Prime Minister Scott Morrison has told billionaire Andrew Forrest to stay away from foreign affairs and stop spreading misinformation about the origins of the coronavirus.
Mr Forrest has secured 10 million testing kits from China in a $320 million deal, bolstering Australia’s supplies, but he has angered federal MPs with his comments about the coronavirus and the diplomatic tension between the two countries.
Asked by Alan Jones on 2GB whether Mr Forrest was lying when he said the virus could have started in another country, the Prime Minister said “that’s obviously not true”.
“I don’t think anybody’s in any fantasy land about where [the virus] started,” Mr Morrison said on Friday. “It started in China.”
“What the world over needs to know is how did it start and what are the lessons that can be learned? That needs to be done independently.”
Mr Morrison thanked Mr Forrest for securing the testing kits, which the federal government will reimburse him for.
“We’ve worked with Andrew to that end, and we thank him for that. But when it comes to foreign affairs advice, I’ll take my foreign affairs advice from foreign affairs officials,” he said.
Australia has been urging countries such as France and the United States to join them in calling for an independent inquiry into the origins of coronavirus, which led to the Chinese ambassador threatening a consumer boycott of students and tourists visiting Australia, as well as sales of popular agricultural exports like wine and beef.
Mr Forrest blindsided federal Health Minister Greg Hunt at a press conference on Wednesday by inviting China’s consul-general to Victoria, Zhou Long, to speak at the event.
“The consul was not invited by the Commonwealth to that press conference. Let’s be clear about that,” Mr Morrison said.