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What we know today, Wednesday March 10

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

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Extinction Rebellion disrupt Adelaide peak hour traffic

Protestors associated with the Extinction Rebellion climate action group have brought traffic in the Adelaide CBD to a halt this morning during a protest outside SANTOS headquarters.

Four protestors glued themselves to the road while two others climbed the oil and gas corporation’s Adelaide offices, according to Extinction Rebellion.

The protestors spray painted various messages on the company’s building, including “your gas is killing us” and “renewables recovery now”, while also reportedly lighting flares during the protest.

Police this morning had to close the length of Flinders Street between King William and Pulteney during peak hour traffic as they and other emergency services attempted to remove the protestors from the road and the building’s awning.

The Metropolitan Fire Service deployed a cherry picker to reach protestors who had climbed the building’s front.

The protestors have been arrested and Flinders Street has since been reopened.

Five new SA vaccine clinics open

Five new clinics to administer COVID-19 vaccines have opened across South Australia in a major escalation of its rollout.

Clinics opened on Wednesday at an Adelaide ambulance centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Women’s and Children’s Hospital as well as in Mount Gambier and Port Pirie.

“Opening five new clinics in one day is a milestone day, putting us in good stead to escalate the vaccination of frontline healthcare staff and quarantine and border workers,” Health Minister Stephen Wade said.

“Given the scale and complexity of the operation in front of us, it is great news that we now have more than 10 vaccination clinics online throughout our state.”

SA has also begun vaccinating people with a disability as well as their frontline carers.

More than 1400 people, including residents and staff in state government-run disability accommodation, will receive jabs over the next three weeks.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said the disability sector was a high priority group in the first phase.

“We are working quickly to ensure we administer the COVID-19 vaccine to our most vulnerable South Australians first so they are protected against the virus,” she said.

Fatal motorbike crash at Enfield

Police are investigating a fatal crash involving a 45-year-old motorcyclist at Enfield overnight.

Emergency Services were called to Whittington Street at around 2am this morning after reports a motorcyclist travelling east had crashed on the street.

Police located the motorbike at the Enfield crash scene with no rider.

Witnesses said they saw two people get out of the car and load the injured rider into their vehicle before driving away.

Emergency services were then called to Mark Court at Ingle Farm approximately six kilometres from the original crash site at around 2:40 am, after reports of an unconscious motorcycle rider found in the street.

The man died at the scene despite work from paramedics, bringing South Australia’s road toll this year to 22 – four more people than at the same point last year.

Police say they have now spoken to the man involved in picking up the motorcyclist.

Police are calling on anyone with information on the crash to contact crime stoppers.

Morrison won’t move Porter out of AG position

Scott Morrison will not move Christian Porter out of the attorney-general’s or industrial relations portfolios, insisting he is “an innocent man”.

The prime minister will also not seek advice on rape allegations against Mr Porter from the solicitor-general.

“To suggest there should be some different treatment applied to him, based on what had been allegations the police have closed the matter on, I think it would be grossly inappropriate,” Morrison told reporters on Wednesday.

“There is no basis for doing that at law, at all. And when it comes to the principles upon which we run our country, that would be highly inappropriate.”

Questions have been raised over whether Mr Porter’s position is tenable, particularly given he is soon due to release the Respect at Work report.

Former solicitor-general Justin Gleeson has suggested the government seek independent legal advice on whether Porter is a fit and proper person to remain in his position.

The prime minister said Gleeson was entitled to his view, but his department had provided no such advice.

“He is not someone who has been a particularly big fan of our government, I should say,” Mr Morrison told reporters.

“But, that said, he is entitled to his opinion on this, but that is not the advice I have been provided at any time during the course of managing this matter.”

The attorney-general is being referred to the Legal Practice Board of Western Australia by a group of high-profile academics.

Morrison is aware of their actions but is unperturbed.

Relying again on his long-running “rule of law” argument, the prime minister tried to shift the focus to reporters at the press conference.

“If anyone here at this press conference was accused of a matter, you face the same process the attorney-general would, and you would have the same rights and the same presumptions made about you, as he would.

“Now, that’s fair. That is the fair go you get under our rule of law in this country. And I, for one, will not be one to undermine that.”

Decision day for SA ambulance industrial action

The South Australian Ambulance Employees Association will today decide whether to launch industrial action as they continue to press the government for greater resourcing after another difficult night for paramedics.

The union says there were seven emergency cases and 26 urgent cases after 8pm last night for which there was no ambulance in metropolitan Adelaide available to send.

It is the second “OPSTAT White” event the ambulance service has faced in two weeks, with the code meaning operational capacity is “insufficient to maintain effective service delivery for high acuity case”.

More than 350 of the association’s members voted unanimously last Tuesday to give the government a seven-day deadline to meet their demands for increased funding, better staffing and less overtime.

Industrial action would include not identifying ambulance patients for billing purposes – a move which could cost the government upwards of $100,000 a day depending on the scope of the billing strike.

It comes amid a nearly four-year industrial dispute between the union and the government over reforms to the ambulance service’s enterprise bargaining agreement.

AEA Secretary Phil Palmer said the union would make a decision before the close of business today.

“We’re hoping for the best but expecting the worst,” Palmer told InDaily.

“There seems to be no attempt to reconcile or try and get us together – just more aggravation.

“I do hope [the government] come up with something, but I’m not optimistic.”

Palmer said the union was being “bombarded” with suggestions from members on the best way to strike, but the only action that would be implemented this week is not billing patients who spend extended periods of time ramped outside public hospitals

“We’ll do it as long as we can get away with it, and if worse comes to worse we’ll escalate it and make all patients free,” he said.

Premier Steven Marshall said the negotiations between the government and the union were being handled “competently”.

“I think everybody’s wanting the same outcome, they want to see that we have the very best ambulance service that we can possibly have in South Australia,” Marshall told reporters yesterday.

“I think we all see when there is an enterprise bargaining agreement underway that there are threats and industrial action, what I’m just encouraging people to do is to get to the table to get these issues resolved.”

The premier, along with Treasurer Rob Lucas and Health Minister Stephen Wade, pointed to the most recent auditor general’s report showing the government has added 187 paramedics since 2018, although the union says these are only replacements for employees who have left the ambulance service.

The treasurer also yesterday highlighted the more than $100 million the government has put into upgrading emergency departments across the state.

The threat of industrial action comes after claims yesterday from SA Salaried Medical Association chief industrial officer Bernadette Mulholland that administrators have directed clinicians to discharge patients from hospitals before they are ready to leave, and wait lists have been manipulated to look better than they are.

SA COVID testing plea after second ‘strong’ wastewater result

A second “strong” positive result from Adelaide wastewater testing has prompted SA Health to put out another call for more people to present for coronavirus testing.

A similar result was recorded on Sunday with both related to catchment areas covering Adelaide’s CBD.

It’s possible the results have come from old cases of the virus among people in the city’s quarantine hotels, but authorities have urged anyone who visited the CBD in the past week to get swabbed if they have even the mildest of symptoms.

“It’s really important that we do remain alert in the community,” Deputy Chief Public Health Officer Emily Kirkpatrick told reporters on Tuesday.

“While we’re not saying that there’s any indication that there is community transmission here in South Australia, it is really important that if you are out and about that you do get tested if you have even the slightest of symptoms.”

Kirkpatrick said SA was also checking with other states on the movement of people across the border in recent weeks to see if they correlated with anyone who had recently recovered from having the virus.

Average daily testing rates across SA are just above 2500 this week, with the lower number causing some concern among health officials with the festival season in full swing.

SA reported two new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday: one from a teenage girl and one in a man in his 60s – both of whom are quarantining in a medi-hotel.

SA has also administered almost 4000 vaccinations since the rollout began two weeks ago, although this is still well short of the 12,000 forecast to be completed at the end of the week.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reaffirmed the federal government’s commitment to offering every Australia a vaccine by the end of October, despite expert scepticism over whether this goal can be reached.

Man to remain in custody after murder charge

A 20-year-old man will remain in custody after appearing in court charged over the murder of a woman found buried in a shallow grave in South Australia’s mid-north on Monday.

The Kurralta Park man, whose name is suppressed, made no application for bail in a short appearance before Port Augusta Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

He was charged with both the murder of Jasmeen Kaur and with failing to notify police of a reportable death.

Kaur was reported missing on Saturday. Her body was found by detectives on Monday, buried at Moralana Creek, about 40 kilometres north of Hawker.

Major Crime Detectives interviewed the 20-year-old man on Sunday, who then took detectives to the shallow grave site.

Kaur had last been seen alive at a nursing home in Adelaide on Friday night.

Court documents allege she was killed between then and Monday at Parachilna or other places.

The charged man was remanded in custody to appear in court again on December 15.

A prosecutor told the court that the lengthy delay in the “complex matter” was necessary to allow for the collection and analysis of DNA and other evidence and for the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider the material before making a final charge determination.

The Kurralta Park man was known to Kaur, but they were not in a relationship.

Premier Andrews moved to trauma ward, federal health minister in hospital

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has been moved to a specialist trauma facility as he recovers from a nasty fall, while federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has been admitted to hospital overnight with a suspected infection.

Andrews broke several ribs and damaged vertebrae when he fell on wet and slippery stairs on Tuesday morning at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental where he was staying over the long weekend.

The premier was expected to be transferred from Peninsula Private Hospital to the Alfred Trauma Centre in Melbourne on Tuesday evening after specialists assessed an MRI scan.

“This is a precautionary measure to ensure he has the most appropriate care available given the nature of his injuries,” a state government spokeswoman said in a statement.

“The premier and his family thank the dedicated staff at Ambulance Victoria, Peninsula and the Alfred for their professionalism and care.”

Andrews plans to remain in intensive care for a few days on medical advice before providing an update on his health later in the week, with Deputy Premier James Merlino serving as acting premier.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Hunt became spent the night in hospital after being admitted with a suspected infection that is not believed to be linked to his recent COVID-19 jab.

The 55-year-old was kept overnight for observation and doctors planned to give him antibiotics and fluid during his stay.

The minister’s office says he is expected to make a full recovery.

“His condition is not considered to be related to the vaccine,” his office said in a statement last night.

The Victorian Liberal MP was joined by former prime minister Julia Gillard and Department of Health secretary Brendan Murphy at a Melbourne clinic on Sunday, when they became some of the first Australians to receive the AstraZeneca jab.

Hunt’s hospitalisation comes as fellow federal ministers Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds are away on leave amid separate rape allegation scandals.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has taken over the health portfolio in the interim.

Queen breaks silence on Harry and Meghan interview

Queen Elizabeth says the royals were “saddened” by the challenging experiences of her grandson Prince Harry and his wife Meghan and promised to privately address claims about a racist remark about their son.

Meghan, in an interview with Oprah Winfrey aired on US television on Sunday, accused the royal family of raising concerns about how dark their son Archie’s skin might be and ignoring her pleas for help while she considered self-harm.

“The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement issued on behalf of the Queen.

“The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. Whilst some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.

“Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members.”

Meghan and Harry’s tell-all TV interview has dragged the royals into their biggest crisis since the death of Harry’s mother Diana in 1997, when the family, led by the Queen, was widely criticised for being too slow to respond.

A royal source said the palace considered that this was a family matter and the royals should be given the opportunity to discuss the issues raised privately as a family.

The source added that they had needed to carefully consider the response before it was issued and that had also allowed people in the United Kingdom to watch the interview first if they wanted to.

In the two-hour show, Harry also said his father, heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles, had let him down and that he had felt trapped in his royal life.

Star-studded NSW chase down Redbacks on final day

South Australia has slumped to its third Sheffield Shield loss this season after a star-studded New South Wales side chased down a total of 295 runs with 11 balls to spare to take home a six-wicket win at the Adelaide Oval on Tuesday.

The Redbacks made NSW an offer too good to refuse, declaring at 6/178 just before lunch on the final day to give the Blues 72 overs to chase down the enticing total.

Moises Henriques (78 not out) and Sean Abbott (83) hit out superbly in the final session, almost getting the job done with their 140-run partnership.

Abbott was bowled with just two runs required but it mattered little for an XI with eight Australian representatives.

Henriques then slapped a boundary straight down the ground to lock in their third victory of the season.

Nick Larkin (22) and David Warner (69) had set a solid early pace before both were out to forgettable shots trying to lift the scoring further.

Larkin mistimed a pull from part-time spinner Travis Head (1-29) to be caught at mid-on while Warner, after being tied down briefly by debutant spinner Joe Medew-Ewen (1-60), was pouched in similar circumstances at mid-wicket.

First innings centurion Kurtis Patterson (36) was then bowled by Chadd Sayers (1-59), giving the Redbacks some hope of getting back into the contest.

But Henriques, with the elevated and very much in-form Abbott, took the South Australian attack apart.

It’s another disappointing result for the Redbacks, who were ahead for much of the game after scoring an imposing 8/482 in their first innings courtesy of wicketkeeper Alex Carey (125) and 50s from Jake Weatherald, Travis Head, Harry Nielson, Jake Lehmann and Chadd Sayers.

NSW declared 116 runs behind in their first innings.

“We did drive the game for the most part and set the game up … it did create opportunities, we just weren’t able to grab those,” SA coach Jason Gillespie said.

The Redbacks next play Tasmania in the Marsh Cup on Friday, before heading to Brisbane for their next Shield clash against Queensland on Tuesday, March 23.

-With AAP and Reuters

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