Tag Archives: Australia

Australian PM, Scott Morrison in trouble.


Australia’s parliament has been repeatedly criticised for a “toxic” workplace culture that has allegedly spawned persistent bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct against women.

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison was under mounting pressure Wednesday after a former government staffer who said she was raped in parliament accused the government of revealing sensitive details of the case.

Critics have demanded an overhaul of what has been called a toxic and sexist culture in Canberra politics, after Brittany Higgins this week alleged she was sexually assaulted by a male colleague two years ago.

The 26-year-old has said she was treated like a “political problem” when she reported the incident in now-Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office and the case was badly mismanaged.


Higgins said Wednesday the government had now publicised key elements of the alleged attack that had not been shared with her previously.

“The continued victim-blaming rhetoric by the prime minister is personally very distressing to me and countless other survivors,” she said in a statement to local media.


“The government has questions to answer for their own conduct.”

The prime minister initially defended his government’s approach to the case before apologising, but on Wednesday faced further questions about what he knew and when.

Morrison has claimed he knew nothing of the allegation until five days ago.


“I’m not happy about the fact that it was not brought to my attention, and I can assure you people know that,” Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

But it has emerged that staffer who handled Higgins’ initial complaint now works in Morrison’s office.

And Higgins has told local media that a “fixer” for Morrison called her to “check in” late last year when other women accused two male ministers of sexism and bullying.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull — also a member of the conservative Liberal Party — declared it “inconceivable” that the case was not discussed at high levels.


“I find it incredible. That’s to say very, very, very hard to believe, that the Prime Minister’s office would not have been aware of that incident as soon as it occurred,” he told public broadcaster ABC.

“I mean, if they weren’t, it was a complete failure of the system.”


The opposition Labor party is ratcheting up the pressure on the government, suggesting Reynolds should resign for her failings.

“If I was the prime minister and these events had occurred and a minister in my cabinet had kept any information from me or my office, then they wouldn’t be still maintaining that position,” leader Anthony Albanese told Sky News.

On Tuesday Morrison announced two female government officials would lead reviews into the sexual assault complaints process and workplace culture in the parliament.


But critics believe that work needs to be carried out at arm’s length from the government.

Women lawmakers from minor parties on Wednesday wrote to Morrison demanding an “urgent external review” of current policies and the establishment of an independent body to oversee future workplace complaints, which are currently handled by the Finance Department.

“We think it’s really important that there be for an independent pathway for people who have experienced (this) — and we know there’s been many similar situations to Brittany,” MP Rebekha Sharkie said.

Australia’s parliament has been repeatedly criticised for a “toxic” workplace culture that has allegedly spawned persistent bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct against women.


The ruling coalition has also been accused of having a “woman problem”, with a spate of high-profile female politicians quitting parliament ahead of the 2019 election and several citing bullying as a factor.

In response, Morrison boosted the number of women in cabinet and has said other steps were taken to improve the parliamentary workplace.



COVID-19: Activities in New Zealand’s Auckland pends until 72-hours.


Neighbouring Australia also suspended a quarantine-free travel “bubble” with New Zealand for the duration of the lockdown.

New Zealand’s biggest city began a snap three-day lockdown Monday, forcing two million people to stay at home, as authorities scrambled to contain the nation’s first outbreak of the highly contagious UK variant.


Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern ordered the 72-hour lockdown for Auckland after three family members were found to be infected in the North Island city.

Schools and non-essential businesses have been forced to close and residents barred from leaving the city except for a few essential reasons.

The health ministry said genomic sequencing has since shown two of the cases were caused by the strain that was first detected in Britain. Tests from the third person were still pending.


“This result reinforces the decision to take swift and robust action around the latest cases to detect and stamp out the possibility of any further transmission,” the ministry said.

Authorities said testing of the family’s close contacts had so far found no further cases, raising hopes the lockdown will end quickly.

But health officials are still unsure how the strain entered the largely coronavirus-free country.

New Zealand’s director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, said the initial focus was on the mother’s workplace — at a company providing laundry services to international flights — “because of its obvious connections to the border”.


He cautioned it was “too soon to rule in or out” any source of transmission and the woman had not been at work for eight days before testing positive.

‘Not again’
As tracing and testing ramped up, the streets of central Auckland were largely empty Monday, with torrential rain helping to discourage people from venturing outdoors.

Coronavirus testing centres were busy, though, and there were long lines of vehicles stopped at police roadblocks as people tried to leave the city despite the lockdown.

Auckland has been ring-fenced from the rest of New Zealand, with travel in and out of the metropolis highly restricted for the next three days.

Neighbouring Australia also suspended a quarantine-free travel “bubble” with New Zealand for the duration of the lockdown.


It was the first clampdown in nearly six months in the Pacific island nation, which has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic with just 25 deaths in a population of five million.

The remainder of the country was placed on a lower alert level, with people required to wear masks on public transport and gatherings limited to a maximum of 100 people.

“I know we all feel the same way when this happens -– not again,” Ardern said as she announced the measures on Sunday.


“But remember, we have been here before, that means we know how to get out of this -– together.”

Ardern’s office meanwhile announced that the first batch of coronavirus vaccines arrived in New Zealand on Monday.

Some 60,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine have reached Auckland and would be given to border and quarantine workers beginning Saturday after quality control checks, she said.

Auckland spent more than two weeks in lockdown last August after an outbreak was linked to a worker handling imported frozen freight, but New Zealand has largely been enjoying relaxed restrictions for months.


Several cases caused by the variant first detected in South Africa were also detected in the city three weeks ago, before being traced back to a hotel where the people arriving from overseas had completed quarantine.

That outbreak was successfully contained without a lockdown, even though the South African variant is also considered highly infectious.



Australia open left empty amid Melbourne’s fresh lockdown.


With a population of 25 million, there have been approximately 22,200 community cases and 909 deaths.

Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria, including capital Melbourne, entered a five-day lockdown on Saturday as authorities raced to prevent a third wave of COVID-19 cases set off by the highly infections UK variant.

One new locally acquired case was confirmed in the past 24 hours, Victoria health authorities said on Saturday, taking the number of active cases in the state to 20.


“A lot of people will be hurting today. This is not the position Victorians wanted to be in but I can’t have a situation where, in two weeks’ time, we look back and wish we had taken these decisions now,” Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Saturday.

Andrews said Prime Minister Scott Morrison had agreed to stop all international flights to Melbourne through Wednesday, after five planes en route, with about 100 passengers, land on Saturday.

The cluster that triggered the renewed restrictions were staying in a quarantine hotel at Melbourne Airport.

It is the third lockdown imposed on Melbourne. The first two lockdowns were implemented when infections spread in March 2020, and then in July, which lasted for about four months.


Streets in downtown Melbourne, the state’s capital, and its suburbs were almost empty early on Saturday, with people ordered to stay home except for essential shopping, two hours of outdoor exercise, caregiving, or work that cannot be done from home.

Among the “essential” work, play at the Australian Open, the year’s first Grand Slam tennis event which runs to February 21, continued, but fans were banned through Wednesday.


Thousands were forced to leave before midnight, sometimes in the middle of matches, on Friday.

One new locally acquired case in Victoria was confirmed in the past 24 hour, taking the number of active infections to 20 [Brandon Malone/AFP]

‘Soul destroying’
The lockdown, which has shut restaurants and cafes except for takeaway, hit just as Melbourne had geared up for the biggest weekend in nearly a year, with Lunar New Year celebrations, Valentine’s Day and Australian Open crowds.

Melbourne last year endured a 111-day lockdown, one of the strictest and longest in the world at the time, to stem a coronavirus outbreak which led to more than 800 deaths.


“It’s the busiest weekend of the year for us. I’m sitting here making 178 heartbreaking phone calls to see if I can get them to rebook,” said Will Baa, owner of Lover, a restaurant in the hip district of Windsor.

“It is quite soul destroying. But we’re resilient. Just fingers crossed that it only does extend for the short period of five days,” he said.

More broadly, Australia is rated among the world’s most successful countries in tackling the pandemic, largely because of decisive lockdowns and borders sealed to all but a trickle of travellers.

With a population of 25 million, there have been approximately 22,200 community cases and 909 deaths.


New Zealand on Saturday also reported one death of a patient with COVID-19.

The person had been taken to hospital from quarantine for an unrelated condition and later tested positive. That case has yet to be included in the country’s total of 25 COVID-19 deaths.



COVID-19: Victoria State in Australia reports 81 fresh cases.


Australia’s coronavirus hotspot Victoria state said its death toll from the virus rose by 59 and there were 81 new cases.

The death tally includes 50 people in aged-care facilities who died in July and August, the state health department said in a tweet. Victoria, Australia’s second-most populous state, reported 15 deaths and 113 cases a day earlier.

The state capital, Melbourne, is nearing the end of a six-week lockdown put in place to slow the spread of the virus but authorities said restrictions may continue beyond the planned end date after daily cases rose on Thursday.


In: Shinny days ahead for Australia’s rooftop solar industry.


Coronavirus lockdowns and low interest rates are encouraging more Australians to install solar panels on their roofs.

The coronavirus pandemic has not deterred Australians from installing rooftop solar panels in ever-greater numbers, driving what is expected to be another record year for growth in green power generation.

The increased number of people working from home, more spending on home improvement and low interest rates are encouraging households to install solar panels, the Clean Energy Regulator said in a report on Thursday, revising up its forecast for new installations by 7%.

Australia already has one of the highest rates of rooftop solar in the world, driven by falling costs, an abundance of sunshine and a surge in electricity prices over the past decade.

The country is on track to match 2019’s record for 6.3 gigawatts of new renewables capacity this year, the Clean Energy Regulator said in a report on Thursday, with the contribution of new small-scale solar power at 2.9 gigawatts.


Around 29% of suitable households now have panels installed on their roofs, according to the report.

“Australia now has over 2.4 million rooftop solar PV systems on residential dwellings with a combined capacity of 9.7 gigawatts,” the regulator said.

Australia’s rooftop solar installation rose by 41 percent in the second quarter compared with the same period a year ago, new figures show [File: Tim Wimborne/Reuters]

“While each individual system is small, together they form one of the biggest generators in the electricity grid.”

Australians’ embrace of solar has created headaches for energy market planners, reducing demand for traditional generation and caused bigger fluctuations in electricity use across the day.


Here are the other key findings from the CER’s quarterly report:

  • Rooftop solar installation rose by 41% in the second quarter compared with the same period a year ago, despite a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19
  • Large-scale renewable projects have added 2 gigawatts of capacity so far this year, with the total expected to reach 3.4 gigawatts in 2020
  • There were 43 projects registered under the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund program in the first half of the year, already surpassing 2019’s total
  • Total emissions reduction from the Renewable Energy Target and Emissions Reduction Fund is expected to be approximately 54 million tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent in 2020, compared with 48 million tons in 2019



Pay Media Firms: Facebook threatens to ban News Sharing in Australia


Australian government wants the social media giant to pay for local publishers’ content amid pressure from Murdoch.

Facebook Inc. plans to block people and publishers in Australia from sharing news, a move that pushes back against a proposed law forcing the company to pay media firms for their articles.

The threat escalates an antitrust battle between Facebook and the Australian government, which wants the social-media giant and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to compensate publishers for the value they provide to their platforms.

The legislation still needs to be approved by Australia’s parliament. Under the proposal, an arbitration panel would decide how much the technology companies must pay publishers if the two sides can’t agree.

Facebook said in a blog posting Monday that the proposal is unfair and would allow publishers to charge any price they want. If the legislation becomes law, the company says it will take the unprecedented step of preventing Australians from sharing news on Facebook and Instagram.

“This is a decision we’re making reluctantly,” said Campbell Brown, Facebook’s vice president of global news partnerships. “It is the only way to protect against an outcome that will hurt, not help Australia’s media outlets.”


Facebook is still working through the details of how it would block articles from being shared, she said.

‘Heavy-Handed Threats’
Responding to Facebook’s announcement, Australia Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “We don’t respond to coercion or heavy-handed threats wherever they come from.” Forcing digital platforms to pay for original content would help create “a more sustainable media landscape,” Frydenberg said in a statement.

The chairman of Australia’s competition regulator, Rod Sims, said Facebook’s threat was “ill-timed and misconceived.” The proposed legislation seeks to bring “fairness and transparency” to Facebook and Google’s relationships with Australian news businesses, Sims said in a statement.

Google has also raised alarms about Australia’s proposal. The measure “would force us to provide you with a dramatically worse” Google Search and YouTube, and “put the free services you use at risk in Australia,” Mel Silva, managing director of Google Australia and New Zealand, wrote in an open letter.


Media’s Struggles
The Australian government has said it’s trying to level the playing field between the tech giants and a local media industry that’s struggling from the loss of advertising revenue to those companies. In May, for example, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. announced plans to cut jobs and close or stop printing more than 100 local and regional newspapers in Australia.

Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp accuses Facebook and other tech platforms of deriving ‘immense benefit from using news content created by others’. Facebook says Australia’s plan to make it pay for content is unfair [File: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg]

The Australian-born Murdoch has for years advocated that Facebook and Google pay for news articles that appear on their platforms. And News Corp. has lauded government efforts to force the two companies to pay for news.

Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, was quoted widely as saying: “The tech platforms’ days of free-riding on other peoples’ content are ending. They derive immense benefit from using news content created by others and it is time for them to stop denying this fundamental truth.”

Yet Facebook’s decision to block news on its platform could prevent publishers from reaching a wider audience. In the first five months of 2020, the company said it sent 2.3 billion clicks from its News Feed to Australian news websites.


‘Insignificant’ Loss
The decision could also limit the appeal of Facebook’s social-media platform to Australians who use it to read news. However, Brown said removing news articles from Facebook in Australia would be “insignificant” to its business because they are a small fraction of what users see.

Australia’s new rules are part of a global push by government agencies to regulate the tech giants. In some countries, officials are concerned not only that Facebook and Google are capturing much of the advertising dollars that have sustained journalism, but also with the types of articles getting shared. The stories that tend to go viral on Facebook are those that stoke emotion and divisiveness, critics argue.

In April, France’s antitrust regulator ordered Google to pay media companies to display snippets of articles. In June, Google said it would pay some media outlets that will be featured in a yet-to-be-released news service in Germany, Australia and Brazil.

Last October, Facebook introduced a separate news section, paying some publishers whose stories are featured. Brown declined to share numbers on the popularity of the Facebook News tab, but said nearly all of the readers are a new audience for publishers. Last week, Facebook said it plans to expand the news section to other markets globally.


Storyline: Australia set to probe Chinese influence in public universities.


Australia’s parliament is set to probe alleged foreign interference at public universities, a government minister said Monday, as concerns grow about Chinese influence.

A proposed inquiry by the security and intelligence committee follows a series of controversies over China’s clout on Australian campuses, ranging from hacks of university data to questionable financial donations and intimidation of Beijing’s critics.

Concerns have also been raised about the nature of research links between academics and scientists in the two countries.

Alan Tudge, the minister for population and cities, told Sky News the mooted inquiry was the latest government attempt to tackle spiralling foreign interference now at “levels not seen since World War II”.


The move comes after Canberra announced last week that it was seeking new powers to scrap deals between local authorities and foreign countries that threaten the national interest — sweeping powers that would extend to universities.

It also comes less than a year after Australia announced new guidelines for universities for research collaboration, cybersecurity, and international partnerships.

FILE: Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison (C) attends a videoconference with G20 leaders to discuss the COVID-19 coronavirus, at the Parliament House in Canberra on March 26, 2020. Gary Ramage / POOL / AFP

Tudge said the inquiry would “go further” than previous probes into alleged foreign interference.

“We need to be assured and the public need to be assured that there isn’t that foreign interference in our universities sector,” he said.


He did not say if the probe was aimed at China.

The Australian newspaper reported that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton outlined the terms of reference for the inquiry in a letter Sunday to committee head Andrew Hastie, a government parliamentarian and outspoken China critic.

Advisors to Dutton did not respond to a request for comment.

The university guidelines announced in November push public institutions to enhance cybersecurity systems, undertake due diligence before signing partnerships with overseas organisations, and train staff to recognise foreign influence attempts.

Academics have been urged to be wary of sharing knowledge on sensitive topics and discern how joint research with international scholars could potentially be misused.


Schools and government officials also committed to more intensive consultation to protect Australia’s national interests.

Beijing has repeatedly denied interfering in Australian campus life.

China-Australia relations have reached a new ebb in recent months, with the two governments at loggerheads over trade and competing for influence in the Pacific.

Tensions spiked in April when Australia infuriated China by calling for an independent probe into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.


COVID-19: Vaccines should be made compulsory – Australian leader.


Australia’s leader called Wednesday for coronavirus immunisations to be mandatory, wading into ethical and safety debates raging around the world as the race to develop a vaccine gathers pace.

Almost 30 potential vaccines are currently being tested on humans across the globe in hope of ending a pandemic that has now killed more than 775,000 people and infected nearly 22 million, according to an AFP tally.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he wants all 25 million Australians to get the jab after the country secured access to a vaccine currently under development by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

“There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds, but that should be the only basis,” he said.

Nations are scrambling to develop an immunisation or gain access to one of a handful of contenders in the final stages of clinical trials.


Upping the ante, Russia on August 11 said it had developed the world’s first vaccine offering “sustainable immunity”, and was in the final stage of human testing.

But the announcement was met with scepticism by the World Health Organization, which said it still needed a rigorous review, and scientists say it has been approved without large-scale trials.

Among the competitors, Brazilian health regulators on Tuesday gave the green light to the final stage of trials on a vaccine by Johnson & Johnson.

The US pharmaceutical firm will test its drug on 7,000 volunteers in Brazil, authorities said, part of a group of up to 60,000 worldwide.


South Africa, meanwhile, will launch clinical trials of a US-developed vaccine with 2,900 volunteers this week, the second such study in the African country worst hit by the disease.

However, the push for a vaccine has coincided with a rise in anti-vaccine sentiment that could hinder efforts to encourage widespread uptake.

– ‘Fastest way’ –
The global outbreak has seen a sharp rise in online misinformation, speculation and opposition — something experts have dubbed an “infodemic” — with debate raging over whether vaccine rules impinge on personal freedoms.

The WHO has said the planet’s highest-risk populations must all be inoculated simultaneously or else it will be impossible to rebuild the global economy.


It has appealed to countries to join its global shared vaccine programme rather than go it alone in developing a cure.

Director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the most exposed 20 per cent of each country’s population — including frontline health workers, adults over 65 and those with pre-existing conditions — would be vaccinated first in the WHO-led scheme.

“The fastest way to end this pandemic and to reopen economies is to start by protecting the highest risk populations everywhere, rather than the entire populations of just some countries,” he said.

– New spikes –
His warning comes as the virus refuses to die across large parts of the globe, with South Korea and Lebanon the latest countries to witness new spikes.


Seoul ordered nightclubs, museums and buffet restaurants to close, and banned large gatherings in and around the capital, after a burst of infections mostly linked to Protestant churches.

The country on Wednesday reported 297 new cases, its sixth consecutive day of triple-digit increases after several weeks with numbers generally in the 30s and 40s.

In Lebanon, authorities announced a new lockdown and overnight curfew to rein in a spike following a colossal chemical explosion on August 4 that has hampered virus prevention efforts.

In the absence of a vaccine, some people around the world have been resorting to novel and whacky methods to ward off the virus.


Namibia’s health minister on Tuesday was forced to warn against the use of elephant dung, traditionally steamed and inhaled as a cure for the flu, to ward off COVID-19.

The sparsely populated southern African country has seen infections double over the past month and many Namibians have turned to natural remedies.

Dung is widely believed to treat body ailments such as nosebleeds, headaches and toothaches.

“A desperate person may do a desperate thing,” minister Kalumbi Shangula said.


COVID-19: Australia imposes curfew on Melbourne


Australia imposed an overnight curfew on its second-biggest city Sunday and banned people from moving more than five kilometres from home in a bid to control a growing coronavirus outbreak that is infecting hundreds daily.

Declaring a “state of disaster”, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said Melbourne would move to Stage 4 restrictions until September 13 given “unacceptably high” levels of community transmission.

The harshest rules in Australia to date will see city residents face a curfew from 8 pm to 5 am for the next six weeks. Only those carrying out essential work, or seeking or providing care, will be allowed out.


“The time for leniency, the time for warnings and cautions is over,” Andrews said.

“If you are not at home and you should be, if you have the virus and are just going about your business, you will be dealt with harshly. Lives are at stake.”

Melbourne residents will be limited to an hour of exercise a day, no further than five kilometres (about three miles) from home starting Sunday night.

Only one person per household will be able to shop for essential items each day, also within the same strict radius.


Most school and university students in Melbourne will go back to online learning from midnight Wednesday, just weeks after returning to their classrooms, while weddings will also be banned.

A group of police and soldiers patrol the Docklands area of Melbourne on August 2, 2020, after the announcement of new restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. AFP

The sweeping new measures follow a city-wide lockdown that began in early July but has failed to curb the spread of the virus, with Andrews blaming the continuing rise in cases on people flouting stay-at-home orders.

‘Months, and months and months’
“These are the decisions made because anything short of this will not keep us safe,” Andrews said, adding anything less “will see it drag on for months and months and months”.

Additional restrictions affecting workplaces would be announced Monday, Andrews added, suggesting that non-essential businesses will face closures.


Victoria accounts for the vast majority of active coronavirus cases in Australia, recording 671 new cases and seven deaths from the virus Sunday.

Health authorities have linked the resurgence to security bungles at hotels used to quarantine international travellers that allowed the virus to leak back into the community.

The state’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said an estimated 20,000 cases were averted during Stage 3 restrictions, but flattening the curve to hundreds of new cases a day was “intolerable”.

“We need to see those numbers through the eyes of our healthcare workers and the kind of awful fear that they have about what it means for people presenting to hospital,” he said.


The virus has spread rapidly among vulnerable residents in aged-care centres, where government disaster relief teams have been deployed to replace infected staff.

Outside Melbourne, the rest of Victoria will move to a Stage 3 lockdown from midnight Wednesday with people allowed to leave home only for essential work, study, care and needed supplies.

Elsewhere in Australia, other states and territories have for weeks reported few or no new cases while relaxing restrictions.

A group of police and soldiers patrol the Docklands area of Melbourne on August 2, 2020, after the announcement of new restrictions to curb the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. AFP

They have, however, banned visitors from Victoria and Sydney — another virus hotspot.


New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said people were now being “strongly encouraged” to wear masks, particularly on public transport, in shops and at places of worship as the state attempts to avoid the fate of neighbouring Victoria.

“We are holding the line and doing OK but I cannot stress enough that the next few weeks will make or break us, in terms of the way we get through this pandemic,” she told reporters in Sydney.

Berejiklian added that unlike in Victoria, masks were not compulsory but would instead act as a “fourth line of defence” after testing, social distancing and hand-washing.

Australia’s total reported infections reached almost 18,000 on Sunday, with 208 deaths in a population of 25 million.


Australia’s extradition treaty with Hong Kong on hold over new rule


Australia suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and extended visas for Hong Kong residents in response to China’s imposition of a tough national security law on the semi-autonomous territory, the prime minister said Thursday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a range of visas that will be extended from two to five years and offers of pathways to permanent residency visas. It is not clear how many Hong Kongers are expected to get the extensions.

The move comes after China bypassed Hong Kong’s Legislative Council to impose the sweeping security legislation without public consultation. Critics view it as a further deterioration of freedoms promised to the former British colony, in response to last year’s massive protests calling for greater democracy and more police accountability.


The national security law prohibits what Beijing views as secessionist, subversive or terrorist activities or as foreign intervention in Hong Kong affairs. Under the law, police now have sweeping powers to conduct searches without warrants and order internet service providers and platforms to remove messages deemed to be in violation of the legislation.

“Our government, together with other governments around the world, have been very consistent in expressing our concerns about the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong,” Morrison told reporters.

“That national security law constitutes a fundamental change of circumstances in respect to our extradition agreement with Hong Kong,” Morrison said.


Britain, too, is extending residency rights for up to 3 million Hong Kongers eligible for British National Overseas passports, allowing them to live and work in the U.K. for five years.

Canada has suspected its extradition treaty with Hong Kong and is looking at other options including migration.

In Australia, the most likely Hong Kongers to benefit from the new policies are the 10,000 already in the country on student and other temporary visas.

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said he expected the numbers of Kong Hongers who would come to Australia under the new arrangements would be “in the hundreds or low thousands.”


Australia last offered “safe haven” visas to Chinese after the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989. More than 27,000 Chinese students in Australia at the time were allowed to stay permanently.

China last week warned Australia against “interfering in China’s internal affairs with Hong Kong.”

Global Times, a Chinese Communist Party mouthpieces, this week warned that “no one should underestimate the repercussions to the Australian economy from a further deterioration of bilateral ties.”

“If the Australian government chooses to continue to interfere in China’s internal affairs, it should be expected that the ‘safe haven’ offer will result in a huge negative impact on the Australian economy, making the issue much more serious than many people would have anticipated,” the newspaper said.


China accused Australia of spreading disinformation when the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade issued a travel advisory this week warning that Australian visitors could be at risk of arbitrary detention.

The department’s latest advisory for Hong Kong on Thursday warned that visitors could be sent to mainland China to be prosecuted under mainland law.

“You may be at increased risk of detention on vaguely defined national security grounds,” the advisory said. “You could break the law without intending to.”

Australia had negotiated an extradition treaty with China, but shelved it in 2017 when it became clear that the Australian Senate would vote it down. The separate Hong Kong treaty has been in place since 1993.



COVID-19: Australia set to try Chinese vaccine on Human, Trump glad at Italy’s recoveries.


>>> COVID-19: Australia set to try Chinese vaccine on humans <<<

An Australian research and clinical facility is preparing to lunch human trial of COVID-19 vaccine developed by China, Chinese media reported on Tuesday.

According to the state-run agency Xinhua, Linear Clinical Research, Perth-based clinical research company, has began to recruit healthy adults for the trial within next two months.

S-Trimer vaccine, developed by China-based global biotechnology company Clover Biopharmaceuticals, is among the first COVID-19 vaccines under development.


Linear also announced the vaccine trial on their website and called on the interested people to register with the company.

“If you’re healthy and located in Perth, WA, register your interest to participate in our upcoming COVID-19 vaccine study,” the company said.

Protein-based S-Trimer vaccine aims to help the body to produce anti-bodies to fight the virus, according to Xinhua. NobleReporters learnt


“This is one of the most prominent trials globally and involves some of the most renowned vaccine companies,” the agency quoted Jayden Rogers, chief executive of Linear, as saying.

S-Trimer vaccine on trial showed great potential and was at the forefront of the global battle with COVID-19, Rogers added.

On April 14, Chinese authorities approved human testing of two other coronavirus vaccines developed by the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products under the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and Sinovac Research and Development Co., Ltd, a company based in Beijing.


Sinopharm has produced over 50,000 doses for the initial clinical trials. After production is normalized, the output could reach 3 million doses per batch with an annual output at 100 million doses, according to the Global Times, a Chinese state-run new outlet.

The Chinese pharmaceutical group last week also extended offer for clinical trials of the COVID-19 vaccine in Pakistan, however Islamabad said they asked the company for more information.

US President, Donald Trump Glad As Italy Residents Recovers From COVID-19


>>> COVID-19: Italy is recovering, Trump’s happy <<<

United States President Donald Trump said Monday he was “happy that Italy is recovering” from the coronavirus crisis.


Speaking at a press conference at the White House, Trump also recalled that Premier Giuseppe Conte was a “friend”.

Italy will gradually start coming out of lockdown starting May 4 after the virus contagion curve has started dipping along with the daily toll of victims.

#Newsworthy. .


101-year-old grandpa survives COVID-19 after 14 days battle.

uk’s oldest person to survive COVID-19

A 101-year-old grandfather has become the oldest person in the country to beat coronavirus after a two-week battle with the deadly illness.

Keith Watson, who was being treated at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, Worcestershire, was discharged earlier today.

It comes as the latest figures show there are currently 65,077 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK with a death toll of 7,978.

The Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust shared a picture on Facebook which showed Keith giving a thumbs up surrounded by smiling nurses.

It was posted alongside the caption: ‘This is Keith, he’s 101 years old.

‘He went home today after beating coronavirus.

‘Well done to everyone on Ward 12 at the Alexandra Hospital for looking after Keith so well for the past two weeks!’

Keith’s grandson, Benjamin Watson, later shared the post to his own social media and said: ‘My wonderful Grandad at 101 contracting coronavirus and beating it. What an absolute trooper!

‘Thank you to everyone at the NHS. Can’t wait to see him when this is all over x’.

Elderly people are among the worst affected by the outbreak with 27 per cent of over-80s needing hospital treatment.

Rita Reynolds, 99, from the Isle of Man, was previously believed to be the UK’s oldest person to recover from Covid-19.

Luke Serrell, a volunteer ambulance driver who took Keith home, said: ‘I volunteered to transport positive patients in our ambulance as there is a lot that are beating the virus and want to go home.’

‘I feel honoured to be doing this as there is so much going on and it is great seeing the survivors of Covid-19 especially Keith as he is 101 and he is such a great bloke to chat to.

‘It is scary times but I’m proud to be on the front line helping.’


COVID-19: Kenya stop flights from China

A Kenyan judge has suspended flights between Kenya and China and ordered the state to prepare a plan to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

China Southern Airlines flights on the Guangzhou-Changsha-Nairobi route had been suspended since 11 February but that suspension was lifted on Wednesday when 239 passengers arrived in Kenya.

The Law Society of Kenya then filed a case asking the court to suspend flights again.

The court found in favour of the law society.

Justice James Makau suspended the flights for 10 days and ordered the state to prepare a “contingency plan on the prevention, surveillance and response to coronavirus”.

The plan is to be presented in court for scrutiny.


Coronavirus: Two European countries impose ‘travel ban’

China faced deepening isolation over its coronavirus epidemic on Saturday as the death toll soared to 259, with the United States and Australia leading a growing list of nations to impose extraordinary Chinese travel bans.

With Britain, Russia and Sweden among the countries confirming their first infections, the virus has now spread to more than two dozen nations, sending governments scurrying to limit their exposure.

The United States toughened its stance Friday by declaring a national emergency, temporarily barring entry to foreigners who had been in China within the past two weeks.

“Foreign nationals, other than the immediate family of US citizens and permanent residents… will be denied entry into the United States,” Health Secretary Alex Azar said.

Australia said it was barring entry to non-citizens arriving from China, while Australian citizens who had travelled there would be required to go into “self-isolation” for two weeks.

Vietnam suspended all flights from mainland China and Hong Kong effective from Saturday. Taiwan also initially appeared on the list of banned routes but references to the self-ruled island were later removed.

Similar expansive restrictions have been announced by countries including Italy, Singapore, and China’s northern neighbour Mongolia.

The United States, Japan, Britain, Germany and other nations had already advised their citizens not to travel to China.

Britain said Saturday it was temporarily withdrawing some diplomatic staff and their families from across the country, a day after the US State Department ordered embassy employees to send home family members under the age of 21.

Beijing insists it can contain the virus and called Washington’s advice against travel to China “unkind”.

“Certainly it is not a gesture of goodwill,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

The US emergency declaration also requires Americans returning from the ground zero Chinese province of Hubei to be placed in mandatory 14-day quarantine, and health screening for American citizens coming from other parts of China.

The virus emerged in early December and has been traced to a market in Hubei’s capital Wuhan that sold wild animals.

It spread globally on the wings of a Lunar New Year holiday rush that sees hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel domestically and overseas.

In a bid to stop the contagion, the government has extended the holiday through this weekend and urged people to avoid public gatherings.

Many provinces and cities have called on companies to remain closed for another week after the holiday ends on Monday.

The economic fallout continued Saturday as Apple announced that “out of an abundance of caution” its China stores would be closed until February 9.

Mea culpa
With public anger mounting in China, Wuhan’s top official admitted late Friday that authorities there had acted too slowly.

“If strict control measures had been taken earlier the result would have been better than now,” said Ma Guoqiang, the Communist Party chief for Wuhan.

Wuhan officials have been criticised online for withholding information about the outbreak until late December despite knowing of it weeks earlier.

China finally lurched into action last week, effectively quarantining whole cities in Hubei and tens of millions of people.

Unprecedented safeguards imposed nationwide include postponing the return to school, cutting bus and train routes, and tightening health screening on travellers nationwide.

But the toll keeps mounting at an ever-increasing pace, with health authorities on Saturday saying 46 more people had died in the preceding 24 hours, all but one in Hubei.

Another 2,102 new infections were also confirmed, bringing the total to nearly 12,000 — far higher than the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak of 2002-03.

SARS, which is caused by a pathogen similar to the new coronavirus and also originated in China, killed 774 people worldwide — most of them in mainland China and Hong Kong.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a global emergency on Thursday but later warned that closing borders were probably ineffective in halting transmission and could accelerate the virus’s spread.

But authorities around the world pressed ahead with preventive measures.

‘Latent racism’
Thai health officials on Friday said a taxi driver became the kingdom’s first case of human-to-human transmission.

Thailand joins China, Germany, Japan, France and the United States with confirmed domestic infections.

The health crisis has dented China’s international image and put Chinese nationals in difficult positions abroad, with complaints of racism.

More than 40,000 workers at a vast Chinese-controlled industrial park in Indonesia — which also employs 5,000 staff from China — were put under quarantine, the facility said on Friday.

On the same day, China flew overseas Hubei residents back to the centre of the outbreak in Wuhan on chartered planes from Thailand and Malaysia, citing “practical difficulties” the passengers had encountered overseas.

Countries have scrambled to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan, with hundreds of US, Japanese, British, French, South Korean, Indian, Bangladeshi and Mongolian citizens evacuated so far, and more governments planning airlifts.


Coronavirus: Australian scientists recreated virus, finding cure ..

A cure seems to be in sight for the deadly coronavirus after a team of Australian scientists announced that they have recreated the virus.

The breakthrough annoucement made by researchers at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Melbourne on Wednesday January 29, is expected to quicken the creation of a vaccine.

Doherty Institute Deputy Director, Mike Catton told reporters that they will share the sample which was grown from an infected patient with the World Health Organization and laboratories around the world.

He said;

“We’ve planned for an incident like this for many, many years and that’s really why we were able to get an answer so quickly. This is a step, it’s a piece of the puzzle that we have contributed.”

The recent coronavirus outbreak has killed 132 people in China and infected close to 6,000, after the flu-like virus broke out in the central Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. Though no death has been reported outside China, there are at least 47 cases confirmed in 16 other countries including in Thailand, France, the US and Australia.

While Chinese authorities said the virus can be trasnsmitted during its incubation period, WHO insisted that it remains unclear whether it is contagious before symptoms appear. WHO added that the incubation period can range from two to 10 days.

Commenting on how the virus is being transmitted, Dr Catton said;

“An antibody test will enable us to retrospectively test suspected patients so we can gather a more accurate picture of how widespread the virus is, and consequently, among other things, the true mortality rate.

“It will also assist in the assessment of effectiveness of trial vaccines.”


Firefighter, 27 others died in Australian bush fire

A firefighter has lost his life while battling a bush fire in Australia’s south-eastern state of Victoria, authorities have said, bringing the total number of people who died across the country in this fire season since September to at least 27.

The Forest Fire Management Victoria firefighter, who had 40 years of experience, was killed while battling a blaze in the Omeo area on Saturday, his boss Chris Hardman told reporters on Sunday.

Milder weather conditions, including cooler temperatures, rain, and less strong winds, have given some respite to fatigued firefighters since Saturday in both Victoria and in New South Wales (NSW).

A message of hope paying tribute to the firefighters was projected onto the sails of the Sydney Opera House on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sunday he accepts climate change was impacting on longer, hotter and drier summer seasons and also hinted at changing policy to reduce emissions.

Morrison has been criticized harshly for his handling of the fire crisis, including going on a Hawaiian holiday and downplaying the link between climate change and the devastating bush fires.

In hindsight, he would not have taken the family holiday, Morrison told Australian broadcaster ABC on Sunday, admitting he “could have handled on the ground much better.”

“These are sensitive, emotional environments… Prime ministers are flesh and blood too in how they engage with these people.”

The scale of the fires was “unprecedented” and people have a “new expectation” how the government handles such a situation, he said.

Morrison’s comments come just two days after tens of thousands of people took to the streets of all major cities across Australia, urging his resignation over the handling of the bush fire crisis.


(Videos) Controversy on Lil Wayne’s engagement with Australian Model

Did Lil Wayne put a ring on it?

The Young Money rapper may be engaged to La’Tecia Thomas. The Australian model has been seen rocking a diamond ring that was reportedly given to her by Weezy. It’s unclear when they got engaged, but Thomas has been flaunting the massive rock on Instagram as far back as October.

Lil Wayne HQ reports that Wayne and his new fiancée celebrated New Year’s Eve together in Miami. Thomas can be seen ringing in the new year alongside the rapper and his family in a video filmed at his new $17 million mansion.

The two may have met on social media after Wayne slid into her DMs while overseas last year. “I saw someone on TV and I was like, ‘I don’t know how to get in touch with this person,’” he said in a recent interview. “I met a very, very special person.”

This would be the second marriage for Weezy, who was previously married to his high school sweetheart Toya Johnson from 2004-2006. They share a 21-year-old daughter, Reginae. Wayne also has three sons from previous relationships.

In addition to making wedding plans, Weezy is busy cooking up new music. His long-awaited Funeral album is reportedly due next month. He recently shot a commercial for ESPN where he debuted a new song