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What we know today, Sunday June 27

News

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

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SA closes borders to most of the country

South Australia has closed its borders to most of Australia in response to a wave of outbreaks across the country.

Effective immediately, SA will close its borders to Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT.

Travellers en route when the announcement was made will be allowed in however.

The border was already mostly closed to NSW except for a 100km buffer zone.

In a Sunday press conference announcing the decision Premier Steven Marshall said there had been a “significant deterioration” in Australia’s control of COVID-19.

“SA needs to take decisive action to continue to keep our state safe,” he said.

The travel ban will apply to everyone but permitted travellers such as SA residents returning home, essential travellers and people escaping domestic violence.

Marshall also flagged that COVID-19 restrictions may be imposed within the state to protect against the highly transmissible Deltra strain appearing around the country.

On Sunday NSW reported 30 new COVID-19 cases, Darwin went into an immediate 48-hour lockdown and Western Australia reimposed restrictions.

SA reported no new local cases and three cases in hotel quarantine.

The Northern Territory on Sunday reported four new diagnoses, with the government imposing a 48-hour lockdown for the capital city and some surrounding areas, which followed a positive case of a local miner.

In NSW, total cases have ballooned to 110 after entering into a 14-day lockdown in Greater Sydney area and other areas.

In WA, a woman who visited Sydney and returned home also picked up the virus, prompting increased restrictions including mask wearing indoors.

“I know today is a challenging day for Australians,” Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.

“We’ve done this before, we know how to do it. And we will get through it.”

Health authorities are continuing to track hundreds of passengers from five Virgin flights on Friday and Saturday which carried people between Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and the Gold Coast.

The alert was raised after a Sydney-based flight attendant tested positive to COVID, and was possibly infectious on Friday and Saturday.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said the crew member did not have any symptoms when working those shifts and was unaware of having been a close contact of a worker at Sydney’s Marrickville Great Ocean Foods, which has been identified as a transmission hotspot.

The NT situation was sparked by the positive case of a mine worker at the Newmont-owned Granites gold mine in the Tanami desert, some 540km northwest of Alice Springs.

More than 1600 people in three states have been ordered into isolation after he tested positive.

Chief Minister Michael Gunner said the worker was on a flight to Darwin with 80 other people. There are more than 200 other workers who flew from the mine to Darwin and authorities are still to contact about 20 of them.

Queensland has reported two new local cases, with both people believed to have been active in Brisbane for several days.

An updated list of possible transmission sites has been released on the Queensland Heath website.

NSW records 30 new local COVID-19 cases

NSW has recorded 30 new locally acquired cases of coronavirus on the first day of a 14-day lockdown for large parts of the state.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian has confirmed all 30 cases have been linked to the Bondi outbreak, while 11 of them were self-isolating throughout their infectious period.

A further three cases were in isolation for part of their infectious period.

The new cases bring the outbreak to 110, while a further two local cases remain under investigation.

More than 52,000 people were tested and 12,881 received a vaccine dose in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday.

NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said 10 of the new cases are linked to Great Ocean Foods in Marrickville, bringing that cluster to 11.

One case linked to the seafood distributor is a flight crew attendant with Virgin Australia who tested positive on Saturday night.

Anyone who received a delivery from the business between June 21 and June 25, plus their household members, are being urged to contact NSW Health, immediately isolate and get tested.

Other cases of concern to authorities are a person who tested positive after attending the COVID-19 vaccination centre at Westmead Hospital on June 22, and a close contact of a worker at the Granites gold mine in central Australia, who tested positive in the Hunter New England region of NSW.

Sydney travellers in SA ordered into isolation

South Australian authorities have ordered travellers from Sydney already in the state to self-quarantine for two weeks.

The new rules introduced on Saturday evening apply to any person who arrived in South Australia between 12:01 am on June 21 and 11:59 pm on June 23 who had been in Greater Sydney including Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong after 12:01 am on June 21.

They must self-quarantine for 14 days from the day of arrival, and undertake COVID-19 tests on the first, fifth and thirteenth day.

The restrictions come on top of a hard border ban with NSW introduced earlier in the week.

SA’s new rules come as states and countries further tighten border restrictions in a bid to contain the NSW outbreak.

New Zealand on Saturday announced it would fully close the trans-Tasman travel bubble with all of Australia for at least three days.

NSW trio nabbed in outback SA karaoke bar

A man and two women have been nabbed in a karaoke bar in outback SA after breaking border restrictions by flying in on a light plane from regional NSW.

SA Police said they were notified on Friday that the private plane, a Cessna with a pilot and two passengers, attempted to land in the Northern Territory on Friday, but was denied entry.

They allege the plane departed Griffith, in NSW’s Riverina region, on Thursday and first landed in Coober Pedy against cross border directions.

“The group then attempted to enter the Northern Territory on Friday but were denied and returned to Coober Pedy, again in breach of cross border directions,” police said in a statement on Saturday.

“Coober Pedy Police were tasked to locate the travellers and identify where they had been to assess the risk posed to our vulnerable outback communities.”

Officers tracked them down to a local karaoke bar just after midnight.

The trio – a 27-year-old man and two women, aged 21 and 39 – were charged with failing to comply with the Emergency Management Act.

They were refused police bail and will appear in the Magistrates Court on Monday.

NSW braces for virus spread amid lockdown

Greater Sydney and its surrounds is waking to the first day of a two-week lockdown and expecting many more COVID-19 cases.

Premier Gladys Berejikilian ordered the lockdown of Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Wollongong on Saturday.

Residents are only allowed to leave home for work that can’t be done at home, to shop for essential items, for exercise, to seek medical care or for caregiving or compassionate reasons.

The lockdown order followed news that COVID-19 case numbers in the so-called Bondi cluster swelled by 12 to 80.

There are also 108 sites where people who have visited are considered ‘casual contacts’.

Ms Berejiklian has warned people that virus case numbers will climb in coming days.

“We should brace ourselves because the contact tracers have done such a good job in identifying potential cases and their close contacts … we know that the numbers will go up the next few days,” she said on Saturday.

Anyone in NSW who has been to Greater Sydney since June 21 is also being asked to stay at home for the lockdown period.

Exercise outdoors is allowed in groups of up to 10, and COVID-safe funerals can proceed with up to 100 people.

Weddings are allowed on Sunday with restrictions in place, but must be cancelled from Monday.

NSW Health has also issued an alert for passengers who travelled on five Virgin flights to and from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, and the Gold Coast on Friday and Saturday after a flight attendant tested positive to the virus.

In the NT a fresh positive case in a mine worker at a site 540km northwest of Alice Springs has caused it to shut down and forced hundreds of workers into isolation.

Jabiru returned to traditional owners

A town built to support a Northern Territory uranium mine has been handed over to Indigenous land owners, ending a long-running native title dispute.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley and Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt have formally handed the Kakadu community of Jabiru to the Mirarr People.

The town, built in 1982 to support the Ranger uranium mine, will now become a hub to support Kakadu tourism with investment from federal and NT governments.

Mr Wyatt officially issued the title document to senior traditional owners on Saturday.

Ms Ley said the formal handover ahead of an agreed settlement date of June 30 represented “marks the start of a new chapter and a bright future” for the area.

“One which sees Mirarr ownership and management of the land which they have been the custodians of for generations and supports the preservation of the cultural and natural values of Kakadu National Park.”

Mr Wyatt said the the transition of Jabiru would give traditional owners economic security and control of decision-making needed to build a prosperous future.

Jabiru was established to provide housing and services to support the adjacent Ranger Mine, which ceased operations in January.

It will be developed as a tourism and regional services hub for Kakadu and the West Arnhem region.

The federal government will invest $35 million directly into the town for a range of remediation measures, beautification projects, upgrades and commissioned public artwork.

Assange plans to marry partner in prison

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is planning to marry partner Stella Moris in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison, where he been for two the past two years.

Assange, an Australian-born journalist, has spent more than two years in London’s high-security Belmarsh prison.

His relationship with Moris began during the period Assange spent in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he claimed political asylum.

The couple now have two sons, aged four and two-and-a-half.

“We’re looking into getting married in the prison because we’ve been engaged since 2016,”  Moris said ahead of the Wikileaks founder’s 50th birthday on July 3.

“The most likely thing is that we’ll get married in the prison and then we’ll have another kind of wedding celebration with friends and family once once he’s free.”

She said no date had been set yet but the two were working through the necessary bureaucracy and hoped to marry “soon.”

“It’s quite complicated,” she said.

“We have spoken to the Belmarsh chaplain services about it and they said they haven’t seen a wedding in Belmarsh for as long as they’ve been there, which is 12 years. So it’s not a straightforward thing to do.”

Moris said the plans also depended on the prison’s governor allowing them to marry in prison, and noted that there could be concerns as Assange is Australian and his visa had expired.

It was also unclear whether guests could attend during the pandemic, she said.

Belmarsh could allow Assange out for a day.

A British judge recently denied an extradition request from the US for Assange to face charges of espionage there, due to concerns about his health.

UK health minister quits after office kiss

British health minister Matt Hancock has quit after he was caught breaking COVID-19 rules by kissing and embracing an aide in his office, enraging colleagues and the public who have been living under lockdown.

Hancock wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to resign on Saturday, saying he had let people down.

An increasing number of his fellow Conservative lawmakers had privately called for him to go after the Sun newspaper published photos on Friday of the married minister embracing a woman whom he had appointed to a taxpayer-funded role to scrutinise his department.

“Those of us who make these rules have got to stick by them and that’s why I’ve got to resign,” the 42-year-old said in a video on Twitter.

Hancock had been at the centre of the government’s fight against the pandemic, routinely appearing on television to tell people to follow strict rules and to defend his department against criticism of its response to the crisis.

He will be replaced by Sajid Javid, a former finance minister with widespread government experience but new to health.

The opposition Labour Party had also questioned whether Hancock had broken the ministerial code: the woman, a long-time friend, was appointed as a non-executive director to scrutinise the running of his department.

Media reports said on Saturday she had now quit.

Red Mauritius fetches over $12 million

The so-called Red Mauritius, one of the most famous and rarest stamps in the world, has been sold by auction in Germany for 8.1 million euros ($A12.75 million) .

According to the auction house, the historically valuable cover with the stamp only changes hands every few decades.

A total of three interested parties had bid on the phone after the stamp was offered for sale by private owner on Saturday morning at a starting price of 4 million euros.

The Red Mauritius was used for the first time to pay the postage for invitations to a costume ball. Three of the envelopes are said to have survived.

“Queen Elizabeth II has one of the ‘Ball Covers’ in her philatelic collection,” explained auctioneer Christoph Gaertner.

Another copy is in the Philatelic Collection of the British Library in London, he added. “Both can never be sold.”

The third still in existence, he said, was the one just auctioned in private hands.

The previous owner had only parted with the rare stamp with a heavy heart, he said.

“I have enjoyed every second of the prestigious Mauritius Ball Cover of 1847 and felt it was now time to pass it on to someone equally passionate and proud to own it,” the auction house quoted from the man before the sale.

Scott Lycett of the Power celebrates a goal and sealing the game with team mate Karl Amon during the AFL Round 15 match between Port Adelaide and Sydney at the Adelaide Oval, Saturday, June 26, 2021. Image: AAP/Matt Turner

Port overcome Sydney in Adelaide Oval epic

Port Adelaide have edged Sydney by 10 points to climb into the AFL’s top four.

The Power triumphed 12.9 (81) to 10.11 (71) on a rain-soaked Adelaide Oval on Saturday to pinch fourth spot from Geelong.

Sydney slip a rung to seventh despite champion forward Franklin booting four goals, taking his career tally to 973 – surpassing Jack Titus as the sixth-highest goalscorer in VFL/AFL history.

The 34-year-old megastar, who was reported earlier in the match, revived the Swans with a stirring last quarter when they appeared down and out.

Port led by 15 points at three quarter-time, before Franklin booted three goals in a stunning 15-minute burst to put his side four points up with seven minutes remaining.

Port’s medical substitute Sam Mayes, who only came on minutes earlier when Trent McKenzie suffered a collarbone injury, then became a home-town hero.

With four minutes left, Mayes dribbled a goal to restore Port’s lead and, with two minutes left, ruckman Scott Lycett iced the win with a classy major from a tight angle.

Port’s vice-captain Ollie Wines (29 disposals) was again a force along with ex-skipper Travis Boak (30 touches, one goal).

Forwards Charlie Dixon (19 possessions) and Todd Marshall both kicked two goals.

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