Australia’s health minister Greg Hunt has confirmed the federal government’s support of a European Union motion for an independent investigation to the origins of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.
“We support the EU motion which includes an independent investigation, regulatory work on wet markets and also the potential for independent inspection powers,” Hunt told Sky News.
Since mid-April, Australian federal ministers have been outspoken about the need for an international inquiry into the origins of the CCP virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, which spread from Wuhan, China.
Hunt says that the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Australia have some differences, which may further explain why the government has preferred to support an EU motion that includes “the potential for independent inspection powers” instead of giving powers to the WHO to investigate.
Australia’s decision to close its borders to China on Feb 1 was the “most important decision perhaps,” said Hunt, despite being met by criticism from both the WHO and China’s ambassador to Australia, Cheng Jingye.
“We believe we made not just the right decision, but one of the most important decisions made by an Australian government in decades,” Hunt said.
On May 7, Morrison met with a small group of world leaders from nations who are also experiencing relatively low numbers of CCP virus cases, to discuss economic recovery, contacting tracing, and managing any further outbreaks.
Morrison expressed his support for an EU-sponsored resolution calling for the independent investigation, which is expected at the upcoming World Health Assembly starting May 18.
The CCP has condemned to calls for an independent investigation of the virus outbreak, with Cheng seemingly unleashing threats of “economic coercion,” according to Australia’s foreign affairs minister Marise Payne, to ban Australian imports and Chinese travellers and students to Australia. Cheng’s comments have added further diplomatic strain on Australia-China relations.
Summoning Chinese Ambassador
The Sunday Mail reported that a federal parliamentary committee intends to summon China’s ambassador to give evidence and explain why the CCP has “economically threatened” Australia both before and after the virus outbreak.
The chair of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Trade and Investment Growth, Queensland MP George Christensen, said Sunday that Cheng will soon be receiving an official notice calling on him to appear before federal Parliament as part of the committee’s “Inquiry into Diversifying Australia’s Trade and Investment Profile.” The request was made without the government’s key cabinet ministers.
“This inquiry is independent of the government as it was not referred to us by Trade Minister Simon Birmingham but rather one we determined to undertake ourselves as a committee,’’ he told The Sunday Mail.
“This inquiry will be the first major look into Communist China’s infiltration of Australia, through rampant foreign investment and export market dominance,” Christensen said.
“We will make recommendations to the government that tackle the problem of China’s economic infiltration of our country and its economic threats against our country.
“It will then be up to the government to either accept the inquiry recommendations or reject them.
“Enough is enough,” he said.