Election 2022 LIVE updates: Scott Morrison walks away from federal integrity commission promise; first leaders debate to be held in Brisbane

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  • Scrap close contact isolation for all workers: Business, health union
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Scrap close contact isolation for all workers: Business, health union

Big businesses and the union representing Australia’s most at-risk workers want isolation rules for COVID close contacts to be urgently scrapped as the nation struggles with a skills shortage exacerbated by an absent workforce.

As Easter travellers faced another day of lengthy queues at airports, partly due to a lack of staff, Business Council of Australia boss Jennifer Westacott said customers were facing a perfect storm of labour shortages, “isolation rules that keep thousands of people who aren’t sick at home.”

Jennifer Westacott, the chief executive of the Business Council of Australia. Credit:Louie Douvis

“Workers who don’t have COVID-19 should be allowed to work,” Westacott said.

Her comments were met with agreement by Health Services Union national president Gerard Hayes, who said the current close contact rules were not being heavily policed.

“It’s really time to let people responsibly manage their own health situation,” Hayes said. “If you are fully vaxxed, return a negative test and have no symptoms, you should be able to go to work.”

Current rules set out by national cabinet require close contacts of a positive COVID case to isolate for seven days, with Western Australia only recently having brought the rule in after easing restrictions.

State and territory leaders are weighing up when to lift those measures after the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee this month advised rules could be eased after the current wave of infections from the Omicron BA.2 subvariant peaked.

Liberals face independent integrity campaigners after PM abandons pledge

A national row over trust in politics will be used to galvanise campaigns against the Coalition in marginal seats after Prime Minister Scott Morrison abandoned a pledge to set up a corruption watchdog and blamed Labor for not supporting his preferred plan.

The moves ignited campaigns by Labor, the Greens and independents to claim the Coalition was weak on integrity because it would not honour Morrison’s promise before the last election to establish a powerful commission to investigate wrongdoing.

Former judges rejected Morrison’s warning on Thursday about the danger of a “kangaroo court” that would tarnish reputations in public hearings, citing research showing the NSW and Victorian anti-corruption commissions looked into thousands of matters but held few public hearings.

Days after Labor leader Anthony Albanese could not name the unemployment rate at a campaign press conference, advocates for a corruption watchdog said Morrison had made a greater failure by refusing to commit to setting up an integrity commission in the next term of parliament.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Friday, April 15. I’m Ashleigh McMillan and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started.

  • After Prime Minister Scott Morrison abandoned a pledge to set up a corruption watchdog yesterday – blaming Labor for not supporting his plan – campaigns claiming the Coalition is weak on integrity have been ignited by Labor, the Greens and independents in marginal seats.

Scott Morrison on the election campaign in Lyons on Thursday. Credit:James Brickwood

  • The union representing Australia’s most at-risk workers and big business want isolation rules for COVID close contacts to be urgently scrapped as the nation struggles under skills shortages. It comes as Easter travellers faced another day of lengthy queues at airports on Thursday – partly due to reduced workforce – and security staff at Sydney Airport were promised $1000 bonuses if they worked every shift in the next two weeks.

Lines of people waiting to check in at Sydney Airport on Thursday. Credit:Renee Nowytarger

  • The first federal election debate will be held next Wednesday at 7pm (AEST) in Brisbane. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will take questions from 100 undecided voters. The event will be broadcast on Sky News.
  • Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has made a $US43 billion offer to buy Twitter, declaring that the social media giant needs to be rebuilt as “an inclusive arena for free speech”.

This is not the first time Musk has inserted himself in world events.Credit:Bloomberg

  • And in Kyiv, Russia’s Defence Ministry says the flagship of its Black Sea fleet sank while being towed to a port after being badly damaged. Russian news agencies reported that the Moskva sank on Thursday, Moscow time, in a storm after being gutted by fire.

The cruiser Moskva in port Sevastopol in Crimea on April 7, 2022.Credit:Maxar via AP

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