Australia Covid live news updates: ACT enters lockdown as three more cases confirmed; NSW records 345 cases and two deaths

By Luke Henriques-Gomes (now) and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

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School for children with autism closed due to outbreak

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Shalailah Medhora (@shalailah)

Chief Executive of Western NSW Local Health District, Scott McLachlan, tells @PatsKarvelas that the majority of COVID cases in regional NSW outbreaks at the moment - including Dubbo and Walgett - are Aboriginal people.

August 12, 2021

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Queensland closes border to ACT

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Three additional cases in ACT

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Sky News Senate inquiry postponed due to Covid lockdown

Friday’s Senate inquiry hearing into YouTube’s temporary ban on Sky News Australia has been postponed due to the lockdown in the ACT but will likely be held next Friday.

Sky News presenters Rowan Dean, Alan Jones and Rita Panahi had been asked to give evidence at the inquiry chaired by the Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.

The Murdoch broadcaster was not allowed to upload new content to YouTube for seven days after violating the social media platform’s medical misinformation policies by posting numerous videos that questioned the effectiveness of masks and lockdowns or promoted the use of hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as treatments for Covid.

The Google-owned platform has permanently deleted 21 videos.

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It’s been a big day for earnings reports on the stock exchange, with AMP, Telstra, AGL and QBE among companies declaring their results.

Let’s start with AGL, which plunged to a $2bn full-year loss (after clearing a $1bn profit in the previous financial year). This was driven largely by close to $3bn in writedowns and other losses, including the cost of giving up on building a gas import terminal at Crib Point in Victoria after the Victorian government refused approval on environmental grounds.

AGL has also rejected activist investor calls to retire its coal-fired power plants early in order to meet Paris climate targets.

The company is planning to split itself into two, a coal power part and a retail bit, and the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility has lodged a shareholder resolution calling for both parts to set goals consistent with Paris.

But the company says that while early retirement of the plants is needed to hit Paris targets, the commitment isn’t in the interests of shareholders. It says replacing the plants would require billions of dollars, which it isn’t in a position to provide.AGL shares were down almost 4% for the day.

Meanwhile, shares in troubled finance group AMP were up about 3.2% despite a half-year profit of $146m, down 28% from the same period last year. Investors seem to like the good performance of its core banking business and are looking past the shambles that is its financial planning division.

Telstra, a company as large as it is boring, declared a full-year profit of $1.9bn, up 3.4%, even though revenue fell 9.1%.

The share price of insurer QBE rocketed up 8% after the company swung back into profit. It made $441m in the half year to the end of June, compared to a loss of $712m for the same period in the prior year.

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