The West Australian government has accused the federal government of being lazy in its response to the recurring problem of coronavirus-infected shipping crew.
The state’s health minister Roger Cook on Saturday told the Commonwealth to “get off their butts” and protect the nation’s trade routes.
Mr Cook confirmed two crewmen onboard separate ships – one docked at Geraldton and the other at Fremantle – tested positive on Saturday. The Key Integrity and Al Messilah are the fifth and sixth virus-infected vessels WA Health has had to manage this year.
Outbreak teams are assigned to both and no crew members are allowed to disembark.
The repeated outbreaks are “immensely frustrating”, Mr Cook said.
“The WA government can only do so much. We require the commonwealth to actually step up to the plate and do their job,” he said.
The health ministers of Queensland and New South Wales shared his concerns about the federal government’s lack of help on the issue, Mr Cook said.
Meanwhile in Victoria, Melburnians are waiting to find out what freedoms they will regain on Monday.
The state still has 148 active cases and health officials have been racing over the past few weeks to respond to outbreaks across the state.
But the numbers were encouraging on Saturday, with just one fresh cases recorded and no deaths.
Federal health minister Greg Hunt and acting immigration minister Alan Tudge ramped up pressure on Premier Daniel Andrews to re-open in line with New South Wales.
Mr Andrews has flagged that social freedom will take precedence over economic re-openings, prompting an outcry from the business community.
Mr Tudge, a Victorian, highlighted the mental health burden on so many because of prolonged, strict lockdown.
Opposition spokeswoman for infrastructure, transport and regional development Catherine King praised her Labor colleague on Saturday for his handling of Victoria’s second wave.
“He’s stayed the course despite incredible pressure from Liberal federal members of parliament who ought to know better,” she said.
Her leader, Anthony Albanese said on Saturday it was not easy being in opposition in a time of crisis.
“When things are bad, Australians want their governments to succeed,” he said.
“They don’t want too much politics. So this year we’ve been constructive.”
Labor is now shifting gears and producing policies to address its three greatest priorities: “Jobs, jobs and jobs,” Mr Albanese said.
NSW recorded seven cases on Saturday, of which five are locally acquired.
A cluster in southwest Sydney’s Oran Park has grown to 18 and authorities are begging for more people to get tested.
Meanwhile, some Australians who have been stuck overseas for months because of the pandemic will get a little closer to home this week as arrival numbers increase.
The returnees will quarantine for two weeks in a mining camp south of Darwin, which the federal government has arranged with the Northern Territory in order to expand quarantine capacity.
Eight Qantas repatriation flights will arrive from London, New Delhi and Johannesburg over coming weeks.
More than 29,000 Australians are trying to come home, with about 3000 considered vulnerable.
Those deemed vulnerable will have first priority for the flights.