1. Public health response scaled up

The Prime Minister has announced that we are likely to be dealing with the virus for at least six months, and so all measures taken must be sustainable over this period. Social distancing is still in effect, as are border closures and shutdowns of non-essential businesses nationwide. 

Australia’s per capita testing rate is amongst the highest in the world, with over 180,000 completed tests and 3,809 confirmed cases, but the WHO have stressed the importance of increasing testing to prevent the spread of the virus. 1.5 million new test kits are on their way. 

Meanwhile, vaccine development was a key topic of discussion at an Extraordinary G20 Leaders’ Summit, with the University of Queensland receiving $17 million in funding to pursue a vaccine. 

Expect more announcements in the coming days.

2. Borders have shut, but red meat and livestock are on the move

All states and territories have closed their borders, except for NSW, Victoria and ACT. Exemptions apply for agricultural supply chains nation-wide, including red meat and livestock. For up-to-date information, consult our border advice document

Australia’s international borders are now closed except for Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members. All people arriving into Australia are required to self-isolate for 14 days in a ‘hotel lockdown’ managed by states and territories.

Western Australia will also implement strict intrastrate travel restrictions from midnight, Tuesday 31 March. It is understood that exemptions will apply for agricultural supply chains to ensure continuity of pastoral operations.

3. Economic actions will be escalated

The Prime Minister has flagged a to-be-announced and not-tested “hibernation” modelfor the Australian economy that is currently being developed through National Cabinet. More details to follow, but it’s sounding like a freeze to us. 

In the meantime, there are a broad range of measures to support business, both by the Commonwealth and States. Announcements are flying thick and fast, so we’ve captured this by subject matter and region for you in one toolkit.

Other measures include the creation of a new National COVID-19 Coordination Commission,  and a $1 billion stimulus for regional communities to support businesses, agriculture and tourism.

4. Red meat supply chain stronger together

Red Meat 2030 partners are working on an Australian Red Meat and Livestock Industry Ongoing Pandemic Response to assist business continuity and minimize risk to staff and customers.

The full media release from our second virtual roundtable outlines our ongoing actions, and check out QLD Country Hour featuring RMACs Don Mackay and Terry Nolan, and friend of RMAC OBE Organic.

Our supply chain is actively collaborating to keep red meat moving:

  • Industry has worked together to ensure saleyards remain in operation
  • Animal Medicines Australia is continuing to work to maintain uninterrupted supply of veterinary medicines and animal health products
  • ALEC and LiveCorp have implemented temporary rules for the accreditation of shipboard stockpersons in response to COVID-19 
  • And, bucking the trend, the industry is hiring. Both Nolans Meats and Gundagai Meat Processors are looking for new team members, whilst FoodAllianceWA have launched the ‘Here for WA’ program to support jobs and fill labour shortages in the agriculture and food industry across Western Australia. Coles has also hired 7,000 new staff over the past two weeks, with aims to hire 5,000 more.

5. Food and agribusiness committed to serve Australia and the world 

Food production and supply chains have been reassured that public health measures, from butchers and supermarkets through to the farm gate, will not affect the industry providing food to Australians in crisis times.  

The Government is working with industry to keep the supply chain moving:

  • Mark Tucker will be the Government’s Senior Agriculture Industry Engagement Officer, and act as key liaison to agriculture, fisheries and forestry stakeholders. He can be reached at 0434 879 770 or Mark.Tucker@agriculture.gov.au
  • NSW DPI has activated a new specialist Primary Industries Liaison Team to inform and support primary producers and industry affected by COVID-19
  • ACCC has granted interim authorisation to allow supermarkets to coordinate with each other to ensure consumers have access to groceries
  • NTCA has called for increased Government intervention to solve supermarket supply chain issues and ensure supply to Territorian pastoral stations
  • AGMIN met this week and confirmed their approach to food safety and saleyards
  • MLA has instituted a comprehensive work-from-home policy, but will continue to gather livestock data and provide Market Information services. 
  • Regional Australia Institute have opened a survey on how COVID-19 affects regional Australians, which can be accessed here
  • Coles will donate an extra $1 million worth of food and groceries each week to help Australians who are facing hardship as a result of the pandemic 
  • FIAL will deliver various on-line solutions & virtual events over the coming weeks, including webinars, virtual ‘Meet the Buyer’, and more.

6. Is Aussie manufacturing back post pandemic? 

 The Government has issued a request for any company that might be able to produce PPE to come forward, with the ultimate aim of significantly increasing the production of PPE products. So far, more than 130 companies have come forward in response. 

7. Like everything else, parliaments nationwide have been postponed

The House and Senate’s next scheduled sittings will be on Tuesday 11 August. An up-to-date calendar of federal parliamentary sittings can be found here. 

Victorian parliament is adjourned until further notice, Tasmanian parliament is adjourned until August 18, and Queensland parliament has introduced new measures that could allow them to suspend sittings until September.

8. Lastly, thank you!

Our industry has been widely supported by the Aussie community, consumers and all three levels of government over the last week; and we thank everyone who has played a part in supporting us. We love producing your food, and we hope in these troubled times you enjoy eating it. Stay safe and well and as the situation changes, we will be counting on your support.