Andrews extends lockdown, tightens Sydney border rules

Original article by Michael Fowler, Aisha Dow, Melissa Cunningham
The Age – Page: Online : 21-Jul-21

Victoria has recorded 13 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, including one mystery case. Four of the new cases were active in the community while they were infectious. The state government has responded by extending the state-wide lockdown by another seven days; it is now slated to end at 11.59pm on 27 July, although health experts caution that this will depend on the case load at the time. The government has also closed its borders to all travellers from New South Wales and the ACT for two weeks, including Victorian residents who are not deemed to be authorised workers or qualify for an exemption on compassionate grounds.


Victoria’s snap lockdown to be extended

Original article by Jade Gailberger, John Dagge, Miles Proust
Herald Sun – Page: 7 : 19-Jul-21

Victoria has recorded 16 new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, while a Mildura man will be added to the case numbers for 19 July. He tested positive after returning home from Melbourne, where he attended an AFL match at the MCG; it is the regional city’s first COVID-19 in more than a year. Meanwhile, the Victorian government is expected to extend the state-wide lockdown until Friday at the earliest, amid concern about a number of potential ‘super-spreading’ exposure sites. Premier Daniel Andrews has ruled out any changes to lockdown restrictions in regional areas, saying the Mildura case shows how quickly the coronavirus can spread. There are currently 60 active locally-acquired cases in Victoria.


Andrews tax a $7bn hit to the economy

Original article by Rachel Baxendale
The Australian – Page: 7 : 14-Jul-21

Matthew Kandelaars, the CEO of the Urban Development Institute of Australia’s Victorian branch, has called for an urgent review of the state government’s proposed ‘windfall gains tax’ on property developers. Modelling undertaken on behalf of UDIA Victoria suggests that the rezoning tax will reduce state ­economic output by $7bn and result in the loss of 20,000 direct jobs, while at least 6,700 dwellings will not be built if the Budget measure goes ahead. UDIA Victoria has proposed an alternative model for the rezoning tax.


‘Heartbreaking’: Grand Prix cancelled again

Original article by Patrick Durkin
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 7 : 7-Jul-21

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the Victorian government to cancel the Australian Formula One Grand Prix for a second year. The 2021 race had already been rescheduled from March to November; the government has attributed its cancellation to factors such as the pace of the national vaccination rollout and a recent decision to slash the weekly cap on international arrivals. The logistics involved in the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for drivers and support teams is also said to have contributed to the Grand Prix’s cancellation. The Phillip Island round of the MotoGP world championship will also not be staged in 2021.


Masks off, footy crowds of up to 75 per cent in Victoria

Original article by Shannon Deery
Herald Sun – Page: 1 & 8 : 7-Jul-21

Senior Victorian government sources have confirmed that the state’s COVID-19 restrictions will be further eased in coming days. Amongst other things, office-based staff will no longer be required to wear a face mask at work, although masks will still be necessary in indoor settings such as public transport. Bill Lang of Small Business Australia has welcomed the move, saying that getting people to return to the Melbourne CBD is vital to the survival of hospitality and retail businesses in the city. The government is also expected to increase crowd numbers at football matches to 75 per cent of the venue’s capacity, and 50 per cent for live theatre. Victoria has recorded a sixth consecutive day with no locally-acquired COVID-19 cases.


Vic Liberal leadership rumblings resurface as Coalition closes gap on Labor

Original article by Annika Smethurst, Paul Sakkal, Michael Fowler
The Age – Page: Online : 17-Jun-21

Victoria’s Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien survived a leadership spill in March, but there is believed to be a renewed push to oust him. Sources have indicated that state and federal Liberal Party MPs had discussed seeking a leadership spill on 22 June, but there had been insufficient numbers to move against O’Brien. The Victorian Liberals’ partyroom is said to be divided, with some MPs supporting either O’Brien or former party leader Matthew Guy, while others do not support either of them. A number of Victorian federal MPs are also pushing for Guy to replace O’Brien ahead of the state election in 2022.


Melbourne braces for new lockdown

Original article by Rachel Baxendale
The Australian – Page: 1 & 5 : 27-May-21

The Victorian government has held an emergency meeting of cabinet to discuss further COVID-19 restrictions for Melbourne after six new cases were reported in the northern suburbs cluster on 26 May. There are now 15 cases in the cluster, all of whom have the Indian variant of COVID-19. More than 60 exposure sites have been identified to date, including Marvel Stadium and several locations in regional Victoria. Acting Premier James Merlino has not ruled out further restrictions, including the possibility of a five-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown. He adds that the number of new cases identified on 27 May will determine the government’s course of action. Meanwhile, the federal government will provide Victoria with an additional 130,000 vaccine doses.


Victorian budget a risk to recovery

Original article by Rachel Baxendale, Geoff Chambers
The Australian – Page: 1 & 6 : 21-May-21

The Victorian government’s May 2021 Budget shows that the state’s net debt will blow out to $156.3bn by mid-2025. However, the government has confirmed that the state’s deficit for 2020-21 will be much lower than previously forecast, at $17.4bn. The key measure announced in the Budget is a payroll tax surcharge of 0.5 per cent on businesses with a wages bill of more than $10m; this will rise to one per cent for businesses with wages costs of more than $100m. The surcharge is slated to raise $387m in 2021-22 and about $3bn over four years, with the proceeds to be used to finance a $3.8bn mental health package. The levy has been criticised by business leaders and federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who warn that it will cost jobs and undermine the national economy’s recovery from the pandemic.


Experts eye Melbourne-made mRNA vaccines

Original article by Paul Sakkal, Melissa Cunningham, Liam Mannix, Rachel Clun, Emma Koehn
The Age – Page: Online : 22-Apr-21

The Victorian government has announced that it will contribute $50m to the cost of establishing a facility to manufacture mRNA-based vaccines in Melbourne. Professor Colin Pouton of Monash University believes that this amount of funding would be sufficient to establish a facility for the local manufacturing of the COVID-19 vaccines that were developed by Pfizer and Moderna. He says Australia could begin producing these vaccines within a year, adding that this could be accelerated if CSL – which is producing AstraZeneca’s adenovirus-based vaccine – becomes involved. Australia currently receives limited supplies of the Pfizer vaccine.


Victoria set to snap out of lockdown

Original article by Tom Minear, James Campbell
Herald Sun – Page: 9 : 17-Feb-21

The number of COVID-19 cases linked to Melbourne’s Holiday Inn cluster has risen to 19, after Victoria recorded two new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours. Both are close contacts of a person who attended a family function in Coburg. However, the Victorian government is expected to end the state’s five-day snap lockdown as scheduled at 11.59pm on 17 February, unless there is a spike in positive cases. Some restrictions are likely to remain in place, including a requirement to wear a face mask indoors. Crowds are also set to return to the Australian Open, although a new cap is likely to apply.