Nationals member for Cowper Pat Conaghan during Question Time in February.
Nationals member for Cowper Pat Conaghan during Question Time in February.

Coronavirus:Cowper MP to return to parliament 'optimistic'

COWPER MP Pat Conaghan has confirmed he will be attending federal parliament next week.

There were fears of politicians in such close quarters infecting each other and then returning to their electorates, spreading the disease to their constituents.

It had been rumoured the Health Minister Greg Hunt wanted every MP and senator tested for the coronavirus ahead of next week's sitting but Mr Hunt has since denied this saying it's against medical advice.

Today Mr Conaghan has stated his intention to return to Canberra next week.

"I am attending parliament next week and I have full confidence in the measures our Government have put in place following the expert advice of the Chief Medical Officer," Mr Conaghan said.

There have also been reports that federal MPs and their views on how to deal with the coronavirus are swinging widely between calmly cautious to wanting to push the panic button.

"I remain well, calm and optimistic that the current crisis will pass and that we, as Australians, will get through this together as we have always done," Mr Conaghan assured.

This morning Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the Nation outlining a number of measured to tackle the pandemic and calling out panic buyers.

"Stop hoarding. I can't be more blunt about it. Stop it," Mr Morrison said.

"It is not sensible, it is not helpful and it has been one of the most disappointing things I have seen in Australian behaviour in response to this crisis. That is not who we are as a people."

FULL STORY: Schools to stay open, new crowd limits, travel bans

NSW Government Response

On Tuesday afternoon the NSW Government announced a $2.3 billion health boost and economic stimulus package to help protect the community and jobs in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The package has two key components: $700 million in extra health funding and $1.6 billion in tax cuts and other measures to support jobs and businesses. Key elements of the package include:


• $700 million extra funding for NSW Health. This will assist in doubling ICU capacity, preparing for additional COVID-19 testing, purchasing additional ventilators and medical equipment, establishing acute respiratory clinics and bringing forward elective surgeries to private hospitals.

How coronavirus affects kids : Professor Robert Booy from the University of Sydney on how COVID-19 affects children.
How coronavirus affects kids : Professor Robert Booy from the University of Sydney on how COVID-19 affects children.

Business support and jobs

• $450 million for the waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months. This means these businesses will save a quarter of their annual payroll tax bill in 2019-20;

• $56 million to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21;

• $80 million to waive a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and tradies;

• $250 million to employ additional cleaners of public infrastructure such as transport assets, schools and other public buildings;

• More than $250 million to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing;

• $500 million to bring forward capital works and maintenance.

Payroll tax waivers will be administered by Revenue NSW.  Waivers of fees and charges for small businesses will be facilitated through Service NSW.

Coffs Harbour City Council to establish internal team

Coffs Harbour City Council has set up an internal team to coordinate its approach to COVID-19.

This team will continue to meet throughout the course of the pandemic to manage the impacts of the virus on staff and services to the community.

Council is following the advice of the Australian Government, World Health Organisation (WHO) and NSW Health in the implementation of workplace measures to help minimise any possible infections.

They have provided hand sanitisers and advisory notices at entry points of Council facilities for staff and customers.

Council is also encouraging members of the community, especially older and vulnerable people, to consider the nature of their inquiries before attending Customer Service Centre or facilities in person.

People can call Council on 6648 4000 or email in the first instance. Anyone needing to make account payments is being asked either to use the online payment options detailed on the account, or call Council.

Council is taking a risk management approach to the pandemic and seeking to minimise any potential impact.


CALLED OFF: Harmony Day
CALLED OFF: Harmony Day

This year's Harmony Festival, which was due to be held on March 29, is being postponed based on the NSW Government's directive to not run events at which 500 or more people are expected.

Similarly, Council will be postponing programs and activities in facilities that attract smaller numbers of people until April 14 - at which point it will be reviewed.

Council will also be advising any other organisations that use or hire venues to abide by the NSW Government directive and review their planned activities as per the health advice issued by the WHO, the Australian government and the NSW Department of Health. This will include regular users of our venues and facilities.