Perth staycation campaign launched as grants unveiled to help fill regional WA backpacker gap

Staycations are being promoted in Perth while young people are being urged to become backpackers in their own state as WA’s border remains tightly closed to the rest of the world.

The State Government is pushing both messages and funnelling money into incentives in order to stimulate the hospitality, tourism and agricultural sectors as the impact of COVID-19 continues to bite.

It has launched a $500,000 ad campaign to encourage people in the city to staycation in Perth and fill empty rooms in hotels, some whose only regular visitors have been quarantine guests.

“We have so many hotels now across the city, great venues that people can stay in and many are new and they’ve got spare rooms and spare beds, and there’s many great offers on the table for people to book specials,” Premier Mark McGowan said.

The campaign is part of the Government’s ‘Wander out Yonder’ push to get people to travel to regional parts of the state, as interstate and international visitors remain off the cards.

“We’re helping out in the regions right now,” Tourism Minister Paul Papalia said.

“If you can’t get a booking in the regions, it’s time to holiday in the city.”

Hotel sector pins hopes on campaign

The Australian Hotels Association (AHA) said the campaign was welcome, claiming some CBD hotels were recording occupancy levels of less than 10 per cent.

The WA Government wants locals to indulge in a CBD staycation to help the hotel sector.(Supplied: WA Government)

AHA WA CEO Bradley Woods said he was confident the plan would significant improve occupancy rates.

“We don’t have conventions and events, and other … events that would drive occupancy, and so the opportunity here is to reform these hotels into focusing on Western Australian tourism [and] holidays and leisure,” he said.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to peer out over the back fence and to look at Perth in a different way they’ve never seen before.”

Mr Papalia said deals and packages would be on offer as part of the campaign, including to some of Perth’s upcoming festivals.

Kimberley backpackers offered $500

The Government has also finalised its $3 million accommodation and travel scheme to encourage young people in the city to take up seasonal agricultural jobs in industries experiencing labour shortages.

Those jobs, like fruit picking or grains harvest, are usually filled by international backpackers.

Eligible workers will be given a $40 daily accommodation allowance for up to 12 weeks, with individual allowances totalling $3,360.

A worker places a watermelon on a conveyer belt
Thousands of dollars in incentives are on offer for West Australians to help with regional harvests.(ABC: Brad Marsellos)

There is also money available to cover travel to the regions — $150 for the Peel, South West, Great Southern, Wheatbelt, Mid West and Goldfields-Esperance regions, $350 for the Gascoyne and Pilbara, and $500 for people travelling all the way up to the Kimberley.

“This is about mobilising a seasonal workforce. We want West Australians to become backpackers for the next three months,” Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan said.

“And we are providing them with an incentive to do so.”

The scheme is aimed at agriculture, fisheries and food processing businesses.

Harvest workers in demand

Ms MacTiernan said COVID-19 had seen backpacker and seasonable worker numbers drop to less than half the usual number.

“We will need up to 7,000 people to get the harvest done,” she said.

“We need to backfill all of those backpackers who have gone home with West Australians.”

A backpackers stands in an apple orchard in Manjimup, WA.
About 7,000 backpackers are needed in the regions, the WA Government says.(ABC Rural: Jon Daly)

The Premier said he was still advocating for the Commonwealth to extend the JobSeeker and JobKeeper schemes to some regional jobs as another incentive.

The rebate comes into force from September 21 and workers have to be employed for at least two weeks before being eligible.

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Bouldercombe motorsport precinct plans unveiled and open for consultation

A Central Queensland council has unveiled strategies to build a multipurpose motorsports precinct, but some locals worry noise from the monitor will disrupt the silent neighbourhood.

The Rockhampton Regional Council announced the draft approach, which was built in collaboration with gurus and regional clubs.

The precinct proposed to be crafted at Bouldercombe will include tracks for a variety of sports activities including rallycross, drifting, driver security classes, mud sports activities and BMX racing.

“We are delighted with the layout of the racetrack alone and are performing with our area motorsport golf equipment to structure the fantastic precinct,” Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow claimed.

A map of the proposed motor sport precinct which will consist of tracks for a array of sports activities.(Supplied: Rockhampton Regional Council)

Councillor Strelow reported the designs aimed to mitigate the impression of sounds and dust on the area residents.

“With the nature of motorsports, it is really never ever likely to be a correctly tranquil precinct,” she stated.

H2o fears

Councillor Strelow said she was mindful of some issues from locals around water utilization for the track, which has been taken into account in the structure.

“The engineers have intended for h2o collection on web site and we are contemplating irrespective of whether to provide water from a nearby web page to provide council’s piped drinking water.

“Anything appears to be to have been viewed as in the plan but now it’s around to the broader community to see what they think about the structure,” she reported.

She claimed men and women who skipped former consultation groups can give feed-back in advance of August 24.

“They have been chatting about noise, targeted visitors and drinking water and this is a rural spot and they are really involved about everything that could lessen the h2o table they rely on for their crops and livestock.

We’ve paid interest to that, and it really is why we’ve set this out to men and women who are specialists in the field mainly because they are performing on web sites like this all all around the earth, some of them in urban destinations.

Councillor Strelow mentioned the following move will be lobbying for point out funding.

Locals involved more than site place

Bouldercombe resident Ian Boag voiced his worry in excess of the proposed web page spot and the likely for sounds pollution in the ordinarily quiet region.

“It truly is heading to have an adverse effect on us, with the scale of the operation they’re considering setting up,” Mr Boag claimed.

“I am a motorsport lover, but we’ve lived out in the bush for a lot more than 30 many years,” he claimed.

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Premier Mark McGowan defends hard border as $223 million for WA roads unveiled

West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has defended the state’s hard border amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Victoria.

His comments came as the State Government embarked on a spate of jointly-funded road projects brought forward to support jobs.

A total of $223 million will be invested in a suite of road projects across the state, from Exmouth to Toodyay, through a combination of federal and state government funding.

The infrastructure package is expected to support more than 1,000 construction jobs, with work expected to commence before the end of the year.

“We believe we can commence work on all of these projects in the next three to six months,” Transport Minister Rita Saffioti said.

The Federal Government will commit $176 million to the package — including $80 million for regional road upgrades — with the State Government contributing $47 million.

The upgrades will include parts of the Great Eastern Highway, Exmouth Road and Toodyay Road.

Work to convert a 17-kilometre stretch of the Bussell Highway into a dual carriageway — from Capel Bypass to Busselton — will be brought forward, as well as upgrades to tourist roads near Exmouth.

Dual lanes on Thomas Road in Perth, between Kwinana Freeway and Nicholson Road, will also be extended by one kilometre.

WA has more freedom ‘by miles’, Premier says

Amid a spike in COVID-19 cases in Victoria, Mr McGowan confirmed WA’s hard border would remain in place for now.

Premier Mark McGowan and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti say millions will be spent improving the safety of regional roads.(ABC News: Briana Shepherd)

“I think because we’re isolated here in Western Australia, people don’t really understand that our freedoms within our state, economically, are far greater than in any other state in Australia by miles,” he said.

“I mean, if you want to go into a cafe or restaurant in the eastern states, you cannot get [anywhere] near as many people in as a cafe, restaurant or pub in Western Australia.

“Our very low rates of infection and our hard borders have allowed us to open up the economy far more than any other state and I think we are very lucky to be in this position.”

However, at the same press conference Federal Finance Minister Mathias Cormann reiterated the Commonwealth’s calls for WA to reopen its interstate border.

Mathias Cormann stands at an outdoor press conference next to Rita Saffioti and Mark McGowan.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the Federal Government’s medical advice suggested the WA border could be safely opened.(ABC News: Briana Shepherd)

“We don’t believe that there is a case for those borders to remain. That is the medical advice for us nationally,” Senator Cormann said.

“You don’t see that there is any issue in New South Wales as a result of localised outbreaks in Victoria.”

Football hub a possibility

Mr McGowan also said the State Government was open to having a football hub in WA, provided there were “proper health arrangements”.

“If they’d like to have a hub here on the basis that it’s safe, with the appropriate quarantine, well then we’ll obviously entertain that,” he said.

“We are the safest place, I think, in Australia — maybe even the safest place in the world — so clearly if there is a hub arrangement, we have to have the very best of quarantine in place, but we’re happy to have a hub as long as the arrangements are secure.

“What’s going on in Australia today is bigger than football, and football needs to understand that the health and welfare of our citizens is paramount.”

AFL chief counsel Andrew Dillon confirmed the league remained in talks with the WA Government about quarantine rules, which would currently see West Coast and Fremantle quarantined in hotels on their return to Perth.

The Eagles have been vocal about their desire for players to quarantine in their own homes when they return, if they are required to remain on the Gold Coast beyond round five.

“I understand from my discussions with West Coast and also Fremantle … what the players and staff would really like is some certainty,” Mr Dillon told ABC Grandstand’s Sunday Footy Forum.

“That’s why we’re hopeful of the discussions that we’re having with the WA Government, that we can have enough certainty there that we can give West Coast and Fremantle some certainty as to how long they will stay in Queensland, and what it will look like for them when they come back to WA.”

The AFL said it also expected the WA Government to provide details about how games in the state would proceed, and the quarantine rules that would be in place.

One new COVID-19 case

WA recorded one new COVID-19 case overnight, bringing the state’s total number to 605.

The new case is related to overseas travel.

Mr McGowan said the recent spike of COVID-19 cases in Victoria was a concern for the entire country.

“Clearly what’s happened in Victoria means that we’ll take that into account in any decisions that we make, but like everyone I’m very worried,” he said.

“Once [outbreaks] get out of control, people can die and I don’t want to see that come here.”

Mr McGowan said he understood some people wanted to see the border come down, but he was focused on the health of West Australians.

“Western Australia as an island within an island has managed these things certainly better than the east coast and we’ve ensured the health and safety of our citizens,” he said.

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The PM unveiled Australia’s three-stage plan to relax coronavirus restrictions. This is what’s changing where you live

The Prime Minister has unveiled the National Cabinet’s three-step plan to ease restrictions imposed to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Scott Morrison said it would be the decision of the state and territory leaders when and how the plan is rolled out in each jurisdiction.

Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, several state and territory leaders were quick to unveil their own roadmaps for easing coronavirus restrictions.

Here’s a breakdown of what will (or won’t) change where you live.

Jump to your state or territory:

Queenslanders will be able to go to the pub next weekend

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced Queensland’s plan for the next three months, with the first step taking effect from midnight next Friday, May 15.

Under step one, restaurants, cafes and pubs will begin re-opening and bigger public gatherings will be allowed.

Queenslanders will be able to have up to five visitors in their home, with those visitors allowed to be from various households.

Gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed for outdoor activities, personal training, pools, parks and playgrounds, libraries, hiking in national and state parks and places of worship.

The number of people allowed at weddings will increase to a maximum of 10 people, with up to 20 for indoor funerals and up to 30 for outdoor funerals.


South Australians will be able to dine out as soon as Monday

Outdoor dining will be allowed in South Australia next week.(ABC News: Giulio Saggin, file photo)

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall also announced a raft of restrictions would be easing across the state from Monday, May 11.

Outdoor dining at restaurants and cafes will be allowed, and university and TAFE tutorials, as well as public libraries, pools, churches, community halls and auctions will also be reopened.

Groups will be limited to 10 people, however, funerals will soon be able to have 20 people at indoor ceremonies, or 30 for outdoor funerals.

Caravan and camping holidays, as well as regional travel in general, will also be allowed from Monday.

Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier described the announcement as a “really positive start to looking at moving forward”.

The SA Government plans to ease restrictions on cinemas, theatres, seated dining, galleries, museums and gyms for groups of up to 20 people on June 8.


Monday will also see some restrictions eased in Tasmania

Premier Peter Gutwein at a press conference.
Premier Peter Gutwein has outlined the road forward for Tasmania during the coronavirus crisis.(ABC News: Mitchell Woolnough)

Premier Peter Gutwein has unveiled Tasmania’s three-stage plan to roll back restrictions, which could see students back at school by the end of the month.

From next Monday, May 11, the limit on the number of people attending a funeral will increase from 10 to 20, aged care visits will be allowed once a week for a maximum of two visitors and national parks and reserves will be opened up to residents who live within a 30-kilometre distance.

Under the second stage, coming into effect on May 18, public gatherings of up to 10 people will be allowed but visits to households will be capped at five people.

Restaurants, cafes, playgrounds, pools and boot camps will be allowed to restart for up to 10 people at a time.

The third stage will come into effect on May 25, and is set to see some students return to classrooms while aged care visits will be allowed daily for a maximum of two visitors.

The Premier said each stage will be subject to public health advice.

ACT limit gathering restrictions but ‘no house parties’

From midnight on Friday in the ACT, up to 10 people will be allowed to gather indoors or outdoors.

The changes also allow picnics and family gatherings to go ahead, and boot camps to resume.

Ten people can gather for weddings, but special allowances are being made for funerals with 20 people indoors or 30 outdoors.

Home inspections and auctions will also resume, but will be limited to 10 people.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr warned the easing of restrictions was not a license to throw house parties.

“No house parties. If people do that, they will undermine all that we have achieved as a community over the last several months.”

NSW won’t be easing restrictions this week

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Gladys Berejiklian said low coronavirus infection numbers this week were encouraging.(ABC News)

While the NSW Government welcomed the three-step plan unveiled by the Prime Minister, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there would be no further changes to restrictions in NSW this week.

In a statement, the Premier said the State Government had already eased a number of restrictions listed under the first stage of the plan.

Last week, restrictions on people visiting each other in their homes were eased.

“NSW will continue to keep our citizens updated on our path forward.”

Earlier on Friday, Ms Berejiklian told reporters that NSW would consider the data they collect this month “to make sure any further consideration of easing restrictions will be done in a good and solid way”.

Nothing will change in Victoria… for now

The current rules remain in place.

Mr Andrews confirmed he will be making a series of announcements next week about changes to restrictions, but said nothing will change straight away.

“There may be time required to move from announcing a change to the effect of that,” he said.

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Changes to Victoria’s pandemic restrictions won’t be made until next week

The Premier said Victoria would pick and choose which restrictions to lift and when depending on what is best for the state and the unique challenges it faces.

“We have above 10 per cent of our cases,” the Premier said.

“That means we’re not like other states that have literally no community transmission, or such a small number — 2 or 3 per cent.

We won’t know what will change in WA until Sunday

Premier Mark McGowan will outline Western Australia’s roadmap for easing restrictions on Sunday.

“Here in Western Australia, we will do the best for our people and our state,” Mr McGowan said.

He said while the easing of restrictions in WA had so far focused on social aspects of life and schools, the next stage would prioritise the economy, and that reopening borders to interstate travellers will be one of the last to be relaxed.

Meanwhile, the NT is approaching stage two of its restriction-easing plan

The Northern Territory has already entered stage one of its restriction-easing plan, opening parks, pools and playgrounds, and lifting limits on outdoor social activities.

From 12:00pm next Friday, stage two activities including dining at restaurants, going to the library and exercising at the gym for less than two hours, will be allowed.

Whether the Territory will end its total border closure is still up in the air.

“South Australia can’t guarantee for me their border with Victoria, Queensland can’t guarantee for me their border with New South Wales, so that for me just strikes it straight out,” Chief Minister Michael Gunner said.

“WA I think is doing a great job, but we also had that outbreak in the Kimberly, so for me, all three borders at the same time and last.”

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Concerns that the JobKeeper scheme is not working as intended

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New Banksy Art Unveiled at Hospital Thanks Health Workers

(LONDON) — A new work by the elusive street artist Banksy, honoring health workers, has been unveiled at a British hospital.

The framed picture, titled “Game Changer,” depicts a young boy sitting on the floor playing with a nurse superhero toy. Batman and Spiderman action figure toys lie in a wastepaper basket next to the boy.

The nurse figure, complete with a cape and a face mask, wears an apron featuring a red cross — the only spot of color in the black-and-white work. The piece was placed on display in a corridor at Southampton General Hospital in southern England on Wednesday.

Read more: Front Line Workers Tell Their Stories in the New Issue of TIME

The artist left a note for hospital workers, saying: “Thanks for all you’re doing. I hope this brightens the place up a bit, even if [it’s] only black and white.”

Health officials said it was a “massive boost to morale” for everyone at the hospital, which has seen at least two members of staff die after contracting the new coronavirus.

“It will be really valued by everyone in the hospital as people get a moment in their busy lives to pause, reflect and appreciate this piece of art,” said Paula Head, chief executive of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust.

The artwork will be auctioned at a later date to raise money for national health charities, a spokeswoman for Banksy said.

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