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What we know today, Sunday February 14

News

Today’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad.

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New quarantine facility in SA

International travellers in South Australia who test positive for COVID-19 infection will be transferred to a new facility from Monday, with the dedicated Tom’s Court quarantine site set to open.

The 72-bed hotel in Adelaide’s CBD will predominantly house new international arrivals, but rooms will also be available should there be any further cases of community transmission in South Australia.

Approximately 16 SA Health and 41 South Australia Police (SAPOL) staff with medi-hotel experience have been selected to work exclusively in the facility for nursing and security purposes.

It comes as SA Health announce that the state recorded no new cases on Sunday.

Trump cheers his impeachment acquittal

Former president Donald Trump has welcomed his second impeachment acquittal and says his movement “has only just begun”.

Trump in a lengthy statement on Saturday thanked his lawyers and his defenders in the House and Senate, who he said “stood proudly for the Constitution we all revere and for the sacred legal principles at the heart of our country”.

He slammed the trial as “yet another phase of the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country”.

He told his supporters that “our historic, patriotic and beautiful movement to Make America Great Again has only just begun” and he would have more to share with them in the months ahead.

While Trump was acquitted by the Senate, seven Republicans voted to convict him, making it the most bipartisan vote in the history of presidential impeachments.

Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi scoffed at the “cowardly” Senate Republicans who voted to acquit Donald Trump of inciting the Capitol siege.

With the impeachment trial over, some Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate have suggested censure as an option.

The Democratic Speaker panned those efforts as grossly inadequate in the face of the violent attack on the nation’s seat of power.

“What we saw in that Senate today was a cowardly group of Republicans who apparently have no options because they were afraid to defend their job,” she said at the Capitol on Saturday.

“We censure people for using stationery for the wrong purpose. We don’t censure people for inciting insurrection that kills people in the Capitol.”

Pelosi also denounced Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for not allowing the House to deliver the impeachment charge to the Senate while Trump was still in the White House.

McConnell called Donald Trump “practically and morally responsible” for the riot, only moments after voting to acquit him.

Victoria records two new local COVID cases

It’s day two of a five-day statewide lockdown of Victoria as health authorities attempt to ring-fence an outbreak of the infectious UK strain of coronavirus.

The state recorded two new local COVID-19 cases and a third in hotel quarantine on Saturday. There were 21,475 test results received.

The state’s third lockdown has plunged millions back into the hardship they thought had been left behind with the lengthy restrictions and economic sacrifices of 2020.

Florists and restaurants hoping to receive bumper trading for Valentine’s Day are gutted at the loss of income they will incur as fresh produce goes unsold.

Victoria’s health department listed four new exposure sites on Sunday morning. They are two Pascoe Vale swimming pools, and a Woolworths and bakery in Broadmeadows.

South Australia, along with most other states, has closed its borders to Victorian travellers.

Critical all cultures take vaccine: Hunt

The federal government wants to ensure that people of all cultures get vaccinated against the coronavirus, while Labor is wondering when anyone will get the jab.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said it is critical that communications around the vaccine program are also targeted for culturally, ethnically, and linguistically diverse communities.

“The government recognises that people from multicultural communities are a significant part of the health, aged care, child care and disability workforce and will be among the first people in Australia to receive vaccinations,” Mr Hunt said in a statement on Sunday.

But shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers is concerned that Australia is languishing in rolling out the program, which is creating uncertainty in communities and the economy more broadly.

He said some 90 countries have their vaccinations program under way.

“After the prime minister said we were at the front of the queue 160 million people have been vaccinated around the world, while zero Australians have been vaccinated,” Dr Chalmers told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

The Australian roll-out is not due until later this month.

Trump acquitted in 2nd impeachment trial

The US Senate has voted to acquit former president Donald Trump on a charge of inciting the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

A 57-43 majority of Senators voted to convict on Saturday, 10 short of the 67 votes needed.

Seven Republicans joined Democrats to vote to convict Trump, which is the most impeachment defections ever from a president’s party.

Trump, who left office on January 20, is the first US president to be impeached twice and the first president to face trial after leaving office.

The lead impeachment manager, Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, said the mob acted on Trump’s instructions and with his approval, while the then-president failed to defend vulnerable lawmakers or his own vice president.

“If that’s not ground for conviction, if that’s not a high crime and misdemeanour against the republic and United States of America, then nothing is. President Trump must be convicted for the safety and security of our democracy and our people,” he said on Saturday.

Closing arguments the impeachment trial began after House impeachment managers decided to drop their call for witnesses.

The Senate had voted to call witnesses on Saturday after Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin announced the impeachment managers wanted to subpoena a Republican congresswoman, who heard that Trump had refused to call off the Capitol riot on January 6.

The request was later dropped after Trump’s defence lawyers made a deal to allow the congresswoman’s public statement to be entered into the record instead.

Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler had made a statement on a phone call between Trump and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy as rioters stormed the Capitol.

Both sides had two hours to present closing arguments before senators vote on whether to convict Trump.

Trump lawyers had opposed calling witnesses, with attorney Michael van der Veen saying it would open the door to him calling as many as 100.

“If you vote for witnesses, do not handcuff me by limiting the number of witnesses that I can have,” Van der Veen said, crossing his arms and then then raising them in the air for emphasis.

Trump declined to testify in the proceedings.

The verdict could heavily influence not only Trump’s political future but that of the senators sworn to deliver impartial justice as jurors.

House prosecutors argued that Trump’s rallying cry to go to the and “fight like hell” for his presidency just was part of an orchestrated pattern of violent rhetoric and false claims that unleashed the mob.

Five people died, including a police officer and a rioter who was shot.

Great Australian Bight oil and gas application rejected

The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator has rejected the extension of Bight Petroleum’s oil and gas exploration program.

South Australian independent senator Rex Patrick welcomed the decision, telling the ABC that after a decade the administrator has finally “woken up.”

“Whilst these companies get continuous extensions, other industries like the fishing industry and the tourism industry can’t invest,” he said.

Patrick added the decision meant Bight Petroleum would have to complete a whole range of work like seismic testing and drilling in an unachievable timeframe by July this year.

“I think this is the final nail in the coffin of drilling in the Great Australian Bight, and that’s a really good thing for South Australia,” he said.

Australian Southern Bluefin Industry Association researcher Kirsten Rough expressed relief at the decision.

Rough said the prospects of seismic surveys, which involves pounding the seafloor with airguns, caused concern for the tuna industry.

Extended trading for Adelaide Cup holiday

The South Australian government has today announced that all shops in suburban Adelaide will be permitted to open their doors on the Adelaide Cup Day public holiday next month.

Treasurer Rob Lucas has granted a special Ministerial exemption under the Shop Trading Hours Act 1977 which gives all retailers the opportunity to trade from 9am to 5pm on March 8.

“As the state continues its strong economic and jobs rebound from COVID-19, it’s critical we do everything we can to keep up this momentum and create the necessary environment to drive ongoing business and consumer confidence,” he said.

The move is likely to trigger criticism from the Labor opposition and unions.

SA Independent Retailers spokesman Colin Shearing in 2020 said extended trading had proved “disastrous” for smaller stores that ended up losing money with earnings down 50 per cent on public holidays.

Vic quarantine head denies nebuliser claim

Victoria’s hotel quarantine authority denies it knew a man took a nebuliser into the venue at the heart of the state’s current coronavirus outbreak.

The use of the air compression device by the man for his asthma has been blamed for spreading the UK strain of COVID-19 through the Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport, leading to a five-day lockdown across the state.

In intensive care with the virus, he claimed he declared the nebuliser to quarantine staff.

COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria commissioner Emma Cassar faced repeated questions from reporters on Saturday afternoon, denying multiple times the man declared the item.

“I can categorically say that there is no evidence from our audit that he has raised this with our health team,” she told them.

The outbreak currently numbering 14 cases can be traced back to the asthmatic and his partner who quarantined at the Holiday Inn and are believed to have been infected overseas.

There was one new COVID-19 case linked to the Holiday Inn outbreak on Saturday – a man in his 30s from Point Cook in Melbourne’s west who is a friend of a hotel quarantine worker.

He attended a private dinner with family and friends at 426 Sydney Road, Coburg, now listed as an exposure site.

Until 11.59pm Wednesday, Victorians are only able to leave home to shop for food and essential items, provide or receive care, exercise and to work or study if they can’t from home.

Victorian government minister Lisa Neville, who is responsible for quarantine, is receiving treatment in hospital for a serious medical condition not related to COVID-19.

South Australia meanwhile recorded no new COVID-19 cases on Saturday.

Aussies need to be able to come home: CMO

The chief medical officer has reiterated “vulnerable” Australians cannot be left to languish overseas as the Victorian premier again calls for a logical discussion on the future of hotel quarantine.

The quarantine program is under fresh scrutiny after the latest in a series of COVID-19 leaks caused a five-day shutdown of Victoria.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on Friday there needed to be a “cold, hard discussion” about reducing the number of travellers returning to Australia from overseas, and reiterated those calls on Saturday.

But chief medical officer Paul Kelly said he and his state-based counterparts were constantly discussing hotel quarantine protocols and safeguards.

He added the federal government could not ignore Australians stuck overseas for months on end, many of whom already unable to secure flights home.

“The states and territories themselves at a National Cabinet meeting very early on said it should be the states and territories – that is where the public health system is run, (they) have the various staff that are needed for this type of exercise,” Prof Kelly told reporters on Saturday.

US urges China to give virus data to WHO

The White House has called on China to make available data from the earliest days of the COVID-19 outbreak, saying it has “deep concerns” about the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 report.

It comes after a member of the WHO team investigating the virus said China refused to provide the data, potentially complicating efforts to understand the origins of the outbreak.

The team had requested raw patient data on 174 cases China identified from the early phase of the outbreak in the city of Wuhan in December 2019, as well as other cases.

But it has only been provided with a summary, Australian microbiologist and team member Dominic Dwyer says.

China has not responded to the allegation but has previously insisted it was transparent with the WHO.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Saturday said it was crucial the report was free from intervention from the Chinese government.

A summary of the team’s findings could be released as early as next week, the WHO said.

Tesla to make electric cars in India

Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla will set up a manufacturing unit in the southern Indian state of Karnataka, according to a government document.

“The US firm Tesla will be opening an electric car manufacturing unit in Karnataka,” the state government said in a brief statement.

The statement was part of a broader document outlining the highlights of India’s budget to its people in the local language of Kannada.

Last month, the electric car maker incorporated Tesla Motors India and Energy Private Limited with its registered office in the city of Bengaluru in Karnataka, a hub for global technology companies.

State Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa had then said in a tweet, which was subsequently deleted, that Tesla would start its operations in India with a research and development unit in Bengaluru.

It was not immediately clear if the Saturday statement was referring to the same unit.

To boost investment, India plans to offer billions of dollars in incentives to companies setting up advanced battery manufacturing facilities.

A ban on crowds during Victoria’s lockdown left the Australian Open stands empty on Saturday. Image: AAP /James Ross

De Minaur out of Aus Open, Barty through

Alex de Minaur’s plans to “conquer the world” have been put on hold after he crashed out of the Australian Open in a straight-sets defeat to Italy’s Fabio Fognini.

The Aussie men’s No.1 never got a serious foothold in the third-round match as 16th seed Fognini remained in control throughout his 6-4 6-3 6-4 win on Saturday night.

De Minaur broke Fognini’s serve to keep the match alive at 5-3 in the third set but could not repeat the feat as the 33-year-old Italian sealed the result on serve at the second time of asking.

The match was the first both men had played since fans were banned because of Victoria’s COVID-19 lockdown and Fognini felt their absence played into his hands.

In the women’s draw Ash Barty defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-4 to qualify for the fourth round.

Barty came back from breaks down in both sets but still appeared largely in command throughout the match.

She said while “it may be a little bit rude” to supporters, the lack of a crowd meant she could enjoy the aural advantage of being able to hear the sound of the ball.

“I find it a way where I can listen to the spin the opponent is hitting on the ball, the pace it’s coming,” she said after the match.

She will take on American Shelby Rogers in the round of 16.

– with AAP and Reuters

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