Here's what you need to know today: May 12, 2020

From an international beef brouhaha to education in Victoria and the health of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, we've got you covered.
From an international beef brouhaha to education in Victoria and the health of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, we've got you covered.

ACM, the publisher of this website, has journalists in every state and territory in Australia and below we bring you the best of our content from across our network today.

We hope it can help you find your path during this strangest period in our lives.

Here are some quick links to the key content today:

China suspends four Australian meatworks

China has suspended four major Australian meatworks in what appears to be a further retaliation against Australia's push for an inquiry in the origin of the devastating COVID-19 virus.

The suspended plants are: JBS Australia's Beef City plant near Toowoomba, Qld, JBS's Dinmore plant near Ipswich, Qld, the Chinese-owned Kilcoy Global Foods at Kilcoy, Qld, and the Northern Cooperative Meat Company at Casino, NSW.

The bans are understood to specifically relate to issues related to labeling and health certificate requirements.

The suspensions are extremely worrying for the beef industry as they effectively stop beef from those plants being exported to China until the technical breaches are remedied. Read on

Prison officer safe after five-hour hostage stand-off with armed inmate

Mid North Coast Correctional Centre.

Mid North Coast Correctional Centre.

A five-hour siege which involved a prison officer being taken hostage at the Mid North Coast Correctional Centre has been resolved.

Corrective Services NSW Commissioner Peter Severin said the incident ended just before 3pm and praised the staff involved.

"Correctional officers at Mid North Coast did an exceptional job in remaining calm during this tense stand-off, while also retaining control of the situation," Mr Severin said.

"Prison officers trained in hostage negotiation were able to successfully convince the inmate to release the officer, and we are all very relieved by this outcome."

The incident began mid-morning when a 32-year-old maximum-security inmate punched the officer before threatening them with a prison-made weapon. Read on

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg tested for COVID-19 after coughing fit

Josh Frydenberg. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Josh Frydenberg. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will be tested for coronavirus after he had a coughing fit while delivering his economic update on Tuesday.

Mr Frydenberg was due to be delivering the 2020 budget, and the Morrison government's return to surplus, when parliament resumed this week. However both have been derailed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Treasurer coughed and spluttered through the statement, joking at one stage it was because his speech was too long.

But in a statement hours later, Mr Frydenberg said he sought the advice of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer about his symptoms after question time.

"The [Deputy Chief Medical Officer] advised me that out of an abundance of caution it was prudent I be tested for COVID-19," Mr Frydenberg said.

"Following the receipt of his advice I immediately left Parliament House to be tested and will await the result in isolation.

"I expect the result of my test to be provided tomorrow."

ACT cafes, restaurants to reopen from this weekend - with restrictions

Canberra cafes and restaurants will be able to reopen from midnight on Friday, but with a 10-customer limit in place. The move is part of the first stage of the ACT government's relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

Pubs and bars would only be able to open if alcohol served was accompanied by a meal. National parks, playgrounds and nature reserves will also open, except those shut for remediation after bushfires.

But hospitality industry groups warn very few Canberra businesses will reopen until further restrictions are lifted.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr acknowledged it would only be economically feasible for a small number of businesses to operate under the new guidelines.

Venues can only have 10 patrons if social distancing is enforced and the one person per four square metres rule is adhered to. All restaurants and cafes will still be able to open for takeaway.

"Local hospitality businesses are encouraged to only reopen if the model works for them," Mr Barr said. Read on

'Really difficult mentally': a year 12's perspective of learning in lockdown

Loreto College year 12 student Maddie Fogarty. Photo: courtesy ABC Heywire

Loreto College year 12 student Maddie Fogarty. Photo: courtesy ABC Heywire

Flexibility in studying from home suits Maddie Fogarty. What concerns the Loreto year 12 student is whether she will be ready for exams.

New curriculum assessment guides released about a week ago offer some reassurance on where year 12s need be aiming towards. But the not knowing is hard: when are exams and what is going to be on them.

Until Tuesday morning there was also little clarity on when school might be back. She has been preparing for anything.

Ms Fogarty has a sociology in-class assessment on Thursday. Unless they hear otherwise, students will check-in via a Google conferencing platform and must have their microphones on and cameras aimed at their desk as they write. Handwritten pieces must be submitted immediately via email. Read on

'Devout Christians' once opposed to cannabis use tell of medicinal benefits

A "devout Christian" couple from Tasmania once opposed to any use of cannabis have told a Senate inquiry of the drug's medicinal benefits.

In their submission to a Senate inquiry on barriers for patients who wished to access medicinal cannabis, Peter and Beverly Rubenach told of their experience using medicinal cannabis to treat their son and Ms Rubenach's experience using the drug herself.

The pair, who live near St Marys, provided 24/7 care to their son Tim who had severe epilepsy and various other health issues until his death in 2018.

Tim's health began deteriorating in 2012 and in 2014 Mr and Mrs Rubenach turned to cannabis to treat their son.

"Being devout Christians we 'counted the cost' of breaking the law but all that mattered was doing what was best for Tim's holistic health and wellbeing," the couple said in the submission.

They said within hours they witnessed improvements in their son. "Tim had a life," they said.

"It minimised his seizures, and calmed him emotionally and mentally, thus having a huge positive impact on his challenging behaviour." Read on

Attendance soars, but are your kids going back to school?

School attendance rates have soared as teachers welcomed back students for the first time on Monday.

Students across NSW will go back to school for at least one day a week, with many Year 12 students to attend class more frequently.

"We had 37 per cent of students yesterday [Monday] learning from within their classroom, that builds on our attendance data of last Friday which was 16 per cent," Minister for Education and Early Childhood Learning Sarah Mitchell said.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has outlined a staggered plan for students to return to face-to-face learning.

On Tuesday, May 26, classes will resume for prep, grades 1 and 2 and years 11 and 12. All special schools will also return on this date. On Tuesday, June 9 the remainder of Victorian students (grade 3 to year 10) will return to school.

Are you sending your kids to school? Take the poll:

This story Here's what you need to know this Tuesday first appeared on The Canberra Times.