- Crows cut ties with Tyson Stengle
- Rare discovery in Lower Murray gives new insights into Aboriginal technology
- AFL approves contentious medical substitution rule
- Euthanasia laws introduced into SA parliament again
- Three people injured in suspicious Woodville house blaze
- New community transmission case in Sydney hotel quarantine
- Flint delivers emotional speech on treatment of women in parliament
- Europe regulator backs AstraZeneca vaccine as Australian rollout continues
- Porter to move aside from parts of AG role
- Australia to redirect one million vaccines to PNG
- Third round of SA travel vouchers on offer
- Prince Philip leaves hospital
- UK cop to go on trial for Everard murder
Crows cut ties with Tyson Stengle
The Adelaide Crows have officially cut ties with Tyson Stengle after the troubled AFL forward’s third off-field indiscretion.
Stengle and the Crows have struck a confidential settlement in which the 22-year-old, who was contracted until the end of next season, departs the club.
Adelaide confirmed Stengle’s exit in a statement today after standing down the goalsneak last December when a photo circulated purportedly showing him with drugs.
That followed Stengle twice being suspended for four games for separate off-field indiscretions earlier last year.
In April, the Crows banned Stengle for four games after he was caught drink-driving, and then in September, the AFL suspended the embattled forward for another four games after he was caught with illicit drugs in a taxi with former teammate Brad Crouch.
The Crows and the AFL in January gave permission for Stengle to train with his former SANFL club, Woodville-West Torrens Eagles.
Stengle was recruited from the Eagles to the AFL by Richmond in 2017 and played two games for the Tigers before joining Adelaide for the 2019 season.
He played 14 games for the Crows.
Rare archaeological discovery in Lower Murray gives new insights into Aboriginal technology
The discovery of an animal bone used by humans as a tool thousands of years ago in Ngarrindjeri country around the Lower Murray region has provided a rare insight into Aboriginal technology, according to the Adelaide authors of a new study published today.
The bone point – which was likely from a Kangaroo or Wallaby – was discovered in Murrawong near Murray Bridge and is estimated to be between 3800 and 5300 years old.
It is the first bone discovery of its kind in the region since 1970.
Researchers believe the crafted bone point was used by ancestors in Ngarrindjeri country as a tool for piercing soft materials like fur, or even deployed as a projectile.
Co-author and Flinders University Professor Amy Roberts said the discovery is significant given the relative lack of research on tools made from animal bones.
“Bone artefacts have lacked the same amount of study in comparison to artefacts made of stone,” Professor Roberts said.
“So every discovery reminds us of the diverse material culture used by Aboriginal peoples in this country.”
Stone artefacts are also more commonly studied given they are usually easier to find located on the earth’s surface, whereas most bone artefacts only emerge from excavation work.
This artefact, just 29.2mm in length and 8.85mm wide, was recently recovered by researchers in collaboration with the Ngarrindjeri community after an excavation was done in 2008.
Lead author Dr Christopher Wilson, a Ngarrindjeri man who is conducting a broader archaeological study of the area, said that further work needs to be done to contextualise the item, but “even one find of this kind provides us with opportunities to understand the use of bone technologies in the region and how such artefacts were adapted to a riverine environment”.
AFL approves contentious medical substitution rule
The AFL has approved the introduction of medical substitutions, with clubs now set to have a 23rd man in their squad that can only be activated if there is a game-ending injury.
The new rule comes just a day out from the 2021 season-opener.
The idea originated due to concussion, after the league in January tightened rules around medical head knocks, but coaches have been unanimous in wanting the substitution to be allowed for any serious injury.
AFL football boss Steve Hocking will unveil the last-minute change during a press conference at the MCG on Wednesday.
The AFL Players’ Association has been critical of the move, declaring any change to playing numbers in a game-day squad should have happened much earlier in the year.
“This was a foreseeable problem when the rule changes were made last year around rotations, the man on the mark rule and the return to normal quarter lengths,” AFLPA boss Paul Marsh told SEN on Tuesday.
Blues coach David Teague was confident the move would be beneficial.
“I think they have added the sub to be make it fairer if you lose a player, so why limit it to concussion?,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
Between 2011 and 2015, the AFL cut the interchange from four players to three but a substitute was allowed into the game for any reason.
The sub rule was scrapped for the 2016 season.
Euthanasia laws introduced into SA parliament again
South Australia’s 17th attempt in 25 years to introduce voluntary euthanasia laws has come up for debate in state parliament.
Labor Upper House MP Kyam Maher has introduced the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill, which is modelled on similar legislation passed in Victoria.
Maher told parliament it was not a matter of whether assisted dying would be approved in SA but when, and in what form.
“It’s time to change this law. It’s time to let terminally ill South Australians safely and legally choose how to end their life,” he said.
“People deserve to die with the same dignity that they lived their life.”
The new bill includes 68 safeguards as well as a provision that people must be resident in SA for at least 12 months.
People wishing to end their lives must show they have the decision-making capacity and are capable of informed consent, as evidenced by an assessment from two independent medical practitioners.
They must have their request verified by two independent witnesses and must be experiencing intolerable suffering that cannot be relieved.
A terminal diagnosis and a life expectancy of less than six months, or 12 months for a person with a neurodegenerative disease, must also be confirmed.
Support group Voluntary Assisted Dying South Australia urged MPs to take “community sentiment to heart” with the majority of people in favour of assisted dying laws.
“We believe this bill strikes the right balance between safeguarding the community and offering choice and compassion for those with an incurable illness,” spokeswoman Lainie Anderson said.
Advocate Angie Miller said it was heartbreaking that South Australians were unable to access an assisted death while other states were moving towards choice and compassion.
As well as Victoria, Western Australia recently passed similar laws that will come into force later this year, while legislation has also passed both houses in the Tasmanian parliament.
The SA bill will be subject to a conscience vote by all MPs.
Three people injured in suspicious Woodville house blaze
Three people have been seriously injured in a house fire overnight in Adelaide that is thought to be deliberately lit.
Police say the Woodville West blaze had been extinguished by the time patrols arrived on Wednesday morning, after being called to the scene just before 4am.
A man and two women inside the home were taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with serious injuries.
Crime scene investigators and detectives are on the scene and believe the fire was started on purpose.
New community transmission case in Sydney hotel quarantine
A new case of COVID-19 has been diagnosed in a person who stayed in the same Sydney quarantine hotel where a security guard was infected last week.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the returned traveller was quarantining on the 11th floor of Sydney’s Sofitel hotel where a security guard is believed to have caught the highly contagious UK virus strain last week from a hotel guest.
The ABC reported Berejiklian revealed the new case on Wednesday but said the new case “doesn’t change anything in Sydney” because the infected person has been in quarantine.
“The threat to the community is negligible because they haven’t been out anywhere,” she said.
“But having said that, it does mean we are still on high alert until the first 14 days passes and we can be sure that everyone who is tested and found to be negative stays negative.”
“Health believes they acquired it after they went into the hotel so we are being upfront about that. They didn’t have the virus when they came to the hotel,” she said.
“It is only fair for us to classify this as community transmission although obviously, they’re in quarantine and not in the community.”
NSW Health said every guest on the 11th floor of the hotel had been re-tested and they were now investigating how the virus spread.
It is still not clear how the security guard contracted the virus as there were no obvious breaches of health protocols.
South Australia’s transition committee decided on Tuesday not to implement any border restrictions with NSW, and Berejiklian has previously argued any such restrictions would be an “overreaction ” given the circumstances on the ground.
Flint delivers emotional speech on treatment of women in parliament
Outgoing Liberal MP Nicolle Flint delivered an emotional speech overnight about the treatment of women in federal politics, breaking down in tears as she reflected on her time in parliament and the federal election campaign in 2019.
She was harassed and stalked throughout the campaign in her marginal South Australian seat of Boothby, and her office was scrawled with sexist graffiti.
Flint, who will quit politics at the next election, says the workplace culture inside Parliament House needs to change in relation to the treatment of women.
While much of the focus has centred on allegations of sexual harassment and assault within the Liberal Party, she said Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese needed to get his own house in order.
Flint said Labor leaders should have stood up and supported her when they saw what she was subjected to during the 2019 campaign.
“The safety of women in this place of female staff, of female MPs and senators, should be above politics,” she told parliament.
“The need to change the culture of our parties and of this place should be above politics.”
Flint said she would not be lectured to by Labor MPs about the treatment of women.
“I ask the leader of the opposition, where was he and where was his predecessor and where were the senior Labor women when GetUp, Labor and the unions’ supporters chased, harassed and screamed at me, everywhere I went in the lead-up to the 2019 election?”
She said all sides of politics needed to deal with the issue through an independent review by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.
Albanese said Flint deserved to be safe and people should listen and learn from her story.
“We must learn to have disagreements in a civil way,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.
“Such behaviour from anyone towards a woman or anyone else in politics is completely inappropriate and should not happen.”
Preselection nominations for Flint’s vacant seat close on March 29.
Europe regulator backs AstraZeneca vaccine as Australian rollout continues
Europe’s peak medical regulator has moved to ease concerns about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine despite more EU countries suspending its use overnight, while Australian health authorities say they are monitoring the situation closely but have no plans to halt the jab’s rollout.
There are now at least 17 countries that have suspended or delayed using AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after reports of blood clots in people who have received the shot, with Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Sweden and Venezuela the latest to join the list.
However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) remains convinced of the vaccine’s safety.
“A situation like this is not unexpected,” EMA Executive Director Emer Cooke said overnight.
“When you vaccinate millions of people, it’s inevitable that you have rare or serious incidences of illnesses that occur after vaccination.”
The rate of reported blood clots amongst vaccinated people seemed to broadly mirror the rate in the general population, Cooke explained.
The agency had also received similar numbers from other vaccines from across the world, she said.
However, the EMA has launched a “very rigorous analysis” to determine whether the vaccines might have caused the events.
There has also been speculation as to whether specific batches of the vaccine produced might have caused the blood clots, although Cooke said this is “unlikely”, adding that the agency would present its findings on Thursday.
Australian Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the Therapeutic Goods Administration is “closely monitoring” the situation but do not see any link between the vaccine and blood clots.
“In this situation, I can absolutely say that I remain confident the AstraZeneca vaccine [is] safe, and that there is, at this point, no evidence that it causes blood clots,” Kelly told reporters on Tuesday.
“There’s about 17,000 cases of blood clots in Australia every year, so we do expect to see blood clots at the time when vaccinations are given, but from my perspective I do not see that there is any specific link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots.”
Kelly added that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if public uncertainty about the vaccine increased due to the news in Europe, but urged people to listen to the expert advice on the matter.
Australia has bought more than 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and it is the only jab which is currently scheduled for domestic production.
Australian over-70s can begin booking vaccination appointments with GPs as of this morning.
The country’s first doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were administered at Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital in Murray Bridge earlier this month.
Premier Steven Marshall said the “strong” advice of health officials is for South Australia to continue with its rollout.
“If the health professionals say that we need to move away from it, that’s exactly and precisely what we’ll do,” Marshall told reporters on Tuesday.
“At this point in time, the strong advice is to continue with the AstraZeneca rollout.”
There are now 12 active cases of COVID-19 in SA, after a further two returned travellers tested positive in a medi-hotel on Tuesday.
Porter to move aside from parts of AG role
Attorney-General Christian Porter will step aside from some aspects of his portfolio, including the appointment of federal judges, to avoid potential conflicts of interests as he pursues a defamation claim against the ABC.
Porter is seeking aggravated damages over a story published by the ABC on February 26 headlined: “Scott Morrison, senators and AFP told of historical rape allegation against Cabinet Minister”.
The attorney-general’s lawyers allege the story, which did not name him, was defamatory because it imputed he raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988 and that contributed to her taking her own life.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Porter would not perform all of his usual duties when he returns from mental health leave on March 31.
“The attorney-general when he returns will not perform certain functions of his office that may relate to the Federal Court or the ABC,” Morrison told parliament on Tuesday.
The prime minister said the decision was based on “an abundance of caution and to avoid any perception of any conflicts of interest that may arise”.
It means Porter will have to recuse himself from discussions in cabinet concerning the ABC’s funding.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus says the job should be handed to someone else in the Morrison government if the legal case against the ABC means Porter can’t conduct his role in full.
“He should have stood aside some weeks back,” Dreyfus told the ABC on Tuesday.
“It’s not appropriate that there be these serious allegations of sexual assault hanging over the attorney-general of Australia.
“This attorney-general has to establish that he is fit for office, fit for the high office that he holds as the first law officer.”
Labor is continuing calls for an independent inquiry into the allegations, which the government has rejected.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said Morrison could have handled the situation better when it first arose.
“He has created a much more difficult situation for the attorney-general than it needed to be,” she told Sky News.
Porter identified himself as the subject of the article almost two weeks ago.
His lawyer Rebekah Giles said he was forced to go public after a series of news articles, social media posts and interviews made him “easily identifiable to many Australians”.
The statement of claim lodged in the Federal Court in Sydney says Porter’s character and reputation was gravely injured as a result of the story, and he is seeking aggravated damages, costs and removal of the article and related material on the web.
Australia to redirect one million vaccines to PNG
Australia is mobilising support for Papua New Guinea which is in the midst of a worsening coronavirus outbreak that poses a “clear and present danger” to both nations, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison this morning announcing his government will redirect one million AstraZeneca vaccines contracted for Australia to PNG, and offer logistical support.
PNG is identifying about 100 new cases a day and has recorded 2269 cases since March 9. There have been 26 confirmed deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.
But testing rates are low, particularly in remote areas, raising serious concerns the virus could be spreading unchecked.
More than half of the active coronavirus cases in Queensland have originated from its northern neighbour, and the state is currently rolling out a prioritised vaccination program in the Torres Strait.
Morrison this morning announced the government would be suspending flights between PNG and Cairns, and contacting AstraZeneca to access one million vaccine doses already contracted to Australia to be sent to PNG.
The government is also sending PPE and ventilators to the country, along with 8000 vaccine doses already in Australia which will be earmarked for PNG’s frontline health workers.
“We’ve contracted them, we’ve paid for them and we want to see those vaccines come here so we can support our nearest neighbour, PNG, to deal with their urgent needs in our region,” Morrison told reporters this morning.
“And we’ll be seeking the support of the European Union and AstraZeneca to achieve that as soon as possible.”
It comes after Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk spoke with Morrison about the risk the spread of the virus in PNG poses to her state.
“The Commonwealth government has been very good in this space, they’ve often reached out at times of need of our Pacific Island neighbours,’ she said on Tuesday.
Most of the positive test results in PNG are amongst the general population.
But about 40 per cent of samples from workers, including FIFO workers, at PNG’s Ok Tedi mine have also come back positive.
Health Minister Greg Hunt told a joint party room meeting in Canberra on Tuesday the situation was a “clear and present danger”.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government will deploy a three-person AUSMAT team to PNG.
Australia will also help to reopen PNG health facilities including testing centres.
Third round of SA travel vouchers on offer
The state government has introduced a third round of travel vouchers to boost South Australia’s tourism sector, although the opposition has criticised the move for not including the hotel and hospitality industry.
The third round of the scheme, this time focused on tours and experiences, follows the first two rounds of accommodation vouchers offered by the government which provided a $32 million boost to the state’s economy.
Vouchers worth $50, $100 and $200 will be available to South Australians from late April after the Easter and school holiday period, and coinciding with the introduction of the federal government’s subsidised half-price flights to Adelaide and Kangaroo Island.
“Expanding the scheme to direct cash-flow into South Australian tour and experience businesses following the busy Easter period and after the JobKeeper subsidy ends is the right support at the right time,” Premier Steven Marshall said on Tuesday.
“We’ve listened to industry and business owners across SA, and this latest round of vouchers will see locals spending up on tours and experiences which they ordinarily might have overlooked while holidaying at home.”
About 500 operators are expected to register their experiences, from shark-cage diving and swimming with sea lions, to helicopter and mountain bike tours, guided food and wine trails, and hosted wildlife experiences.
The government will introduce a new “fair and equitable” system to distribute the vouchers but said more details would be released after tour operators completed the expressions of interest process.
However, Shadow Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison questioned why the hotels and hospitality industry – included in the first two rounds of grants – were excluded from its third iteration.
“With the lacklustre support offered by the federal government’s flight discount package to South Australia’s tourism industry, Steven Marshall needs to step up and provide more targeted economic support to help our tourism operators survive,” Bettison said this morning.
“With JobKeeper scheme set to end in the coming weeks, the Marshall Liberal Government need to invest in substantive job saving programs to protect jobs in our tourism industry.”
Prince Philip leaves hospital
Prince Philip has left a London hospital after a four-week stay for treatment for an infection and to have a heart procedure.
Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, was admitted to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital on February 16 after he felt unwell and was given treatment for an unspecified but not COVID-19-related illness.
He was transferred briefly at the start of this month to a specialist cardiac centre at another London hospital, where he underwent a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition.
On Tuesday morning, London time, he was escorted outside the hospital in a wheelchair to a waiting car and returned to Windsor Castle to rejoin his wife, waving to those outside as he arrived.
“I am thrilled about it,” Philip’s eldest son Prince Charles, the heir to the throne, said of the news while on a visit to a vaccination centre.
Buckingham Palace issued a statement in which the duke thanked the medical staff and all those who had sent their good wishes.
A royal source said the prince was in good spirits.
The Queen, 94, has remained at Windsor, the royal residence west of London, where the couple have been staying during the coronavirus pandemic and has continued to carry out her official duties by video.
Both she and Philip have received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose.
The Greek-born prince, who turns 100 in June, has required hospital treatment a number of times in the last decade for a recurrence of a bladder infection.
UK cop to go on trial for Everard murder
A British police officer will go on trial in October over the kidnap and murder of Sarah Everard whose killing has drawn worldwide attention and sparked protests and demands across the UK that police, government and society act to stop male violence against women.
Everard, 33, was abducted as she walked home from a friend’s house in south London on March 3, with her body later found in woodland around 80km away in southeast England.
Wayne Couzens, 48, a London officer whose role it was to guard diplomatic premises, appeared by videolink from prison at the British capital’s Old Bailey central criminal court on Tuesday.
A provisional trial date was set for October 25 and he is due to enter a plea in July. Couzens, who police said needed treatment for a head injury while in custody, had a noticeable cut on his forehead.
He made no application for bail.
The murder of Everard has provoked outpourings of anger from women who have recounted their own experiences and fears of walking the streets on their own at night.
Police have faced severe criticism for how they handled a vigil for the murdered woman on Saturday when officers scuffled with mourners.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired a meeting on Monday night to discuss what reassurances women could be given, and the government promised more money for better street lighting and to pilot schemes where plain clothes officers would visit pubs and clubs to “identify predatory and suspicious offenders”.
“The horrific case of Sarah Everard has unleashed a wave of feeling about women not feeling safe at night,” Johnson said.
“We must do everything we can to ensure our streets are safe.”
-With AAP and Reuters
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