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What we know today, Monday October 19


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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Wayward Kiwis in hotel quarantine after arriving in Adelaide

Five people have wrongly arrived in Adelaide from New Zealand under the new travel bubble arrangement.

Three New Zealand nationals arrived in Adelaide via Sydney on Sunday and a further two arrived today.

All five travellers were not refused entry into South Australia and are currently in hotel quarantine as per normal arrangements with international arrivals.

South Australia is not yet part of the New Zealand-Australia travel bubble, meaning the group must still undertake the mandatory 14 days of quarantine.

Premier Steven Marshall said the travellers were met by authorities at Adelaide Airport and taken directly to hotel quarantine.

“The way that arrangements work at the Adelaide Airport is that when passengers come in they are asked whether they have been into an area which is not authorised over the last 14 days,” he said.

“These passengers identified themselves and so obviously the protocol of putting them into hotel quarantine was followed.”

Marshall said the state’s transition committee was “hopeful” that South Australia could lift its border restrictions to New Zealand travellers “when it’s safe to do so”.

“We are looking very closely at the arrangements with regards to our borders with New Zealand – they’ve done extraordinarily well,” he said.

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews says New Zealanders who arrive in Melbourne won’t have to quarantine, despite the state not being a part of the trans-Tasman bubble arrangement.

More than 50 Kiwis have travelled on to Melbourne after arriving in Sydney under the arrangement, which began on Friday.

Some have also travelled to Hobart and Perth, where they will be required to undergo 14 days in hotel quarantine.

Andrews has maintained the federal government failed to alert Victoria the New Zealanders were entitled to travel to other parts of the country after flying into Sydney or Darwin.

He said whether Victorians liked it or not, the state was now a part of the bubble.

“I’m not going to be quarantining people that came from a low-virus community and we just have to make the best of this,” Andrews said.

“If people turn up today on any one of those 17 flights, we will provide them with advice and support and we will make sure that they comply with all the rules as they relate to Victorians.”

15-minute Aussie COVID test could ease border concerns

Australian researchers have designed a 15-minute COVID-19 test which could provide a silver bullet for the country’s internal travel and border woes.

University of Technology Sydney scientists say they have developed a sensitive saliva test which can pick up SARS-CoV-2 viral fragments in less than 15 minutes.

With a hard border in place in Western Australia and travel restrictions of varying severity implemented across Australia’s other states, the researchers say rapid COVID-19 testing could boost virus detection and help in the screening of travellers.

It could also be useful in hospital, aged care and employment settings.

The test prototype is set to be manufactured in Perth and would cost less than $25 per test. Laboratory trials on live virus are expected to begin before Christmas.

UTS’ Dr Dayong Jin said in a statement on Monday that the test was sensitive enough to detect the presence of as little as a trillionth of a gram of SARS-CoV-2 viral fragments.

“A person with COVID-19 may be contagious 72 hours before starting to show symptoms. With the sensitivity of our optical technology, we aim to identify the viral protein in saliva from asymptomatic but already infectious patients,” Dr Jin said in a statement.

“This would allow for much more effective contact tracing and rapid discovery of pockets of disease before it is transmitted to others.”

Trial begins for NCA bombing accused

The man accused of bombing the National Crime Authority office in Adelaide vigorously proclaimed his innocence in a letter written while in prison after his original arrest in 1994, a court has heard.

But prosecutors have argued that the same letter also points to Domenic Perre seeking to blame someone else for the attack and asking a third person to give false information to police.

Details of the letter emerged this morning during argument over its admissibility at Perre’s Supreme Court trial.

The 63-year-old has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder over the explosion, which killed Detective Sergeant Geoffrey Bowen and injured NCA lawyer Peter Wallis.

Justice Kevin Nicholson is presiding over the case with no jury after Perre opted to be tried by judge alone, effectively allowing details of the pre-trial argument to be published.

Defence counsel Gilbert Aitken said there was no evidence the letter was ever sent and in any case its admission was clearly prejudicial to his client.

“It is said that the mere writing of the letter gives rise, amongst other things, to a consciousness of guilt,” Aitken said.

“The letter is not an admission by Mr Perre to the conduct touching upon the events of the second of March, 1994, that being the bombing of the Adelaide office of the National Crime Authority.”

He said any determination of Perre’s state of mind had to begin with the second sentence of the letter in which Perre wrote: “I am absolutely innocent, desperate and suffering in jail”.

“Mr Perre is explicit in proclaiming his innocence to the charges he then faced and is explicit now in proclaiming his innocence to the charges he is facing for a second time,” Aitken said.

But prosecutor Lisa Dunlop told the court that the letter showed Perre was considering asking someone to provide a false statement to police about aspects of the bombing.

She said it was evidence, along with other material, of establishing a consciousness of guilt.

Dunlop said the other evidence would include details of intercepted phone calls between Perre and family members which included repeated directions, often in a coded way, for those people to remove, clean or destroy certain items from his home and his shed.

The directions also included washing down items in his home and shed, such as clothes and shoes and the removal of particular tools and getting rid of the items used in the cleaning, the court was told.

Perre was first charged over the bombing soon after the incident but the charges were dropped six months later because of a lack of evidence.

He was arrested again in 2018 following a joint investigation, lasting more than two years, by a number of state and federal authorities including the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

The NCA bombing has been one of South Australia’s highest-profile cases, with a $1 million reward offered in 2008 for information leading to the conviction of the person or people responsible.

Twiggy buys iconic bootmaker RM Williams

RM Williams fined

Photo: AAP

South Australian bootmaker RM Williams has been bought by an investment group headed by West Australian billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and his wife Nicola.

Tattarang acquired the 88-year-old company from US private equity firm L Catterton, bringing it back under Australian ownership for the first time since 2014.

The Forrests said they looked forward to meeting the almost 900 RM Williams staff based in Australia, including 400 workers at its workshop in Salisbury.

“Andrew and I want to continue the legacy of this great company, and that means continuing to employ and support the Australians that have built and grown the brand,” Nicola Forrest said in a statement released on Tattarang’s website.

“By bringing RM Williams back into Australian hands, we will ensure the Australian craftsmanship continues to be loved and worn all around the world.”

RM Williams was founded in 1932 by bushman and entrepreneur Reginald Murray ‘RM’ Williams and is one of Australia’s most iconic brands.

Forrest, who grew up on Minderoo Station in WA’s Pilbara region, said RM Williams was deeply entrenched within Australian culture.

“To wear RMs is to wear the boots of the countless hard-working Australians that have come before us,” he said.

L Catterton had been looking for a buyer for RM Williams since May last year, with a mooted price of up to $500 million.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Tattarang paid $190 million.

RM Williams provided the outfits for the 2008 outback film epic, Australia, which starred Hugh Jackman and Oscar winner Nicole Kidman.

Jackman took a small stake in RM Williams in 2015 and was a brand ambassador for the company, a position he’s expected to retain.

No new COVID-19 cases in SA

South Australia has reported no new cases of COVID-19 today.

There are eight active cases in the state, including two new coronavirus cases reported yesterday in people who recently returned from overseas.

The man in his 40s and the woman in her 30s tested positive while in hotel quarantine and remain in isolation.

SA Health said yesterday’s cases pose no risk to the wider community.

More than 517,500 tests have been undertaken in SA..

Lions star Lachie Neale claims runaway Brownlow win

South Australian footballer Lachie Neale has polled 31 votes from 17 games with the Brisbane Lions this season to win the Brownlow medal, rising to greatness after being warned he risked becoming a “fat little forward pocket” on the AFL scrapheap.

Neale was voted best on ground in a remarkable 10 matches during 2020, fashioning an unassailable lead in last night’s Brownlow count after 16 rounds of the 18-round season.

The gun midfielder easily finished ahead of Port Adelaide’s Travis Boak (21 votes) with Christian Petracca and Jack Steele (both 20 votes) equal third in a ceremonial night that was as predictable as it was peculiar.

AFL’s night of nights was staged across venues in Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney because of COVID-19.

Neale accepted the medal at the Gabba a day after his side was rolled by Geelong in a one-sided preliminary final there.

Fremantle recruit Neale, who admitted he was still terribly flat after the loss, credited his side for putting him in the frame for the prize.

“I’ve felt pretty flat and I wasn’t really excited or anything for tonight until the count started,” he said after the win last night.

“I wanted to win a premiership this year, that was my main focus.”

The Lions have gone from five-win seasons in 2017 and 2018 to second place regular-season finishes in the two years since Neale has joined the club.

The 27-year-old, who grew up in the small town of Kybybolite on the SA-Victoria border,  is the latest player to embarrass recruiters across the country, having struggled to impress clubs during his junior career before the Dockers drafted him with pick No.58 in 2011.

He joins Gary Ablett Jnr (2009), Patrick Dangerfield (2016) and Dustin Martin (2017) as the only players to have collected the Brownlow medal plus AFL Players’ Association and AFL Coaches’ Association awards in the same season.

SA’s economic recovery tipped to be ahead of national average

South Australia’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic will be slightly stronger than the national average, according to the latest Deloitte Access Economics Business Outlook. But it found that lingering structural issues that have plagued the state will continue to be an issue.

Virus permitting, 2021 will be a year of recovery, according to the Down, but not out report with different states healing at very different speeds.

Low virus numbers and the ability to sell resources to the world, has the NT and WA forecast to lead the national recovery with economic growth of 5.1 per cent and 4 per cent respectively in 2021.

NSW is next at 3.4 per cent, as it recovers from the big hit it took in 2020.

SA (3.1 per cent) is also forecast to outperform the national GDP growth figure of 3 per cent in 2021.

Victoria (1.8 per cent) is predicted to be hardest hit in 2021 after months of lockdowns, followed by Tasmania (2.4 per cent), Queensland (2.7 per cent) and the ACT (2.8 per cent).

The outlook predicts Australia’s population will be about 600,000 smaller over the next two years than earlier forecast, even if the nation opens international borders gradually through 2021.

It said this will cause fewer problems for SA than in larger states.

“SA took swift action, getting on top of the virus fast,” the Deloitte forecast said.

“That allowed an easing of restrictions at mid-year, giving the local economy a head start on recovery.

“But a range of structural issues that have plagued the state for a while haven’t disappeared.”

Victoria wakes to eased restrictions

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has announced an easing of restrictions following a drop in coronavirus infections. Photo: AAP/James Ross

Victorians have woken to more freedom this morning after COVID-19 restrictions were eased but many are unhappy the hospitality and retail industries have been left out.

From today, Melburnians will be allowed to travel 25km from home and there will be no limit on time spent outdoors.

Outdoor gatherings will also increase from five people to 10 from two households, while facilities such as skate parks, golf courses and tennis courts will reopen.

Melburnians will also be able to get a haircut, see an allied health professional, renovate their home, wash their car and bid at an auction, though a number of strict safety protocols will be in place.

“I have announced today what is safe but will not undermine the sacrifice, the hard work, the pain, the amazing efforts that Victorians have put in,” Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters on Sunday.

In regional Victoria, up to two people plus dependents will be allowed to visit homes once a day, while hospitality venues can increase their capacity to 70 people outside and 40 people inside.

The “ring of steel” that separates metropolitan Melbourne from regional Victoria will remain in place.

Melbourne will take another step on November 2, with hospitality venues be able to seat 50 people outside and 20 people inside, while retail and beauty and personal care services can resume.

People will be allowed to host a maximum of two people plus dependents at their homes once a day.

Andrews, however, indicated the next step could be brought forward, depending on case numbers across Victoria in the next week.

But many industry groups are not impressed.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said it was an “an inexplicable and unacceptable delay”.

“There is no sound reason to continue the restrictions on business, especially with case numbers clearly on a downward trajectory,” she said in a statement.

The Australian Industry Group’s Victorian head Tim Piper said businesses and Victorians expected more.

“There is still no long-term coherent plan to rebuild a shattered Victorian economy,” Piper said.

Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said restrictions should have been eased further, especially with respect to small businesses.

Victoria recorded four new coronavirus cases today – its sixth consecutive day in the single digits – and one death.

The state’s death toll from the virus 817 and the national figure is 905.

Trump, Biden take campaigns to key states

President Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden have gone on the offensive with each campaigning in states they believe they can flip their way before polling day in the election on November 3.

Trump began his day in Nevada, making a rare visit to church before an evening rally in Carson City. Once considered a battleground, Nevada hasn’t swung for a Republican presidential contender since 2004.

While seated in the front row at the non-denominational International Church of Las Vegas, Trump received blessings from the church’s pastors, with Denise Goulet telling attendees that God told her Trump is the apple of his eye and would secure a second term.

“At 4:30, the Lord said to me, ‘I am going to give your president a second win,”‘ she said, telling Trump, “you will be the president again.”

Trump offered short remarks, saying “I love going to churches” and that it was “a great honour” to attend the service. He dropped a wad of $20 bills in the collection plate before leaving.

Biden, a practising Catholic, attended Mass in Delaware before flying to North Carolina, which a Democratic presidential candidate hasn’t won since Barack Obama in 2008.

Each is seeking to make inroads in states that could help secure a path to victory, but the dynamics of the race are remarkably stable. Biden enjoys a significant advantage in national polls, while carrying a smaller edge in battleground surveys.

But he also has another considerable advantage over Trump: money. Over the past four months, his campaign has raised over $1 billion, and that has enabled him to eclipse Trump’s once-massive cash advantage.

That edge is apparent in advertising, where Biden and his Democratic allies are on pace to outspend Trump and the Republicans by two-fold in the closing days of the race, according to data from the ad tracking firm Kantar/CMAG.

Eagles soar to top of brewery chimney for last time

The gold, green and blue colours of the Woodville-West Torrens will be unveiled on the West End brewery stack for the last time tomorrow after the Eagles’ dominant SANFL grand final win over North Adelaide at Adelaide Oval yesterday.

The Eagles started slowly but a nine-goal second-quarter blitz set up the win, turning a 15-point quarter-time deficit into a 35-point lead at the main break before running out 39-point winners.

Jordan Foote kicked four goals for the Eagles and was awarded the Jack Oatey medal in front of a crowd of more than 17,000.

It was the first league premiership for the Eagles since 2011, capping a dominant season with the club’s Reserves side also winning the flag.

The traditional West End chimney stack ceremony will be held for the final time tomorrow following last week’s decision to close the iconic Thebarton brewery at the end of June next year.

 – with AAP and Reuters

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