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What we know today, Friday October 23


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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Two new overseas virus cases in SA

SA Health has reported two new cases of coronavirus, both overseas travellers who are in hotel quarantine.

The two new cases are a male in his teens and a female in her 20s who recently returned from overseas.

The new cases bring the SA’s total COVID-19 tally to 487, with ten active cases in the state.

National Cabinet agrees to lift traveller caps

Hundreds more Australians stranded overseas will soon be able to fly home each week.

National cabinet has agreed to lift the weekly cap on international arrivals by 290 places next month.

Western Australia and Queensland will take in the extra travellers.

State and federal leaders are also investigating a range of alternatives to hotel quarantine, which could allow many more Australians to return from abroad.

Universities and big corporations have expressed interest in setting up their own quarantine facilities and special arrangements are already in place for some incoming seasonal workers.

Other suggestions such as ankle bracelets have also been floated to allow people to quarantine at home.

“The more options we can identify, the more of the capacity it frees up, the more we can move back to more normal arrangements,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

“We want to know what the options are, we want to know whether they work and we want to know whether they are safe.

“You don’t want to build that aeroplane in the sky, you want to build it before it takes off, and that’s exactly what we are doing.”

Australia’s weekly cap of international arrivals is currently fixed at 6000 places.

More than 32,000 Australians remain overseas.

Morrison said he wanted to bring all Australians registered abroad home before Christmas but it would rely on the availability of flights and co-operation from the states and territories.

Tasmania has offered to take international arrivals if required and the prime minister is hopeful Victoria will restart its hotel quarantine scheme within weeks.

Prior to the state being struck by a second wave of coronavirus, Melbourne was Australia’s second largest international entry point.

Almost 1300 of 4100 travellers deemed vulnerable last month have now returned to Australia.

The number does not include 161 Australians who have flown into Darwin from London.

They will undertake two weeks quarantine at Howard Springs after coming home on a chartered flight.

The mining camp is expected to accommodate 5000 returning travellers over the next six months.

Dubious vaccine claims, corruption allegations and immigration feature in more structured presidential debate

President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden have faced off in the third and final presidential debate in Nashville Tennessee.

The televised duel featured changed rules, with one candidate’s microphone muted while the other has two minutes of uninterrupted time to answer the moderator’s questions. The remainder of each 15-minute segment was open discussion.

The new rule managed to prevent the chaos and frequent interruptions that marked the first presidential debate last month.

After an opening segment on the pandemic, Thursday’s clash pivoted to rapid-fire exchanges over whether either candidate had improper foreign entanglements.

Trump repeated his accusations that Biden and his son Hunter engaged in unethical practices in China and Ukraine.

No evidence has been verified to support the allegations, and Biden called them false and discredited.

Trump’s effort to uncover dirt on Hunter Biden’s Ukraine business ties led to the president’s impeachment.

The president and his children have been accused of conflicts of interest of their own since he entered the White House in 2017, most involving the family’s international real estate and hotel businesses.

Biden defended his family and said unequivocally he had never made “a single penny” from a foreign country before pivoting to accuse Trump of trying to distract Americans.

“There’s a reason why he’s bringing up all this malarkey,” Biden said, looking directly into the camera.

“It’s not about his family and my family. It’s about your family, and your family’s hurting badly.”

Biden faulted Trump for avoiding responsibility for the pandemic.

“I take full responsibility,” Trump responded.

“It’s not my fault that it came here, it’s China’s fault.”

Trump also claimed that a vaccine was close to ready, saying approval would be announced within weeks before acknowledging it was not a guarantee.

Most experts say a vaccine is unlikely to be widely available until mid-2021.

Biden slammed Trump’s messaging on COVID-19, accusing the President of repeatedly misleading the American public.

“This is the same fellow told you this is going to end by Easter last time. This is the same fellow who told you that, don’t worry, we’re going to end this by the summer,” Biden said.

“We’re about to go into a dark winter, a dark winter, and he has no clear plan.

“He says, we’re, you know, we’re learning to live with it – people are learning to die with it.”

Trump also ignored repeated questions from NBC News moderator Kristen Welker about how the government will reunite 545 children separated from their parents in migrant detention.

“Their children are brought here by coyotes and lots of bad people, cartels, and they’re brought here and they used to use them to get into our country,” Trump responded.

Trump then pivoted to blaming Biden for setting up the migrant cages which have featured heavily in news reports on immigration during the Trump era.

Biden responded to Trump’s inaction with visible anger.

“We’re real tough, we’re really strong,” Biden said with sarcasm.

“And by the way, it’s not coyotes [who] brought them over, their parents were with them. They got separated from their parents and it makes us a laughing stock, and violates every notion of who we are as a nation.”

Relatively few voters have yet to make up their minds and Trump’s window to influence the outcome may be closing.

A record 47 million Americans already have cast ballots, eclipsing total early voting from the 2016 election.

ASIC chairman to step aside as payments come under scrutiny

The chairman of the corporate watchdog ASIC is standing aside pending a review of expenses.

An audit of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission found payments made on behalf of chair James Shipton and deputy Dan Crennan may have gone above limits set by the remuneration tribunal.

“I have asked the Treasury to undertake an independent review into the findings of the ANAO financial statements audit,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a statement today.

“Following the review, Treasury will advise me on the findings of the review and any further course of action that may be appropriate.”

The independent review will be undertaken by Dr Vivienne Thom and is expected to be completed with the full cooperation of ASIC by the end of the year.

Shipton said he would voluntarily reimburse ASIC for “taxation-related expenses ASIC paid following my 2018 relocation from the United States”.

“Whilst I believe that I have acted properly and appropriately in this matter, I hold myself to the highest possible standard,” he told a parliamentary hearing.

SES volunteers to support SAPOL’s COVID-19 operations

Forty-two State Emergency Service volunteers have taken up the call to support SA Police in its COVID-19 operations.

Today, 17 SES volunteers will complete their one-week training course, which covers traffic management, infection control, PPE usage, radio communications and burnover drills.

The remaining 25 volunteers will start their training on Monday, October 26.

Minister for Police Vincent Tarzia said the enthusiasm of SES volunteers to support the police in their duties was inspiring.

“The State Government continues to support SAPOL to bolster its capacity during this challenging period caused by COVID-19,” Tarzia said.

“SAPOL’s strength will increase with the addition of SES volunteers who will play a significant role in the community, performing COVID-19 compliance checks. They will also assist SAPOL with Operation Nomad – a targeted strategy aimed to deter firebugs – when it launches next month.

“It is inspiring how quickly these volunteers responded to SAPOL’s call for assistance and is evidence South Australia continues its fight against COVID-19 as a united front.”

The volunteers will be paid for their time with the police.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said the support of the SES will help the police to better spread its resources.

“I’ve been hugely impressed by the commitment of SAPOL staff to the COVID response, but the inclusion of SES will allow some of our members to return to normal policing operations,” Stevens said.

“Their assistance will boost our resources to ensure operations are safely, effectively and efficiently managed throughout the fire danger season and beyond.”

Tyson Stengle fined $1671 for drink driving incident

Crows forward Tyson Stengle has been fined $1671 for a drink driving incident in April, when he gave a blood alcohol reading of 0.125 after being pulled over by police.

Stengle pleaded guilty in front of the Adelaide Magistrates Court this morning, and a character reference from former Crows teammate Eddie Betts was read out to the court.

The case was originally scheduled to be heard in August, but was delayed after Stengle did not show up on account of not wanting to breach AFL COVID-19 protocols.

Stengle apologised for his actions in a statement outside the court this morning.

This has been a tough year for me and I deeply apologise for those hurt by my poor decisions,” Stengle said.

“I want to learn from the mistakes I have made, and I know I need to make better decision.

This will be my focus for now, 2021 and beyond, I owe it to my loved ones and those who support me to make decisions they can be proud of.”

The Adelaide Football Club suspended Stengle for four games after learning about the incident.

Zero locally acquired COVID-19 cases in NSW

NSW has recorded no locally acquired coronavirus cases for the first time since Monday, October 19.

The state recorded seven cases from overseas travellers in hotel quarantine, and conducted 13,686 tests in the last 24 hours.

A pop up testing site remains in the NSW town of Bathurst, after sewage surveillance indicated someone attending the Bathurst 1000 motor race was carrying the virus.

Invasive meningococcal case detected in Adelaide

SA Health has reported a new case of invasive meningococcal disease in metropolitan Adelaide this morning.

A 13-year-old girl is in a stable condition in hospital after contracting the disease, and several close contacts of the patient have been notified.

There have been four reported cases of meningococcal disease in South Australia this year.

Heavy rain, winds hit the state’s north

A low-pressure system is moving across the state causing heavy falls and strong winds in the state’s north.

Severe thunderstorms and possible hail is forecast for several districts this afternoon.

Flash flooding and heavy rain hit Ceduna overnight with 32.8mm recorded before 9am this morning.

Several areas in the state’s Far North have also reported strong winds overnight with gusts of up to 124km/h recorded at Woomera.

The system is gradually moving east and is expected to reach the Riverland and Broken Hill this afternoon.

A severe thunderstorm warning has been issued with the chance of hail in the Flinders Ranges and North East Pastoral districts.

The Bureau of Meteorology says some crop damage, gravel road washouts and rising creeks are expected.

The main areas affected today include the eastern Eyre Peninsula, Flinders Ranges, Mid North, North East Pastoral district and parts of the West Coast, Riverland, Yorke Peninsula and North West Pastoral districts.

The worst of the weather is to the north of Adelaide but a few showers are possible in the city possible with the slight chance of a thunderstorm in the northern suburbs later today.

Just one new Vic case as police confirm drone plan

Victoria has recorded just one new case of coronavirus, though there are fears more cases will be detected in Melbourne’s north, where some 500 people have been told to self-isolate.

The single case, confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services this morning, brings Melbourne’s 14-day rolling average to 5.5.

There have been 10 mystery cases in the fortnight to October 22.

Regional Victoria’s 14-day average remains at 0.3 with no mystery cases.

The state’s death toll remains at 817 and the national figure 905, with only one death in the past week.

All five of the COVID-19 cases recorded yesterday are connected to a northern suburbs cluster totalling 36 people across six households.

Authorities had been monitoring the outbreak for a fortnight and considered it contained until a year 5 student attended East Preston Islamic College while infectious.

Meanwhile, Victoria Police have confirmed they plan to use drones on AFL grand final day.

Melburnians are not allowed to have friends or family visit their home to watch Saturday’s Richmond-Geelong decider, while regional Victorians can only have two people over plus any dependents.

Assistant Commissioner Luke Cornelius confirmed that police will use drones to monitor for illegal public gatherings and insists they won’t “be hovering over people’s pizza ovens in their backyards”.

But Liberty Victoria vice president Julia Kretzenbacher is still not satisfied their use would be “proportionate” with COVID-19 health guidelines.

“It’s quite a significant incursion on people’s privacy,” Kretzenbacher told 3AW on Thursday.

SA’s top 40 under 40 revealed

South Australia’s top businesspeople have been honoured at InDaily’s annual 40 Under 40 Awards, highlighting the innovation, commitment and diversity of the State’s young leaders.

SA Venture Capital Fund Portfolio Manager David Rohrsheim led an assessment panel which analysed the applications of more than 200 award nominees and recognised the creativity, personal determination and philanthropic pursuits of some of the state’s best business people under the age of 40.

The winners of the eight individual awards included SWEAT co-founder Tobi Pearce, Fleet Space Technologies CEO Flavia Tata Nardini and renowned distiller and Adelaide Hills businessman Brendan Carter of Team Unico.

The 40 were celebrated at a scaled-back and socially distanced event at the National Wine Centre last night which, like events across the country, was postponed due to restrictions.

See the full list here.

Tigers, Cats take different approaches to grand final eve

AFL grand final combatants Richmond and Geelong will take different approaches to the night before the historic Gabba season decider.

Both teams are based in hubs on the Gold Coast, and the Cats have made the call to stay there and travel an hour up the road to Brisbane on game day.

But the Tigers will drive up tonight, stay in a hotel and treat the grand final as an away match.

They will gather for a team meeting in the morning before leaving players to their own devices for a few hours before the bounce down.

Richmond won the last encounter between the two sides by 26 points at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast last month.

Several factors, including the possibility of heavy traffic, have played a role in Richmond’s decision to head up early.

“The last time we drove was an hour and a half up there and some of our performances at the Gabba haven’t been our best – Sydney, Gold Coast, even the Brisbane game,” Tigers assistant coach Justin Leppitsch said.

“We’re in an away bed anyway, whether it’s here on the Gold Coast or up in Brisbane, and we just felt that’s our best preparation going into the game.”

For Geelong, it won’t be much different to making their regular one-hour drive to Melbourne on game day under normal circumstances.

“We’ll be staying here (on the Gold Coast) and from what I understand we’ll keep it pretty much the same,” Cats spearhead Tom Hawkins said.

In contrast to Richmond, Geelong have played some of their best football at the Gabba this season and appear to have taken to the ground well.

The Tigers opted to play a ‘home’ final at Metricon Stadium a fortnight ago but Leppitsch doesn’t see any disadvantage being at the Gabba.

Maxwell denied recruiting young girls for Prince Andrew

Jeffrey Epstein’s ex-girlfriend denied introducing Prince Andrew to underage sex partners in a newly-released defensive and combative deposition, calling the prince’s accuser an “awful fantasist”.

“Are we tallying all the lies?” Ghislaine Maxwell asked during the 2016 deposition, saying she could not recall taking Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre out for a night of clubbing with Andrew in London.

“Her tissue of lies is extremely hard to pick apart what is true and what isn’t.”

The exchange was contained in hundreds of pages of transcripts ordered released by US District Judge Loretta A Preska in a civil lawsuit.

Maxwell has been charged with recruiting three underage girls in the 1990s for Epstein to sexually abuse and committing perjury in the depositions, though the charges don’t relate to the prince.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Maxwell, 58, parried a long list of inquiries about Epstein’s sexual proclivities and her interactions with Giuffre and other young women, insisting she never saw the financier have sex with anybody.

“She is an absolute total liar and you all know she lied on multiple things and that is just one other disgusting thing she added,” Maxwell said, denying having sex with Epstein and Giuffre.

“I never saw any inappropriate underage activities with Jeffrey ever,” Maxwell said.

Giuffre has accused Epstein of arranging for her to have sexual encounters with numerous wealthy and influential men including Prince Andrew.

He and the other men have denied her allegations.

Maxwell repeatedly denied hiring anyone under the age of 18 for Epstein.

As for whether she was Epstein’s girlfriend after meeting him in 1991, Maxwell called it a “tricky question”.

“There were times when I would have liked to think of myself as his girlfriend,” she said.

In a deposition of Epstein conducted later in 2016, Epstein mostly invoked the Fifth Amendment, which protects against self-incrimination.

“Fifth,” he replied when he was asked if Maxwell was “one of the main women” he used to procure underage girls for sexual activities.

Preska had ordered the transcripts of seven hours of depositions of Maxwell released by 9am on Thursday.

The judge allowed the release of the transcripts after rejecting arguments that the interviews for Giuffre’s 2015 defamation lawsuit against Maxwell would jeopardise a fair criminal trial for Maxwell next July.

Maxwell has been held without bail since her July arrest on charges that she procured the underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 1997.

 – with AAP and Reuters

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