- Hunt on for Adelaide Remand Centre escapee
- No new cases as border opens to Victoria
- SA man sentenced to 20 years for ‘calculated’ murder
- Crows veteran Mackay to have knee surgery
- Restrictions eased as Spurrier apologises to accused man
- Pair charged with manslaughter over fatal Adelaide Hills crash
- PM demands China apology over image
- New SA travel voucher scheme announced
- Pandemic sparks spike in power bill debt
- RBA to watch on as key economic data released
- Scotland flags push for 2021 independence vote
- UK virus infections ‘under control’ as new cases fall in India, Europe
Hunt on for Adelaide Remand Centre escapee
A major manhunt is underway for a prisoner who escaped the Adelaide Remand Centre this morning.
Police say 33-year-old Jason Burdon escaped from the kitchen area of the Currie St facility.
This afternoon they released a video they say shows him climbing down a wall of the remand centre and then walking away.
Authorities were alerted about 10.20am and have been searching for the escapee since.
They say he stole a black Toyota RAV4 (registration S279 BBL), from Military Road at West Lakes Shore about 12.45pm. The car is distinctive with silver roof racks and a camping awning on one side.
Burdon (pictured) is described as about 165cms, with a medium build and light brown hair. He was last seen wearing a navy blue T-shirt, navy blue shorts with dark coloured socks and work boots.
Anyone with information on his whereabouts or possible sightings is advised not to approach him, but to contact the police assistance line on 131 444 or in an emergency triple zero (000).
No new SA cases as border opens to Victoria
South Australia has thrown its border open to Victorians, as new business check-in systems come into force and health officials report no new virus cases linked to the Parafield cluster.
Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier says there are 33 cases linked to the outbreak but only 11 of those are still considered active infections.
The number of close contacts in quarantine has also reduced to 1100.
But Spurrier revealed one new coronavirus case from earlier in November which was not publicly reported at the time.
She said the woman was a returned traveller who had been in hotel quarantine and who had since cleared the infection and been released.
SA’s efforts to contain the Parafield cluster were boosted today by the introduction of QR check-in codes across a wide range of venues.
The system will operate through a government smartphone application.
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said by 9.30 am more than 26,000 people had used the codes to check-in at various locations.
Spurrier described the system as a “game-changer” for health officials involved in contact tracing and Premier Steven Marshall said it was a fantastic tool to help contain the virus.
SA man sentenced to 20 years for ‘calculated murder
A South Australian man who murdered so he could siphon his victim’s bank account will spend at least 20 years behind bars.
The 32-year-old, who cannot be named because he was a juvenile at the time of the killing, also kept Martin Meffert’s skull in a bag in a fireplace after initially burying and later digging up the body.
Meffert was last seen in February 2005, when he boarded a bus to travel from Adelaide to Terowie, north of the city.
Police believe the 23-year-old may have lived in the town for as little as a few days or for as long as a few months.
He had been living on a disability pension and between 2005 and 2013 about $130,000 was siphoned from his account at ATMs in the mid-north.
In 2018 remains believed to be Meffert’s were found during an excavation of a property at Terowie.
Police had previously found part of his skeleton in a bag in the fireplace of a house in the town.
In sentencing on Tuesday, Justice David Peek described the murder as a “very calculated decision”.
Justice Peek said the man told a psychiatrist that he had cried for his victim “because I knew he was going to die”.
That night he used a bolt action rifle to shoot Meffert, motivated by the prospect of financial gain.
The judge said the man continued to access funds from the dead man’s bank account on an ongoing basis, partly to fund his drug habit.
He said while the killer had pleaded guilty to murder, his desire to assist police and be frank was not complete, with his actions speaking louder than his words.
“Your actions were to bury the body and later move the remains, no doubt with the hope and intention of avoiding the police as long as you possibly could and hopefully forever,” Justice Peek said.
The man was high on ice and had gone without sleep at the time of the killing but the judge said neither offered any excuse for his actions.
Justice Peek set a non-parole period of 20 years.
Crows veteran Mackay to have knee surgery
Adelaide veteran David Mackay will have knee surgery in a bid to be fit for the start of the AFL pre-season.
The 32-year-old, who last week signed a one-year deal to extend his 230-game career, will have arthroscopic surgery to drain a left knee bursa.
Mackay had a similar procedure early last month but suffered swelling in the troublesome knee.
Adelaide’s chief medical officer Marc Cesana expects the latest surgery to allow Mackay to start pre-season training with his teammates in January.
“(We) decided with a small window of opportunity before pre-season starts … a procedure could be performed,” Cesana said in a statement on Tuesday,
Mackay’s rehabilitation was expected to last four to five weeks.
Adelaide’s full squad of players return to training on January 6 while first-to-fourth year players resume from December 7.
Restrictions eased as Spurrier apologises to accused man
South Australians have this morning woken to eased restrictions, as SA’s chief public health officer professor Nicola Spurrier apologises to a man who was wrongly accused of breaching quarantine when he visited numerous shops while infected with COVID-19.
Up to 150 people are now allowed at funerals, weddings and private functions, while licensed venues are allowed to serve alcohol to standing people outdoors and community sport is now permitted.
Cinemas and theatres will be allowed to operate at up to 50 per cent capacity while gyms and swimming centres can also open.
Businesses will be required to have QR check-in systems and the state’s border with Victoria has finally been reopened.
Home gatherings are still limited to 10 people for now although Police Commissioner Grant Stevens says he’s hopeful that will be increased to 50 people by December 14, in time for Christmas.
The relaxed restrictions come as Spurrier last night issued an apology to a man in his 30s, after wrongly accusing him the day before of breaching quarantine when he visited several shops while unknowingly infectious.
Health authorities yesterday revealed the man was never directed to go into quarantine, despite Spurrier saying on Sunday that he “unfortunately… did not spend the whole time in quarantine” after being identified as a contact of a confirmed case.
SA Health on Sunday said the man was self-quarantining after attending the Intensive English Language Institute at Flinders University and being identified as a “casual contact” of a confirmed case, but went out on Sunday, November 22 after receiving an initial negative test.
He tested positive several days later after developing symptoms.
Spurrier last night apologised for the “miscommunication”.
“To clarify and after reviewing Communicable Disease Control Branch (CDCB) processes, as a casual contact this individual was never directed to quarantine by SA Health or SAPOL and therefore has done nothing wrong,” she said.
“He received communication from the Intensive English Language Institute as requested by CDCB, in which he was advised to get tested and isolate, which he did straight away.
“There was no further communication from SA Health with this individual following his negative test result.
“He has not breached quarantine and he has been fully cooperative with our contact tracing efforts which are aimed at stopping the spread of the virus any further.
“I would personally like to apologise for this miscommunication and thank him for continuing to work with us.”
Authorities reported no new cases of COVID-19 in SA yesterday.
But public health alerts were issued yesterday after it was revealed the man visited Big W Brickworks, Torrensville (12.15pm to 12.50pm), Foodland Norwood (1.20pm to 2pm) and Kmart Kurralta Park (2.45pm to 3.10pm) on November 22 while infectious.
SA Health says people who visited those “high risk” locations at the specified times must get tested immediately – even if they don’t have symptoms.
The man visited a number of other locations for a shorter period. Those who visited the locations at the same time are being asked to get tested if they have symptoms:
On The Run, Hilton (12.05 pm – 12.15 pm), Anaconda, Mile End (12.55 pm – 1.05 pm), Guzman y Gomez, Glandore (2.45 pm – 2.50 pm) and Glenelg Boost Juice Shop (3.20 pm – 3.30pm).
SA Health has also issued a quarantine alert for the Intensive English Language Institute at Flinders University between November 13 and 28.
Anybody who visited the campus and those in their immediate household must self-quarantine for 14 days. Those who attended the campus must also get tested on day one and 12 of their quarantine.
Authorities set up additional pop-up testing clinics outside Big W Brickworks and Kmart Kurralta Park.
The Parafield cluster stands at 33, with only 14 of those still considered active infections.
About 1300 people remain in quarantine or home isolation.
Pair charged with manslaughter over fatal Adelaide Hills crash
Two men have been arrested following an investigation into a fatal crash at Piccadilly in October.
A 30-year-old man was killed when the concrete truck he was driving hit a tree on Spring Gully Road on Monday, October 12.
Police said a subsequent investigation into the crash and the concrete company’s truck fleet revealed significant deficiencies with 19 of the company’s 20 vehicles.
The trucks were defected by police on the day of the collision at the company’s Salisbury South premises.
The managers of the company were charged with manslaughter yesterday.
The two Rosslyn Park men, aged 61 and 34 were refused police bail and will appear in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court today.
Police would like to speak to any former employees of the company, or anyone with information that can assist the investigation.
They can remain anonymous and are asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or online at www.crimestopperssa.com.au
PM demands China apology over image
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has demanded China apologise for a “deeply offensive” doctored image of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child.
The image was shared to Twitter – a website blocked on mainland China – by Zhao Lijian, a spokesman with the nation’s foreign ministry.
Morrison said the falsified image was utterly outrageous.
“The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
“Australia is seeking an apology from the ministry of foreign affairs, from the Chinese government, for this outrageous post. We are also seeking its removal immediately and have contacted Twitter.”
Twitter has added a content warning to the post.
An apology appears unlikely with editor of Chinese-government run media outlet Global Times Hu Xijin describing the image as a “popular cartoon”.
“It is a popular cartoon that condemns the Australian Special Forces’s brutal murder of 39 Afghan civilians,” he posted on Twitter.
“On what ground does Morrison feel angry over the use of this cartoon by the spokesperson of Chinese FM? It’s ridiculous and shameless that he demanded China to apologise.”
China intensified its condemnation of alleged war crimes by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan after Russia made similar comments.
Morrison said there were undoubtedly diplomatic and trade tensions between Australia and China but he hoped to reset the dialogue.
The prime minister suggested he had previously written to Chinese President Xi Jinping in an effort to reset relations.
The image purported to show a special forces soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child with its head wrapped in an Australian flag, alongside the words: “Don’t be afraid we are coming to bring you peace.”
“Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians and prisoners by Australian soldiers,” Zhao Lijian posted to Twitter.
“We strongly condemn such acts and call for holding them accountable.”
Foreign Affairs secretary Frances Adamson spoke to Chinese ambassador Cheng Jingye to relay Australia’s position.
New SA travel voucher scheme announced
The South Australian government has announced a second round of ‘Great State Vouchers’ aimed at boosting local tourism in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Following the popularity of the $4 million first round in October, which was snapped up in just over an hour, the $2 million second round will be available for download on January 5 at southaustralia.com/voucher.
The scheme will again provide $100 vouchers for use at participating CBD and North Adelaide stays, and $50 vouchers to spend on regional and suburban accommodation.
It will also be expanded to include interstate visitors; an extension of the travel booking period to further drive redemption; and, the inclusion of smaller operators with 5-10 rooms.
The booking period for the second round of Great State Vouchers will run 7-31 January 2021, for travel from 7 January to 31 March 2021 inclusive (excluding Saturday nights).
Pandemic sparks spike in power bill debt
The Australian Energy Regulator’s annual retail markets report, published today, reveals a $10 million jump in small business energy debt in the first three months of the pandemic.
After coronavirus hit in late March, that figure has blown out from $35 million to $45 million in June.
Long-term residential electricity debt also grew 21 per cent to $124.5 million from late March to early November.
Almost 60,000 households opted to defer paying their energy bills under retailers’ hardship offers.
At the end of June, a total of 171,464 customers were in debt at an average of $908.
“This report really underscores the struggle it has been for many customers to get on top of their energy bills during the pandemic,” AER Chair Clare Savage said in a statement on Tuesday.
“If you are struggling to pay your bills talk to your retailer about your debt – even if you can’t afford to pay anything right now.
“You won’t be disconnected, and your retailer will work with you to set up a plan and help you start paying off your debt.”
Consumer complaints to energy retailers and the ombudsmen also plummeted by 29 and 26 per cent respectively.
According to the report, South Australia’s median annual residential power bills were $1924 for electricity and $930 for gas.
RBA to watch on as key economic data released
The Reserve Bank board will hold its final monthly board meeting until February next year today but is not expected to make any changes to fiscal policy.
The meeting comes as the final parts of the September quarter national accounts are released ahead of the full report on Wednesday.
International trade, and the all-important net exports component of the quarterly growth equation, are released, alongside government spending figures.
At this stage, economists’ forecasts centre on a 2.4 per cent expansion in growth in the quarter, signalling an end to the first recession in nearly 30 years after coming off two consecutive quarters of contraction.
The economy contracted by a hefty seven per cent in the June quarter as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last month the RBA cut the cash rate to a record low 0.1 per cent, and reiterated that interest rates are unlikely to rise for three years.
It also entered into a quantitative easing program for the first time, announcing $100 billion of bond purchases over the next six months with the intent of keeping market interest rates low and, in turn, borrowing costs down.
Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe will be on hand to give his response to the national accounts as their release coincides with his appearance in front of the House of Representatives economics committee on Wednesday.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will also release building approvals figures for October on Tuesday, Corelogic will issue its latest monthly house price index and the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index will be reported.
Scotland flags push for 2021 independence vote
Scotland’s leader says she hopes to hold an independence referendum as soon as next year, setting up a political showdown with a UK government that refuses to countenance another secession vote.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would campaign in the May 2021 Scottish parliament election for a mandate to hold a vote on independence “in the early part of the new parliament” which will run from 2021 to 2025.
In a speech to a conference of her Scottish National Party – held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic – Sturgeon said Scotland had a right to choose independence “if a majority of us want it”.
“That inalienable right of self-determination cannot, and will not, be subject to a Westminster veto,” she said, referring to the UK government in London.
Scotland voted to remain in the UK by a margin of 55 per cent-45 per cent in a 2014 independence referendum that was billed as a once-in-a-generation event.
A new binding referendum requires the UK government’s approval and Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists he’ll say no.
“The people of Scotland had a vote on this (in 2014), and they voted to remain part of the United Kingdom,” Johnson spokesman Jamie Davies said Monday.
Sturgeon has not said what she will do if the UK government refuses to grant a referendum, though some pro-independence campaigners have suggested she could seek a ruling from the UK Supreme Court.
UK virus infections ‘under control’ as new cases fall in India, Europe
A deadly second wave of coronavirus is being brought ‘under control’ in the UK as new case numbers also begin to flatten in India and Europe.
As England prepares to exit a lockdown this week and enter a tiered system of restrictions subject to a parliamentary vote, health minister Matt Hancock said cases had dropped by 30 per cent on the past week.
“We’ve got this virus back under control,” Hancock said at a news conference on Monday.
India recorded 38,772 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, driving its overall total to 9.43 million.
For more than three weeks now, India’s single-day cases have remained below the 50,000 mark.
The capital, New Delhi, has also registered a dip in daily infections.
India is second behind the US in total coronavirus cases.
Meanwhile, the head of Europe’s disease control centre said on Monday the continent’s latest surge of infections is flattening or going down in some but not all countries but added it is too early to relax current restrictions.
Andrea Ammon said it was alarming that the death rate caused by COVID-19 is still rising across Europe – it was 95 per 1 million people last week compared to 84 the week before.
In the US, cases are also beginning to subside in the country’s third coronavirus wave.
A record 205,557 new cases were reported on Friday but that number had eased to 138,903 by Sunday.
More than 63 million people have been reported to be infected by the coronavirus globally and 1,464,232 have died, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally.
– with AAP and Reuters
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