The Prime Minister has urged Australians to support Victoria as it grapples with coronavirus outbreaks and discussed reducing international arrivals during his latest press conference.
Scott Morrison was asked about a range of issues — coronavirus-related and otherwise — during an announcement about more in-home aged care positions.
If you didn’t have time to watch, this is what you need to know.
Victoria needs our support
While Mr Morrison fronted the media to announce more support for aged care (we’ll get to that in a moment), he started by addressing the developments in Victoria and its second round of lockdowns.
As well as urging people to not become complacent about coronavirus, he called on the rest of the country to get behind those working to contain the outbreak in Melbourne.
“It’s happening in Melbourne now. Of course, there is always the risk it could happen in other cities,” he said.
“But we are all Melburnians now when it comes to the challenge we face.
“We are all Victorians now.
“Because we are all Australians and that is where the challenges are right now.”
He said he understood it was “tough” for all those in Melbourne at the moment.
This isn’t like other border closures
The Prime Minister has previously been quite vocal in his support for keeping borders open, saying the national health advice has never included directives for states to shut themselves off.
Federal Health authorities say the matter is up to the states and their respective situations.
But Mr Morrison today said he supported the closure of the Victoria-NSW border, describing this as a different situation.
“We need to understand what’s happened here in Victoria,” he said.
“What [it has] effectively done is Victoria has self-isolated.
“So that creates a protection for all the other states and territories at the one time and it doesn’t leave it to the arbitrary decision of one premier or another premier.”
All other states and territories have now closed their borders to Victorians, not just people in the hotspot areas. Residents require exemptions to enter other jurisdictions.
Victoria’s boundary closure comes as South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and Queensland gear up to open their borders in the coming days and weeks.
Help is coming from all corners
As Victorians lament entering a second lockdown, one glimmer of positivity is the outpouring of support from other states and territories, which are offering to help share the load where they can.
Mr Morrison noted this, thanking all of the premiers and chief ministers for their help so far.
“Whether it’s managing the very challenging issues now on the NSW-Victorian border or the testing that is being done in Tasmania or in South Australia, NSW and Queensland, [or] the tracing work that has been done drawing on the health professionals from Western Australia all the way to the east coast, this is a national coordinated effort,” he said.
The Commonwealth has also increased the support it is providing Victoria, with Mr Morrison saying there were 350 Australian Defence Force personnel assisting on the border, another 280 providing medical, testing and logistical support, and about 900 public servants assisting with “door-to-door efforts”.
Boost to aged care
Despite most of his press conference focusing on the coronavirus crisis in Victoria, the Prime Minister had actually scheduled the press conference to announce more places for in-home aged care.
Mr Morrison, alongside the Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck, announced an additional 6,100 in-home places.
He said it took the total introduced since the 2018-19 budget to 50,000 places at a cost of about $3 billion.
“This is about ensuring that Australians, as they age, have greater choices,” The Prime Minister said.
“That families have greater choices.”
Inbound flights could be reduced
Mr Morrison also flagged cutting the number of flights coming to Australia to ease the quarantine burden on states and territories.
His proposal follows the West Australian Government asking the Commonwealth to cap the state’s number of international arrivals, and NSW announcing a cap of 450 international passenger arrivals at Sydney Airport each day.
Victoria has asked all international flights to be diverted as it grapples with its outbreaks.
“I have been discussing [reducing flights] with premiers over the last 24 hours,” Mr Morrison said.
“I’ll be taking a proposal to National Cabinet to slow that down as of this Friday.”
Hong Kong assistance still being considered
One other topic the Prime Minister was asked about was the Government’s plan for Hong Kongers who want to seek safe haven in Australia.
The Federal Cabinet is currently considering whether to tear up Australia’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong amid the Chinese Government’s crackdown on the city.
“We continue to be concerned about issues in Hong Kong, as many nations are,” Mr Morrison said at the press conference.
He said the Government was still considering its options on “who we provide visas to” and when.