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What we know today, Wednesday September 9


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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SA man charged over 20kg cocaine haul

An Adelaide man has been charged over an alleged plot to import 20 kilograms of cocaine, with an estimated street value of $20 million, into South Australia from Greece.

Tereapii Pokoina was arrested on Tuesday after Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force officers executed search warrants at two inner-city properties.

A joint agency investigation was launched last week after ABF officers in South Australia selected an air cargo consignment labelled as welding for examination.

A wooden crate containing two welding machines was X-rayed, with anomalies revealed in both.

ABF officers removed a panel from one piece of machinery and found an electronic safe.

Inside the safe were nine rectangular packages that allegedly contained a white powder, with tests returning a presumptive positive result for cocaine.

AFP officers were called in and dismantled the second welder, where they found another safe with nine similar packages stored inside.

Forensic tests by the AFP confirmed the 18 seized packages contained about 20kg of cocaine.

This equates to about 20,000 street level deals, which police say can be sold for about $5 million wholesale and has an approximate street value of $20 million.

Police allege Pokoina organised the consignment and arranged for it to be delivered to his former workplace, without the knowledge of the business owners.

It is also alleged he made inquiries to the freight company about when the consignment would be available.

The 46-year-old was arrested at his Adelaide home, where police seized electronic devices and documentation allegedly connected to the consignment.

He was charged with importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs and appeared in Adelaide Magistrates Court on Wednesday, making no application for bail.

His case will return to court in November.

The AFP said investigations were also continuing into who sent the drugs from Greece.

Bad reaction halts Oxford vaccine trial

Australians may need to wait longer than expected for coronavirus vaccinations after late-stage trials of a promising drug were put on hold.

AstraZeneca and Oxford University suspended the tests after a participant in the United Kingdom experienced a serious adverse reaction.

Australia has ordered 33 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to be rolled out from early next year if the trials prove successful.

The federal government is hoping to gain early access to 3.8 million doses for distribution in January.

Health Minister Greg Hunt is unfazed by the trial suspension, saying the government was pursuing a diverse range of vaccines, and safety would always come first.

“AstraZeneca are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimise any potential impact on the trial timeline,” he said.

Hunt said a vaccine would not be approved until it passed strict Therapeutic Goods Administration guidelines.

Victoria reports 11 virus deaths, 76 new cases

Victoria’s daily coronavirus deaths have again reached double figures as the embattled state reported another 76 new cases.

The 11 deaths announced this morning take the state toll to 694 and the national figure to 781.

It’s the first time since Saturday that fatalities have been in double figures.

Wednesday has proved a stubborn day as the numbers for the state’s second wave steadily subside.

The fatalities and new cases are the same as they were last Saturday.

But today’s increase is still below the Melbourne 14-day average of 78.6

Meanwhile, Queensland’s daily coronavirus cases have leapt to eight, with all new infections linked to virus clusters in the state’s southwest.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk urged people not to be alarmed by the number, saying all but one person were already in isolation when they were tested.

“From the outset I want to assure Queenslanders that although that number is our highest daily tally for some time, each of those people diagnosed is related to existing cases,” she said.

Three of the new cases are linked to Ipswich Hospital, west of Brisbane, growing that cluster to eight infections, while five are linked to an outbreak at a Queensland Corrective Services training facility in Waco.

St Edmund’s College in Ipswich has also been closed for two days after a year 11 student tested positive.

It takes the state’s active cases to 29 after several people recovered.

It comes as more than 7000 Queenslanders have volunteered to be part of a trial for a vaccine by the University of Queensland.

Adelaide’s SmartSat CRC to collaborate with NASA

A deal between NASA and the Adelaide-based SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre announced today could lead to emergency beacon technology developed in South Australia for the next moon missions.

In a collaboration being hailed as a significant boost for Australia’s developing space economy, the project aims to use emerging satellite technology to advance distress-related communications and navigation systems to benefit the US and Australia.

The SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre brings together more than 100 national and international partners who have invested over $190 million, along with $55 million in Federal Government funding over seven years.

The NASA Search and Rescue office collaboration involves South Australian organisations Myriota, Black Art Technologies, UniSA, Safety from Space and Flinders University.

SmartSat CEO and managing director Professor Andy Koronios said the project would help to build Australia’s Space industry by developing leading-edge technology and expertise with the partners involved.

“This collaboration is part of a more systematic and broader activity between NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre and SmartSat CRC and opens the door to a lot of possibilities for the Australian space community,” he said.

“We are delighted to be partnering with Goddard’s Search and Rescue office, joining their push towards the moon and beyond.”

NASA’s Artemis program aims to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024, using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.

The knowledge gained will then be used to take the next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.

Investors buy minority stake in Adelaide 36ers

Adelaide 36ers chairman and owner Grant Kelley will sell a 19 per cent share of the basketball franchise to a consortium of international and local investors, led by Adelaide 36ers General Manager of Basketball Jeff Van Groningen.

The sale follows Kelley’s announcement last month he was considering a tilt for the role of Adelaide Crows chairman when Rob Chapman vacates the post at the end of the AFL season

The equity interest was sourced to provide for future expansion of the 36ers and is based on an initial valuation for the Club of $7.2 million.

The group’s most significant investor is Canadian sports marketing businessman Jacob Burke, while former prominent Nashville music executive, Dale Bray, now based on the Gold Coast, is also part of the group. Additional investors from Spain, New Zealand, the United States and Australia bring added sports and business experience to the group.

Kelley said the investment would add to the value proposition of the 36ers, who will again play at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

“We are heading into a new era with a new coach, new playing squad, and new arena.  This investment into the club recognises the tradition of success, and strong future potential, of the 36ers franchise.

“The move also consolidates the involvement of our championship-winning general manager, Jeff Van Groningen, in the Club, helping it move forward and continue to be a powerhouse in the NBL.”

The NBL season traditionally begins in early October but the 20/21 start date has been pushed back until at least December because of coronavirus, which also caused last season’s grand final series to be abandoned mid-way through in March.

Shock SA parliament ballot one out of the box

Rebel MP John Dawkins is set to be booted out of the Liberal parliamentary party soon after being elected president of the South Australian parliament’s upper house in bizarre circumstances.

A meeting of the joint Liberal Party room late Tuesday night voted to begin the expulsion process, though he will have an opportunity to argue against the decision.

Earlier in the day, a name on a piece of paper drawn from a box was enough to decide the presidency of state parliament’s Upper House, after a spectacular Liberal split saw two Government MPs vie for the presiding role.

Long-time MLC Dawkins broke ranks to challenge the party-room endorsed nominee Jing Lee, sparking the ire of his colleagues – but garnering support from the Labor Opposition and the frontbench.

After high drama in the Lower House, wherein Liberal MP Josh Teague was only elected Speaker after a drawn first ballot, events played out with similar chaos in the Upper House.

An initial vote ended in both Dawkins and Lee garnering 11 votes apiece, with a second ballot failing to break the deadlock.

This forced the unusual spectacle of the two members’ names being drawn from a box, with Dawkins’ name drawn first – resulting in him being “duly elected” as Legislative Council president.

Search for missing boat continues as hopes fade

The search for two missing men and their boat in waters south of Port Lincoln will enter its fourth day today.

Today’s by SAPOL’s fixed-wing aircraft will focus on the coastlines of Lower Eyre Peninsula, Lower Yorke Peninsula, Kangaroo Island and the Coorong, looking for any sign of the men, their boat or any debris from the vessel.

Hopes are fading of finding two men missing aboard a fishing boat in the waters south of Port Lincoln.

Tony Higgins and Derek Robinson, 57 and 48, left Coffin Bay in a 30-foot wooden hulled fishing boat, the Margrel, bound for Goolwa about 3pm on Thursday.

Emergency services continued their search yesterday for Tony Higgins and Derek Robinson, who left Coffin Bay on Eyre Peninsula on Thursday afternoon bound for Goolwa.

The Fleurieu Peninsula men made contact with a friend about 11pm on Friday 4 September, stating they were having engine trouble and were going to divert to Kangaroo Island.

The search began on Sunday when the concerned friend contacted police.

It is believed one of the men had purchased the boat and planned to take it to its new home port of Goolwa.

The three-day search has so far covered 103,707 square kilometres and included aircraft and boats from SAPOL’s Water Operations Unit and PolAir, aircraft from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Royal Australian Air Force and Kangaroo Island and Coffin Bay Volunteer Marine Rescue.

Gold Coast surfer dies after shark attack

Beaches on the Gold Coast are closed after a surfer died in a shark attack late yesterday afternoon, the first such fatality in the area in 60 years.

The 46-year-old man from nearby Miami was dragged from the water by fellow surfers and lifeguards at Greenmount Beach at Coolangatta about 5.15pm on Tuesday.

He suffered serious leg injuries from reportedly being bitten from the hip down and was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene minutes after they arrived.

The attack has taken locals by surprise because Greenmount Beach has drum lines and is one of several on the Gold Coast with shark nets in place.

Queensland Ambulance Supervisor William Houghton said the victim was surfing with mates, one of whom witnessed the attack.

“It was a pretty traumatic event for everybody concerned,” he said.

A Westpac Lifesaver Rescue helicopter was circling in the area after first light this morning looking for sharks.

Beaches from Burleigh to Snapper Rocks have been closed for the day and lifeguards are patrolling the waters on jet skis.

It’s the first fatal shark attack at a Gold Coast beach since 1958.

But it is the second fatal shark attack in Queensland in little more than two months after a 36-year-old man died while spearfishing off Fraser Island in early July.

Matthew Tratt was bitten on the leg and died from his injuries about two-and-a-half hours later.

In June, Gold Coast surfer Rob Pedretti, 60, died after he was mauled by a three-metre white shark at Salt Beach at South Kingscliff in northern NSW.

China details Australian journalist investigation

An Australian journalist for Chinese state television who was detained last month is suspected of carrying out illegal activities that endanger the country’s security, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry says.

Cheng Lei, a high-profile business anchor on CGTN, an English-language channel, was detained three weeks ago, and videos of her had been removed from Chinese websites.

“The Australian national Cheng Lei is suspected of carrying out criminal activities endangering China’s national security,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters on Tuesday.

“Compulsory measures have been imposed on Cheng and she has recently been investigated by relevant authorities.”

His comments were Beijing’s first explanation of Cheng’s detention.

“Now this case is being handled according to law and Cheng’s legitimate rights and interests are fully guaranteed,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, two Australian correspondents arrived home after being rushed out of China for their safety.

Bill Birtles from the ABC and Michael Smith from the Australian Financial Review had initially been banned from leaving China until they answered questions about Cheng, sparking a five-day diplomatic stand-off.

They sheltered in Australian diplomatic compounds for days as their travel rights were revoked.

Consular officials secured safe passage after the pair agreed to be interviewed.

Both journalists say they are relieved to be home but disappointed about the circumstances surrounding their departure.

The Australian government is advising all Australians not to travel to China, warning they could face arbitrary detention.

Crows gain confidence with second shock win

The Adelaide Crows have bounced back from a 13-month losing streak to notch its second win in eight days following a 12-point victory over Greater Western Sydney at Adelaide Oval last night.

While still anchored to the bottom of the AFL ladder, Adelaide’s second win of the was created by a dominant midfield featuring Rory Laird (28 disposals) and the Crouch brothers – Brad had 31 touches and Matt collected 27.

The Crows’ attack was headlined by breakout games from Shane McAdam and Elliott Himmelberg, who both kicked two goals and took 11 marks between them.

“It’s a good feeling for our group to find a little bit of momentum and some belief,” Crows coach Matthew Nicks said.

“We’re developing quickly, which is great.”

The Giants now cling to eighth spot by just 0.9 per cent from the Western Bulldogs, with tough games against Melbourne and St Kilda to come.

Adelaide will play Carlton on the Gold Coast this Sunday before returning to the Adelaide for its last match of the season against Richmond on September 19.

Meanwhile, Carlton overcame a 39-point second-quarter deficit to defeat Sydney by five points in their match on the Gold Coast last night.

Australia defeat England to retain No. 1 T20 ranking

Mitchell Marsh was the unlikely hero as Australia defeated England with three balls to spare to retain its World No.1 Twenty20 ranking despite losing the series 2-1.

Set a modest 146 for victory in the match at Southampton’s Rose Bowl this morning, Australia was always on top of the run rate but stumbled to be 5-100 before a steady partnership between Mitchell Marsh (39 not out) and Ashton Agar (16 not out) steered the Aussies home.

Australia earlier restricted England to 6-145 off its 20 overs as the home side’s top-order played without the intensity that saw them wrap up the series on Sunday, struggling to the lowest-score in the three games.

Fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Kane Richardson carried on the good work of spinners Zampa and Ashton Agar, restricting England to just nine from their last two overs.

The result presents England from overtaking Australia as the world’s highest-ranked T20 team despite winning the series 2-1.

The tour will switch to the 50 over format when the three-match ODI series between the two sides begins in Manchester on Friday.

– with AAP and Reuters

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