Child attacked by family dog – Lake Macquarie

A boy is expected to undergo surgery after being attacked by the family dog at a home in Lake Macquarie yesterday.

Officers from Lake Macquarie Police District have been told the five-year-old boy was bitten on the left side of his neck by the family dog at their home on Sunshine Parade at Sunshine shortly before 4.30pm (Sunday 29 November 2020).

The child was treated at the scene before being airlifted to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

Police have been told the two-year-old dog – described as a Rottweiler-type breed – is to be euthanised.

Inquiries are continuing.

Fatal crash – Lake Macquarie

Police are at the scene of a fatal crash at Lake Macquarie.

Emergency services were called to Wakefield Road, Ryhope, just before 7.30am today (Sunday 29 November 2020), after reports a Toyota and a Hyundai had collided head-on, trapping both drivers.

The male driver and sole occupant of the Hyundai, died at the scene

The male driver and sole occupant of the Toyota was freed and taken to John Hunter Hospital suffering leg injuries. He will also undergo mandatory testing.

Officers from Lake Macquarie Police District have established a crime scene with officers from the Crash Investigation Unit attending to assist.

Wakefield Road will remain closed between Archery Road and Cessnock Road for some time and motorists are advised to avoid the area.

PBS support for Australians living with leukaemia

Patients living with one of Australia’s most common forms of leukaemia are set to benefit from expanded access to a breakthrough medicine through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

From 1 December, access to Venclexta® (venetoclax) will be extended in combination with obinutuzumab for the first-line treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia who have co-existing conditions and are unsuitable for fludarabine-based chemo-immunotherapy.

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is a relatively uncommon type of cancer however it is the most common type of leukaemia diagnosed in Australia with around 1,000 people diagnosed each year.

Based on a landmark research discovery by the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Venclexta was also co-developed and trialled in Australia, showcasing the great work of our nation’s medical researchers.

Up to 500 patients every year are expected to benefit from this listing.

Without PBS subsidy, these patients would pay more than $69,250 per course of treatment. Thanks to PBS subsidy, they will pay $41 per script or $6.60 with a concession card.

The Morrison Government is continuing to make important medicines available to Australians at affordable prices.

These PBS listings have been recommended by the independent Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee.

Since 2013, the Government has approved more than 2,500 new or amended listings on the PBS at an overall investment by the Government of over $11.8 billion.

The Government’s commitment to ensuring that Australians can access affordable medicines, when they need them, remains rock solid.

Woman charged over alleged bushfire and COVID-19 assistance fraud – Hunter Valley

A woman will face court today after being charged with alleged fraud regarding bushfire and COVID-19 support recovery grants.

Strike Force Roche was established by several police districts within the Northern Region to investigate alleged fraudulent claims for bushfire disaster relief and small business grants through government agencies.

Police will allege in court that, between Thursday 12 March and Sunday 13 September 2020, a woman, aged 31, fraudulently applied for 34 combined Bushfire and COVID-19 Government Grants. A total of 11 were granted and the woman received $104,000.

Police will also allege the woman attempted to obtain a further $258,000 in grants which she was not entitled to.

Following extensive inquiries, police attended a home in Aberdare about 1.20pm yesterday (Friday 27 November 2020), where they arrested the woman.

She was taken to Cessnock Police Station and charged with dishonestly obtain financial benefit by deception (x16).

She was refused bail and will appear in Newcastle Local Court today (Saturday 28 November 2020).

Investigations under the strike force are ongoing across multiple police districts in the Northern Region.

Big banks failing homeowners who deserve mortgage holiday too

The decision by the big four banks to do nothing for homeowners risks putting families out on the streets, Leader of the Australian Greens, Adam Bandt MP, and Housing spokesperson, Mehreen Faruqi, said today, calling for the government to get big banks to give vulnerable homeowners a residential ‘mortgage holiday’ to make sure families don’t lose their homes.

At a time of unprecedented financial stress and rapidly rising unemployment, the decision by the big four banks to limit their deferred loan repayments to small business customers is insufficient and risks furthering workers’ budgeting woes.

The Greens today called for the national cabinet to impose a ban on mortgage foreclosures during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as a freezing of homeowners’ credit ratings. The Greens also called on the government to get the big 4 banks – who have just been the beneficiaries of significant support from the Reserve Bank – to give vulnerable homeowners a mortgage holiday, just as they have with business.

Adam Bandt, Leader of the Australian Greens said:

“Thanks to COVID-19, millions of workers are wondering if they’ll have a job tomorrow, and this cowardly inaction from the big banks will now have them wondering if they’ll be able to pay their mortgage too.

“People expect the banks not to be bastards through this crisis, but they’re leaving homeowners out in the cold.

“By deferring payments for small business, banks have shown they recognise the scale of the financial crisis ahead of us. Deciding to leave homeowners out in the cold is either greed or laziness.

“No one should be forced out onto the streets during a global pandemic.

“The national cabinet must look at making the big banks give vulnerable homeowners a mortgage holiday. If banks won’t show compassion, the government must step in.”

Mehreen Faruqi, Australian Greens Housing Spokesperson said:

“Banks have reaped huge profits for years. If they want to keep what little is left of their social license after the Royal Commission they have to do the right thing by families at risk during this crisis.

“Housing is a human right, no matter the circumstances. Not one person should be made homeless during this crisis, and the banks have a big role to play in that.

“This crisis highlights how messed up housing in Australia is. Urgent action now needs to be followed by massive investment in rebuilding social housing, an expansion of crisis housing and reforming the tax loopholes that advantage wealthy investors over the community.”

Greens warn water ministers not to put up white flag on saving the Murray-Darling tomorrow

The Greens are warning water ministers not to put up the white flag on saving the Murray-Darling Basin and the environmental flows needed to secure its future at tomorrow’s Ministerial Council meeting.

Australian Greens Spokesperson for Environment and Water Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“Water Ministers must not go to tomorrow’s meeting waving a white flag on saving the Murray-Darling Basin and the environmental flows needed to secure its future.

“Last year’s meeting of water ministers was a dramatic farce and a communique couldn’t even be agreed upon at the time and was later released by the MDBA who should be independent of this process.

“This bad behaviour when it comes to the management of our biggest river system cannot continue.

“The Murray Darling Basin Plan is due to recover a total of 2,075 GL/year of water plus 450 GL/year of efficiency measures by 2024. If the MDB is going to survive then the Plan must be delivered in full and on time.

“For seven years, the Liberal-National Government has let corporate irrigators run amok with water at the expense of from river communities, small family farms and the environment. It’s time to rein them in, for everyone’s sake.

“The Greens will keep pushing for a Royal Commission in the MDB to get to the bottom of the trillions of litres of missing water, theft, corruption, greed and lack of action on climate change that is plaguing the river. We also back a High Court challenge to fight for South Australia’s water and the Murray-Darling Basin if the Federal Government won’t deliver it on time.”

Greens welcome the release of the Media Reform Green Paper

Greens Media and Communications Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“We have seen two positive steps forward on media reform from the Government today; the announcement that there will be further investment in public interest journalism through the establishment of the PING Trust and
the announcement that the Government is intending to introduce Australian content obligations for online video streaming services.

“While these are positive steps forward, we will consult with stakeholders and the community and consider the details of the proposals before coming to a final position on the reforms.”

PING Trust
“The PING Fund has played an important role in supporting public interest journalism and rural and regional news. I’m delighted to see that the Government is proposing an extension of this fund that will be able to support the future of public interest journalism in Australia.

“Funding through the original PING Fund was used to save the AAP from closure earlier this year after the Greens made the protection of AAP a key priority before opening any negotiations with the Government on the News Media Code.

“AAP plays an essential role in the Australian media landscape and I hope to see the long term future of AAP secured through this trust.

Local content obligations for online video streaming services
“There is good news for the Australian screen industry at the end of an extremely tough year. We welcome the introduction of local content quotas for online video streaming services. Not only is the telling of Australian stories on our screens essential in shaping our national identity and reflecting the diversity of our community but local productions create Australian jobs.

“Reform to regulate online streaming services in Australia is well overdue. The Greens have long been calling for the Government to regulate streaming giants like Netflix that are making billions of dollars from Australian subscribers without any obligation to host any Australian content on their screens.

“The Greens already have a motion before the Senate next week calling on the Government to take action and regulate online video streaming services. I call on other Senators to show their support for the Australian screen industry and support this motion.

“The question of the rate of investment obligation on streaming services will be crucial to the success of this policy reform and I urge the Government to look around the world for effective examples to follow. France has recently brought in a quota for 20% of local revenue to be spent on local productions and I hope to see Australia go down a similar path. Sub quotas to ensure that streaming services are commissioning drama, documentary and children’s content will also be an important part of policy discussions.

“There is a lot of detail to be considered in this proposal and we will be working with stakeholders in the industry over the coming months to ensure that we are able to get the best outcomes to tell Australian stories and secure Australian jobs.”

Morrison Govt’s environment-wrecking laws dead in water, Senate Inquiry report shows

The Morrison Government’s new environment-wrecking laws do not have enough support to pass the parliament the Senate Inquiry report into the legislation released this afternoon shows.

The Greens, Labor and crossbench senators Patrick, Lambie and Griff all declared their opposition to the Bill leaving just the Morrison Government and One Nation in support.

Greens Environment Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said:

“The Morrison Government’s environment-wrecking laws are dead in the water.

“The Government shamelessly tried to smooth the path for their big mining and developer mates to get their environment-destroying projects approved even faster while completely ignoring the independent review of environment laws that was underway.

“These laws are nothing more than a rehash of Tony Abbott’s 2014 bill which failed to pass the parliament then and will fail again now.

“The Environment Minister should announce today that the Government will not be pursuing this Bill any further.

“We have a once-in-ten-year opportunity to reform our environment laws to protect our wildlife and our wild places. Any new laws must be informed by a full and proper consideration of the final Samuel Report and include strong national environmental standards and an independent regulator to enforce them.”

Helping Australians return home

The Australian Government continues to work tirelessly to ensure we get as many Australians home by Christmas as possible.

Almost 426,600 Australian citizens and Permanent Residents have travelled into Australia since the Government recommended that people reconsider the need to travel abroad on 13 March 2020.

The process to help re-book passengers travelling to Sydney from San Francisco began last night with the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications working speedily with the airline to facilitate exactly that.

This process was well under way by this morning and contrary to claims made by Labor today, had nothing to do with their Tweets. Because this plane did not take off or arrive, the caps allocated for that flight have rolled over so those passengers will be able quarantine without issue.

What Australians expect as we navigate our nation’s response to this global pandemic is constructive engagement by all politicians – not opportunistic political point-scoring.

Australians will rightfully be disappointed by the Labor Party’s willingness to exploit difficult circumstances being faced by Australians overseas – circumstances the Government has been working to assist with since the start of the pandemic earlier this year.

At the request of State and Territory Governments, to help shore up the integrity of hotel-quarantine systems in those jurisdictions, the National Cabinet implemented flight caps earlier this year. That measure has been necessary and has played a substantial role in Australia’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At many meetings of the National Cabinet, the Australian Government has sought to safely increase those cap numbers to help get more Australians home and we continue to partner with all States and Territories to that end. Following Jane Halton’s review and recommendations on quarantine arrangements, the Commonwealth has established the Howard Springs facility to boost quarantine spaces and is looking to double its capacity.

We will keep working to bring as many Australians home by Christmas as possible, building on the successful return of more than 400,000 Australians since March.

$4 million for new COVID-19 research

The Morrison Government is supporting six new COVID-19 research projects across four institutions, allowing researchers continue to examine the virus and our response to the pandemic.

More than $4 million will be distributed from the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) through two grant rounds to institutions including Monash University, Deakin University and Macquarie University.

These grants aim to develop high priority digital health infrastructure, improving the speed and features of health system responses during acute crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each of these projects has the ability to assist and inform government responses to the pandemic and continue our improvements to health outcomes for all Australians.

Three projects will receive funding through the 2020 Rapid Response Digital Health Infrastructure Grant Opportunity, worth approximately $3.5 million.

This includes $1.9 million to support Monash University’s work to create a national data management platform and Learning Health System, alongside real-time monitoring of Australia’s COVID-19 response.

A further three projects will also share in $600,000 through the 2020 Communication Strategies and Approaches during Outbreaks Grant Opportunity, focusing on understanding people’s communication needs, in order to improve community engagement and responsiveness to information and advice about pandemics.

A project through Deakin University will identify communication priorities and effective support for people with an intellectual disability living in high risk specialist disability accommodation during disease outbreaks.

As part of the Morrison Government’s Coronavirus Research response, over $96 million from the MRFF has been invested in COVID-19 research, including vaccine, anti-viral and respiratory medicine research.

Investing in health and medical research is a key priority of our Government’s Long Term National Health Plan. Research continues to play a critical role in ensuring Australia maintains its world-class health system, particularly as the world continues to respond to COVID-19.

The Morrison Government’s MRFF is a $20 billion endowment fund, allowing for long-term investment and support for Australia’s best and brightest researchers. Further information about the MRFF is available at www.health.gov.au/mrff.

2020 Rapid Response Digital Health Infrastructure Grant Opportunity
Administering Institution Project Title Funding
Sydney Local Health District Integrating remote monitoring technology into digital health infrastructure $670,406.00
Monash University Towards a national data management platform and Learning Health System $1,922,584.00
Monash University Real-time modelling of Australia’s COVID-19 response $810,300.00
2020 Communication Strategies and Approaches during Outbreaks Grant Opportunity
Administering Institution Project Title Funding
Monash University Effectiveness of tailored COVID-19 message for vulnerable Australians $315,961.00
Deakin University Inclusive Health Communication in Specialist Disability Accommodation $109,047.00
Macquarie University Harnessing the health communication power of the early childhood sector $174,992.00