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What we know today, Sunday May 30

News

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

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SA records fruit fly outbreaks

South Australia has tightened its rules around the importation of fruit and vegetables from Victoria following two Mediterranean fruit fly outbreaks.

Larvae of the destructive agricultural pest have been discovered in backyard fruit in Port Augusta and Warradale.

While the outbreaks are not believed related to fruit or vegetables from Victoria, SA Primary Industries Minister David Basham says Victorian fumigators will have to undertake detailed inspections of fruit before shipping, update packaging and improve traceability.

The measures also follow a spate of Queensland fruit fly larvae discoveries in SA supermarkets earlier this year.

 

Mr Basham said the arrangements had been installed to protect the state’s $1.3 billion horticulture industry and the 37,000 jobs and 4000 businesses it supports.

 

“In response to the detections of live fruit fly larvae in fumigated fruit imported into South Australia earlier this year, the Marshall Liberal government has required the Victorian government to strengthen the current fumigation requirements for fresh produce destined for South Australia,” Mr Basham said.

 

“The movement of fresh produce from Victorian fumigator FreshMax to South Australia was immediately halted and following extensive auditing of their processes, stronger control measures have been put in place, enabling the business to trade again.”

 

An eradication response is underway with baiting and ground treatment at the new outbreak sites in Port Augusta and Warradale, with 1.5km red outbreak areas and 7.5km yellow suspension areas established.

People in outbreak areas are urged to check home-grown fruit for larvae and report anything unusual to the SA Fruit Fly Hotline 1300 666 010.

Lockdown-hit Vic businesses to share $250m

Victorian businesses forced to shut during the state’s fourth lockdown will be given a $250 million lifeline, although there is no support for out-of-pocket workers.

The Victorian government on Sunday announced its much-anticipated support package to help businesses survive the seven-day shutdown.

The $250 million package includes $190 million in $2500 grants for businesses, $40.7 million in $3500 grants for liquor licence and food certificate holders and $20 million for event operators.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra added the federal government needed to urgently follow suit with a JobKeeper-like wage subsidy.

It comes as a female aged care worker at a facility in Melbourne’s northwest is among five new locally-acquired COVID-19 cases recorded in Victoria on Sunday.

The woman worked at Arcare Maidstone and may have worked on two days – May 26 and 27 – while infectious, according to authorities. The facility has been placed into lockdown and residents are self-isolating.

Her case is currently unlinked to other COVID-19 cases.

South Australia recorded two cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, both returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

Albanese doubles down on vaccine rollout criticism

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has accused the government of trying to spin its way out of a crisis and deflect blame over Victoria’s fourth lockdown.

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino is among many pointing the finger at the federal government, saying a successful vaccine rollout and fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities may have changed Victoria’s fate.

Health Minister Greg Hunt spent Friday rejecting the criticisms.

The vaccine scheme so far is an “extraordinary achievement”, he said, and 20 per cent of the country’s adult population will soon have received at least one dose.

However Mr Albanese said that’s a milestone the government had hoped to reach in March.

“They’ve used those figures to try and spin their way out of this mess,” he told reporters on Saturday.

“(But) the truth is that in areas of the rollout people … who were supposed to be at the front of the queue … haven’t received the vaccine yet.

“They haven’t even rolled out category 1a.”

Only 500,000 people – about two per cent of the population – have been fully vaccinated with two doses.

Mr Albanese on Saturday also condemned the government’s defence of hotel quarantine.

“Scott Morrison speaks about the success rate. What he doesn’t say is that with every failure, there are very serious consequences – for health, for our economy and for people being able to go about their lives,” he said.

Given they “failed dismally” to protect Victoria, Mr Albanese added, the government must introduce financial support for people during the lockdown – the first being undertaken without the support of the JobKeeper scheme.

Five new Vic cases, delivery driver links

Victoria has recorded five new locally-acquired cases of COVID-19, four of of them close contacts of a food delivery driver who travelled across north and southeast Melbourne while potentially infectious.

But the state’s health minister believes authorities are “getting close on the heels” of the outbreak – sparked by a hotel quarantine breach in South Australia – as more exposure sites are revealed.

The new cases were diagnosed on Friday – the first of seven days scheduled for Victoria’s fourth lockdown – from more than 56,000 tests.

The testing tally broke the state’s daily record, while a record more-than-21,600 vaccinations were administered.

Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters four of the five local cases on Friday were connected to a delivery driver earlier confirmed COVID-positive who worked for numerous days while infectious.

“They either live in the same household or there was a meeting of households, quite appropriately, where transmission occurred … (and) one of those is a student at Mount Ridley College (in Craigieburn),” he said.

The final case was a person connected to the Port of Melbourne outbreak linked to Stratton Financial. A worker at the financial firm visited a Mickelham display home and infected a worker there, Mr Foley said.

At least 14 Stratton employees are now COVID-positive.

Mr Foley said he was confident authorities were bringing the issue under control.

He said close contacts of cases who visited Highpoint shopping centre in northwest Melbourne and two AFL games were returning negative results.

Scores of Melburnians queuing for the COVID-19 jab are facing long waits after technical issues crippled booking systems.

Some walk-ins reported being turned away from vaccine centres and others said they’d been warned of five-hour delays.

It comes after the state’s coronavirus hotline was flooded with more than 77,000 calls in 15 minutes when it was announced on Thursday eligibility for the Pfizer vaccine would be expanded to people aged 40-49.

The Victoria Department of Health’s Jeroen Weimar said the state was unable to administer more than roughly 20,000 jabs a day and booking system issues would be addressed by new software.

Conspiracy theorists rally in Adelaide and Melbourne

Protesters have staged rallies in Adelaide and locked-down Melbourne as part of the Millions March Against Mandatory Covid Vaccines movement.

Several hundred people marched in Adelaide from Rundle Mall to Victoria Square, with The Advertiser reporting journalists were spat at and threatened.

At Victoria Square speakers claimed COVID-19 did not exist and attacked the use of QR code check-ins.

In the Melbourne CBD there were multiple injuries and 14 arrests when about 150 people gathered to protest against the lockdown.

Two police officers sustained minor injuries during the arrest of six protesters in Victoria Street, North Melbourne.

One of the alleged offenders was also injured during the incident.

Cyclist killed in Mid North of SA

A cyclist was killed in an accident with a van on Saturday in the Mid North region of South Australia.

On Saturday afternoon a Ford van towing a trailer and a bicycle and a bicycle collided near Redhill, with the cyclist dying at the scene.

The Augusta Highway was closed between Clements Road and Adey Road as police investigated the crash.

Police are asking anyone who was travelling along the Augusta Highway who may have witnessed the accident or saw the cyclist prior to the crash, to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The fatal collision bring’s SA’s road toll to 46 in 2021, compared with 43 at the same time last year.

COVID-19, Pacific to top Aust-NZ agenda

A pathway to opening up to the Pacific and a shared view on Samoa could come from the Australia-New Zealand Leaders Meeting in Queenstown on Sunday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will join counterpart Jacinda Ardern on Sunday ahead of formal talks on Monday.

On the agenda are a plethora of bilateral, regional and international topics, all of which will be flavoured by the pandemic.

The two leaders speak often, chatting over the phone and texting on a near-daily basis.

But an in-person meeting is significant in the COVID-19 era, as trumpeted by Mr Morrison.

“The simple fact that Prime Minister Ardern and I can meet face to face highlights our countries’ success in controlling the spread of the pandemic,” he said.

Re-engaging with the Pacific has been nominated by Ms Ardern as the issue she would most like to progress.

“New Zealand is looking outward to map out our plan and strategy for reconnection. Our borders are quite closely linked. So I’d like to have a conversation around what does our region’s reconnection with the world look like,” she said.

As the Pacific’s powerhouse nations, Australia and NZ are eager to see the region recover from COVID-19.

Their tourism-dependent economies have been shattered by border closures and the trans-Tasman allies have committed to a vaccine rollout which could pave the way to a re-opening.

There will also be a focus on Samoa, which has lurched into a constitutional crisis with election loser Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi refusing to give up power.

Australia and NZ may take a tougher line on Mr Tuilaepa, uniting to ask him to make way for election winner Fiame Naomi Mata’afa.

Mr Morrison and Ms Ardern will also have plenty to discuss on China.

NZ is often criticised for being a soft touch on China, though the two countries have similar trade dependencies with the superpower.

Australian officials have been pleased with NZ’s more hawkish statements on the superpower in recent times.

North Korea turns to ‘volunteer’ labour

Orphans, conscripted soldiers, and students – some appearing to be children – are “volunteering” to work manual labour in North Korea, including in coal mines, farms, and large construction projects, the country’s state media have reported.

Hundreds of graduates of orphan schools “volunteered to work in difficult fields”, according to reports by state news agency KCNA.

The reports did not specify the orphans’ ages, but said they had graduated from middle schools, and photos published in state newspapers showed youths who appeared to be in their teens.

On Saturday KCNA reported that more than 700 orphans had volunteered to work on cooperative farms, an iron and steel complex, and in forestry, among other areas.

On Thursday, the agency reported that around 150 graduates from three orphan schools had volunteered to work at coal mines and farms.

“(The graduates of orphan schools) volunteered to work in major worksites for socialist construction out of their will to glorify their youth in the struggle for the prosperity of the country,” KCNA said. “They finished their school courses under the warm care of the mother Party.”

Drastic measures taken by North Korea to contain COVID-19 have exacerbated human rights abuses and economic hardship for its citizens, including reports of starvation, the United Nations has said.

According to the 2020 US State Department report on human rights practices, in some cases children ages 16 and 17 were enrolled in military-style construction brigades for 10-year periods and subjected to long working hours and hazardous work.

“Students suffered from physical and psychological injuries, malnutrition, exhaustion, and growth deficiencies as a result of required forced labour,” the report said, despite North Korean laws banning forced labour.

British PM marries in secret

Boris Johnson has reportedly married Carrie Symonds in a ceremony planned in strict secrecy.

The pair are said to have exchanged vows in Westminster Cathedral in front of a small group of close friends and family.

Downing Street would not comment on the reports in the Mail on Sunday and Sun.

The reports of the marriage come just days after the couple were said to have sent save-the-date cards to family and friends for an event on July 30 2022.

The Sun reported that even senior Downing Street aides were totally unaware the couple were about to tie the knot.

It is Mr Johnson’s third marriage, having finalised his divorce from his second wife Marina Wheeler in 2020.

Shortly after 1.30pm London time, the Byzantine-style church was suddenly cleared of visitors, with staff saying it was going into lockdown.

Half an hour later, a limousine carrying the bride swept into the piazza outside the main west door.

Weddings in England are currently subject to strict coronavirus restrictions.

The wedding comes at the end of a difficult week for the prime minister in which his former aide Dominic Cummings branded him unfit for office.

The prime minister’s former aide said Ms Symonds had been desperate to oust him from his role as Mr Johnson’s right-hand man, and had sought to put her own friends in key positions.

Sydney FC whip Adelaide in A-League

Defending A-League champions Sydney FC have produced a stunning performance to trounce 10-man Adelaide United 4-1 at Coopers Stadium.

The second-place Sky Blues outclassed the Reds from start to finish on Saturday night with Adam Le Fondre playing a starring role in front of 8198 fans.

Adelaide’s Jordan Elsey was sent off for a second bookable offence just after the hour, but Sydney were already 3-0 up and in total control.

“I think that was our best performance of the season actually,” Sydney coach Steve Corica said.

“It’s come at the right time. It’s getting better all the time, the boys are … I thought we dominated from the start.”

The visitors overwhelmed finals hopefuls Adelaide from the outset and spent most of the first five minutes camped in the Reds half.

The pressure paid off with Le Fondre breaking the deadlock on six minutes with a clinical header.

Adelaide’s best chances came via Ryan Strain and then Stefan Mauk, who hit the upright early in the second half.

Adelaide’s night went from bad to worse on 63 minutes when Elsey was shown a second yellow card for stopping Bobo’s run on halfway.

The Reds defender could have considered himself lucky to still be on the park after escaping with just a caution in the first half for a lunging tackle on the Brazilian.

Sydney scored a fourth on 71 minutes when substitute Patrick Wood received a pass from Milos Ninkovic and fired low into the bottom corner.

The Reds grabbed a consolation on 89 minutes with another sub in Yaya Dukuly turning in a cut-back from Michael Marrone.

“Not good enough,” Adelaide coach Carl Veart said.

– With AAP and Reuters

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