Squiz Today / 29 January 2020
Squiz Today – Wednesday, 29 January
“Again without giving… ah… that’s the PM Morrison just dialling in as we speak.”
Said a momentarily distracted Kiwi PM Jacinda Ardern to the press pack she was addressing yesterday, just as PM Scott Morrison called her mobile to discuss our coronavirus responses. Here’s hoping he did our country proud by refraining from leaving a VM…
CAUGHT IN CHINA’S CORONAVIRUS CRISIS
As other nations move to get their citizens out of the coronavirus hit city of Wuhan, PM Morrison yesterday said options are being explored to help the 400 Australians - including 100 children - in the area. Since the virus that causes severe acute respiratory infection emerged three weeks ago, China has put in place arrangements to prevent travel to and from the region to prevent its spread. Australia has no diplomatic presence in that part of China, and Morrison says getting our officials there is the first step.
WHAT OPTIONS ARE BEING EXPLORED?
Evacuating our citizens from Wuhan and affected areas is one. America, Japan and France are doing it. And Morrison and NZ PM Ardern are talking about what our nations can do jointly. The PM’s kick into gear comes after a bruising Christmas-New Year period where reviews of the federal government’s slow response to the bushfire emergencies in NSW and Victoria were not flattering. Fast forward to the next crisis where our citizens are potentially in harm’s way, and Health Minister Greg Hunt says the government will “ensure that there is support and care for Australians on the ground and that there is a pathway to returning them home.” The government also upped the travel warning for China overnight from ‘exercise normal safety precautions’ to ‘reconsider your need to travel’.
WHAT’S THE UPDATE ON THE SITUATION?
The death toll in China yesterday rose to 106 as the number of total confirmed cases doubled in a day to 4,515. There are confirmed cases of the virus in 16 countries, including cases in Germany, Vietnam, Taiwan and Japan of people who had not travelled to China. Reports say travel restrictions have been tightened further, and wearing masks in public is now mandatory in some Chinese cities. China has also postponed starting the new semester for schools and universities nationwide, and no resumption date has been set. And Hong Kong has announced a plan to suspend rail and ferry links with the mainland. Closer to home and many private schools are requiring students who travelled to China during the summer break to stay away. NSW public schools also asked those students not to return until they'd been given the all-clear.
SQUIZ THE REST
ARDERN SAVES THE DATE
Yep, New Zealand’s PM had a bit on her plate yesterday, and it wasn’t all virus-related. Jacinda Ardern announced democracy-loving Kiwis can fill up the chilly-bin and get their jandals on in celebration – they are in for a 235-day election campaign… The general election is set to be held on 19 September, and it’s likely to be a tight race between Ardern's Labour Party and Simon Bridges' National Party. Ardern came to office in 2017 when Labour took minority government after forming a coalition with NZ First. Despite her soaring popularity in the wake of last year’s Christchurch mosque attacks, the last poll showed support for her government has hit record lows. The key issues: housing affordability, poverty, immigration, jobs and economic growth. Voters will also give their views via two referenda on the legalisation of marijuana and euthanasia.
JOHNSON DEFIES THE US ON HUAWEI
The UK government will allow Huawei to supply equipment for the nation’s 5G rollout as PM Boris Johnson defies national security concerns raised by the US. Despite growing discontent within Conservative ranks over the issue, senior politicians say the Chinese telco’s involvement would not affect the UK's intelligence-sharing relationship with the US and other close allies, including the Five Eyes. Under the arrangement, Huawei won’t be allowed to supply "sensitive parts" of the network and will be excluded from areas near military bases and nuclear sites. The US had ramped up the pressure on the UK in recent weeks saying Huawei's equipment was a spying risk. China and the company vehemently deny this. #SquizShortcut.
PRINCE’S ‘ZERO COOPERATION’ IN EPSTEIN CASE
Prince Andrew has been accused of providing “zero” cooperation to the ongoing Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking inquiry. Andrew stepped down from royal duties in November after the PR disaster that was a BBC interview where he failed to convey concern for the victims of Epstein, or give much reassurance about his relationship with the billionaire. Despite saying he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required”, Andrew has failed to respond to requests from prosecutors and the FBI for interviews. Buckingham Palace refused to comment saying it’s a matter for his legal team. Pressure is mounting on Andrew to comply.
HEAT SET TO BLAST…
As heavy rain falls in Far North Queensland, southeastern Australia is set to scorch over the rest of the week. The weather bureau says a blast of heat that's been cooking Western Oz is set to roast South Australia. Then it's on to create 'extreme' heatwave conditions reaching at least 40C in Canberra, eastern Victoria and southeastern New South Wales, and Tasmania by the end of the week. Despite recent rain and hail, the heat is expected to up fire risks again. Speaking of fires, Canberra yesterday faced its most serious fire threat in 17 years after a Defence helicopter started a dangerous blaze south of the bush capital. Thankfully, it was downgraded overnight.
BARTY TAKES AUSSIE HOPES FORWARD
Good on ya, Ash Barty. She yesterday became the first Aussie female since 1984 to make the Australian Open semi-finals after she defeated Czech Republic's Petra Kvitova 7-6, 6-2. While the 23yo tennis champion just scraped by in the first set by saving nine breakpoints, Barty cinched her win in a dominating second set. Next up for Barty: American Sofia Kenin on Thursday.
ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE AND WAR…
Do you get into some heated political discussions with your better half? Be grateful you’re not in this relationship that’s like “a badly written rom-com”...
SQUIZ THE DAY
12.30pm (AEDT) - PM Scott Morrison to address the National Press Club - Canberra
ABS Data Release - Consumer Price Index, December
Birthdays for Germaine Greer (1939), Oprah Winfrey (1954) and Stephanie Gilmore (1988)
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