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What we know today, Sunday April 18


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

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Feds sign $1bn SA energy deal with focus on gas

The federal government has signed a $1 billion deal with South Australia to encourage energy investment, including mandated targets to increase the supply of fossil fuels.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the deal on Sunday which will include a $660 million commitment from the Commonwealth and $422 million from the state government.

It will pursue initiatives that create additional dispatchable generation, unlock gas supplies and kickstart works on a new electricity interconnector between SA and NSW.

“Families and businesses need affordable, reliable power. That is what reduces prices and creates jobs,” Mr Morrison said.

The deal includes a $400 million commitment from the Commonwealth to invest in technologies to reduce emissions, including hydrogen and controversial carbon capture and storage solutions for fossil fuels.

The federal government has also committed $50 million to the electricity interconnector while $110 million will be allocated to concessional finance for energy storage projects including the use of solar thermal technology.

The deal sets a gas target of an additional 50 petajoules per annum by the end of 2023 and a stretch target of 80 petajoules per annum by 2030.

Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said the agreement would secure reliable and affordable power for South Australians and would have benefits for the broader national electricity market.

“The focus on gas will help South Australia meet its own gas needs and assist efforts to prevent forecast shortfalls in the broader east coast gas market from 2023, as part of our gas-fired recovery,” Mr Taylor said.

It comes as the Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist has criticised the federal gas-fired recovery plan, noting that fracking plans in the Beetaloo Basin alone could increase Australia’s total carbon emissions by 7 per cent and further fuel the climate crisis.

Google sets up office in Adelaide tech hub

Global tech giant Google will establish a presence in Adelaide’s Lot 14 technology hub.

Google will operate its cloud services public sector team from the site and Premier Steven Marshall says the move will enhance SA’s growing hi-tech reputation and create jobs.

“South Australia has world-leading capabilities in artificial intelligence, data analytics and cyber security that make us globally interesting and provides digital tech companies with an opportunity to come together to partner on projects that can literally change the world we live in,” Mr Marshall said on Sunday.

Trade and Investment Minister Stephen Patterson said South Australia was rapidly becoming one of the best places to do business globally.

“We are building a world-class innovation ecosystem that’s underpinned by a competitive business environment that gets the fundamentals right for all businesses,” he said.

Google’s Adelaide operations will be headed up by Mike Duhne who said SA’s commitment to the technology sector provided a unique environment for innovation and collaboration.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said Google’s investment was welcome and he hoped it led to a growing presence for the company in SA.

Fremantle snatch come-from-behind victory over Adelaide

Fremantle has come back from a 12-point half-time deficit to overrun Adelaide 12.12 (84) to 11.6 (72) at the Adelaide Oval.

Matt Taberner kicked four goals for the visitors while Andrew Brayshaw amassed 33 disposals.

The Dockers managed the comeback despite losing Adam Cerra in the opening term to an ankle injury that saw Mitch Crowden subbed into the match.

For the Crows, James Rowe and Taylor Walker booted two goals each, but the latter was hampered by a calf problem in the second half.

Worldwide virus death toll tops 3 million

The global death toll from the coronavirus has topped 3 million people amid repeated setbacks in the worldwide vaccination campaign and a deepening crisis in places such as Brazil and India.

The number of lives lost, as compiled by Johns Hopkins University, is believed to be a significant underestimation because of possible government concealment and the many cases overlooked in the early stages of the outbreak that was first detected in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019.

While the vaccination campaigns in the US and UK have hit their stride and people and businesses there are beginning to contemplate life after the pandemic, other places are lagging behind in putting shots in arms and have imposed new lockdowns and other restrictions as virus cases soar.

Deaths are on the rise again across the world – running at about 12,000 per day on average – and new cases are climbing too, eclipsing 700,000 a day.

“This is not the situation we want to be in 16 months into a pandemic, where we have proven control measures,” Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO said.

In Brazil, where deaths are running at about 3000 per day, accounting for one-quarter of the lives lost worldwide in recent weeks, the crisis has been likened to a “raging inferno” by one WHO official.

A more contagious variant of the virus has been rampaging across the country.

As cases surge, hospitals are running out of critical sedatives.

As a result, there have been reports of some doctors diluting what supplies remain and even tying patients to their beds while breathing tubes are pushed down their throats.

Brazil has asked women to delay getting pregnant until the worst of the pandemic passes, saying the virus variant that is devastating the country appears to affect expectant mothers more than earlier versions of the coronavirus.

This situation is similarly dire in India, where cases spiked in February after weeks of steady decline, taking authorities by surprise.

In a surge driven by variants of the virus, India registered more than 180,000 new infections in one 24-hour span during the past week.

Problems that India had overcome last year are coming back to haunt health officials.

Only 178 ventilators were free on Wednesday afternoon in New Delhi, a city of 29 million, where 13,000 new infections were reported the previous day.

The challenges facing India reverberate beyond its borders since the country is the biggest supplier of shots to COVAX, the UN-sponsored program to distribute vaccines to poorer parts of the world.

Last month, India said it would suspend vaccine exports until the virus’ spread inside the country slows.

In Europe, countries are feeling the brunt of a more contagious variant that first ravaged the UK and has pushed the continent’s COVID-19-related death toll beyond 1 million.

Close to 6000 gravely ill patients are being treated in French critical care units, numbers not seen since the first wave a year ago.

‘Continuous review’ of jabs post-NSW death

Federal authorities will continuously review all vaccines in use following the death of a 48-year-old woman considered linked to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 jab.

A safety group convened by the Therapeutic Goods Administration has concluded the NSW woman’s case of blood clots with low platelet count was likely to do with her vaccination on April 8.

Her condition was known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia.

TGA officials say Genene Norris also suffered from several other chronic health conditions.

Government advice surrounding the use of the AstraZeneca jab was changed later on the same day she was inoculated, with Australians under 50 advised not to take it.

Ms Norris was admitted to hospital four days later and died last week.

TGA secretary John Skerritt said her case was “atypical” and further review of her underlying conditions and other blood tests and samples would be taken.

The case is likely to be the subject of an inquest.

It is the third in Australia involving blood clots with low platelet count post-vaccination, with the first two cases still in hospital.

The chance of a blood clot is extremely low, with some 885,000 AstraZeneca doses administered in Australia so far.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly confirmed some Australians have been reluctant to receive a vaccine since the medical advice on the AstraZeneca jab was updated.

However he stressed the vaccines were safer than the alternative, quoting a Oxford University study which found the risk of blood clots in the brain alone is eight times more likely after a COVID-19 infection than an AstraZeneca jab.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has extended his condolences to Ms Norris’ family and says the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) will conduct “continuous review” of all vaccines.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 appears to have jumped between neighbouring rooms in hotel quarantine in Sydney after seven cases from two family groups were revealed on Saturday to have the same viral sequence.

They may have to be reclassified as locally-acquired.

Rundle Mall Woolworths to trial body cameras for workers

Shelf-stackers and checkout workers will wear body cameras to protect them from being assaulted and abused in a trial being rolled out at the Woolworths at Rundle Mall in Adelaide and ten other selected stores across the country.

The supermarket giant has turned to the drastic measure following a doubling in assaults in stores in 2020.

“Nobody deserves to be abused at work, so it’s important we look at new measures to help keep our team members safe,” Woolworths Director of Stores, Rob Moffat, said in a statement on Saturday.

Australians are more familiar with body cameras being worn by police but they are used in retail across the United States and the United Kingdom, where Woolworths says they’ve effectively reduced the rate of incidents.

The company says the cameras will only be turned on as a last resort, if a supervisor is concerned about a threat to team safety.

Audio won’t be recorded and any recordings will be stored securely on Australian servers. A small team of Woolies security experts and law enforcement agencies where appropriate will be the only ones to have access to the footage, the company says.

Customers will be alerted to the cameras with signage in the stores.

Adelaide to hold Prince Philip memorial service

St Peter’s Cathedral in Adelaide will hold a memorial service for Prince Philip after the Queen bid a final farewell to her husband in an intimate coronavirus-secure funeral at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

The service on Sunday evening will be officiated by the head of the Anglican Church in Australia, Archbishop of Adelaide Geoff Smith.

Only 30 guests were able to attend the funeral service for Prince Philip overnight due to the restrictions in place in the UK for the coronavirus pandemic.

All wore face masks and maintained their distance inside the chapel.

Read the full story here: Queen a solitary figure as Philip laid to rest

The Duke of Edinburgh died in his sleep on April 9, two months before his 100th birthday and shortly after a month-long stay in hospital.

Australia was represented by Defence Adviser to the UK Commodore Guy Holthouse on Saturday, who was positioned in the Horseshoe Cloister of Windsor Castle as the coffin arrived to a guard of honour.

Prince Philip’s insignias from across the Commonwealth, including the Knight of the Order of Australia – announced in 2015 – and the Order of New Zealand, from 2013, were placed on the altar in St George’s Chapel.

The Queen spoke to Australia’s Governor-General David Hurley by telephone on Friday, according to the court circular.

Thanksgiving services for the life of Prince Philip took place earlier this week at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney and St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, with attendees including the governor-general and Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Australians have sent thousands of condolence messages online via the government website, which will be forwarded to Buckingham Palace, although thousands of complaints have also been sent to the ABC and BBC over wall-to-wall coverage of Prince Philip’s death.

NSW to trial DV workers at police stations

Victims of domestic violence who report to police stations would be supported by independent specialists in a trial program to start as soon as next month.

The trial would see workers from the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, placed at five police stations in NSW.

The workers, who are currently stationed at courts throughout the state, help women and children with information, advocacy, safety planning, and referrals to housing and other services.

The trial was prompted by a recommendation by the Domestic Violence Death Review Team, an expert group that examines domestic violence related deaths and tells parliament what needs to change.

The Team’s 2020 report, which looked at all domestic violence deaths in NSW between 2017 and 2019, found that victims and bystanders who reported violence to police stations sometimes received “inadequate” responses.

In one case, a woman told an officer at the front desk of a station that she was “having trouble” with her ex-boyfriend and described how he’d been stalking her and had followed her interstate.

The officer took the woman’s phone number but did not record the complaint or tell the woman about protection orders or services that might have helped. The victim and the police officer were unaware that the ex-boyfriend had a police history of domestic violence offences.

The woman did not approach police again, though she continued to be stalked and harassed over the next week and was then murdered.

The report found that victims were sometimes given inaccurate advice, their complaints were not recorded correctly or at all, and they did not get a positive response at the front counter.

The new trial is slated to start in May or June, although no new budget has been allocated.

If you’re concerned about your relationship or that of a friend or family member, contact 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732), the DV Crisis Line on 1800 800 098, or SAPOL through 131 444 or 000 in an emergency.

Hard-right Republicans push ‘Anglo-Saxon’ traditions

Hard-right US House Republicans are discussing forming an America First Caucus, which one document described as championing “Anglo-Saxon political traditions” and warning that mass immigration was putting the “unique identity” of the US at risk.

Florida Republican Matt Gaetz said he was joining and indicated that fellow conservative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia was behind it.

Among the Republican party’s divisions are how closely to tack behind Donald Trump, and the caucus’ seven-page policy platform clearly embraces the former president’s world view.

“The America First Caucus (AFC) exists to promote Congressional policies that are to the long-term benefit of the American nation,” it begins.

It says the group aims to “follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation”.

The group calls for limiting legal immigration “to those that can contribute not only economically, but have demonstrated respect for this nation’s culture and rule of law.”.

It voices support for infrastructure “that reflects the architectural, engineering and aesthetic value that befits the progeny of European architecture”.

In a striking criticism, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy issued a tweet that an aide confirmed was aimed at the group.

“America is built on the idea that we are all created equal and success is earned through honest, hard work. It isn’t built on identity, race, or religion,” he wrote.

“The Republican Party is the party of Lincoln and the party of more opportunity for all Americans, not nativist dog whistles.”

No. 3 House GOP leader Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted: “We teach our children the values of tolerance, decency and moral courage. Racism, nativism, and anti-Semitism are evil. History teaches we all have an obligation to confront and reject such malicious hate.”

Cheney voted to impeach Trump in January and has been under fire from some of the party’s most far-right lawmakers and the former president.

Courtney Hodder of the Lions smothers the kick from Najwa Allen of the Crows during the AFLW Grand Final match between the Adelaide Crows and Brisbane Lions at the Adelaide Oval on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Image: AAP/Matt Turner

Lions beat Crows to win AFLW grand final

Brisbane are AFLW premiers for the first time after Kate Lutkins starred in a superb defensive effort that underpinned the Lions’ stunning 18-point upset win over the Crows at Adelaide Oval.

Lutkins, who has played through pain and will have surgery on both feet following Saturday’s 6.2 (38) to 3.2 (20) win, was awarded the medal for best player on the ground as Brisbane broke through for their first grand final win at their third attempt.

On a big day for the club, Emma Zielke’s last act as the Lions’ captain was to hold up the premiership cup in front of 22,934 fans, the veteran announcing her retirement shortly after the final siren.

“Our team has got an amazing work ethic and great character but they love the pressure side of the game,” jubilant coach Craig Starcevich said.

“To get after the opposition and restrict them gives them as much joy as getting out in space and scoring.”

Ally Anderson and Emily Bates led the way with 23 possessions each, Lutkins, Breanna Koenen and Shannon Campbell were outstanding down back and Jess Wuetschner and Courtney Hodder kicked two goals each.

Crows superstar Erin Phillips kicked four goals the last time these teams met but went goalless on a quiet day by her standards.

Phillips said in the lead-up to the grand final that she is unsure if she will continue her decorated career next season.

“Brisbane’s defence was brilliant,” lamented Crows coach Matthew Clarke.

“They commanded the air. Every time we had a look at it there was genuine pressure.”

With Chelsea Randall sidelined with a concussion, the Crows also lost stand-in skipper Angela Foley with a knee injury late in the third quarter, with Zielke also failing to see out the game with a hamstring injury.

Port Adelaide cruise past Carlton

In the men’s AFL, Port Adelaide has recorded a win in the club’s first match at the MCG in nearly two years, defeating Carlton 9.14 (68) to 15.6 (96).

The 28-point win was born out Port’s midfield dominance, with Ollie Wines racking up 32 disposals and seven clearances and Travis Boak amassing 29 disposals and seven score involvements.

Port’s effort to fit three talls in the forward line worked effectively, with Mitch Georgiades kicking three, Charlie Dixon two and Todd Marshall serving as the link between midfield and attack with one major.

The smalls also contributed with Robbie Gray bagging three.

Midfielder Dan Houston suffered a shoulder injury and will go for scans, while defender Hamish Hartlett copped a corkie.

The win lifts the Power into the top four, with a 4-1 record.

– With AAP and Reuters

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