Australia set for a recession amid coronavirus restrictions
Australia is set to brace its first recession in more than three decades, with figures expected to reveal the worst economic contraction since the Second World War.
National account estimates for the June quarter are scheduled to drop today are tipped to reveal the financial wounds inflicted upon the economy because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to confirm Australia's "technical recession", with the figures likely to show a significant drop in gross domestic product, investment and consumption.
In the March quarter, Australia's gross domestic product had fallen 0.3 per cent, which showcased the initial inflictions caused by the shutdown.
Mr Frydenberg has previously said Australia's numbers would not be as bad as other countries, telling parliament yesterday it indicated the "remarkable resilience of the [Australian] economy."
The news came as Victoria recorded a rise in cases on Wednesday, with 90 new COVID-19 infections detected in the past 24 hours and six more lives were lost.
It was another jump in new infections, up from 70 on Tuesday.
A marathon debated ended in the early hours of Wednesday morning, where the Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews' controversial "state of emergency" extension Bill was passed by a single vote, allowing it to be extended by 12 months.
Support for Scott Morrison has dropped for the first time since the peak of the coronavirus pandemic as he takes on the states over their refusal to bend on border closures that are stifling the national economic recovery.
According to a Newspoll published in The Australian, the contest between the two major parties is tightening with Labor making up ground to post its highest primary vote since April and evening out the political playing field with the Coalition.
Labor and the Coalition are now level at 50:50 on a two-party-preferred basis, marking a four-point turnaround in Labor's favour over the past three weeks.
The dip in popular support for Mr Morrison and the Coalition comes on the back of overwhelming support among voters for the premiers' right to close borders and restrict entry if and when COVID-19 outbreaks occur.
The poll shows that 80 per cent of Australians support border closures if health concerns demand it.
Despite the support for the premiers' rights to make decisions over coronavirus hot spots, Mr Morrison, who is fighting closures because of the economic damage, also remained at record high popularity.
However, his approval ratings did fall for the first time since mid-April, dropping four points to 64 per cent.
Meanwhile, disapproval with Mr Morrison's performance rose by three points to 32 per cent.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese scored a two-point rise to 43 per cent. However, dissatisfaction with his performance jumped three points to 41 per cent.
Although the Prime Minister still holds a strong lead over Mr Albanese, Mr Morrison's rating as preferred prime minister fell two points from a high of 60 three weeks ago to 58 per cent - the same numbers he enjoyed in June.
The swing to Labor of three primary vote points came with no change to the Greens on 11 per cent, no change to the other minor parties at 9 per cent and a single point drop to 3 per cent for Pauline Hanson's One Nation.
Most of the shift in votes appears to have come directly from the Coalition's column.
At 41 per cent, the Coalition is back to the level of support it had near the end of April when the economy was forcibly put into hibernation at the height of the COVID-19 infections.
VICTORIANS URGED TO 'STAY THE COURSE'
Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has said the virus cases are still "too high" for the easing of stage four restrictions.
Mr Andrews said he understood there was "fatigue and frustration" but that the government needed to have a "clear plan" that could be delivered and cases would explode if the state opened up now.
Victoria has recorded 114 new coronavirus cases and 11 death on Sunday, a day after the state's daily case toll dipped below 100 for the first time in 55 days.
"At 100, 94, at 114, whatever the number, we simply could not open up," Mr Andrews said.
"Those numbers would explode, we would finish up and perhaps an even worse situation than we have been in recent months. We cannot fritter away all that good work and sacrifice."
Mr Andrews urged Victorians to "stay the course" and that he would provide the most detailed plan as soon as possible.
He was confident Victoria could defeat the second wave, he said.
"These case numbers are too high for us to open up, and they are still too high for us to put forward a definitive plan," he said.
"Now, there will be a plan. It will come soon. But it will be one that we can be confident of, not something that potentially gets a few of people being happier, but then ultimately has to be revised because it didn't mean much when you first announced it."
It comes as a group of coronavirus deniers vowed to defy strict stage four restrictions by protesting next weekend outside Melbourne's Shrine of Remembrance, the Herald Sun reports.
Thousands have registered their interest in attending the "Freedom Day" event on Saturday outside the sacred Shrine of Remembrance at 11am.
Dubbed the "tinfoil hat wearing brigade", the protesters are made up of a wide variety of groups including coronavirus conspiracy theorists, anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers and 5G conspiracy theorists, the Herald Sun reports.
The rise in cases come as Victorians flocked to the beach on Saturday to take advantage of the warm weather.
Melburnians descended on St Kilda Beach, where many went mask-free in violation of social distancing rules.
Despite the stay-at-home orders, large crowds headed to Ocean Grove and Torquay beaches as temperatures hit 19C.
This was despite Premier Daniel Andrews' warnings against doing "anything that might jeopardise" the COVID-19 strategy working.
AUCKLAND OUT OF LOCKDOWN BUT MASKS COMPULSORY
It comes as New Zealand's largest city, Auckland, left lockdown overnight and moved into what Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern described as "level 2.5" after just two new cases were announced on Sunday.
Ms Ardern heaped praise on residents for their patience and vigilance, but she warned the government would raise levels again "if we need to".
"For Auckland, you are at a form of level two that I am going to call level 2.5," Ms Ardern said.
"It is designed to keep us on track with our elimination strategy at level two in the scenario we now have, but it will only work if people follow the guidance, I understand it is easy to become complacent."
The level three lockdown was lifted at 11.59pm local time after Auckland spent 18 days in lockdown.
Level two means social gatherings in Auckland are limited to 10, with a maximum of 50 people for COVID-safe funerals.
"I cannot express how important that is," Ms Ardern said.
"If we want to stop the spread, we need to stop socialising for some time".
At midnight (local time), masks also became compulsory on all forms of public transport for anyone above the age of 12 in any part of New Zealand while level two restrictions are in place.
Those who don't comply risk a $300 on the spot fine.
"Basically, when you step out of your home … we are asking you to wear a mask."
She would not rule out mandating the use of masks if people don't wear them.
She said it was "highly unlikely" there was COVID outside Auckland and "we want to keep it that way".
GLOBAL VIRUS CASES PASS 25 MILLION
Global coronavirus infections soared past 25 million on Sunday (local time), as countries around the world further tightened restrictions to try to stop the rampaging pandemic.
A million additional cases have been detected globally roughly every four days since mid-July, according to estimates, with India on Sunday setting the record for the highest single-day rise in cases with 78,761.
The surge in India, home to 1.3 billion people, came as the government further eased lockdown restrictions over the weekend to help ease pressure on the reeling economy.
Even nations such as New Zealand and South Korea, which had previously brought their outbreaks largely under control, are now battling new clusters of infections.
On the other side of the world, Latin America - the worst-hit region - is still struggling with its first wave, with COVID-19 deaths in Brazil crossing 120,000, second only to the United States.
Brazil's curve "has stabilised now, but at a very dangerous level: nearly 1,000 deaths and 40,000 cases per day," said Christovam Barcellos, a researcher at public health institute Fiocruz.
"And Brazil still isn't past the peak."
More than 843,000 people have died of COVID-19 globally, and with no vaccine or effective treatment available yet, governments have been forced to resort to some form of social distancing and lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus.
And tightened virus curbs kicked in on Sunday in South Korea, which is also battling fresh clusters - including in the greater Seoul region, home to half the country's population.
'ANTI-CORONA' RALLIES SWEEP THROUGH EUROPE
Despite the grim numbers, there has been steady opposition to lockdowns and social distancing measures in many parts of the world, often because of their crushing economic cost.
But resistance has also come from the extreme right and left of the political spectrum, as well as conspiracy theorists and anti-vaccine campaigners.
In Berlin on Saturday, thousands gathered to march against coronavirus restrictions - but police later stopped the rally because many participants were not respecting social distancing measures.
Protesters waved German flags and shouted slogans against Chancellor Angela Merkel often used by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.
Many carried placards promoting widely debunked conspiracy theories about vaccines, face masks and 5G communications.
Similar protests were held in London and Zurich, where some carried signs supporting the far-right QAnon movement, which promotes bizarre theories about Satan-worshipping cabals and "deep state" plots - without any credible evidence.
Originally published as PM's numbers dip as Vics urged to 'stay the course'