- PM declines to link jab numbers to border reopening
- Meat processors paid $11 million to end cyberattack
- Qld relieved as one new virus case emerges
- SA euthanasia laws pass Lower House 33-11
- DHS chief to front disability royal commission
- Qld, NSW issue COVID alerts after three-state trip
- ‘Serious concern’: Japan and Australia issue China warning
- Russian court outlaws organisations linked to Navalny
- Dangerfield to make long-awaited return against Power
PM declines to link jab numbers to border reopening
Scott Morrison says there is no magic number of vaccinations that will trigger Australia opening its international borders.
The prime minister is refusing to set a target date, arguing the United Kingdom is still recording more than 4000 daily cases despite 77 per cent of its population being vaccinated.
Australia’s chief health officials have repeatedly stressed vaccination is almost 100 per cent effective in reducing death, hospitalisations and serious illness.
Morrison said immunising the population would allow the nation to consider opening up gradually.
“That will give us more and more and more options going forward, but I’m not about to swing the doors open and open Australia up to 4000 cases a day,” he told 6PR radio on Thursday.
“It’d shut the country down internally and it would ruin our economy.”
The prime minister said international borders would remain shut for as long as was needed to protect health and the economy.
“There’s no medical advice that I have received at any point in time which gives a magical number of vaccinations that enable you to provide that level of surety to Australians about when that can occur.”
While the federal budget assumed a gradual return to international travel from mid-next year, the government remains circumspect about linking vaccinations to restarting overseas travel.
The federal government doesn’t release daily data about how many people have been fully vaccinated but the figure was about three per cent earlier in the week.
More than 5.3 million doses have been administered nationwide as the sluggish rollout slowly gathers momentum.
Meat processors paid $11 million to end cyberattack
The world’s largest meat processing company says it paid an $US11 million ($A14 million) ransom in a cyberattack that disrupted much of its North American and Australian operations.
JBS USA, a subsidiary of Brazilian firm JBS SA, cancelled shifts at its US and Canadian meat plants last week, after the cyberattack that threatened to disrupt food supply chains and inflate food prices.
“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said Andre Nogueira, the CEO of JBS USA.
“However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”
The Brazilian meatpacker’s arm in the United States and Pilgrims Pride Corp, a US chicken company mostly owned by JBS, lost less than one day’s worth of food production.
Third parties are carrying out forensic investigations and no final determinations have been made, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.
No company, customer or employee data was compromised in the attack, it said.
Qld relieved as one new virus case emerges
A Melbourne man and his wife both have COVID-19 after leaving Victoria during lockdown and travelling to Queensland without applying for an exemption, but authorities are relieved only one local case has so far emerged.
The 44-year-old woman tested positive on Wednesday after the couple arrived in Queensland on Saturday.
Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the husband tested positive on Wednesday night, but no other cases have emerged in the community.
“So yes, some good news,” she told reporters on Thursday.
“We had those two confirmed cases related to the woman and her husband, who travelled from Victoria.”
Young said the man initially returned a negative test because he was at the end of his illness with a low viral load.
She said serology testing shows the wife is at a similar stage of recovery, indicating they first caught the virus 14-days earlier, around May 28.
“Which is very good news for Queensland,” the chief health officer said.
“That means the risk of transmission to anyone else is less, it’s still there, and I still need everyone to come forward who develops any symptoms at all.”
Contact-tracers have now identified 17 of the couple’s close contacts, up from six on Wednesday.
Three of those contacts have tested negative for coronavirus, including the woman’s parents whom the couple were staying with in Caloundra.
“They’ve tested negative, which is very reassuring, but we need to continue all of that testing,” Young said.
Another 400 people are self-isolating and getting tested after potentially coming into contact with the couple at 13 exposure sites across Goondiwindi, Toowoomba and the southern Sunshine Coast.
Young said given the low risk of spread, hospitals and residential aged care and disability care facilities won’t be locked down.
However, anyone who’s been at exposure sites visited by the couple will be barred from those facilities.
SA euthanasia laws pass Lower House 33-11
South Australia’s Voluntary Assisted Dying laws are expected to pass a final vote in the Upper House as early as this month after the legislation garnered overwhelming support in the House of Assembly overnight.
In a six-hour sitting of the House of Assembly on Wednesday night, lawmakers worked through the 117 clauses of the legislation before voting 33-11 in favour of the Bill at around 1:30am.
Amendments to the legislation made in the Lower House – which include allowing private hospitals to conscientiously object to the procedure – will now be sent back to the Upper House for a final vote of approval.
Premier Steven Marshall, who voted for the Bill and angered the conservative faction of his party by initially allocating government time to debate the issue, said he believes the legislation will face no problems passing later this month.
“I think its time has come,” he told ABC radio on Thursday.
“This won’t be debated in the Legislative Council today – it will go back to the Legislative Council later this month and it will be considered then in private members’ time.
“I expect that it will pass. The vote in the Legislative Council previously indicates that there is widespread support.
“I think these amendments are sensible and improve the Bill and I think that’s the general feeling.”
Read the full story here
DHS chief to front disability royal commission
South Australia Department of Human Services chief executive Lois Boswell is scheduled to appear before the disability royal commission today to answer questions about failures in the department’s incident reporting and investigation procedures raised by families at the inquiry.
Boswell’s appearance comes after two case studies were heard by the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability earlier this week.
The first detailed a letter sent to the guardians of a man with autism living in DHS disability care which contained threats to poison, wrongly medicate, withhold food and “regularly and repeatedly” abuse the resident due to staff frustration about a manager’s dismissal.
A subsequent inquiry by the South Australian Ombudsman found the DHS “failed to properly investigate the matter”, with key staff members only interviewed by the Department three years after the letter was sent.
The second case study, heard by the commission on Tuesday, revealed the Department reported a large bruise which stretched around the body of a man with autism living in DHS care to be “insignificant”.
The Department also failed to consult the man’s mother on the DHS’s investigation into the incident and asked her to file a freedom of information request if she wanted to know the details of the final report, the inquiry heard.
Previous DHS executives to appear before the inquiry this week have conceded the Department needs to improve its customer feedback and incident reporting systems.
Qld, NSW issue COVID alerts after three-state trip
A list of COVID-exposure sites in Queensland and NSW is expected to grow after a woman left locked-down Melbourne to go on a road trip across three states before testing positive on the Sunshine Coast.
Regional centres in NSW and Queensland are on alert after the woman’s case was confirmed on Wednesday.
She and her husband left an unidentified suburb on the edge of greater Melbourne on June 1, while the Victorian capital was in lockdown to control community transmission of the virus.
They then travelled through regional Victoria, crossed the border into NSW where they visited regional centres, and then entered Queensland on June 5 – two days after she started showing symptoms of coronavirus.
But Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young has said it is possible the woman was infectious from the day she left Melbourne.
Authorities in NSW have issued alerts for several regional centres after the couple stopped in Forbes, Dubbo, Moree and Gillenbah.
Queensland’s list of exposure sites include a McDonald’s restaurant in Goondiwindi, where they crossed the border from NSW, and sites on the Sunshine Coast, including at Moffat Beach, Kings Beach, Buddina, Baringa and Caloundra.
The couple also travelled through Toowoomba, west of Brisbane.
Queensland Police Deputy Commissioner Steve Gollschewski has promised to thoroughly investigate why the couple left Melbourne when a lockdown was in place, and warned that anyone who defied health directives could end up in court.
‘Serious concern’: Japan and Australia issue China warning
Foreign and defence ministers from Japan and Australia have agreed to strengthen their security ties as China becomes more assertive in pressing its claims to contested areas in the Asia-Pacific region.
The talks held online on Wednesday were between Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Peter Dutton, and their Japanese counterparts Toshimitsu Motegi and Nobuo Kishi.
Motegi told reporters after the online talks that the officials shared their concerns about China’s activity in the East and South China seas as a challenge to the international community.
Japan regularly protests to China over its coast guard presence near the Japanese-controlled Senkaku islands, which China also claims and calls Diaoyu.
Japan and China are also in dispute over the development of undersea resources in the area.
In the South China Sea, China’s sweeping territorial claims have clashed with those of its neighbours, which accuse Beijing of militarising one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.
In a joint statement, Japan and Australia expressed “serious concerns about the recent negative developments and serious incidents in the South China Sea, including continuing militarisation of disputed features, dangerous use of coast guard vessels and ‘maritime militia’, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ resources exploitation activities”.
Motegi also said the four ministers shared “grave concern” over China’s human rights abuses in Hong Kong and the western Xinjiang region, where Uighurs and other Muslim minorities live.
The statement called on China “to grant urgent, meaningful and unfettered access to Xinjiang for independent international observers including the UN high commissioner for human rights”.
China responded that it is determined to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests.
Japan and Australia are in the final stages of a defence cooperation deal that will allow the Japanese Self-Defence Force to protect Australian military assets, which will be only the second for Japan outside its alliance with the United States.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is in Singapore today for talks about a potential travel bubble with the port nation, before he heads to the G7 in the UK for talks with US President Joe Biden, Japanese leader Yoshihide Suga and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in.
Russian court outlaws organisations linked to Navalny
A Russian court has approved a request by prosecutors to declare organisations linked to jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny “extremist” in a move that outlaws the groups, his lawyers say.
The ruling, which takes effect immediately, effectively bars the groups’ members from running in a parliamentary election this year.
Navalny, who is serving a 2.5-year jail sentence on charges he says are trumped up, has denied extremism allegations.
He says it is an attempt to stamp out opposition to the ruling United Russia party ahead of the parliamentary vote in September.
Dangerfield to make long-awaited return against Power
Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield headlines four key Geelong inclusions for tonight’s AFL match against Port Adelaide.
Dangerfield, Mitch Duncan, Mark Blicavs and Mark O’Connor will all return from respective injuries for the Adelaide Oval clash.
But midfielder Cam Guthrie will miss another match because of a shoulder ailment.
Dangerfield (ankle) hasn’t played since round five, O’Connor (hamstring) has been sidelined since round six while Blicavs (calf) and Duncan (concussion) have missed one match.
Quinton Narkle, Rhys Stanley, Zach Guthrie, Max Holmes and last game’s medical substitute Jordan Clark were all dropped.
Scott said Dangerfield wouldn’t be restricted in game-time against the Power despite his lengthy absences this season, which followed an incident against the Crows in round one and an ankle injury in his subsequent return.
“The bye probably came at a good time for him, it would have been a harder decision to play him if we had a game last week,” Geelong coach Chris Scott said.
Meanwhile, Port have made one change, with Orazio Fantasia unavailable after knee surgery and Boyd Woodcock recalled, though only to fill the medical substitute role.
Coach Ken Hinkley flatly rejects the theory that his team need to claim a big scalp like Geelong to prove their AFL premiership credentials.
The Power enter tonight’s clash in fifth spot, with eight wins and three losses, with those defeats against fellow contenders the Western Bulldogs, Brisbane and West Coast.
Hinkley was blunt when asked if Port need to beat the third-placed Cats to prove themselves.
“Nup … I absolutely don’t,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“I knew that would be the first question I’d get asked.
“You know what, it’s part of the qualifying season, it’s part of what we need to do – we want to win, it’s a massive game.
“But in the bigger picture, every week is a big game, every game is a big moment, every opportunity in the 22 qualifying rounds is a big moment.”
The blockbuster on Thursday night will only proceed after SA Health granted Geelong an exemption to enter the state despite South Australia’s hard border with Victoria.
-With AAP and Reuters
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