Australia Post boss stood aside amid Cartier watch investigation; Canberra breaks 100-day COVID-free streak; Iran and Russia interfere with US election, FBI says; Victoria records five new cases, NSW one local case

Australia Post’s Chief Executive Christine Holgate will be asked to stand aside as an investigation is conducted into why the organisation spent $12,000 rewarding senior executives with Cartier watches.

During question time this afternoon, the Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said Ms Holgate will be asked to suspend her duties after it was revealed in a Senate estimates hearing that the service gifted four $3000 watches to senior executives.

Ms Holgate said the watches were bought from a Melbourne store in October 2018 and were for people that needed “to be rewarded” for “an inordinate amount of work” they did in setting up personal banking within post office branches.

The watches were a gift from herself, the Chair and the board of Australia Post.

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100-day virus free run ends with new local Bangkok case

“We can’t stay at zero cases forever but once we detected the case, we’ll act quickly to contain the spread,” Suwannachai Wattanayingcharoenchai, director general of the Department of Disease Control at the ministry, said at a briefing. “There’s no need to panic. We just need to follow social distancing guidelines. If we’re complacent, we’d likely find more cases.”

A prison inmate in Thailand has tested positive for the coronavirus in the country's first confirmed locally transmitted case in 100 days.

A prison inmate in Thailand has tested positive for the coronavirus in the country’s first confirmed locally transmitted case in 100 days.Credit:AP

The reemergence of the virus may derail Thailand’s plans to gradually reopen its popular beaches and cultural sites to foreign visitors from next month. The nation’s borders remain closed to most visitors, and almost all who enter are required to go through a 14-day quarantine at state-controlled facilities or hotels.

While the government has gradually lifted most restrictions on businesses and services to revive an economy that’s on track for a record contraction of 8.5 per cent this year, the south-east Asian nation has been under the state of emergency since late March. The country has so far reported 3428 cases and 58 fatalities, with only 93 patients still being treated in hospitals.

The government could now tighten some of its control measures to curb the spread within local communities. On Thursday, officials advised operators and customers of bars and clubs and other entertainment venues to follow health guidelines.

“There is a trade-off between health and economy and this case may make the trade-off a bit harder,” said Tim Leelahaphan, an economist at Standard Chartered in Bangkok. “But we will need to consider the reentry of foreign tourists at one point because the domestic tourism is weak and not enough to offset the fallout.”


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