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What we know today, Friday May 7


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

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Qantas to establish Adelaide Airport base

Qantas will establish a base for its Embraer E190s aircraft at Adelaide Airport to help expand its regional footprint.

The base is expected to create up to 200 jobs when fully operational.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, who was at Adelaide Airport with South Australian Premier Steven Marshall and Alliance Airlines Managing Scott McMillan, said the E190s were well suited to linking capital cities and regional centres.

“Basing these aircraft in Adelaide means we can service South Australia better and help bring more visitors to the state,” he said.

“The E190 is a great aircraft for the Adelaide market, with its size, range and economics opening up a number of new destinations that wouldn’t be viable with the larger 737 aircraft.

“Instead of one or two flights a day with a larger aircraft, we can offer three or four flights a day on the E190, which gives customers a lot more choice about when they travel.”

Adelaide Airport Managing Director Mark Young said the move would drive an additional 750,000 passengers through the airport each year.

“These aircraft are perfectly suited for the economics of emerging markets and off-peak services,” he said.

“Basing them in Adelaide gives us more capacity and greater flexibility including the option to work with Qantas to open up new short to medium haul destinations, which ultimately benefits all South Australian travellers.”

Hundreds of tech jobs headed for SA

Global technology consulting firm MTX Group has unveiled its Asia Pacific Growth plans this, including 500 jobs in South Australia and an initial hub in Adelaide.

In total, MTX Group says the APAC expansion will include 2500 jobs Australia-wide.

MTX partners with government agencies and businesses to modernise technology with outcomes in mind around the happiness, health, and economy of the communities they serve worldwide, with a strong global presence in New York, Texas, Canada, and India.

MTX Australia CEO Ben Papps and Federal Finance Minister Simon Birmingham made the announcement at 2pm at Lot Fourteen’s  Australian Institute for Machine Learning.

Also today, Lonsdale-based sheet metal manufacturer Rowlands Metalworks has unveiled a hi-tech 3D printing and robotic welding unit it says will help it expand its defence work nationally.

The Arcemy unit is made by northern suburbs company AML3D and is the first commercial unit to be launched in the state.

Rowlands Metalworks managing director Cameron Johnston said the Arcemy robot would diversify the company’s product offering and help it meet the demands of next-generation defence projects in South Australia and nationally.

“With defence representing a significant percentage of our business and growing, the 3D printing technology provides a unique opportunity for capability development, allowing us to deliver sophisticated equipment for the expanding needs of the Australian defence industry,” Johnston said.

No new Sydney virus cases as infection mystery continues

NSW has recorded zero new local COVID-19 cases, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian saying she’s “pleased” with the state of the current outbreak.

However, the link between an infected eastern Sydney man and an international traveller with the same COVID-19 strain remains unclear.

Sydneysiders are again wearing masks on public transport, in supermarkets and during rideshare trips as health officials try to figure out how a strain of COVID-19 escaped hotel quarantine and infected the man.

The man, in his 50s, then infected his wife.

However, NSW Health recorded no additional COVID-19 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Thursday from more than 13,000 tests.

Restrictions for Greater Sydney were reimposed on Wednesday including mandatory masks in indoor settings and public transport, a 20-person cap on indoor gatherings and a ban on most singing and dancing.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier on Friday said she was “pleased” with the current state of the outbreak.

But the missing epidemiological link between the infected east Sydney man and the coronavirus-positive traveller in hotel quarantine remains unclear.

“The only concern for us is obviously the fact that at least one person has been in the community going about their business for a few days, having the virus and not knowing they have it … it could be more than one,” Berejiklian told the Nine Network.

“We’re just saying to people: go about your daily business, just be extra safe.”

New Zealand called a time-out on the travel bubble with NSW on Thursday, suspending quarantine-free travel from the state for 48 hours from Friday.

Berejiklian urged businesses to stay open and Sydneysiders to show up for their Mother’s Day reservations on Sunday.

“Every time we go through this in NSW, we learn from what we experience, learn from what we did well or didn’t do well, then we can apply it into the future,” she said.

‘Gas-fired recovery’ allocated $58.6m in budget

Gas pipelines, port terminals and new fields will get $58.6 million from taxpayers in next week’s budget to help fuel economic recovery.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor also flagged on Friday more funding to fill the baseload power “gap” left by the impending closure of AGL’s coal-fired Liddell power plant.

The funding includes $38.7 million for early works to help gas infrastructure projects and $3.5 million to design and implement future investment plans if the private sector does not.

The pre-budget announcement focuses on four main projects, including two gas storage projects at Golden Beach and Iona in Victoria.

The other two projects are the expansion of the South West Victorian pipeline and an import terminal project, which is likely to be the Port Kembla gas terminal.

“There is a role for government,” Taylor told Sky News today.

“Gas investments have, and continue to, come from the private sector and that’s what we want to see but accelerating the process of doing the feasibility studies, of getting those projects to financial close, making sure the infrastructure is going into place.

“This is a reasonably modest investment for very significant gains, $58.6 million, to close the supply gap we see emerging in the southern states.”

He said affordable gas was good for baseload power, consumers and for manufacturing and the 900,000 Australians the sector employed.

“What we’re not going to do is allow a gap to emerge as we saw with Hazelwood,” he said.

“It will be filled. We’ve seen the Tallawarra project come in, we’re working through those options and we’ll have more to say on that in the near future.”

Before the pandemic, Taylor urged states to do more in order to boost gas supply.

The government-appointed an energy and manufacturing industry-heavy advisory board to recommend ways to help the economy after the coronavirus pandemic.

That panel told the government to expand the gas industry.

Taylor is also the minister for emissions reduction.

The interim gas plan does not mention climate change, decarbonising the economy or emissions reduction targets.

Jarryd Hayne lodges ‘intention to appeal’

Ex-NRL star and convicted sex offender Jarryd Hayne has given notice he intends to appeal his imprisonment on sexual assault charges.

Hayne’s legal team on Friday lodged a Notice of Intention to appeal in the NSW Supreme Court after he was jailed on Thursday for sexually assaulting a young woman who said the footballer destroyed her life.

His legal team now has 12 months to lodge a formal appeal.

The ex-Parramatta player was sentenced to at least three years and eight months in jail and a maximum of five years and nine months.

District Court Judge Helen Syme, sitting in Newcastle, said Hayne had to be jailed because non-consensual sexual intercourse was an extreme form of violence.

The judge noted Hayne, 33, only stopped attacking the victim when she started to bleed, not when she was telling him no and stop.

Restart for India rescue flights confirmed

Australians in India who fail a pre-flight coronavirus test will be banned from boarding when rescue planes restart from May 15.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday announced the travel ban would end on its planned expiry date, following a fierce backlash against the harsh measures.

“The pause that we put in place for travellers coming back from India is working,” he told reporters in Newcastle.

There will be three flights this month to bring back the most urgent cases with 900 vulnerable citizens and permanent residents stranded in India.

All arrivals will be quarantined at the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs mining camp where capacity is set to increase to 2000 beds.

People found to have coronavirus in a pre-flight test will be denied the right to board planes.

“Rapid antigen testing is a requirement and a negative test to get on a flight to Australia. I’m sure that’s what all Australians would expect,” Morrison said.

Up to 200 passengers could be on the first flight, which will likely depart almost immediately after the temporary travel ban is lifted.

But the 9000 Australians still stuck in India could face months of waiting to return home with the Asian nation in the grips of a coronavirus catastrophe.

India recorded another grim global world record on Thursday with more than 412,000 new coronavirus cases and almost 4000 deaths.

Morrison said the government did not know how many of the stranded Australians have contracted the disease.

“We don’t have that information. That is why they are tested before they get on the flight,” he said.

Cabinet’s national security committee signed off on the decision on Thursday following advice from Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly.

The controversial ban came under heavy fire from within conservative ranks, the Indian-Australian community and human rights groups after the government threatened jail and fines for people who tried to circumvent it.

The government argued it was necessary to ease pressure on quarantine and prevent a third wave breaking out in Australia.

Tourist travel is also facing problems with Greater Sydney reimposing a raft of COVID-19 restrictions as health authorities hunt for the “missing link” between a coronavirus-positive traveller in hotel quarantine and an infected Sydney man.

The move led to New Zealand pausing quarantine-free travel with NSW for 48 hours.

South Australia has also overnight shut the state’s border to anyone in NSW who has been to an exposure site listed by NSW Health.

Overdose concerns after SA Health computer glitch

An IT error in SA Health’s electronic medical records system has prompted fears that patients may have received 10 times their prescribed dosage on medication orders.

SA Health sent a memo out to staff at several South Australian hospitals on Wednesday night advising that their records system, Sunrise EMR, was “intermittently impacting medication order dosing”.

“This issue can result in the last digit of the medication dose being duplicated prior to order submission e.g. 10mg may display as 100mg,” the memo said.

The memo called on staff to be alert for high dose prescriptions and to follow up medication orders with the prescribers.

Health Minister Stephen Wade said the issue was present at the Queen Elizabeth, Royal Adelaide, Noarlunga, Mount Gambier and Port Augusta Hospitals.

He said that SA Health moved to manage the risk after they were alerted to the problem.

“I’m advised that as soon as SA Health became aware of the intermittent issue, all sites using the Sunrise system were notified and implemented risk mitigation strategies,” Wade said on Thursday.

“Additional prescription reviews by medical officers, nursing, midwifery and pharmacists are in place while the root cause of the intermittent issue is investigated.”

Shadow health spokesperson Chris Picton said Wade failed to explain the cause of the error, its extent, and how many patients are affected.

The Labor frontbencher is calling for an independent investigation of the “frightening” error.

“It’s not difficult to imagine the potentially devastating impacts of this 10-times dosing bungle,” Picton said.

“10mg of morphine could assist a patient in great pain – whereas 100 mg could cause harm or be deadly.

“Doctors and nurses need to be able to rely on these records systems – none more than the doctors and nurses across our major public hospitals who are under extreme pressure to move rapidly between patients as a result of budget and staff cuts.”

Meanwhile, it was also revealed yesterday that Southern Adelaide Local Health Network Chief Executive Susan O’Neill has resigned from her position.

O’Neill’s health network includes the Flinders Medical Centre and Noarlunga Hospital.

It comes as  SA Health Chief Executive Dr Chris McGowan confirmed to The Advertiser that he has signed a new three-year contract to continue as the head of the state’s largest government department.

McGowan, who has come under scrutiny for his connections to the private sector, has been in the role since 2018.

Discontent among Libs over move to accelerate euthanasia vote

There is reportedly blowback in the Liberal party room over Premier Steven Marshall’s decision to bring forward a Lower House vote on voluntary assisted dying.

Following the passage of euthanasia legislation in the South Australian Upper House early on Thursday, Marshall issued a statement announcing his intention to allocate government business time to debate the bill in the House of Assembly.

The premier said he did not want a vote on the matter “unduly delayed through parliamentary processes”.

“As the leader of this state I take my responsibility to have such legislation promptly resolved by the Parliament, one way or the other, seriously,” he said.

“That is why I have decided to progress debate on this legislation immediately.”

But the ABC reported late on Thursday night that there is anger within the Liberal Party room over the decision, as well as calls to sack the staffer who “prematurely” issued the statement.

One “senior Liberal” reportedly told David Bevan that he has “never seen such anger in the party room in my years in parliament” and the move to allocate government time to the bill was “entirely inappropriate”.

The bill – which represents the 17th attempt since 1995 to legalise voluntary assisted dying in SA – was introduced to parliament in December by Labor MLC Kyam Maher and is cosponsored by Deputy Opposition Leader Susan Close.

The last attempt to pass a euthanasia bill in the Lower House ended in a 23-23 tie – split by then-Labor speaker Michael Atkinson who voted against the legislation.

The current bill before MPs includes 68 safeguards and a provision that people wishing to end their lives must be resident in SA for at least 12 months and at least 18 years old.

It also requires patients to show they have decision-making capacity and are capable of informed consent and to undergo an assessment by two independent medical practitioners not related to the applicant.

They must also be experiencing intolerable suffering that cannot be relieved, and have a terminal diagnosis and a life expectancy of less than six months, or 12 months for a person with a neurodegenerative disease.

Porter moves to strike out parts of ABC defence

Former attorney-general Christian Porter is seeking to strike out parts of the ABC’s defence in defamation proceedings concerning historical rape allegations.

The public broadcaster’s defence contains material that is “evasive or ambiguous” and/or scandalous, according to an application filed on behalf of Porter.

The ABC filed its defence on Tuesday evening but it is yet to be released by the Federal Court.

Porter in March launched defamation action against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan for publishing what he says are “false accusations” he was the subject of historical rape allegations.

The woman at the centre of the allegations died in June 2020.

Since the report’s February 26 publication, the West Australian MP has changed roles from attorney-general to industry, science and technology minister.

Porter’s application, filed Wednesday and published Thursday afternoon, seeks to strike out one paragraph of the defence and three schedules.

It also seeks an order preventing publication of the three schedules until further order of the court.

The material in the schedules is of a scandalous, frivolous or vexatious nature, is evasive or ambiguous, or are otherwise an abuse of the process of the court, Porter’s application claims, referencing phrases in Federal Court Rules.

The court is also asked to order the ABC to provide more information on certain denials outlined in the defence.

The parties are due to face off virtually in court for the first time on Friday morning, before Justice Jayne Jagot.

While the report referred to an unnamed cabinet minister, Google searches for Christian Porter after the article’s publication spiked to a greater extent than any other male frontbencher, his lawyers state in court documents.

By March 3, a Google search of “who is the minister accused of rape” would return Porter’s name, and Porter was widely identified on platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, the lawyers say.

Porter revealed himself as the subject of the allegations on March 3.

Milligan is also accused of directing her Twitter followers before March 3 to the #cabinetminister hashtag, through which Porter was identified by members of the public.

Porter is seeking aggravated damages, costs and removal of the article and related material on the internet.

Germany rejects US plan to waive vaccine IP

Germany has rejected a US proposal to waive patent protection for coronavirus vaccines, saying the greatest constraints on production are not intellectual property but increasing capacity and ensuring quality.

US President Joe Biden on Wednesday voiced support for a waiver in a sharp reversal of the US position and his top trade negotiator, Katherine Tai, swiftly backed negotiations at the World Trade Organisation.

The German government stood behind the goal of a worldwide supply of COVID-19 vaccines, a government spokeswoman said, adding however that the main factors in vaccine production are capacity and quality standards and not patents.

“The protection of intellectual property is a source of innovation and must remain so in the future,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.

She said Germany supported the COVAX initiative, with the aim of ensuring that as many people in the world as possible have access to vaccines, adding that discussions were continuing at the WTO.

The WTO said in April that of 700 million vaccines administered around the world, only 0.2 per cent had been in low-income countries.

A recent surge of infections in India, the world’s second most populous country, has underlined the point.

The European Union is willing to discuss a proposal to waive intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Thursday, as drug makers stated their opposition.

Aussie IPL stars head to the Maldives

The vast majority of Australia’s 38-strong Indian Premier League contingent has departed for the Maldives, beginning their long and indirect journey home from the aborted Twenty20 tournament.

Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) confirmed on Thursday night that players, coaches, officials and commentators were en route from India to the Maldives.

But Mike Hussey, who is an assistant coach at Chennai Super Kings, was unable to travel with the group as he continues to serve a 10-day isolation period in a Delhi hotel after testing positive for COVID-19.

“Mike is experiencing mild symptoms and is in the care of his IPL franchise, the Chennai Super Kings,” CA and the ACA said in a joint statement.

“CA and the ACA will work closely with the BCCI to ensure Mike’s safe return to Australia when it is safe to do so.”

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and franchises are overseeing arrangements for outbound players after the IPL was halted because of COVID-19 cases among players and staff.

The BCCI has signed off on plans for those from England, New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies and other parts of the world to fly out.

However, Australians are unable to return home until May 15 because of the federal government’s ban on all incoming travellers from coronavirus-ravaged India.

The length of the Australian contingent’s stopover in the Maldives, where Australian commentator Michael Slater fled to earlier this week, may be determined during a meeting of Australia’s national cabinet today.

Any Australia-bound charter flight for the cricketers would need to be approved by the federal government.

The slanging match between Slater, whose frustration and anxiety is shared by many Australians involved in the IPL, and Morrison’s government continued on Thursday.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud criticised Slater after the former Test batsman tweeted Morrison had “blood” on his hands and should take his “private jet and come and witness dead bodies on the street (in India)”.

ACA chief executive Todd Greenberg admitted on Wednesday the travel ban had created anxiety among Australians involved in the IPL.

“They’re human beings, some of them are fathers and husbands,” Greenberg said.

“They’re under enormous amounts of stress.”

-With AAP and Reuters

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