- Head, Khawaja to battle for Australia’s final XI spot
- Vic Premier condemns ‘small, ugly mob’ protesting pandemic laws
- ‘No fair-minded person could find against me’: Chapman’s inquiry defiance
- KI port project ‘may have to be reassessed’
- Nearly 700 Education Dept staff refusing vaccine jab
- CBD retail vacancies highest for decades
- Drone art and First Nations musicians to light up Fringe
- Strollout is Australia’s word of the year
Head, Khawaja to battle for Australia’s final XI spot
Usman Khawaja is on the cusp of a Test recall after being included in Australia’s 15-man Ashes squad alongside Travis Head.
A clash involving Australia and Australia A players in Brisbane on December 1-3 will likely resolve whether Khawaja or Head bat at No.5 for the first Test against England.
Australia’s XI for the series opener at the Gabba, which begins on December 8, is otherwise settled unless any injuries occur in coming weeks.
Incumbent Test opener Marcus Harris is set to partner David Warner after being included in the squad for the first Test and ensuing pink-ball match at Adelaide Oval.
Jhye Richardson looms as the most likely paceman to step up should selectors decide that one of Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood or Mitchell Starc isn’t physically ready for the first Test.
Richardson, uncapped fast bowler Michael Neser and legspinner Mitchell Swepson were all named in the 15-man Test squad.
Khawaja hasn’t played for Australia since being dropped during the 2019 Ashes.
But chairman of selectors George Bailey says the 34-year-old has been in “great touch” this Sheffield Shield season, including a knock of 174 at Adelaide Oval.
“He brings a calm, consistent and experienced component to the batting line-up and is a proven run-scorer at Test level,” Bailey said.
“He also has the ability to bat across a range of positions.
“Travis finished last summer strongly, second only to Cameron Green for (Shield) runs scored, and has again started the season well.”
Neser has returned to training after a minor hamstring strain, while Test skipper Tim Paine is slated to mark his return via grade cricket this weekend after undergoing neck surgery in September.
Bailey said the retention of Harris, who donned the baggy green in January when Australia lost to India in their most recent Test, was a reward for consistent domestic form and this year’s productive county stint with Leicestershire.
“He is a good player who will be looking to build a strong partnership with David Warner,” Bailey said.
Mitch Marsh missed the cut but was included alongside fellow Twenty20 World Cup squad members Ashton Agar and Josh Inglis on an extended list of Australia A players for the Ashes tune-up at Peter Burge Oval.
Sean Abbott, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Henry Hunt, Nic Maddinson, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee and Bryce Street are also in the mix to take on Test superstars in that intra-squad showdown.
Australia’s 15-man Test squad: David Warner, Marcus Harris, Marnus Labuschagne, Steve Smith, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Cameron Green, Tim Paine (capt), Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Jhye Richardson, Michael Neser, Mitchell Swepson.
Australia A top-up players for tour game: Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Henry Hunt, Josh Inglis, Nic Maddinson, Mitch Marsh, Matthew Renshaw, Mark Steketee, Bryce Street.
Vic Premier condemns ‘small, ugly mob’ protesting pandemic laws
Protesters who spent another night occupying Victorian parliament’s steps will not stop the government’s proposed pandemic laws, Premier Daniel Andrews says.
Debate on the Public Health and Wellbeing Amendment (Pandemic Management) Bill began in the upper house on Tuesday afternoon and went well into the night.
The laws would give the premier and health minister the power to declare a pandemic and make public health orders, and it is all but guaranteed to pass after the government made amendments to secure the support of three crossbench MPs.
But concerns remain among legal and advocacy bodies such as the Victorian Ombudsman and Law Institute, particularly on the lack of independent oversight.
The bill has become a lightning rod for anti-lockdown and anti-vaccination groups, with hundreds of protesters planning to camp out on the steps of parliament for the duration of the debate.
A video posted on social media shows protesters on Monday night gathered around a wooden gallows chanting “Freedom”, “Traitor”, “Kill Dan Andrews” and “Hang Dan Andrews” while attempting to place the head of an inflatable doll of the premier through a noose.
Another protester was applauded by the crowd after she called for politicians to “dance on the end of a rope”.
Andrews said he won’t be distracted by the protesters.
“I’ll not be deterred from the work I’m doing to keep every family safe,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“It is so unfair for a small, ugly mob to be taking attention away from the more than 90 per cent of Victorians who have had a first dose and will soon have had a second dose.”
Andrews revealed his wife and children had been threatened and called the “appalling” behaviour “potentially criminal”.
Victoria Police were yet to receive a complaint about the incident but if the premier or another person complains and felt it was a legitimate threat, it would be investigated in line with the Crimes Act.
Deputy Premier James Merlino said it was up to Victoria Police if they should investigate, but demanded those on the other side of politics stop “actively encouraging this kind of extremist behaviour and extremist views”.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy condemned the protesters’ behaviour but hasn’t stopped his MPs from attending and speaking to the crowd.
“Not every single person out there is saying silly things, the majority have not,” he said, accusing the premier of seeking to divide Victorians.
‘No fair-minded person could find against me’: Chapman’s inquiry defiance
Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has blasted “incomplete and inadequate” evidence and “a blatant denial of procedural fairness” in a last-ditch bid to persuade a parliamentary inquiry to exonerate her of claims of conflict of interest, misleading parliament and breaching the ministerial code of conduct.
In a final submission sent to the cross-party committee late yesterday, Chapman’s lawyer, prominent parole board chair Frances Nelson QC, argues the inquiry must “not become a forum simply to inflict reputational damage or to achieve some political advantage” – before launching into the credibility of the committee’s Counsel Assisting, Dr Rachael Gray QC.
“The fact that Dr Gray was socialising with the Shadow Attorney-General and the Hon Tom Koutsantonis MP shortly before the Select Committee was formed does not assist public perception of impartiality,” Nelson writes.
“None of the evidence before the committee is in any way sufficient to support ‘findings’ by Dr Gray.”
Gray this week delivered a scathing assessment of the Deputy Premier’s role in single-handedly vetoing a $40 million port proposal on her native Kangaroo Island.
The port’s rejection prompted the exit from the island of its proponent, forestry company Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers.
Gray found Chapman had a “perceived and actual” conflict in making the decision, arguing she had later misled parliament on several occasions about factors including the proximity of her property to forests impacted by the development and the location of haulage routes relative to the property of her former parliamentary colleague, KI mayor Michael Pengilly.
Gray further recommended Chapman, along with Premier Steven Marshall and other bureaucrats, should be referred to the state Ombudsman for further investigation.
But Nelson rejected those arguments, saying “to suggest that because [Chapman] had inherited property on the island on which she has not lived since 1974 somehow was a dominating factor in her consideration is ludicrous and would not be entertained by any fair or reasonable minded person”.
“There is no evidence that her decision was in any way swayed by the possibility (noting that no truck routes had been approved) that trucks would drive past Mr Pengilly’s property (even if that were to be the case),” she wrote.
“The Minister was obliged to have regard to the effect on the road infrastructure, and the dust, noise, and pollution effect on all the residents of Kangaroo Island.”
Chapman had also revealed a property she had inherited near the venture operated an Airbnb, of which Nelson said: “To suggest Ms Chapman has been operating anything approaching a Bed and Breakfast operation or some tourism venture is simply ludicrous.”
“The reality is that such agistment and limited short-term stays by workers have come at a loss to Ms Chapman,” she argued.
Nelson emphasised that Chapman did not realise her property was adjacent land that, while privately owned, was contracted to KIPT for deforestation, saying: “The unchallenged evidence of Ms Chapman is that when she made her decision she was unaware that there was any contractual arrangement between the owners of the pine plantation … and KIPT.”
“The mere fact of ownership of land on Kangaroo Island does not create either an actual conflict of interest nor a perceived conflict of interest,” she insisted.
Read the full story here.
KI port project ‘may have to be reassessed’
Labor has suggested the $40 million port proposal controversially vetoed by Attorney-General Vickie Chapman may have to be reassessed but has declined to say whether it supports the plan.
The port’s proponent, Kangaroo Island Plantation Timbers, has quit the island and rebranded in the wake of the decision – which is now the subject of a parliamentary inquiry.
But Labor’s shadow Attorney-General Kyam Maher said yesterday it was “clear” from the recommendations of the inquiry’s legal counsel, Dr Rachael Gray QC, that “the company now may have an action against the State Government”.
“The process was that flawed it may give rise to damages against the State Government,” he said.
Asked whether the exhaustive five-year assessment process for the major project should be done over, Maher said: “That would be up to the government of the day to decide [but] it’s difficult to see how such a flawed process can continue to stand.”
“It will be up to the company to pursue that, but it may be that the company puts in a fresh application and asks to be reassessed, given just how flawed this process was,” he said.
While labelling the scenario “hypothetical”, Maher said it would be “up to the company if they so choose to re-process their development application and, if that happened, for whoever’s in government to assess it – free of bias, free of conflict – in the proper way”.
However, he declined to say whether the contentious project should go ahead, saying: “That’s up to the decision-maker who sees all the evidence.”
Kangaroo Island is part of the state electorate of Mawson – Labor’s most marginal seat, which incumbent Leon Bignell holds by a nominal margin of just 0.8 per cent.
– Tom Richardson
Nearly 700 Education Dept staff refusing vaccine jab
The teachers’ union is “analysing the industrial implications” of a new COVID vaccine mandate for all school staff, as the Education Department confirms 685 employees are “declining” to get the jab.
The State Government yesterday announced that anyone working or volunteering in schools, preschools and childcare centres will need to be vaccinated.
The direction applies to all public and private schools and stipulates that people must have had at least one vaccine and a booking for a second by December 10, the last day of the school year.
The mandate applies to anyone working or volunteering in schools including teachers, support and canteen staff, parents, building contractors, school bus drivers and OSHC staff.
The direction does not apply to students, parents dropping off or picking up their children, those with an approved medical exemption, play groups, delivery drivers and people responding to urgent maintenance tasks or an emergency situation.
Australian Education Union state president Lara Golding said the union “supports following the professional health advice”.
“We have been encouraging eligible members to get vaccinated to support the health and safety of education settings and the community as a whole,” she said.
“We are analysing the industrial implications and other impacts on the workforce of the updated health advice and emergency direction issued.
“It is our understanding that there are provisions for those who have an approved medical exemption, which has been one of our key concerns.”
Golding said the union’s elected delegates would meet on Saturday to consider the impacts on the education workforce, including the availability of relief staff “to ensure safety for children and students”.
“In addition to vaccinations, it is important that the government adequately fund and support other control measures including appropriate ventilation and social distancing,” she said.
“Following our calls, the government has now nearly completed a ventilation audit and it is imperative that schools are provided with all the resources necessary to reduce the risk of COVID-19.”
Education Department chief executive Rick Persse yesterday told reporters that based on internal information, he believed “only a tiny fraction” of school staff would resist the vaccine mandate.
When asked to clarify how many staff that meant, he said he thought about 600.
The Education Department last night said that at this point in time, 685 of its 31,000 employees had told the department they were “declining to be vaccinated”.
Read the full story here.
CBD retail vacancies highest for decades
The amount of vacant retail space in the Adelaide CBD is at its highest level since 1993, according to a new report, although demand for city office space is increasing.
JLL’s Third Quarter Retail Market Commentary released on Tuesday shows the CBD’s retail vacancy rate has grown from 13.8 per cent in December 2020, to 16.8 per cent in the first half of 2021.
The number is well above the vacancy rates recorded in South Australia’s regional (3 per cent), sub-regional (5.5 per cent) and neighbourhood areas (5 per cent).
It is also the highest Adelaide CBD vacancy rate recorded since 1993, according to JLL.
In the city’s premier shopping strip, Rundle Mall, the vacancy rate slightly improved from 10.8 per cent to 9.3 per cent.
However, the shopping centres within Rundle Mall recorded a sharp decrease in occupancy level, with vacant space growing from 14.9 per cent to 19.3 per cent.
InDaily has previously reported concerns from merchants within Rundle Mall’s Regent Arcade about the amount of vacant space within the heritage-listed shopping strip.
JLL’s latest report also found that average retail rent prices in the CBD have decreased by 6.9 per cent over the last 12 months – the largest decrease of any of measured regions.
Meanwhile, Adelaide’s office market is faring slightly better, with CBD office vacancies down 0.5 per cent last quarter to reach 16.4 per cent – the lowest recorded level in the last 12 months.
The third quarter saw a net absorption of 7900 square metres of office space in the CBD, a surge JLL primarily attributed to expansions in the public sector.
The property company noted that both the federal and state education departments, along with SA Health and the federal government’s Department of Industry, committed to offices in the CBD last quarter, accounting for more than 11,000 square metres of newly occupied office space in the city.
Drone art and First Nations musicians to light up Fringe
A collaboration between a series of First Nations artists and drone art specialists Celestial will be a centrepiece of Fringe next year.
SKY SONG, which the makers promise will combine cutting-edge technology with ancient Songlines and storytelling, will run at the Adelaide Showgrounds for 31 nights from February 18 to March 20.
The performance will feature hundreds of drones flying in formation above a 60-metre wide screen projection, accompanied by sound and lighting effects, poetry, classic songs and newly commissioned music by Indigenous musicians in the sky and on the ground.
Narrated by acclaimed songwriter Archie Roach, the show presented by Fringe venue Gluttony will include a soundtrack of songs by Roach, Kev Carmody, Electric Fields, Iwiri Choir and Nancy Bates. The performance will also include storytellers Major ‘Moogy’ Sumner and Jack Buckskin, poet Ali Cobby Eckermann, dance group Dusty Feet Mob and visual art by Electric Fields’ Zaachariaha Fielding.
The performance will include well-known songs such as Roach’s “Took The Children Away’” and the Carmody/Paul Kelly anthem “From Little Things Big Things Grow”, as well as new work from Iwiri Choir and Electric Fields.
SKY SONG soundtrack supervisor Nancy Bates said the show “represents the continuation of enduring peoples and enduring wisdom”.
“As light drones dance to interwoven stories, powerful voices will elevate the very consciousness of those gathered together for this experience,” she said.
Adelaide Fringe artistic director Heather Croall said the show continued the festival’s six-year approach of presenting major outdoor light artworks.
“We are absolutely delighted to have SKY SONG premiering at Adelaide Fringe in 2022,” she said.
Tickets are on sale from today.
Strollout is Australia’s word of the year
Last year it was “iso”, and the pandemic has again inspired Australia’s 2021 word of the year: “strollout”, for the nation’s troubled COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
It topped contenders including “double-vaxxed”, “AUKUS” and “net zero” to become the Australian National Dictionary Centre’s 2021 word of the year.
The centre traced the winning word back to May, when ACTU secretary Sally McManus said: “We don’t have a vaccine rollout, we have a vaccine strollout.”
“There were many words relating to the pandemic,” ANDC director Amanda Laugesen said.
“They reflected our experience of the pandemic as an international event through much shared pandemic language, as well as our own unique experiences and responses.”
Dr Laugesen described “strollout” as a uniquely Australian word that took off globally, landing in publications such as the Washington Post.
The words “double-vaxxed”, the vaccine “rollout” and jab “hesitancy” were among contenders making the shortlist alongside “AUKUS” and “net zero”.
“Some of the other themes we’ve traced through our short list include our regional security and the ongoing climate emergency,” Dr Laugesen said.
Language around the climate and environment had also gained traction over recent years.
“(It) will probably continue to be a strong theme in the new words we track,” Dr Laugesen said.
Last year’s winner was “iso”, an abbreviation for isolation during quarantine and lockdown.
– with The New Daily, AAP and Reuters
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