Australia news LIVE: Melbourne braces for more COVID-19 cases after outbreak in northern suburbs; pressure mounts on NSW Labor leader

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New COVID-19 exposure sites listed in Melbourne

Contract tracers are working to find missing links in a growing chain of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne’s north as the health department added new exposure sites in Brunswick and Reservoir overnight.

The new sites include indoor soccer facility Futsal Brunswick on May 23 between 9am and 10am, B.T. Conor Reserve in Reservoir on May 21 between 8pm and 11.30pm and Coles Express in Reservoir on May 18 between 3.15pm – 4.15pm.

The health department also added Nando’s Epping on May 19 between 8.30pm and 9.20pm, and store House and Party between 5.15pm – 5.50pm on May 22.

They join sites identified yesterday afternoon including Highpoint Shopping Centre in Maribyrnong, the Urban Diner Food Court in Epping, Jump! Swim Schools in Bundoora and Epping North Shopping Centre.

On Monday Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton warned that one of the infected people had been moving around the community with a high viral load.

Epidemiologists said one or more undetected cases could have spread the virus beyond the northern suburbs, but Health Minister Martin Foley did not seek to tighten restrictions on Monday or declare a lockdown.

Confirmation of the new COVID-19 cases – among four family members spread over three households in Melbourne’s outer north – sent thousands of people into isolation on Monday.

Professor Sutton said one of the infected people was “likely to be quite infectious” and warned Melburnians that further exposure sites and more positive cases could be confirmed in coming days.
Stay with us throughout the day for updates on this developing story.

Europe tells China to have ‘proper discussion’ on Australian trade disputes

The European Union’s top diplomat in Canberra has urged China to have a “proper discussion” with Australia over its multibillion-dollar trade disputes and left the door open to the EU joining a claim against Beijing at the World Trade Organisation.

The EU’s ambassador to Australia, Michael Pulch, said Europe’s message to China was: “We do have an international system that guides our trade and China should apply these the same way that it expects others to apply them.”

The EU’s Ambassador to Australia, Michael Pulch, says Europe wants China to have a proper discussion with Australia.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Over the past year, China has imposed more than $20 billion of tariffs on Australian goods – including beef, barley, wine and lobster – in response to Canberra’s push for an independent inquiry into the coronavirus, as well as other national security decisions.

Read the full story here.

‘Value for money’: NSW government electricity contract to bolster solar, big battery

A $3.2 billion NSW government electricity contract will help foster the spread of renewable energy, including the construction of a large new battery in the state’s Riverina region.

The 10-year contract awarded to Shell Energy and Edify Energy will result in a 100-megawatt battery being built alongside Edify’s Darlington Point Solar Farm, which began operations earlier this year.

A giant 10-year contract for power from the NSW government will help support renewable energy and a big new battery being built in the Riverina. Credit:David Gray/Bloomberg

That solar plant, with almost 1 million panels, has enough power to supply 115,000 households and avoid more than 150,000 tonnes of carbon-dioxide emissions annually.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for reading our live coverage on Tuesday, May 25. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be bringing you today’s biggest news stories as they unfold.

It’s set to be a busy day, with Melbourne bracing for more COVID-19 cases and pressure mounting on NSW’s Labor leader.

In the meantime, here’s what you might have missed overnight:

  • Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has warned more cases will be confirmed in coming days after an outbreak in the northern suburbs.
  • In NSW, Labor’s Jodi McKay is being encouraged to stand down following the party’s disastrous result in the weekend’s byelection but no clear candidate has been identified to replace the opposition leader.
  • And in overseas news, Myanmar’s detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has had her first public court appearance since her government was overthrown in a military coup. The pro-democracy politician has vowed to continue her work despite being confined to her home since February.
  • And the US has condemned Belarus after the country scrambled a warplane to force a passenger jet to land so a dissident journalist could be arrested. Several airlines say they are now avoiding Belarusian airspace.
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