Australia live news: surge in Covid cases and deaths; Penny Wong calls for MH17 offenders to face justice | Australia news

Covid cases and deaths grow in eastern states

Earlier this week, the chief health officer, Prof Paul Kelly, said he believed Australia was in the middle of this latest Covid wave.

In NSW, case numbers continue to grow. There were 27,809 people diagnosed with Covid-19 this week, which is a 40% increase from the week before.

The state is reporting 39 people died from Covid this week in NSW. Last week, 22 people died.

NSW Health is recommending people wear masks indoors in public places and on public transport, but there is no mandate.

There is a similar story in Victoria, where cases have increased by 22% in a week, with hospital admissions also increasing, and 46 deaths. Last week, 41 people died.

Again, there is no mask mandate. A fifth vaccine dose has not been recommended by Atagi.

Earlier this week, the health minister, Mark Butler, said the advice from the expert panel was:

Atagi has considered international evidence as well as the local data around vaccination numbers as well as case numbers in the pandemic and decided not to recommend a fifth dose or a third booster, if you like, at this point in time. They have said that they anticipate new booster recommendations being made in early 2023 in preparation for the southern hemisphere winter.

The Pfizer booster designed for Omicron has been approved for Australia (Moderna was already approved) and will be available from about 12 December.

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The parliamentary budget office has released a report looking at trends in Australian personal income tax.

And I know this won’t come as a surprise to most – but Australian governments have an over-reliance on income tax, compared to other taxes, and we have one of the highest personal tax to GDP ratios in the OECD – fourth highest, according to the PBO, at 11.6%

From the report:

The Australian Government relied on personal tax for more than 50% of its revenue between the early 1970s up until the introduction of the GST in 2000-01 (Figure 2), when the share fell below 50%, not only because of the new tax but because personal taxes were cut.

Since then, the share of tax receipts from individuals has been trending back towards pre-GST levels.

This is mostly due to bracket creep, which occurs when rising incomes cause individuals to pay an increasing proportion of their income in tax, even though tax settings may not have changed.

The PBO projects personal income tax to make up to nearly 54% of total tax receipts by 2032-33, higher than at any time since the introduction of the GST, and close to the average between 1973-74 to 1999-2000

If only there was something else to tax, other than people’s labour. Like I don’t know – profits?

Major flooding in NSW not expected to ease until next week

AAP has an update on the New South Wales flood situation – with the SES warning it is not going to be resolved anytime soon:

Evacuations and sandbagging are continuing across inland NSW as concerned emergency services brace for more rain over flooded catchments.

Major flooding will continue along several major river systems on Friday, including the Lachlan, Darling and Murrumbidgee rivers, affecting towns including Forbes, Condobolin, Bourke and Hay.

“We still have a widespread, significant emergency response across western and southern NSW,” SES Ch Supt Ashley Sullivan told ABC News.

Particularly concerning is we are watching a weather system over the weekend where we may see some additional rainfall and strong winds over western and southern NSW.

The SES conducted five flood rescues across the central west region in the 24 hours to Friday morning, in addition to 244 calls for assistance.

With some rivers in flood for the past six months and repeated major floods recently, Sullivan said interstate and international help was on hand to relieve fatigued SES personnel.

This flooding at this rate is anticipated to be around right through Christmas … and right into the new year.

The NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, on Friday will meet evacuees and emergency services in Eugowra after flooding devastated the central west town.

Police continue searching for Ljubisa “Les” Vugec, 85, and a man in his 20s – both feared dead – after flooding swept through the town on Monday.

Downstream, Condobolin and Euabalong are bracing for the worst after the Lachlan River rose beyond records set there in 1952.

Euabalong is forecast to reach 7.7 metres over the weekend, Condobolin could top 7.6 metres on Monday and further rises later in the week are possible, the weather bureau says.

About 1,000 Forbes residents are subject to evacuation orders for the second time in as many weeks as the regional centre’s CBD was again flooded.

The prolonged major flooding isn’t expected to cease until early next week.

Major flooding is also occurring around Hay as the Murrumbidgee River remains high.

Mildura and Boundary Bend are also on alert, as the Murray River and surrounding tributaries remain swollen.

The outback town of Bourke will also be a cause of concern, with the weather bureau predicting the Darling River’s peak around Monday could match the level set in September 1998 floods.

Covid cases and deaths grow in eastern states

Earlier this week, the chief health officer, Prof Paul Kelly, said he believed Australia was in the middle of this latest Covid wave.

In NSW, case numbers continue to grow. There were 27,809 people diagnosed with Covid-19 this week, which is a 40% increase from the week before.

The state is reporting 39 people died from Covid this week in NSW. Last week, 22 people died.

NSW Health is recommending people wear masks indoors in public places and on public transport, but there is no mandate.

There is a similar story in Victoria, where cases have increased by 22% in a week, with hospital admissions also increasing, and 46 deaths. Last week, 41 people died.

Again, there is no mask mandate. A fifth vaccine dose has not been recommended by Atagi.

Earlier this week, the health minister, Mark Butler, said the advice from the expert panel was:

Atagi has considered international evidence as well as the local data around vaccination numbers as well as case numbers in the pandemic and decided not to recommend a fifth dose or a third booster, if you like, at this point in time. They have said that they anticipate new booster recommendations being made in early 2023 in preparation for the southern hemisphere winter.

The Pfizer booster designed for Omicron has been approved for Australia (Moderna was already approved) and will be available from about 12 December.

Authorities are watching as the Lachlan River as water moves downstream.

It’s remarkable how much water is still moving across the NSW inland. Forbes on the Lachlan River has been at major flood levels for about four days. Fortunately the outlook for the next week looks to be basically dry for that part of the state at least. (Source: @BOM_au ) pic.twitter.com/6iQpu5dItf

— @phannam@mastodon.green (@p_hannam) November 17, 2022

Average household spends 15% of income on transport

The Australian Automotive Association (AAA) has released its latest transport affordability index and spoiler – transport is expensive.

The AAA has found a typical Australian household spends 14.9% of its income on transport costs (as of the last quarter). That is taking in fuel, inflation and higher loan repayments for cars.

The AAA data shows the typical weekly household transport cost in capital city households is now $413.53 and $343.93 in regional households.

Compared to the previous quarter (Q2 2022), weekly car loan repayments rose in every city tracked in the index whether regional or a capital.

While fuel prices declined by the end of the last quarter (before the return of the full fuel excise rate), the typical Australian household ($96.93 per week) is still paying $18.57 per week more than this time last year ($78.36 per week Q3 2021) in fuel expenditure.

Extreme pollen warning across Victoria

Anyone with asthma or other breathing difficulties should take care while out in Melbourne today:

Antimicrobial resistance in food focus of new survey

Further to the statement from the RACGP, the federal government has started a nationwide survey of antimicrobial resistance in Australia’s food supply to protect Australians against the threat of antimicrobial resistance.

The assistant health minister, Ged Kearney, said:

This is about reducing the risk of people being sicker for longer, the pressure that creates on our health system and the increased risk of dying from an infection that has tragically turned untreatable.

We know this is becoming an increasing global problem, with antibiotics losing their effectiveness and new solutions not being developed fast enough. This is a part of the puzzle to ensure we’re prepared to protect the health of Australian’s now and into the future.”

It is also the start of world antimicrobial awareness week.

Antimicrobial resistance is the resistance of bacteria, viruses and fungi to antimicrobial or antibiotic medicines.

Described as a “silent pandemic”, antimicrobial resistance is one of the World Health Organizations Top 10 global public health threats. Common infections can become untreatable, leading to longer hospital stays and higher death rates.

This survey will look at our food and is the first survey of antimicrobial resistant bacteria in retail food since 2007. The survey will run until mid next year.

NSW and Victoria weekly Covid reports

The weekly Covid reports are beginning to be released.

Victoria recorded 20,398 new cases and 46 deaths in the last seven days.

This week we reported 20,398 new cases, averaging 352 daily hospitalisations and 8 daily ICU admissions.

46 deaths were reported in the past 7 days.

Our thoughts are with those in hospital, and the families of people who have lost their lives. pic.twitter.com/tRy4OW9EAZ

— VicGovDH (@VicGovDH) November 17, 2022

New South Wales recorded 27,869 Covid cases and 39 deaths in the last week.

COVID-19 weekly update – Friday 18 November 2022

In the 7 days to 4pm Thursday 17 November:
• 27,869 new cases of COVID-19 have been recorded: 12,383 rapid antigen tests (RATs) and 15,486 PCR tests
• 39 lives lost pic.twitter.com/7RTDmK2TWP

— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) November 17, 2022

GP’s warn against allowing pharmacists to prescribe some medicines

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners is not too happy with the proposal to allow pharmacists to prescribe some drugs, without needing a doctor’s appointment:

The RACGP is warning that allowing more non-medical prescribers in Australia will increase antimicrobial resistance – making infections harder to treat and raising the risk of disease spreading, severe illness and deaths.

This is what happened when retail pharmacists were allowed to prescribe antibiotics overseas. The United Kingdom and New Zealand both reported increased trimethoprim resistance due to inappropriate use of antibiotics. Trimethoprim used to be the first line treatment pharmacists prescribed for UTIs in the UK, but it was over prescribed and now doesn’t work for one-in-three women due to resistant bacteria.

We’re urging state and territory governments to put people’s health first, and find genuine long-term solutions to primary care workforce shortages that do not create bigger problems like increased antimicrobial resistance.

Spare a thought for people in flood zones dealing with this absolute horror show:

Mosquito population explosion plagues flood-ravaged NSW – video

Some advice for schoolies … from politicians

Jason Clare and the deputy Liberal leader, Sussan Ley, finished their weekly chat with the Seven network with some advice for schoolies:

Clare:

Gosh this shows how old I am. I don’t think schoolies existed when I was finishing high school back in 1989. I went straight from my last exam to my first shift at Sizzler waiting tables making cheese toast. So, I can’t tell you how schoolies went but if you want the recipe for cheese toast send me an email and I’ll click it to you.

Ley:

Yes, I consider myself too cool for schoolies, I was on the punk rock scene at the end of Year 12 at Dickson college in Canberra. But I want to channel the mums and dads today, to their children, their young adults. Stay safe, have fun and call if you’ve run out of money!

Clare also warns schoolies to stay away from “toolies”.

Jason Clare says MH17 offenders will be ‘protected by Putin for the rest of their life’

The education minister, Jason Clare, also had something to say about the MH17 verdict, while speaking to the Seven Network this morning:

Well, real justice is hard to get. That’s the fact of the matter. I think these characters are going to be protected by Putin for the rest of their life. But I do remember what Julie Bishop said back when this happened. She did a fantastic job at the time as foreign minister and she said that the families of the people who were murdered when that plane was shut down deserve answers. I think we got some of that last night.

I’m thinking this morning of Serge and Vera Oreshkin who live in my electorate. Their son Victor was one of the 298 people who were murdered when that plane was shot down. I remember Serge telling me that they destroyed his body but his soul never touched the ground. You know that plane had his suitcase on it, was packed full of toys for his little nephews and nieces. You know they’ve been living that nightmare for the last eight years something they can’t wake up from, but hopefully last night’s verdict provides some of those answers for them. And for all of the families who lost loved ones when that plane was murderously shot down.