Anthony Albanese is set to meet with heads of state to respond to rising Covid cases as the PM comes under fire for scrapping several pandemic measures.
The early national cabinet meeting is expected to be held on Monday after pressure came on state and territory leaders to catch up on the latest medical advice.
Leaders could also challenge the prime minister over a decision to end pandemic furlough payments and the discounted free rapid testing scheme.
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk has called for an extension of Covid welfare policies, while Victoria Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said it was “as important as ever” to continue support for residents.
NSW Labor leader Chris Minns and backbencher Mike Freelander have called for the Covid support packages to be extended.
Meanwhile, United Workers Union national secretary Tim Kennedy said the phasing out of paid pandemic leave was short-sighted and would have been called “crazy” had Labor still been opposed.
Health Services Union national secretary Lloyd Williams accused Mr Albanese of being “too stubborn” and said the scrapped policies should be reinstated within the next six weeks.
Anthony Albanese is set to meet with heads of state in response to rising Covid cases as the PM comes under fire for scrapping several pandemic measures
Queensland Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk has called for an extension of Covid welfare policies
“The timing couldn’t be worse,” he told The Australian.
“The public health system is overwhelmed and the forecasts we’re hearing from health professionals are pretty grim.”
Ms Palaszczuk said on Thursday she was keen to speak to her colleagues about the pressure on the healthcare system from rising cases and hospitalizations.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet agreed with her, she said.
The $750 emergency isolation payment ended on July 1, while the free trials for discounted cardholders will be provided through the end of the month.
The government insists it cannot afford to continue the programs due to budgetary pressures.
Ms Palaszczuk said leaders need to discuss how people can take time off work while sick with new virus sub-variants and be supported.
Existing financial support from state governments may not be enough for some people, she said.
“We see that some people are being hit harder, which means they are unemployed longer than the seven days (of isolation),” Ms Palaszczuk told Seven Network on Thursday.
“I think we need to look at these specific examples.”
Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockcliff and NSW Opposition Leader Chris Minns have called for an extension of pandemic furlough payments.
Labor MP Mike Freelander broke ranks on Thursday and urged the Prime Minister to extend support measures.
Victoria’s Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said it was “as important as ever” to continue support for residents
“Anything we can do to slow the spread of the virus is very important,” said Dr. Australian newspaper’s Freelander.
“I want Anthony Albanese to reconsider when he gets back from the Pacific Islands conference.”
Health Secretary Mark Butler, however, said the government had to make tough decisions despite having the expertise of Dr. Respect Freelanders.
“It’s a tough decision that’s going to have an impact on the community, but honestly, whenever you make a decision like this, it’s going to have an impact on the community,” he told ABC 7.30.
“But we also need to put an end to these very high emergency payments that are putting pressure on the sustainability of our budget.”
Minister for Care of the Elderly Anika Wells said the medical advice to the Government is to spend money where it is best used, e.g. B. for antiviral treatments and vaccinations.
Australia on Thursday recorded 47,419 new infections and 78 deaths amid fears the country will see “millions” of cases in the coming months
But opposition spokesman Stuart Robert said the government needed to adapt to the evolving situation of the pandemic.
“Frankly, the Labor government has decided to support people on low incomes… the government shouldn’t be doing that,” he told ABC News on Thursday.
“I think that’s appalling… The rules now laid down by the government say you have to isolate yourself, but if you’re a casual worker with no money, they send you into poverty in isolation.”
More than 47,000 cases and 78 deaths were recorded in Australia on Thursday, with 4,512 people hospitalized.
The national cabinet meeting will be the second of its kind since the Albanian government was elected in May.