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What we know today, Thursday August 26

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NSW has reported a record 1029 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths, as the state’s regional lockdown is extended until at least September 10.

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NSW records 1029 cases, regional lockdown extended

NSW has reported a record 1029 cases of COVID-19 and three deaths, as the state’s regional lockdown is extended until at least September 10.

It comes as the NSW Government announced outdoor gatherings of up to five fully vaccinated people will be permitted from September 13.

The entire state is currently locked down and police are cracking down on lockdown compliance as authorities battle to contain the spread of the virulent Delta strain.

Of the 1029 cases in the 24 hours to 8pm on Wednesday, the isolation status of 844 remains under investigation.

The three people who died were a man in his 30s, a man in his 60s and a man in his 80s, all of whom were unvaccinated. The death toll for the current NSW outbreak now sits at 79.

There are almost 700 COVID-19 patients in hospitals in NSW, with 116 in intensive care beds and 43 ventilated.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Thursday that from September 13, up to five people – fully vaccinated adults or children – can gather outdoors, provided they are not from 12 council areas of concern.

For those in the 12 areas of concern, households with all adults vaccinated can gather outdoors for recreation, such as picnics. However, they may not do so with other households.

NSW hit its six million jab target earlier this week and the government’s crisis cabinet met overnight to discuss easing restrictions.

Berejiklian said further freedoms would be restored at 70 per cent double-dose vaccination coverage including the removal of family, industry, community and economic restrictions.

New Zealand records 68 new cases

Daily COVID-19 cases in New Zealand’s latest outbreak continue to grow, with 68 new infections reported on day nine of a national lockdown.

The outbreak has now reached 277 cases, with 263 in Auckland and 14 in Wellington.

It comes after the country recorded 62 cases on Wednesday.

“We are in a very similar place to yesterday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

“With Delta these numbers are not necessarily unexpected … we know it moves faster.”

Ardern said further analysis of Wednesday’s 62 cases showed that all but three were from exposure events.

“That tells us something really important, that people are following level four (lockdown rules),” she said.

Carlton sack David Teague

Carlton has belatedly completed the sacking coach David Teague after appointing him two years ago.

The Blues, having conducted a football department review, were expected to part ways with the under-siege coach on Monday.

The club sharpened its axe but delayed a decision, with Teague fearing the worst as he conducted exit interviews after Carlton’s 13th-placed finish.

Teague learned his fate on Thursday morning and informed players before the club made a public announcement, several hours later.

Blues president Luke Sayers claimed in a letter to members it would have been “irresponsible to ignore the decisions that had to be made”.

Sayers also revealed four changes to the club’s board, with Jeanne Pratt, Chris Judd and Christopher Townshend joining Mark LoGiudice in stepping down.

Four-time Hawthorn premiership mastermind Alastair Clarkson has declared he will not coach in 2022, leaving former St Kilda and Fremantle mentor Ross Lyon as the frontrunner in the field to replace Teague.

Georgiades to miss qualifying final

Port Adelaide goalsneak Orazio Fantasia will replace injured teammate Mitch Georgiades for Friday night’s AFL qualifying final against Geelong.

Georgiades was substituted out of last week’s win over the Western Bulldogs because of hamstring soreness.

The 19-year-old trained on Wednesday but failed to convince coach Ken Hinkley he was fully fit.

“The risk is not worth taking, clearly it’s a massive game,” Hinkley told reporters on Thursday.

“His scans are OK and he trained OK, not top end – that made the decision easier for us.”

Former Essendon forward Fantasia will return after missing the Bulldogs game because of hamstring tightness.

Port will be the sole finalists hosting a game on home soil this week but Hinkley said it was impossible to quantify any benefit.

“It’s not an excuse and it’s not an advantage,” he said.

“All I am is very happy we’re playing in front of 15,000 Port people and hopefully even a few more if that could happen.”

Vic records 80 new cases

Victoria has recorded another 80 locally acquired coronavirus cases, including 41 people who were not isolating while infectious.

The total number of active cases in the state is 600.

Sixty-seven cases are linked to known sources, with the source of the remaining 13 under investigation.

The outbreak has hit Victoria’s health system and is causing distress in the regional town of Shepparton.

The state’s exposure sites list has ballooned past 800, including the emergency department of Monash Medical Centre which is now listed as a tier one exposure site.

Business SA backs away from shop hours deregulation

Business SA has changed its position on shop trading hours reform, moving away from the State Government’s push for full deregulation and supporting a more modest change to opening hours.

The state’s chamber of commerce has previously supported allowing shops to open on any day except Christmas Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day morning in a full deregulation of the Shop Trading Hours Act 1997 – in line with the position of the State Government.

The industry peak body has also called for extending trading hours from 5pm to 9pm on Saturdays and Sundays, as well removing all Sunday morning restrictions to opening hours.

Their new position, forming part of their full pre-election policy charter released today, only calls for Saturday evening closing times to be pushed back from 5pm to 6pm, as well as Sunday morning opening times moved forward from 11am to 9am.

It also only calls for regular trading hours to be introduced on Boxing Day.

“Following further consultation with the independent grocery sector, Business SA recognises the potential impact that full deregulation would have, especially the possibility of not being able to compete fairly on labour costs and economies of scale,” the chamber of commerce said, highlighting that a third of grocery retailers in South Australia are independent compared to 19 per cent nationally.

“While further liberalisation would undoubtedly benefit consumers, in the current environment there also needs to be a balance to ensure local independent retailers and their supply chains can remain viable against national and multi-national players which are better placed to absorb the higher costs of weekend and public holiday penalty rates.”

Treasurer Rob Lucas, a long-time proponent of shop trading hour deregulation, has been pushing for a statewide referendum on the issue but has been stalled by Parliament.

Lucas said this morning that he “respectfully disagreed” with Business SA’s position.

“Our policy isn’t designed for Business SA, our policy is designed for 70 per cent of punters out there who say they want greater freedom of choice,” he told ABC Radio Adelaide.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas this morning welcomed Business SA’s change of position.

“I welcome Business SA’s decision to abandon support for Steven Marshall’s total deregulation of shop trading hours, which recognises the importance of family-owned independent small businesses and the workers who are employed by them,” he said.

“Labor supports modest, sensible changes to shop trading hours and it is great to see Business SA agrees.”

Teen charged with assault after school stabbing attack

Police have charged a 16-year-old boy with sexually assaulting and stabbing an 18-year-old woman at a Windsor Gardens school in Adelaide’s northeast.

Just after 3.30pm on Wednesday, police were called to Avenues College on Sudholz Road in Windsor Gardens after reports of an assault.

Police say the 18-year-old victim was indecently assaulted by the suspect who further assaulted her with a box cutter and scissors.

She received numerous cuts to her abdomen, lower left leg and throat and was taken by ambulance to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in a serious condition.

A 16-year-old boy from Salisbury North was arrested and charged with causing harm to another and indecent assault.

He was granted police bail to appear in the Adelaide Youth Court on September 30.

The attack at the Windsor Gardens school followed another separate attack on Tuesday, when a student was stabbed with a pair of scissors at Adelaide Botanic High School.

The victim sustained minor injuries and was treated at the school.

A 13-year-old boy has been charged with aggravated assault, common assault and carrying an offensive weapon.

State Govt delays EV tax, offers subsidy in policy rethink

The State Government will delay implementation of its controversial electric vehicle tax until 2027 and offer $3000 one-off subsidies for EV purchases, under new legislation to be tabled by Treasurer Rob Lucas today.

Lucas had previously sought to introduce a 2.5 cents per kilometre tax on plug in hybrid vehicles by 2021, but this was postponed until after the election due to parliamentary opposition and blowback from industry.

Following an extended consultation period with the sector, Lucas said he had now agreed to delay the implementation of the tax until at least 2027 or when EV sales reach 30 per cent of South Australian new car sales – whichever comes first.

He also announced his new revised bill – which he conceded is “unlikely” to pass parliament – would see $3000 one-off subsidies distributed to support 6000 new EV purchases.

“Our proposed new $3000 State Government-funded subsidies for new full electric vehicles are expected to provide a further incentive for those motorists who may be considering a purchase of this type,” Lucas said.

“The subsidies, which are consistent in value to those offered in Victoria, are contingent on the Bill passing the Parliament and would be introduced at that time.

“While we accept that looks unlikely at this stage, we remain hopeful.”

The new subsidies would bring the total amount of State Government support for EV take up from $18.3 million to $36 million, according to Lucas’s office.

Australia to rescue Afghans until deadline: fed govt

The Morrison Government says Australia will rescue people from Afghanistan for as long as it can before the United States’ deadline expires.

The Taliban has told the US it must keep the August 31 deadline to withdraw remaining troops, after 20 years in Afghanistan.

Australia has extracted 2650 people from Kabul as part of ongoing efforts to rescue citizens and visa holders.

A flight carrying 89 people from Kabul touched down in Adelaide on Wednesday morning, with all passengers now undergoing 14-days hotel quarantine.

The arrivals from Kabul were not included in SA’s current weekly cap of 265 for the return of Australians from overseas during the coronavirus pandemic.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne says the scenes are “highly distressing” and human rights advocates warn people left behind could die.

More than 400 evacuees have made it to Australian soil since August 18, after being airlifted via Dubai.

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said Australia would continue to get people out of Kabul for as long as possible.

“The situation there is absolutely diabolical so we will do what we can for as long as we can,” she said.

Australia will continue to offer people refuge, after the rescue operation ends, through 3000 humanitarian places.

Paul Power, head of the Refugee Council of Australia, said the government should open up more places and also urged Pakistan and Iran to keep borders open for people trying to flee persecution in Afghanistan.

“Members of Australia’s Afghan diaspora are hearing directly from family members and friends about terrible violence within the country,” he said.

“There are many reports of executions and forced marriages of young women and girls occurring right now.”

He said permanent protection was needed for the 4300 Afghans on temporary protection visas in Australia, recognising that members of this group were unlikely to be able to return in safety for many years to come.

Gold rush puts Australia on top of medal tally

Gold Medallists Emily Petricola and Paige Greco with their medals for the Track Cycling Womens C4 and C3 3000m Individual Pursuit at the Izu Velodrome on Wednesday (AAP Image/Australian Paralympic Committee/Sport the Library/Greg Smith).

Australia leads the medal tally after day one of the Tokyo Paralympics with six gold medals, including four in the pool and two in track cycling.

The Aussies racked up 10 medals on Wednesday with a silver and three bronze medals adding to their tally – taking them above second-placed China on five golds, one silver, two bronze, and the Russian Paralympic Committee on three golds, one silver, two bronze.

It comes after Australian Lakeisha Patterson scored a last-gasp gold medal after holding off a fierce challenge from Zsofia Konkoly – the Hungarian briefly took the lead on the last lap – to win the S9 400m freestyle final by just .08 of a second.

Will Martin broke the Paralympic record in the men’s S9 400m freestyle final and Rowan Crothers took out the S10 50m freestyle.

Then Ben Popham won the last event of the night, bursting into tears when his blistering finish gave him the S8 100m freestyle gold.

“Australia is having another mining boom – it’s a bit of a gold rush and I’m loving it,” he told Channel Seven.

The three swimmers emulated compatriots Paige Greco and Emily Petricola, who won the first two gold medals of the Tokyo Paralympics earlier at the Izu Velodrome.

The cyclists were in tears on Wednesday they broke their own individual pursuit world records and dominated their gold medal ride-offs.

First, 24-year-old Adelaide rider Greco broke her own world record in the C3 3000m pursuit final and a few minutes later, Petricola caught American rival Shawn Morelli to win the C4 pursuit gold.

The Paralympic debutants were the reigning world champions and world record holders in their pursuit events.

They also have more medal chances later in the Games at the road races and time trials.

Earlier, Greco also broke her own world record on Wednesday when she qualified fastest in 3:52.283.

Elsewhere, Australian Ben Hance won bronze in the S14 100m butterfly, while Paige Leonhardt took silver and Ruby Storm was third in their S14 100m butterfly final.

Not everything went to plan for Australia on day one – the Steelers’ shock 54-53 loss to Denmark put an early dent in their quest for a third-straight wheelchair rugby gold medal.

Japan also dominated their women’s wheelchair basketball match against the Gliders, beating the Australian team 73-47.

-with AAP and Reuters

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