Koalas could become extinct in Australian state by 2050 – inquiry

UNTV News   •   June 30, 2020   •   137

A year-long parliamentary inquiry announced on Tuesday (June 30) that koalas will become extinct in Australia’s most populous state by 2050 without significant intervention.

The report found that koala populations in New South Wales were on track to become extinct by 2050, prior to the 2019-2020 bushfire season, due to drought and habitat destruction.

However the recent bushfire season, which was one of the worst in Australian history, was particularly lethal to the state’s koala population and had only increased the rate of their extinction, according to the inquiry.

Whilst the committee was unable to determine the exact impact of the fires upon the koala population, it concluded that koala habitats in some parts of the state suffered a loss of up to 81%.

The report outlined 42 recommendations to the state government that could be taken to help revitalize the population. (Reuters)

(Production: Cordelia Hsu)

Australia closes state border for first time in 100 years to halt coronavirus

UNTV News   •   July 6, 2020

The border between Australia’s two most populous states will close from Tuesday (July 7) for an indefinite period, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday (July 6), following an outbreak of the coronavirus in his state.

The decision marks the first time the border with neighbouring New South Wales (NSW) has been shut in 100 years – officials last blocked movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, Victoria’s capital, has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social-distancing orders in 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete lockdown.

The state reported 127 new COVID-19 infections overnight, its biggest one-day spike since the pandemic began. 53 of those were detected from the public housing towers. It also reported one death, the first nationally in more than two weeks, taking the country’s total tally to 105.

Andrews said the decision to close the border, effective from 11.59 p.m. local time on Tuesday, was made jointly with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Victoria’s only other internal border, with South Australia state, is already closed.

Australia has fared better than many countries in the coronavirus pandemic, with just short of 8,500 cases so far, but the Melbourne outbreak has raised alarm bells. The country has reported an average of 109 cases daily over the past week, compared with an average of just 9 cases daily over the first week of June. (Reuters)

(Production: James Redmayne)

Australia considering offering safe haven for Hong Kong residents

UNTV News   •   July 2, 2020

Australia is considering safe haven proposals for Hong Kong residents, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday (July 2), after China imposed a new national security law on the financial hub.

The law punishes crimes of secession, subversion, and collusion with foreign forces with up to life in prison in Hong Kong, which was guaranteed freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland under a “one country, two systems” formula at its 1997 handover.

China says the law is necessary to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces following anti-government protests that escalated in June last year and plunged the city into its biggest crisis in decades.

Authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong have repeatedly said the law will not affect Hong Kong’s rights and freedoms, nor investor interests.

The passage of the law has drawn international condemnation and more than 300 people on Wednesday (July 1) were arrested as protesters took to the streets in defiance of the sweeping security legislation. (Reuters)

(Production: James Redmayne)

Japan to ease entry for Vietnam, Thailand, Australia, NZ – Abe

UNTV News   •   June 19, 2020

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday (June 18) said his country would ease entry restrictions for people coming from Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Vietnam.

Speaking at a news conference on a day after the parliament session closed, Abe said Japan, which bans entry from more than 100 countries, will start coordinating discussion with the four countries.

Abe emphasised Japan needs a measure to restore people’s livelihoods and the economy hit by the new coronavirus pandemic. “We need a measure which controls the risk of infections with as few restrictions as possible, a measure which focuses more on protecting our jobs and livelihoods,” he said.

Abe also delivered an apology at the beginning of the news conference, over the arrests of former justice minister Katsuyuki Kawai and his wife, upper house lawmaker Anri Kawai, on suspicion of vote-buying. “I’m keenly aware of my responsibility as I once appointed him (Katsuyuki Kawai) Justice Minister,” Abe added.

Support for Abe, who had close ties to the ex-justice minister, has declined over what critics say is his clumsy handling of the coronavirus outbreak, a furore over efforts to extend top prosecutors’ retirement age, and questions about government programmes to support tourism and smaller companies. (Reuters)

(Production: Hideto Sakai)

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