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What we know today, Wednesday June 16

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Long-time South Australian Cricket Association chief executive Keith Bradshaw will take an indefinite period of sick leave as he continues to battle cancer, which has spread to his spine and brain in recent months.

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SACA boss steps down to battle cancer

South Australian Cricket Association chief executive will take an indefinite period of sick leave as he continues his ongoing battle with multiple myeloma.

A statement from SACA at 11.40am said Bradshaw’s cancer had become particularly aggressive in recent months, spreading to the spine and brain.

He is continuing to receive radiation therapy and a trial drug treatment.

“Keith continues to battle hard in his fight against the debilitating disease and is hopeful of a return to work,” the statement said.

“However, at this stage he is focused on his treatment and spending time with his family.

“The SACA will continue to support Keith and his family in whatever way it can throughout this challenging time.”

Bradshaw was appointed SACA chief executive in 2012 after serving as Marylebone Cricket Club secretary in England for six years.

He was diagnosed with cancer 13 years ago.

The interim role of Acting Chief Executive will be filled by SACA General Counsel Jodie Newton, who has been with the organisation since 2017.

Melbourne’s COVID-19 restrictions eased

Melbourne’s 25km limit will end and the ban on travel from the city into regional areas will also be lifted as part of a further downgrading of the city’s COVID-19 measures announced today.

From 11.59pm on Thursday, homes in Melbourne can have two visitors per day, masks are no longer mandatory outdoors and venues such as gyms can reopen.

Up to 7000 fans from Geelong and surrounding areas can also attend Friday night’s AFL match at GMHBA Stadium between the Cats and the Western Bulldogs.

The new restrictions will be in place for the next week, with slightly stronger measures remaining for Melbourne.

But anyone from Melbourne wanting to travel to the snow will need to have a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of heading to the state’s alpine resorts.

The raft of eased restrictions came as Victoria recorded three new locally acquired COVID-19 cases overnight.

The Health Department confirmed five new local COVID-19 cases were recorded in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning, two of which had already been announced.

The three new cases are all linked to known outbreaks, the department said.

The two other cases, which were announced on Tuesday, are residents of the Kings Park Apartment Complex at Southbank.

The complex has been locked down for 14 days after a total of six residents, including an infant, became infected with COVID-19.

France slams China over Australia row

French President Emmanuel Macron has scolded China for using economic coercion to bully and intimidate Australia.

He described the rising superpower’s tactics as a blatant breach of international law and declared France stood with Australia.

Macron offered the public backing after welcoming Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Paris on Tuesday.

“You are at the forefront of the tensions that exist in the region, of the threats, and sometimes of the intimidation, and I want to reiterate here how much we stand by your side,” he said.

“I would like to reiterate how committed France remains to defending the balance in the Indo-Pacific region and how much we consider the partnership we have with Australia is essential in the Indo-Pacific strategy.”

Macron said the instability required a global response.

“We firmly reject any coercive economic measures taken against Australia in flagrant violation of international law,” he said.

Morrison described Australia and France as good friends and partners.

“No one understands liberty more than the French,” he told reporters.

“Affinity is the word we use to describe our partnership – an affinity across so many areas of the relationship.

“Every element of our partnership is about reinforcing the values and beliefs we hold dearly.”

Earlier, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also backed Australia in its struggle with China.

“We stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends,” Johnson told reporters in London.

“But I probably speak for Scott as well when I say nobody wants to descend into a new Cold War with China – we don’t see that as the way forward.

“This is a difficult relationship where it is vital to engage with China in as positive a way as we can.”

Asked what behaviours concerned him the most, Johnson highlighted China’s human rights record in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and its behaviour towards Australia and other regional neighbours.

China has launched trade strikes against more than $20 billion worth of Australian exports in response to a range of political grievances.

Driver charged after fatal expressway crash

A man has been charged following a crash on the Northern Expressway last night that led to the death of a 44-year-old woman.

Police will allege a Holden Cruze was travelling north on the Northern Expressway west of Gawler just before 11.30pm when the driver collided with wire cabling on the median strip and lost control causing the vehicle to spin.

A second vehicle, a Holden station wagon, also travelling north on the expressway swerved to avoid colliding with the Cruze, however also clipped the wire cabling and came to a stop a short distance away.

A third vehicle, a Mitsubishi Triton, drove past the incident and the driver allegedly crashed into the female driver of the Cruze who had stepped out of her vehicle.

The Andrews Farm woman died at the scene.

The Mitsubishi was located approximately one kilometre from the scene.

The driver, a 21-year-old man from Para Hills was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of a fatal crash, causing death by dangerous driving and two counts of driving without due care.

He was granted police bail to appear in the Elizabeth Magistrates Court on July 29.

$920 million tender opens for SA public housing

South Australian public housing is set to receive $920 million in maintenance work over the next eight years as the State Government today releases a tender for the upgrade of ageing Housing Trust properties across the state.

The maintenance work – focusing on kitchens, bathrooms, laundries, paint work, roofing and fencing – is expected to support around 800 jobs for tradespeople and subcontractors across the tender’s eight-year lifespan.

The investment comes after revelations last year that nearly 15,000 housing trust homes in South Australia were on a maintenance backlog.

However, the $115 million a year tender represents a spending decrease from the $140 million allocated to social housing maintenance last year, which was boosted through COVID stimulus programs.

Human Services Minister Michelle Lensink said the tender would provide “much-needed and long-overdue” upgrades to the state’s public housing.

“This $900 million tender will provide a major shot-in-the-arm for local trades and contractors, helping to ensure this industry is supported in the coming years as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“Not only are we supporting hundreds of South Australian jobs by providing guaranteed work over a period of many years, our public housing tenants will no doubt welcome upgrades to ageing public housing properties.”

Shadow Human Services Minister Nat Cook said the spending figures were “all over the place”.

“I think we will find that this is a cut to funding,” she told ABC Radio.

“How do you make an inroad into people’s maintenance that they’re desperate to have done if you’re going to cut the budget?”

Cook also questioned what incentives would be in place for contractors to complete the work.

Contractors applying for the tender, which goes live on the Tenders SA website today, must have a home base in SA and commit to employing South Australian subcontractors including Aboriginal people and businesses.

The State Budget is due to be released next Tuesday, June 22.

‘New dawn’: Australia seals trade agreement with UK

Australians will enjoy cheaper British-made cars and Scotch whisky while farmers will get more of their products on UK store shelves, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says after he reached a trade deal on Tuesday with his counterpart Boris Johnson in London.

The in-principle agreement – announced officially on Tuesday morning (London time) after the two leaders ironed the details over dinner the previous night – will pave the way for more Australians to live and work in the UK and offer exporters more market options.

Australia agreed to remove its tariffs of up to five per cent on cars manufactured in England, and Scotch whisky.

It will also scrap a requirement for British backpackers to work on Australian farms for 80 days before extending their visas.

“I said we would wait for the right deal, and I think we’ve got the right deal between the UK and Australia,” Morrison told reporters in the garden of 10 Downing Street.

“Our economies are stronger by these agreements. This is the most comprehensive and ambitious agreement that Australia has concluded.”

However, there is concern over a lack of details in the agreement, with the text of the deal yet to be finalised and the parliaments of both countries still needing to approve it before it comes into force.

Scottish Trade Minister Ivan McKee tweeted that he was due to be briefed about the deal by the UK government on Tuesday morning, “but our call has been put back until much later because we were told ‘not enough of the deal is nailed down’”.

Morrison said consumers in Australia will benefit from cheaper products as tariffs on cars, whisky and other UK exports would be eliminated immediately.

“The UK will liberalise Australian imports with 99 per cent of Australian goods, including Australian wine and short and medium grain milled rice, entering the UK duty free when the agreement enters into force,” he said.

But import tariffs on Australian beef and lamb will only be fully phased out over 15 years following the urgings of UK farmers concerned about being crushed by cheaper produce from Australia.

On Tuesday, Morrison also met the Queen at Windsor Castle, before leaving the UK for France to meet President Emmanuel Macron.

SA to open Paris trade office

South Australia will establish a trade and investment office in Paris to grow the state’s exports to Europe, as part of the upcoming state budget.

The office, which will be sustained by a $1.8 million State Government investment over the next four years, will support South Austraila’s trade and investment across mainland Europe.

It follows the establishment of South Australian trade offices in Shanghai, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and the USA, in addition to the Agent General’s office in London which has supported South Australian trade since 1859.

Minister for Trade and Investment Stephen Patterson said the new office will help build on the state’s trade with the EU, which is worth more than $700 million a year.

“In a post-Brexit trade landscape, it’s crucial that South Australia has a continued presence in the UK through the office of the Agent-General as well as a strong presence in the European Union through the new Paris office,” Patterson said.

“This will grow our capacity to reach emerging markets in Europe by focusing on two-way trade and investment, and by driving services exports in key sectors for South Australia like hi-tech, creative industries, renewable energy, and space and defence.”

Patterson added that the State Government anticipates further trade opportunities to come through a national free trade agreement with the EU and Australia’s in-principle trade deal with the UK.

The Weatherill Government opened a trade office in Paris in 2017, touting it then as the first state to open such a permanent presence in France.

However, within weeks the chosen trade representative was stood down and the Paris operations were then essentially operated out of the South Australian Agent-General’s office in London.

NSW investigating hotel quarantine cases

NSW Health is investigating the source of a COVID-19 case diagnosed in hotel quarantine which has an identical viral sequence to two cases staying in an adjacent room.

The state’s health department said on Tuesday night it was unclear how and where transmission occurred from a couple to another returned traveller who were all staying on the fourth floor of the Radisson Blu quarantine hotel.

Genomic sequencing has shown all three cases have identical viral sequences of the Alpha strain (B.1.1.7).

The couple, who were asymptomatic, tested positive to COVID-19 on a routine Day 2 test on June 3, NSW Health said in a statement.

The other returned traveller returned a negative Day 2 test on June 3 before subsequently developing symptoms and testing positive for COVID-19 following a test on June 5.

The three cases were transferred from the Radisson Blu to the Special Health Accommodation, where they remain.

All three cases arrived into Sydney on the same flight from Doha on June 1 and stayed in adjacent rooms in the quarantine hotel.

“Early possibilities as to where transmission may have occurred from the couple to the secondary case include on the flight, on transport from the airport to the hotel, in the lobby of the hotel, or while in quarantine.”

NSW Health said there was no evidence of further transmission.

“Out of an abundance of caution, all returned travellers who were on the same floor of the Radisson Blu hotel between June 1 and June 5 and were subsequently discharged are being contacted and asked to get tested and isolate at home pending further advice from NSW Health.”

Roberts-Smith soon to face cross examination

Ben Roberts-Smith is expected to complete the bulk of his evidence today before he is cross examined at his landmark defamation trial against publishers of three newspapers over claims of war crimes in Afghanistan.

Roberts-Smith, 42, has spent three days in the witness box at Sydney’s Federal Court. He launched action against the publishers of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times over articles from 2018 related to his SAS deployments in Afghanistan that he says defame him.

The Victoria Cross winner is also suing over a report that he assaulted a woman in a Canberra hotel room.

After the completion of his testimony, the trial is expected to adjourn for the rest of Wednesday so both legal teams can examine thousands of pages of new documents. Thereafter Roberts-Smith faces cross examination, due to start on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Roberts-Smith denied punching a woman – codenamed Person 17 – in a Canberra hotel room in 2018, labelling domestic violence as “highly reprehensible”.

Roberts-Smith told the court that he attended an event at Parliament House where the woman became intoxicated and fell down stairs, before he put her to bed in a hotel room.

The court was told the war hero was in a relationship with the woman and that at one point he hired a private investigator to video her due to concerns of being “manipulated” over a pregnancy claim.

The war hero has previously denied at the trial that as an SAS operator he kicked an Afghan prisoner off a cliff, killed a captured Afghan insurgent, or bullied another soldier.

Roberts-Smith’s legal team has argued their client is the victim of a lying campaign by failed soldiers and “bitter people” envious of his glittering military career and VC.

Chalmers secures Olympics spot

South Australian Kyle Chalmers is daring his rivals not to crack under pressure when he defends his Olympic 100-metre freestyle title in Tokyo, after securing his place on the Australian team last night.

Chalmers will next month have the chance to be the first Australian man to win consecutive Olympic gold medals in the blue riband event.

The reigning champ triumphed at Australia’s Olympic selection trials in a swift 47.59 seconds – just 0.01s slower than his golden swim at the 2016 Rio Games.

And Chalmers is challenging his rivals including American Caleb Dressel, Great Britain’s Duncan Scott and Russian Kliment Kolesnikov to turn up the heat under the Olympic spotlight in Tokyo.

“That is what excites me most, I want to be a part of one of the greatest races in history,” Chalmers said.

“I know there’s a lot of guys that are swimming fast at the moment – obviously it’s a bit easier to swim fast at trials and what-not.

“You have got to do it when the pressure is on and when it counts the most.

“So it will be interesting to see how quickly we can go in five weeks’ time.”

The 22-year-old warned his rivals he was a much-improved swimmer from the raw brute who triumphed in 2016.

“My skills have come a long way, especially from Rio to now, but they’re still progressing as the season goes on,” he said, forecasting further technical gains at a pre-Games camp in Townsville.

Earlier at the trials, Zac Stubblety-Cook set a 200m breaststroke Commonwealth record as his rival Matt Wilson’s Olympic heartbreak continued.

Second-placed Wilson finished 0.24 seconds outside the qualifying time specified by Swimming Australia.

Wilson’s dejection mirrors 2016 when he won at trials but was 0.26s shy of the qualifying mark to miss the Rio team.

-With AAP and Reuters

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