Appeal after man stabbed during home invasion near Newcastle

Police are appealing for public assistance as they continue to investigate after a man was stabbed during a home invasion near Newcastle earlier this year.

About 10.30pm on Tuesday 15 July 2020, emergency services were called to a unit on Blue Gum Road, Jesmond, following reports a man had been stabbed.

Upon arrival, police located a 29-year-old man with multiple stab wounds before he was taken to John Hunter Hospital for treatment. He has since been released.

Officers from Newcastle City Police District attended and commenced an investigation into the incident.

As investigations continue, detectives are hoping to speak to a man who may be able to assist with their inquiries.

He’s described as being of Caucasian appearance, between 170cm and 175cm tall, with a stocky build, wearing dark clothing and had his face covered.

It’s believed the man left in a vehicle, described only as a light coloured four-door sedan which was waiting nearby.

Anyone who may have seen or heard anything suspicious between 10pm and 11pm on Tuesday 15 July, or who may have nearby dashcam or CCTV footage is urged to contact Newcastle Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Man wanted on outstanding warrants – Newcastle

Police are appealing for public assistance to locate a man wanted on outstanding warrants.

Paul Tighe, aged 34, is wanted on two outstanding warrants for assault and stealing offences.

Police from Newcastle City Police District have commenced inquiries into his whereabouts.

He is known to frequent Western Sydney, Newcastle, Bathurst and Port Macquarie.

He is described as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander in appearance, between 175cm to 180cm tall, with a thin build and a distinctive tattoo on his upper left arm.

It is believed he may be travelling in a white Subaru Outback with NSW registration ATA 42D.

Anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to contact police immediately.

PRIVATISATION NOT THE SOLUTION TO AUSPOST DEBACLE

Greens Leader, Adam Bandt, says the Australia Post debacle is symptomatic of corporatisation, a problem that would only be made worse by full privatisation, as the Greens call instead for executive salary caps and a winding-back of privatisation.

At the National Press Club this month, Bandt outlined plans for a major inquiry into the impact of privatisation. This inquiry would include the impact of corporatisation of the public service.

“When the corporate model is exposed to be corrupted and scandal-ridden, some who advocated for the failed experiment will double-down and push for the privatisation of Australia Post,” Bandt said.

“Our corporatised public services have been infected with neoliberal ideology and privatisation would only make the problem worse.”

“Essential services should be run for the public good. By treating Australia Post as just another business, the government has allowed a ‘greed is good’ culture to dominate.

“The Australia Post scandal, made iconic by Cartier watches, is a symptom of a long ideological campaign to corporatise the culture and operations of public services.

“We should be winding back the corporatisation of our public services. Our wide-ranging inquiry will reveal the full impact of privatisation and corporatisation in this country.

“The Greens would also work towards ending so-called ‘performance-based pay’ for executives. This is a failed experiment. It has not improved performance, but it has eroded a sense of teamwork and it is inconsistent with the role and culture of the public service.

The Public Governance Performance and Accountability Amendment Executive Remuneration Bill (2017), which the Greens have already tabled would tie executive pay across the public service, including Australia Post, to 5 times the Australia-wide average wage (approximately $420,000).

“We could have started a culture change years ago, but the bill didn’t get support. We’re looking to put the proposal to cap executive salaries back to Labor and the Crossbench again now,” Bandt said

New research from Ownership Matters, released today, showed a ‘directors club’ in Australia’s biggest corporations.

“Is this the club we want Australia Post to join? The corporate model is one of runaway executive salaries and the ‘game of mates’. It’s a broken model stemming from a trickle-down agenda and it’s one that the Greens aim to reign in,” Bandt said.

50th Ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Labor welcomes the 50th nation ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons – which will mean it will now come into force.

We congratulate International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and advocates for the significant milestone.

The ambition of a world free of nuclear weapons is one that Labor shares.

Labor has committed to signing and ratifying the treaty after taking account the need to ensure an effective verification and enforcement architecture, interaction of the Treaty with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and achieving universal support.

New medicines for Australians with multiple sclerosis, lymphoma, carcinoma and reproductive cancers

From 1 November, the Morrison Government will invest more than $86 million over the next four years to provide greater access to life saving medicines for Australians living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), and various forms of cancer.

MS is the most commonly acquired neurological disease in younger adults with over 25,600 Australians living with multiple sclerosis and over 2.3 million people affected globally.

The average age of diagnosis is only 30 and around 75% of those affected with multiple sclerosis in Australia are female.

There is a high clinical need for effective treatments for patients with progressive forms of relapse onset multiple sclerosis.

Mayzent® (siponimod) will be listed on the PBS for the first time to treat those patients with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.

Without PBS subsidy, these patients would pay more than $25,000 per year for treatment with approximately 800 patients benefiting from this listing each year.

The PBS subsidy now means patients will only need to pay $41 per prescription, or $6.60 with a concession card.

In addition to this listing, Australians diagnosed with a rare type of lymphoma which affects the skin will receive subsidised access to a new medication and specialised treatment from 1 November 2020 through an investment of over $11.5 million.

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that affects the skin and causes an accumulation of malignant T-cells in the skin, resulting in raised, rash-like or itchy patches of skin, skin lumps or ulcers and swollen lymph nodes.

Uvadex® (methoxsalen) will be listed on the PBS for the first time for treatment of patients with erythrodermic cutaneous T-cell lymphoma who have not responded to other treatments.

Around 75 patients per year may benefit from this listing. Without PBS subsidy, these Australians would pay more than $3,400 per year.

Concurrently, two new items will be introduced on the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) for the use of extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) in combination with Uvadex® to treat the condition, as recommended by the Medical Services Advisory Committee.

ECP is a type of treatment that involves attaching a patient to a machine that removes some of their blood. The machine separates the white blood cells, and the red blood cells and plasma go back into the body. The white blood cells are mixed with Uvadex®, exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light, then put back into the patient. ECP activates the patient’s immune system to fight the cancer.

Other PBS listings from 1 November ­– announced in the Budget 2020-21 – include the expanded listing of:

  • Tecentriq® and Avastin® (atezolizumab and bevacizumab) for use in combination to treat patients with advanced unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of primary liver cancer. An average of 500 patients per year may benefit from this. They would normally pay up to $170,000 for a course of treatment without PBS subsidy
  • Lynparza® (olaparib) for the treatment of newly diagnosed advanced high grade epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancers. An average of 300 patients per year may benefit from this listing and would normally pay around $140,500 per course of treatment for this medicine.

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

Since 2013, the Australian Government has approved over 2,450 new or amended listings on the PBS.

This represents an average of around 30 listings or amendments per month – or one each day – at an overall investment by the Government of $11.8 billion.

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

Victorian Restrictions

Victorians have made great progress in reducing the rate of COVID-19 infections from the second wave outbreak in Victoria.

While the Commonwealth Government welcomes Victoria’s commitment to the national framework agreed at National Cabinet to have Australia open by Christmas, for many Victorian businesses and their workers today’s announcement will mean they will simply not be able to make it.

The new Framework to reopen by Christmas is a clear and transparent, three step plan which provides the Australian community and businesses with a way forward where Australians can live and work in a COVID Normal Australia, ensuring that we maintain strong health protections and minimise job losses and mental health impacts.

Victorians are to be congratulated for meeting and beating the considerable benchmarks that were set by their State Government before restrictions could be eased. They have played their part and sacrificed much in the pursuit of reaching those targets in the belief restrictions would be eased.

Under the Victorian Stage 4 lockdown, Victoria has seen the devastation of more than 1,000 job losses per day. We have also agonisingly witnessed a 31 per cent increase in Medicare funded mental health presentations in Victoria during the lockdown and significant increases in other mental health services.

At some point, you have to move forward and put your public health systems to work in a bid to reclaim the jobs that have been lost, and rescue the livelihoods and peace of mind of so many Victorians who have been affected by the inability to contain the outbreak that led to the second Victorian wave.

Victoria’s public health systems are either up to the task of dealing with future outbreaks or they are not. The decision to keep businesses closed suggests that there is still not sufficient confidence within the Government that their systems can support reopening.

This is a profound disappointment. Of course, Victorians do not want to face another lockdown and of course they don’t want all of this to have been for nothing. That is why ensuring the State Government’s capability to deal with outbreaks through their public health response is so essential. This is what you need for Victoria to open up safely and stay safely open.

Borders and closures are not indicators of public health success. They are the opposite.

Victoria’s infection rate is now below the Victorian Government’s own target of a 14 day rolling average of fewer than 5 cases per day to further reduce restrictions. It is also well below the Commonwealth’s hot spot definition, based on the advice of the acting Chief Medical Officer, of a rolling average of fewer than 10 cases per day over 3 days.

During this time, the Victorian Government has greatly benefitted from the cooperation of the Victorian public and business community who have paid a significant price as a result of the prolonged lockdown measures.

The Commonwealth Government has also provided significant assistance from the ADF, medical and technical experts with the management of the lockdown and boosting Victoria’s contact tracing systems.

The Victorian Government has stated that they have now significantly improved their contact tracing capabilities to deal with any future outbreaks. Such capacity has been critical to enabling NSW to deal with numerous outbreaks, whilst staying open.

If this is the case, then we strongly encourage the Victorian Government to rapidly take the next steps to implement the National Framework and mirror the NSW COVID Safe restrictions for the sake of health, mental health and halting the loss of more than 1,000 jobs per day.

The Australian Government will continue to support Victorians through this crisis through our record economic and income supports. We will also continue to work with the Victorian Government to assist them to strengthen their public health and contact tracing capacity.

National Cabinet

The National Cabinet met again today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, recent progress following the Victorian outbreak, easing restrictions (including international border measures), helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment and getting the economy moving again.

National Cabinet continues to work together to address issues and find solutions to the health and economic consequences of COVID-19. Australia has done well on both the health and economic fronts compared to most countries around the world.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer, Professor Paul Kelly, provided an update on the latest epidemiological data and medical advice in relation to COVID-19.

There have been more than 27,000 confirmed cases in Australia and, sadly, 905 people have died. There are now around 220 active cases in Australia, a decrease from around 1,100 cases five weeks ago. There continues to be differences in testing rates between states and territories, and National Cabinet agreed on the importance of enhanced testing. More than 8.4 million tests have been undertaken in Australia.

National Cabinet noted the increase in COVID-19 cases in many countries and the comparative strength of Australia’s effort in addressing COVID compared to most other developed economies.

National Cabinet noted the 2020-21 Budget and the collective work needed across the Federation to facilitate economic recovery measures. National Cabinet thanked the Council on Federal Financial Relations for its work and noted further work is underway to coordinate the federation-wide economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to drive a more productive economic recovery.

National Cabinet will meet again on Friday 13 November 2020.

Framework for National Reopening – A COVID Normal Australia

The Commonwealth, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory agreed in-principle to a new ‘Framework for National Reopening Australia by Christmas’ (document attached), building on and enhancing the 3-Step Framework for a COVID Safe Australia developed in May 2020.

Western Australia did not agree to the National Framework for Reopening, specifically the domestic border and international arrival proposals.

The Framework will provide the Australian community and businesses with a way forward where Australians can live and work in a COVID Normal Australia, recognising that the highly infectious nature of COVID-19 means that it will be present until a COVID-19 vaccine is found. The Framework underscores the need for continued health vigilance while providing a path to easing the physical and mental burden on Australians.

The Framework will establish an updated Common Operating Picture with strengthened criteria to ensure that health systems are prepared and detailed information is publicly available on COVID-19 conditions. The criteria take into account the National Hotel Quarantine Review by Ms Jane Halton AO PSM and will be informed by further work underway by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO on digital contact tracing and public health systems, and advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC).

The Commonwealth and seven states and territories agreed to finalise the Framework by the next National Cabinet meeting on 13 November 2020 and ensure that a new Common Operating Picture is publicly available by 1 December 2020.

The Commonwealth and seven states and territories agreed that reopening by Christmas under the Framework sets a pathway for the removal of domestic border restrictions where it is safe to do so, and with free movement of people and freight consistent with National Cabinet’s strategy of suppression with a goal of no community transmission.

Improving Quarantine Systems

Ms Jane Halton AO PSM presented the final report of the National Review of Hotel Quarantine (document attached). National Cabinet thanked Ms Halton for the extensive work undertaken to review the hotel quarantine system in seven of eight states and territories.

Ms Halton noted that quarantine constitutes a first line of defence in preventing the importation of COVID-19 into Australia. While the quarantine system should be managed to limit breaches, the robustness of a second line of defence (testing and contact tracing) is essential as it is not possible to manage a quarantine system that is completely error free. There must also be a third line of defence – physical distancing, hygiene and health system capacity.

National Cabinet agreed to publish the National Review of Hotel Quarantine and to implement recommendations, noting that the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory had already established an emergency-surge quarantine capacity supported by the Northern Territory at Howard Springs.

National Cabinet agreed to keep working on risk stratification as an appropriate approach to progressively increasing the number of international arrivals to Australia in a COVID-safe manner, including Australians returning home. Potential alternative approaches could include quarantine such as home quarantine, on farm quarantine, quarantine by universities and private providers, and use of technology and expanding international travel arrangements with very low risk countries and cohorts.

As noted by Ms Halton and AHPPC, alternatives to hotel quarantine for low risk cohorts can also free up significant capacity in Australia’s hotel quarantine system for returning Australians.

National Cabinet noted that any changes to quarantine settings for international arrivals must be done in a way that maintains health considerations as an absolute priority.

Australians returning home

National Cabinet noted that there are a significant number of Australians wishing to return home from overseas, with the Commonwealth already taken steps to further support those facing personal hardship.

National Cabinet agreed that all jurisdictions would continue to work towards enabling more Australians to return home. Existing international air passenger arrival caps will continue until 21 November 2020, with ongoing review by National Cabinet.

National Cabinet noted that a number of the states and territories will support the Commonwealth in increasing the number of vulnerable Australians returning home. This includes the Commonwealth-Northern Territory arrangement to provide 500 beds at Howard Springs, with the first flight dedicated to vulnerable Australians arriving in Darwin today.

A further arrangement, soon to be finalised with the Australian Capital Territory, will support 150 returning Australians every 16-18 days. In addition, a limited and dedicated number of spaces will be provided on existing international commercial services for vulnerable Australians where possible. This includes an additional:

  • 140 arrivals per week into Perth;
  • 100 arrivals every 14-16 days into Adelaide;
  • 150 arrivals per week into Queensland(to be finalised once a new Government is formally sworn in).

Tasmania has also offered further support where required.

The Commonwealth thanks the states and territories for their support in helping more Australians return home for Christmas.

Mental Health National Cabinet Reform Committee

National Cabinet noted 3,318 Australians died by suicide in 2019, equivalent to nine Australians each and every day. This represents a significant loss to our communities, our families and our nation.

Today, National Cabinet commissioned the new Mental Health National Cabinet Reform Committee. The Committee will:

  • deliver a new National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Agreement by November 2021; and
  • oversee, and provide advice to National Cabinet on, the implementation of the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Pandemic Response Plan which guides jurisdictions’ responses to COVID-19.

This work builds on all jurisdictions’ efforts to scale resources and investment to support Australians’ mental health and prevent suicide during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Aged Care Emergency Response Centres

National Cabinet again noted the critical importance of minimising the COVID-19 pandemic risk in aged care, cementing preparedness arrangements based on the three previously agreed actions of 21 August.

The Department of Health continues weekly engagement with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and states and territories. Weekly jurisdictional reporting is now established.

All jurisdictions have provided assurances that their Aged Care Emergency Response Centres can be stood up within 48 hours. Jurisdictions have completed the Response Centre Preparedness Assessment which has provided additional clarity about where further focus is needed.

National Cabinet expressed its thanks to the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre which has supplied to all jurisdictions—through the Department of Health—with its extensive suite of resources for use or adaption as required.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission continues its program of infection control site visits to residential aged care facilities in all jurisdictions to monitor and assess aged care preparedness. The Commission is distributing summary reports of its spot check visits to each jurisdiction to enable targeted focus on areas for improvement.

States and territories are supporting the Commission’s preparedness visits through sharing of public health intelligence, conducting supplementary visits to residential aged care facilities and prioritising face to face infection prevention and control training. Across jurisdictions a range of training models are in place. States and territories continue to consider how best to tailor this training to their jurisdictional requirements.

National Federation Reform Council

National Cabinet agreed to establish a Taskforce on Veterans’ Wellbeing in recognition of the challenges faced by our current and ex-service personnel. The Taskforce will meet at the first meeting of the National Federation Reform Council on 11 December.

On 26 June 2020, National Cabinet agreed that Mr Peter Conran AM would conduct a review of the former COAG Councils and Ministerial Forums with a view to rationalising and resetting the structure and work programs.

Today, National Cabinet accepted the Review’s recommendations that include reducing the number of ministerial forums and ensuring that those that remain are more agile and responsive, with direct responsibility for decision-making resting with Ministers. Consistent with the direction set by National Cabinet, ministers’ meetings will not report to National Cabinet (or the National Federation Reform Council) unless tasked.

This represents a significant reform to Commonwealth-State relations and will significantly reduce bureaucracy and red tape. National Cabinet also noted that the range of significant reforms agreed today have come about directly through the collaboration of National Cabinet, as the country comes together to continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further information is available here: https://www.pmc.gov.au/domestic-policy/effective-commonwealth-state-relations

TEACHERS TO STAY AS REGIONAL NSW RECOVERS

Support for drought and bushfire impacted regional communities across NSW is continuing through our public schools, with the NSW Government announcing the extension of the Drought Entitlement Maintenance Program to 2023 to keep teachers in rural schools.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell announced the extension of the program today, continuing the Government’s commitment to supporting regional communities hardest hit by drought and bushfires by locking in staffing numbers at local schools.

Mr Barilaro said regional communities need support from governments now more than ever, despite conditions improving across the state and this announcement reaffirms the NSW Government’s commitment to boosting jobs in the regions.

“Regional communities have done it tough over the last few years and we know how important our schools are when it comes to keeping life in country towns. That is why the NSW Nationals are committed to providing stability for our students by supporting schools to keep their staff, regardless of fluctuations in enrolments,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This program will support our regional kids, keep families local, provide crucial jobs in country towns and keep our regional communities strong. Every additional teaching job means an extra family in town, shopping at local stores and injecting money into local economies.”

Minister for Education Sarah Mitchell said the Entitlement Maintenance Program began in 2018, in acknowledgement of the fact that enrolments in schools might have fluctuated due to the relentless nature of the drought, posing the risk of decreasing staff numbers.

“I know how crucial it has been to provide students and families with stability throughout some of the toughest years our state has ever seen,” Ms Mitchell said.

“With drought, bushfires, floods and a global pandemic, kids need consistent support from principals, teachers and school staff who they know and trust.”

Ms Mitchell added that the schools currently involved in the Entitlement Maintenance Program will automatically have their staffing numbers extended; meaning schools won’t have to reapply for these positions.

“268 schools in regional and remote parts of NSW will benefit from the extension of this program, which is a great thing for our country kids,” Ms Mitchell said.

NSW GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES $100 MILLION REGIONAL JOB CREATION FUND

Regional businesses that can increase employment by expanding production lines or relocate operations to regional NSW from interstate or overseas will have access to support grants of up to $10 million under a new program designed to create more jobs across the state.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the $100 million Regional Job Creation Fund will provide businesses with the money they need to fast track expansion plans, to create jobs and stimulate the local economy.

“NSW businesses have demonstrated remarkable resilience in the face of drought, bushfires and COVID-19 and this unprecedented funding program will help them thrive instead of just survive,” Mr Barilaro said.

“I have set an ambitious target for the Regional Job Creation Fund to create at least 5,000 new direct jobs across regional NSW in the next three years by providing businesses with the equipment, infrastructure and capacity they need to create new opportunities and attract new customers.

“Regional NSW is the engine room of our state and this program will deliver immediate economic stimulus as businesses leverage new opportunities by providing work for tradies and suppliers.

“Regional NSW’s abundance of natural resources, its pool of skilled labour and the NSW Government’s record infrastructure spend is providing businesses and industry with everything they need to succeed.”
Mr Barilaro said the Regional Job Creation Fund will provide grants between $100,000 and up to $10 million to undertake projects that create jobs, including those that;

  • Replace, upgrade or adapt existing plant or equipment, including technology or energy efficiency upgrades
  • Enable existing regional NSW businesses to establish an additional production line
  • Relocate a business from interstate or internationally to regional NSW, or onshore an activity currently being undertaken overseas to regional NSW
  • Develop new tourism experiences and attractions to create new demand in a region.

Applications are now open and will close on Friday 14 May 2021 or when program funding is fully allocated.
For information about eligibility criteria and program guidelines, go to www.investregionalnsw.com/RJCFund

TAFE NSW DEVELOPS VIRTUAL REALITY HEALTH TRAINING

The NSW Government today announced TAFE NSW has partnered with key health industry players to deliver a virtual reality point-of-care blood testing pilot.

TAFE NSW joined with NSW Health Pathology, CognitiveVR, and global leader in in vitro diagnostic solutions, Werfen, to develop the innovative training solution.

Healthcare workers will use a virtual reality (VR) headset to perform hands-on blood testing and equipment maintenance in a safe, virtual environment.

Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education Geoff Lee said the NSW Government is setting a new standard of excellence in the use of emerging technologies in training.

“I’m pleased to announce TAFE NSW has teamed up with Werfen, NSW Health Pathology and CognitiveVR to develop a world-first training simulation to expand and increase acute care PoCT capability,” Mr Lee said.

“Importantly, the PoCT VR pilot aims to provide medical professionals with greater access to practical training and ensure workers have the critical diagnostic testing skills they need to provide the right care for our citizens during this challenging time.

“This demonstrates how TAFE NSW is working with industry leaders to develop high-tech, immersive training solutions to address real-world challenges.”

Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard said it would overcome limitations such as travel time, social distancing or the availability of blood testing devices.

“The simulation aims to provide healthcare professionals across the state, including in regional and remote areas, with greater access to hands-on training scenarios, ultimately increasing the quality of care while also reducing time away from clinical care.”

General Manager of Werfen Australia and New Zealand Sally Hickman said the immersive technology pilot aims to determine if VR training methodology can deliver a user experience that is equal to, or better than, face-to-face on-site training.

“Designed specifically for the Werfen GEM Premier 5000 whole blood testing system, the VR solution seeks to provide a more tactile approach to training to improve muscle memory and reinforce processes,” Ms Hickman said.