The board of Virgin Australia has agreed to ($) put the airline into voluntary administration today, after the Morrison government rejected a late bid for support. International shareholders signed off on the move on Monday night, reports The Australian, throwing the future of 16,000 direct and indirect Virgin jobs into doubt. A rejected request for a $100 million grant would have been a short-term salve, with the company seeking a $1.4 billion package. Billionaire founder Sir Richard Branson warned of the danger of a Qantas monopoly as he called for government intervention, and separately offered his private island in his tax haven home of the Virgin Islands as collateral to secure a British government loan for Virgin Atlantic. Deloitte is set to undertake the administration role for Virgin Australia, with private equity firm BGH and a consortium involving Etihad Airways both interested in the airline. The state governments of NSW and Queensland governments had both tabled competing offers to save the airline.
State and federal leaders will today discuss whether to lift a ban on elective surgeries at a national cabinet meeting, as Australia’s COVID-19 infection rate continues to drop. Australia's deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth suggested low-risk surgeries with high benefits for patients be considered first. “We recognise that there are Australians out there who are in pain, have disability, can't be in the workforce, need to take very potent pain medication that need their elective surgery done,” he said. The meeting will also consider isolation zones for at-risk remote indigenous areas, allowing elders to be closer to their communities. The news comes as Guardian Australia reports Indigenous residents of locked-down remote communities are risking prosecution under biosecurity laws to go into neighbouring towns to buy food.
The World Health Organisation director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned “the worst is yet ahead” in the COVID-19 outbreak. Speaking at the organisation’s headquarters in Geneva on Monday, he warned against complacency as governments begin to ease lockdown measures. Although the virus has killed more than 166,000 people, early results from sero-epidemiologic surveys suggest that a relatively small percentage of the global population may have been infected so far. Tedros also defended against criticism from United States President Donald Trump over an alleged lack of transparency, noting that US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention staffers have been seconded to work with his agency from “day one”.
A late night email from a disgruntled club chief executive to Australian Rugby League chairman Peter V’landys was the “final straw” that prompted the resignation of National Rugby League chief executive Todd Greenberg yesterday, reports The Daily Telegraph. Greenberg was already under pressure following criticism from the league’s broadcast partner Channel Nine, a falling out with club powerbrokers and disruption of the competition due to COVID-19 restrictions. The news comes as the World Players Association warns NRL that its planned competition restart on May 28 is “very ambitious”.