Mar 20, 2020
Australia PM Scott Morrison Coronavirus Update Transcript
Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison gave an update on COVID-19 in Australia. Read the full transcript right here on Rev.com.
Scott Morrison: (00:03)
And we’re going to keep going to keep Australia running. All Australians have a role to play as we make our way through. And there is a way through. There is a bridge over this and if we continue to work together in the way we are all around the country, then Australia will bounce back strongly, you will bounce back strongly, your family, your business, your community. There is a way through.
Scott Morrison: (00:31)
Life is continuing to change and together we are going to have to continue to adapt to those changes to keep Australia running. Australians, we will all continue to see more information. There will be additional cases. This is something we should be continuing to expect. This is anticipated. The presence of additional cases is not something of itself that should cause alarm because at the end of the day, you don’t stop this virus, but you can defeat it by slowing it down and that is how we save lives.
Scott Morrison: (01:14)
Today, the National Cabinet met again on our commitment to work together to keep Australians healthy as we can, to protect them, and to ensure that we keep Australia running together. Today, we made further decisions, many of which we had flagged from our last meeting, that our both scalable and sustainable, to ensure that we can continue to implement for the many months ahead. That said, we’re looking at at least six months to be working through over the course of this year. Of course, it could be longer, no one really knows. But we’re taking decisions on the basis that we need to move at least through the next six months.
Scott Morrison: (02:01)
At today’s meeting, it began with us focusing on the economic issues and with a presentation of the Reserve Bank Governor, Dr. Lowe, who briefed premiers, the chief minister and myself on the measures that were announced yesterday as well as providing a general overview of how the Reserve Bank is seeing the economy and the impacts and this was all said and done by the Federal Treasury through Dr. Kennedy, who provided the same advice.
Scott Morrison: (02:27)
We were able to share information between states and territories on what we were each doing to provide support in our economies, the various stimulus initiatives that have already been announced and further work we were doing together to ensure that we could provide further support. Now as you know, as I said here with the treasury yesterday, we are working on a package that will cushion the blow over the next six months and will provide the necessary support so that people can get on that bridge to get them to the other side. That is focusing heavily on small, medium-sized businesses, sole traders, and it is also providing for the income support that will be necessary for those most directly impacted by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus.
Scott Morrison: (03:14)
I want to particularly welcome the decision, which the treasurer will go into in more detail, that was made by the banks today, which showed that they are pulling together with everyone else to ensure that we can get Australian’s through this. These are important decisions that will provide real and genuine relief. It’s a great staff and we will continue to work closely with the banks and all others to ensure we all work together to provide the most support to Australians as we can to get them through this over the next six months at least.
Scott Morrison: (03:45)
States also agreed today, and further work will be done on this, working to identify how relief can be provided for tenants in both commercial tenancies and residential tenancies to ensure that in hardship conditions, there will be relief that will be available and ensuring that tenancy legislation is protecting those tenants over the next six months at least, that work will be done by states and territories as it is a state and territory matter and that work will be led by Western Australia, together with New South Wales, are working with all the other states and territories to bring back some model rules that can be applied in hardship cases. So understanding what the trigger might be and how in those circumstances, that tenants would be able to maintain their tenancies.
Scott Morrison: (04:35)
Now I know that will mean something for landlords. Just as the decision taken today means something for banks. Just like the decisions we have already taken as a commonwealth government means things for our balance sheets and as a people, for the commonwealth government, as it does for the states. It will also mean something for those who, sadly, might be stood down from their employment and have to look at their annual leave arrangements and sick leave arrangements. All Australians are going to be making sacrifices obviously in the months ahead. And everyone does have that role to play and that will include landlords at the end of the day for people who are enduring real hardship.
Scott Morrison: (05:17)
It was also agreed today that putting budgets together at this time with the great uncertainty that exists is not something that any commonwealth or state government should be doing. As a result, we have already decided that we will not be now handing down a budget until the first Tuesday in October, on the 6th of October. The treasurer will be having a bit more to say about that. All other states and territories will be working to similar timetables. The idea that you can actually put together any sort of forecasts around the economy at this time is simply not sensible. And as a result, we will be putting in place the necessary measures with the support of the Parliament on supply and other continuances to ensure the proper functioning of government services and the continuation of vital programs.
Scott Morrison: (06:08)
On Sunday, I will be meeting with the leader of the opposition and the leaderships of both the government and the opposition. I spoke to them earlier about this today and we’ll be working through those practical issues around the functioning of the parliament, both now and over the next six months. And I thank the leader of the opposition for his support on those arrangements as we work them through.
Scott Morrison: (06:30)
On health, and I ask you to bear with me as we go through this. And Dr. Murphy will be joining us to answer questions also, make some statements on these matters. The rise in the number of cases means we need to continue to take action to suppress the growth in these cases and to flatten the curve, which is something more Australians are becoming more familiar with. That means we’ve got to work even harder to keep a healthy distance between us all. We agreed to further rules today regarding indoor nonessential gatherings. Earlier I announced the 100 limit on nonessential indoor gatherings and I went through the list of those things that were essential. I won’t do that again today. It’s the same list.
Scott Morrison: (07:15)
But what we are now moving to is an arrangement for gatherings of less than 100 is that there would be four square meters provided per person in an enclosed space, in a room. So that’s two meters by two meters. So for example, if you’ve got a room, if you’ve got a premise, if you’ve got a meeting room or something like that that’s 100 square meters, then you can have 25 people in that room. Now, in addition to that, you should continue to practice wherever possible, the meter, meter and a half of healthy distance between each of us to ensure that we are limiting the contact and limiting the potential for the spread of the virus.
Scott Morrison: (07:55)
Now these are quite practical rules. Out there in the community, whether it’s licensing laws or fire laws or anything like this, there are already these types of arrangements. The number of people who can be in outdoor seated areas, that relates to noise controls. So these I think are very practical and sensible arrangements that venues and others and commercial premises and in public premises that we can manage. It just simply means understanding how big the room is and then simply advising how many people can be in that room at any one time. And we would also be seeking the cooperation of patrons and others to ensure that they can do the same thing.
Scott Morrison: (08:35)
If you’re looking after your behavior, you’re saving lives. You’re helping other people who are more vulnerable. In many cases, for the young and the healthy, it is true that the majority of cases, eight out of 10, people only have a mild illness. But if younger people, in particular, and those more generally in the community follows these rules, it won’t be your life you’re saving because you’ll be fine. You’ll be healthy. But by you doing the right thing, you’ll be saving the life of someone who is more vulnerable. So do it for your fellow Australians. I know these rules will take some time for people to get used to but I’d ask people to move as quickly as they can. I know it means a lot of change for a lot of venues, whether they be cafes or restaurants or clubs or any of these other places of public gathering, including in this building here. We’ll be working to ensure that people know how many people can be in the various meeting rooms in this place. Next week, the Parliament will have less than 100 people in it at any one time in the chamber.
Scott Morrison: (09:32)
So even in essential areas, it is practical to try and observe these, but that won’t always be possible for essential gatherings. They have an even higher purpose and in some cases that will be more difficult to implement. But if we do it more broadly then we are slowing the rate and we are saving lives. I also want to make the point that self-isolation means self-isolation. And Dr. Murphy will be speaking more about that issue. We are hearing reports of some who are saying they’re in self-isolation and they’re out and about. Self-isolation means exactly that. For older residents also, earlier this week we also provided the advice through the AHPPC, through the medical experts panel, that older residents should be refraining more from public contact than others in the community. That doesn’t mean they need to self-isolate. It just means that they should practice greater caution than those else otherwise in the population.
Scott Morrison: (10:33)
Now, on travel, there’ll be further discussion about travel issues before the school holidays. The National Cabinet is now meeting every Tuesday night and every Friday morning. That’s what we’ve done this week and we think that’s a good rhythm of meetings to ensure we can consider all the recommendations that are coming up through our various agencies. The advice is to reconsider the need for unnecessary travel. And if you’re unwell, stay at home unless seeking medical advice. Further advice is being taken to the National Cabinet next Tuesday night and that will be available before people go on school holidays. And so we’ll be considering those issues further and I’m just flagging that for next week when we consider those issues on a broader scale.
Scott Morrison: (11:22)
In relation to schools and preschools, the situation has not changed. It is in the national interest to ensure that we keep schools open and I want to thank all of those schools who have been putting those arrangements in place. For those schools who have moved to distance learning for their students, I want to thank those schools who have ensured that even in those circumstances, they have arranged for students of parents who have essential responsibilities, may they be nurses or doctors, childcare workers, they may be teachers themselves. They are providing for the students to be able to continue to receive lessons in that facility and that is what we want to see happen.
Scott Morrison: (12:02)
On Aged care, the government, the commonwealth government, made a number of decisions yesterday to further support the workforce in aged care. We are providing $444.6 million of additional funding from the commonwealth to support aged care facilities. Now that is on top of the more than $100 million that I announced last week in relation to workforce support across the country for aged care. That includes $234.9 million for a retention bonus to ensure the continuity of the workforce for staff in both residential and home care. There’s $78.3 million in additional funding for residential care to support continuity of work source supply. There is $26.9 million to supplement the viability of residential aged care facilities including into the northern financial [inaudible 00:13:00] aged care program and the multipurpose services and homeless providers. There’s $92.2 million being provided in additional support for home care providers and organizations which deliver the commonwealth home support program including for services such as Meals on Wheels. And $23.3 million to support the My Aged Care service to respond to the needs of older Australians.
Scott Morrison: (13:24)
National Cabinet agreed that states and territories will also issue nationally consistent public health direction on visitor restrictions for aged care facilities to complement the regulatory standards adopted by the commonwealth. This additional funding is being focused on those who are most vulnerable to get them the additional support so they can get access to the essential things they need, particularly through things like Meals on Wheels and home care support and the other things older Australians will need going through this time.
Scott Morrison: (13:52)
Another very significant issue which I flagged earlier in the week that we’d be considering is in relation to remote indigenous Australian areas. And The Biosecurity Act will be using the health minister’s powers to ensure that we’re taking action to restrict travel into remote indigenous communities to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The way this will work is states and territories will nominate prescribed areas, that is communities in consultation with indigenous communities as an emergency requirement as determined under the Biosecurity Act that will restrict persons from entering or leaving those prescribed areas. Now there will be a number of exemptions that will apply for the purposes of obtaining medical care or medical supplies into those communities in the event of an emergency, including the purpose of providing medical care.
Scott Morrison: (14:44)
That would include things like Medivac of cases or others who are seriously ill from those communities, for the purpose of supplying or undertaking critical services such as medical care for mental health or domestic violence support, police and emergency services, food and medical supplies, educational and maintenance and repairs of essential services. And there are a range of other measures there which are done at the discretion also of the relevant exempting authority in those states and territories. So that will be a further set of important measures and I particularly want to comment Minister Wyatt and Chief Minister Gunner up in the Northern Territory. Working together, they’ve done an outstanding job in working through those issues, consulting with indigenous leaders where they can, but you’d understand given the urgency of this issue, that consultation has had to be quite short circuited. And I want to thank people like Pat Turner and others who have been very helpful in working with ministers to come to these appropriate arrangements.
Scott Morrison: (15:45)
As you can see, again, another long list of issues discussed today. There were also issues discussed relating to prison populations as well as coordinating action in relation to supermarket supplies, food chains and supply chains across the community. And that is everything from consistency of tracking laws to enable deliveries at any time of the day. I appreciate all the states and territories moving on those issues, on trading hours arrangements and again the states being very constructive when it comes to those matters.
Scott Morrison: (16:16)
What’s next? Where do we go next? What are we considering? Well, as I said on Tuesday night, we’ll be considering further decisions on travel advice prior to the school holidays. There’ll be further advice on managing critical hospital resources. An enormous amount of work is being done there. There is work with tasked to the medical expert panel about what we would call localized responses. Now bear with me as I just make this point. There will be, as we have already seen, parts of cities or places that will be more susceptible because of quite localized outbreaks. What we’ve asked for advice on is the density of those cases, how many cases in a particular area that triggers actions over and above what these general rules are that apply to those areas. And that would be staged up according to the level of that outbreak and what needs to be done wherever possible to shut that down.
Scott Morrison: (17:16)
Now, the reason I say that is we need a consistent approach to how this would scale up in the event of outbreaks in particular parts of particular areas. Because that means just because you might see, under those rules, something being done in [inaudible 00:17:32] or in Tamarama or anywhere else, that doesn’t mean those rules need to necessarily apply in Gymea Bay or down in Hawthorne or anywhere else. Where there are more specific outbreaks, there will be more advanced measures that would need to be put in place and we want a clear set of rules across the country to support states and territories to make those rules and that advice will be coming forward on Tuesday evening.
Scott Morrison: (18:00)
We’ll also be considering the needs of other vulnerable groups. We’ve been focused on aged care and remote indigenous populations, but the minister for the NDIS has been doing an extraordinary amount of work with the disability community and we’re expecting further work to come forward on that, as well as more general discussions about maintaining continuitive supply and essential services in areas like telecommunications and energy and so on. But I must say at this point, the reports and advice that I’ve been receiving on these issues is at a reasonable level and better than that I’d have to say. But as time goes on, we’ll keep a close watch on that.
Scott Morrison: (18:36)
So I thank you for your patience again. I’m going to pass you over to the treasurer to make some comments on the measures put in place by the banks and then Brendan, Dr. Murphy will speak on the matters I’ve raised and they’re happy to take questions and I’ll get round everybody as best as possible.
Josh Frydenberg: (18:51)
Well, thank you, Prime Minister. Yesterday the Reserve Bank and the Australian government injected $105 billion of new funding into our financial system in a move that Standard and Poors described as decisive and coordinated action. The Australian people can be reassured that our financial system remains strong and our actions have made the system even stronger. Today, the Australian banks have stepped up to the plate and are playing their part in team Australia. Their decision to defer payments by small business for six months will be a substantial boost to confidence and the spirit of millions of Australian small business. It’s a game changer and it’s part of our efforts with industry, with the states, to build a bridge to the recovery, to the time after the global pandemic of the coronavirus has hit.
Josh Frydenberg: (20:01)
We have also seen a need to make some changes around regulation of lending to business and we’ll be cutting some red tape because it’s critical that businesses not just have access to capital, but that speed at which their capital is delivered by the banks is as fast as possible. Finally, the Prime Minister referred to a new date for the budget. Forecasting for budgets is difficult at the best of times, let alone when we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. And I understand the states are making similar arrangements and it’s important that we are able to deliver a budget at a time where there is more certainty about the economic environment and that is planned for the first Tuesday in October. Thank you.
Scott Morrison: (20:58)
Thank you [inaudible 00:20:59]. Congratulations on the work you’ve done with the banks. I’ve worked closely with you and I appreciate your rather determined approach to ensure of the outcome and I thank the banks also for stepping up. Brendan.
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (21:13)
Thanks very much, Prime Minister. So as the prime minister said, we’ve seen significant further growth in cases of coronavirus in Australia. We expected to see that. That’s why we’ve been taking and announcing measures over the last week and before that. It’s important to note that we are a still seeing a large number of imported cases from other countries. We’ve now stopped foreign nationals coming into the country, but there are still a lot of Australians coming home, some of them coming from countries with a high risk and outbreaks that we think are probably higher than reported and a high risk of importing the virus into the country as we have seen in the last few days in every state pretty much in this country.
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (21:58)
So this issue of quarantining when you come home is serious. This is not an advisory, this is your civic duty to your fellow Australians to stay home for that entire 14 days if you’ve come back to Australia, no exceptions. And if you see anyone who is not abiding by that, a recent traveler, make sure they do because we are really serious about that. It is such a big impact on our outbreaks in the last few days. But we have also seen community outbreaks in a number of states. Again, we expected them.
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (22:36)
That’s why we put in the social distancing measures first announced late last week and progressively further announced this week. They’re expected to start hitting in about a week after they were first announced. We always expected a bit of a delay. But as the prime minister has announced, we have to make sure that people are very clear about what they mean. What we mean is you should be distancing yourself from every fellow Australian where possible. That’s why we have guidelines for people in gatherings of less than 100. It’s no point having a gathering of 20 people if it’s in a tiny room and you’re all together. You’ve got to practice social distancing. Keep that meter and a half away from each other. Practice good hand hygiene all the time and stay away from work or the community if you are unwell. This is also incredibly important. Well people who are high risk of contacts and return travelers, if they get symptoms, must be tested.
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (23:38)
There will be cases of community contact where it’s not suspected and they might just get a sniffle or a cold, the sort of thing that many of us have soldiered through and gone to work in recent years. We can’t do that anymore. Nobody should be going to work or mixing with society or friends or going out if they are unwell at all. Stay at home if you’re unwell. Only go out when you’re feeling well, go to work when you’re feeling well. Practice good hand hygiene and practice that social distancing at all times. This is critical now. We have to slow the curve as the prime minister said. We are well prepared. We’ve had very few deaths so far. They’re tragic and we’ve had very few people in intensive care.
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (24:27)
But there is a risk that if we don’t do what everyone of us has to do as our civic duty to control the spread, it will grow significantly greater. Thanks, Prime Minister.
Scott Morrison: (24:40)
Thank you, Brendan. Remain there if you wouldn’t mind.
Scott Morrison: (24:42)
Okay, yeah. David.
[inaudible 00:24:46] Australians who are very worried about [inaudible 00:24:47] and have to face the possibility of being unemployed. What’s your position on where [inaudible 00:24:56] can you start allowance by something like $95, which is what some people are calling for. But also whether you could make it easier for people to get it, because there will be so many people who won’t have navigated the settling system before. Can it be easier for them to get it? Can it be increased and can the mutual obligation requirements be waived?
Scott Morrison: (25:14)
Well, David, these are exactly the issues that the expenditure review committee, together with the treasurer and I that we have been addressing in a great amount of detail as we’ve worked through those and indeed will be meeting again this afternoon. I’ll be putting the final touches on the package of measures that are designed to cushion the blow, for exactly the blow that you’re talking about.
Scott Morrison: (25:36)
There will be Australians over the next six months who, through no fault of their own, will find themselves with less work, with less income, and in the worst case, without a job. That is going to happen and that’s going to happen to quite a number of people. And it’s our job to ensure that we do as much as we possibly can to cushion that blow and to put the other arrangements in place, like what has happened today with banks and others. What we’ll seek to do, working through the states and territories, for landlords and so on to ensure that we can provide that support to people through these difficult next six months, through this transitional period, through this temporary period. And I can assure you, David, we’re giving very close attention to the very things you’re talking about because it will be a difficult and different time. People who have never known themselves to be out of work will be confronted in some cases with that prospect and we want to make sure that we can help them as best as we can through what’ll be a difficult period for them and their family. Chris.
[inaudible 00:26:38] Princess off the coast of New South Wales at the moment. It had confirmed cases of coronavirus and let some people off in Sydney. This is the same liner that had the Diamond Princess experience before. So a couple of questions. What are the plans, what do you do with the Ruby Princess? Is there anything that we can do about this company? Has it behaved in an irrational way in continuing to run cruises? And of course we, like you were hearing stories from Australians who are now around the world demanding that the Australian government get them home. What’s your message to those people?
Scott Morrison: (27:08)
Well, first of all, and we will apply the same rules in relation to this vessel that are being applied to people getting off planes and things like this, there’s the 14 day isolation. There are a small number of cases, that my advice is, were identified on that ship. Four I understand. Three individuals and one crew. Were there Australians on that ship who are disembarking? Will they be going into self-isolation? Which means self-isolation, just do it would be my message on that to support what the chief medical officer is saying. And those who are internationals will face different rules. So we have got the international ban now coming into place around the country in relation to cruise vessels. And that will be enforced.
Scott Morrison: (27:53)
In relation to those Australians who are in other places, as I said earlier this week, Quantas will be continuing to be maintaining flights out of a number of key hubs and that’s Los Angeles and London and Hong Kong I understand and Auckland and a few other places around the world. And we thank them for continuing to do that and we’re encouraging Australians to make their way home. Air New Zealand, I understand, continue to operate and the arrangement that Prime Minister Ardern and I came to yesterday means that Australians can transit through Auckland from other places and then across to Australian. And then likewise kiwis can make their way home through Australia on the same basis.
Scott Morrison: (28:30)
So we will just continue to respond to each challenge as it comes is my response. We have a good framework for dealing with it, a clear set of rules and we’ll seek to apply them. They’ll be some exceptional circumstances here and there, but for those Australians who are finding them isolated in parts of the world, will the Department of Affairs and Trade, I’m particularly aware of the issue that was raised with me yesterday around Lima, where there are Australians in places which have already been cut off and you can’t get a flight up to LAX or something like that. Then the Department of Affairs and Foreign Trade and the foreign minister are bringing forth some matters for consideration by the National Security Committee.
Scott Morrison: (29:08)
We’ll just go around. I’m not going to go… So I’ll go to Phil and then I’ll come back here and then over to you, Mark. We’ll get around to everybody.
You sort of flagged further restrictions, if you like, on travel pending the school holidays. Should people have domestic flights booked start seeking refunds in anticipation of what you might announce next week? And just sorry, if I may, secondly, on the potential lock down of some neighborhoods or so forth that you flagged. Would that be confining people to their homes, closing business, that sort of thing?
Scott Morrison: (29:37)
Well, let me deal with the first one. If there were further advice for me to provide on travel today, based on the national cabinet, I would have certainly done that. We are saying that people should reconsider any unnecessary travel. That’s what, that is the clear advice and that comes also with the backing of the medical experts panel. But we will consider further advice on that and we know that is necessary and to do so in time for the school holidays and we agreed today that we need to do a bit more work on that and we’ll be getting that back on Tuesday.
Scott Morrison: (30:10)
I should stress a couple things around travel as I did earlier in the week. As Dr. Murphy has said, the risk of being on a plane is very low. It is very low. This issue is not being on the plane, the issue is moving to different parts of the country and potentially, large volumes of populations moving around the country. Now states and territories are, as you’ve seen, Tasmania has already made their decision about how that will be treated. Other states may take those decisions for particular parts of their states and that is entirely appropriate that they may consider doing that. And that’s why, as we work though some of those issues, we’ll have further advice after the meeting on Tuesday night.
Speaker 9: (30:52)
[inaudible 00:30:52] student in Adelaide got the virus from a teacher. How can you leave schools open when this sort of transmission is occurring? And what’s your response to concerns from teachers particularly, 40% of which are over 50, that their well-being maybe isn’t being considered?
Scott Morrison: (31:09)
Well, I might let the chief medical officer respond to that question, but in terms of the decision of premiers, chief ministers and myself in taking that advice, that outcome that you mentioned with a single transference, that would not be unexpected when you’ve got the number of cases increasing. But it still remains the case that the facts are that the incidents of cases amongst younger people is much lower than for the rest of the population and it is still very much the case that 30% of our health workforce would be compromised if schools were to be shut around the country. Now we will continue to take advice and we will continue to monitor the situation closely, but the very clear decision of premiers, chief ministers and myself is that schools should remain open.
Scott Morrison: (31:58)
Did you want to add to that, Brendan?
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (31:59)
So I think it’s really important to recognize that, as I said before, we think the risk to children with this virus is very low, only 2.4% of all the cases in China in Hubei Province were under 19. And there have been very, very few significant cases. Obviously we do have some concerns that children may have a role in transmission, but most children who get the virus seem to have got it from adults as you’ve seen in this case.
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (32:28)
We think that keeping children at home when there’s relatively low community spread is probably disproportionate given that they probably won’t stay at home anyway. They may be cared for by elderly grandparents. There may be circumstances where outbreaks in an area are such that we do need to close schools for a period of time. Our view at the moment, that this long haul strategy for the next six months, it is in the best interest of everybody to keep schools open and we think that risk is proportionate.
Scott Morrison: (32:57)
I think Mark is next. [inaudible 00:33:01].
Speaker 10: (33:04)
Oh yeah. Dr. Murphy, going to ask you, and I will have a second question for you, a cheeky one. But Dr. Murphy, what is the latest advice on whether you, once you have recovered from COVID-19, that you can contract it again? And can I ask the second question is you talk about indigenous communities being particularly susceptible. What are arrangements, if any, are being made in Alice Springs, where you do have a particular arrangement with the Americans where they can, Americans can fly in without quarantine or customs to service [inaudible 00:33:41]. What are we doing there? Are we expecting more of the Americans given that the United States has been a big cause of infection around the world?
Scott Morrison: (33:52)
Well, let me deal with the second question. No is the short answer to that question. The rules we are applying, we are applying across the board, but in terms of going into more detail about that facility, you would expect me to do that. Brendan.
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (34:06)
So in terms of reinfection, we’re not, we can’t be absolutely sure, but we think it’s very unlikely. There have been a couple of cases of people who have supposedly tested negative and then tested positive, been reported around the world including one in Japan. But they are very isolated cases. We think it is unlikely that a virus like this that isn’t mutating a lot, you would be susceptible to reinfection, but we don’t know for sure. Our assumption is that once people have had the infection, that it’s unlikely they will get it again.
[inaudible 00:34:41] tenant’s relief you’re looking at, would it be rent deferrals? Would it only apply to people who lose their jobs or their businesses are in distress? And when do you want these states to have a decision on this so it can be enacted?
Scott Morrison: (34:53)
Well, I’m not going to go into too much detail there, because the states are only just commencing the work. New South Wales has been doing already quite a bit of work on this and so I’m going to allow them appropriately to take the lead on that and to define I think a lot of the issues you’re setting out there, Mark. I think what circumstances, what would be the hardship triggers? Would this wait to waivers or deferrals? Would it relate to deductions or there are a range of different issues. Remembering also that those who’d become eligible, I should note, this sort of I think goes to a point one of you were asking, I think it was you, David, that in those circumstances, you would also trigger if you were to go on Newstart payment or a job seeker payment that you also trigger eligibility for a range of other things like the Family Tax Benefit for rental assistance and things like this. So it’s not just a Newstart payment, as important as that would be, it is also a range of other payments that you become eligible for. Even if, under the Newstart [inaudible 00:35:50] rights, your eligibility for the actual Newstart payment is relatively low, you still trigger all the other eligibilities to a range of other payments which can be quite helpful.
Scott Morrison: (36:00)
Michelle. Michelle and then Cat. We’ll keep going. I think it’s-
There’s been speculation from [inaudible 00:36:06] the government might be willing to takeover, to nationalize large companies if the crisis reaches that point, like Virgin for example. What’s your comment on that?
Scott Morrison: (36:18)
Well, we have no plans along those lines, Michelle. I mean, what we are seeking to do in a number of cases where we’ve great assistance in private companies to support important supply production in Australia that is essential. And the minister of industry, Karen Andrews, has just been doing an outstanding job in progressing a number of those issues. Those broader questions, Michelle, at this stage there are no plans from the government. I wouldn’t want that to be misinterpreted. I mean, we are in unprecedented times, but we have no plans to be involved in those sort of nationalization programs. That is a response that is not justified by what we’re seeing or anticipating at present.
Scott Morrison: (37:02)
[inaudible 00:37:05] be able to access their… sorry, sorry.
Scott Morrison: (37:10)
Make way. Make way. Clear some healthy space.
[inaudible 00:37:14] be able to access their [inaudible 00:37:18] as an income support measure during this crisis?
Scott Morrison: (37:21)
Well, again, we’ll be making further announcements on the next round of measures to cushion the blow for those who are directly impacted, whether they be small businesses or individuals soon. We continue to consider the composition of that package and when we’re in a position to make those announcements, we will.
Scott Morrison: (37:39)
Over here. We haven’t had questions over here.
Speaker 14: (37:40)
Dr. Murphy, do you mind if I just ask a slightly personal question? You’ve been working on this coronavirus since January. Are you finding the pace of the job exhausting?
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (37:49)
It is very intense, but it’s such an important job to provide advice to our government collectively and all of the state’s chief health officers, all of the experts we have have been very consistent and unanimous in their advice so it’s a cause that’s worth pursuing, but it is pretty intense.
Scott Morrison: (38:10)
Well, we’re working now to [crosstalk 00:38:11] with him. That’s what we’re doing. But also I want to say this. I want to thank all of those members of the medical expert panel and Dr. Murphy and Dr. Kelly. There’s been quite a lot of commentary about them. But by all means, have a crack at politicians. That’s, we’re used to it. We’ve got broad shoulders. These guys have got a very important job to do and I would ask you to support them very strongly. We’re relying on them, so you can rely on the decisions we’re making. The medical experts are giving us incredible advice, very timely. They’re working very hard and they are carrying great responsibilities. They deserve our great respect and our support.
Speaker 15: (38:50)
From the charity sector, so the charities and non-profit sector employs around 10% of the Australian workers at the moment. They’re estimating that their donations and income streams are going to go down by about a third, which translates to potential job losses of around 300,000 people. Is your government going to be doing anything to support them, given that, at the moment, they’re saying that they can’t access the business grants and measures-
Scott Morrison: (39:13)
I understand. A job is a job. And we’re looking to support people in jobs and if people find themselves out of work, regardless of where they’ve been working, then obviously we’re seeking to support them. But we’re taking a very broad view of the economy. I mean, these are not ordinary times. That means the ordinary rules and the ordinary measures that would apply in these circumstances will need to be changed to reflect that. And so that is very much in our thinking.
Speaker 16: (39:39)
[crosstalk 00:39:39] just so we can get a sense of the scale in terms of the indoor bans. This courtyard would be less than 100 meters long and it’s certainly less than 100 meters wide. Are you saying if we put a roof over it, there are too many people in here at the moment?
Scott Morrison: (39:50)
Not right now I wouldn’t have thought on a quick math, but this is an outdoor gathering, so 500 people could technically be here. But let me say this. These are rules that we’re putting in place I think to support people making good decisions and enforce appropriate healthy distancing and social distancing to slow the rate. But you have a role to play, too, as does everybody in how they congregate together. And insuring that appropriate distance is being maintained between people. Sure, governments have to got to put rules in place and we want to see that enforcement in place, but equally every Australian has a role to play to slow this virus. Don’t wait to see a sign. Don’t wait for any other specific instruction. Do the right thing. Do the common sense thing and support each other and you will save lives.
Scott Morrison: (40:40)
Speaker 17: (40:41)
Just on the testing criteria, is there going to be any discussion around relaxing them? It’s still set at people overseas. Sorry, go on.
Prof. Brendan Murphy: (40:47)
So we are looking actively relaxing the testing criteria. We are now testing all age care workers because age care is such a crucial area. We will be testing healthcare workers with influenza-like illnesses, all people presenting to hospital with pneumonia in addition to the usual criteria of return travelers and contacts. And we will look at all, as this pandemic develops, we will be continuingly developing the testing criteria.
Scott Morrison: (41:19)
I’m going to leave it there because we have some other meetings to get to this afternoon. The key thing we’re saying today is we’re going to keep Australia running. There is a way through this and we need everybody to keep going forward. We need every single Australian to do what they can, whether they’re a parent, whether they’re a teacher, whether a nurse, whether a member of Parliament, whether a journalist, whatever your job is or whatever you’re doing, I need you to keep doing it as much as you can because if we keep doing it, if we keep holding together, then we will continue to make our way through this. We will get to the other side and on the other side Australia will be stronger. Thank you all very much.
Speaker 1: (41:54)
That is where we’ll leave the prime minister, the treasurer…