Apr 7, 2020
PM Scott Morrison COVID-19 Briefing Australia April 7
Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press conference for Australia coronavirus today, April 7. He announced relief for commercial landlords and tenants. Read the full transcript of his statements right here on Rev.com.
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Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (00:00)
Together, we are making significant progress at around 6,000 cases across Australia less than 10% of those are coming through community transmission. At this point, we have so far avoided the many thousands if not tens of thousands of cases that may have otherwise occurred by this point across the Australian community and indeed there are many more fatalities that could have also occurred by this point.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (00:39)
The daily growth rate in cases has now fallen to just a few percentage points per day. This has occurred quite rapidly. In fact, it has occurred well beyond our expectations in the way that we’ve been able to bring that daily growth rate down together and certainly ahead of what all the theoretical models would have suggested. But we must hold the course. We must lock in these gains. It is providing us with much needed time.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (01:15)
We have so far avoided the horror scenarios that we have seen overseas, whether it be initially in China in Wuhan or in New York, in the United States or Italy or Spain or even the United Kingdom. And just on the United Kingdom, we extend our deepest concerns and expressions of support for Prime Minister Johnson at this very difficult time for him and his family.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (01:45)
They do not have the opportunity in all of these places that we’re seeing from here that we have right here and right now. The combination of our health and economic responses is giving us the opportunity as a national cabinet, individual governments across Australia and of course as the federal level, to plan our way through and out of these crises.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (02:13)
We have brought valuable time, but we cannot be complacent. We must keep the tension in the cord. This Easter weekend will be incredibly important. Stay at home. Failure to do so this weekend would completely undo everything we have achieved so far together and potentially worse. So all the things we’ve been asking you to do day in, day out they apply especially so this long weekend of the Easter weekend when you normally may have gone out together as family, and being out in public places and parks or gone away wherever you might have been.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (03:00)
That is not something you can do this Easter long weekend. We have already seen in other countries where major festivals or events, or holiday periods have been the spark for significant outbreaks elsewhere in the world. I was only speaking to Prime Minister Modi yesterday and he was recounting a similar event that occurred in India recently. And so it is a very important all Australians this weekend that you must follow these very helpful and straightforward requests that we make of you in terms of your movements this weekend.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (03:36)
Today, the national cabinet met to consider a series of issues and including further reports from the expert medical panel and Professor Murphy will take you through some of those matters shortly as also work on the commercial tenancies code. After reviewing the data on progress, Professor Murphy stepped the national cabinet through the academic modeling work and that has been undertaken by the Doherty Institute and that they will be releasing later today.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (04:05)
Professor Murphy will take you through that modeling work very, very shortly, but I want to be clear about a couple of things first. You will have what we have. This is the modeling work that is available to the government. It is the full compliment of what we have available to us. The modeling work is theoretical. It is not based on Australian case data and does not model Australian responses.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (04:37)
The modeling does not predict, the modeling does not predict what will happen in Australia. It does not tell you how many Australians will contract the virus or how many may succumb to that virus, or how long it will last in Australia. The modeling work is based on international data. The early work that we had that I shared with professor Kelly earlier, was based mainly on data that had been extracted from the Chinese experience.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (05:10)
This modeling data draws on a broader international data set that has been made available since that time. And what it does is it proves up the theory of flattening the curve. It confirms based on that international data, that by taking the measures we are taking you can make a difference, and indeed that is what we are experiencing here in Australia.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (05:36)
We are on the right track controlling the spread, boosting the capacity of our health system and buying time, giving us the opportunity for more choices. National cabinet of course will be seeking further modeling work to be done that it does incorporate Australian case data and modeling of the Australian responses. But part of our modest success to date means that the number of cases, particularly those through community transmission is still quite low, which does not present a very big case base to do a lot of that work at this stage.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (06:15)
But we are keen to see that work breaking down to state level jurisdictions because of course the experience in different States, and capacities of their health systems are different in each jurisdiction. So the national cabinet fully understands the limitations of this work. And so for those who might’ve thought today though we’re going to have predictions on these things, that is not what has been presented today, and I would urge those who are reporting on it not to present it in that light. It would be misleading. But it will help us work through into the future. This type of work, particularly when we get more of the Australian case data incorporated into this modeling.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (06:56)
It will help us plan the way out for now and certainly over the weeks ahead though, the lesson is simple and that is that we must continue to do what we are doing. That is how we get through this, but there is still quite a journey ahead. So we need to just continue to adjust and adapt. Today, the HPPC considered, will put forward a number of recommendations to national cabinet and again I’ll ask Professor Murphy to take you through those. But I do want to run you through very briefly the decision today on the commercial tenancies code.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (07:34)
Now, as you know, a key part of our government strategy at a federal level working with the states and territories is what has been called the hibernation strategy. And what that means is being able to preserve as much of the foundations and pillars of our economy through this time to enable the economy to rebuild and grow on the other side. That means keeping the jobs, it means keeping the businesses, it means keeping the tenancies in place. It means keeping the loans in place, keeping the credit lines open to ensure that the liabilities that are established or protecting against insolvencies and bankruptcies.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (08:16)
So on the other side of these crises, the economy will be able to rebuild and rebound again. And the commercial tenancies actions are very important. Now I want to thank very much the States and territories, in particular the treasures of the States and territories who have been working keenly on this issue over these past 10 days or so. I also want to thank the many industry players who fit into the work of this code, both tenants and landlords alike.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (08:45)
And it is a great binational national cabinet today that a mandatory code will be legislated and regulators as appropriate in each state and territory jurisdiction. That mandatory code will apply to tendencies where the tenant or landlord is eligible for the job keeper program. So that defines a tenant or a landlord who would be in a position of distress, where they have a turnover of 50 million or less. So the code is designed to support those small and medium size enterprises, be they a tenant or indeed a landlord.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (09:22)
The code brings together a set of good faced leasing principles. Landlords must not terminate the lease or draw on a tenant security. Likewise, tenants must honor the lease. Landlords will be required to reduce rent proportionate to the trading reduction in the tenants business through a combination over the course of the pandemic period through a combination of waivers of rent and deferrals of rent.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (09:56)
Waivers of rent must account for 50% at least of the reduction in the rental provided to the tenant during that period. And deferrals must be covered over the balance of the lease term and in no less period than 12 months. So if the lease term goes for three years, you can amortize the cost of the lease or the rental deferral over that three-year period after the end of the pandemic period. But if the lease only has another six months to run, then the tenant would have a minimum of 12 months after the pandemic period in order to cover up on the deferrals of the rental payments.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (10:39)
The arrangements will be overseen through a binding mediation process. All of this will be run by the states and the territories. The point here is simple. It’s the same request we might have landlords and tenants about 10 days or so ago when I stood up on this issue, and that is that they sit down and they work it out. This must be shared. Banks also must come to the table here and provide the support to the landlords, and I would particularly send that message to international banks operating in Australia who are in many cases providing that support particularly to many larger landlords.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (11:14)
We will expect those banks to be providing the same levels of support and cooperation as we are seeing from the Australian banks who are aware of these arrangements. What this does is it preserves the lease, it preserves the relationship. It keeps the tenant in their property and it keeps a tenant on the lease, which is also good for the landlord, and it preserves the lease that is in place that underpins the value of those assets. And so this is seen as a proactive, a constructive, and cooperative mechanism for landlords and tenants to see this through together.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (11:51)
We also had a very brief discussion of schools today that will be considered in greater detail on Thursday. Education ministers are meeting now actually to consider the issues around education and to report back to the national cabinet on Thursday. Of course, Premier Andrews made his announcement this morning, not unexpected. Schools are going back after the Easter break and the arrangements that he’s announced are not dissimilar to those that are currently running in schools in New South Wales and in many other states as they run into the term break.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (12:25)
But it is important that we’re looking at the educational impacts of what is occurring with how the rest of the school year will be managed. From the Commonwealth’s point of view, we are leaving those issues specifically to the states and territories to apply to each of their jurisdictions as they see appropriately. But from the Commonwealth’s point of view and particularly from a national economy point of view, then we obviously want to ensure that parents who are unable to provide a proper learning environment at home because of their work commitments, that they don’t have to choose between their children’s education and having a job that can feed their children. And that is not a situation we would consider tolerable.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison: (13:07)
And so we thank everybody for working to that end. But of course the educationalists need to provide that advice about the structure of the balance of the year and to ensure that our kids do not use lose a year of their education. So thank you again for your patience after these national cabinet meetings to run through all those issues. And I’ll now pass over to professor Murphy and he will also take you through the presentation.
Professor Brendan Murphy: (13:31)
Thanks, Prime Minister. So just an update. This morning’s data, we had 585,844 cases and unfortunately some more deaths tragically with 44 deaths. We still have a less than a 100 people in ICU and less than 40 people on ventilators, which is quite a low rate of serious disease. As the Prime Minister said, the thing that worries us most of all is the more than 500 people who have acquired this virus from someone in the community that doesn’t know they’ve had it. That means that there are people walking around in our communities who can be transmitting this virus without knowing they’ve had it.
Professor Brendan Murphy: (14:17)
That is why we cannot relax what we’ve been doing. We have as the Prime Minister said, seen some very impressive reductions in growth in transmission of COVID-19. If we in any way lose that rigor that the Australian community has embraced particularly over Easter, it could all come undone. We’ve seen what this virus can do in a cruise ship, at a wedding, it can spread to 30, 50 several 100 people very quickly. We’ve got to be maintaining that vigilance and all of those practices that we’ve all embraced in recent weeks.
Professor Brendan Murphy: (14:59)
As the Prime Minister said, we discussed at the national cabinet some other HPPC advice statements which will be published later today. Their advice around those experimental drugs that people are thinking about, but it’s still not proven to be of benefit. Advice around the use of masks and other protective equipment for healthcare workers, a very sensitive issue at the moment, and we are getting more and more masks into the country as we speak.
Professor Brendan Murphy: (15:26)
Advice around when it’s appropriate for someone who tests positive to be looked after and to stay in their own home under close scrutiny. Advice about organ transplantation. We’ve stopped doing renal transplants for the time being in Australia because of the virus risk. But we would hope to be able to resume that as soon as it’s safe to do so. And also advice around those point of care serology tests that many of you have been reading about that have become on the market recently and expressing some caution until we understand their role. They’re not a replacement for the standard diagnostic PCR test.
Professor Brendan Murphy: (16:04)
So the other thing I want to say before I go through the modeling is that a lot of people with chronic diseases, conditions other than COVID are not currently getting medical checkup. Our doctors are very quiet, they don’t mind being quiet, but they’re very worried that people are so frightened that they’re not seeking medical attention. This is a really concerning issue. There are lots of people with medical conditions in the community who need regular checkups, regular review.
Professor Brendan Murphy: (16:34)
As you know, we’ve set up telehealth facilities so you can have a telephone or a video conference with your doctor or you can go and see your doctor. The risk is fine as long as you ring beforehand and make arrangements, and maybe seek a telehealth consultation and go to the doctor if necessary. Please don’t neglect general health conditions at the moment. That is a really important message.