Australia’s finance minister, Mathias Cormann, says the federal government now supports the current border restrictions that several states have put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The comments by Cormann, the senior minister from Western Australia, reflect the dramatic shift in the Australian government’s position on the internal border closures after strong public support for the measures in places like WA.
A week ago, the prime minister, Scott Morrison, bowed to pressure from the state premier to end the federal government’s involvement in a high court case challenging WA’s border closure. And in the last few days, Morrison has personally appealed to the businessman Clive Palmer to drop the case altogether. Morrison and numerous ministers have previously argued against state border closures but the politics have shifted amid growing concerns about the rise in infections in the state of Victoria.
Cormann – who argued in late July that governments “must not gratuitously impose unnecessary and avoidable economic or social harm for no or very little public health upside” – told the ABC’s Insiders program today: “Given what’s been happening in Victoria and given where the country is at, we support the current state border arrangements, including here in Western Australia.”
Cormann said the federal government had “changed our view as the position has evolved”. Asked about suggestions that the WA border might remain shut until next year, Cormann said the premier, Mark McGowan, had said “that he can’t put a date on it and that’s certainly right”.
“I’m sure that the premier, like everyone, would want those state borders to be able to come down at the earliest opportunity, but we just don’t know.”
Jair Bolsonaro’s former health minister has accused the Brazilian president of failing to offer any comfort to the families of the 100,000 Brazilians who have lost their lives to Covid-19.
In an interview marking Brazil’s latest Covid-19 milepost, Luiz Henrique Mandetta, who was sacked in April after challenging the president’s internationally condemned coronavirus response, expressed consternation that Brazil’s leaders had failed to recognise so much pain.
“There are 100,000 Brazilian families who have yet to receive a single word of comfort or solidarity from the government,” Mandetta told the newspaper O Globo.
On Saturday afternoon a coalition of Brazilian news outlets announced the number of deaths had risen by 538 to 100,240, the second highest number on earth after the US.
On the eve of that milestone Bolsonaro urged his country’s 210m citizens to put the unfinished tragedy behind them. “We regret all of the deaths,” the far-right populist said during his weekly live broadcast. “But let’s get on with our lives, get on with our lives and try to find a way of getting away with this problem.”
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