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Coronavirus updates LIVE: Man in his 60s dies in Victoria as only one new COVID-19 case recorded; Senate inquiry into pandemic response begins; WHO defends itself against criticism

Indonesia on Thursday reported 357 new COVID-19 cases and 11 new deaths, taking the total number of infections and fatalities to 7775 and 647, respectively, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

The number of patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus was 960, Yurianto said, adding that more than 48,600 people have been tested.

Reuters

London: For the first time in living memory, the Last Post will not sound at Australian war memorials in Europe on Anzac Day.

There won’t be a dawn service at Gallipoli in Turkey or at Villers-Bretonneux in northern France or in London.

But commemorations will go ahead despite the coronavirus pandemic, with the Australian High Commission to stream the Canberra dawn service live, and again nine hours later at sunrise in the UK.

Villers-Bretonneux Australian memorial and cemetery will be silent on Anzac Day

Villers-Bretonneux Australian memorial and cemetery will be silent on Anzac DayCredit:Mike Bowers

High Commissioner George Brandis and acting New Zealand High Commissioner David Evans will then lead a special commemoration service that will be streamed from their respective homes from 11am local time.

Mr Brandis says Australians and New Zealanders will remember the fallen differently in 2020.

“This year the crowds solemnly gathering at dawn services and cheering along parade routes are replaced by countless acts of quiet, solitary remembrance,” he said.

“But the way we remember matters little. It is what we remember that counts.”

Click here to read the full story.

Australia’s borders look set to remain closed for months but the Morrison government is weighing a proposal to open up travel to and from New Zealand that could inject much-needed money into the collapsed tourism sector.

The so-called ‘trans-Tasman bubble’ plan would open up a market of millions of potential tourists and enable business travel between the two nations, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday were on “similar trajectories” in tackling COVID-19.

The Morrison government is considering opening travel to New Zealand if the two countries both keep COVID-19 under control.

The Morrison government is considering opening travel to New Zealand if the two countries both keep COVID-19 under control.Credit:Lachlan Fox

“If there is any country in the world with whom we can reconnect with first, undoubtedly that’s New Zealand,” Mr Morrison said, saying he had discussed the matter recently with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Travel industry and business leaders welcomed the comments, which came after Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy told a Senate committee that Australians should not expect international travel to resume for at least three to four months.

A Qantas spokesman said opening the border to New Zealand would be “a welcome step in the recovery of the tourism industry”, which has collapsed since international borders were closed in March.

“Kiwis are the second biggest source of tourists and business travellers into Australia,” the spokesman said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has drawn attention to Australia’s comparatively low death toll in the coronavirus pandemic.

New Zealand is second only to China as a source of tourists. In 2018, 1.8 million Kiwis travelled to Australia and spent $2.6 billion.

Click here to read the full story.

AFL games are set to restart across Australia as soon as June as the competition negotiates with every state and territory as it puts together the final pieces of the localised hub model which will punctuate the resumption of the 2020 season.

League chief Gillon McLachlan told clubs late on Thursday that the unveiling of the revised 2020 fixture would not take place next Monday as previously suggested but had been postponed to work in line with government and state and federal health authorities.

The Age understands an announcement is more likely to connect with the Victorian government’s forthcoming decision regarding coronavirus restrictions in the lead-up to May 11, but that McLachlan will then unveil a return-to-training deadline along with a detailed calendar of matches at two to three centralised national locations.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.

AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan.Credit:Getty Images

The AFL will present detailed hub proposals to state governments along with the Northern Territory in the coming days in the hope that venues, accommodation and training facilities can be confirmed over the next two weeks.

It now looks unlikely that one concentrated hub in Victoria will take place but the MCG and Marvel Stadium remain strongly in the mix.

Click here to read the full story.

Teams will be allowed to have 20 players available for selection up to an hour before kick-off in case of last-minute withdrawals due to positive coronavirus tests under plans to relaunch the league season.

The NRL has reactivated its workload-balance committee to help implement safety protocols that are being ushered in with a view to restarting the competition on May 28.

The committee met for the first time via video conference on Thursday afternoon and is drafting several proposals that will be considered at Friday’s meeting of the Project Apollo taskforce.

Another initiative is the expansion of the top-30 squads to 32 players to ensure clubs have the depth required to field a team that has members infected with COVID-19.

There is also going to be a cap on the number of support staff each club will be able to bring into venues on game days.

The workload-balance committee has proposed a total of between 12 and 14 to minimise the risk of infection.

However, that figure will be expanded to 14 to 18 staffers for training sessions if each staffer adheres to the strict biosecurity measures imposed by the NRL.

Read the full story here

For the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, Please Explain is coming to you five days a week.

In today’s episode of Please Explain, national editor Tory Maguire is joined by chief political correspondent David Crowe to discuss the rush of Australian businesses registering for the JobKeeper program and how the government systems will keep up with demand.

The Victorian government has used its numbers in an emergency sitting of Parliament to thwart opposition parties’ calls for more scrutiny of the state’s coronavirus pandemic response.

The Andrews government was racing to pass its “omnibus bill” on Thursday night, granting it unprecedented temporary powers to deal with the pandemic.

The opposition and minor parties have raised alarm about a small group of ministers in Premier Daniel Andrews’ new Crisis Council of Cabinet wielding almost unchecked powers for six months.

Political rivals say Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is refusing to submit his government to enough scrutiny despite granting itself unprecedented emergency powers.

Political rivals say Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is refusing to submit his government to enough scrutiny despite granting itself unprecedented emergency powers. Credit:Eddie Jim

Lawyers and a public accountability expert have also questioned the measures in the bill, which include judge-only trials.

In the upper house on Thursday, the government succeeded in voting down a Greens motion to set up a cross-party committee to scrutinise the government’s management of the coronavirus pandemic.

Instead, the government opted for the parliamentary public accounts and estimates committee to examine its response.

But the opposition and crossbenchers insist that committee is not independent enough. The committee has been expanded to include another crossbench MP, giving it an equal number of government and non-government members, but the Labor chair still has the casting vote.

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Every year during the fasting month of Ramadan, Mustafa Fahour celebrates iftar – the sunset meal during which Muslims break their fast – with four generations of his extended family.

The family then conducts evening prayers known as Tarawih, a form of Islamic meditation that involves reading long portions of the Koran.

Fahour family members Hannah, Ali, Maysaa, Zackaria, Moustafa and Zayd are planning to break the fast via Zoom with their extended family rather than meet in person.

Fahour family members Hannah, Ali, Maysaa, Zackaria, Moustafa and Zayd are planning to break the fast via Zoom with their extended family rather than meet in person.Credit:Joe Armao

This year the holiest month in the Islamic calendar, which starts on Friday, will be both no different and yet profoundly different in the shadow of the global pandemic.

Mr Fahour will celebrate iftar with his family via the video conferencing app Zoom instead of in a hall and conduct Tarawih at home instead of attending Preston Mosque.

He says although Ramadan is normally a communal affair the Muslim community in Australia has taken very seriously the need to comply with restrictions to ensure the safety of everyone.

“There is a sense of sadness but at the same time what it does do is it makes you appreciate things you tend to take for granted,” says Mr Fahour, the director of the Islamic Museum of Australia and chair of the Preston Mosque sub-committee.

“I have spoken to so many people who say ‘We can’t wait to go back to the mosque’.”

Click here to read the full story.

AMP has suffered a $30 billion hit to assets under management across its wealth, capital and banking divisions last quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic roiled the global economy and financial markets.

The wealth giant revealed $10.7 billion had been wiped over the past quarter from funds managed by global investment arm AMP Capital, in a market update on Thursday.

Chief executive Francesco De Ferrari said there were significant falls in equities, fixed income and key commodities prices in March.

The group reported $308.7 billion in total assets under management across both AMP Capital and its wealth management arm.

“We have seen some recovery since the quarter-end, but expect market volatility to continue and the economic impact of the pandemic to emerge over the remainder of the year,” Mr De Ferrari said.

AMP Capital was looking for opportunities amid the downturn, Mr De Ferrari said, including infrastructure investment and debt.

Losses in the capital arm were slightly offset by gains in their Australian dollar value, as a higher portion of these assets were exposed to foreign currency “which benefited from the depreciation”, the company said.

Click here for the full story.

Almost half a million Australians have been approved to withdraw a total of $3.8 billion from their superannuation savings since the federal government’s early access scheme officially opened on Monday.

Emergency legislation was passed in March to allow people who have lost work during the coronavirus pandemic to access two tranches of $10,000 from their retirement savings over two years.

The initial application is handled by the ATO then sent to super funds to process payments within five working days.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thanked Australians for their patience when dealing with the ATO.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has thanked Australians for their patience when dealing with the ATO.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“For these arrangements to work, we obviously need continued strong cooperation from the banking sector and from the superannuation sector,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.

The ATO has hired an additional 3000 staff to process the early access requests, as well as JobKeeper payments, and approved 456,000 superannuation applications since Monday.

Mr Morrison thanked the public for understanding the claims are “at historic, unprecedented levels”.

“Their patience is helping those staff get through those claims and achieve these highly ramped-up levels of claim processing, which means we can get that support to Australians quicker,” he said.

Click here for the full story.

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