- 6:50AM update: This story has been updated with results of the Treasurer’s coronavirus test (below)
Concerns are growing Australia is moving towards a trade war with China after four major local abattoirs were suddenly told China would no longer accept their red meat.
China’s suspension of beef imports from the meatworks is likely to have a significant economic toll, amid ongoing tensions between the two nations following Australia’s push for a coronavirus inquiry.
By Wednesday morning, Labor was accusing Scott Morrison of trying to talk tough on China’s coronavirus response just to win over voters at home.
Opposition agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon accused the Morrison government of “mismanaging” Australia’s relationship with its biggest trading partner.
“We must never forego our interest abroad in the interest of chasing votes here,” Mr Fitzgibbon told the ABC.
The Morrison government has been calling for an inquiry into the origin of COVID-19 for some weeks to better understand how the virus started in Wuhan.
The announcement about beef exports comes just days after reports China is planning to slap tariffs on Australian barley imports.
Meanwhile, in other coronavirus-related news in Australia early Wednesday morning…
Australia has recorded 6966 cases to date, with fewer than 740 active cases. The national death toll is 97 – NSW 46, Victoria 18, Tasmania 13, WA nine, Queensland six, SA four, ACT 3 three. (Two Queensland residents who died in NSW have been included in both state’s counts).
Frydenberg tests negative
Josh Frydenberg had an unfortunately timed coughing fit during a speech to Parliament on Tuesday.
It sparked concerns the Treasurer could be falling ill, and he later announced he would self-isolate while awaiting the results of a coronavirus test.
Shortly before 6.50am Wednesday, Mr Frydenberg tweeted the results were negative.
Yesterday I was tested for COVID-19 out of an abundance of caution on the advice of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. This morning I received the result of the test which was negative.
— Josh Frydenberg (@JoshFrydenberg) May 12, 2020
Parliament is back on Wednesday for a three-day sitting in Canberra as the government seeks to pass privacy protections for its contact tracing app.
Back to school
Victorian parents are being assured it is safe for students to return to school as part of the state government’s easing of coronavirus restrictions.
The development comes after a state government testing blitz, with 161,000 samples, showed levels of COVID-19 in the state are “very low”.
The staged return to school classrooms begins in NSW and Queensland on Monday.
Lockdown restrictions eased
Victoria eased lockdown restrictions from Tuesday night, allowing a maximum of five visitors in their homes.
People are being encouraged to return to work in WA from May 18, with cafes and restaurants allowed up to 20 patrons. Regional travel restrictions will also be eased.
South Australia will allow all elective surgery to resume this week. Regional accommodation is to reopen, including caravan parks, hotels, motels and Airbnb services.
The ACT is allowing outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from Saturday, but dining out will not restart immediately.
The Northern Territory has relaxed restrictions on parks, golf, fishing and swimming. Restaurants and bars are to reopen with a two-hour limit on May 15 followed later by entertainment venues
In Queensland, shopping for non-essential items is permitted while up to five members of a single household can visit other homes. Up to 10 people will be able to congregate in parks, at pools and on playgrounds from Saturday.
Tasmanians to ease some restrictions from Monday with national parks and reserves open to residents within 30 kilometres for exercise, and public gathering limits have increased to 10 people.