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What we know today, Wednesday October 14

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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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Three new coronavirus cases in SA

South Australia has recorded three new coronavirus cases – all recently returned travellers who are in hotel quarantine.

Three women aged in their 20s, 30s and 60s who have recently returned from overseas have tested positive.

All three travelled on the same flight and returned positive results from their day one tests.

There are now six active cases in SA, bringing the total number of cases in the state to 479.

New revelations in ICAC inquiry amid NSW Government turmoil

Disgraced former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire is facing the NSW ICAC inquiry today as more is learnt about his business dealings with G8way International while he was in public office.

Several revelations have emerged from today’s hearing, including an admission from Maguire that he used his office in Parliament House while seeking to pursue his own business interests, and that his “cash-for-visa” scheme involved lying to immigration officials.

Maguire also admitted to using his taxpayer funded staff, emails and facilities for his business dealings, and on one occasion received a delivery of thousands of dollars in cash to his office.

A no confidence motion against NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian – who revealed to the inquiry on Monday that she had a five-year personal relationship with Maguire – is set to take place in the NSW Upper House later this afternoon.

This motion is expected to pass with the support of the Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party and One Nation.

Another no confidence motion is set to go ahead in the Lower House, although this is expected to fail as it would need the support of government MPs.

In a major headache for the Berejiklian government, Upper House MPs are threatening to not support government legislation until the ICAC matter is resolved.

At her regular COVID-19 press conference, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned reporters about “dots you’re trying to draw which simply do not exist”. 

“I will not have innuendo, incorrect statements put to me which I have found offensive,” Berejiklian said.

“But in due course I have accepted to answer everything, because it is in the public interest for the public to have confidence in me.

“That’s why I’ve been very, very open about things that are very difficult to talk about.”

As to whether her government could continue without the confidence of the Upper House, Berejiklian said “Let’s just see what happens”.

14 new COVID-19 cases recorded in NSW

NSW Health has reported 14 new cases of COVID-19 overnight, 11 of which are locally acquired.

The new figures have raised alarm bells among state leaders, with embattled NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying NSW has reached the same tipping point it did in July after the Crossroads hotel cluster.

“I cannot stress enough that this is the most concerned we’ve been since that first incident when the Victorian citizen came up, infected his colleagues and went for a drink at a hotel,” Berejiklian said.

The new figures have prompted the NSW Premier to push back the easing of restrictions on group bookings, wedding attendees, and the four-square metre rule for indoor dining.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he is very concerned about the number of people coming forward to get tested.

“It’s fair to say that as health minister I have some concerns, some very serious concerns about testing,” Hazzard said.

“Effectively, each and every one of us, our community [are] the frontline troops of a war on COVID, and just thinking you might have hay fever is no excuse to not get tested.”

More than 16,000 people were tested in NSW over the last 24 hours.

The new cases bring the state’s total coronavirus tally to 4121.

End of the West End: brewery to be closed as Lion quits SA

South Australia’s historic West End brewery will be closed and its beer brewed interstate with Lion announcing the closure of its local operations from 2021, costing more than 90 jobs.

The West End Brewery, on whose Port Road chimney the SANFL premiership team’s colours are decked each year in a quintessentially South Australian tradition, will close next June, with statement from LionCo – a subsidiary of Japan’s Kirin – declaring the news “a sad day for the West End team, Lion and South Australia”.

A spokeswoman told InDaily 94 local jobs will be “impacted”, although around 40 SA roles in sales and sponsorship will be retained.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said it is a sad day for the state.

“It’s a very sad day for these workers, it’s a sad day for South Australia, this is an iconic South Australian brand,” Marshall said.

“What we’re told by the company is that there’s a continuing excess capacity in that brewery here in South Australia, they were just not getting anywhere near their full capacity.

“They’ve got to make tough decisions, many companies around the country are having to make tough decisions during this coronavirus.”

Read the full story here.

GWS Giants player Jacinda Barclay dies aged 29

Tributes have flowed in for AFLW player Jacinda Barclay who has died aged 29.

In a statement, the AFL said it “extends its deepest sympathies to the Barclay family … a much-loved and respected daughter and teammate”.

Barclay played 23 games for the Giants after being drafted in the first ever AFLW draft in 2016.

She previously represented Australia as a baseball player, winning a silver medal at the Baseball World Cup in 2010.

AFL Head of Women’s Football Nicole Livingstone said she was deeply saddened by the news of Jacinda’s passing.

“There are few words that we can express at this time, other than to convey our sadness and sincerest condolences to the Barclay family,” Livingstone said.

“Jacinda’s loss will be taken very hard by so many people within our game across all levels.

“On behalf of the AFL, I would like to express my deepest compassion to the Barclay family, friends and colleagues.”

Crews battle structure fires across state

Almost 50 CFS volunteers and 23 metropolitan firies in Adelaide have battled blazes in the northern suburbs, Fleurieu Peninsula and the state’s west coast this morning.

Crews were called to Yankalilla about 5am to find two sheds and a vehicle alight. The fire spread to a second shed before the 27 firefighters at the scene could put out the blaze.

The sheds and vehicle were destroyed in the fire, which is being treated as suspicious, with damage put at $150,000.

Another five CFS appliances and 22 volunteers were called to a house fire at Streaky Bay just after 5am.

The firefighters arrived to find the front of the house ablaze but could not save it.

The cause of the fire, which left an estimated damage bill of $250,000, is being investigated.

Two occupants of the home escaped the blaze and are being treated for smoke inhalation.

In Adelaide MFS crews are also responding to a structure fire at Beafield Road, Para Hills West.

Six fire trucks and 23 firefighters arrived at the single storey home a short time ago to find it well alight.

Country infections spark testing blitz

Three people have been infected with coronavirus in the northern Victorian town of Shepparton, prompting authorities to ask everyone in the area to be tested.

The cases are linked to the Chadstone outbreak in Melbourne.

Overall, new case numbers in Victoria dropped to seven after six-straight days of double figures.

The state also recorded five coronavirus deaths, taking the national toll past 900 and Victorian fatalities to 816.

From today several new testing sites will open in Shepparton.

Health authorities are advising all Shepparton residents get tested and stay at home until they get their results.

Meanwhile, the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton has defended Victoria’s coronavirus restrictions against comparisons with NSW, where measures are more lenient.

Victoria recorded 12 new cases yesterday while NSW had 13 new infections, the majority locally acquired.

Asking why Victorians were subject to a strict lockdown unlike their northern neighbours, Professor Sutton said the circumstances were not the same.

“The differences are really profound,” he said.

“Through this second wave, the 20,000 cases that occurred across Victoria settled into the hardest cohorts and populations across the state.

“The number of close contacts per household and the number of close contacts they have are hugely different.”

Rooster returns from the farm to win Magarey Medal

North Adelaide midfielder Campbell Combe has won the 2020 Magarey Medal, becoming the 17th Rooster to win SANFL’s fairest and most brilliant individual award.

The Crystal Brook farmer polled a total of 19 votes to edge out Glenelg on-baller Matthew Snook on 17 and Sturt co-captain James Battersby on 16.

The medal presentation was held virtually for the first time because of coronavirus restrictions, with individual clubs hosting smaller gatherings at suburban club rooms.

Last year’s Magarey Medallist, Glenelg’s Luke Partington, dual Magarey winner Joel Cross and retiring Double Blue Sam Colquhoun were all next on the leaderboard with 15 votes each.

Combe, preparing to play in Sunday’s SANFL Grand Final against the Eagles, made his league debut as a teenager in 2014, playing 12 games in his first senior season before moving back home to work on his family’s farm in 2015.

The 25-year-old won three consecutive Northern Areas Football Association Mail Medals playing for the Crystal Brook Roosters from 2016 to 2018 before returning to Prospect in 2019.

Combe is the first North player to win the Magarey Medal since James Allan won his third in 2011 and joins illustrious Roosters such as Barrie Robran, Andrew Jarman and Brenton Phillips to win the coveted trophy.

SA sentence discount laws pass parliament

New laws to cut sentence discounts for serious offenders who plead guilty in South Australia have passed State Parliament.

The measures cut the maximum discount from 40 per cent to 25 per cent for early pleas.

The legislation also requires the courts to consider a number of factors when determining how much a sentence should be reduced including whether the person concealed their crime, the strength of the case against them and if the facts were disputed in any way.

Discounts on sentences for major indictable offences, such as manslaughter, causing death by dangerous driving or rape, will now range from five to 25 per cent, depending on the time of the guilty plea.

The bill passed the Upper House late yesterday and Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said the legislation would be enacted as soon as possible.

It includes transition arrangements to deal with people already before the courts who may have just entered a plea or who are about to.

Chapman said the 40 per cent discount, first proposed by the previous Labor government in 2010, was always too much and was more lenient than any other sentencing regime across the country.

“That was completely unacceptable to us then, and it remains so now,” she said.

But the Opposition accused the Government of dragging the chain in getting the reforms passed.

Chapman said there would be a cost to the changes with offenders potentially spending more time in jail.

But she said that had to be balanced with public expectations of what period some people should spend behind bars.

The government’s changes reflect recommendations from a recent review of SA’s sentencing laws by former Supreme Court justice Brian Martin.

Victorian bid to dismiss premier fails

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has survived a no-confidence motion against him in parliament overnight.

A no-confidence motion against Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews dismissed as “cheap politics” by the government has failed.

The Liberal-National coalition yesterday moved a no-confidence motion against Andrews over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

It failed with 23 votes for to 44 votes against last night.

When introducing the motion, Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the state deserved a “fresh start” under a new leader.

He said the premier bungled the hotel quarantine program, ignored offers of Australian Defence Force support and imposed tough coronavirus restrictions that “make no sense”.

“This government is hostage to a premier who is pursuing an elimination strategy that is only going to eliminate jobs, that is only going to eliminate hope, that is only going to eliminate the bright future this state deserve,” he told the Legislative Assembly.

He had urged Labor MPs to find their “conscience”, cross the floor and support the motion but none did.

The premier was not present as O’Brien spoke.

Andrews, who usually refrains from attacking the opposition and never refers to their leader by name, hit back at his daily news conference.

“He and the cheap politics he trades in is of no consequence when it comes to fighting this virus. His cheap politics is not a vaccine against this virus,” he said of O’Brien.

He also criticised O’Brien for “playing politics out of tragedy” when he held a news conference on Monday surrounded by 791 Australian flags – representing the lives lost during Victoria’s second wave.

Deputy Premier James Merlino opposed the no-confidence motion in parliament, describing the move as a waste of time and energy, “designed to deflect from a leader of the opposition, who has lost the confidence of his own party”.

“A man so desperate to make some kind of impact, any kind of impact, that he’s taken to deliver cheap political stunts, tasteless, senseless, heartless stunts, exploiting the tragedy speaker, of grieving families and communities,” he said.

The Victorian Greens had earlier indicated they wouldn’t support the motion.

The opposition only has one chance to move a motion of no confidence in the premier each parliamentary term.

The next election isn’t until 2022.

Virus forces Aussie team out of Italian cycling tour

The Giro d’Italia was on the brink of cancellation on Tuesday after five teams were hit by COVID-19 cases on the first rest day, with two of them pulling out of the three-week grand tour 12 days before the finish in Milan.

The Australian Mitchelton-Scott team withdrew after four staff members tested positive for coronavirus following top rider Simon Yates pulling out last week.

The team was notified of the four positive results from tests done on Sunday.

“Unfortunately, we received the news on Monday evening that we have returned a number of positive COVID-19 results to members of our staff after our third round of tests in three days,” Mitchelton-Scott general manager Brent Copeland said.

“As a social responsibility to our riders and staff, the peloton and the race organisation we have made the clear decision to withdraw from the Giro d’Italia.

“Thankfully, those impacted remain asymptomatic or with mild symptoms.”

Yates, who had been among the pre-race favourites, withdrew on Saturday after testing positive for the virus.

Mitchelton-Scott was down to five riders – Jack Haig, Lucas Hamilton, Michael Hepburn, Damien Howson and Cameron Meyer – from their original eight after Yates’ withdrawal.

Eduardo Affini and Brent Bookwalter saw their races ended by crashes during the opening week.

Jumbo-Visma, whose leader Steven Kruisjwijk tested positive, said they would not start the 10th stage on Tuesday.

A Team Sunweb rider, one staff member from Ineos-Grenadiers and AG2R-La Mondiale also returned positive tests, organisers said.

Sunweb said Australian Michael Matthews had tested positive and was asymptomatic, and Jumbo-Visma later said on Twitter they were out of the race with sports director Addy Engels saying “we thought it was the most responsible decision because we’ve all been close to Steven.”

On last month’s Tour de France, two positive tests in a team within one week would have triggered the ejection of the outfit from the race but no such rule was put in place for the Italian grand tour.

Berejiklian to battle NSW no-confidence motion

Pressure is mounting on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian with the NSW parliament set to debate a no-confidence motion in her today. Picture: Joel Carrett/AAP

Monday was “one of the most difficult days” in Gladys Berejiklian’s life, but the outlook for her Wednesday is not much better.

The NSW parliament is set to debate a no-confidence motion moved against the premier by Labor, after she on Monday revealed she had been in a relationship with a former MP now at the centre of a corruption probe.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has accused former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire of using his public office to improperly gain a benefit for himself or for G8way International, a company he allegedly effectively controlled.

Tuesday’s parliamentary sitting brought together all MPs for the first time since the premier revealed the five-year relationship, and Opposition Leader Jodi McKay wasted no time in capitalising on Berejiklian’s “personal nightmare”.

She accused the premier of being complicit in Maguire’s alleged corruption by neglecting her legal obligations to report it to ICAC.

Phone recordings played at ICAC on Monday recounted numerous occasions in 2017 and 2018 in which Maguire – who resigned from NSW parliament in 2018 in connection to a separate ICAC inquiry – discussed his business dealings with Berejiklian.

Yesterday, Berejiklian struggled to explain to reporters why her phone calls with Maguire didn’t constitute knowledge of his business interests or prompt concerns of wrongdoing.

“She turned a blind eye to corruption in her government by failing to report her knowledge of Daryl Maguire’s business dealings for six-and-a-half years,” McKay said.

Senior federal and state Liberal MPs on Tuesday rallied around Berejiklian, who in parliament again insisted she had no inkling her ex-boyfriend’s dealings may be dodgy and said she had been “full and frank” in giving evidence to the inquiry.

Labor MPs heckled the premier as she told the parliament she had at all times acted with integrity.

“At any stage, had myself or any of my colleagues or the public servants who were in contact with him picked up that there was any wrongdoing, it would have been reported,” she said.

“I bet there are times when you thought you could trust someone and you couldn’t.”

The no-confidence motion will be debated today, but would need the support of government MPs to pass.

While Berejiklian is under the spotlight in parliament, her former boyfriend Maguire will be grilled by ICAC.

His evidence could also create major headaches for the premier.

Restrictions tighten across Europe to curb infection spike

Governments across Europe are ratcheting up restrictions to try to beat back a resurgence of the coronavirus after more than 700,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported across the continent last week

The UK, France, Russia and Spain accounted for more than half of the new infections, which was a jump of 34 per cent from the previous week.

The increasing caseload is partly the result of more testing, but the World Health Organisation noted that deaths were also up 16 per cent last week from the week before.

Doctors are warning that while many of the new cases are in younger people, who tend to have milder symptoms, the virus could again start spreading widely among older people, resulting in more serious illnesses.

Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo is among the latest to test positive.

Italy and France are restricting parties and putting limits on restaurants.

The Czech Republic is closing all schools until November 2 while Latvia is ordering teenagers to switch to distance learning for a week.

The Dutch government decided to close bars and restaurants as of Wednesday.

The UK earlier unveiled a three-tiered system for deciding what restrictions to impose based on how severe the outbreak is in certain areas.

Those moves reflect a new approach to containing the virus among governments wary of hurting already fragile economies.

Officials are eager to avoid the total lockdowns they imposed in the northern spring that resulted in heavy job losses.

Instead, they are relying on a patchwork of regional or targeted restrictions that have sometimes caused confusion and frustration among those affected.

The UN health agency appeared to support the new approach, with WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic saying lockdowns should be a “last resort”.

Italy made masks mandatory outdoors last week, a requirement already in place in Spain, Turkey, India and a few other Asian countries.

Elsewhere in Europe, such mandates are in effect in many places in Poland and hot spot cities like Paris and Brussels and are being introduced in several German cities.

Chinese mass testing tops three million in Qingdao

The skyline of Qingdao, in Shandong Province. AAP/Newzulu image

Authorities in the Chinese port city of Qingdao say they have completed COVID-19 tests on more than 3 million people following the country’s first reported local outbreak in nearly two months.

The city’s health department said on Tuesday no new cases had been found among the more than 1.1 million test results returned thus far.

A total of 12 cases had been reported in Qingdao, which is a sister city to Adelaide, since the new outbreak was first spotted over the weekend at a hospital.

The National Health Commission, however, said on Tuesday that at least six new cases of the virus were found in Qingdao in the past 24 hours.

The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear.

Authorities in Qingdao have said they plan to test all 9 million people in the city by the end of the week, similar to previous mass testing campaigns in other cities where outbreaks have been detected.

Taiwan said on Tuesday it has diagnosed coronavirus in a Taiwanese man returning from China for the first time since February.

The patient reported having a runny nose and cough to quarantine officials upon his arrival in Taiwan on Sunday, Central Epidemic Command Center spokesperson Chuang Jen-hsiang said.

Chuang said the man had been working in the eastern province of Jiangsu, which, according to China’s National Health Commission, has not reported any recent cases of local transmission of the virus.

He said Taiwan’s last case of a person bringing the virus from China was on February 6.

Globally, more than 37.97 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus and 1,083,131​ have died.

 – with AAP and Reuters

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