Wuhan lab had three live bat coronaviruses: Chinese state media
Scott Morrison urges state leaders to justify economic damage from ongoing border restrictions
In Australia, Scott Morrison has urged several state leaders who are still maintaining domestic border restrictions to justify the potential economic damage.
The prime minister did not go as far as some of his Coalition colleagues in calling for premiers such as Annastacia Palaszczuk in Queensland swiftly lift border restrictions, but he emphasised that the national cabinet had never agreed to internal border closures, and leaders should be accountable to their voters.
Morrison said border restrictions were in place in some form in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Queensland, but he said this was never part of the national health panel’s advice.
“The states and territories where they’re making those unilateral decisions, they are accountable to the people in their own states for those decisions, and justifying why they need to be there, and the health protection they believe it may offer and indeed the economic damage that it can create. So it is very much an onus on those premiers to be able to justify those decisions, which was not a decision of the national cabinet, as to why that is the right thing to do for those states.”
Morrison said the focus now needed to be on creating as many jobs as possible and “I’d be urging all premiers to do just that.”
More on Australia’s Covidsafe app, which has been downloaded by 6 million people.
But is it actually useful?
Nearly a month since launch, the contact tracing app has barely been used – just one person has been reported to have been identified using data from it.
It set a target of 40% of the Australian population using the app for it to be effective. While close to 6 million Australians now have the app, the number of new downloads has declined in the past few weeks.
No actual number was tied to the 40% figure, but based on estimations of the number of Australians with smartphones, it is now about 1.5m under that target.
And the language from public officials has been toned down. No longer is it the key to freedoms, but an add-on to existing contact tracing methods, to work in concert with social distancing rules and continued testing to keep a lid on outbreaks.
So how did it go from being the key to allowing Australians to get back to the footy to being barely relevant?
Beauty salons to reopen in New South Wales, Australia 1 June
More from that interview with Mike Pompeo:
He said every nation had a sovereign right to make decisions for itself and Victoria also had “some rights” but he added that BRI projects needed to be looked at closely. Some projects “may just be straight-up commercial transactions” and that would be “fine”, but nearly every one had costs and risks attached to it.
Pompeo said the US would do the right thing to defend and keep America safe and work with “great partners like Australia”.
He added, however, that the US “will not take any risk to our telecommunications infrastructure, any risk to the national security elements of what we need to do with our Five Eyes partners”.
We’re going to protect and preserve the security of those institutions, so I don’t know the nature of those projects precisely, but to the extent they have an adverse impact on our ability to protect telecommunications from our private citizens, or security networks for our defence and intelligence communities, we will simply disconnect, we will simply separate.
We’re going to preserve trust in networks for important information. We hope our friends and partners and allies across the world, especially our Five Eyes partners like Australia, will do the same.”
Pompeo implies Belt and Road projects may threaten US info sharing with Australia
The US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has implied information sharing with Australia may be put at risk if the Australian state of Victoria proceeds with any Belt and Road projects that jeopardise communications networks.
Issuing the highly qualified warning during an interview with Sky News Australia, the News Corp-owned channel, Pompeo urged Victoria to scrutinise any proposals “incredibly closely” because Belt and Road projects could “build up the capacity of the Chinese Communist Party to do harm”.
The Victorian state government has attracted domestic political criticism for signing an agreement with Beijing that would allow for cooperation under President Xi Jinping’s signature infrastructure program known as the Belt and Road Initiative.
But that deal is still in its early stages with no projects locked in, and the state government has promised to “consider both Victoria’s and the national interest before agreeing to any specific activity”.
New York Times covers front page with 1,000 Covid-19 death notices
New York Stock Exchange traders hope to prove they are still a big noise
A line from the 1983 movie Trading Places is being used to trail the partial return to open outcry trading on the New York Stock Exchange this week, after the physical floor (but not the electronic market) was closed in March as part of the coronavirus lockdown.
“We’re back, Mortimer,” was how veteran floor trader Peter “Einstein of Wall Street” Tuchman put it.
Tuchman, who is sometimes called the “most photographed trader on Wall Street”, is recovering from a nasty bout of the virus himself, so it is difficult to begrudge him his enthusiasm.
But is this week’s return of open outcry trading at the NYSE – where safety concerns will only permit about 25% of the normal numbers of brokers back – really such a big deal?
Argentina extends lockdown to 7 June