‘Many ideas’ to be discussed in snap COVID-19 meeting: Labor MP

Australian Financial Review, 15 July 2022

Assistant Foreign Minister Tim Watts says “many ideas” around the pandemic payments will be discussed by the Albanese government in its snap meeting next Monday, which he said is a signal that it wants to tackle COVID-19 collaboratively with the Australian public.

Asked about potentially lowering isolation requirements, Watts said that could be part of those of “many ideas”.

“I will not preempt that. I will not be in the room so Anthony Albanese as prime minister has made it clear he wants to bring Australians together, solve problems collaboratively and I’m sure that is the spirit that that meeting will engage in,” Watts told ABC’s Afternoon Briefing.

On the impact of the pandemic payments’ cancellation to his local constituents, Watts said he has not been contacted him about the change.

He then said the pandemic has evolved significantly during the course of the payments, and the Albanese government has more issues to consider than before when thinking about what to prioritise.

“We brought new energy and engagement into the fight against COVID since the election of the Albanese government, expanding access to the antivirals, expanding access to the fourth dose of the jab.”

Health Services Union national secretary Gerard Hayes says suggestions from the previous government that there would be a surge workforce in the aged care sector is not true.

“[We’ve] been under resourced, and now we’re actually seeing the fallout of that so when you’re seeing people furlough, some people not to be able to get to work, there is no backup and you’re seeing more employers competing for staff,” Hayes told ABC News.

He said there is a limited stock of additional health workers to available to support the health and aged care workforce.