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The Deciport Daily Quick-Look: 14 July 2020

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National leader Todd Muller, pictured here a fortnight ago, has resigned from the job after enduring a difficult stint in his first month in the role. Photo: Lynn Grieveson

Leader of New Zealand's National Party Steps Down After Two Months

Political // BLUF: The National Party's leader Todd Muller has resigned from his position after only two months in the job, citing the toll the position has taken on himself and his family.

Muller ousted Simon Bridges in a leadership challenge in May. However, Muller received negative media coverage from the outset, including stories around a 'Make America Great Again' hat spotted in his office that was quickly capitalised on by reporters (one of several souvenirs from his trip to the US during the 2016 Presidential Elections, where he got items from both Trump and Clinton rallies); and the 'whiteness' of his front bench.

In a short time, he had dealt with several party issues, including the leaking of information to the media by a National Party MP that raised allegations of racism regarding the nature of the information leaked.

The New Zealand General Election is to be held on 19 September 2020.

(See Point 8 Below)

The Daily Quick-Look for 14 July 2020

The Deciport Daily Quick-Look is your at-a-glance look at several key events and situations around the world over the last 24 hours. Each headline contains the link to its source report.

BLUF = Bottom Line Up Front.

FYSA = For Your Situational Awareness.

1. UNITED STATES, CHINA - Economic/Political: U.S. hardens stance against China's South China Sea resource claims

FYSA: The United States on Monday hardened its rejection of China’s disputed claims to offshore resources in most of the South China Sea, calling it “unlawful,” a move that will further sour the already-fraught ties between the world’s largest two economies.

China has offered no coherent legal basis for its ambitions in the South China Sea and for years has been using intimidation against other South Asian coastal states, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said. “We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them,” Pompeo, a prominent China hawk within the Trump administration, said in a statement. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

2. CANADA - Security (Health): Ontario reopening Stage 3: Gathering limit increasing as indoor dining, gyms permitted to reopen

FYSA: Ontario has released its plan for Stage 3 of reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic, which includes the resumption of indoor dining at restaurants and bars, opening of gyms and a sharp increase in the limit on gathering sizes. Much of Ontario is set to enter Stage 3 on Friday, with the exception of regions in the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand-Norfolk, Lambton and Windsor-Essex. “We will keep working until every part of this province gets to Stage 3,” Premier Doug Ford said. “We’re moving forward as a province, but we can’t stop. We won’t stop until we get every person in Ontario — until we get every worker in Ontario back to work and back on their feet. But today’s news is an important step forward.” (Global News. See link in heading for further reading)

3. LATIN AMERICA - Security (Health): Latin American coronavirus deaths overtake North American fatalities

FYSA: The number of deaths from the coronavirus in Latin America has exceeded the figure for North America for the first time since the start of the pandemic, a Reuters count showed on Monday. Latin America had by Monday seen at least 144,680 deaths so far, compared to 143,847 deaths in North America - comprising Canada and the United States - according to Reuters figures, which are based on official counts. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

4. UNITED KINGDOM- Security (Health): Shoppers in England ordered to wear face coverings from July 24

FYSA: Shoppers in England will have to wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets from July 24 to help reduce the risk of a new pick-up in the spread of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said. Johnson said last week that tighter rules on wearing face coverings might be needed but a senior minister - Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove - said on Sunday that wearing masks should be left instead to people’s common sense. “The prime minister has been clear that people should be wearing face coverings in shops and we will make this mandatory from July 24,” a spokesperson for Johnson’s Downing Street office said on Monday. Britain has Europe’s highest coronavirus death toll, with almost 45,000 confirmed deaths.In Scotland, which has its own powers over public health, as well as other countries such as Germany, Spain, Italy and Greece it is already compulsory to wear face coverings inside shops. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

5. EUROPEAN UNION, CHINA - Political/Security: EU preparing measures against China over Hong Kong

FYSA: The European Union (EU) is preparing counter-measures on China in response to Beijing’s new security law on Hong Kong, the bloc’s top diplomat said on Monday, but envoys stressed the likely steps will not amount to economic sanctions. Diplomats said there was broad support among EU member states for some action but tough measures were not being discussed in detail because of resistance from China’s closest trade partners in Europe, such as Hungary and Greece. Like much of the West, the EU has denounced the decision by China’s parliament to pass national security legislation for the ex-British colony of Hong Kong despite an international outcry. (Reuters. See link in heading for further reading)

6. JORDAN - Security/Political: Jordan king warns that Israel's annexation plans jeopardize regional peace

FYSA: Jordan's King Abdullah warned on Monday that any unilateral Israeli moves to annex territory in the occupied West Bank would fuel instability and dim hopes of a final settlement of the decades-old Arab-Israeli conflict. The monarch told British lawmakers the only path to a comprehensive and lasting Middle East peace was the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on land captured by Israel in the 1967 war, and with East Jerusalem as its capital. "Any unilateral Israeli measure to annex lands in the West Bank is unacceptable, as it would undermine the prospects of achieving peace and stability in the Middle East," the monarch was quoted in a palace statement as telling British foreign and defence parliamentary committee members in a virtual meeting. (WHBL. See link in heading for further reading)

7. AUSTRALIA - Security (Health): What stage 4 restrictions in Victoria could look like

FYSA: Victorians could be facing an even tougher lockdown if coronavirus case numbers don’t improve with Premier Daniel Andrews saying “stage 4” restrictions had not been ruled out. Victoria has introduced stage 3 restrictions over metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, and this asks people to stay at home unless they are shopping for essentials, caregiving, exercising or going to work or study (if it’s not possible to do this from home). During a press conference Monday, Mr Andrews said it was possible that even tougher restrictions would be introduced. “We’re not there yet,” he said, but added: “I can’t rule out we have further limits placed on people’s movement. I can’t rule that out. “As I always said, if we’re planning for it, we’ll share it with the community.” Mr Andrews said the decision was in the hands of hardworking Victorians. “If you don’t want a stage 4, if you don’t want the lockdown to last a moment longer, then please follow the rules. Do the right thing by your family, your community, and every family,” he said. There is no official guide that outlines what measures would be taken if Victoria went to stage 4 restrictions but places like New Zealand have previously introduced what it called level 4 restrictions. These were aimed at eliminating the coronavirus and included the closure of schools and other educational facilities, and the closure of businesses except essential services such as supermarkets, pharmacies and medical clinics. (News.com.au. See link in heading for further reading)

8. NEW ZEALAND - Political: Todd Muller resigns as National leader

FYSA: National leader Todd Muller has resigned from the role just under two months after deposing Simon Bridges, citing the heavy toll the job has taken on him and his family.

In a brief statement, Muller said he had taken time over the weekend "to reflect on my experience over the last several weeks as Leader of the Opposition". "It has become clear to me that I am not the best person to be Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the New Zealand National Party at this critical time for New Zealand. "It is more important than ever that the New Zealand National Party has a leader who is comfortable in the role. "The role has taken a heavy toll on me personally, and on my family, and this has become untenable from a health perspective. For that reason I will be stepping down as leader effective immediately." Muller said he intended to take time out of the spotlight to spend time with his family and restore his energy, and would continue to serve as a National Party member and MP for the Bay of Plenty. (Newsroom. See link in heading)

Date: 15 July 2020

Time: Morning session starts 9:30 am, Afternoon session starts 1:00 pm

Location: Central Christchurch, New Zealand

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