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What we know today, Sunday March 21


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

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Nepean Valley at grave flooding risk

Sydney’s Hawkesbury Nepean Valley – incorporating major urban centre Penrith – is set to cop its worst flooding in 60 years as people around NSW are forced from their homes by incessant rain.

The state’s emergency service, meanwhile, says it will be working beyond Easter on the post-flood clean-up effort and restoration of key services.

Residents in Pitt Town Bottoms, Pitt Town North, Cornwallis, North Richmond, Grono’s Point, Freemans Reach and Agnes Banks west of Sydney were told to evacuate on Sunday as the Hawkesbury River flooded.

The Bureau of Meteorology’s Justin Robinson on Sunday said the Hawkesbury Nepean Valley would experience its worst flooding since 1961, with the spilling of a full Warragamba Dam prompting concern.

Warragamba was hit by more than 150mm of rain in the 24 hours to 9am on Sunday, and more than 250mm over the past four days.

The Nepean River at Penrith could rise as high as 10 metres by 9pm, while the river at Richmond and Windsor could peak around 16m on Monday.

“It is one of the biggest floods we are likely to see for a very long time … flood waters at Penrith are expected to then move downstream and impact those communities at North Richmond, Windsor, Sackville,” Mr Robinson said.

Elsewhere, the Sydney CBD was drenched by 110mm of rain over the same 24-hour period, while 120mm hit Hornsby and 168mm reached Katoomba.

The bureau’s Agata Imielska said the severity of rain hitting greater Sydney would ease from Sunday night, but the mid-north coast would continue to be drenched and inland NSW would be deluged from Monday.

Ms Imielska said the NSW northwest slopes and plains would receive four times more rain in two days than the entire March monthly average.

SES Deputy Commissioner Daniel Austin told the ABC the service was dealing with downed trees, power outages, clearing of debris and damage to houses.

The SES has responded to almost 7000 calls for help since Thursday.

Teenage girls arrested over Adelaide stabbing

A man was taken to hospital and two teenage girls arrested following a serious assault in the CBD overnight.

Police and paramedics were called to a convenience store on Hindley Street just after 1am on Sunday, where

A 15-year-old from Auldana and a 16-year-old from Cumberland Park were allegedly in a back room of a convenience store when they were found by a man.

The girls allegedly stabbed the man in the back with what police described as a small knife, before fleeing.

Patrols were quickly on scene arresting one of the teens nearby while the second suspect was located in the bathroom of a nearby business and arrested.

The victim was taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital for treatment of a minor stab wound.

The girls have both been charged with assault cause serious harm and bailed to appear in the Adelaide Youth Court on 30 April.

Victoria mandates consent classes in schools

Consent classes will soon be made mandatory for students in Victorian state schools over concerns the issue wasn’t always being addressed head-on.

Acting Premier James Merlino has moved to make teaching consent compulsory in all government schools from next month under an expansion of the Respectful Relationship program.

The initiative previously did not explicitly direct schools to teach consent and instead focused on relationships, sexuality and safety.

From term two, the new directive will compel state schools to teach the government’s Respectful Relationships training on free agreements.

Mr Merlino said Victoria and other states should not be complacent on ensuring consent was taught well in classrooms.

Port Adelaide defeats North Melbourne

Port Adelaide has defeated North Melbourne by 52 points at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.

The Roos started well with the scores close at quarter time, but the Power kicked away with an eight-goal second term before securing a 17.15 (117) to 9.11 (65) victory.

In his first game for the club star recruit Orazio Fantasia kicked four goals, while Charlie Dixon and Todd Marshall booted two each.

Travis Boak was strong in the midfield, but copped a corkie late in the third term.

NSW cops most extreme rain in decades

Riverbanks have burst, dams are spilling over, roads are cut and residents are being evacuated as NSW faces its worst rain event in almost three decades.

Residents in the Pitt Town Bottoms, Cornwallis and North Richmond areas west of Sydney were told to evacuate overnight as the Hawkesbury River began to flood.

Bellingen residents and people at a tourist park were also advised to evacuate because of the risk of flooding along the Bellinger River.

Evacuation centres were established at Richmond and Bellingen, adding to several others opened in the Mid North Coast and Hunter regions.

Major flooding is occurring along the Hawkesbury River at North Richmond where the river level is rising.

NSW SES is directing people within the northern end of low lying areas of Agnes Banks to evacuate the high danger area using the Castlereagh Road Evacuation Route.

Moderate flooding continues along the Colo River, while flooding could also occur along the Nepean River and Colo River.

Parts of Port Macquarie and nearby towns have flooded and further south Taree is in the grip of a flood rivalling its worst on record nearly 100 years ago.

Sydney’s main water source the Warragamba dam started spilling over on Saturday afternoon, causing river levels to rise along the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said weather modelling predicted it could be a one-in-25-year rain event.

“This will be a deep-seated, extreme weather event,” she told reporters.

Many areas across eastern NSW recorded more than 100mm of rain over the past 24 hours, particularly in the Blue Mountains. Picton received 159mm and Oakdale recorded 139mm.

The Bureau of Meteorology says greater Sydney, the Mid North Coast and Central Tablelands areas will see more heavy rain on Sunday, with some areas potentially facing more than a metre of rain in the space of a week.

Emergency crews kept working through the night, having already made more than 500 floodwater rescues.

A bodyboarder in his 60s went missing off the coast of Coffs Harbour on Saturday afternoon and crews will resume the search on Sunday morning.

The heavy rain will see the COVID-19 vaccination rollout delayed due to roads flooding.

Strong winds have also caused damage, with a small tornado ripping through Chester Hill High School in Sydney’s west.

Interstate arrest after Adelaide house fire

A man has died in hospital and another has been arrested interstate three days after a house fire in Adelaide that police believe was deliberately lit.

The Woodville West blaze was quickly brought under control and damage confined to the lounge room after two fire crews were called to the Calendar Place home shortly before 4am on Wednesday.

A 31-year-old man and two women, aged 27 and 28, inside were taken to the Royal Adelaide Hospital with serious burns.

Police said in a statement on Saturday the man died overnight in hospital.

Meanwhile a man wanted for questioning over the fire was arrested after he was spotted driving in country NSW.

The 32-year-old from Woodville West was taken to a Sydney Hospital, where he remains in custody under police guard on a South Australian warrant for attempted murder.

Those charges are now expected to be upgraded to murder.

SA Police are in talks with their NSW counterparts to extradite the man back to South Australia.

Native title laws not balanced: study

Some top mining companies are flouting international human rights conventions when negotiating with Indigenous Australians over land use, a study has found.

Companies, including Origin Energy and Glencore, have failed to adequately obtain consent from traditional owners for some projects, RMIT University researchers say.

They’re able to do so because native title and land rights laws don’t require companies to gain free, prior and informed consent from traditional landowners, RMIT Business and Human Rights Centre director Shelley Marshall says.

“Our research reveals a legal framework and corporate behaviour that refuses to acknowledge lack of consent,” she said.

The companies disagree.

The report calls for Origin Energy to cease fracking in the Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Basin and engage with traditional owners over whether there is consent for the work under its mining leases.

Bravus Mining and Resources – formally Adani Mining – should stop work at its Galilee Mine site in Queensland, Abbot Point port and railway until traditional owners give consent, the recommendations say.

The report also calls on Glencore to establish and work with an independent self-determining community group – comprised of the four traditional owner clans affected by the McArthur River Mine in the NT – to gain consent.

Lachlan Murphy celebrates a goal with the Adelaide Oval crowd in the Crows Rd 1 win over Geelong. Image: InDaily/Michael Errey.

Adelaide stun Geelong in AFL upset

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks says his AFL players have delivered a healthy dose of belief with a shock 12-point win against Geelong.

In the first boilover of the season, last year’s wooden-spooners stunned last year’s beaten grand finalists with a 15.13 (103) to 13.13 (91) win at Adelaide Oval.

Spearhead Taylor Walker kicked five goals to inspire the unfancied Crows, who lost three players to injury.

“We had a few soldiers down early,” Nicks said.

“For the boys to hang on and grit it out, I thought their intensity was the best I have seen.”

Adelaide backman Jake Kelly was concussed in a collision with Geelong ace Patrick Dangerfield.

The pair, both at full throttle, clashed heads with Dangerfield certain to attract match review scrutiny.

Kelly’s injury substitute Mitch Hinge then dislocated his right shoulder twice and the Crows also lost half-back Luke Brown to an Achilles injury.

Walker kicked four goals in the first half as Adelaide built a 43 point lead by the 13th minute of the third term, before Geelong finally clicked into gear with four unanswered goals in nine minutes.

But the Cats, 19 points down at three quarter-time, were then unable to make much headway.

The Crows midfield, headed by Rory Laird (27 disposals, six tackles), Ben Keays (23 possessions, eight inside 50s), and skipper Rory Sloane (20 touches), shaded their highly-rated opponents.

For Geelong, Brownlow medallist Dangerfield was a standout with 26 disposals featuring eight inside 50s.

UK, US hit vaccine milestones

Half of all adults in the UK have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, becoming the world’s first major economy to hit that milestone.

Health minister Matt Hancock says the figure had been reached after a daily record of 660,276 shots were administered on Friday.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson got his first vaccine dose on Friday, receiving AstraZeneca’s shot, which several European countries had temporarily stopped using last week over safety fears.

Israel is the world leader in vaccinating its population, followed by the United Arab Emirates, Chile and then the UK.

The United States has meanwhile cleared President Joe Biden’s goal of injecting 100 million coronavirus shots, more than a month before his target date of his 100th day in office.

This as the president prepared to set his sights higher in the nationwide vaccination effort. The nation is now administering about 2.5 million shots a day.

Biden, who promised to set a new goal for vaccinations next week, suggested the possibility of setting a 200 million dose goal by his 100th day in office.

Global pressure on Myanmar grows

Opponents of Myanmar’s coup have protested again as international pressure on the military junta to halt its repression of pro-democracy supporters increased, with Asian neighbours joining Western countries in condemning lethal force.

A young man was shot and killed on Saturday in one of the most turbulent neighbourhoods of the main city of Yangon, a resident and media reported, taking the death toll since the February 1 coup to 238.

The bloodshed has not quelled public abhorrence for the return of military rule and anger over the ouster of the elected government and the detention of its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.

On Saturday, dozens of demonstrators gathered in the second city of Mandalay. Several were injured when a vehicle drove into them and when police fired rubber bullets, a city news portal reported. It was not clear why the vehicle hit the protesters.

There were small protests in other towns, including Kyaukme and Hsipaw in the northeast.

Hundreds marched in the town of Monywa and burned a copy of the 2008 constitution, which was drafted under military supervision and limits the political role of civilians.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday condemned what he called the military’s continuing brutal violence. A “firm, unified international response” was urgently needed, his spokesman quoted him as saying.

The US House of Representatives approved legislation condemning the coup, and lawmakers decried the increasingly harsh tactics against the demonstrators.

Olympics to be held without overseas fans

The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics have decided to prohibit overseas spectators from attending this summer’s Games due to the coronavirus pandemic.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) chief Andrew Parsons respected Tokyo’s decision when considering the safety of Games participants and Japanese people, organising committee president Seiko Hashimoto said on Saturday.

“We share the disappointment of all enthusiastic Olympic fans from around the world, and of course the families and friends of the athletes, who were planning to come to the Games,” Bach said.

Bach had warned at the opening of a five-party meeting with the IPC, Tokyo organisers, the Japanese government and Tokyo’s city government that decisions could be taken “which may need sacrifice from everybody.”

It is “very unfortunate” not to welcome overseas spectators, Hashimoto said after the meeting.

The Tokyo Games were postponed from last year due to the pandemic and are due to open on July 23.

The torch relay is to start on March 25 in Fukushima amid a strict hygiene protocol.

The committee will refund overseas fans who have already purchased tickets with a total of 630,000 tickets having already been sold, according to committee chief executive Toshiro Muto.

The decision comes amid fears of a resurgence of new infections and increasing cases of new strains of the coronavirus in Japan.

-With AAP and Reuters

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