Australia news LIVE: NSW records 19 new local COVID-19 cases; Perth, parts of

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Back to the earlier press conference with Health Minister Greg Hunt, who said the Commonwealth respects the decision of states and territories pushing to reduce the number of international arrivals, but noted the current COVID landscape.

“It’s important to recognise that difference between a year ago and where we are now. We have stronger controls at the borders. We have stronger testing, stronger tracing. We have 7.5 million vaccinations that have been delivered,” he said.

His comments came after Queensland and Victorian leaders called for the number of people arriving into Australia from overseas to be reduced to be able to better manage the COVID-19 response domestically.

“We would encourage every state and territory to help bring home as many Australians as possible, to bring families back together, to allow people to come home,” Mr Hunt said.

“We recognise and respect their decisions, ultimately, but New South Wales has done the heavy lifting on behalf of the nation. They’re continuing to do that.”

Mr Hunt said the multiple “rings of containment” starting with the quarantine system meant Australia had been kept safe from the worst of the pandemic.

“I’m advised by the ABF that over 80 per cent of people that have come into Australia during the course of this pandemic and in particular at the moment, are Australians or permanent residents or their family,” he said.

“But bringing people home or bringing in critical workers. Doctors or nurses. People involved in engineering. People who are critical to the operation of different roles, functions and services and facilities in Australia. They are absolutely critical to keeping Australians going.”

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