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What we know today, Sunday August 2


Welcome to your serving of the day’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad. Follow this post for breaking news through the day.

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Colleges closed as South Australia records two new cases

South Australia recorded two new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with authorities undertaking contact tracing to reduce the risk of community transmission.

One case is a woman in her 20s, who is a close contact of a known case, attended Thebarton Senior College and an after-hours program at Roma Mitchell Secondary College while infectious.

The South Australian Department for Education announced both sites will shut the site for a minimum of 24 hours, with parents, carers and adult students in the process of being contacted.

Public health officials are carrying out contact tracing and the Department for Education and SA Health will inform anyone who needs to self-isolate.

“We will thoroughly clean the relevant areas consistent with the recommendations for environmental management for prevention of transmission of coronavirus,” the Department said in a statement.

The sites will not reopen until public health officials indicate that it is safe to do so.

The other case is a teenage girl who arrived in South Australia from Victoria on Sunday July 26, on Jetstar flight JQ 774.

She is being isolated in hotel quarantine, and other passengers on the flight are being contacted as a precaution.

Eleven days before her test on July 31, she had developed respiratory symptoms, fever and loss of smell.

SA Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said seven contacts had been identified.

“The chances of her being infectious in South Australia are very, very low but we are going to continue to have her in isolation,” she said on Sunday.

“That second wave I was asked about yesterday, we are seeing it trickle across the border.”

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall on Sunday said his government was prepared to quickly impose stricter rules in the coming days.

“We’re very concerned about the unfolding situation in Victoria and we’re very supportive of further restrictions being put in place in that state,” he told reporters.

“We here in South Australia have been on high alert for weeks … with what has been happening in Victoria. We don’t rule out further restrictions should they become necessary.

“Police are increasing the number of checks they’re doing – we can’t be too safe.”

The state’s “transition committee”, established to manage SA’s response, is due to meet on Tuesday but Marshall said restriction changes could be implemented beforehand.

Victoria progresses to Stage 4 restrictions

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday announced metropolitan Melbourne will progress to Stage 4 restrictions for the next six weeks, after the state recorded seven new deaths from COVID-19 and 671 new cases.

Seventy-three of the new cases are linked to known outbreaks while 598 remain under investigation.

Six of the seven deaths were linked to aged care homes.

The deaths included three women in their 70s, two women in their 80s, one woman in her 90s and a man in his 90s.

The new lockdown rules will come into place from 6pm AEST Sunday in metropolitan Melbourne, including a curfew from 8pm to 5am for non-essential activities, a limit of one hour of exercise per day, and a limit of one person per household allowed to go shopping within 5km of their home.

Organised sport will be banned and visits to intimate partners will be limited to 5km.

Public transport will be restricted overnight, while weddings will be banned from Thursday, with funerals only be allowed in regional areas.

Regional Victoria meanwhile is being moved into Stage 3 restrictions from midnight on Wednesday.

Additionally, students across the state will return to remote learning from Wednesday, with Tuesday made a pupil-free day.

Further restrictions regarding what businesses will be allowed to remain open will be announced on Monday.

NSW upgrades mask advice

NSW has recorded one death and 12 new COVID-19 cases, with health authorities updating mask usage recommendations to include public-facing workers, worshippers and people near clusters.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said authorities would not enforce mask usage in NSW but had revised their recommendations to address four specific circumstances.

As well as in situations where social distancing is impossible, such as on public transport, masks should be worn in NSW by public-facing employees such as hospitality or supermarket workers, worshippers and residents of suburbs near clusters.

Queensland recorded one new coronavirus case on Sunday, a man in his 20s who was infectious on a domestic flight after returning from overseas.

The man, who is in quarantine, flew into Maroochydore from Sydney on July 31 on Jetstar flight JQ790.

He was infectious on the flight and health authorities are tracing people who sat near him, Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said on Sunday.

Western Australia has also recorded one new case, a returned overseas traveller in hotel quarantine.

Glenthorne National Park opens in Adelaide

Premier Steven Marshall officially opened Glenthorne National Park (Ityamaiitpinna Yarta) on Sunday, with the park opening its gates to the public for the first time.

From 8am until 7pm each day visitors can access a loop trail which starts and ends at the Glenthorne Ranger Station just off Majors Road, at O’Halloran Hill, looping for four kilometres.

To mark the milestone, a major planting event was held to contribute towards the ecological restoration of native vegetation on the site.

Marshall said the park would be good for physical and mental wellbeing.

“The new national park presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to preserve and revitalise a significant portion of open space and turn it into a thriving environmental and recreational precinct for future generations,” he said.

The space will continue to be developed, with the Glenthorne National Park Masterplan including an events space and visitor centre featuring Kaurna culture and history, as well as a heritage precinct, nature play and picnic areas, a wetland, and a small bush camping site.

The Masterplan, led by Aspect Studios, recently received the Award of Excellence in the Landscape Management category of the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) 2020 SA Landscape Architecture Awards.

Revegetation work will continue, as well as development of walking and cycling trails, picnic sites and a nature playground developed in partnership with local and federal governments.

Dealers question timing of Holden closure

General Motors may have been planning to axe the Holden brand in Australia well before a shock decision was announced in February, a Senate inquiry will be told.

The Australian Automotive Dealer Association said GM had been adamant both privately with dealers and publicly through the media that it was in Australia for the long haul.

On the basis of those assurances, and the fact that many agreements still had more than two years to run, Holden dealers had a clear expectation that the brand would remain in Australia with some investing millions of dollars to upgrade their operations.

“This inquiry needs to question whether General Motors Corporation, headquartered in Detroit, made the strategic decisions to exit the right-hand-drive car market globally some years in the past,” the association said.

“Operationally, the announcement of the sale of the plant in Thailand where Australia’s top-selling Holden vehicle, the Colorado ute, was manufactured was announced at the same time as the closure of Holden.

“Common sense dictates that the minute the decision was made to sell the GM Rayong plant in Thailand is the exact moment that serious questions would have emerged about Holden’s future in Australia.

“One would expect that the purchase of a vehicle assembly plant would facilitate a lengthy process of probity and due diligence by the purchaser.”

In its own submissions to the Senate inquiry, General Motors Holden said the decision to retire the brand was made only a few days before the public statement.

“Every realistic possibility was carefully examined but none could overcome the challenges of the investments needed for Australia’s highly fragmented and right-hand-drive market,” the company said.

In another submission to the inquiry, an anonymous former Holden engineer said the closure came as a complete shock to the company’s remaining employees.

“No warning was given to Holden staff about the potential closure of the business and there was no request from Holden management for staff to make any contribution to avoid the closure,” the engineer said.

“On the day of the closure announcement, eight new engineers commenced employment at Holden.

“Perhaps nothing better illustrates how unprepared we were for this announcement.”

At the time of the closure announcement, Holden had about 185 dealers across the country and still employed about 800 staff.

About 600 of those were expected to be made redundant including more than 200 engineers and more than 250 management and administrative staff.

NSW duo arrested in Adelaide

A NSW duo who made a failed attempt to cross into South Australia earlier in the week have been arrested in Adelaide.

The 25-year-old man and 20-year-old woman tried to cross the border at Pinnaroo on Thursday, claiming they were headed interstate to sell a dog.

They were refused entry and turned back, but police stopped their NSW-registered car in the Adelaide suburb of Kilburn on Saturday afternoon.

The pair were charged with breaching COVID-19 directions and have been denied bail ahead of a court appearance on Monday.

It comes as South Australia increases precautions around nursing homes, after a man aged in his 20s with links to aged care tested positive on Saturday.

As he shares a home with his mother and aunt who both work in aged care, authorities have acted to prevent any spread into nursing homes.

The Philip Kennedy Centre Residential Care home in Largs Bay as well as the Ridleyton Greek Home for the Aged in Brompton have been locked down as a precaution.

Both the mother and the aunt returned negative tests.

South Australia is taking additional measures to protect nursing homes in the wake of deadly aged care outbreaks in Victoria.

Police warned South Australians to reconsider travel to Queensland after new cases of community transmission in the Sunshine state.

Commissioner Grant Stevens said while people are allowed to return to SA from Queensland, it is possible renewed restrictions will be imposed at short notice.

A Brisbane man was infected after eating at the same restaurant as an infected woman charged with illegally entering Queensland.

A South Australian paramedic tested positive after going to Victoria to help test people for coronavirus.

The woman in her 20s volunteered to help with testing operations in Melbourne to deal with the current surge in cases.

She returned to Adelaide on Wednesday and remains in isolation along with one close contact.

It comes as 170 expatriate Australians arrived in Adelaide on Saturday on a repatriation flight from India.

All will go into hotel quarantine, with officials expecting at least some to have COVID-19.

New program to solve missing persons cases

The Federal Government has marked the start of Missing Persons Week on Sunday with the announcement of a national DNA program to be set up to examine hundreds of untested human remains and potentially solve missing persons cold cases.

The $3.6 million program will be set up within the Australian Federal Police and led by Associate Professor Jodie Ward, a leading unidentified human remains expert.

The federal government hopes the National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons will provide answers for families of missing persons.

“This program is all about using modern, previously unavailable forensic techniques to recover and profile DNA from old and degraded human remains to solve some of Australia’s longest-running mysteries,” Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement on Sunday.

“With more than 500 sets of untested unidentified human remains, this investment gives hope to those with questions that have simply never been answered.”

The money comes from the proceeds of crime seized by police from criminals.

It comes as NSW Police on Sunday renewed their appeal for information on Niamh Maye, who went missing while fruit-picking in southern NSW 18 years ago.

Hackers launch cyber attack against Telstra

Hackers on Sunday launched a “malicious” cyber attack on Telstra, creating connectivity issues for some home internet users.

Telstra reported the denial of service attack on its servers on Sunday which has led to widespread internet outages in Australia’s eastern states.

A denial of service attack floods a network with traffic or information to trigger a crash, denying legitimate users access.

Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are the main outage hotspots.

The telecommunications giant said it was confident it had now blocked all “malicious traffic” and is continuing to work on getting users back online.

Telstra insists customers’ personal data hasn’t been compromised and apologised for the outage.

Man granted bail over police freeway deaths

A man has been charged with four counts of manslaughter and granted bail over the Melbourne freeway crash that killed four Victorian police officers.

Simon Tuteru, a 49-year-old from Frankston, was arrested in Lyndhurst in Melbourne’s southeast on Saturday morning and later charged, Victoria Police say.

He appeared before an out-of-session hearing in Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Saturday evening and was granted bail to return to court for a committal mention hearing on October 26.

The man is understood to be a manager of the trucking company involved in the fatal accident, that has been penalised for safety breaches including truck defects and using fatigued drivers.

The four officers – Lynette Taylor, Kevin King, Glen Humphris and Joshua Prestney – were killed on duty while impounding a Porsche on the Eastern Freeway at Kew on April 22.

Police allege Porsche driver Richard Pusey, 41, was clocked doing 149km/h while under the influence of methamphetamine and cannabis, prompting police to impound his car.

The officers were hit while they were dealing with Pusey, who then allegedly filmed the crash site and verbally abused Senior Constable Taylor before running away.

Pusey, of Fitzroy, was charged with nine offences including driving at a dangerous speed, reckless conduct endangering life, failing to render assistance and drug possession.

Microsoft considers TikTok takeover following Trump threat

Microsoft is in advanced talks to buy the US operations of TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned video app that has been a source of security and censorship concerns, according to a person familiar with the discussions.

The potential deal would be a victory for both companies, making Microsoft Corp a major player in the social media arena and providing relief to TikTok and its parent company ByteDance.

US President Donald Trump said on Friday that he would take action as soon as Saturday to ban TikTok in the country.

Trump’s comments on Friday aboard Air Force One came after published reports that the administration is planning to order China’s ByteDance to sell TikTok.

“As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One as he returned from Florida.

Trump said he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the action, insisting, “I have that authority”.

He added, “It’s going to be signed tomorrow.”

Microsoft declined to comment.

Reports by Bloomberg News and the Wall Street Journal citing anonymous sources said the administration could soon announce a decision ordering ByteDance to divest its ownership in TikTok.

In response, China’s ByteDance is planning to agree to divest the US operations of TikTok completely to save the platform.

TikTok issued a statement on Friday saying that, “While we do not comment on rumours or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”

ByteDance launched TikTok in 2017, then bought, a video service popular with teens in the US and Europe, and combined the two.

A twin service, Douyin, is available for Chinese users.

TikTok’s fun, goofy videos and ease of use has made it immensely popular, and US tech giants like Facebook and Snapchat see it as a competitive threat.

It has said it has tens of millions of US users and hundreds of millions globally.

But its Chinese ownership has raised concerns about the censorship of videos, including those critical of the Chinese government, and the potential for sharing user data with Chinese officials.

TikTok maintains it doesn’t censor videos based on topics sensitive to China and it would not give the Chinese government access to US user data even if asked.

The company has hired a US CEO, a former top Disney executive, in an attempt to distance itself from its Chinese ownership.\

It comes as the ABC reports that the Morrison Government is undertaking two complementary investigations into whether the app poses a national security threat.

with AAP and Reuters

This article is supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.

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