Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Australia news live: no new local Covid cases in NSW, Queensland and Victoria, while southern states hit by heatwave


Late February Pfizer vaccine rollout planned. Meanwhile, South Australian authorities warn residents as bushfires erupt in Adelaide Hills. Follow all the latest updates, live

NSW hotspots; Queensland hotspots
State-by-state restrictions and lockdown rules explained
Pfizer Covid vaccine approved for Australian rollout
Follow the global coronavirus liveblog

1.30am GMT

And while we are in South Australia, that state also recorded no new Covid-19 cases today.

1.29am GMT

Authorities in South Australia have issued a health alert for bushfire smoke, which is lying in a thick blanket over Adelaide and other parts of the state.

SA Health said the smoke from the Cherry Gardens fire may pose a health risk to people with chest or heart conditions, and could pose a “serious threat” to the health of vulnerable people, particularly people with chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

View from PHQ. Thick smoke from the #CherryGardens bushfire is blanketing the #Adelaide metro area. Ensure all windows/doors remain closed and take care if needing to drive as there is reduced visibility. @CFSAlerts @SAHealth Stay safe out there. pic.twitter.com/ghPDMdMtHq

We are urging people to stay indoors where possible, avoid physical exercise outdoors and reduce their exposure to smoky air.

People should keep windows and doors shut, and ventilate the house once the smoke clears.

1.23am GMT

The Australian Capital Territory has again recorded no new cases of Covid-19 and has no active cases.

1.21am GMT

Queensland has acquired no new locally acquired cases of Covid-19, and two in hotel quarantine.

Monday 25 January – coronavirus cases in Queensland:

• 0 new locally acquired cases
• 2 overseas acquired cases
• 15 active cases
• 1,305 total cases
• 1,729,704 tests conducted

Sadly, six Queenslanders with COVID-19 have died. 1,278 patients have recovered.#covid19 pic.twitter.com/0e9vBNbTKU

1.19am GMT

The Melbourne Invasion Day Committee has released a statement about tomorrow’s protest. This is via Gunnai and Gunditjmara woman Meriki Onus, who is a member of the organising committee.

It reads:

This Invasion Day, we are marching to Abolish Australia Day and its continued celebration. This year marks the 83rd anniversary of the Day of Mourning protest, a legacy we will continue until we have attained our rights and achieved justice for our people. We march to fight against everything so-called ‘Australia Day’ represents: white nationalism and the ongoing colonial project, which destroys Aboriginal lands and waters and murders Aboriginal people and our kin.

There is nothing to celebrate on Australian Day. Aboriginal communities continue to be oppressed, policed, discriminated against and disenfranchised. Australian nationalism – a project reinforced during the Howard years yet continued by governments since – is nothing more than white supremacy, ignorance and racism. The 26th of January represents the first day of invasion on this continent and subsequent dispossession from our land and our kinship. This is still happening today.

We demand the state abolish Australia Day, a day which celebrates murder and violence enacted upon our people. We demand our lands and waterways be repatriated and given back to its rightful owners and protectors. 10/16

1.07am GMT

The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service has put its support behind people attending Invasion Day protests in Victoria tomorrow, and has provided advice for anyone confronted by police.

In a statement, VALS said exercising the right to protest on Invasion Day was a “reasonable action in response to the systemic racism and injustices Aboriginal people have been subjected to every day since this land’s violent colonisation”.

Victoria police must not misuse Covid-19 health measures to impede the right to protest. Health experts have stated that the risk of community transmission of Covid-19 is currently low, but that people attending a protest should take precautions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have been disproportionately impacted by the policing responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. It needs to stop, and police must allow peaceful protests to proceed.

VALS encourages everyone participating in Invasion Day protests to be aware of the Covid-19 restrictions and your rights and seek legal assistance as soon as possible if you are arrested.

12.59am GMT

Australian exports in 2020 were 7% lower overall than the previous year, latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show.

But Australian exporters had a particularly strong December, sending nearly $35bn of goods abroad last month. That figure is up 16% from the previous month, or up a more modest 3% when compared with December 2019.

12.47am GMT

Police in NSW gave a press conference a short time ago, and urged people not to attend the Invasion Day protest.

I’ll bring you this officer’s name once I find it. But here are his comments:

Of course, we’re well aware of a public gathering that’s planned for tomorrow in the Domain. I need to remind people that protests are capped at 500 people. You cannot be part of a public gathering for the purpose of protesting [of] more than 500 people. We know that people are talking about larger numbers than that. Police will be out in force, we will be enforcing the public health orders. Again, we’ll be firm and fair and I’m asking people – do not come in and be part of that public gathering.

Find another way to express your views and your opinions. I know we are all aware that these are sensitive issues and they’re very important issues to a lot of people, but we are still in the middle of a global pandemic and we’re asking people to abide by those health orders.

12.43am GMT

A weather update: Melbourne continues hot.

I am outside rn, this is what it looks like pic.twitter.com/bGjpEH8v7o

12.40am GMT

A community case of Covid-19 has been confirmed in New Zealand, with genome sequencing identifying it as the South African variant of the virus.

Investigators think the 56-year-old woman contracted the infection from a fellow guest at the Pullman hotel, where she was undergoing government-managed isolation.

Over three dozen guests at the Pullman in central Auckland are being held longer in their rooms while the source of the newly confirmed local infection is investigated. Nearly all 200 hotel staff have been tested.

12.37am GMT

Australia’s high commissioner to the United Kingdom, George Brandis, has been criticised for returning to Australia over the Christmas break and spending a month off in Queensland, while thousands of other Australians remain stranded overseas.

AAP reports:

Other ambassadors and high commissioners stationed across the globe are also believed to have returned.

His holiday has been criticised by some of the almost 40,000 Australians still stuck overseas who are struggling to get home because of quarantine caps and limited seats on flights.

First of all, I’ll give you the facts. He came back for meetings here in Australia, like many other heads of mission. He did not take the place of any other Australian. He got on the same plane that anyone else would. He spent two weeks here quarantining before he engaged in those meetings. He actually had a meeting with me when he was back, which is the case for most of the heads of missions of our senior posts around the country, as well as with the officials and DFAT and other ministers. He’s an Australian and he spent some time with his family in his home state while he was here. They’re the facts. That’s what happened.

12.31am GMT

The communications minister, Paul Fletcher, has responded to a Reset Australia proposal to force tech giants to publish “live lists” of the most viral Covid-19 content in order to surface (and refute) misinformation.

A spokesman for Fletcher left the door open down the line but said the government wants to see how its voluntary code of conduct on misinformation works first – which means the proposal will not be in place for the start of the vaccination rollout.

During Covid-19, we’ve seen firsthand the harm misinformation can cause as it spreads rapidly online. It can create public confusion and is particularly harmful to those most vulnerable in our community.

Following the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s digital platforms inquiry, the government tasked the Australian Communications and Media Authority with overseeing the development of the voluntary code, and expects an industry-wide code to be in place early this year.

12.27am GMT

Let’s go back to Anthony Albanese, who was speaking in Canberra earlier.

He was asked about the ABC’s use of “Australia Day/Invasion Day” in a headline about a list of events on tomorrow (again, I cannot believe this is what we’re having a national debate about, a headline on a list of public holiday events). The communications minister, Paul Fletcher, issued a statement this morning to say the ABC was “clearly wrong” to use Invasion Day in a headline.

I’ll leave those matters for the ABC. I’ll be here participating in the Australia Day commemorations tomorrow. Can I say this, though, about Australia Day – what we need to do is to make sure that when we look at our nation, we look at ways in which we unite. We look at ways in which we’re able to move forward.

Indeed, you could have a recognition that history certainly didn’t begin in this country in 1788 with the arrival of the 11 – count it – 11 ships in the first fleet.

I think that would be a way in which we acknowledge history going backwards. I think we need a constructive discussion and I think – I don’t want to add to anything that further divides. It’s clear we need a mature discussion going forward because I perfectly understand that for First Nations people, that’s a painful day. That, we need to acknowledge.

We’re diminished as a nation while we don’t recognition First Nations people in our constitution. I have been very disappointed there hasn’t been an advance in the first discussion I had with the prime minister in his office when the parliament resumed and I became Labor leader. We discussed advancing those issues.

I strongly support the Uluru statement. I think it’s a very generous statement. It’s – it’s a request, it’s a polite request, from First Nations people after considerable consultation to engage with them, and a voice to the parliament on issues that affect First Nations people is to, my mind, just common sense and enshrining that in the constitution reflects the capacity of the parliament and the Australian people to show faith that that process won’t be discontinued due to a change in government, as happened in the past with Atsic, for example. So I think these issues are important going forward.

And I think that stands in stark contrast to the contribution of Andrew Laming that I got to say is entirely unworthy of a member of our Australian parliament.

12.06am GMT

New South Wales has recorded no new locally acquired cases of Covid-19.

There were three cases reported in hotel quarantine.

Low testing numbers remain a concern. We are strongly urging people across the state to come forward for testing with even the mildest of symptoms.

High testing rates are essential to give us confidence that no cases are going undetected in the community.

12.01am GMT

Some good news: the emergency warning for the Cherry Gardens fire in the Adelaide Hills has been downgraded to a watch and act.

#Bushfire Watch and Act for #CHERRY_GARDENS,_HICKS_HILL_ROAD #fire. Take action now as this bushfire may threaten your safety. If you are not prepared, leave now and if the path is clear, go to a safer place. #WAM ID=0005369 #SAFires https://t.co/ZcYK3e1GI9 pic.twitter.com/QTlSg3KGHL


11.55pm GMT

Albanese was also asked about Scott Morrison’s response to his suggestion that the government bring in former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard to help reset the Australia-China relationship.

Morrison said earlier this morning that he spoke to Howard about the issue regularly and had also spoken to Rudd about it.

I wrote to the prime minister last week suggesting that he engage with former prime ministers Rudd and Howard – both of whom have significant relationships with China, and, as well, of course, Kevin Rudd has significant relationships with the incoming Biden administration as well.

It’s very clear that when Australian jobs in industries as diverse as wine, education, the timber industry, coal and other exports are under threat because of what has occurred with the breakdown in the relationship.

11.52pm GMT

To other questions. Was Albanese frustrated by Bill Shorten’s speech yesterday?

Albanese said:

Not at all. Bill Shorten launched a book. Labor party people write books. Labor party people launch books. We’re the party of ideas.

11.51pm GMT

The opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, is giving a press conference, criticising the federal government for saying that the target of the first 4m doses would now not be met until April, not in March as previously promised.

The prime minister, Scott Morrison, said earlier that the target would take longer to reach because of demands for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured offshore.

We said consistently that once the TGA approval occurred, the vaccines should be rolled out as soon as possible. We were told it would be late March. Then it was early March. Then it was some time in February. But the prime minister has also committed to four million people being vaccinated by the end of March. We’ll be holding him to account on that, because it appears that that is going the way of the commitment that all Australians who were stranded overseas would be home by Christmas. This government consistently doesn’t deliver on what it says it will do.

If the Morrison government had secured the Pfizer deal before other countries had secured 1bn doses of their own, maybe the government would have more than one in five Australians being looked after by this vaccine.

Well, I didn’t put words into the prime minister’s mouth. He chose to say that 4m doses would occur before March. It is relevant, not just for me to hold the prime minister to account for what he says, but without telling the fourth estate how to do your job – it’s up to you, also, to hold him to account for what he says.

11.41pm GMT

Dowling says 300 firefighters and 50 appliances, fire trucks and smaller vehicles, were at the Cherry Gardens fire overnight. Today that has increased to 400 firefighters and 60 appliances.

They also have bulldozers coming in to help build control lines, and Dowling says there are also some farmers with their own firefighting vehicles on the frontlines.

The area that the fire is burning in hasn’t had a fire through for a very long time. So the vegetation is really thick. And there’s lots of tall timber. Some of that is going to smoulder for a long time, so we’ll be looking at crewing this fire ground at least for the next week and depending on what the weather is doing, it may have to go longer than that.

11.38pm GMT

Dowling says two houses have been reported as destroyed or damaged in the fire already, and that number is likely to grow.

She tells the ABC:

At the moment, our assessment teams are in there today, but we’ve been advised that there’s two houses. We’re not sure whether they’re destroyed or damaged, and there is two sheds. But we do anticipate today that we will be reporting more than that which has been damaged, but we don’t have that until later on today.

11.36pm GMT

The SA Country Fire Service duty commander, Yvette Dowling, is talking on the ABC about the fire in the Adelaide Hills, where an emergency warning remains in place.

She says the wind is swinging around, causing changeable, erratic conditions.

At the moment, we have very erratic fire behaviour in the north-eastern section of the fire, which is near the Longwood and Mylor area. We have concerns in that area and as you mentioned, we do have an emergency warning message out for that section of the fire.

The wind is swinging around today, and it will continue to do that throughout the day. So we just need everyone to be mindful, to make sure that they’re keeping up to date with the messaging because the wind will change several times throughout the day. And also, we just want to remind people to try to stay off the roads. It’s quite dangerous out there with the amount of smoke and with the emergency services. There’s lots of them around the place.

11.22pm GMT

That’s it from Canberra for now. Let’s quickly go through what we missed while that press conference was going on.

Firstly, the ABC is reporting that the Country Fire Service in South Australia says some houses may have been lost in the Adelaide Hills bushfire.

Homes that have been built to withstand a bushfire, and are prepared to the highest level, may provide safety.

You may lose power, water, phone and data connections.

11.18pm GMT

Morrison also commented on suggestions that Australia should create purpose-built quarantine facilities which would operate like Howard Springs in the Northern Territory to accomodate returning Australians and international travellers.

He said that he discussed the possibility of a quarantine facility for “a bit of a supplementary capacity” with the Queensland premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, on Friday, “but that only relates to an overflow capacity around charter flights”.

We looked at the issue of broader expansion of facilities like Howard Springs earlier in the year. I mean, if you want to get at least 5,000 people into Australia a week, which is what we had been achieving, then the idea that you can build some sort of national set of camps that can accommodate that – well, that’s not a practical way to achieve it.

The advice was, and I think it was right, and it was agreed to by the states and territories, that the best and most effective and safest way to do that is to take advantage of the accommodation capacity that sits through the hotel quarantine system that has been used. And that was the advice and the other options were considered.

11.14pm GMT

Morrison was asked if he was surprised by the results of an Ipsos poll conducted for the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald that found that “only 28% of 1,222 people surveyed nationally were in favour of shifting the date, while 48% were opposed and a further quarter neither agreed or disagreed”.

He said:

No, I’m not surprised. No, I’m not surprised.

11.12pm GMT

To other questions. The prime minister, Scott Morrison, was asked earlier if he supported a proposal from the opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, to get former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and John Howard involved in resetting the Australia-China relationship.

Morrison said:

The Australia-China relationship is important to Australia. The China-Australia relationship is important to China. And we will, of course, remain absolutely open and available to meet, to discuss, any of the issues that have been identified.

But those discussions, as I’ve made clear, won’t take place on the base of any sort of pre-emptive concessions on Australia’s part on those matters. I don’t think that any Australian would want their prime minister to be conceding the points that they’ve set out.

11.09pm GMT

Morrison said that the vaccine rollout does not mean that people can abandon Covid-safe practices like wearing masks and social distancing.

This year 2021, it will require us to continue to be vigilant, it will continue to require us to be engaging with all sorts of Covid-19 arrangements that can further mitigate the risk of transmission and keeping Australians safe, keeping livelihoods – keeping Australia as open as possible.

There are limitations to these vaccines. There is more to learn about these vaccines. In many cases, as I have been advised, there are positions where there is not enough evidence to say definitively it does X but that doesn’t mean it won’t … So it is important to understand that once the vaccine starts, that doesn’t mean you can jump on a plane to Bali the next day. It doesn’t mean that the masks disappear if that is what the public health arrangements are in a particular state or territory, or the quarantine arrangements for return into Australia will end or anything like this.

We think they will be effective. The other thing we don’t know is how long the immunity of these vaccines will last. It may be that people will need additional doses of vaccines, possibly annually. These things are completely unknown at the moment.

That may or may not be true, it is just not in a position to be able to say that. I don’t think we should leap to any conclusion about what things look like six months or nine months from now, just like this time last year, people were making predictions this time last year and in the months that followed, and they proved to be horribly wrong.

11.02pm GMT

Can pregnant women take the Pfizer vaccine?

Murphy says:

There is no data. Theoretically the risk of this vaccine, Pfizer or AstraZeneca, on pregnancy is probably very low. I note that the US and UK have different recommendations about pregnancy. We will be getting advice from [the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] and it is advice that is just going to be based on the best guess of what the risks are at the moment and that is coming very shortly, before the vaccine is administered.

The TGA advice – and we have been concerned about this – for the very elderly and frail, that will need a very careful clinical decision. That is something that would need to be, where the risks versus the benefits of vaccination need to be carefully considered. The vaccine is registered for all ages over 16 but there will be specific advice that ATARGI will produce around particularly people who are very frail and close to end of life which is the group that had the issues in Norway.

10.59pm GMT

So, is Australia trying to sign a contract with Moderna?

Murphy says:

We are continuing to evaluate and are in discussions with all of the major companies. Those discussions are commercial in confidence. We are continuing discussions with all major vaccine companies.

10.58pm GMT

A reporter asked whether the Australian government was also negotiating to procure doses of the Moderna vaccine.

Prof Brendan Murphy said the medical advice at the moment is no, because the Moderna vaccine is substantially similar to the Pfizer vaccine.

We have the Novavax vaccine still and we have whole population coverage of Novavax. We haven’t seen phase three trial date for Novavax yet. That may well be as good as the other vaccines that we have got.

We are also looking at our mix of the MRNA vaccines and the Moderna vaccine is very similar to the Pfizer vaccine. There is not much difference between the two. We are looking at the MRNA vaccine profile and the protein vaccine profile all the time and this panel, which is comprised people with deep expertise from the pharmaceutical industry and the medical and scientific industry feels our profile at the moment is the right one for us.

10.55pm GMT

Let’s clarify what Greg Hunt said earlier when he said we should be “more conservative” about the figure of delivering 80,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from late February.

He clarified that the 80,000 doses was the conservative figure.

It could actually be higher but we will presume 80,000 doses per week is the initial distribution and then, as I have said, Pfizer is around the world – and I think this is understandable, looking at all of their available production and then they will provide guidance in mid-February for March and beyond on a weekly basis.

Then, as we have indicated, later on we will have AstraZeneca international from early March is the current guidance and then AstraZeneca domestic at the volume of approximately a million a week on the latest advice that we had over the weekend.

10.52pm GMT

Morrison and Hunt said that demand for the AstraZeneca vaccine meant that Australia would get fewer doses in March than previously promised.

That means the target of reaching 4m doses administered by the end of March will now probably not be met until April, Morrison said.

I think we are on track for the February commencement, the October completion, slightly earlier start for the AstraZeneca international than we would imagine, slightly earlier start for the CSL production domestically than we had imagined.

The one variable here is AstraZeneca globally advised us yesterday that, as we have seen, they have had a significant supply shock and so that means we won’t have as much of that AstraZeneca international in March as they had previously promised, which is precisely why I maintain that the two most important decisions are the 1st of February China decision and the [decision to manufacture] AstraZeneca onshore.

10.47pm GMT

Another reporter asked if the Australian government had confirmed what percentage of the vaccine doses Australia has secured would potentially go to Pacific nations or Indonesia, given that Australia has contractual arrangements to secure enough doses to vaccinate the population three times over.

Morrison said the foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, has begun working with Pacific Islands nations about sharing those excess doses, “and the first step of that is to prepare them to be able to administer the vaccine”.

So there is a fair bit of work going in aid support to ensure that they are in a capacity to actually deliver the vaccine. We are going through the rollout timetables and programs with them now. They don’t start the same time as we do here. The first thing we need to do is ensure that they are equipped to be able to administer the vaccine across their population. That is the first step and I have had some fantastic messages back from our Pacific family leaders over the course of the last week. Those calls have been well received. The Pacific leaders are appreciative of the proactive role that Australia has taken to ensure that they will be in a position to administer that vaccine.

10.43pm GMT

First question: a reporter asked if Australia was impacted by Pfizer’s production delays in Europe, when previously it had been suggested that Australia would get vaccines manufactured in the US.

Scott Morrison said:

Firstly, no Australian vaccines – ie vaccines destined for Australia – have been diverted anywhere else. Let me be clear about that. There are challenges for all the big producers around the world for the reasons that I said before.

I note that – I think it is actually valuable to bring everybody into the confidence of the discussions with Pfizer. They have had to pause some of their supply to major nations and that has had an impact on some of their programs. For us we are commencing in exactly the window. We had not put a specific date – and on multiple occasions to questions to many of you here, we have indicated that the date that we would have would be dependent on approval and then on shipping times. Those shipping times were provided last night, which means we are in a position to commence in late February and our guidance has always been for a window.

I would say that has undoubtedly been influenced by Pfizer’s global capacity and the fact that we are within our window is indicative of a very strong contract and a very strong position.They reaffirmed to us that they are on track to complete all of their contractual contracts, timeframes and obligations.

10.39pm GMT

Brendan Murphy said:

The preparation that is going on for this vaccination journey is huge. We intend to get it right. We have got major logistics issues vaccinating 26 million people. We are working closely with our partners in the states and territories, we are doing very careful planning about starting up those clinics so we can get going first with the border workers, the quarantine workers, the healthcare workers at risk of Covid and the elderly and people in disability care and their staff.

We are ready to go. We are planning very exciting and very exciting that we have not had to do this in an emergency way because we have a crisis to deal with. We can do this in our normal safe Australian way.

10.38pm GMT

Morrison, Hunt and the federal health secretary, Prof Brendan Murphy, all thanked the health professionals who have worked to get the vaccine approved.

10.37pm GMT

Hunt said that onshore vaccine manufacturing capability was one of the most important decisions taken in Australia since the pandemic began.

If you asked me for the two most important decisions of the whole pandemic, one, the 1st of February last year, the advice that Prof Murphy gave to the prime minister and myself and then the national security committee that we should close the border with China.

Secondly, the decision to pay a premium for an onshore, secure, sovereign vaccine manufacturing capacity via CSL. That puts Australia in a vastly more secure position than almost any other country in the world. That’s probably, of all the decisions, the one which I reflect upon and that was a difficult, challenging decision at the time and we had to work very hard to have that onshore vaccine manufacturing capability but CSL and AstraZeneca have stepped up.

10.35pm GMT

Hunt said he spoke with the regional and Australian heads of Pfizer last night, and they indicated the first vaccines would be in Australia ready for distribution in late February.

So within the guidance that we previously provided, that is likely to start with approximately 80,000 doses per week, if not more. Let’s be more conservative on that.

Further guidance for March and beyond will be provided across the globe by Pfizer in mid-February. They are making global decisions on those allocations but continuous supply was their goal objective and their anticipation and guidance as of last night.

10.32pm GMT

The health minister, Greg Hunt, said the commencement of Australia’s vaccine delivery program “remains on track for February, as the prime minister has said. The completion remains on track for October.”

Hunt noted that the TGA provisional approval for the Pfizer vaccine is for Australians aged 16 years and older.

I think when last we spoke we were anticipating it might be 18 years and older. That is a broader range of population than anticipated. That changes our vaccination strategy, so as those 16 and above will now be included in phase 2(b). This is an example of the evolution of that strategy as the approvals and facts and science are developed.

10.30pm GMT

Morrison said concerns about production delays in other countries is why the Australian government had decided to put in place arrangement with CSL and AstraZeneca to produce that vaccine onshore.

That is happening now. It is under way now. Yes, we paid a premium for it. Yes, we had to put the capabilities in place with CSL to achieve that and, yes, we’re involved more broadly in the development of their production facilities in Melbourne but that was the right decision for Australia because, as much as you can, you want to be able to control as many things as you can in this country when dealing with Covid-19.

That has been our form. That will continue to be our form.

10.28pm GMT

Morrison says Australia is now looking more at late February than mid-February for the first rollout of the Pfizer vaccine, because of production difficulties in Europe.

He also noted that the Therapeutic Goods Administration had granted provisional approval to the Pfizer vaccine, not emergency approval.

This is a formal approval under the ordinary processes of the TGA and we are one of the first countries in the handful of countries to have gone through that comprehensive and thorough process here in Australia to ensure the approval of that vaccine.

We are more looking at late February now than mid-February because of the challenges that we have seen in the production and delivery for both AstraZeneca and Pfizer around the world.

You will be aware of the situation and pressures that we are seeing globally. This day last week I was holding a further video conference meeting with a number of the national leaders throughout Europe and also in Israel and they are under considerable strain and stress there, in countries that are experiencing large numbers of fatalities every day and their vaccination programs under extreme stress.

10.24pm GMT

Scott Morrison notes that it has been one year since Australia recorded its first case of Covid-19.

What an extraordinary year it has been over these past 12 months. A year on from that fateful day, Australia, we know, has done better and managed this together, working together better than almost any other country in the world today.

As we look at the terrible situation being experienced in many parts of the world, some quite close to here, some further afield, our thoughts and support is with all the nations of the world, as we seek to get on top of what has been a calamitous event for the world over these last 12 months and indeed longer than that in some cases.

10.20pm GMT

Scott Morrison is speaking now. He starts by saying he spoke to the South Australian premier, Steven Marshall, about the Adelaide Hills bushfire.

Morrison says he offered federal assistance but “none is required at this stage”.

10.17pm GMT

The vaccine rollout in Australia will be conducted in five stages, starting with 30 to 50 hospital sites and moving to 1,000 vaccine clinics across the country.

The first group, phase 1A, includes quarantine and border workers, priority groups among frontline healthcare workers, aged care and disability staff, and aged care and disability workers. That will take up to 1.4m doses.

10.11pm GMT

We’re expecting the prime minister, Scott Morrison, to hold a press conference on this soon.

10.11pm GMT

Scott Morrison said:

I welcome the TGA’s approval of the Pfizer vaccine, with our own Australian experts finding it is safe, effective and of a high standard.

Australians should take confidence in the thorough and careful approach taken by our world-class safety regulator.

The TGA’s processes are I believe the best in the world and we have ensured that they are thorough. The TGA has placed safety above all else.

The government’s latest advice remains that the first doses of Pfizer are expected to arrive and be rolled out in late February. Final dates will be confirmed by Pfizer shortly and are subject to shipping and distribution.

10.06pm GMT

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has granted provisional approval to the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, clearing the way for the rollout to begin in early February.

The provisional approval is for people aged 16 years and older. The vaccine is administered in two doses 21 days apart. The rollout will begin once the vaccine has ben shipped to Australia, which the prime minister, Scott Morrison, previously said would take about two weeks after it was approved.

A priority group of Australians are expected to now receive their first dose of the vaccine as soon as it can be received from Pfizer and the necessary checks are undertaken by the TGA, prior to its distribution.

The latest advice given to the government from Pfizer is that shipping and the first vaccinations are expected to be in late February.

10.00pm GMT

The communications minister, Paul Fletcher, has taken umbrage with an article on the ABC that provided a list of events happening on 26 January.

The article was headlined: “Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events for Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin”.

The ABC online article is incorrect about Australia Day.

The ABC has clearly got this one wrong.

The official (ie legislated) name of this day off in January varies by jurisdiction. In NSW it is “Australia Day”. In SA it is “26 January”. In WA and Tasmania it is dual-named: “Australia Day (26 January)”. In Queensland, the NT, the ACT and Victoria, the opposite convention is found: “26 January (Australia Day)”.

Legislative use is one perspective. By way of contrast, government websites listing public holidays tend to use “Australia Day” in first reference, regardless of what the holiday is called in the relevant act.

9.47pm GMT

In Victoria, there’s a total fire ban in place for the northern half of the state.

A day of TOTAL FIRE BAN has been declared for today, Mon 25 Jan 2021, in the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country, North Central, North East and East Gippsland districts.

Know what you can and can’t do on a day of Total Fire Ban: https://t.co/n2njaRokRg pic.twitter.com/1yHUzfKhWl

9.46pm GMT

The Country Fire Service in South Australia has just upgraded the warning for the Cherry Gardens fire in the Adelaide Hills.

There is now an emergency warning in place for Longwood, Mylor and Biggs Flat in Mount Lofty Ranges.

#Bushfire Emergency Warning for #CHERRY_GARDENS,_HICKS_HILL_ROAD #fire. Wind conditions may change soon. #EWM ID=0005362 #SAFires https://t.co/HbbyPxgiXG pic.twitter.com/FjY9tkv9ym

This fire may pose a threat to lives directly in its path.

Act now. Leave, if the path is clear to a safer place, as it will soon be too dangerous to drive.

9.39pm GMT

Back to that interview with Brad Hazzard quickly. He was asked about the Invasion Day rally in Sydney tomorrow and said it was “very, very problematic”.

I understand why they want to come out, but I must say to them, we have a rule here in New South Wales, a law here in New South Wales that says no more than 500 people gathered outside, and I would strongly implore them to stick to that rule. They can have multiple different demonstrations, provided it is done legally and properly, but stick to the 500.

Can I just explain the reason, Michael? Our tracers work very hard. If there is a new case, they need to be able to contact all of the people that that individual has been in contact with. So it’s not to be difficult. It is to actually make it safe for all of us that the tracers – if you have thousands of people, it is impossible to do the tracing. Even 500 is challenging, but at least there is some chance that our gold-standard, hard-working tracers and our epidemiologists can do the tracking and tracing of who was in the vicinity to try to stop the chain of transmission. That’s the key: the chain of transmission, if we can stop that, we can stop the virus … I would implore them to stick to the rules.

I do, but I won’t share that this morning. I think we should be understanding of the Aboriginal community’s feelings about it, but certainly from my point of view I think Australia Day is very significant, and I support Australia Day, but we need to be understanding of the alternative views.

9.30pm GMT

Victoria has recorded no new locally acquired cases for the 19th day in a row, but six in hotel quarantine.

There were 11,806 tests conducted yesterday.

Yesterday 0 locally acquired cases were reported, 6 in hotel quarantine. It’s been 19 days since the last locally acquired case. 11,806 test results were received #EveryTestHelps.
More later: https://t.co/2vKbgKHFvv #COVID19VicData #COVID19Vic pic.twitter.com/UGjW46eWUI

9.27pm GMT

The NSW health minister, Brad Hazzard, has been speaking on ABC24 about the anniversary of the first coronavirus case in Australia.

Host Michael Rowland said it was a year of highs and lows – with one major low in terms of the NSW government’s management of the virus being the Ruby Princess fiasco.

Look, there was obviously the review at the time, Michael, and I think that every single issue that has occurred has been a learning experience, no matter what state or territory. But when you start with a virus that is such a dangerous virus, we haven’t had a pandemic for 100 years, so this has been a year of learnings for everybody, and I think the public health physicians have worked enormously hard.

Look, obviously the inquiry and the review recommended certain changes, but those changes are largely been implemented. I think every single day we are still learning, and I hope when the new vaccine comes out, we will still understand that it might not be as simple as vaccines of the past where you really did feel quite confident that odds were you weren’t going to get the particular disease, whereas early indications are that this particular – the various vaccines produced, whether it is the protein ones or the new novel MRA vaccines, you need still need to be cautious. You may still get the disease, but not as sick. There are learnings every day and it will continue, as long as this virus is circulating as it is across the world. Sixteen hundred people died yesterday in England and more than 3,000 in the US, still a very dangerous virus and will continue to be for some time.

But until we get the vaccine, and even when we get the vaccine, the way it is going at the moment, we have to be very, very cautious.

9.19pm GMT

Bill Shorten, current Labor frontbencher and former Labor leader, made some comments launching a book of essays in Melbourne yesterday that have caused a bit of strife within the Labor party.

That’s a very Labor sentence.

I accept that we took a big agenda to the last election and there were so many ideas that it was possible for the Coalition to scare people and that possibly what we needed was fewer ideas. But I also think hat the Labor party is at its best when we are the party of big ideas.

I don’t think we have a tiny policy agenda, but I think it’s important that we learn the lessons of the past but we don’t learn the wrong lessons. Having a no policy approach would not be the right approach.

Are you suggesting Anthony Albanese’s policy agenda is not at this current time where it should be?

No, I am not, I am saying, though, that the lessons – we shouldn’t learn the wrong lessons going forward.

Well that’s self-evident really, isn’t it?


9.00pm GMT

A watch-and-act alert remains in place for the Cherry Gardens fire burning in the Adelaide Hills.

It’s a scrub fire, burning out of control in an east/south-easterly direction toward Jupiter Creek and Chapel Hill.

Dark plume of smoke rising over the Adelaide Hills. Stay safe everyone! #Adelaide #bushfire pic.twitter.com/QM4e5lU8R6

Bushfire in the Adelaide Hills, sad 43c degrees today pic.twitter.com/OdvKyMQ5um

This is the view from the outskirts of the city. A bushfire has broken out in Cherry Gardens in the Adelaide Hills. @CFSAlerts are urging people in the area to shelter in a solid building. The latest on @9NewsAdel at 6. pic.twitter.com/iUMQGrJa7O

The #cherrygardens bushfire in the Adelaide Hills looming in the background of Stage 4 of the @tourdownunder at Victoria Park in Adelaide tonight. @9NewsAdel pic.twitter.com/B7KULGG1JP

8.52pm GMT

Lidia Thorpe plans to attend the Invasion Day rally in Melbourne. The Victorian premier, Daniel Andrews, has said that it is “not time to protest” because of the coronavirus risk. Fran Kelly asked her if it was irresponsible of her, as a sitting senator, to attend a protest at this time.

It has been 18 days since there was a case of community transmission in Victoria – most of the cases in recent days have been among players and support staff for the Australian Open, which the Andrews government has supported going ahead.

It’s OK to pick and choose, premier, but this is about fighting for the survival of the oldest continuing culture and people on the planet.

8.46pm GMT

Tomorrow is 26 January. Australia Day for some, Invasion Day for others.

Greens senator Lidia Thorpe, a Djabwurrung Gunnai Gunditjmara woman, is pushing for 26 January to be marked formally as a day of mourning, picking up on a campaign that was first formalised by the Australian Aborigines League and the Aborigines Progressive Association in 1938. That includes picking up some of the traditions of Anzac Day: Thorpe started an Invasion Day dawn service in Melbourne a few years ago and this year called for Aboriginal flags to be flown at half mast.

Absolutely. It’s an opportunity I think for this country to finally come together and acknowledge and accept what has happened in our dark history in this country and move forward from that toward a treaty.

Well, Fran, I have been thinking about this … I would be open to changing the date as long as we are not celebrating the dispossession and almost attempted genocide of this country’s first people. We have to have a date that we’re all a part of … we want to celebrate, but we want justice and equality first.

Related: Where to find this year’s Invasion Day rallies and how you can show your support even if you can’t attend

8.35pm GMT

In South Australia, police have arrested a man who was allegedly seen speeding away from a recently started bushfire in the Adelaide Hills.

More from AAP:

A patrol car spotted a vehicle speeding away from a fire on Piggott Range Road at Clarendon on Sunday evening.

Police stopped the car and arrested the man.

8.28pm GMT

A study from the Australian National University has found that smoking causes half of all deaths in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples over the age of 45, amounting to 10,000 premature and preventable deaths in the past 10 years.

It found that smokers died on average 10 years earlier than non-smokers, or people who had quit smoking before the age of 45.

If you worked, particularly in rural areas, you were paid in tobacco. That has got a large part to play in why smoking rates are so high.

My view is you can’t [separate it]. And it actually becomes a source of a call to action in community-controlled health services and different communities. The way we talk about tobacco as a colonial process, linking tobacco to those colonial processes, because some people have forgotten about that, particularly young people.

I have seen it … where people are using those colonial process as an intervention to say: this is colonial resistance, this is a part of colonisation and we don’t want this in our community.

Related: Smoking causes half of Indigenous Australian deaths over 45, study shows

8.15pm GMT

It’s Monday 25 January – a year since Australia confirmed its first case of Covid-19. Since then, Australia has recorded more than 28,700 cases and 909 deaths. Globally, there have been more than 99m cases and 2.13m deaths.

It was, according to the Bureau of Meteorology app, an “oppressive night” in Melbourne, not slipping below 27C. Regional Victoria and inland parts of NSW were similarly warm overnight, and NSW and the Victorian border towns are in for another hot night tonight as the heat wave stretches on. It will be 39C in Melbourne today, 44C in Mildura, 32C in Sydney and 39C in Penrith.

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