Another deadly day as NSW provides support | Mandurah Courier

It was another grim day for virus-related deaths across Australia, particularly in New South Wales which experienced its worst yet with a record 52 fatalities.

There were also 20 new deaths in Victoria on Sunday, 13 in Queensland and one in Tasmania.

More than 3,700 Australian lives have been lost since the start of the pandemic, including more than a thousand this month.

New South Wales has responded to the economic damage inflicted on its state by the highly infectious outbreak of the Omicron variant, announcing a $1 billion support package for small businesses if they suffer a drop of 40 % during the summer period.

But there was a no-show from the Morrison government to help with the scheme, much to the disappointment of NSW Treasurer Matt Kean, who had hoped to make the announcement with the Prime Minister and his federal counterpart at his side.

“But they are nowhere to be found,” Mr Kean told reporters in Sydney.

“What we want to see is rather for the Commonwealth Government to step down, we want to see the Commonwealth Government step in.”

But Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said his government had already released billions of dollars in the form of JobKeeper, JobSeeker, airline industry stimulus and other measures during the pandemic.

“It just goes on and on,” Mr Joyce told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda.

“So I don’t think it’s a pinch of a penny. You can’t keep putting things on the credit card over and over and over again.”

He said the more money spent fighting the Omicron variant and other COVID-19 programs, the less for the NDIS, defense, education and health.

But Labor leader Anthony Albanese said he was delighted to see the Perrottet government “stepping into the vacuum of national leadership”.

Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox also applauded the support package, saying it will bring welcome relief to businesses suffering from the self-imposed lockdown by many in the community.

“The payroll relief and range of other measures will help businesses get back on their feet after a lackluster summer when consumer confidence and demand were suppressed,” he said in a statement.

Mr Joyce also stood by comments he made last week that one of the reasons for the lack of rapid antigen tests is that people are hoarding them.

“It’s just a matter of fact,” he said.

“If you deny that RAT tests are hoarded…I should be lying. People (hoard them).”

Albanese said rapid antigen tests should be available based on individual need through the Medicare system.

There should be a limit, as there is through the government program which provides for the tests for concession card holders.

“That’s how you can control the supply. It’s not rocket science here,” he said.

But Health Minister Greg Hunt claimed Mr Albanese’s ‘vague and good promise’ merely endorsed the government’s programme.

He said the government in the first five days of its program delivered two million RATs, through 2,600 pharmacies and to 467,000 concession card holders.

“Albanese’s first policy of universal, free-for-all RATS would have destroyed the supply chain,” Mr Hunt said in a joint statement with Industry Minister Angus Taylor.

“It would have diverted testing from the sick, aged care, hospitals, disabled people and Indigenous Australians. It was hopelessly flawed, unrealistic and uncosted.”

Along with the rising death toll, NSW has recorded a further 13,524 cases of COVID-19 in NSW, while there have been 10,589 new infections in Victoria.

In Queensland there were 8,580 cases, while there were 584 new infections in the ACT and 20 in Western Australia.

Australian Associated Press

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