pleased to see is that all of the orders that were issued yesterday had been put in place, actions had been taken, Border Force is implementing, state and territory and public health is supporting. I thank everybody for their part in that work.


04:28 Mostafa Rachwani

New South Wales is sticking with its reopening plan amid concerns surrounding the Omicron variant.

Premier Dominic Perrottet said it was “inevitable” that more variants will emerge and enter Australia, and the state was taking a “precautionary approach” with the changes to international arrivals announced yesterday:

The clear point today is that this clearly demonstrates the pandemic is not over. We need to learn to live alongside the virus and to live alongside the various strains of the virus that will come our way, and the best thing we can do is get vaccinated and get booster shots. There are limits to what the state and federal government can do: these variants will get into the country, it is inevitable.

Yesterday the government announced that hotel quarantine will return for travellers who had been in South Africa.

“Urgent” genomic sequencing is under way after two passengers on a Qatar Airways flight arrived in Sydney last night.

Perrottet confirmed that 29 people arrived in Sydney yesterday after spending time in southern Africa.

Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions
© Provided by The Guardian NSW premier Dominic Perrottet speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney today. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Queensland records three new local Covid-19 cases


Three new local cases of COVID-19 were detected in hotel quarantine. 86.05% of Queenslanders have received one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 75.72% have received two doses.

— Yvette D’Ath MP (@YvetteDAth) November 28, 2021



Australia’s federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has weighed in on the government’s plan to introduce legislation holding social media giants liable for anonymous users’ defamatory posts.

The AAP reports that Albanese agreed with the sentiment of the government’s announcement but said it must be delivered on:

The government needs to explain how it can deal with the fact that domestic controls have limitations for what is a global industry.


04:26 Mostafa Rachwani

NSW police have taken a man into custody after reports of a masked armed shooter on Windang Road near Wollongong.

Police said it was an “active armed defender situation” and confirmed that there have been no injuries or casualties reported.

Reports of a man wielding a semi-automatic weapon and firing randomly emerged this morning.

Videos on social media showed a masked man, dressed in black, walking along the road and firing shots into the air.

Police described it as a “siege situation”, with reports of a brief standoff near a liquor store.

Traffic has been stopped on Windang Bridge, with roads around the town closed.



Brett Sutton says that it is unclear at this stage whether the Omicron variant will lead to more severe or less severe disease than Delta.

There is also the big question about whether the immunity from the vaccines now available around the world will be able to help protect against transmission and severe disease from this variant. He says we should know the answers to these questions in the coming weeks.

As such, Sutton says it’s “sensible” for Australia to take that precautionary approach of quarantining arrivals from several southern African nations, and halting international travel for non-citizens travelling from those countries.

He says that it may be a “step too far” to close the borders to all international arrivals:

It’s going to be impossible to keep [Omicron] out, I imagine … This is not back to the beginning. We are not back to square one by any means.

ACT records seven new locally acquired Covid-19 cases


ACT COVID-19 update (27 November 2021):

New cases today: 7

Active cases: 162

Total cases: 1,993

Negative test results (past 24 hours): 1,397

In hospital: 7

In ICU: 5

Ventilated: 4

Total lives lost: 11

COVID-19 vaccinations in the ACT: 97.6% of 12+ fully vaccinated

— ACT Health (@ACTHealth) November 27, 2021



I have more from opposition leader Anthony Albanese on the government’s legislation cracking down social media giants for defamatory posts and bullying:

This government announcement we want to see as just not another announcement without an actual delivery. Because the government needs to explain how it can deal with the fact that domestic controls have limitations for what is a global industry. We want to see the same beings that the government says it wants, that is, to have more safety online for young people and indeed for everyone.

It’s not surprising that a government that has George Christensen and other members – Gerard Rennick – as members of the government spreading misinformation about Covid, spreading misinformation about vaccines, isn’t interested in shutting down misinformation. They could start with shutting down some of their own caucus members.

Albanese raised the fact that Morrison reportedly met Bridget Archer after she broke government ranks to support a call to debate independent Helen Haines’ bill for a federal corruption watchdog:

It’s interesting that, Scott Morison, we gave him the capacity twice last week to call out George Christensen by name. He failed to do so. He then subsequently called the member for Bass into his office with others about the issues she had on a national integrity commission, but wasn’t prepared to even call out George Christensen and his behaviour and his entirely inappropriate comments on the floor of the House of Representatives.



NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said Australia should expect the Omicron variant may already be here.

He conceded that “the variant is not yet well understood”:

What we do know is that it’s going to be hard to ascertain just how many people are here who have been in those African nations.

Asked if authorities could prevent Omicron cases from entering NSW, premier Dominic Perrottet said it was important to be realistic:

The reality is this is a highly virulent virus.

Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions
© Provided by The Guardian NSW health minister Brad Hazzard speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney today. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Morrison government to spend $10m on Australia Day ad campaign

04:21 Paul Karp

The Morrison government will give $10m for an Australia Day ad campaign on the theme of “Reflect, Respect, Celebrate: We’re all part of the story”.

The spending, revealed in government regulations before the mid-year economic update, is part of a total of $26.7m to be given to the Australia Day Council, including $15m for Australia Day 2022 events grants.

The campaign repeats the key messages of last year’s ads, which promoted 26 January as a day for all Australians, despite a growing minority who want to change the date because the anniversary of the arrival of the first fleet marks the beginning of Indigenous dispossession.

GetUp First Nations justice campaign director Larissa Baldwin attacked the ad campaign, saying the government “could spend a billion dollars on ‘Australia’ Day ads if they wanted – it wouldn’t change the fact that January 26 is a marker of colonisation, dispossession, and attempted genocide”.

The government has significantly ramped up grants to the Australia Day Council, from $14.7m in 2020 to $30.8m in 2021.

The Australia Day 2021 campaign, “The Story of Australia”, highlighted the diversity of the Australian people, including several Indigenous Australians, and acknowledged its history was “painful” and “raw” in parts.

Jacqui Lambie: I cringe at some of the speeches I made


An interview between Peter FitzSimons and Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has been doing the rounds on social media this morning.

Lambie said she “had an advier that was making me say things that were way too rightwing”.

FitzSimons asked: “What sort of things did you say that you look back upon now and go, ‘Jesus, I was too strong’?”


Certainly some of my anti-Muslim comments. There was no need … So this is what happens when you don’t have the right advice around you. And you are trusting them because you have no idea about politics, and a lot of things I was saying were very divisive. I was nearly mirroring Pauline Hanson, and it was scary. When I look back now I just cringe at some of those speeches that I made. It has taken me a long while to make amends. But now I am not holding back. I’ve wanted to say a few things about Pauline Hanson for so long – she’s just so divisive, so awful – and I am not holding back.

But some have criticised Lambie for shifting blame, rather than apologising, for her earlier comments.

Straight-talkin’ senator who “tells it like it is” says actually all the racist stuff I was saying was just stuff I was being told to say. 🙄

— Adam Liaw (@adamliaw) November 27, 2021



I’m handing over the blog to my brilliant colleague Mostafa Rachwani.



Good afternoon, a quick thanks to Justine Landis-Hanley for expertly manning the blog today, its been quite a busy day for a Sunday, with lots going around, so let’s get stuck in.



Outspoken Coalition MP George Christensen has undermined the government’s concern about the emerging Covid-19 variant Omicron in a post to the messaging app Telegram.

Christensen shared a meme suggesting that Dr Angelique Coetzee, who first alerted authorities to the presence of Omicron, isn’t concerned about the new variant. He quoted a part of the article where Coetzee said that the symptoms have so far been “unusual but mild”.

Christensen left out the part of the article when the same doctor said:

What we have to worry about now is that when older, unvaccinated people are infected with the new variant, and if they are not vaccinated, we are going to see many people with a severe [form of the] disease.

This week, the government revealed that deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce had counselled Christensen on his online behaviour, which have included posts spreading misinformation about Covid-19.

Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions
© Provided by The Guardian Screenshot of a message from George Christensen in his Telegram group. He shares a meme from Jurassic Park with the subtitle



Labor’s housing spokesman Jason Clare says rent prices have skyrocketed this past year while wages have flatlined.

In a statement released today, Clare accused the government of allowing housing affordability to get worse.

Rent in regional Australia had “gone through the roof”, he said.

For example, in Byron Bay, Clare said, the median price of rent had increased by 26.7%, up to $10,400 annually. In Darwin, the median rent had increased by 25.3%, or $6,500 over the year.

Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions
© Provided by The Guardian Labor MP Jason Clare says the median price of rent in Byron Bay has increased by more than 26%. Photograph: Peter Harrison/Getty Images

Labor has promised that, if elected, it will establish the Housing Australia Future Fund to build 30,000 social and affordable homes across the country over five years.

Clare said Scott Morrison “needs to get out of The Lodge and into the real world”.

Media Release: Cost of rent through the roof #auspol

— Jason Clare MP (@JasonClareMP) November 28, 2021



Australian shares look set for a further hefty markdown at tomorrow’s opening with global markets sent into a tailspin on the emergence of a new coronavirus variant, AAP reports:

Wall Street suffered its biggest one-day drop in months on Friday, dragging Australian share futures down 104 points or 1.4 per cent to 7166.

“Shares remain vulnerable to further short-term weakness with possible triggers being the rebound in coronavirus cases globally and the new Omicron variant,” AMP Capital chief economist Shane Oliver said.

The US Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 905.04 points, or 2.53 per cent, to 34,899.34, the S&P 500 lost 106.84 points, or 2.27 per cent, to 4,594.62; and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 353.57 points, or 2.23 per cent, to 15,491.66.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index tumbled 128 points, or 1.73 per cent, to 7279.3 points on Friday.

Potential market volatility could overshadow a busy week for domestic economic data, including the September quarter national accounts to be released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Wednesday.

Scott Morrison press conference


The prime minister is holding a press conference. Scott Morrison starts by acknowledging the growing concern around Omicron.

But he is here to speak about the government’s new bill to hold social media companies to account for defamatory and harmful posts by anonymous users:

The online world provides many great opportunities but it comes with some real risks and we must address these, or it will continue to have a very harmful and corrosive impact on our society, on our community … The online world should not be a wild west where bots and bigots and trolls and others are anonymously going around and can harm people and hurt people, harass them and bully them and sledge them.

Morrison adds that women are one of the “biggest victims when it comes to the terrible things that we see in the online world”.

Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions
© Provided by The Guardian Scott Morrison at a press conference in Canberra on Sunday. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP



South Australia has once again recorded zero new cases:

South Australian COVID-19 update 28/11/21. For more information, go to or contact the South Australia COVID-19 Information Line on 1800 253 787.

— SA Health (@SAHealth) November 28, 2021



Epidimiologist Dr Mary-Louise McLaws on the new Omicron variant:

Omicron still not fully understood – is transmission faster, does it reduce vaccine efficacy, is it as hard to mitigate outbreaks Delta? Until +90% vacc coverage of total pop (not just +12yr) quarantine must be supervised for every traveller from every country. Test day-1, 4, 5.

— Mary-Louise McLaws (@MarylouiseMcla1) November 28, 2021



In case you missed it, the Lajamanu community and the surrounding homelands in the Northern Territory entered into a lockdown yesterday until 6pm on 11 December 2021, following positive wastewater results.

Residents must stay at home for the lockdown period and people are only permitted to leave for medical treatment, essential goods and services, essential work, one hour of daily exercise, or to provide care and support to family.

Masks must also be worn outside of the home. Schools and early childhood services in Lajamanu and the surrounding homelands have also closed.



Genomic testing for the passengers from southern Africa who have tested positive for Covid-19 in NSW should return tonight. We will keep you updated with what we know.

Testing on arrival has confirmed two passengers who arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Saturday November 27, are positive for COVID-19. Urgent genomic sequencing is underway to determine if they have been infected by the new Omicron B.1.1.529 variant of concern.

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) November 28, 2021



First up, David Speers asks Anne Ruston whether any of the Coalition men who crossed the floor this week were called into a meeting the prime minister, or only Bridget Archer?


Well, David, I think it’s an entirely reasonable proposition when somebody expresses an opinion different to government policy and then acts on it, the prime minister would seek to find out what their concerns were in an effort to try and resolve them, and that’s exactly consistent with how the prime minister would deal with any other backbencher that sought to cross the floor. And I can assure you that the prime minister did meet with Senator Antic and Senator Rennick last week, as he would have met, I’m sure, with every other Liberal party senator who crossed the floor in the time he has been prime minister.

Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions
© Provided by The Guardian Bridget Archer and Josh Frydenberg, after Archer crossed the floor. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Speers points to the fact that Archer told political editor Samantha Maiden that she wasn’t comfortable at her meeting with the prime minister and had wanted more time to collect herself before speaking to him. Speers asks if, given that, it was appropriate for her to be brought before him straight away?


I don’t know the circumstances in how the meeting was … but what I do know is that it was entirely consistent. [There was] nothing different about the prime minister wanting to meet with Bridget Archer than at any other time. I’m absolutely confident that the prime minister wanted to meet with Bridget because he wanted to know what her concerns were – because we always as a government want to resolve those concerns.



Victorian health minister Martin Foley and chief health officer Brett Sutton are giving an update amid concerns about the new Covid-19 Omicron variant.

Hunter River towns ordered to evacuate


An evacuation order has been issued to residents of towns along the Hunter River in NSW as rising flood waters threaten power and water services, AAP reports.

Widespread heavy rainfall led to flooding across much of the state.

Rain eased on Saturday afternoon, with not much forecast for Sunday.

However, the statewide situation remains volatile, with numerous watches and warnings active following a month of heavy rainfall.

More than 30 people have been rescued from floodwaters since Friday lunchtime. The SES has received more than 745 requests for help.

In the Hunter, major flooding is on the cards in Singleton for Sunday morning, and Maitland is also on alert.

On Monday, the Macquarie River at Warren could also reach high levels.

Areas of major concern include along the Namoi River at Gunnedah, in the state’s northeast, and the Castlereagh River around Coonamble in the central west.

The Bureau of Meteorology said some areas of the state were hit with more than 100mm of rain on Friday.

On Saturday evening, there were major flood warnings for the Lachlan at Jemalong and the Namoi at Narrabri and Wee Waa, where it’s feared residents could be cut off for more than a week.

Sydney’s Warragamba Dam began spilling shortly after 9pm on Friday.

WaterNSW said the outflow volume could peak at a rate of about 60-80 gigalitres per day, just a fraction of levels in March that peaked at 500 gigalitres per day.

“On current projections the spill could continue for up to a week,” WaterNSW said in a statement on Saturday, adding “downstream impacts are likely”.

Premier Dominic Perrottet on Saturday urged residents to follow safety advice and avoid driving through flooding,

The number of flood rescues performed by SES volunteers was “way too high”, he said.

“Those rescues take place in the main because people aren’t following the instructions, they’re driving through floodwaters. Don’t do that. Follow the advice, that’s the best way to stay safe.”

Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions
© Provided by The Guardian The Warragamba Dam spillway. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP



PM Scott Morrison wouldn’t commit to introducing the government’s integrity commission model this week in the final sitting week – saying there was “no support” from the opposition for their bill

Michaelia Cash says the final bill is the same as the exposure draft

— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) November 28, 2021



The federal government is moving ahead with its plan to allow travellers from Japan and South Korea to come to Australia without quarantining from Wednesday, despite concerns around the new Omicron Covid-19 variant.

Our friends at AAP have the story:

Allowing travellers from Japan and South Korea into Australia without needing to quarantine from Wednesday will go ahead as planned at this stage, Trade Minister Dan Tehan says.

However, the Morrison government is keeping a watchful eye on developments surrounding the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus.

Australia has shut its borders to nine southern African countries and NSW, Victoria and the ACT have brought in new rules for all international arrivals amid concern over Omicron.

“We think that’s got the balance right at the moment,” Mr Tehan told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program from Geneva.

“But obviously there is more work to be done in understanding this new variant and the potential impacts it might have.”

Mr Tehan had travelled to Switzerland for a World Trade Organization ministerial meeting, only to find it had been cancelled because of the clampdown on travellers from the southern African states.

Urgent genomic sequencing is under way to determine whether two people, who tested positive for the virus in Sydney overnight after spending time in Africa, have the Omicron variant.

The two arrivals are in special health accommodation and 12 others on the flight from Doha who had been in the region will do two weeks’ mandatory quarantine …

NSW, Victoria and the ACT will make all overseas arrivals quarantine at home for 72 hours. People already in the state who have been in the nine countries in the past two weeks must isolate for 14 days and be immediately tested.

Anyone in those jurisdictions who have been to the nine southern African countries in the past 14 days must get a PCR test and quarantine immediately.

South Australia extended the length of its quarantine requirement for fully vaccinated Australian international arrivals to two weeks, and made small changes to its interstate arrival regime.

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan announced SA would be designated “low risk”, introducing a quarantine requirement for international arrivals from the state.

Tasmania will bar entry to people who have been in southern Africa unless they have first completed two weeks of supervised quarantine on the mainland.

Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said Omicron was spreading quickly, but it wasn’t clear that it caused more severe symptoms than existing strains.

It is not yet known whether existing vaccines are any less effective against the new variant than prevailing strains.

Australia Covid news live update: NSW confirms two cases of Omicron variant as states and territories tighten border restrictions
© Provided by The Guardian Federal government says it will continue with its plan to allow travellers from Japan and South Korea to come to Australia without quarantining from Wednesday, despite concerns around the new Omicron Covid-19 variant. Photograph: Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

Government to introduce legislation holding social media companies accountable for trolls

27 Nov 2021 23:50

Scott Morrison announces that the government will introduce legislation to hold social media companies accountable for defamatory and harmful posts by online trolls:

Digital platforms – these online companies – must have proper processes to enable the takedown of this content. There needs to be an easy and quick and fast way for people to raise these issues with these platforms and get it taken down. They have that responsibility. They have created this world. They have created the space, and they need to make it safe, and if they won’t, we will make them laws such as this, and I will campaign for these all around the world as I have done on so many other occasions with Australia taking the lead. We simply want them to make it a safe place. They will need those simple procedures.

Secondly, it is important that we understand that they are the publishers at the end of the day. Just like the media who is here today who represent the traditional media, papers that are published, news bulletins that are broadcast, we all know who is putting that to air and who is putting the ink on the paper, and they are responsible and they are accountable for what is published in those mediums. So, too, should it be for these digital online companies that allow these things to be aired and published on their platforms. And where people do not identify themselves, or the digital companies provide shields – a digital shield to trolls and bots and bullies and bigots – well, we will hold them accountable for the statements that are made and they will be liable for what is said.


27 Nov 2021 23:48

Vulnerable women attempting to escape domestic violence are being offered “false hope” by a government program that potentially could be putting them at greater risk, frontline service workers say.

The two-year $145m escaping violence payment trial was billed as a one-off payment of up to $5,000 to “help women establish a life free of violence”.

In reality, the program offers eligible people up to $1,500 in cash, with the remainder paid in vouchers or direct payments to schools or rental bond agencies. In the month the trial has been running, frontline services are already pleading for clarity over who is eligible and how the payment works.

Read the full story by Amy Remeikis:

Related: ‘False hope’: family violence program could be putting women at greater risk, critics say


27 Nov 2021 23:27

New South Wales premier Dominic Perrottet, federal health minister Greg Hunt, and opposition leader Anthony Albanese are also all expected to give updates soon. It’s going to be a busy few hours.


27 Nov 2021 23:21

Scott Morrison is expected to speak to reporters shortly. Standing by!


27 Nov 2021 23:21

Minister for women’s safety Anne Ruston told ABC Insiders this morning that the government plans to introduce legislation to prevent social media platforms from allowing anonymous users to post material that is going to be defamatory or damaging or cause injury to an individual.

Parliamentarians can (and do) say what ever they’d like with parliamentary protection. Media personalities have multiple platforms to rage against people/issues/trolling. There is already a massive power imbalance. Unmasking laws (for defo) will just exacerbate it

— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) November 27, 2021


27 Nov 2021 22:57

Finally, David Speers asks Anne Ruston about her work as minister for women’s safety. He asks when we will expect to see the draft national plan to prevent violence against women and children, given that Ruston’s department promised it would be public by the end of the year.

Ruston says:

We will release the draft plan this year, but obviously take the opportunity to make any changes that may come from that consultation.

Speers also asks about how, six months ago, Ruston announced an extension of two years of funding for frontline family and domestic violence support services.

Ruston says New South Wales is the only state that has received the funding because “no other state has signed up the documentation”:

Obviously we’re very keen for them to do so and would certainly encourage them to sign the documentation so the money can flow, but at this stage we have not received any advice to suggest that states and territories are requiring the money immediately, but of course the money has been promised and the money will be delivered.


27 Nov 2021 22:55

Speers moves on to ask Ruston about new legislation the government is expected to introduce this week which will target online trolls. He asks how the government plans to stop social media bullying:


Well, what this particular bill that we’re proposing to bring in this week does two things: One is to say to social media platforms you cannot allow somebody to post material that is going to be defamatory or damaging or cause injury to an individual anonymously and get away with it. So what we now seek to do is have a mechanism where there is a complaints mechanism, so if somebody thinks that they are being defamed, bullied or attacked on social media that they will have an opportunity to require the platform to take it down, and if they fail to do so, then there will be a court process that would allow that person to require the platform to provide details of the identity of the abusive or defaming identity so that they can take the necessary processes through … the court process. It is absolutely unacceptable that a platform can shirk its responsibility to say: “Well, we don’t know who it is, so you just go ahead and defame and bully.” We’ve seen the consequences of this so many times in Australia.


But this is the thing, if you are going to say to Twitter and Facebook that they have to identify every one of their users, they might just laugh and say, “OK, we will not operate in Australia.” Do you think they could possibly … identify all of their billions of users?


Well, I would really like to see any of these platforms stand up and say that they think it’s acceptable that they hide behind the anonymity of bots and bullies and bigots online … I think the whole world should be asking these platforms to take an absolutely much more responsible approach with how they deal with this. We’ve seen people take their own lives as a result of some of this behaviour from anonymous bullies and it’s just not acceptable. You can’t do it in real life, you can’t do it offline, so why should you be allowed online?

Speers points out that the eSafety commissioner has said it would be challenging for Facebook to identify or reidentify its 2.7 billion users. So how is the government going to be able to get Facebook and Twitter to go back and do this?

There is a lot of back and forth as Ruston says the government needs to “work out how we can get past some of the challenges” and Speers again asks whether this is impractical.

He then asks whether the government is worried if these social media platforms threaten to shut down in Australia rather than comply with its demands?


I think the government will be working with likeminded nations around the world. We’ve seen the UK take a likeminded approach. Collectively nations around the world need to protect their citizens from this really insidious new way of bullying.


27 Nov 2021 22:52

Speers asks about the “number of criticisms” of the Coalition’s draft bill for a national integrity commission, pointing out that “even some of your own colleagues have concerns”.


Under that model, politicians can only be questioned secretly. There would be no transparency for public to see what’s going on. A federal police officer, however, would have to face a full public hearing. Does that different standard make any sense?


Well, one of the things that we do need to be really careful of is that you don’t set up a structure that then allows for political purpose and political gain; [that allows for] one party to actually prosecute somebody from another party just for the political gain. We’ve seen the shadow attorney general try to refer numerous things in relation to political gamesmanship, and we need to make sure that doesn’t happen. Equally, doesn’t matter who you are in public life, if you are found to be corrupt, then there are processes that need to be put in place and will be put in place. There are existing mechanisms in a lot of areas and what this bill seeks to do is to fill the gap that says serious corruption needs to be dealt with appropriately, but we mustn’t let this turn into something that is some sort of a sideshow. It must befit for purpose.


Just before we leave this area, though, on the process: you are sticking with the original model, but you won’t introduce it unless Labor now comes out and says what they are going todo?


Well, I think a bipartisan approach to something as important as an integrity commission would send a very strong message to the Australian public that all of us take seriously the issue of serious corruption, and I would be delighted if the Labor party was prepared to come forward and support this. This – our particular bill suggests that the powers of the commission are well in excess of a royal commission, so I think it is a good balanced bill that balances out, asI said, calling out corruption, but at the same time protecting the innocence of those until they’re proven guilty.


27 Nov 2021 22:42

David Speers turns to the government’s national integrity commission (or lack thereof). He asks if the government will introduce any legislation for a federal corruption watchdog to come before the parliament at the end of the year?

The minister blames Labor for the government’s inaction.

Anne Ruston:

I think the prime minister has been very clear, as has the attorney general. If the Labor party are prepared to support the legislation that is currently before them, then we will bring it into the parliament and we will pass it as quickly as they will allow us to.

Speers points out the fact that the government hasn’t introduced any legislation for a corruption watchdog: “Hang on, you are in government. You need to bring it into parliament. You can’t blame Labor when you haven’t brought anything to parliament?”


Well, one of the most important things for something as important as an integrity commission is to make sure it passes. The last thing we want to do is bring a bill into this place and then find out it won’t get through … The bill provided to the Labor party that we sought their support 12 months ago is the bill that we currently wish to bring into the parliament and we are asking for the Labor party support because we believe that the bill is a fair balance between making sure that serious corruption is called out and dealt with, but at the same time we want to maintain the rule of law in this country and that is that you must be presumed innocent until you’re proven guilty, and need to be really careful you’re not convicted in the court of public opinion before you have a chance to put your case forward.


27 Nov 2021 22:26

Minister for women’s safety Anne Ruston is speaking to David Speers on ABC Insiders.

NSW records 185 new local Covid-19 cases and no deaths

27 Nov 2021 22:18

NSW COVID-19 update – Sunday 28 November 2021

In the 24-hour reporting period to 8pm last night:

– 94.5% of people aged 16+ have had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine

– 92.4% of people aged 16+ have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) November 27, 2021

Victoria records 1,061 new local Covid-19 cases and four deaths

27 Nov 2021 22:18

We thank everyone who got vaccinated and tested yesterday.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives.

More data soon: #COVID19VicData

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) November 27, 2021


27 Nov 2021 22:18

About 40 years ago this week, Australia’s intelligence agency, the Office of National Assessments, delivered a 17-page report to prime minister Malcolm Fraser.

The subject? “Fossil Fuels and the Greenhouse Effect”.

Read about how Australia’s spy agency predicted the climate crisis 40 years ago – and fretted about coal exports here:

Related: Australia’s spy agency predicted the climate crisis 40 years ago – and fretted about coal exports

Omicron cases confirmed in Italy, Germany and UK

27 Nov 2021 22:17

Around the world, health authorities are racing to test and track down cases of the Omicron variant.

Confirmed cases have so far been detected in Italy, Germany and the UK.

The UK has already banned travel from several southern African nations.

UK prime minister Boris Johnston announced that other travellers will have to take a PCR test by the second day of their arrival and self-isolate until they have a negative result. Face coverings will become compulsory in shops and on public transport in the UK from next week.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of America’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC News that he “not be surprised” if the Omicron variant was already in the United States.


27 Nov 2021 22:08

Prime minister Scott Morrison is expected to hold a press conference at 10am.


27 Nov 2021 22:07

The Northern Territory has two new Covid-19 cases, including an international traveller from South Africa.

Our friends at AAP have the story:

The Northern Territory has two new COVID-19 cases, one an arrival on a repatriation flight from South Africa where the new and heavily mutated Omicron variant has been detected.

Authorities as yet have no genomic sequencing in relation to the passenger’s infection strain, Health Minister Natasha Fyles says.

However the person has been in supervised quarantine at the national Howard Springs facility, south of Darwin, since arriving, she told reporters on Saturday.

“So there is a very low risk to the community and we wish that person well,” Ms Fyles said.

NT health chief Dr Charles Pain says he expects the sequencing test results for the South African case to be processed by Monday.

The passenger arrived in Darwin on Thursday and his positive virus result was confirmed on Friday evening.

The Northern Territory’s other infection was locally acquired and is of a 50-year-old man from Katherine who is a household contact of an existing case.

He has also been housed at Howard Springs during his entire infectious period and is considered a non-risk.


27 Nov 2021 21:51

We have more detail about the two travellers from southern Africa who tested positive for Covid-19 in Sydney.

A Qatar Airways flight from Doha landed in Sydney about 7pm last night. Fourteen of the passengers were from one of the nine southern African countries: South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi and the Seychelles.

The passengers were tested on arrival. Two of them tested positive for Covid-19 and urgent genomic sequencing is under way to determine if they have been infected by the new Omicron B.1.1.529 variant.

The two passengers have been transported to the special health accommodation where they will undertake 14 days of quarantine, according to NSW Health.

All travellers who have been in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi and the Seychelles during the 14-day period before their arrival in NSW must enter hotel quarantine for 14 days.

NSW Health says other passengers on the flight may be also considered close contacts and will be contacted and requested to get tested immediately then isolate for 14 days in accordance with a public health order.

Good morning

27 Nov 2021 21:33

Good morning! It’s Justine Landis-Hanley here to bring you the news today, Sunday 28 November 2021.

Australia is bracing for Omicron as states and territories tighten border restrictions for overseas arrivals. The variant has already been detected in UK and across Europe.

Urgent genomic testing is underway in Sydney after two travellers from southern African nations tested positive for Covid-19. The flight arrived in Sydney last night. Health authorities are trying to work out whether they carry the heavily mutated Omicron variant.

A traveller who arrived in the Northern Territory on a repatriation flight from South Africa has tested positive for Covid-19. Authorities are now testing to determine whether the person is infected with the Omicron variant. The traveller has been in supervised quarantine at the national Howard Springs facility, south of Darwin, since arriving.

The federal government yesterday closed international borders to non-citizens arriving from South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia, Eswatini, Malawi and the Seychelles. Anyone who has already arrived in Australia from these countries needs to begin a 14-day quarantine.

New South Wales and Victoria also announced that all vaccinated travellers from other countries would be required to isolate for 72 hours on arrival into their states.

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