OOPS, WHO LEFT THAT UNMANNED? ‘Ring of steel’ abandoned by cops

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Last updated September 17, 2020 5:15PM AEST

A checkpoint in regional Victoria's "ring of steel" was left unmanned by police this morning because of wet weather, photographs have revealed.  

Pictures shared to social media by Sunrise reporter Nathan Templeton show the unattended Little River checkpoint, on the the Princes Freeway near Geelong, at around 8:30am this morning.

Cars continued to travel through the barrier, with Templeton writing police and ADF personnel remained in their tents.

While Premier Daniel Andrews has said the odds of Melburnians getting through the border are “very poor” – and anyone caught faces a whopping $4957 fine – the picture of the unattended checkpoint led to criticism from Twitter users.

“Good thing the virus doesn’t transmit in the rain,” one wrote, while another renamed it “#DanofSteel’s rusty ring”.

Police and ADF personnel reportedly returned to manning the checkpoint about half an hour later, after the sun had come out.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman told news.com.au police may have needed to seek shelter because of the risk posed by moving vehicles in bad weather.

“Roadsides are a risky and dangerous place for police to work, with near misses far too common. The permanent vehicle checkpoints on major arterials have a police presence 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.

“Each checkpoint has a safety officer present to ensure police are safe at work. From time to time it may be determined that it is unsafe for police to be on the roadside in close proximity to moving vehicles. This could be due to bad weather or poor visibility. This is not a new practice, and is for the safety of both police and members of the community.”

The “key aim” of the barrier, Premier Daniel Andrews has said, is to ensure “only those who have to go to regional Victoria and have a lawful reason to go to regional Victoria can go to regional Victoria”.

“The police are not mucking about. If you are from Melbourne and you are in regional Victoria and do not have an appropriate excuse, you will be fined.”

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Natalie Brown

Blake Antrobus, NCA NewsWire

The State Opposition has accused Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk of ignoring her own government’s health advice after it was revealed she had been tested for COVID-19 during her travels.

Ms Palaszczuk appeared to have a croaky voice during an online debate on Monday.

Picture: News Regional Media

She has spent the past few days on the regional road, at former Mackay MP Tim Mulherin’s funeral and on Wednesday attending a media event in Bundaberg.

A spokesperson from the Premier’s office confirmed Ms Palaszczuk began feeling unwell on Wednesday afternoon.

Ms Palaszczuk found her test result was negative following her return from Bundaberg.

Read the full story here.

Natalie Brown

A checkpoint in regional Victoria's "ring of steel" was left unmanned by police this morning because of wet weather, photographs have revealed.

Pictures shared to social media by Sunrise reporter Nathan Templeton show the unattended Little River checkpoint, on the the Princes Freeway near Geelong, at around 8:30am this morning.

Cars continued to travel through the barrier, with Templeton writing police and ADF personnel remained in their tents.

While Premier Daniel Andrews has said the odds of Melburnians getting through the border are "very poor" – and anyone caught faces a whopping $4957 fine – the picture of the unattended checkpoint led to criticism from Twitter users.

"Good thing the virus doesn't transmit in the rain," one wrote, while another renamed it "#DanofSteel's rusty ring".

Police and ADF personnel reportedly returned to manning the checkpoint about half an hour later, after the sun had come out.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman told news.com.au police may have needed to seek shelter because of the risk posed by moving vehicles in bad weather.

"Roadsides are a risky and dangerous place for police to work, with near misses far too common. The permanent vehicle checkpoints on major arterials have a police presence 24 hours a day, seven days a week," she said.

"Each checkpoint has a safety officer present to ensure police are safe at work. From time to time it may be determined that it is unsafe for police to be on the roadside in close proximity to moving vehicles. This could be due to bad weather or poor visibility. This is not a new practice, and is for the safety of both police and members of the community."

The "key aim" of the barrier, Premier Daniel Andrews has said, is to ensure "only those who have to go to regional Victoria and have a lawful reason to go to regional Victoria can go to regional Victoria".

"The police are not mucking about. If you are from Melbourne and you are in regional Victoria and do not have an appropriate excuse, you will be fined."

The Victoria Police spokeswoman said the police message "is clear".

"The checkpoints are a highly visible deterrent, but should not be the only reason stopping someone from travelling if they do not have a permitted reason to do so," she said.

"While you might get through a checkpoint, you will not be missed by police in rural and regional areas who are actively patrolling to protect regional communities from coronavirus. This includes roving patrols around checkpoint areas."

Natalie Brown

Melbourne's anti-lockdown protesters are planning to strike again come Saturday for the third weekend in a row, and they're promising a rally "like nothing you've ever seen".

Though Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius said this morning police had been contacted directly by protesters to inform them of their plans, organisers have taken to encrypted message threads in an attempt to keep officers on their toes.

The Herald Sun reports one chat group is steadily increasing in size, with more than 600 people subscribing for the encrypted details.

Pictures: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images; William West/AFP

"If you're keen on big numbers, Saturday is the one for you," the protest organiser said.

"We're also bringing you Sunday Surprise 2.0 – which will be like nothing you've ever seen in Victoria before.

"It'll be peaceful, in the middle ring of Melbourne, and a lower risk from a fines perspective.

"It'll also make a huge impact on social media.

"Come to one, come to both – we'll be with you all the way, getting YOU the info you need to safely bring an END to the lockdowns."

Anyone intending to attend on Saturday has been told to "be ready to move in fast".

Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

Mr Cornelius told 3AW that police resources would continue to be depleted as long the protests continue.

"Unfortunately we're going to have to continue to have to drag police off other functions and other roles to come into the city to police these people that are just continuing to do this," he said.

He also confirmed riot squad police would be out in force again at the sites of the demonstrations.

"We need to, we don't want to, we just need to," he said.

Natalie Brown

A man who drove more than five kilometres from his home to go gold prospecting in Ballarat is one of 73 Victorians fined for breaching the chief health officer's directions in the past 24 hours.

Of those fined by Victoria Police, 22 were for failing to wear a face covering, eight were fined at vehicle checkpoints and eight were also fined for curfew breaches.

Some 4069 spot checks on people's homes, businesses and public places across Victoria were conducted, while 23,512 vehicles were checked at checkpoints.

A man who drove from Dandenong to Moonee Ponds after 9pm to buy a coffee was also among the examples of breaches given by police.

Natalie Brown

Anti-lockdown demonstrators have contacted Victoria Police directly to inform them they plan to protest in Melbourne for a third weekend in a row.

Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius told 3AW earlier today that the protest's organisers "sent an email to us a couple of days ago wanting to protest and advising us that if we refuse to allow them we'll be jeopardising the safety of others and Victoria Police would be putting all Victorians at risk and (be) responsible for the continued spread of the virus".

Picture: David Geraghty/NCA NewsWire

"Unfortunately we're going to have to continue to have to drag police off other functions and other roles to come into the city to police these people that are just continuing to do this," Mr Cornelius said.

"The moment they turn up to protest it's a criminal offence, it's not like another matter that they want to protest about where we can facilitate some sort of terms of agreement then they head off again.

"The moment they congregate they're out of their five kilometres and it's not a permitted purpose."

He confirmed riot squad police would also be present at the sites of the planned demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday.

"We need to, we don't want to, we just need to," he said.

Natalie Brown

Samantha Maiden

Australia’s unemployment figure has shocked pundits by unexpectedly falling to 6.8 per cent as the economy roars back to life in the states that have managed to reopen the economy.

Border closures and the coronavirus lockdown on Victoria have had a huge impact on the unemployment rate with some states that have reopened recording a surprise jobs boom.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, total jobs increased by a surprising 111,000 jobs in August, a figure propped up by the creation of over 70,000 part-time jobs.

The topsy turvy results were much better than expected in some states.

While employment fell overall by 413,000 job since March, unemployment has only increased by 200,000.

Read the full story here.

Natalie Brown

Jack Paynter, NCA NewsWire

Premier Daniel Andrews has admitted he is unable to tell Victorians when they will no longer need to wear masks in public but says it won’t be any time soon.

The Premier was quizzed this morning about the threshold for removing to the mandatory mask wearing rule, especially with restrictions easing in regional areas overnight, but said he didn't have an answer for Victorians.

"To be honest, I can't answer when people won't have to wear masks anymore," he told reporters.

"What I am saying as frankly as I can is that it won't be anytime soon. Masks will be part of the foreseeable future."

Read the full story here.

Natalie Brown

Western Australia has reported one new case of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

According to WA Health, the new infection is a man in his 60s who returned to Perth from overseas and is in hotel quarantine.

It brings the state's total number of infections to 661, and number of active cases to four.

Natalie Brown

Scott Morrison told reporters earlier that increased passengers from overseas will be landing in Australia's states and territories whether leaders like it or not.

Australia will raise its weekly cap on international arrivals from 4000 to 6000 from Friday next week, with state leaders agreeing to increase – and in some cases, double – their weekly intake to help get the more than 26,000 Aussies still stranded overseas home.

Picture: NCA Newswire/Martin Ollman

"We've lifted the caps up not all the way up to where they were before, but I hope to get to that position in the not-to-distant future because we've got to enable more Australians to come back, we've got past that initial crisis," the PM said earlier today.

Queensland, NSW and WA will take an extra 500 passengers each week, while SA will take 360 – with Mr Morrison saying they'll be forced to accept the new arrivals.

"Everyone will just do their job. The plane will land, with people on them, and they will be arriving. It's a decision, it's not a proposal.

"The Commonwealth Government has made a decision, that those caps have been moved to those levels and planes will be able to fly to those ports carrying that many passengers a week."

Frank Chung

A former economist at the Victorian Treasury Department has quit his job in protest at Daniel Andrews’ “police state”, penning a devastating op-ed slamming the government’s coronavirus response.

Sanjeev Sabhlok, who moved to Melbourne from India in 2001, resigned last week after being asked to remove a number of inflammatory social media posts criticising the state government.

Picture: NCA NewsWire/Daniel Pockett

Mr Sabhlok runs a blog and has a Twitter account with more than 3000 followers where he has railed against COVID-19 lockdowns, and in some cases called for politicians responsible to be jailed.

Read the full story here.

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