Australia coronavirus live update: Victoria reports 149 new Covid cases and 24 deaths as NSW records six cases

By Amy Remeikis

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'Respect, goodwill, fairness and vision' - principles to help Beijing-Canberra relationship

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NSW police requested private security guards for NSW hotel quarantine

The New South Wales police commissioner, Mick Fuller, has said police themselves requested private security guards should be used as “second-tier” security in hotel quarantine.

Fuller defended the practice on Wednesday, after nearly 400 people were moved from the Travelodge Wentworth hotel on Tuesday night after police determined the hotel failed to meet the quarantine program’s standards.

Two security guards at the Sydney Harbour Marriott have so far tested positive for Covid-19, with genomic testing showing it was initially contracted from a returned traveller from the US.

Fuller said he still had confidence in the hotel quarantine system and would “audit and find security guards who aren’t up to scratch”.

83,000 shifts of security guards and two positive tests.

[But] I get the significance of this, as I know other states, territories and countries have been let down by quarantine. If I felt the security guard aspect was failing, I would put police in there.

Fuller also told reporters that “Every hotel has had a complaint at some stage”, and the volume of complaints rose last week.

Certainly last week the volume of complaints was unusual, there was an escalation to a point that the commander made a determination [to move travellers from the Travelodge].

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Morrison denies taking pot shots at Victoria's Covid response

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The joint standing committee on electoral matters has released its report on the miscellaneous measures bill - which prompted fury among the Senate crossbench and from Queensland Labor over concerns it will water down state donation laws.

JSCEM is controlled by the Coalition, with Liberal James McGrathin the chair, so it’s unsurprising the majority report calls for the bill to be passed.

The Greens have dissented, warning that money can easily flow between state and federal purposes within a party branch, practically defeating state donation bans on developers. They called for separate bank accounts for federal and state purposes and to repeal the bill’s sections that would provide immunity from penalties for prohibited donors who give to a state branch for a federal purpose.

Labor’s report is very nuanced - it is presented as a “dissenting report” but recommends the bill be passed if a few amendments are made:

  • Postponing the commencement until after the Queensland election; and
  • Requiring parties to maintain separate bank accounts.

The Labor members said:

Labor recognises the concerns raised by many submissions to this Inquiry in relation to the proposed amendments to sections 302CA and 314B [the immunity provisions]. However, the commonwealth parliament should be able to make laws with respect to commonwealth elections – without the threat of those laws being overridden by the states.”

So federal Labor accepts that only commonwealth law should apply to donations for federal purposes, but Queensland Labor disagrees and thinks the state laws banning developer donations in the state for all purposes should apply.

I think that means the bill is very likely to pass – but I’ll contact the government to see what they think of Labor amendments.

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Victoria has issued nearly 20,000 fines for coronavirus breaches

Victoria police has dished out nearly 20,000 fines for Covid-19 breaches during the pandemic, an inquiry has been told.

Lisa Neville, the police minister, told the Covid-19 inquiry on Wednesday police had issued 19,324 fines, including 1,669 for failing to wear a mask and 2,145 to those breaching the state curfew.

There were 5,761 fines for “non-compliance of directions” and 20 fines were issued for people failing to self-isolate.

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