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What we know today, Friday April 16

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Today’s breaking news from South Australia, the nation and abroad. The State Government says a new $5.4 million program will help South Australian wineries target new export markets as the sector grapples with the ongoing impact of tariffs from China.

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SA Govt targets new markets for local wine exports

The State Government says a new $5.4 million program will help South Australian wineries target new export markets as the sector grapples with the ongoing impact of tariffs from China.

The Wine Export Recovery and Expansion Program, announced by the State Government today, will push SA wine brands through marketing channels like wine.com and Vivino and support tasting programs in overseas countries.

The program will also include e-commerce and retail campaigns, virtual business to business events, and a “significant” inbound trade event when international travel resumes.

It comes after Chinese tariffs on Australian wine cost the sector $100 million in the last three months of 2020.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce announced in November last year it would impose interim tariffs of between 107.1 per cent and 212.1 per cent on Australian wine in containers of up to two litres, following an “anti-dumping” inquiry.

China confirmed last month these tariffs will continue for at least five years.

South Australian wineries account for around 50 per cent of Australia’s wine production, 70 per cent of Australia’s wine exports, and 80 per cent of Australia’s premium wine exports, according to the State Government.

Premier Steven Marshall said the new program would help wine exporters recover from the “serious” challenges they have faced over the last year.

“Through this new Wine Export Recovery and Expansion Program, we’re supporting wine businesses to expand business-to-business opportunities for new-to-market companies, brand promotion, wine education and international trade visits, when travel is permitted,” Marshall said.

The new program will target the established markets of the US, UK and Canada, along with the developing markets of Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand, and the emerging markets of the UAE, Thailand, Vietnam, Scandinavia, Western Europe and India.

The State Government says the program will focus on generating commercial outcomes for existing wine brands established markets, expanding access to new markets and channels, and creating “positive sentiment” across all markets for SA wine.

Minister for Trade and Investment Stephen Patterson said the program was developed in consultation with regional, state and national wine industries.

“This program will deliver further assistance by delivering business-to-business virtual events for new channel development and sales, leveraging our network of overseas trade offices,” Patterson said.

The program will be funded through the Economic and Business Growth fund, and will rollout from July 1, 2021.

PM flags new climate policies

Scott Morrison has flagged new measures to combat climate change in next month’s federal budget, admitting natural disasters have tested the nation’s resilience.

The prime minister on Friday continued his charm offensive in Western Australia, addressing a business breakfast in the mining epicentre of Karratha in the state’s Pilbara region.

He was later due to visit an ammonia plant before heading to Kalbarri to inspect the widespread damage inflicted by Tropical Cyclone Seroja.

Morrison said the nation had faced significant challenges, with Seroja preceded by floods and bushfires across much of the country.

“We have gone through a period in this country where the resilience has been tested,” he told the function.

“And a key focus of the government, and you’ll see more of this in the budget and announcements in the weeks ahead, it’s about addressing all of those practical issues.

“There are things we can and must do to address Australia’s climate challenges.”

Morrison said reducing emissions could not come at the expense of the resources industry, which he hailed as the backbone of the national economy.

He said companies such as Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group were showing leadership with their drive towards using renewable energy to power their operations.

Fortescue has set a target of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030, exceeding Australia’s goal of “preferably” reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

“What we have to be able to do in meeting that challenge is demonstrate how we can do that and ensure that the heavy industries that exist in our country are part of that solution,” Morrison said.

“And that they’re there in 2050, and not just there but stronger than they are today.

“One of the genuine concerns that people around the country have about those type of commitments is that they see it being achieved at the expense of these sorts of jobs and industries.

“My commitment is to ensure that we meet these commitments and at the same time and going further, continue to see a stronger heavy industry, whether it’s in manufacturing, whether it’s in resources or the many other sectors that are so reliant on an energy economy.”

The prime minister on Thursday night shared a beer with workers at Fortescue’s Christmas Creek camp where he stayed the night.

He attended the morning shift changeover at the mine’s ore processing plant on Friday morning and was invited by Forrest to join in with daily stretching exercises to the strains of Jimmy Barnes’ Working Class Man.

Pfizer CEO: third vax shot ‘likely’ needed

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla predicts that people who have received the company’s COVID-19 vaccine will “likely” need a third booster shot within a year to maintain protection against the virus.

“It is extremely important to suppress the pool of people that can be susceptible to the virus,” Bourla told CNBC on Thursday.

The pharmaceutical chief said it’s also possible that people will need to get inoculated every year against coronavirus.

Pfizer had said as early as February that it was testing booster shots in case it was determined they would be needed.

Moderna, the competitor whose vaccine uses a similar so-called messenger RNA platform as Pfizer’s, has also said it is testing booster shots.

Albanese slams ‘creep’ Laming

Anthony Albanese has launched a full-throated attack against “creep” Andrew Laming while announcing Labor’s candidate for his Queensland seat.

The federal opposition leader said Dr Laming had brought politics into disrepute by harassing two women and taking a photograph of another without her consent while her underwear was exposed.

“This is a creep,” Albanese told reporters today, standing outside the incumbent MP’s electorate office in Cleveland.

“This guy has not represented this local community. And the LNP have kept him here.”

Albanese said the prime minister personally supported Laming’s preselection before the last election, and was allowing him to stay in the coalition party room despite his inappropriate behaviour.

“We know that he’s engaged in behaviour, trolling his own constituents on Facebook, hiding behind bushes and jumping out and taking photos of people,” he said.

“We know that he has trolled the local state member, Kim Richards. We know that he took an inappropriate photo of a woman at work and that had to be deleted from his camera.”

Laming has been given a month of paid leave to seek counselling and empathy training.

He will return to parliament next month but will not recontest the next election.

Despite his misbehaviour, the prime minister has not expelled him from the party, because doing so would plunge the coalition into minority government.

Labor has selected Donisha Duff as its candidate for the Liberal-leaning electorate of Bowman.

She is an Indigenous health expert who has lived in the local community of Redlands for more than 30 years.

New drug candidate to fight COVID-19

A drug described as potential new immunotherapy for COVID-19 will enter a clinical trial in the USA led by former Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer.

Developed by Brisbane and Seattle-based company, Implicit Bioscience, the drug IC14 will this week be tested in COVID-19 patients in 10-15 hospitals across the United States.

The new drug, for which Frazer is the clinical immunologist and chief scientific officer, will treat immune responses to COVID-19 and its health complications.

Its aim is to reduce recovery time and the severity of symptoms of patients infected with coronavirus.

IC14 is a monoclonal – meaning binding to one substance – antibody that works by dampening damaging levels of immune response to viral infections that result in respiratory distress and serious damage to the patient’s lungs, heart, kidneys, brain and other organs.

The drug will be supplied by Implicit Bioscience, with the hopes of testing its use in treating hospitalised COVID-19 patients with respiratory disease and low blood oxygen in combination with the antiviral drug remdesivir.

Co-founder Frazer, who was named the 2006 Australian of the Year, says a strategy of widespread prevention remains vital to developing viable treatments that help people who experience a life-threatening response to the virus.

“The emergence of new viral strains that may be resistant to current vaccines and drugs highlights the pressing need for interventions to help people during the early stages of COVID-19 respiratory disease,” he said.

“IC14 represents a world-first approach to treating the effects of COVID-19 and we are energised by the opportunity to participate in this important study.

“IC14 targets CD14, a master regulator of the immune response to infection and cellular damage, that is implicated in more than 500 diseases.”

The study will enrol between 300-500 hospitalised COVID-19 patients aged over 18 across the USA, with the team monitoring the participants for 60 days.

The drug is administered via intravenous infusion and volunteer participants will be assigned at random to receive infusions of either IC14 or a placebo for four days.

Neither the participants nor the study team will know who receives the monoclonal antibody or the placebo until the end of the trial, with results expected to be released in early 2022.

Cash-strapped council could “sell down” affordable housing

As federal subsidies expire for City of Adelaide-owned affordable housing stock, the council has been presented with the option to “sell down” these assets.

At an Adelaide City Council committee meeting last week, City Shaping acting director Tom McCready said the council could “sell down” affordable housing stock once the Federal Government’s National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) benefits run out.

McCready said NRAS – a national program rolled out in 2008 which subsidised a portion of private rentals, making the housing market more affordable – underpinned the viability of some of these projects.

This funding expired last year for one group of properties and will expire soon for others.

“The affordable housing product is linked to the NRAS product,” he told the chamber last week.

“Once NRAS drops away, the reality is there’s always been a thought process that council would sell down on that stock and that was presented to council on numerous occasions.”

It was expected that at the end of the NRAS program these properties would be sold, but McCready told CityMag: “Council has not formally considered the sale of these assets.”

The sale of any affordable housing properties is dependent on elected member approval.

Read the full story in CityMag.

Psychiatrists back Mendoza’s call for mental health crisis plan

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) has backed SA Health whistleblower John Mendoza’s call for a plan to deal with the COVID-prompted crisis in the mental health system.

However, the college also wants deeper issues addressed in the mental health system.

As reported exclusively by InDaily this week, Mendoza, the former mental health executive director for the Central Adelaide Local Health Network, has identified an action plan to deal with the growing crisis.

He walked out of his SA Health office a week ago rather than obey a bureaucratic order to keep silent about what he says are deep problems in the mental health system.

Senior health figures, including psychiatrists and emergency department doctors, immediately backed Mendoza last week, after InDaily revealed his concerns about underinvestment and mismanagement.

The RANZCP has reiterated today that it backs Mendoza’s crisis plan but also wants the Government to go further.

“We absolutely need to manage the surge in demand due to the pandemic, but it would be a mistake for people to think the government only needs to open a few more acute beds to solve the issues in our mental health system,” said Dr Paul Furst, chair of the RANZCP South Australian Branch.

“Professor Mendoza’s plan is a great starting point and would have broad support across the sector, but the government needs to get serious about sitting down with the clinical directors from each LHN and working through it.

“We still desperately need to make long-term, transformational investments in the mental health of the South Australian community and we need to seem some real commitment from government to improving the system.”

Among the RANZCP’s concerns are a lack of forensic beds and specialist psychiatric beds.

Workforce concerns are also deep, with Furst saying that “some community teams operating with less than 50 per cent of positions occupied due to lack of qualified staff. How can they be expected to reduce emergency demand?”

More support for GPs, better training for police, non-ambulance transfers for mental health patients, and more social housing, are also on the college’s list.

“Professor Mendoza is the most recent voice, joining numerous others, in calling out the poor state of South Australia’s mental health system,” Furst said. “He sadly isn’t the first and will most likely not be the last.”

COVID cases will skyrocket with international travel: PM

Australians have been warned to prepare for rising coronavirus case numbers of up to 1000 a week when international borders open.

The news comes as authorities investigate a potential link between the death of a 48-year-old woman in NSW who reportedly received a COVID vaccination before developing blood clots.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison asked people not to jump to conclusions about the woman’s death as state and federal agencies gather further information.

Australians under the age of 50 were last week warned off receiving the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine, after a link was confirmed between the jab and rare blood clots.

The warning added to delays in Australia’s vaccine rollout and made airlines’ preparation for an October restart for overseas travel look optimistic.

The Federal Government’s dumped timetable means Australia’s border is unlikely to reopen until 2022.

Morrison said Australians had become used to recording days of zero community transmission but that would need to change.

“If we were to lift the borders and people were to come, then you would see those cases increase,” he told 6PR radio.

“Australians would have to become used to dealing with a thousand cases a week or more.”

Morrison said states and territories would need to get on the same page about acceptable virus levels when travel restarts.

Australian Medical Association president Omar Khorshid said vaccinations would be the country’s way out of the health crisis.

“We don’t have COVID now, but COVID is coming,” he told ABC radio.

“We cannot keep this virus out of Australia forever unless we become a true island nation with no travel.”

Morrison continues to defend the vaccine rollout, rejecting comparisons with less-developed nations at more advanced stages.

“There’s been a bit of a pile-on about the vaccine but the facts are people are getting vaccinated and we want to encourage people to get vaccinated,” he told 2GB radio.

While mass vaccination centres are likely to administer the Pfizer and Novavax jabs later in the year, the prime minister rejected using major hubs to give doses of AstraZeneca to over-50s.

“Herding elderly people into stadiums I don’t think is the right way to do things,” he said.

US imposes sanctions on Russia

The United States has imposed a broad array of sanctions on Russia to punish it for alleged interference in the 2020 US election, cyber-hacking, bullying Ukraine and other “malign” acts.

The measures blacklisted Russian companies, expelled Russian diplomats and placed limits on the Russian sovereign debt market.

More penalties could come although the US did not want to escalate matters, US President Joe Biden’s administration said.

Officials in Moscow reacted angrily, saying this dangerously raised the temperature between the two countries and called into question a possible summit between the US and Russian leaders.

It also summoned the US ambassador for a diplomatic dressing-down.

Russian officials deny meddling in US elections, orchestrating a cyber hack that used US tech company SolarWinds Corp to penetrate US government networks and using a nerve agent to poison Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin to raise concerns about these issues and the build-up of Russian forces in Crimea and along the border with Ukraine even as he proposed a summit.

Biden is trying to strike a balance between deterring what the US sees as hostile Russian behaviour while avoiding a deeper deterioration in US-Russian ties and preserving some room for co-operation.

Among his moves, Biden signed an executive order authorising the US government to sanction any area of the Russian economy and used it to restrict Russia’s ability to issue sovereign debt to punish the country’s authorities for reputedly interfering in the 2020 US election.

Biden barred US financial institutions from taking part in the primary market for rouble-denominated Russian sovereign bonds from June 14.

US banks have been barred from taking part in the primary market for non-rouble sovereign bonds since 2019.

He did not, however, prohibit them from buying such debt in the secondary market, a step likely to have a far more dramatic effect on the Russian bond and currency markets, which fell as news of the sanctions seeped out before recovering some losses.

The US Treasury also blacklisted 32 entities and individuals which it said had carried out Russian government-directed attempts to influence the 2020 US presidential election and other “acts of disinformation and interference”.

In concert with the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, the Treasury also sanctioned eight individuals associated with Russia’s ongoing occupation and repression in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Ruthless Tigers thrash the Saints

Coach Damien Hardwick has hailed Richmond’s return to their ruthless best after the Tigers snapped a two-game losing run and left a wasteful St Kilda in their wake with a brilliant 86-point win at Marvel Stadium.

St Kilda led by a point at quarter-time and dominated the second term but failed to capitalise, with Richmond nudging out to a four-goal lead at halftime before kicking on to batter the Saints 20.14 (134) to 7.6 (48).

“It was some of our best football that we’ve played no doubt. As a coach, you’ll always look for areas of growth and we’ll find them in the review,” Hardwick said.

“We knew our form was on the improve (in last week’s match with Port Adelaide). It looked like a Richmond game, it felt like a Richmond game and tonight was exactly the same.”

St Kilda’s Rowan Marshall (foot) and Zak Jones (soreness) were late withdrawals for Paul Hunter and Luke Dunstan.

The Saints clearly missed Marshall’s work in the ruck in particular as the Tigers dominated clearances, with ruckman Toby Nankervis important, while Hardwick relished Marlion Pickett’s pinch-hitting support act.

But in stark contrast to their inspired fightback against West Coast, Brett Ratten’s side melted when the Tigers turned up the heat – kicking just three second-half goals to Richmond’s 12.

“We can’t pick and choose when we want to jump in and play because for a quarter-and-a-bit we were very good and last week we were pretty good for the whole game,” Ratten said.

“So that’s something that we have to address.

“For a half of footy, that was poor – we just got beaten up, we didn’t handle their pressure. Their pressure was very, very good but we fuelled it too.”

Land Rover hearse to carry Prince Philip’s body

The Land Rover that will be used to transport the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh at his funeral on Saturday. Photo: Steve Parsons/Pool Photo via AP

When Prince Philip’s coffin is conveyed to church for his funeral service, it will be taken in a specially-commissioned Land Rover that the royal himself helped design.

Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth, died last week aged 99 and his funeral will be held entirely at Windsor Castle on Saturday with no public allowed.

Although the event has been scaled down because of COVID-19 restrictions, many traditional elements will remain, with a military procession inside the castle and pallbearers from units with close links to Philip.

However, in place of the usual hearse, Philip’s body will be taken from its current resting place to St George’s Chapel on a bespoke Land Rover which has been modified to carry a coffin – in keeping with Philip’s original plans for the funeral.

Buckingham Palace said the prince started on the project with Land Rover 18 years ago with the hearse based on a Defender TD 130 chassis and then modified, with the open-top rear section custom made to Philip’s specification.

It was painted Dark Bronze Green, a colour used for many military Land Rovers.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament on Monday it was fitting that Philip would be taken to his final resting place on a modified Land Rover.

“That vehicle’s unique and idiosyncratic silhouette reminds the world that he was above all a practical man, who could take something very traditional – whether a machine or indeed a great national institution – and find a way by his own ingenuity to improve it, to adapt it for the 20th or the 21st century,” Johnson said.

GUESTLIST FOR THE FUNERAL OF PRINCE PHILIP

1. Queen Elizabeth II – Wife of Prince Philip

2. The Prince of Wales – Prince Charles, son of Prince Philip and the Queen

3. The Duchess of Cornwall – Camilla, wife of Prince Charles

4. The Duke of Cambridge – Prince William, son of Prince Charles, grandson of Prince Philip and the Queen

5. The Duchess of Cambridge – Kate, wife of Prince William

6. The Duke of Sussex – Prince Harry, son of Prince Charles, grandson of Prince Philip and the Queen

7. The Duke of York – Prince Andrew, son of Prince Philip and the Queen

8. Princess Beatrice – Daughter of Prince Andrew, granddaughter of Prince Philip and the Queen

9. Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi – Husband of Princess Beatrice

10. Princess Eugenie – Daughter of Prince Andrew, granddaughter of Prince Philip and the Queen

11. Jack Brooksbank – Husband of Princess Eugenie

12. The Earl of Wessex – Prince Edward, son of Prince Philip and the Queen

13. The Countess of Wessex – Sophie, wife of Prince Edward

14. Lady Louise Windsor – Daughter of Prince Edward and Sophie, granddaughter of Prince Philip and the Queen

15. Viscount Severn – Son of Prince Edward and Sophie, grandson of Prince Philip and the Queen

16. The Princess Royal – Princess Anne, daughter of Prince Philip and the Queen

17. Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence – Husband of Princess Anne

18. Peter Phillips – Son of Princess Anne, grandson of Prince Philip and the Queen

19. Zara Phillips – Daughter of Princess Anne, granddaughter of Prince Philip and the Queen

20. Mike Tindall – Husband of Zara

21. Earl of Snowdon – Son of the late Princess Margaret, nephew to the Queen

22. Lady Sarah Chatto – Daughter of the late Princess Margaret, niece to the Queen

23. Daniel Chatto – Husband of Lady Sarah Chatto

24. Duke of Gloucester – Prince Richard, cousin of the Queen

25. Duke of Kent – Prince Edward, cousin of the Queen

26. Princess Alexandra – Cousin of the Queen

27. Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden – Grand-nephew of Prince Philip

28. Prince Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse – Cousin of Prince Philip

29. Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg – Grand-nephew of Prince Philip

30. The Countess Mountbatten of Burma – Close friend of Prince Philip

-With AAP and Reuters

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