Border closures have featured heavily in National Cabinet discussions today, along with aged care facilities around the country and concerns around Australia’s unemployment figures.
A number of measures are now in the works, to ensure states and territories aren’t unfairly restricting travel within the country.
A cross-border agriculture code will be set up within two weeks, more clearly outlining who can cross through otherwise closed borders for the sake of supporting the farming and agriculture industries.
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“In a fortnight’s time, we will be coming back from agricultural ministers with an ‘agricultural workers’ code’, along similar lines to the freight code, that we agreed two weeks ago,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced following the meeting.
“Which just deals with the practical issues of how those in the agricultural workforce are managing their activities across these borders where they are in place.
“I will continue to interact directly with Premiers particularly in South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland on individual cases, and I thank them for their cooperation as we’ve been working through those individual instances,” he said.
Meantime, the Prime Minister was quick to thank Queensland for easing some of it’s exemption considerations relating to health matters, and expanding border zones in recent days.
But he’s now calling for a national guideline on what constitutes a ‘hot spot’, to ensure whole states aren’t put at a disadvantage each time there’s a localised outbreak.
“So people living in those areas, will know when they’re in one and when they’re not.
“When they can go an access health services or where that might be a problem and they might have to have other arrangements.
“We need to get more clarity,” the Prime Minister said.
Acting Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly says it will take some time to figure those guidelines out.
“It is a piece of work we have had an attempt at before, and we will continue to try to get consensus there in AHPPC (Australian Health Protection Principal Committee), about a definition of a hot spot.
“It really is about movement restrictions from one jurisdiction where there are cases to another where there are less.
“And that’s an important component to be both proportionate and transparent,” Doctor Kelly said.
Other matters that were discussed today includes the national response to what has become another aged care crisis.
The federal government has consistently received a lot of criticism over it’s handing of facilities in Victoria, which were largely effected by coronavirus in the previous weeks and months.
Another $171 million will be given to the sector from the federal government, which means over a billion dollars has been allocated since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.
The Prime Minister has also hinted that an emergency response centre could be established to help a states manage aged care coronavirus cases if required.
“It was noted that there are existing arrangements with states and territories currently, which are dealing with the demands, as they’re currently presenting in the states and territories,” Scott Morrison said.
The federal government is also looking at further income support, infrastructure developments and business support around the country.
It’s understood the Reserve Bank has called on the states to lift their investment by $40 billion, but there’s no word on the states have to commit to that or how.