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What we know today, Thursday April 1

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Today’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad. An SA man who shot his son and his son’s girlfriend at close range in August last year has been sentenced to at least 34 years jail.

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SA killer sentenced to 34 years jail

A “monster” who shot his son and his son’s girlfriend at close range, pausing to reload between the killings as the young woman frantically called for help, has been jailed for at least 34 years.

Pawel Klosowski faced the South Australian Supreme Court on Thursday where Justice Anne Bampton said the “anguish and heart-wrenching pain” he had caused for the families involved was profound.

Fuelled by alcohol and enraged over an argument the 46-year-old’s conduct became “irrational, reactive and ultimately violent”, the judge said.

Klosowski had earlier pleaded guilty to the murders of his son Lukasz Klosowski and Chelsea Ireland, both aged 19, at his rural southeast property in August last year.

In recent submissions, the former truck driver admitted he could not explain his actions but thought about what he had done every day.

“I acted like a monster. The world would be a better place if I had shot myself instead,” he said.

But prosecutor Kos Lesses said the apology was “too little, too late”.

Lesses said the shootings followed a row between Klosowski and his son after the teenager had indicated his intention to move out of his mother’s house.

“The offending came about due to the insulting of the defendant’s pride,” the prosecutor said.

“And it was fuelled by the combination of two fatal causes, anger and alcohol.”

Justice Brampton detailed how the argument had escalated with the killer berating his son at one stage for crying like a “little baby”.

Acting deliberately and with purpose, Klosowski had retrieved the keys to his gun safe and loaded a shotgun before putting extra rounds in his pocket.

Lukasz was shot first in a bedroom and Klosowski had then reloaded his gun before firing at the locked bathroom door where Ms Ireland had hidden and called triple zero.

A second shot had killed her with her body found in the bath.

Because of his early guilty pleas, Klosowski was entitled to up to a 40 per cent discount on his minimum jail term. But Justice Bampton said such a discount would affect public confidence in the administration of justice.

The judge said the killings were at the higher end of the scale for murder offences.

“You were intoxicated, your pride was insulted and you became so enraged that you pursued your son upstairs,” she said.

“Having shot and killed him, you pursued Chelsea and shot her dead.”

The judge imposed the mandatory head sentence of life in jail and set a non-parole-period of 34 years, meaning Klosowski will be 80 before eligible for release.

Outside the court, Greg Ireland, the father of Chelsea said both families would “never understand how this happened”.

“Today marks the end of one incredibly difficult chapter and tomorrow we continue the much more difficult task of learning to live without Chelsea and Lukasz,” he said.

“They were just beautiful, beautiful kids.

“We’ve all got life sentences, but we’re thinking this will probably be a life sentence for him as well.”

The mother of Lukasz, Magda Pearce, said the teenagers were “so good together”.

“We just want them back. They should be here,” she said.

House prices growing at fastest rate in 32 years

Australian house prices are growing at their fastest monthly pace in 32 years with Sydney’s 3.7 per cent increase in March leading the pack, although Adelaide’s 1.5 per cent increase was the smallest in the nation.

Demand for home loans eased slightly in February, declining 0.4 per cent to $28.6 billion mortgages, after striking a record high the previous month.

The value of new loan commitments for owner occupier housing fell 1.8 per cent in February 2021, although it remained 55.2 per cent higher than in February 2020, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

Investor home loans rose 4.5 per cent, to be up 31.6 per cent on the year.

The CoreLogic national home value index recorded a 2.8 per cent rise in March, with strong growth conditions across the country.

Sydney prices have now grown 6.7 per cent in the past three months.

“The last time Sydney housing values recorded a quarterly trend this strong was in June-July 2015,” CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless said.

“Following this brief surge, the pace of growth rapidly slowed as limits on investor lending kicked in to slow the market.”

Financial regulators are keeping a close watch on the latest housing market developments.

The two biggest markets, Sydney and Melbourne, have made a “remarkable recovery”, Lawless said.

Sydney dwelling values are now 2.6 per cent higher than their July 2017 peak having dropped 14.9 per cent to May 2019 and the further 2.8 per cent during the COVID-19 downturn.

Similarly, Melbourne housing values have recovered from the 11.1 per cent fall between 2017 and 2019, and the 5.6 per cent drop in values through the worst of the virus-related downturn, to set a new record high in March.

For the first time in a year, growth in capital city housing values outpaced the regional markets.

CoreLogic’s combined capital cities index recorded a 2.8 per cent lift in March compared with the 2.5 per cent gain seen across the combined regionals index.

Suez canal investigation begins

Divers have inspected the hull of the Ever Given as the man tasked with investigating how the giant ship ran aground, choking off international trade through the Suez Canal for almost a week, boarded the vessel.

Lead investigator Captain Sayed Sheasha, who boarded the Ever Given on Wednesday afternoon, says the investigation will examine the seaworthiness of the ship and its captain’s actions.

Divers had gone to check the hull of the ship while it is anchored in the Bitter Lakes area, a canal source said.

The Ever Given’s captain was committed to fully complying with the probe, Sheasha said.

“The ship will remain in the lakes area until the investigations are complete,” Suez Canal Authority Chairman Osama Rabie told local television late on Wednesday, adding there was no definite inquiry time frame.

Rabie also said investigators on Wednesday questioned the crew.

“The amount of damage and losses and how much the dredgers consumed will be calculated,” he said without specifying who would pay and whether Egypt has already sought compensation.

“Estimates, God willing, will reach a billion dollars and a little bit more, this is the country’s right.”

The six-day blockage threw global supply chains into disarray after the 400-metre-long ship became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal, the shortest shipping route between Europe and Asia.

The SCA said on Wednesday shipping had returned to normal, with a total of 81 ships transiting the canal.

Egypt’s Leth Agencies said on Wednesday a total of 163 ships had transited the Suez Canal since its reopening and that 292 ships were currently waiting.

Five liquefied natural gas vessels transited on Tuesday, commodities analysts Kpler said in a note, adding that it appeared congestion at the canal was “now quickly tapering off”.

The SCA has scheduled accelerated shipping convoys and has said it hopes the backlog of ships can be cleared by the end of the week.

The blocking of the canal is expected to give rise to flurry of insurance claims, with Lloyd’s of London expecting a “large loss”, possibly amounting to $US100 million ($A131 million) or more, according to its chairman.

Greater Brisbane lockdown to end

The Greater Brisbane lockdown will end at 12pm today after only one new case of community transmission was recorded in Queensland.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was satisfied that three days of tough restrictions had worked as a circuit breaker to manage the state’s two clusters.

“If you have plans, the lockdown is lifted from 12 noon today,” she said.

“Easter is good to go.”

More than two million Queenslanders will be free of the stay-at-home restrictions that came into force on Monday as the state tried to contain two separate clusters linked to healthcare workers.

The lockdown was due to end at 5pm on Thursday, but has been brought forward to midday.

Two new cases of community transmission were recorded in Greater Brisbane on Wednesday, with genomic tests showing they were linked to a growing cluster involving 10 infections in Queensland and one in the northern NSW town of Byron Bay.

Wednesday’s two new cases were a nurse who worked in the coronavirus ward of Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital, and that nurse’s flatmate.

Another nurse who worked in the same ward also tested positive for the virus earlier this month.

In both cases, genetic sequencing traced their infections back to a traveller who was treated in the ward after returning from India.

The first nurse who was infected travelled to Byron Bay with her sister at the weekend. She did not realise she was sick or that she’d infected her sibling.

During a weekend away for a hen’s night, they infected others in their group.

A man they happened to sit near them at the town’s popular Byron Beach Hotel has also tested positive, sparking health alerts in NSW and also resulting in the cancellation of Byron Bay’s Bluesfest music festival which was set to attract thousands of visitors this weekend.

The Queensland lockdown decision comes at a crucial time for the country’s tourism industry currently reeling at the end of JobKeeper while also hoping to see a boost in numbers from the federal government’s half-priced flights subsidy scheme – with discounted airfares going on sale today.

Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said he was sure the Greater Brisbane lockdown would only be temporary, as he encouraged Australians to take up the offer and book a domestic holiday ahead of time.

“It’s very important to remember that all the other destinations in Australia are open and people can travel to them,” Tehan told Seven News on Wednesday.

“We know that we will be able to deal with these outbreaks of the virus, so people should have the confidence to travel again.”

Adelaide announced as host city for Women’s World Cup

Adelaide will host matches at the Women’s World Cup in 2023, FIFA has announced this morning.

The soon-to-be redeveloped Hindmarsh stadium will be the site for Adelaide’s World Cup fixtures.

The venue was earmarked for a $45 million upgrade at the last state budget in November 2020, with the stadium’s capacity set to increase to nearly 20,000 people.

Adelaide will host games alongside Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane, as well as Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Dunedin in New Zealand.

The World Cup is due to kick off on July 20, 2023 in Auckland, with the final to be played at Sydney Olympic Stadium on August 20.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino said the tournament would create a “lasting legacy” for women’s football in Australia.

“The appointment of the nine host cities represents a major milestone for the next FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, as well as for players and football fans across Australia, New Zealand and around the world,” Infantino said.

“Building on the incredible success of France 2019 both on and off the pitch, the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 and nine Host Cities across Australia and New Zealand will not only showcase the world’s very best players, but will also provide a powerful platform to unite and inspire people, transform lives and create a lasting legacy for women’s football in Australia and New Zealand and around the world.”

FIFA says the event will attract over one billion TV viewers.

The decision on where the games will be played was made after an eight-month review process involving each of the 12 candidate cities and 13 stadiums.

The Women’s World Cup in France in 2019 used nine stadiums

“The FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 will be the biggest sporting event on Australian soil since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, showcasing Australia and New Zealand to a global audience of over one billion people,” Football Australia president Chris Nikou said.

“Today’s announcement of the Host Cities and match venues for the tournament is a major milestone in the build-up to the next FIFA Women’s World Cup – a tournament that will unite nations, inspire generations, and provide our diverse and multicultural game with the perfect platform to grow over the coming years.”

SA Power Networks staff to strike as unions prepare for public rally

Workers at SA Power Networks will go on strike today and join a public rally alongside South Australia’s paramedics, firefighters, nurses and midwives to demand more resources for the state’s essential services.

The protest – scheduled to start at 12pm in Victoria Square followed by a march to Parliament House – was organised last month by the Ambulance Employees Association (AEA) who are currently engaged in a protracted and bitter four-year industrial dispute with the government over resourcing for the ambulance service.

Opposition Senate Leader Penny Wong, AEA Secretary Phil Palmer and United Firefighters Union secretary Max Adlam will be among those speaking on the steps of Parliament House.

The Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union announced late on Wednesday that some of their members who work for SA Power Networks would down  tools for four hours on Thursday to join the protest.

The electricians are also engaged in ongoing enterprise bargaining negotiations with their employer, which began in June 2020.

The union says the most recent log of claims put forward by the state’s electricity distributor last week contained cuts to wages and removed limitations on the use of third party contractors – increasing job insecurity for permanent employees.

“We oppose SA Power’s cynical attempts to slash wages and cut working conditions during enterprise bargaining negotiations and members have voted to take industrial action over the coming weeks,” Professionals Australia Director Sarah Andrews said.

“It’s time SA Power ends its attacks on the workers and professionals providing essential services to our community, and comes to the bargaining table in good faith.”

SA Power Networks said arrangements were in place to minimise any potential service disruption for customers, and described the union’s claims about proposed wage cuts as “totally misleading and inflammatory”.

“SA Power Networks is seeking efficiency improvements as part of a negotiated Enterprise Agreement outcome aimed at ensuring the business remains Australia’s most efficient electricity distributon,” a spokesman said.

“The union claim that we are proposing to cut employee wages and conditions is totally misleading and inflammatory. We previously proposed a two per cent pay rise with no other change to terms and conditions that was rejected by unions and employees.

“We will continue to bargain in good faith for a new enterprise agreement.”

AEA Secretary Phil Palmer said he expects to see more than 200 paramedics at today’s protest.

“What we want to do is put a message to the government that the people who voted them into government have been let down by them, have been put at risk by them, because they want to do some kind of bargaining with the paramedics over more staff,” Palmer told InDaily.

Treasurer Rob Lucas, who is also responsible for industrial relations, last week offered to employ 50 additional paramedics and said the State Government was “committed to employing even more” when enterprise bargaining arrangements are resolved.

The Government is seeking reforms to rostering and meal breaks in return.

This includes shifting paramedics from 12 hour shifts to eight- and 10-hour shifts, and ensuring paramedics take meal breaks at their nearest station and not their home station – which can be up to 35km away.

The Government and the AEA will meet for their next mediation meeting on Wednesday, April 7.

SA euthanasia bill passes second reading vote

Voluntary assisted dying legislation in South Australia has passed another legislative hurdle, with the Upper House last night waving the controversial bill through its second reading with a final vote set for May.

The euthanasia legislation, sponsored by Labor MLC Kyam Maher and Deputy Opposition Leader Susan Close, is modelled on a similar bill passed in Victoria in 2017.

It includes 68 safeguards and a provision that someone applying to end their life early due to terminal illness must have been a resident in SA for at least 12 months.

It is South Australia 17th attempt in 25 years to pass voluntary euthanasia laws.

Last night’s vote means the legislation will now go to the committee review stage before a final conscience vote is scheduled to take place in the Upper House on May 5.

In an emotional sitting of the Legislative Council, politicians from both sides of aisle expressed differing and deeply held personal views on the matter informed by previous life experiences.

Maher sought to ease concerns of those opposed to the legislation that the new laws could lead to coercion or misuse.

“Nothing in this bill will make anyone do anything,” Maher told the Upper House.

“It will not force any terminally ill patient to avail themselves to a scheme of assisted dying. It will not force any health practitioner to participate in a scheme if their conscience doesn’t allow them to.

“But making a decision against this bill certainly will actively stop people who wish to avail themselves to a voluntary assisted dying scheme in those last months of a terminal illness.”

Treasurer Rob Lucas, who has opposed euthanasia legislation since the 1980s, said his views were a minority in the Upper House.

“I know that in this particular chamber, whilst the view that I held years ago was the majority view in the chamber on euthanasia, it is very much a minority view at this particular time,” Lucas said.

“But I can not, will not, and don’t have to subscribe to the view that because of a poll says the majority people say I should vote a particular way that that’s the way that I should vote on that particular issue.”

Tasmania passed voluntary assisted dying laws through both houses of their state parliament last week, following Victoria and Western Australia as the third state to legalise euthanasia.

Elsewhere in SA Parliament last night, the Government passed a motion in the House of Assembly to establish an inquiry into claims of bullying made against the Labor Party by former MP Annabel Digance.

France ordered into third national lockdown

President Emmanuel Macron has ordered France into its third national lockdown and said schools would close for three weeks as he sought to push back a third wave of COVID-19 infections that threatens to overwhelm hospitals.

With the death toll nearing 100,000, intensive care units in the hardest-hit regions at breaking point and a slower-than-planned vaccine rollout, Macron was forced to abandon his goal of keeping the country open to protect the economy.

“We will lose control if we do not move now,” the president said in a televised address to the nation.

His announcement means that movement restrictions already in place for more than a week in Paris, and some northern and southern regions, will now apply to the whole country for at least a month, from Saturday.

Departing from his pledge to safeguard education from the pandemic, Macron said schools will close for three weeks after this weekend.

Macron, 43, has sought to avoid a third large-scale lockdown since the start of the year, betting that if he could steer France out of the pandemic without locking the country down again he would give the economy a chance to recover from last year’s slump.

But his options narrowed as more contagious strains of the coronavirus swept across France and much of Europe.

For schoolchildren after this weekend, learning will be done remotely for a week, after which all schools go on a two-week holiday. Thereafter, nursery and primary pupils will return to school while middle and high school pupils continue distance learning for an extra week.

“It is the best solution to slow down the virus,” Macron said, adding that France had succeeded in keeping its schools open for longer during the pandemic than many neighbours.

Daily new infections in France have doubled since February to nearly 40,000. The number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care has breached 5,000, exceeding the peak hit during a six-week-long lockdown late last year.

Bed capacity in critical care units will be increased to 10,000, Macron said.

The new restrictions risk slowing the pace of recovery in the euro zone’s second-largest economy from last year’s slump.

Macron said the vaccine rollout needed to be accelerated. It is only now finding its stride three months in, with just 12 per cent of the population inoculated.

Italy makes COVID vaccine mandatory for all health workers

All health workers in Italy must have coronavirus jabs, the government said on Wednesday, in a potentially controversial move aimed at protecting vulnerable patients and pushing back against anti-vaccination sentiment.

Italy has an entrenched anti-vaccination movement and the recent discovery of clusters in hospitals after staff refused to have shots has sparked outcry in a country where more than 109,000 people have died of the disease.

However government critics have questioned the legality of forcing only some categories of workers into having a vaccine.

Wednesday’s decree approved by Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s cabinet says health workers, including pharmacists, “are required to undergo vaccination”. Those who refuse could be suspended without pay for the rest of the year.

“The aim of the measure is to protect as much as possible both medical and paramedical staff and those who are in environments that may be more exposed to the risk of infection,” the government said in a statement.

The decree also introduces legal protection for those who administer the shots, a measure doctors and nurses had demanded after medics were placed under investigation for manslaughter following the death of a vaccinated man in Sicily.

Italy, whose vaccine campaign has been hampered by supply delays which prompted the country to block 250,000 AstraZeneca exports to Australia, has pledged to reach 500,000 daily inoculations in April from around 230,000 at present.

Some 10 million doses have been administered in Italy since late December, with around 3.1 million of the country’s 60-million-strong population receiving the recommended two shots.

Italy has seen a resurgence in coronavirus infections and deaths over the last month and the government has tightened restrictions on businesses and movements to contain the virus.

-With AAP and Reuters

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