Australia news live: impact of China’s Covid wave on supply chains likely to get ‘more difficult’, Chalmers says | Australia news

Chalmers says impact of Covid on China ‘key risk’ to Australian economy

The federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has stepped up for a press conference in Brisbane (sporting a new haircut) to address the government’s new restrictions on travellers from China.

Chalmers begins by saying he believed the outbreak in China will continue to affect supply chains in the near future:

The Covid wave in China is already having a substantial impact on supply chains. We expect that to get more difficult before it eases. When you’ve got a Covid wave like we’re seeing in China, when they’ve had until quite recently a zero-Covid approach to managing the pandemic, then that has obvious consequences for the Chinese workforce and for supply chains right around the world.

And so that is something that we’re very conscious of. We’re monitoring very closely. The impact of Covid on China and on supply chains is one of the key risks to our economy in 2023.

Updated at 23.02 EST

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Police confirm off-duty officer who drowned off NSW coast was attempting to rescue his own son

Speaking to media this afternoon, acting inspector Paul Hoyer said the man who drowned yesterday at a beach south of Narooma on the NSW coast, who has not been named, had “entered the water to rescue his 14-year-old son who had been swept out to sea on a rip.”

Hoyer said:

I can confirm that the male is a 45-year-old police officer. He’s attached to the north-west metropolitan region and he was off duty at the time, holidaying.

… This is a tragedy that will cut through to his family, friends, and workmates. It’s devastating at this time of year.

The beach at which the family were swimming was unpatrolled, Hoyer said, and the rip which caught the 14-year-old and his father was “rather substantial”.

Updated at 23.00 EST

Sweet, sweet relief for Melbournians who suffered through a very oppressive night last night (we are not used to sleeping in the heat, OK!): the cool change is here.

Updated at 22.49 EST

Stephanie Convery

Good afternoon folks. Thanks for joining us, and thanks to Mostafa Rachwani for helming the blog this morning. I’ll be with you for the rest of the afternoon.

Updated at 22.37 EST

Mostafa RachwaniMostafa Rachwani

And with that, I will be leaving the blog with the always great Stephanie Convery. Thanks for reading.

Updated at 22.37 EST

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry backs preflight testing for travellers from China

Paul KarpPaul Karp

Not all business groups are concerned about the reimposition of preflight testing for China.

Andrew McKellar, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said:

Given the evolving situation in China, the government’s decision to require a negative test on departure is appropriate and accepted by business.

It’s important that government clarify the type of testing required and whether passengers transiting through airports, particularly Hong Kong, will similarly be required to test. Clearly communicating these conditions will ensure arrivals can travel to Australia as easily as possible.

With the Chinese border only just reopening it will take some time before we see international arrivals from China return to their pre-pandemic levels. As such, we don’t expect testing requirements will have any great impact on our local tourism operators.

Updated at 22.59 EST

Labor position on stage-3 tax cuts has not changed

Chalmers was also presumably (we couldn’t hear the questions unfortunately) asked about the stage-3 tax cuts, and said the government’s position “hadn’t changed.”

Our position on the tax cuts hasn’t changed. We are working … to begin to put together the May 2023 budget. That will be an opportunity for us, again, to make the economy more resilient and the budget more responsible.

There will be cost-of-living relief in the budget, of course, because we’re working with the states and territories on some assistance for energy bills in particular. And that will be something that will factor into the budget in May.

We will always do what we can to support people dealing with high inflation, provide responsible cost-of-living relief, as we did in October, as we will in May, if we can afford it.

Updated at 21.53 EST

Chalmers: testing for China travellers ‘strikes the right balance’

Chalmers has addressed criticisms from business leaders who have been demanding more details from the government on its new measures:

Business leaders want us to strike the best balance between managing the health aspects of Covid-19 and making sure that we can keep the wheels of the economy turning.

Clearly, when the Chinese market and Chinese suppliers are such a substantial part of our own economy, people – not just business leaders, but economists and others – have their concerns about the impact of this Covid wave in China on our economy. I share those concerns. It’s one of the key things that we will be watching because it will be a key determinant of our prospects in our own economy in 2023.

There are typically a range of views. When the circumstances change, when management of the pandemic evolves, as the pandemic itself evolves, there are typically a range of views about that.

We listen respectfully to the views that people put forward. But the decision that we’ve taken as a government to rely again on some testing, when it comes to international arrivals, I think, is a sensible one. It strikes the right balance and it’s consistent with what a lot of other countries are doing around the world.

Updated at 21.52 EST

Chalmers says impact of Covid on China ‘key risk’ to Australian economy

The federal treasurer, Jim Chalmers, has stepped up for a press conference in Brisbane (sporting a new haircut) to address the government’s new restrictions on travellers from China.

Chalmers begins by saying he believed the outbreak in China will continue to affect supply chains in the near future:

The Covid wave in China is already having a substantial impact on supply chains. We expect that to get more difficult before it eases. When you’ve got a Covid wave like we’re seeing in China, when they’ve had until quite recently a zero-Covid approach to managing the pandemic, then that has obvious consequences for the Chinese workforce and for supply chains right around the world.

And so that is something that we’re very conscious of. We’re monitoring very closely. The impact of Covid on China and on supply chains is one of the key risks to our economy in 2023.

Updated at 23.02 EST

Group of Eight universities announce support for Covid restrictions on travellers from China

Australia’s Group of Eight universities, representing some of the biggest unis in the country, have announced they are supporting the government’s decision to introduce some restrictions on arriving travellers from China.

The group, which represent the Universities of Western Australia, Melbourne, Adelaide, Queensland and Sydney, as well as Monash, ANU and UNSW, said in a statement it was a reasonable decision by the government.

The Go8’s chief executive, Vicki Thomson, said that while the decision may impact the students returning or arriving in Australia, it would still support it:

From the outset of the pandemic, Go8 members have always supported decisions based on expert health advice and will continue to do so.

While the government’s decision that people travelling from China must test negative on departure may impact students returning to study at Go8 universities, it has been taken in the best interests of our students and the broader Australian community.

More than 105,000 Chinese nationals are currently enrolled at Go8 universities, representing 76% of higher education enrolments from Chinese students.

These students stuck by Go8 universities throughout the pandemic which is a testament to the high quality education being offered at our research-intensive universities. We look forward to welcoming them back in 2023.

Updated at 21.29 EST

Increase in Victorians who died on the road in 2022

Victoria’s Transport Accident Commission is urging drivers to slow down amid an uptick in the number of people killed on the road in 2022.

240 people lost their lives on Victorian roads last year, an increase on the 233 that died in 2021. The TAC also noted an increase in deaths on regional roads, with 134 people dying in country areas compared with 119 in 2021 – while metropolitan road deaths dropped from 114 in 2021 to 106 in 2022.

TAC’s acting chief executive officer, Liz Cairns, said that while the number of deaths were tragic, they were also avoidable:

Sadly, more than 240 families are starting this year missing a loved one who lost their life on our roads in 2022 – it’s tragic, it’s avoidable and we need all Victorians to make safe choices and play a role in turning it around.

Updated at 21.07 EST

Paul KarpPaul Karp

Watt: passengers from China who test positive pre-flight asked ‘not to get on the plane’

The agriculture and emergency management minister, Murray Watt, has commented on the reimposition of preflight testing for passengers coming from mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong.

Watt told 4BC Radio:

“All we’re asking – we think it’s a pretty modest measure to ask people to test within 48 hours of getting on a plane. If they test [positive] then of course we’re asking them not to get on the plane, and we’re asking airlines to play a role in preventing that from happening. But for people who were to contract Covid on the plane, we’d be asking them to stay at home, isolate, test, and be considerate of other people.”

Watt said the Australian government is “not looking at anything like … hotel quarantine or mandatory isolation days”.

Updated at 20.11 EST

Uncertainty on if Covid test requirements apply to passengers flying through Hong Kong

Airlines have expressed some concern on the government’s new restrictions on travellers arriving from China, with some saying they want to know if passengers flying through Hong Kong will be exempt.

James Goodwin from the Australian Airports Association told the Nine newspapers that more details were required before the new measures are enacted from 5 January:

There needs to be urgent clarification on transiting passengers given Hong Kong has been included in the announcement.

Many people could pass through Hong Kong on the way to Australia and our view is those requiring testing should be based on country of point of origin as long as the passenger doesn’t leave the airport.

The Australian government authorities need to ensure passengers and airlines are aware of the rules and protocols because we don’t want to see problems with arriving travellers at Australian airports.

Updated at 19.36 EST

As always, Amy Remeikis never misses, and her assessment of the challenges facing the Albanese government in 2023 is well worth reading:

Updated at 19.21 EST

State opposition calls out NSW Liberal party over speed camera signs ‘debacle’

NSW Labor is calling for the state government to reveal the cost of its speed camera policy backflip after it was revealed that nearly three quarters of mobile speed cameras are out of action.

From 1 January, all mobile speed camera vehicles require a warning sign, a backflip after public outcry over a spike in speeding fines. But that measure has meant that only 38 mobile speed camera cars are operating in NSW, with the remainder due to be retrofitted by April.

The shadow minister for roads, John Graham, called it an “administrative debacle”:

You couldn’t make this up. Transport officials warned publicly that the old warning signs were too big for the new cars. They also warned of this impending deadline.

Nearly three quarters of these cars are being pulled off the road at the most dangerous time of the year for road safety. This is worse than the worst case scenario outlined by transport officials.

Updated at 18.41 EST

Daily Telegraph reports NSW police officer drowns saving child at beach

A NSW Police officer has died attempting to save a child struggling in the water, the Daily Telegraph is reporting.

Emergency services were called to a beach in a national park at Narooma on New Year’s Day, after a man, believed to be an off duty officer, was pulled from the water. The man was there with his family when he spotted a child struggling in a rip at the unpatrolled beach.

Investigations are expected to continue today, with a report to be prepared for the coroner.

Updated at 22.57 EST