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What we know today, Sunday August 30

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

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Power prices drop in South Australia

The Essential Services Commission of SA on Sunday released its annual analysis of power prices, finding South Australian household power bills have fallen by almost $100 on average over the past year.

The Essential Services Commission of South Australia released its annual update of energy retail prices on Sunday, showing an average fall of $96 to $2086 per year in electricity bills over 2019-20.

It follows power prices dropping by $62 in 2018-19, taking total savings to $158 across the past two years – still shy of a government target.

Under a plan announced prior to the 2018 election, the Liberals promised to slash electricity bills by $302 per year.

“My Government came to office promising real cost of living relief for SA households and that is precisely what we are delivering,” Premier Steven Marshall said in a statement.

The report of a price cut comes as the the state government introduces a mandate that all new solar installations to be capable of being switched off remotely.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said that the move would leave households “worse off financially”. “Changes to home solar panel and battery laws will mean home batteries wouldn’t work in a blackout and home solar panels could be switched off remotely,” he tweeted.

GDP to show ‘economic shock like no other’

This week’s national accounts will show Australia has suffered its deepest contraction since World War II as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The downturn may not be as bad as the 10 per cent collapse being bandied around when COVID-19 first hit Australia’s shores and the nation went into lockdown.

But with economists’ forecasts centring on a 6.0 per cent drop in output during the June quarter, it will still mark the biggest decline since the Australian Bureau of Statistics started plotting the national accounts in the late 1950s.

“Australia is being hit by an economic shock like no other,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.

A six per cent drop in the June quarter on Wednesday follows a more modest 0.3 per cent decline in the March quarter and constitute a technical recession of two consecutive quarters of contraction.

It would be the first recession in nearly 30 years.

Victoria record 11 more deaths, no new SA cases

Australia has exceeded 600 coronavirus deaths, with 11 more fatalities in Victoria on Sunday, as South Australia continues its streak of no new cases.

Victoria also recorded 114 new coronavirus cases, bringing the state’s toll from the virus to 524 and the national total to 611.

South Australia recorded no new cases on Sunday, the seventh day in a row the state has not added to its tally.

There is currently one active infection across the state, according to SA Health.

More than 376,500 tests have been undertaken in South Australia.

Queensland health authorities meanwhile have confirmed a link between COVID-19 cases at a correctional services academy and a Brisbane youth detention centre that’s contributed to the state’s 28 active cases.

The Sunshine State recorded another four new cases on Sunday, all connected to Queensland’s Corrective Services Academy in Wacol.

NSW recorded seven new cases overnight on Sunday with five infections linked to a Sydney CBD fitness hotspot, including a close contact of a prior diagnosed member.

One new case is a returned traveller in hotel quarantine while a student at a western Sydney high school has also tested positive.

Western Australia has recorded no new coronavirus cases overnight but authorities are set to come down hard on a man who skipped quarantine for a drink at a pub after flying in from Queensland.

A 53-year-old West Australian man who flew to Perth from Queensland on Friday is set to face court for failing to obey health directions.

Australia’s Chief Nursing Officer Alison McMillan said Victorians should be heartened by the number of new cases announced on Saturday, the first time the number dipped below 100 since July.

The number of people requiring hospitalisation is also drastically falling.

“We have 510 people in hospital and that number over the last seven days has continued to decline significantly and that is an extremely positive to see,” she told reporters in Canberra on Saturday.

It comes as the Victorian government is close to reaching a deal with crossbench MPs in the upper house for a one-off extension of emergency powers which will last six months, on condition that members of Parliament are briefed on the health situation each time a new four-week state of emergency is declared.

Push to better define virus hotspots

Australia’s deputy chief medical officer Nick Coatsworth says the differing COVID-19 trends in the eastern states are complicating border opening negotiations immensely.

He says it is like Australia is facing “three different pandemics”

“We have clearly got three different pandemics going on in the country at the moment,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“We have got Victoria, which is really pleasingly, after a really difficult time, coming down off its second wave.

“We have got the next two most populous states, NSW and Queensland, doing the best to avoid a second wave. Then we have four states with no community transmission at all.”

He says a firm definition of a hotspot would be needed to reinvigorate border discussions.

South Australia eased restrictions with Victoria on Friday to allow people living near the border to cross for a set number of reasons.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other leaders will meet on Friday September 4 to discuss how to define a “hotspot”, which will be crucial to how controls on travel are put in place or lifted.

He said the hotspot definition would be essential for moving away from border restrictions, with a greater focus on other containment strategies.

“If you impose a border, you can’t help but cause problems. That’s why we got rid of them in the first place,” the prime minister said.

The prime minister praised Denmark, which has a traffic light system for travel restrictions based on the number of infections per 100,000 people.

Border closures have come under renewed scrutiny after the death of an unborn NSW twin whose mother was unable get approval to enter Queensland in time for emergency surgery.

Carpark bashing leaves Adelaide man in critical condition

A 24-year-old man is in critical condition at the Royal Adelaide Hospital after allegedly being bashed by four men in a carpark on Friday evening.

South Australian Police have arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with a serious assault in the city.

The victim had allegedly been attacked in a car-park of a school on West Terrace, and arrived at the hospital with serious head injuries.

The suspect has been charged with aggravated assault cause serious harm, refused police bail and will appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court on Monday.

Police believe the victim may have visited the Welland Shopping Centre car-park on Port Road earlier in the evening, and are appealing to anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity at the shopping centre or the school on West Terrace on Friday evening, or with dash cam footage, to call Crime Stoppers.

Port fans during the Round 14 AFL match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Sydney Swans at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday. Photo: AAP /David Mariuz

Power surge back to top of the AFL ladder

Charlie Dixon starred in attack as Port Adelaide reclaimed top spot on the AFL ladder with a comfortable 26-point win over lowly Sydney.

Dixon put a week of speculation over his playing future behind him, kicking four goals in the Power’s 11.5 (73) to 7.5 (47) victory at Adelaide Oval on Saturday.

It saw Ken Hinkley’s side leapfrog Geelong to sit four points clear of the chasing pack, though Brisbane have a game in hand.

Experienced campaigners Tom Rockliff (24 disposals), Ollie Wines (22) and Travis Boak (20) led a strong Power midfield that dominated first-half proceedings to set up the win.

But it was far from a complete performance, with Jake Lloyd (31 disposals) and co-captain Josh Kennedy (28) helping injury-ravaged Sydney trouble the home side in patches during the second half.

“Our first half today was really dominant,” Hinkley said.

“We didn’t get everything the way we’d like it in the second half, but we’re moving towards our best footy, I have no doubt about that.”

China must fight ‘splittism’ in Tibet: Xi

China must build an “impregnable fortress” to maintain stability in Tibet, protect the country’s unity and educate the masses in the struggle against “splittism,” President Xi Jinping has told senior leaders.

China seized control of Tibet in 1950 in what it describes as a “peaceful liberation” that helped the remote Himalayan region throw off its “feudalist” past.

But critics, led by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say Beijing’s rule amounts to “cultural genocide”.

At a senior Communist Party meeting on Tibet’s future governance, , state media reported that Xi lauded achievements made and praised frontline officials but said more efforts were needed to enrich, rejuvenate and strengthen unity in the region.

Political and ideological education needed to be strengthened in Tibet’s schools in order to “plant the seeds of loving China in the depths of the hearts of every youth”, Xi said in remarks published by state news agency Xinhua.

Pledging to build a “united, prosperous, civilised, harmonious and beautiful new, modern, socialist Tibet”, Xi said China needed to strengthen the role of the Communist Party in the territory and better integrate its ethnic groups.

Tibetan Buddhism also needed to adapt to socialism and to Chinese conditions, he added.

China has in recent years rolled out dozens of internment camps for “reducation” purposes across neighbouring Xinjiang province.

China’s policies towards Tibet have come under the spotlight again this year amid the country’s deteriorating relationship with the United States.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in July that the United States would restrict visas for some Chinese officials involved in blocking diplomatic access to Tibet and engaging in “human rights abuses”, adding that it supported “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet.

Far-right tries to storm German parliament

Far-right extremists have tried to storm the German parliament building following a protest against the country’s pandemic restrictions but were intercepted by police and forcibly removed.

Saturday’s incident occurred after a day-long demonstration by tens of thousands of people opposed to the wearing of masks and other government measures intended to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Police ordered the protesters to disband halfway through their march around Berlin after participants refused to observe social-distancing rules but a rally near the Brandenburg Gate took place as planned.

Footage showed hundreds of people, some waving the flag of the German Reich of 1871-1918 and other far-right banners, running towards the Reichstag building and up the stairs.

Police said several people broke through a cordon and “entered the staircase of the Reichstag building but not the building itself”.

“Stones and bottles were thrown at our colleagues,” police said. “Force had to be used to push them back.”

Earlier, thousands of far-right extremists threw bottles and stones at police outside the Russian embassy. Police detained about 300 people throughout the day.

Berlin’s regional government had tried to ban the protests but organisers successfully appealed against the decision. However, a court ordered them to ensure social distancing and failure to enforce that measure prompted police to dissolve the march while it was still in progress.

During the protest, which authorities said drew about 38,000 people, people expressed their opposition to issues including vaccinations, face masks and the German government in general.

Some wore T-shirts promoting the QAnon conspiracy theory while others displayed white nationalist slogans and neo-Nazi insignia, though most participants denied having far-right views.

Germany has seen a recent upswing in new cases. Authorities said on Saturday the country recorded almost 1500 new infections in the past day.

– with AAP and Reuters

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