Here’s a bit more on the head of Dfat’s comments regarding Australia’s approach to Myanmar, via AAP.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade secretary Frances Adamson told the Asia Society on Wednesday the situation in Myanmar was “one of the sharpest challenges our region faces”.
“Where the human rights of people are undermined or violated in our region, Australia will continue to voice our concerns,” she said.
Adamson described it as “a security, political and humanitarian crisis that is not only catastrophic for the people of Myanmar but imperils regional stability and enmires ASEAN in issues that divert attention from the priorities of economic recovery and strategic agency”.
“We’re engaging with our international partners to respond and doing what we can to support the people of Myanmar through our development program, without in any way conferring legitimacy on the military authorities,” she said.
Myanmar has been in crisis since the military seized power from Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February.
The nation has seen a series of protests against the coup despite a brutal crackdown by the junta on dissent.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says 738 people have been killed by security forces since the coup and 3,300 people are currently in detention, including 20 who have been sentenced to death.
When the discussion moves to climate change policy, Peter Khalil brings up the PM having a go at people who live in the inner city:
“He couldn’t help himself – he had to whack so-called inner-city elites at wine bars, sipping lattes. He is unwilling to move on climate change. He is only moving because the Biden administration is making a call on this and showing leadership internationally, including engaging with China on commitments and trying to work cooperatively together on what is a global issue.”
Dave Sharma, who represents the very inner-city seat of Wentworth, says the comment was “common sense”:
“I think it was making a pretty commonsense observation that the whole of the country needs to get behind this effort. Our emissions footprint, our high-intensive industries like heavy, natural resource extractions are in our bush areas. If we don’t have our fellow Australians in heavy industry areas onboard, this effort will fail.
To go to Peter’s point, we had Peter’s own resources spokeswoman out there saying how much she loves coal and they’d never shut down a coal mine. Labor recognises you have to take the whole country with you on this.”
On ABC News, Liberal MP Dave Sharma is asked about the comments from Wang Xining, the deputy head of the Chinese embassy in Canberra, that Australia’s relationship deteriorated with the Huawei ban. He said he took note of the remark:
“It is clear that China remains unhappy with our decision to exclude Huawei from our 5G network. That was taken for good reasons around national security and sovereignty. A lot of nations have followed our lead around the world. Just as China see those elements as critical infrastructure under its own control as well. I didn’t think it was a watermark or landmark speech.”
Labor MP Peter Khalil said he was surprised by the remarks:
“It demonstrates almost a psychological insight into a very hypersensitive world view where around every corner they see an enemy or competitor, thinking that everyone is sort of around, when all we’ve really wanted to do for decades, really, is to partner with China and have a constructive, mutually beneficial relationship, particularly on trade and on economic matters, which we have largely had.
“You see this kind of additional aggression from China, particularly in the last couple of years, with the wolf warrior, the sort of wolf diplomacy, and the very aggressive stance taken against many countries – not just Australia, by the way, but some of the Scandinavian countries have been punished by China as well. I think we need to work hard to build that relationship and give them the confidence we’re not out to slaughter them. We want to have a partnership.”
In case you wanted more photos of Victoria’s chief health officer, Prof Brett Sutton, getting his first AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine shot at one of the new mass vaccination hubs.
The federal department of health has commented on the man in Brisbane who went to hospital after receiving the Pfizer vaccine. It says:
“The department of health’s Vaccine Operations Centre [VOC] is aware of reports of an adverse event following immunisation in Queensland. The VOC is working closely with QLD Health to investigate these reports.The department of health does not comment publicly on details of individual adverse event following immunisation reports submitted to the TGA, in order to protect patient confidentiality.
“We take all reports of adverse reactions very seriously and they are reviewed through the appropriate channels. The head of the TGA has recently noted that there are over 50 blood clots per day in Australia and cautioned that no presumptions should be made about the causation or nature of events which follow vaccination until such time as there has been an investigation.”
South Australia Health has identified a suitable Covid-19 quarantine site for international students but the state government is still working through issues with the commonwealth to allow their return, AAP reports.
Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said a team within the department had been looking for a suitable site after the successful isolation of seasonal workers from overseas in the state’s Riverland region.
“We do have somewhere that we feel is suitable. It’s somewhere that will be safe and suitable for students,” she told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“We’ve looked at the ventilation and such like. My team are putting together a report that will come to me.”
SA has been working on the return of international students for some time but efforts have largely been hijacked by Covid-19 outbreaks either locally or interstate and other logistical issues.
SA health minister Stephen Wade said it remained something the government was exploring with other agencies as well as federal authorities.
“Universities have a strong interest in trying to have a pathway for international students to return,” he said.
“To be frank, the commonwealth is being quite rigorous in what it’s expecting of states to support such a program.
“So we continue to work through those issues.”
Wade said any return of students would also need to “synchronise” with the academic year.
On Victoria’s announcement it would build its own mRNA vaccine manufacturing facility, Scott Morrison said he “welcomed the announcement” and that the Commonwealth will follow, but said no one would be able to manufacture mRNA to meet the need this year:
“A year ago, mRNA vaccines were a theory, largely, around the world, but Covid and the vaccine of mRNA production has made that a reality now. mRNA vaccines will be important for vaccine element in the future. And Australia will be a part of. And my government will be a part of. State governments will be a part of.”
He said the Victorian facility plan was not in the place of any commonwealth plan:
“That is not done in place of the commonwealth, it is done, and I’m sure as other states will look to establish this capability as well, those were state governments do, that is part of the job. Certainly the commonwealth will be seeking to support what we could do in this area as well, the commonwealth will ensure that CSL is able to produce only what are the countries in the world, only about 20 of us who can produce Covid-19 vaccine.”
Brittany Higgins meeting ‘in process’, PM says
Former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins tweeted earlier today that despite the offer from the PM to meet earlier this month, his office hadn’t been in contact to arrange the meeting.
Scott Morrison said it is “in process”:
“That is in process, we have from Brittany last week, it is an important meeting and I look forward to having it. We will be following up on that now, and I look forward to having the meeting arranged soon.”
These five hydrogen hubs have been announced but not yet decided, so although he is on the Central Coast today, it’s not yet decided whether, say the Central Coast, where Scott Morrison is holding the press conference, will be chosen. Energy minister Angus Taylor says it will be a competitive grant process.
“We very much want to see great projects brought forward, great project involved collections of organisations working together, the hydrogen produces, the hydrogen uses, the energy generators, all of those different parts of the harbour, as well as the potential for the right skills to be brought to bear, all of this components that make a successful hub, coming forward in the proposals, ultimately as a process, but the fact that we are now going to award five, not just one, says to you, says to everybody, that Australia is a place where we can really lead the world on this, and Australia has technology, skills, and indeed the existing energy hubs which form the foundation of what will be, we think, fantastic hydrogen hubs for Australia and the world.”
Scott Morrison is asked about whether hydrogen will be used by industry, he says he saw in the Pilbara plans for later this year for hydrogen-powered trucks.
He claims that just like “Silcon Valley”, the Central Coast could become the “Hydrogen Valley”.
“That is why it is so exciting for regions in Australia, because it will see our regions, not just propelled, but transformed along the way. So we want to see that happening as soon as possible, the whole world does, because it is a huge part of the answer, to the question we are all trying to ensure that we can address. That is what I will be joining President Biden and many other world leaders over the next couple of days.”
PM press conference starts
Prime minister Scott Morrison is speaking on the Central Coast about the announcement of carbon capture and storage technology as part of his motioning towards net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
He says Australia “will play a huge part” in getting to net zero globally, and then starts talking up technology, and gas, and carbon capture and storage and not through taxing:
There will be emissions in the future and there will be in 2050. And carbon capture use and storage is essential in ensuring that that can be accommodated. Up there on the Gorgon project, Angus can talk more about that, but that is one of the world’s largest sites for carbon capture use and storage with some 4m tons I think it is already. A real project, actually happening.
So Australia has to pioneer both of these technologies and be right out there in front. That is how you get there, that is how we achieve what we are all trying to achieve. A lower emissions future, sure, but not at the price of taxing our heavy industries of the planet.”
You can read what we wrote about the announcement earlier today below.
Senior Chinese official blames Huawei ban for bad Australian relations
A senior Chinese diplomat has accused the Australian government of triggering the downward spiral in the relationship by “conniving with the United States in a very unethical, illegal, immoral suppression” of Chinese telco Huawei.
Wang Xining, the deputy head of the Chinese embassy in Canberra, told the National Press Club today that China had “done nothing intentionally to hurt this relationship”. But he argued China had observed “too many incidents over the past few years” over China’s interests being hurt.
Wang cited the Turnbull government’s ban on high-risk vendors, such as Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, from Australia’s 5G network in 2018. This has been raised numerous times in diplomatic exchanges between the two countries as an ongoing source of friction.
Wang said Australia was among the first countries to “forcefully” accuse Huawei of posing a possible security threat, but he argued no evidence had been presented to substantiate those claims. He said Australia had persuaded other countries to take a similar approach.
“I think Australia connived with the United States in a very unethical, illegal, immoral suppression of Chinese companies.”
Wang told a report that Huawei’s Australian operations “suffered a lot because of the unethical deeds by your government”. He also took a swipe at Australia’s broadband technology, saying speeds were “much slower than some of the developing countries”.
In an apparent reference to Malcolm Turnbull, Wang said “one of your retired senior politician claimed in his memoir that he’s the one” who had persuaded then US president Donald Trump about the security threat of Huawei. But Wang said reporters should ask Trump about this claim to establish “who’s the real culprit and who’s the accomplice”.
Wang also renewed criticism of the Australian government for blocking several Chinese investment proposals.
That PM press conference is a little late (well, half an hour) but we will hopefully have something soon.
We are waiting on the federal health authorities to provide more detail on the man in Queensland who attended hospital three days after receiving the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. But there is some important information to keep in mind in the meantime. He reportedly experienced blood clotting, Nine News said.
But there is nothing to suggest the man was hospitalised with the same type of serious but extremely rare clotting believed to be associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine. Most cases of these rare clots following vaccination with the AstraZeneca dose occurred in veins in the brain (a condition called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST) though some occurred in other areas including veins to the abdomen (splanchnic vein thrombosis).
Symptoms in almost all cases develop between day four and 21, which doesn’t match with reports of the Queensland man reportedly attending hospital on day three. The man is no longer in hospital; he would likely still be there if he had serious and severe clotting.
Queensland deputy premier Steven Miles said:
It’s too early to say whether this incident is linked to the Pfizer vaccine.
Millions have been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine in the US, and the data to date from those vaccinations is convincing that it is not associated with CVST or splanchnic vein thrombosis. While there have been reports of other less severe forms of clotting following vaccination with all types of vaccines, this clotting does not seem to be occurring at a higher rate than would be seen by chance in the general population.
In other words, it is likely just a coincidence that these people developed clotting after the vaccine, and they would have developed the clots regardless.
Nine News also reports the Queensland man recently had knee surgery. Such surgery carries a risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, a type of clotting deep in the veins.
A Queensland Health spokesperson said the department was aware of the media reports about the 40-year-old man who had presented to a hospital following the Pfizer vaccine.
The spokesperson said:
The patient presented to a private hospital, is not currently admitted and any queries should be directed to the federal government. In Queensland, all adverse events in relation to the Covid-19 vaccines are reported to the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The TGA will then undertake an assessment and determine whether there is any clinical link to the vaccination.