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What we know today, Tuesday September 8


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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One new COVID-19 case in SA

An Australian woman aged in her 30s, who travelled to South Australia en route to New South Wales from South Africa this week, has tested positive for COVID-19 – bringing the state’s total number of infections to 465.

The woman, who is currently in quarantine and is asymptomatic, returned a positive test the day she arrived in South Australia, but SA Health says she is not an active case as she contracted the virus overseas and her infection is no longer considered recent.

She is not infectious and is of no risk to the public.

SA Health said she has not been in close contact with anyone since arriving in Australia.

The total number of COVID-19 tests in South Australia has risen to 404,963, with about 15 per cent of the state’s population having been tested.

A further 85,000 South Australians have also received COVID marshal training.

SA Police raid care provider

Police have raided the Adelaide offices of a care provider that employed the worker charged with the manslaughter of disabled woman Ann Marie Smith.

SA Major Crime detectives investigating her death went to Integrity Care SA at Edwardstown this morning, and a house believed to be the residence of a director at Huntfield Heights, looking for electronic and documentary evidence.

Smith, 54, died in horrific circumstances in April and a criminal and coronial investigation into her death is ongoing.

Detective Superintendent Des Bray said although Integrity Care was under investigation, many people working at the business were not responsible for and may not have known about the neglect Smith suffered.

“We know some employees were concerned about operating practices, and we plan to speak to more of them in the coming days,” he said in a statement.

“We encourage employees to co-operate in this investigation, so we can ensure this never happens again.

“It’s time for all employees, past and present, to do the right thing and speak to investigators.”

Smith, who lived in a Kensington Park house left to her by her parents who passed away in 2009, died on April 6 from septic shock, multi-organ failure, severe pressure sores, malnutrition and issues connected with her cerebral palsy.

At the time of her death, police said, she had been spending her days and sleeping at night in a woven cane chair, with extremely poor personal hygiene and no nutritional food.

The 68-year-old woman who cared for Smith has been charged with her manslaughter.

Last month, Integrity Care SA was banned from operating under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Aussie journalists rushed out of China

The final two Australian journalists working in China have been rushed out of the country amid safety concerns.

Bill Birtles from the ABC and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review were evacuated after a diplomatic stand-off.

The saga began when Chinese state security offices visited the homes of both men last week.

The reporters sheltered in Australian diplomatic compounds for several days after local police demanded interviews with them.

Australian diplomats negotiated with Chinese officials to allow both men to leave the country after they agreed to be interviewed.

The pair boarded a flight to Sydney on Monday night and touched down on Tuesday morning.

“The ABC has brought back China correspondent Bill Birtles to Australia following advice from the Australian government,” a spokeswoman told AAP.

“This bureau is a vital part of the ABC’s international newsgathering effort and we aim to get back there as soon as possible.”

Smith said it was great to be home.

“The late-night visit by police at my home was intimidating and unnecessary and highlights the pressure all foreign journalists are under in China right now,” he told the AFR.

The quick dash home follows the detention of Australian journalist Cheng Lei who was working as a TV presenter in Beijing three weeks ago.

Journalists’ union the MEAA said it was outraged and appalled by the actions of Chinese authorities.

“The treatment of these Australian journalists, including a midnight police raid on the home of one journalist, is appalling,” MEAA president Michael Strom said this morning.

“China’s continued intimidation and harassment of foreign journalists, including Australians, represents a dramatic low point for the foreign media’s relations with China in almost 50 years.”

Rathjen’s $325k payout revealed

Former Adelaide University Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen.

Disgraced former University of Adelaide Vice-Chancellor Peter Rathjen was paid more than $300,000 when resigning from his post in July, the university has revealed.

ICAC commissioner Bruce Lander last month found Rathjen touched two of his female staff members in a sexual manner and later lied about his “egregious” and “disrespectful” behaviour to both the then Chancellor and the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.

In an email to staff late yesterday afternoon, the university said the former Vice-Chancellor resigned on July 2 under the terms of his employment contract on grounds of ill-health.

“In accordance with his contact (sic), he was paid $238,600 in lieu of a reduced notice period, and $87,800 in statutory leave entitlements,” the statement said.

“At the time of the former Vice-Chancellor’s resignation, he was on paid leave, pending the outcome of the ICAC investigation, which was being conducted in private and was ongoing. The course and outcome of the investigation was not then known to the University.

“As you know, the University fully cooperated with all aspects of the ICAC inquiry, which began when the former Chancellor, Rear Admiral the Hon. Kevin Scarce AC CSC, reported the matter directly to the Commissioner, after the matter was brought to the attention of a committee of Council in 2020.”

Scarce resigned as Chancellor in May but was cleared by Lander of any wrongdoing

Adelaide Oval’s Test cricket pitch

South Australia has made a pitch to host more than one Test cricket match at Adelaide Oval this summer as the state is once again declared coronavirus free.

The oval is scheduled to host the second Test between Australia and India from December 11-15 and is also on standby to host MCG’s Boxing Day test and a one-off Test between Australia and Afghanistan originally planned for Perth Stadium from November 21-25.

But WA Premier Mark McGowan last week confirmed WA would not reopen its borders until states such as Victoria and NSW went 28 days without any confirmed community transmission.

WA’s borders have been closed for five months and the McGowan government, which is up for re-election next March, is refusing to put a date on when it will allow interstate travel to recommence.

SACA and the SA Government have touted the suitability of the new 138-room Adelaide Hotel as a potential hub for quarantining players. It is believed SACA has also made a pitch to host six Sheffield Shield teams in an Adelaide hub for a series of matches from October.

SA Premier Steven Marshall said there was “an excellent working relationship between the Adelaide Oval, SA Health and also Cricket Australia.”

“Adelaide Oval is a fantastic venue for both football and cricket and we would love to see as much cricket action later this year and earlier year as we can possibly handle safely,” he said.

South Australia’s only remaining active coronavirus infection has recovered. The Melbourne woman in her 20s tested positive on Friday when she flew to Adelaide with four young cousins en route to Alice Springs.

The group remains in quarantine at Adelaide’ Pullman Hotel.

The state’s transition committee will meet again today but is not expected to make any major changes to SA border restrictions.

Marshall said while the number of cases in NSW is coming down the headline figure is not critical in terms of lifting the existing quarantine requirements.

He said local health officials were more interested in where those cases have occurred and in what circumstances.

“The top-line number, while interesting, doesn’t really give a picture of the risk for South Australia,” he said.

There were no new coronavirus cases reported in SA on Monday leaving the total since the start of the pandemic at 464.

Victoria records 55 new cases, eight deaths

Victoria has reported eight more coronavirus deaths this morning as new cases rise slightly to 55.

The fatalities take the state’s toll to 683 and the national figure to 770.

While Tuesday’s case numbers are up on the 41 recorded on Monday, it wasn’t a major spike.

Victorians are now fixated on the two-week case average, which will be a key indicator for the government’s roadmap out of the state’s second outbreak.

NSW recorded nine new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Monday night from 12,494 tests.

NSW Health said five of the new cases were linked to a known local case or cluster, one did not have a known source, and three were returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.

As criticism of Victoria’s roadmap plan mounts, Premier Daniel Andrews says comparison with NSW don’t stack up.

The Victorian government went on a media blitz on Monday to defend its “safe and steady” pathway out of its second wave, which is likely to keep Melbourne under strict lockdown until the end of October.

On Monday, Victoria’s 41 new cases were the lowest daily figure since June 26, while NSW was back in single digits at four.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Sydney would be subject to curfew under the Andrews plan and made a thinly veiled swipe at Victoria’s contact tracing capability, saying NSW was the “gold standard”.

But Andrews dismissed the comparisons, noting NSW had not experienced the same level of community transmissions as Victoria.

“That’s not a point of pride, that’s just a fact,” he told reporters.

“I’ve seen this commentary that under our settings, they’d be in lockdown – no they wouldn’t; because they’ve not had the community transmission that we’ve had.

“We are different.”

Business leaders are also unimpressed by Victoria’s reopening plan.

The Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell called on the state government to cover the costs of small business closures.

Meanwhile, Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott is demanding the release of modelling that underpins the roadmap.

Andrews said Victoria couldn’t afford to bounce in and out of lockdown for the rest of 2020 and potentially all of 2021, but flagged business support was on the way.

“This is about saving lives and it is also about saving livelihoods,” he told ABC TV on Monday night.

Victorian chief health officer Brett Sutton said there would be no change to the September 28 milestone, when some Melbourne workplaces and schools will reopen if the 14-day case average drops below 50.

But other key dates for the potential easing of restrictions on October 26 and November 23 could be brought forward if the data is close to prescribed thresholds.


Regional Victoria, meanwhile, is on a different timetable and will be able to move to the ‘third step’ of restrictions soon.

Search for missing yacht continues

Easing winds and seas will assist spotters in their hunt for two men aboard a missing yacht when searching resumes in waters between Port Lincoln and Kangaroo Island this morning.

The 30-foot boat named Margrel with identification number RF83S left Coffin Bay with two men aboard about 3pm on Thursday bound for Goolwa, with a stopover planned at Victor Harbor.

A friend of the men notified police on Sunday when she had not heard from the men aged 57 and 48 years since 11pm on Friday night, when they were halfway between Coffin Bay and Kangaroo Island, where they had diverted towards due to engine trouble.

SAPOL’s Water Operations Unit, Australian Search and Rescue (AusSAR) began searching on Sunday and recommenced yesterday with two Challenger Aircraft and a Poseidon from the RAAF.

Anyone who sees the missing boat is urged to call police.

Health workers isolated to curb Sydney cluster

Health authorities are working to stem the impacts of a coronavirus cluster emerging at two Sydney public hospitals, with more than a hundred workers in isolation waiting on test results.

There are four new COVID-19 cases in NSW – a returned overseas traveller and three healthcare workers at Sydney’s Concord Repatriation General Hospital and Liverpool Hospital.

The three healthcare workers were diagnosed during investigations into an emergency department doctor, reported on Saturday, who worked at the two hospitals while infectious.

Another case, a visitor to a hospital emergency department where the doctor worked or sought treatment, will be included in Tuesday’s numbers, taking the cluster to five.

The three newly reported health workers say they had no symptoms while at work, and also wore personal protective equipment while caring for patients.

Authorities suspect at least one of the new cases caught the virus while both parties were wearing masks.

Meanwhile, Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday confirmed school formals and graduations would be allowed to go ahead in term 4, Despite a number of outbreaks in schools in recent months.

Turnbull turns up heat on Morrison

Malcolm Turnbull has accused the federal government of lacking an aged care coronavirus plan and failing to take responsibility for the troubled sector.

The former Liberal prime minister also chipped his successor Scott Morrison over pointed criticism of the Victorian premier’s reopening roadmap.

“The question I think that could be asked of Scott Morrison is what would you suggest Dan Andrews should do differently right now?” Turnbull told the ABC.

With the political blowtorch being applied to the state Labor government, Turnbull put the heat back on the federal coalition’s coronavirus response.

“Politicians rush to good news and flee from bad news generally,” he said

He stopped short of joining Labor’s calls for Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck to be sacked.

“Everybody in the government should have been very alert to this issue, the health minister, the prime minster – everybody.”

Turnbull said the cruise industry should have been shut down after an outbreak on the Diamond Princess.

Victoria’s “safe and steady” roadmap to recovery will see Melbourne continue under strict curfew and lockdown until the end of September.

Most restrictions on trade will remain until at least late October, while other rules will stay in place until the end of November.

Indian infections overtake Brazil

India’s coronavirus cases have surged to 4.2 million – the second-highest total in the world – while Spain has become the first country in western Europe to register 500,000 infections.

The 90,802 cases added in the past 24 hours pushed India’s total beyond 4.2 million, overtaking Brazil, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

More than 6.2 million people in the United States have been infected.

India’s health ministry on Monday also reported 1016 deaths from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, taking fatalities to 71,642, the third-highest death toll in the world.

Amid a surge in cases, India continues to reopen, except in high-risk areas, to heal the battered economy which is still reeling from the effects of a prolonged lockdown.

The Delhi Metro transit system that serves India’s sprawling capital New Delhi and adjoining areas resumed operations on Monday after five months.

Masks, social distancing and temperature checks were mandatory.

India has been recording the world’s largest daily coronavirus caseload for almost a month even as the government pushes to open businesses to revive a contracting economy.

Meanwhile, Spain’s total coronavirus infections passed 500,000 on Monday after a second surge in cases that coincided with schools reopening.

Health ministry data showed a total of 525,549 cases, up from 498,989 on Friday, and 2440 infections registered in the last 24 hours.

Recent infections have been more common among younger people who often develop no symptoms thanks to their stronger immune systems, and the death rate remains far below the March-April peak when daily fatalities routinely exceeded 800.

Despite the unwanted milestone, unlike then, Spanish hospitals have enough beds to treat COVID-19 patients.

But French doctors have raised the alarm that nearly all the intensive care beds reserved for COVID-19 patients are in use in and around the city of Marseille.

New daily infections in France have averaged more than 5000 in recent days, raising fears of a second wave of the virus.

Globally, more than 27.19 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus and 888,326​ have died.

De Minaur wins way into US Open quarter-final

Australia’s Alex de Minaur at the US Open. Photo: EPA/Jason Szenes

Young Australian tennis player Alex de Minaur has won his way through to the US Open quarter-finals by defeating Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in straight sets this morning.

The 21-year-old is the first Australian to reach the men’s last eight at Flushing Meadows since John Millman in 2018, the 21st seed now awaits the winner of second-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem and Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

When the US Open started, neither Australia’s highest-ranked men’s player de Minaur nor 30-year-old Pospisil – who grabbed more attention in recent weeks as Novak Djokovic’s sidekick in starting a new players association – would have been tipped as a major winner.

But with Djokovic disqualified on yesterday after striking a line judge in the throat with a ball, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal not at Flushing Meadows and Andy Murray suffering an early exit, the chances of de Minaur winning the title have grown.

De Minaur fought back in the opening set tie-break to reel off six straight points after being 6-2 down.

From there he never allowed the Canadian into the match, winning 7-6(8-6) 6-3 6-2 to reach his first grand slam quarter-final.

Meanwhile, Djokovic has been fined $US10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct at the US Open after being defaulted for accidentally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.

That amount is half the $US20,000 that a player can be docked for violating the unsportsmanlike conduct clause of the grand slam rule book.

The $US10,000 is in addition to the $US250,000 in prize money the US Tennis Association said the world No.1 would forfeit after being disqualified in the first set of his fourth-round match on Sunday.

Revived Crows seek second victory

The Adelaide Crows will be looking for back-to-back wins when it hosts Greater Western Sydney at Adelaide Oval at 5.10pm this afternoon following the club’s breakthrough 2020 win last week.

But Crows coach Matthew Nicks, who spent 12 months at GWS as an assistant coach before taking the Adelaide top job, is wary of the Giants’ strength.

“It probably makes me a little more nervous, because I know that they can be (potent),” Nicks said ahead of the Adelaide Oval fixture.

The stakes are high for the Giants, who cling to eighth spot by percentage, with games against finals fancies Melbourne and St Kilda to follow.

Nicks said last Tuesday night’s breakthrough win by the Crows – his first as head coach and the club’s first in 16 matches – was a timely boost for his last-placed outfit.

“We feel like we’re playing the brand we want to play,” he said.

“We feel like we’re are competing, so we feel confident going into a game but we also know the challenge we have got.

“You would like to think if we can bring our game that we have been able to the last few weeks that we ‘re going to challenge most sides in the comp.

“It’s then a matter of can you get on top early and put scoreboard pressure on.”

Adelaide has recalled halfback Andrew McPherson, recovered from a hamstring strain, to replace the dropped Myles Poholke.

The Giants made four changes to their team which downed Carlton by nine points last round.

Ruckman Shane Mumford has been rested while Zac Williams (Achilles), Harry Perryman (calf) and Brent Daniels (hamstring) were unavailable.

GWS recalled ex-Crows ruckman Sam Jacobs, Jye Caldwell, Zac Langdon and Sam Reid.

– with AAP and Reuters

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