Update 20 April 2020
While the future of Virgin Australia hangs in the balance due to the coronavirus debilitation, the government has provided a boost to support essential domestic flights across the country. Qantas, Virgin and Jetstar will receive $165 million in addition to the $1 billion in support to Australia’s aviation industry, to keep essential connections open.
For the next 8 weeks (and then a review), the permitted flights will allow frontline and defence workers access to safe travel, and support the movement of vital medicines and protective equipment. It will also help those Australians returning from overseas, who have completed their mandatory quarantine, to return to their home states.
Western Australia (WA) has appointed a travel agent to facilitate the homeward journeys of those travelling to and from the state. Restricted public transport will also begin to resume in WA.
New South Wales got a blasting from the Queensland Minister for State Development, Cameron Dick, for suggesting that Virgin Airlines move its headquarters to Sydney. He argued that it is the worst possible time to require families to relocate while their job futures are uncertain.
All the spending
How will Australia end up paying for the government’s current generosity? All $320 billion of it. Of course, few are complaining about the lifelines, but the question hovers and whines like a mosquito: Will our grandchildren still be paying for this extravagance in the future?
Earlier this month, ScoMo assured us that the government has worked closely with the Treasury and Australian Office of Financial Management in working out the capacity of the Commonwealth for the size of these commitments.
One of the important safeguards is the temporary and focused nature of the measures, to ensure there are not long trails of expenditure. That didn’t happen in the last financial crisis, and it wasn’t good. The idea is that things will be able to ‘snap back’ when this pandemic is over.
Today, ScoMo elaborated further. There is no question that the pandemic is going to “hit us like a truck’”. But on the other side of it, a growing economy is what will be nurtured rather than increased taxes or COVID levies. If people are working, they’re paying taxes and the government is building revenue. So there are going to be employment-friendly policies put in place. These will help businesses that have hopefully managed to stay intact with the help of the stimulus packages. The aim is to make the economic recovery as strong as possible.
More on The COVID-19 Tracking App
It’s called TraceTogether and will be available in about two weeks’ time. It will do digitally what health workers are currently doing manually. If it works, it will speed up the ability of health services to trace the contacts of anyone who discovers they have COVID-19. If it doesn’t work…. well it can’t really not work because even a 5% uptake will be better than what we have now.
People are worried, of course, about their whereabouts being snooped on. Especially drug dealers and unfaithful spouses. Stuart Robert, Federal Minister for Government Services, has quieted many concerns with the facts. This is what I understand so far:
- The app uses Bluetooth only, not GPS tracking. So it won’t identify location. It obtains far less data than any location-based apps on your phone like Google or Life 360.
- If you are 1.5m from someone else who has the app, for 15 minutes or longer, it grabs their information.
- Data captured by the app is available via a portal, that only state health will have access to. There will be limited logins to this system, as per the limited number of people using the manual system right now.
- It will record this data for 21 days (the incubation phase of the virus plus some), after which the oldest data is deleted.
- Should someone become infected, nurses in state authorities will be able contact people that were exposed to the virus. This could include the ninety-year-old lady standing in a queue behind you at the shop, or the family at the park.
- You might be that ninety-year-old lady or that family at the park who was unknowingly exposed, so you are made safer through quick contact by a nurse if you have the app.
- All data from the app, stored by the health authorities, will be destroyed at the end of the pandemic.
The app will work most effectively if there is a minimum of a 40% uptake by the population.
Number of global cases topped the 2 million mark on Friday 17 April.
Yesterday, worldwide, there were:
- 2,241,359 confirmed cases of COVID-19
- 152,551 deaths reported
- There have been 6,612 confirmed cases
- Sadly, 70 people have died
- 4,230 people have recovered
- 33 people were on ventilators on 19 April
Hope Over Fear
The Prayer of Faith
ScoMo has often spoken of his prayers for the nation and invited others to keep praying for the National Cabinet and for Australia. He is not alone. All around the globe, those who are strengthened by their faith bring hope through prayer.
- A group of nurses in Nashville, Tennessee, took 10 minutes out of their busy shift to pray on the hospital rooftop because of the fear and anxiety they were feeling at work. They asked for strength, protection and wisdom for those taking care of patients around the globe.
- In Italy, as the death toll rose over 9000, the Pope delivered a special blessing over the city and the world. This prayer, usually reserved for Christmas and Easter, was broadcast on social media, TV and radio.
- The Samaritan’s Purse has medical staff on the frontlines at a field hospital in Italy. They decided that they would dedicate each 20 seconds of handwashing to intentionally praying for each of their patients.
Your Tip for Today
ANZAC Day, celebrated on the 25 April, will unfortunately not be celebrated through public gatherings this year, but it’s important to remember the sacrifices made for the freedoms we now enjoy, #Anzacdayathome on social media platforms will help you find creative ways to commemorate the occasion. Here are some of them:
- Watch the service on TV at 5:30am on Anzac Day, broadcast live by the ABC and streamed online. Seehere for details. There is also a call for people to stand in their driveways all across the country and listen to the service – see here for details.
- Put an Australian flag out the front of your house and decorate your car with blue, red and white streamers or green and gold balloons.
- Make Anzac Day crafts with your kidsand talk to them about the importance of Anzac Day as you make them. Make a poppy out of apaper plate, colour in a wreath, make bravery medals out of cardboard and foil, colour in the Australian flag, make poppies out ofred cupcake cases, make your own hand print wreath and create poppies from plastic bottles.
- Make Anzac biscuits with your family, have a cuppa and discuss how this country would be different without the ANZACs and the Australian wartime effort.
- Visit the Australian War Memorial website and learn more about the story of the ANZACs. You can even take a virtual visit of the memorial from home. See here for details.
- Add to the 50,000 Poppies Remembrance Day project. If you have an parent or grandparent who is sitting at home knitting through this pandemic, then why not send them somecrochet and knitting patterns to make poppies. It is a way for us all to feel connected on this national day.
What About You?
I’d love to hear your stories.
- Where do you wish you could book a flight to?
- Do you draw hope from your faith?
- What are you doing for Anzac Day
Drop me a comment below.
Deputy Prime Minister Media Release on Domestic Aviation – 16 April
Western Australia Govt – Travel agent and Public Transport – 18 April
Queensland Govt fights airline move to New South Wales – 20 April
Prime Minister Press Conference on the economy – 2 April
Prime Minister’s Interview with Tracy Grimshaw, A Current Affair – Channel 9 – 2 April
Prime Minister’s Interview with Neil Mitchell, 3AW – 20 April
Paul Murray (Sky News) podcast: PM in the AM – 20 April
(Interview with Federal Minister Stuart Roberts)
Seven News interview with Stuart Roberts – 20 April
WHO Situation Report
Federal Health Minister – 33 on ventilators – 19 April
Moments of Faith
Top 5 Ways to Mark Anzac Day at Home 2020