New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will participate in Australia’s national cabinet meeting of state and federal leaders today, to discuss a “trans-Tasman bubble” to open up travel and business between the two countries. Ardern, who will join the meeting via video link in a historic first for a New Zealand leader, said “it is going to take us a bit of time to see we can do that safely”, noting the two countries were fortunate to have such low numbers of infections that such an arrangement was already under consideration. Morrison government sources told The Australian ($) it was likely all state border restrictions would need to be lifted before Australians could travel to New Zealand. The meeting will also consider virus-safe workplaces. It comes as Ardern pushes back against opposition claims Kurdish author and refugee Behrouz Boochani benefited from a politicised process to claim asylum in the country, describing the suggestion as “offensive”.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will deliver a speech today at the National Press Club outlining the road back to opening up the economy, revealing Treasury estimates that the restriction measures are costing Australia $4 billion a week. The speech comes as a new report from the Clean Energy Council forecasts that accelerating proposed wind and solar projects could contribute more than 50,000 jobs and $50 billion in investment towards Australia’s economic recovery. The industry group argues that taxpayers do not need to carry the full financial burden as private investors want to participate, with regulatory reforms the key to fast-tracking development.
Australian intelligence agencies have claimed a research document shared with them by the United States under the Five Eyes partnership, which links Covid-19 to a Wuhan laboratory, was largely based on news reports and contained no material from intelligence gathering. Intelligence officials told The Age they had still not been provided with any strong evidence that the outbreak began at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as claimed by United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday.
Police officers are among six people alleged to have received and shared a photograph via Whatsapp depicting former North Melbourne coach Dean Laidley being interviewed by police, reports The Age. Senior constable Shane Reid has been stood down and is expected to be charged over sharing the photographs, which showed Laidley wearing a wig and make-up. In the NRL, Gold Coast Titans player Bryce Cartwright is the first player to reject a league plan ($) to vaccinate against the flu, as part of measures to restart the competition. Cartwright, who is an anti-vaxxer, will likely need to sign a waiver before being allowed to compete, reports The Daily Telegraph.