PM tells Australia to brace for 'sobering' life after virus

 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said Australians must prepare for "very sobering news" in the wake of COVID-19.

"We do need to prepare ourselves as a country for some very sobering news on the economic front in months ahead," he said at a Canberra press conference today.

"I think Australians understand that and are ready for that, but it is always difficult to receive that news, that's why it's so important as a national cabinet Australian public understand that we are working on that road out and we are working on that road ahead in the recovery piece that will see people getting back into work and Australia getting through this into other side."

More than 6400 cases of COVID-19 have now been confirmed in Australia, with 2897 in New South Wales, 1299 in Victoria, 1001 in Queensland, 433 in South Australia, 532 in Western Australia, 169 in Tasmania, 103 in the Australian Capital Territory and 28 in the Northern Territory.

The death toll stands at 63, after another former Ruby Princess passenger, a Canberra woman aged in her 60s, died yesterday.

 

Employers who rip off workers should be 'reported to police', PM says

Scott Morrison says it's "disgraceful" and "illegal" for employers to rip off their workers, in response to reports of employers asking staff to give back part of their JobKeeper payments.

"They should be reported to the police and the ATO, to make sure

that can be followed up. It's not on, it is appalling behaviour."

 

Social distancing rules will remain in place

The PM has reiterated that social distancing restrictions will be in place for a while more.

"I think social distancing, the washing of the hands, the doing of those things, that is what we should do until we find a vaccine," he said.

"Those sorts of things, the 1.5m, being conscious of your distancing, we will live with this for the foreseeable future, but when it comes to the specific economic restrictions that have been put in place, after the next month then there will be the opportunity to review that and potentially make some changes if we need those other benchmarks," he added.

"But within the next four weeks states and territories that went further than those baselines both in enforcement and with some additional measures of its own, they have indicated today that they will be reviewing those in the meantime."

 

'I want my kids back at school': PM

On whether the PM will return his own children to school: "I want my kids to go back to school and be taught in a classroom by a teacher. When a NSW school can deliver that for them, I will happily have them back in a heartbeat.

"Whether they are sitting in a school hall or sitting at home at the moment, the outcome will be the same, I would prefer for my own children, as I was having them attend school up until the last week before school break because Internet arrangements they put in place meant there was no difference between them at school and learning in the classroom.

"Regretfully, they were no longer getting classroom teaching at that school. That's what I'd like to see happen again."

 

PM refuses to address Turnbull's book

Scott Morrison has refused to address former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's upcoming book.

"I'm not interested in any distractions. I'm interested in the health and well-being of Australians."

 

Restrictions unlikely to ease before September

The PM stresses that, despite falling numbers, the government is treading cautiously on easing up restrictions.

"If you ease off too quickly too early, you end up making the situation worse. The economic consequences will get even worse. We need to keep it finely balanced."

He said restrictions will likely be in place for that same six-month period - until September.

"On the issue of the health issues, on six months, we have often talked about what is the six months, went does it start and when does it end?

"This is the June and September quarter.

"I have always considered the six months, the period in which we have been operating and will operate these lifeline measures in the economy, which is JobSeeker with the JobSeeker supplement, and JobKeeper, they run for the 6-month period, we have bought that time to find the road out."

 

Parliament 'trial week' considered for May

The PM says the government is seeking to implement a "trial week" of Parliament sometime in May.

"That would not be the Parliament coming together to consider necessarily COVID-19 related measures but if they do need to be considered, of course they can be.

"We want to send a very clear message that we are well ahead of where we thought we might be at this point and that would mean that we might be able to - I would say will be able to - having the Parliament meet again on a regular basis."

He reiterated that local members are "working hard every single day" despite Parliament not being in session.

 

Schools still a 'safe place for children', PM says

Gavin Fernando
Scott Morrison has reiterated that schools are a state and territory issue.

"They set the policies, they set the rules," he said.

He did, however, add that schools are a "safe place for children to be". He said teachers are more at risk in a staffroom than they are in a classroom.

"This means we need proper arrangements in place for teachers and staff at schools… but at the same time, that doesn't lead to these same rules applying for students, because they have a different level of risk."

 

Three conditions before restrictions will lift

The National Cabinet has agreed to look at three conditions which need to be in place before the government will consider lifting restrictions.

These three conditions are increased testing, better contact tracing and local response capabilities, or the ability to lock down localised areas.

 

'We're neither at Sweden nor New Zealand's end'

The PM says we are neither in "eradiction mode" nor "herd immunity" mode.

"We are not at the Sweden end or the New Zealand end, and when it comes to how we approach things, our data and information shows that in that phase we are doing relatively very well, especially over countries that are using even more extreme forms of lockdown," he said.

But he noted there is still a worrying number of internationally-acquired cases.

 

Election promises need to be 'reconsidered'

 

Scott Morrison says the promises made over the election period won't stand up following the COVID-19 outbreak.

"They also highlighted, though the need to make sure on the other side of the virus, as we make our road out, that any sense of business as usual when it comes to the policy framework we had election will need to be reconsidered on the other side," he said.

"To make sure we can achieve growth that will be necessary for our economy to get people back into work, economy back on track, it will be a different world on the other side of the virus and there will be many challenges, and the National Cabinet has a very good appreciation of this, and there has been some talk about its role on the other side of the virus, and that is a discussion for another day."

 

'Very sobering news': Australia told to prepare for worse

The PM said he need to prepare for some "very sobering news" economically.

"We know what the end expected impacts will be on employment and from the figures you have seen released from treasury, and the RBA have similar views as we have also seen in some of the IMF reporting as well.

"That is a figure we can note but it is not one we could expect to be held going forward, and we do need to prepare ourselves as a country for some very sobering news on the economic front in months ahead.

"I think Australians understand that and are ready for that, but it is always difficult to receive that news, that's why it's so important as a national cabinet Australian public understand that we are working on that road out and we are working on that road ahead in the recovery piece that will see people getting back into work and Australia getting through this into other side."

 

'We're turning to the road out'

Scott Morrison says the government is turning to the "road out", reiterating Australia is looking towards moving past its initial response to the virus.

"Our intention has now been turning to the road out, having worked through the road in," he said. "That road to recovery on the other side as well.

"Importantly today at National Cabinet we received quite extensive briefings from the governor of the reserve Bank and the secretary of Treasury, Doctor Kennedy.

"At those briefings it was reinforced again to the National cabinet on a point that we strongly concur with the need to synchronise our health and economic responses to the virus. We must consider these responses conjointly.

"We must understand the impact of each, whether that in the modelling work we're doing, with responses and measures we are putting in place, this has to be considered together and understood together."


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