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What we know today, Thursday September 30

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The Tour Down Under has been cancelled for a second year running, with organisers of the state’s international cycling event unable to overcome border closures and quarantine requirements for overseas teams.

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Tour Down Under cancelled for 2022

The Tour Down Under has been cancelled for a second year running, with organisers of the state’s international cycling event unable to overcome border closures and quarantine requirements for overseas teams.

Race organisers announced a short time ago that the flagship event, due to be held in January, would be replaced with a nine-day “festival of cycling”.

Events SA Executive Director Hitaf Rasheed said international border closures and quarantine requirements made the Tour Down Under too difficult to run.

“The Santos Tour Down Under is a much-loved event on the world cycling and Australian sporting calendar and an important economic driver for South Australia, attracting 44,000 people, injecting 742 jobs and more than $66 million into the economy when last held in 2020,” she said.

“We have fully explored all avenues, but unfortunately in the end it was the border closures and quarantine requirements for more than 400 people that make up the international teams that proved to still be too difficult to overcome.”

Organisers have vowed the event will return in 2023.

In its place, a nine-day festival of cycling will be held from January 21 to 29, with organisers to release more details in the coming weeks.

The festival will bring together cyclists from a range of disciplines, including road, track, BMX, paracycling, mountain biking and cyclocross.

SA tightens Queensland border rules

Queensland has recorded six new cases of COVID-19, including one in Townsville, as South Australia imposes new travel restrictions on the eastern state.

From 5.32pm last night, any person arriving in South Australia who has been in the City of Brisbane, City of Gold Coast, Moreton Bay Regional Council and Logan City Local Government Areas since September 17 is subject to Level 3 requirements.

They must have a COVID-19 test on day 1, 5, and 13 and self-quarantine until a negative test.

The returning travellers also must not enter a high-risk setting for 14 days after arrival in SA and not attend a COVID Management Plan event with more than 1000 people.

Brisbane has listed 24 new COVID exposure sites including hotels, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, shops in the CBD, Spring Hill, Carindale Westfield, Camp Hill, Cannon Hill and Eatons Hill. Eight sites are considered close contact venues.

There are 22 active cases in Queensland, but authorities are resisting sending parts of the state into lockdown.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said he was “increasingly concerned about the developing situation across the border”.

“My strong message to the people of South Australia is you may now start to need to consider whether or not you need to be travelling in Queensland at this point in time until the situation is clarified,” he said.

“I think the fact that there are six new cases in Queensland today should be ringing some alarm bells.

“We will have to move quickly if we need to, to keep the delta strain out of South Australia.”

ACT records 31 new cases

Canberra has recorded 31 new COVID-19 cases, with only six in quarantine during their whole infectious period.

A source can be found for 17 of Thursday’s infections, while at least that number were also in the community while infectious.

Meanwhile, the ACT has opened its Pfizer and Moderna vaccine eligibility to people aged 60 and older.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has urged people to bring their booking forward to speed the vaccination process.

“There are earlier appointments available and we are very keen to give everyone the opportunity to get at least a first dose before we come out of lockdown in the middle of October,” he told reporters.

Vic records 1438 cases, five deaths

Victoria has recorded 1438 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and five deaths.

The new case numbers are another daily record for the state, bringing the total number of active cases to 11,018 and the death toll of the current outbreak to 41.

There were 65,497 tests processed and 34,323 vaccine doses administered at state hubs on Wednesday.

Adelaide Uni releases ‘confronting’ new savings plan

The University of Adelaide has revised the number of professional jobs it wants to axe to 104, following months of consultation with students and staff about how it can weather a projected $47 million shortfall by 2023.

In an email to staff yesterday afternoon – seen by InDaily – Adelaide University Vice-Chancellor Peter Høj wrote that the university had finalised a new “Draft Change Proposal” that outlined how it would merge faculties and “centralise” support services.

He revealed the proposal included “the loss of a number of professional staff positions” either through redundancies or fixed term contracts ending, but foreshadowed that some new jobs would be created following a service restructure.

The university announced in July that up to 130 full-time professional roles could go as part of the restructure, but that number has now dropped to 104 net positions.

However, Høj warned that the university was yet to consider how it could claw back academic spending, with “savings and efficiencies [to] be derived from that stream of work in due course”.

It comes after the university’s council last month backed a proposal to merge five faculties into three, while axing courses that attract few students, in what union officials said could lead to further job losses.

Høj wrote that the proposed cost-cutting measures presented a “significant change” for the university, but they wouldn’t be implemented until staff had the opportunity to provide feedback.

“Some of you may find the information confronting, particularly when it means you face the prospect of losing your current position,” he wrote.

“All of us will be concerned about colleagues leaving the University.

“We would rather not propose these measures and do so with regret, but we judge them necessary to ensure our University can face the challenges before it and emerge a stronger and more sustainable institution.”

Cuts are being proposed as the university faces an annual shortfall of $47 million by 2023, spurred by the loss of international students due to coronavirus pandemic-prompted border closures.

To avoid the multi-million-dollar shortfall, the university is aiming to find approximately $30 million in additional savings, while securing $20 million from new revenue sources.

In his email yesterday Høj wrote that more than 3800 staff had attended in-person or online consultation sessions about the proposed changes.

He said staff would be given until October 22 to provide feedback about the latest proposal.

 – Stephanie Richards

Adelaide man faces terror charges

An Adelaide man has been charged with multiple terrorism-related offences after a joint investigation involving South Australian and federal police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

The 24-year-old was previously charged with 10 firearms-related offences, but is now facing 10 counts of possessing information for terrorist acts and 11 counts of possessing instructions to make an explosive device.

He has been remanded in custody to appear in Adelaide Magistrates Court in March next year.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Counter Terrorism Scott Lee said it was alleged the man possessed weapons and had instructions for the manufacture of explosive devices.

However, police said there had been no specific threat to community safety identified during the investigation.

Better Hills bus services needed to ease Freeway congestion

Congestion on the South Eastern Freeway. Picture: Supplied

New rapid bus services to ferry commuters from the city to the Adelaide Hills including dedicated bus lanes and faster buses are needed to ease traffic congestion on the South Eastern Freeway, according to Regional Development Australia.

The organisation’s Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island arm in conjunction with Regional Development Adelaide Metropolitan have released two reports setting out key recommendations for the improvement of people and freight transport for the Adelaide Hills and connecting regions.

Other recommendations include using faster buses designed to maintain effective travel speeds on the Hills’ gradients and improvements to the bus corridor on Glen Osmond Rd.

The RDA says freight movement would also benefit in the short-term from additional works to the Hills Freight Bypass targeting road safety and capacity improvements while plans for significant upgrades or a new bypass were needed by 2030.

RDA Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu and Kangaroo Island CEO Damien Cooke said the two reports clearly outlined recommendations for improvements to people and freight movement in the region.

“Growing congestion on Adelaide Hills transport corridors is gradually eroding quality of life for residents and visitors, and productivity for businesses and services,” he said.

“Whilst we recognise and value existing work of government in this space, we cannot rest on our laurels because population growth, particularly around Mount Barker, is adding to congestion every day.

“We hope the separate reports, People Transport Solutions for the Adelaide Hills, and Freight Transport Solutions for the Adelaide Hills, provide sound guidance for consideration by all decision-makers involved in ongoing improvements in these areas.”

Early return for NSW students

NSW students will return to schools one week ahead of schedule on October 18 after the state exceeded expectations for vaccination take-up.

The state’s crisis cabinet last night agreed that school returns would start on October 18 for kindergarten, Year 1 and Year 12 students as part of a three-week re-entry.

Other grades will return to face-to-face learning on October 25 and November 1.

It comes after Premier Gladys Berejiklian earlier on Wednesday said the original plan for students to go back from October 25 was under review because of how quickly NSW was tracking towards 70 per cent double-vaccination coverage.

Some 863 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed across the state in the 24 hours to 8pm on Tuesday, and a record 15 deaths.

Visits to aged care homes will also be allowed from October 11 with two fully vaccinated people able to visit a resident per day.

While other restrictions are due to lift on October 11, NSW Police has indicated it won’t be policing vaccination passports.

But the premier denied that meant no one would be enforcing the restrictions, arguing there were incentives for individuals and businesses to do the right thing.

CNN shuts down Australian Facebook page

American news giant CNN has become the first major news organisation to pull its Facebook presence in Australia, after a court ruling on social media comments.

The company, which is owned by AT&T Inc, is preventing Australians from accessing its Facebook pages after a court ruled that publishers can be liable for defamation in public comment sections and the social media firm refused to help it disable comments in the country.

The move makes CNN the first major news organisation to pull its Facebook presence in Australia since the country’s highest court ruled this month that publishers were legally responsible for comments posted below articles – even if the articles themselves were not defamatory.

The ruling has come under fire with defamation lawyers accusing Australia of not keeping up with technological change and noting the contrast with the United States and Britain where laws largely protect publishers from any fallout from comments posted online.

Australia is currently reviewing its defamation laws but in the meantime, other global news organisations, especially those that feel they can easily live without an Australian Facebook audience, are likely to follow CNN’s lead, the lawyers said.

“This is the first domino to fall,” said Michael Bradley, managing partner of Marque Lawyers.

For Australian media companies, the ruling also adds a layer of complication to their relationship with Facebook, just as many of them begin to benefit from a new law that forces the social media company to pay for links to their content.

CNN’s main Facebook page showed an error message when accessed from Australia on Wednesday.

The US news organisation said Facebook declined a request to help it and other publishers disable public comments in the country following the ruling , which was made during an ongoing defamation lawsuit.

A Facebook spokesman said recent court decisions had shown the need for reform in Australian defamation law and the company looked forward to “greater clarity and certainty in this area”.

Rolls-Royce pulls plug on petrol-powered cars

Rolls-Royce will produce only electric cars by 2030, the luxury car maker says, joining other premium brands making the switch such as Volkswagen’s Bentley and Jaguar’s Land Rover.

The BMW-owned brand said in a statement on Wednesday that its first fully electric-powered car – named Spectre – will be on the market in the fourth quarter of 2023, with testing to begin soon.

“With this new product we set out our credentials for the full electrification of our entire product portfolio by 2030, said Torsten Muller-Otvos, CEO of Rolls-Royce, which is based in the south of England.

“By then, Rolls-Royce will no longer be in the business of producing or selling any internal combustion engine products,” Muller-Otvos added.

BMW has not set an end date for producing fossil fuel burning cars, instead setting a goal of 50 per cent electric vehicle production by 2030, but its subsidiary Mini said in March it would go all-electric by the end of the decade.

The Jaguar brand of Tata Motors’ Jaguar Land Rover will go all-electric by 2025, Volkswagen AG’ luxury unit Bentley Motors by 2030, and Mercedes Benz maker Daimler by the same year, if market conditions allow.

 – with AAP and Reuters

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