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What we know today, Friday August 6

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NSW has reported a record 291 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, with at least 96 of those people out in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

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NSW records 291 cases, one death

NSW has reported a record 291 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19, with at least 96 of those people circulating in the community for all or part of their infectious period.

A woman in her 60s has also died while receiving care in Liverpool Hospital, taking the toll of the current coronavirus outbreak to 23. She was unvaccinated.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Friday warned the escalation in daily infections would continue in the coming days and again pointed to vaccination as a way out of the outbreak.

Almost 44 per cent of NSW residents over 16 have been jabbed at least once.

“The more people we get vaccinated, the sooner we will be able to live more freely and I really want to stress that point,” Berejiklian told reporters.

“Life for us on August 29 will be a reflection of how many people have at least one dose of the vaccine and where the case numbers are.

“Given where numbers are, given the experience of Delta overseas, we now have to live with Delta one way or another and that is pretty obvious. The higher the vaccination rate, the safer we are, the freer we’ll be.”

There are 50 patients in NSW in intensive care, with 22 ventilated.

Adelaide international equestrian event cancelled

The Australian International 3-Day Event, a national equestrian competition held in the Adelaide parklands, has been cancelled due to COVID lockdowns across the country.

The event, which attracts riders and horses from across Australia, had to be called off after riders were unable to qualify due to lockdown disruptions in other states.

“We are disappointed this has led to the decision to cancel the 2021 Aus3DE … but we have our sights set on the delivery of a fantastic event in 2022 post this pandemic,” event chair Greg Rolton said.

“We thank the Marshall Government for being a strong supporter of this great event and we have ambitions for it to extend its reach and formalise itself as a premier business networking event on the national calendar – where trade, export and South Australian opportunities can be discussed against the most idyllic and exciting backdrop.”

The Aud3DE event generates $5.2 million in expenditure for South Australia every year with 56 per cent of spectators coming from outside of Adelaide to watch the competition, according to the event’s organisers.

Qld records 10 new cases as lockdown end looms

Queensland has recorded 10 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases, with a lockdown in the state’s southeast on track to lift on schedule.

The new cases emerged after more than 48,000 tests in the 24 hours to 6am on Friday, taking the number of cases in the Indooroopilly Delta variant outbreak to 89.

Deputy Premier Steven Miles says two of the new cases were infectious in the community for one day each, raising hopes the eight-day lockdown will end as scheduled at 4pm on Sunday.

“Queensland, you are doing an amazing job, an amazing job,” he told reporters on Friday.

“You are getting tested, you are staying home, you are wearing your masks, you are doing the right thing. I’ve never been more proud to be a Queenslander than I am when I see these fantastic results.

“All the indications are that it is working, we just need to keep it up. It is too soon to say what will happen over the next few days and whether we will be able to ease restrictions on Sunday.”

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said all 10 new cases were household contacts of existing cases in the Indooroopilly cluster.

Five are linked to Ironside State School, three are linked to Indooroopilly State High School and two are linked to Brisbane Boys Grammar School.

Young said 8594 people are in home quarantine and the lockdown of the southeast could still end on Sunday.

She said it will depend on whether people stay home unless they need to leave for essential purposes and wear masks if they do.

The decision on lockdown, won’t be made until the case and testing numbers are received at 6am on Sunday.

“I’d doubt it will be before Sunday. I will want to see the numbers on Sunday morning,” Young said.

The chief health officer said even if lockdown ends, face masks could be mandated in Queensland until Christmas.

She said authorities were even looking into whether there were benefits for children under the age of 12 to wear masks.

“If we want to try and avoid lockdowns, we are going to have to get used to wearing masks,” she said.

“Hopefully it won’t be through till Christmas but it could be.”

Vault open: national cabinet loses secrecy

National cabinet documents will no longer be secret after a judge ruled against the Morrison government’s fight to keep the federal-state deliberations confidential.

Independent senator Rex Patrick, who launched the legal battle, said the decision was a huge win for transparency and accountability.

He said the prime minister’s decision to replace the Council of Australian Governments with national cabinet at the start of the pandemic wrapped a blanket of secrecy over the meetings.

“It was inappropriate and it has been found to be unlawful,” Senator Patrick told ABC radio on Friday.

“The vault is now open. There are still protections in place. This is not carte blanche.”

Sensitive commercial or national security information will still be protected under freedom of information laws.

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet was granted a 28-day stay on releasing documents giving it time to consider an appeal.

Senator Patrick said he requested national cabinet meeting minutes to trigger action in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

He has other pending freedom of information requests including the expert medical panel’s advice to leaders on lockdowns and border closures.

The Senate’s coronavirus response committee is set to write to government departments who previously claimed cabinet confidentiality.

The government will have to prove releasing the documents could cause harm rather than impose blanket rejections.

Senator Patrick labelled the refusal to release economic and health modelling as cavalier.

“There have been some good things the government has done but there’s also been some absolute failures – things like quarantine and the vaccine rollout,” he said.

“The more information that is released, the less confused people are likely to be. You also can’t use embarrassment as an excuse.”

The prime minister’s lawyers opposed his demand to see medical advice on borders, lockdowns, vaccinations, school closures, the aged care death toll and failures in disability.

Justice Richard White ruled national cabinet documents should be made available to Senator Patrick, as they were not exempt under the Freedom of Information Act.

Four new COVID cases in Victoria

Victoria has recorded four new locally acquired coronavirus cases on the first day of its sixth lockdown.

The health department confirmed the state recorded six cases in the 24 hours to Friday morning, two of which were already announced by authorities on Thursday.

All six cases are linked to previously reported infections of the Delta variant and have been in the community while infectious.

The lockdown was sparked by two separate chains of transmission, dubbed the Hobsons Bay and Maribyrnong outbreaks.

The Hobsons Bay outbreak is named after a couple, aged in their 20s, who live in the local government area.

One of them is a teacher at Al-Taqwa College in Truganina, who tested positive on Wednesday.

Her partner and two relatives have also tested positive.

It’s unknown how the couple contracted the virus, with authorities hoping genomic testing results will shed some light.

Authorities are also racing to trace the source of the infection of a man in his 20s who lives in the Maribyrnong council area.

He works at a warehouse in Derrimut and he and his housemate are isolating.

Contact tracers are working on the possibility that the man came into contact with relatives in Melbourne that had been recently cleared from NSW hotel quarantine.

Final design revealed for Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre

The final design for the $200 million Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre slated for Lot Fourteen has been revealed, with the project submitted to the State Commission Assessment Panel for approval.

Described by Premier Steven Marshall as the “jewel in the crown” of the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site on North Terrace, the centre will house art galleries, performing arts spaces, permanent and visiting exhibition areas, event areas, a commercial kitchen and café and retail space.

Concept designs for the building, designed by Woods Bagot and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, have now been updated to include more generous landscaping to integrate with the Botanic Gardens.

Diller Scofidio + Renfro partner Charles Renfro said the new design “speaks to and embraces Aboriginal shared values”.

“Wholly connected to the landscape, the design embeds the lower ground level into the site and includes a first of its kind outdoor gallery cantilevered over the terraced landscape,” he said.

Aerial view of an open air amphitheatre to host Welcome to Country and other events, nestled within the immersive gardens. (Image supplied: Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot)

A design statement from Woods Bagot and Diller Scofidio + Renfro says that the building’s inherent structure is formed by a “crafted metal skin” which is pleated at ground level.

“The skin informs the structure and dances around the building facade, following the cyclical pattern of the upper exhibition spaces,” the statement reads.

“A series of spiralling forms elevate above ground, tilted and open, connecting Aboriginal art and culture back to the public and to Country.

The architects said the forms lean on each other and are co-dependent, invoking “a vitality which aligns to a resilient and living culture”.

Aerial view with AACC wholly connected to the landscape. (Image supplied: Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot).

Construction on the project is expected to start later this year and be completed by 2025.

The project is jointly funded by $85 million from the Federal Government and $115 from the State Government.

The building will incorporate environmentally sustainable design and be carbon neutral ready when construction is finished, according to the architects.

The cantilevered feature gallery of the AACC is entirely outdoors, with structural columns appearing to grow from out of the ground (Image supplied: Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Woods Bagot).

The Premier said the centre would be a “symbol of reconciliation” as well as an international tourism destination.

“This new landmark for our state will create important opportunities for Aboriginal employment and development, while driving economic and social outcomes for the people of South Australia,” Marshall said.

InDaily reported last month that it made a Freedom of Information request for the business case, but that the government had refused to release key details.

While the government said that it expected around half a million annual visitors to the centre, it said details about viability and profitability would remain confidential.

Report argues for huge boost in Fringe funding

Adelaide Fringe is using a new report analysing the event’s comparative and future economic impact to push for a significant rise in State Government funding – from $2.4 million to $4.4 million a year – to help it rebound from the impact of COVID-19.

The report, released today, was compiled by PwC Australia after being commissioned by Fringe in March this year.

It concludes that prior to the pandemic, the total gross expenditure generated by the open-access festival was more than 30 times the amount provided by all levels of government, and that the festival generated more than $30 of gross economic impact for every dollar provided by the South Australian Government.

It says that in pre-COVID terms, “for every ticket sold at Fringe, the State Government invested approximately $3. Comparatively, other major South Australian events looked at in this analysis receive between $10-$100 of funding per ticket sold.”

In a statement this morning accompanying the release of the report, Adelaide Fringe argues that an additional $2 million a year from the State Government – taking its annual operating grant to $4.4 million per year – would enable it to “rebound and continue delivering economic and social returns to the state that significantly exceed pre-COVID results”.

Adelaide Fringe director and CEO Heather Croall said that additional support was needed for the Fringe to “continue to deliver a high return on investment to South Australia”.

The PwC report outlines three specific areas for which Fringe is seeking targeted investment, with modelling that analyses the potential economic impact over the next four years if investment is made in one or all of these.

-Suzie Keen

Read the full story here.

Victorian lockdown derails SA border reopening

South Australia’s plans to reopen to travellers from western Victoria have been put on hold after Premier Dan Andrews announced the state would be going into its sixth lockdown.

South Australia’s transition committee had ruled early on Thursday to open the border to western Victoria, although Greater Melbourne would remain locked out.

But those plans were scuttled later in the day when Victoria reported eight new cases of the Delta variant of COVID-19, prompting authorities to call another seven-day lockdown.

In a statement late on Thursday, Police Commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens confirmed there would be no change to South Australia’s border arrangements.

“Changes announced following the State’s Transition Committee this morning have been put on hold following the announcement that Victoria will go into lockdown for seven days at 8pm tonight,” he said.

“This is an evolving situation and will continue to be monitored.”

It means all travellers from Victoria are still prohibited from entering South Australia except returning SA residents, essential travellers, people relocating or escaping domestic violence, and those in the 70km cross border corridor.

Meanwhile, Victorian police arrested 15 people last night after hundreds of protesters rallied in Melbourne’s CBD against the latest lockdown.

Protesters, some carrying placards and most not wearing masks, gathered at Flinders Street about 7pm on Thursday and moved into Swanston Street as police in masks gathered to try to disperse them.

More than six million Victorians find themselves living under stay-at-home orders again, only 10 days after coming out of the last lockdown.

Victorian Health officials remain concerned about two mystery cases – an infected teacher at Al-Taqwa College in Truganina and a Maribyrnong man in his 20s.

The teacher, who lives in the Hobsons Bay area, has already passed the virus to her partner and two relatives, with fears she may have unknowingly spread the virus in the community while infectious.

Thousands of close contacts are isolating and there are more than 80 exposure sites, with that number expected to grow on Friday.

Snape elected to city council

Greens member and City South Association president Keiran Snape has been elected to fill the vacant area councillor seat at the Adelaide City Council.

Snape, who lives on Wright Street, was announced as the provisional winner of the supplementary election late yesterday afternoon.

He will replace former councillor and fellow Greens member Robert Simms, after Simms quit the council in March to join State Parliament’s Legislative Council.

The election was provisionally declared yesterday and is expected to be certified on Monday.

Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor said she looked forward to Snape’s “positive contribution in the chamber and to the community”.

Snape will have just 15 months to serve on the council before the next general local government elections in November next year.

-Stephanie Richards

Walker sidelined for Showdown amid racism probe

Crows forward Taylor Walker will not feature in Saturday night’s Showdown amid an ongoing probe into whether he made a racist comment at a SANFL match last month.

The Club confirmed at their 6pm team selection on Thursday that the star forward was not considered for selection and has been omitted from the squad for their clash with arch-rivals Port Adelaide.

Walker is facing an AFL Integrity Commission inquiry into comments he is alleged to have made in the quarter-time huddle of the Crows’ reserves side’s SANFL game against North Adelaide at Prospect Oval on July 17.

The alleged comment was reportedly made to a fellow Crows player and referred to Aboriginal Roosters player Robbie Young, who previously played three games for St Kilda in 2019.

Earlier on Thursday, Crows midfield coach Nathan van Berlo reiterated the club’s position that it cannot comment until the AFL inquiry is resolved.

“I understand there’s a really high level of interest in the football club at the moment, but I hope you can understand and appreciate that I’m not in a position to make any comment,” he told reporters.

He said he didn’t know when the AFL integrity inquiry would be resolved and described the issue as a “highly sensitive and highly confidential matter for the time being”.

Messi to leave Barcelona

Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi is to leave Barcelona despite both parties having reached an agreement over a new contract.

The La Liga club cited economic and structural obstacles to the renewal of the deal when it announced the bombshell news on Thursday.

Messi, who has spent his whole career at Barcelona, had been expected to sign a new five-year deal with the Catalan club, which would have included a salary reduction of 50%.

But Barcelona needed to financially restructure in order to get the deal over the line, which proved impossible in the end as they failed to reduce their wage bill in order and stay within La Liga’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.

La Liga chief Javier Tebas said last month that Barcelona, who have a total debt of more than 1 billion euros ($1.18 billion), would not be shown any leniency when it comes to obeying the league’s strict financial control rules.

“Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish La Liga regulations),” Barca said in a statement.

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.”

Messi, who joined Barca’s youth set-up aged 13, is the club’s all-time top scorer and appearance maker with 672 goals in 778 games in all competitions.

The Argentina forward was free to negotiate a transfer with other clubs after his deal ran out at the end of June, but Barcelona had always maintained he wanted to stay with the club.

It means the Argentine, who helped Barcelona claim 10 league titles, four Champions Leagues and three Club World Cups among his haul of 35 trophies, remains without a club ahead of the 2021-22 season.

Messi has long been linked with a move to either French club Paris St Germain or Manchester City, where he would be reunited with his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola.

-With AAP and Reuters

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