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What we know today, Friday October 15


South Australia will not follow New South Wales’ lead by scrapping mandatory quarantine for double-vaccinated overseas arrivals ahead of schedule, Premier Steven Marshall says.

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SA to wait before ditching overseas arrival quarantine

South Australia will not follow New South Wales’ lead by scrapping mandatory quarantine for double-vaccinated overseas arrivals ahead of schedule, Premier Steven Marshall says.

Marshall told reporters this morning that South Australia would instead stick to the national plan and wait until 80 per cent of its population is double vaccinated before it considers relaxing quarantine requirements.

“We look at the expert advice we’ve received in South Australia (and) certainly we want to get that double vaccinated 80 per cent mark for all those people aged 16 and over before we’re easing our state borders and then international borders after that,” he said.

The comments come after New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet announced New South Wales would go it alone in scrapping quarantine for fully-vaccinated  international arrivals from November 1, in a radical shift which outpaces national cabinet’s agreement.

Under the eastern state’s reopening plan, an 80 per cent double-dose vaccination rate was supposed to trigger a gradual reopening of international travel with “safe countries” and “proportionate quarantine”.

The deal – based on Doherty Institute modelling – signalled reduced requirements for fully vaccinated travellers.

But quarantine-free travel was only part of the final “post-vaccination” phase which seeks to manage coronavirus in the same way as other infectious diseases.

The explosive departure from the plan raises major questions about state borders and requirements for international arrivals wanting to leave NSW.

Perrottet said arrivals would need to test negative before and after boarding, as well as prove vaccination status.

“I’ve had numerous discussions with the prime minister over the course of this period about dispensing with hotel quarantine – they support this policy,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“They will need to implement it from a border perspective and we want tourists back into the state as quickly as possible.”

Perrottet said he could not control other states’ quarantine requirements but urged overseas travellers to spend time in Sydney if they needed to.

“If you’re a returning Australian and you want to come here, stay in New South Wales and stay in Sydney,” he said.

“Have a great time here before you go home and spend up big.”

Overseas travel in and out of Sydney is increasingly likely to be allowed before some interstate and regional trips across Australia.

The Morrison Government has urged states to drop hard borders when 80 per cent vaccination rates are reached.

But some jurisdictions are not expected to reach that target until December at the earliest.

Marshall told reporters that South Australia’s situation was different to New South Wales as it has a lower vaccination rate and doesn’t already have the delta strain circulating throughout the community.

“If you think about it, the reason why New South Wales are in a position to do this (end hotel quarantine) is they’ve already got delta actually already seeded there, so it’s not going to increase that seeding of delta,” he said.

“It’s sometimes difficult for people to understand why something can occur in one jurisdiction but not in another, but there are different vaccination rates and different seeding in those different places.

“Different states will make their own mind up about what they will do – Western Australia’s going to be very different from New South Wales and Victoria.

“South Australia’s always had a sensible approach and I think that the results speak for themselves.”

Just under 57 per cent of South Australians are currently double-vaccinated, compared to 77.8 per cent of people in New South Wales.

It comes as Marshall responded to News Corp reports citing anonymous Liberal party sources claiming he was “arrogant” and socialising too much.

“Last time I looked socialising wasn’t illegal and when it becomes illegal, well, I hope I’m in parliament so I can stop that passage of legislation,” he said.

“Politics is not for the faint-hearted and I’m not faint-hearted.”

More SA exposure sites after another truckie tests positive

A suburban Big W store and two regional petrol stations have been added to South Australia’s growing list of exposure sites after another COVID-positive truck driver visited the state.

The driver is the third in the past week to test positive for COVID-19 after visiting sites in South Australia.

In a statement issued yesterday evening, SA Health said the driver entered the state on October 11 and 13, but had since returned to Victoria.

The Big W department store at Hallett Cove shopping centre is listed as a tier three exposure site on Wednesday October 13 between 11.15am and 12.10pm, meaning anyone who visited the store at that time must get a COVID-19 test, quarantine until they receive a negative result and get re-tested on days five and 13.

They do not need to isolate after the days five and 13 tests unless they develop coronavirus symptoms.

The 24 Seven (Shell) at Keith is listed as a tier two exposure site between 4.15am to 5.15am on October 11, meaning people who visited must immediately quarantine for 14 days and get tested.

The same quarantine requirement applies for people who visited the truckies’ lounge at the Tailem Bend OTR Motorsport Park service station from 3.45pm to 5pm on October 11.

Both petrol stations are also listed as tier three sites on the SA Health website.

The truck driver’s infection will not count towards South Australia’s total of 914 COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began.

South Australia reported no new cases yesterday.

Six arrested after allegedly breaching SA border rules

Several people from Victoria and New South Wales have been arrested after they allegedly crossed the South Australian border without exemptions or failed to stop at border checkpoints.

SA Police arrested four people after stopping a car on a dirt road near Loxton at about 5.30pm on Wednesday.

One man in the car – a 34-year-old man from NSW – was immediately arrested after he allegedly admitted to having been in a restricted area. 

He was charged with breaching South Australia’s Emergency Management Act and faced court yesterday.

The three others – a 50-year-old Victorian woman, a 31-year-old NSW woman and a 32-year-old NSW man –  allegedly all gave different accounts of where they had been in the 24 hours prior to being stopped.

They were taken to a medi-hotel while police investigated, before being arrested yesterday and charged with breaching the Emergency Management Act.

The trio were refused police bail and will appear in the Adelaide Magistrates Court today.

In a statement issued this morning, SA Police said a 44-year-old man from Dandenong Victoria and a 49-year-old woman from Weeibee Victoria were arrested and taken to the City Watch House where they will be charged with failing to comply with a direction under the Emergency Management Act.

They are expected to appear in the Mount Gambier Magistates Court later today via video link.

Another 29-year-old man from Victoria, with approval to relocate to South Australia, was issued with an on the spot fine for failing to comply with a direction under the Emergency Management Act.

Meanwhile, a South Australian social worker has been reprimanded by the Health and Community Services Complaints Commissioner after she sent emails making false claims about COVID-19 vaccines.

Commissioner Grant Davies issued an interim prohibition order against Matilda Bawden after receiving a complaint about the emails.

The order lasts for 12 weeks and prevents Bawden from providing health services in respect to the education or provision of information relating to COVID-19 vaccines.

“This is the third interim prohibition order we’ve issued about false COVID vaccine information provided by unregistered health care workers recently,” Davies said.

“As I have always stated, my primary concern is the safety of members of the South Australian public and therefore, I have decided to investigate this matter as I am concerned about what Ms Bawden has expressed in her emails.

“The Code applies to all unregistered health services, including social workers.”

AMA report says public hospitals in crisis

Public hospitals are caught in an unending cycle of crisis caused by a funding formula which has failed to arrest a decline in performance over a decade, the Australian Medical Association says in a new report.

“Our hospitals are full – there simply aren’t enough hospital beds or enough doctors and nurses – and tragic stories of deaths, deterioration and delayed care are becoming increasingly commonplace,” the report says.

The AMA report, “Public hospitals: Cycle of crisis”, was released on Friday and says a shortage of hospital beds, overcrowded emergency departments and longer waits for elective surgery are “risking the lives of all Australians”.

The report, which analysed federal government data, warns of dire consequences if all governments fail to act and says the hospital crisis was in full swing long before COVID-19 arrived.

“Hospital beds will increasingly be taken up by emergency admissions, doubling as a percentage of hospital beds by 2030-31, resulting in even longer waits for elective surgery such as cancer diagnostic procedures,” the report says.

It says the funding arrangements underpinning the hospital system are not fit for purpose and fail to meet the demands of a growing and ageing population.

“The way to break free from the cycles of crisis is to change the way hospitals are funded – moving beyond just the focus on activity and volume to a partnership based on community demand and timeliness of treatment.”

AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said the report had been sent to the prime minister and every state and territory leader as its findings required immediate action.

“Australians expect to receive treatment when they need it. They expect an ambulance to turn up when they call one, and they expect to be able to get into the hospital when they arrive,” he said in a statement.

“At the moment, these expectations can’t be met and that is a symptom of a public hospital system in crisis.”

It comes after AMA state branch president Dr Michelle Atchison said yesterday’s State Government announcement of 93 additional beds to cater for an expected surge in COVID-19 cases “won’t actually help”. 

She said if South Australia does record a projected 4000 active COVID cases a day, it would require about 200 coronavirus beds on standby daily.

“We don’t have the capacity for that at the moment – we need to build that capacity,” she said.

“We can’t afford to be not adequately prepared – we’ve seen what’s happened in Victoria, we’ve seen what’s happened in New South Wales with their health systems.”

Strong demand for electric cars in SA: RAA

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Almost eight in 10 South Australian motorists would consider buying an electric car, despite only a quarter having ever driven one, new data from the RAA shows.

A recent RAA survey of 550 South Australian drivers found the majority – 78 per cent – said they would consider purchasing an electric car, with the motoring group crediting growing concerns about greenhouse gas emissions and looming deadlines for the sale of fossil fuelled vehicles for the surge in demand.

Despite the strong interest, only 25 per cent of drivers reported having ever driven an electric vehicle.

“These vehicles are at the forefront of discussions being had around reducing greenhouse gas emissions, so it’s no surprise motorists are weighing them up,” RAA spokeswoman Kerry Bowles said.

“Governments around the world are also setting deadlines for the sale of new fossil fuelled vehicles in coming years, and with more EV models being produced it’s no wonder drivers are considering their buying options going forward.”

It comes as the State Government pushes to introduce a controversial two-cent per kilometre road user charge for plug-in hybrid vehicles and a 2.5-cent charge for electrical vehicles by 2027 to ensure electric vehicle owners “contribute to the upkeep of our roads into the future”.

The Government in August announced it would incentivise the purchase of low-emissions vehicles by introducing a $3000 subsidy for up to 6000 fully-electric cars, should its electric vehicle levy Bill pass parliament.

Bowles said electric vehicle sales were on the rise, prompting the RAA to launch a range of household “fast charging outlets”.

“For long-lasting and widespread adoption of renewable energy, everyone from governments to individuals and corporations has a role to play – including the RAA,” she said.

Just 6900 electric cars were sold in Australia last year, representing 0.7 per cent of new car sales.

Only 412 electric vehicles were sold in South Australia in 2019, according to the Electric Vehicle Council.

However, SA has the second-highest number of EV purchases per 10,000 car sales (61) in Australia, behind only the ACT (83).

COVID ‘V-day’ arrives for 1m Vic workers

A COVID-19 vaccine mandate has kicked in for Victorian authorised workers, with all now needing their first dose or a scheduled booking to keep working.

The Victorian government gave the state’s 1.25 million authorised workers a fortnight to get at least their first coronavirus vaccination by Friday – or show proof of a booking within the next week – otherwise they would be stood down.

They must then be fully vaccinated by November 26, and there are limited medical exemptions.

When the mandate was announced, most authorised workers in the state had already been partially vaccinated but it was estimated hundreds of thousands had not.

The public health order covers retail workers, personal trainers, journalists, faith leaders, judges, police, lawyers, actors, professional sportspeople and many other professions.

Tim Piper, the Victorian head of the peak employer association Ai Group, said “V-Day” was creating huge issues and some business were contacting it to report workers were refusing to get vaccinated.

“The workers have often been in their jobs many years, they may be key people in the business,” Mr Piper said.

“Skilled and experienced employees are at a premium and some businesses are at their wits’ end trying to decide what to do.”

Premier Daniel Andrews said he made no apology for his government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates across specific industries and the entire authorised workforce.

“These mandates, these requirements, push people to do what needs to be done,” he said.

A motion to ban unvaccinated MPs and staff from entering state parliament, an Australian-first and in line with the authorised worker mandate, passed both houses on Thursday.

It comes as Victoria forges ahead with its plans to ease restrictions despite reporting a record 2297 daily COVID-19 cases.

Andrews said the state government wouldn’t go back on its roadmap, which will end Melbourne’s lockdown once the 70 per cent of those aged over 16 are fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the ACT is this morning emerging from its nine-week lockdown, with cafes, restaurants and pubs all allowed to reopen.

Canberrans can also have up to five visitors at their homes.

Sydneysiders are also set to learn today whether they will be able to pack their bags and head off to the regions as early as next week.

Shredded Banksy artwork sells for millions

‘Love is in the Bin’ by anonymous British street artist Banksy. Photo: Facundo Abrizabalaga/EPA

A work by British street artist Banksy that sensationally self-shredded just after it sold for $US1.4 million has sold again for $US25 million at an auction.

Love is in the Bin was offered by Sotheby’s in London, with a pre-sale estimate of four to six million pounds ($A7.4 to 11.0 million).

It consists of a half-shredded canvas in an ornate frame bearing a spray-painted image of a girl reaching for a heart-shaped red balloon.

When it last sold at Sotheby’s in October 2018, the piece was known as Girl With Balloon.

Just as an anonymous European buyer made the winning bid, a hidden shredder embedded in the frame by Banksy whirred to life, leaving half the canvas hanging from the frame in strips.

Sotheby’s described the work created in the stunt as “the ultimate Banksy artwork”.

–  with AAP and Reuters

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