NSW police and army personnel at the Albury NSW border crossing. Picture: NCA NewsWire/SIMON DALLINGER
NSW police and army personnel at the Albury NSW border crossing. Picture: NCA NewsWire/SIMON DALLINGER

Victoria’s deadliest day with 25 deaths, 282 new cases

Victoria has recorded its deadliest day with 25 lives lost to coronavirus over the past 24 hours.

It comes as a further 282 new positive cases were identified.

The number is now trending consistently lower than it had been in the lead-up to the introduction of stage 4 restrictions.

Authorities are confident the number will continue to fall further as the effects of the latest lockdown laws are realised.

The current drop in numbers has been attributed to stage three restrictions and mandatory mask regulations.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to address the media later today.

It comes as the Victorian and federal governments are again at loggerheads, this time over the response to outbreaks in the state's disability facilities.

On Sunday, the state government revealed the commonwealth had rejected multiple pleas for help, including an invite to set up a joint task force similar to that being used in the aged care crisis.

On April 8, Victorian Disability Minister Luke Donnellan wrote to the federal government flagging the need for a crisis accommodation response team. But the state government says the call was ignored by federal Disability Minister Stuart Robert.

Mr Donnellan wrote again on July 28.

Workers at Hambleton House in Albert Park on Sunday. Picture: Tim Carrafa
Workers at Hambleton House in Albert Park on Sunday. Picture: Tim Carrafa

 

 

The state government has indicated the request was never officially responded to, but claim Mr Robert declined to be part of the joint task force.

The latest spat comes after simmering tension between state and federal governments.

Mr Robert rejected the state government's claims, saying the commonwealth had been a formal member of the Disability Rapid Response Group since July 29, and had also announced extra temporary measures for NDIS participants and service providers.

"Right now, because of the significant support from the commonwealth, an NDIS participant is four times less likely to contract COVID-19 than the Victorian general public," he said.

The state government has intervened at the mental health facility. Picture: Tim Carrafa
The state government has intervened at the mental health facility. Picture: Tim Carrafa


Mr Andrews has previously said the state and federal governments remain on good terms, however, but behind the scenes the commonwealth is frustrated over his constant finger pointing.

More than 60 staff and 81 patients have contracted the virus in Victorian disability facilities.

The tensions rose as at least 10 people were removed from Hambleton House, a mental health facility in Albert Park, after five residents and a staff member were infected.

The state government intervened on Sunday after reports residents were wandering in and out of the 34-bed facility.

Specialised teams including nurses and doctors were deployed on Sunday wearing hazmat suits and patients began being moved out and transferred to other treatment centres.

MOVEMENT 'BUBBLES' COULD CHANGE BORDER CLOSURE

Movement "bubbles" for essential workers could be part of a deal being finalised by the NSW and Victorian governments amid growing pain for farmers in border communities.

A solution for farm workers stuck on either side of the border was on Sunday being finetuned after Scott Morrison wrote to Daniel Andrews and his NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian.

The Prime Minister offered to work with them, along with other state premiers, to enable movement of "essential economic workforce", including agricultural workers.

Without a solution, all Australians risked soaring grocery prices and farmers along the border faced financial ruin, according to federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.

Farrier Mitch Fox services both sides of the NSW-Victoria border. Picture: David Caird
Farrier Mitch Fox services both sides of the NSW-Victoria border. Picture: David Caird

"We drew lines on the map of Australia 100 years ago around states and they become arbitrary lines but people in ­regional areas don't worry about state borders - they ­operate businesses in a geographical area," Mr Littleproud told the Herald Sun.

"A lot of those communities grew around those borders but rely on a lot from the other side. That's why you can create localised bubbles in regional areas if health officials would sit down with these communities, look at the science and work through it."

Victorians did not need to worry about going without food but prolonged supply chain disruptions would lead to increased prices on some items, Mr Littleproud added.

Victorian Farmers Federation President David Jochinke said hard border closures were "another kick in the guts" for farmers who had already suffered through drought, fire and floods.

"If we don't get sorted in the immediate future we are once again jeopardising a whole ­season's worth of production for those farmers," Mr Jochinke said.

Mr Andrews on Sunday said a solution was imminent for farmers near the NSW border.

"That's what I am working towards", Mr Andrews said.

"That's what Gladys and I have talked about on a number of occasions and I am very grateful for that. We all help each other because a problem in one jurisdiction is ultimately a problem for all of us." After dismissing the prospect of an agricultural permit on Thursday, Mr Andrews on Sunday said it was a live idea.

"Completely free movement is probably unlikely ­because the border is closed for good reasons and we don't want this spreading, but I am actually quite positive we will get a positive outcome on this … but there is a little bit more work to do," Mr Andrews said.

The agreement between NSW and Victoria could be announced as soon as Monday.

 

At least 10 people were moved from the property. Picture: Tim Carrafa
At least 10 people were moved from the property. Picture: Tim Carrafa

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