More National Cabinet actions on COVID-19
National Cabinet last week agreed that Australia will continue to progress a successful suppression/elimination strategy for the virus, with new modelling that has confirmed that measures put in place to suppress the virus have largely been successful.
I have made it clear that I feel our efforts to minimise the spread in Western New South Wales are proving fruitful, and I believe that if we continue to stay home wherever possible, practise social distancing, and follow all of the measures that are in place, we will continue to see good results.
The National Cabinet concluded that if Personal Protective Equipment supply could be assured, there could be further consideration of recommencing some high value health service activity, including elective surgery.
National Cabinet has agreed to baseline measures remaining in place for the next four weeks, during which time work will continue on wider testing of more people, vastly increasing tracing capabilities, and expanding capacity to control outbreaks; all aimed at suppressing the spread.
On schools, it was agreed that on current evidence, schools can be fully open. National Cabinet also agreed to a series of National Principles for School Education.
I will continue to provide updates on the COVID-19 pandemic as they become available. Those interested will find a page on my website dedicated to COVID-19 updates – visit www.markcoulton.com.au/media/covid-19-coronavirus
NBN assistance for families + businesses
The Government has announced that NBN Co will provide $150 million in financial relief to internet providers so they can assist families and businesses accessing the NBN during COVID-19.
This package is targeted at supporting low-income households that have school-aged children, and provides financial hardship relief for residential customers and small and medium sized businesses.
$50 million will help connect low-income families with school-aged children so they can access the internet for educational purposes. NBN Co will waive the $37 monthly wholesale charge, paid for by internet providers, for many services on the 25/5 Mbps speed tier plan available from April until September.
A further $50 million will be allocated to support households experiencing financial hardship due to the challenges presented by the coronavirus.
Support for small and medium businesses to the value of another $50 million will include waiving wholesale monthly costs paid by internet providers for businesses facing COVID-19 related financial hardship, and providing internet providers with discounted access to new business-grade services until 31 January next year.
Internet providers will also be offered enhanced service levels, priority connections and fault resolutions for essential and emergency services, including telehealth providers. For more information, visit www.nbnco.com.au
Federal Government guarantees domestic flight network
A significant investment from the Federal Government of up to an initial $165 million will allow Qantas and Virgin Groups to operate a minimum domestic network servicing the most critical metropolitan and regional routes in Australia.
Underwriting the cost of the network comes in addition to the more than $1 billion of Federal Government support for Australia’s aviation industry in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The network includes all state and territory capital cities and major regional centres, including the Dubbo – Sydney route.
Sustaining Australia’s aviation industry is critical to protecting livelihoods and saving lives, and that’s why the Government has acted again to provide further essential support.
As Australians are asked to stay home unless absolutely necessary, we are ensuring secure and affordable access for passengers who need to travel, including our essential workers such as frontline medical personnel and defence personnel, as well as supporting the movement of essential freight such as critical medicine and personal protective equipment.