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What we know today, Tuesday November 30

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The State Government has opened a new drive-in vaccination clinic at Pooraka in another bid to boost vaccination rates in the northern suburbs.

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Vickie Chapman suspended from parliament for six days

Embattled former Deputy Premier Vickie Chapman has been banned from parliament for six days as the dramatic fallout from this month’s vote of no confidence escalated, with the Government again losing a crucial vote on the House of Assembly floor.

Chapman was not present in the House for the historic vote, which saw a 23-22 majority of MPs in the 47-seat parliament vote to suspend her for the equivalent of two sitting weeks.

“The Attorney-General has been suspended form the House for six days,” said Speaker Dan Cregan, directing that today marked the first of those days and directing parliament’s Sergeant-at-Arms to convey a copy of the decision to Chapman.

Cregan was not called upon to vote, with crossbenchers Sam Duluk, Troy Bell, Geoff Brock and Frances Bedford backing Labor against Chapman, while exiled Liberal Fraser Ellis voted with the Government.

The Attorney-General-in-exile did not vote, and she did not speak against the motion in her defence – but no explanation was given for her absence.

Chapman made a short but defiant statement to media at a press conference held not at parliament but across the road from the State Administration building on Flinders St.

“I just indicate that I note of course the decision of the parliament and as a result I’ll be complying with six days leave from the parliament as a result,” she said.

“My view is well-known in relation to the select committee of inquiry and its alleged finding of facts, and that’s a matter the substance of which is now being considered by the Ombudsman – I welcome that and I’ll be continuing the legal work to prepare for that inquiry.

“And so I will of course otherwise see you all at the election, and of course proceed with the preparations for that campaign… so thank-you very much for your attendance and I look forward to seeing you during the campaign.”

She then left without taking questions.

Chapman has been under intense pressure since a parliamentary inquiry found she had a real and perceived conflict of interest as Planning Minister when she vetoed a $40 million project on her native Kangaroo Island.

New drive-in vax clinic to boost northern suburbs jab rate

The State Government has opened a new drive-in vaccination clinic at the SA Produce Market in Pooraka and extended the hub’s opening hours, in its latest bid to boost vaccination rates in the northern suburbs.

Health Minister Stephen Wade announced a short time ago that the clinic – the state’s first drive-in facility – would be able to host 100 drive-ins a day and a further 250 bookings.

He also said the SA Produce Market pop-up vaccination clinic will extend its opening hours from 3pm to 7pm for six days a week.

“What we’ve learnt from New South Wales and Victoria is how best to manage a vaccination clinic as a drive-through, so we’re building on the experiences interstate,” Wade told reporters today.

“It is a mode of delivery that is attractive to us, but we wanted to make sure that we managed [patient] observations properly – we believe we can do that.”

The new drive-in facility and extended opening hours comes amid ongoing concern about vaccination levels in the northern suburbs, where some local council areas have consistently lagged the statewide vaccination average by around 10 percentage points.

On Sunday, the populous northern suburbs LGA of Playford reached 70.1 per cent fully vaccinated for over-16s – up nearly five percentage points from 65.4 per cent last week, but still 10 points behind the statewide average of 80.4 per cent for the same age cohort.

The adjacent council area of Salisbury is now at 75.7 per cent double jabbed, while the Adelaide Plains is only at 68.5 per cent.

“Time and time again we’ve innovated in the north, particularly because the challenge is stronger in the north,” Wade said.

“We’re looking forward to this being another boost to vaccinations in the north.”

Wade later said that he is “hopeful” South Australia would reach the critical 90 per cent vaccination milestone for over-12s before Christmas.

North Adelaide Local Health Network COVID-19 Program Lead Andrew McGill said SA Health had been working with Playford and Salisbury council to determine how to boost local jab rates.

“It’s been identified that we need to make access to vaccines as easy as possible,” he said.

“We believe that having a drive-through facility where consumers can drive-up, get vaccinated and leave without actually exiting their car, we think it’s a great opportunity – we’re hopeful it’s taken up by our community.”

Asked about the current vaccination rate in the northern suburbs, McGill said: “It is improving.”

“We’re seeing vaccination rates in the low 70s across a lot of our LGAs within the north, but we’ve still got a little bit of work ahead,” he said.

Tributes for actor David Dalaithngu

David Dalaithngu AM is being remembered as a pioneer of Australian cinema and one of the county’s finest actors, after news of his death broke last night.

Premier Steven Marshall revealed “with deep sadness” his passing at 68, four years after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

In a statement, Marshall called the actor, who starred in films such as Storm Boy, Walkabout, Rabbit-Proof Fence and Ten Canoes, “an iconic, once-in-a-generation artist who shaped the history of Australian film and Aboriginal representation on screen”.

“An actor, dancer, singer and painter, he was also one of the greatest artists Australia has ever seen,” Marshall said.

Australian film director Scott Hicks described him as “one of our greatest, if not our greatest, cinema actor”.

“Certainly a sad day, the passing of somebody of just enormous talent and significance in our film industry and of course in many other ways,” Hicks told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning.

“He had just a majestic presence.

“He just creates an impression and an atmosphere that no dialogue is really capable of doing.

“He’s a figure that will forever be remembered for many reasons and for many performances. I can’t think of a poor performance that he ever turned in.”

David Dalaithngu was from the Mandhalpingu clan of the Yolŋu people, and was raised in the traditional ways in Arnhem land, before British director Nicolas Roeg – taken with his skill as a dancer – cast him as a 16-year-old in the 1971 film Walkabout.

For many Australians, it was the first time they had seen an Aboriginal character portrayed on-screen.

“His haunting, moving performance was equal parts devastating as it was electric,” says Marshall.

“But it was Storm Boy, made in 1976 by Henri Safran, and based upon the book by local author Colin Thiele, that would make him a household name and secured a special place in the heart of all South Australians.”

Dalaithngu’s contribution to the arts was recognised in the 1987 Queen’s Birthday Honours List, when he was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia.

Marshall said Dalaithngu’s life was not without its struggles: “He encountered racism and discrimination, and lived with the pressures of the divide between his traditional lifestyle and his public profile.”

“I was lucky enough to meet David… on a number of occasions – most recently in March this year at the Premiere of his last film in which he tells his own story, directed by Molly Reynolds.

“This final film, 50 years after his breakthrough on screen, saw (him) credited for the first time in his career as a producer — alongside Reynolds, filmmaker Rolf de Heer and Yolŋu filmmaker Peter Djigirr.”

Marshall said after his cancer diagnosis Dalaithngu “was never expected to survive until the end of shooting, let alone the premiere, and yet it was no surprise to anyone that he was front and centre on opening night, where he would receive his final standing ovation”.

“He was a man who loved his land and his culture, and he was a man who took it to the world,” he said.

“My thoughts are with his family, and his dear friend and carer Mary Hood. Vale.”

Dalaithngu lived the final years of his life in Murray Bridge.

His family has advised that in accordance with his wishes, Dalaithngu’s name and image may continue to be used after his death.

Australia delays international border reopening over Omicron fears

The Morrison Government has delayed the reopening of the Australian border to skilled workers, international students and other visa holders as it gathers more information on the Omicron coronavirus variant.

The border ban was to have been lifted to those groups of travellers on Wednesday, but Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly has advised that be paused until December 15.

“The temporary pause will ensure Australia can gather the information we need to better understand the Omicron variant, including the efficacy of the vaccine, the range of illness, including if it may generate more mild symptoms, and the level of transmission,” a statement from Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office said late on Monday.

“The reopening to travellers from Japan and the Republic of Korea will also be paused until 15 December.”

Two fully vaccinated people who flew from southern Africa to Sydney were on Sunday confirmed to have the Omicron strain. They did not have any symptoms.

On Monday another two Sydney cases were confirmed – arrivals on a Singapore Airlines flight from southern Africa on Sunday.

Every other person who was on that flight is now a close contact who needs to get tested and isolate for 14 days immediately.

Separately, a man at the Northern Territory’s Howard Springs quarantine facility was diagnosed with the strain.

The move follows the government’s decision to ban the arrival of non-citizens from eight southern African nations.

South Australia has lifted its quarantine requirement from seven to 14 days for all international travellers, due to concerns about the Omicron variant.

Victoria, NSW and the ACT have a blanket 72-hour quarantine requirement for all international travellers.

Health Minister Greg Hunt stressed Australia was well prepared for Omicron and contracts with vaccine manufacturers covered changes for new variants.

“There are some heartening signs about what may turn out to be mild symptoms,” he told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

While the new strain appeared to be more transmissible, Kelly stressed there was no definite evidence vaccines were less effective against it.

“The information from South Africa is that it has replaced Delta as the major, possibly the only, virus circulating in that country quite quickly. So it is transmitting at least as well as Delta. That seems clear,” he said.

“Some reports out of South Africa are that it’s mostly mild. Other information we have is that hospitalisation rates are increasing.”

Marshall ‘hopeful’ SA can keep borders open despite Omicron variant

Adelaide Airport. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Premier Steven Marshall says he’s “hopeful” of keeping the state’s borders open despite the emergence of the “highly transmissible” COVID-19 Omicron variant – but is waiting for further health advice before ruling anything in or out.

“Let’s wait and see, I’m not jumping to any conclusions and I hope that we can stick with that plan,” Marshall told reporters yesterday.

“Certainly the early information is that it’s highly transmissible but there’s no increase in the severity of this strain but really it is still very early days.

“We’re learning more about the new variant of concern every hour. We have a National Cabinet meeting which will be held tomorrow.

“I’m very hopeful that the severity of this new variant is no higher – in fact I’m hoping that it’s lower – than the Delta variant…

“Tomorrow we’ll get further information. I’m hopeful that we can stick to our normal timetable. But we do need to obviously listen to the experts later today and tomorrow.”

The Australian Medical Association yesterday called for the Marshall government to reimpose a blanket ban on international and interstate arrivals, to give scientists time to understand the new variant.

Marshall responded by saying: “We’ll look very carefully at what the situation is with the Omicron variant, we’ll get that expert advice and we’ll take whatever precautions are necessary to keep our state safe.”

“Obviously we need to be nimble,” he said.

“We’ve got to make sure that we are responding to the threat as that threat morphs and changes and I think that’s what we’ve done since day one.”

Business leaders warned that the impact of any new restrictions on tourism and retail ahead of the Christmas holiday period needed to be factored in.

Business SA Chief Executive Martin Haese told InDaily state authorities should not jump the gun on tightening rules in response to the new Omicron strain.

“From a business perspective, any future decisions about tightened health measures must take into consideration the substantial financial burden that business has already shouldered as a result of COVID-19,” Haese said.

“South Australians should not go into panic mode, rather continue to get vaccinated, continue to wear masks, and continue to use hand sanitiser. All the measures we learnt back in March 2020 continue to be important, and this is the best protection for South Australians.”

Woman in 20s latest SA COVID case

A vaccinated woman in her 20s from interstate is SA’s latest reported case of COVID-19.

SA Health announced the case late yesterday afternoon but did not say which state the woman had travelled from or whether there were any exposure sites.

It brings the total number of interstate-acquired infections in South Australia since the borders reopened on November 23 to nine, although authorities are yet to detect any instance of community transmission.

Going forward, SA Health will report the vaccination rate for residents aged 12 and over, rather than the percentage of those 16 and over used previously.

On that basis, 79.1 per cent of South Australians aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated, while 88.5 per cent have had a single jab.

SA suburbs surpass 90 per cent double vaxxed

Three South Australian local government areas have now reached 90 per cent double dose vaccination, while jab rates in the northern suburbs are edging closer to the critical 80 per cent milestone.

The latest federal government LGA figures, correct as of Sunday, show Burnside, the Adelaide Hills and Mount Gambier have all passed 90 per cent fully vaccinated for people over the age of 16.

It comes with the state’s overall double dose vaccination rate for the same cohort at 80.4 per cent.

Mitcham (89.8 per cent fully vaccinated), Victor Harbor (89.7 per cent), Orroroo/Carrieton (89 per cent) and Holdfast Bay (88.9 per cent) are set to be the next council areas to cross the 90 per cent mark.

A total of 33 of 54 South Australian LGAs with vaccination data listed by the federal government have now passed 80 per cent fully vaccinated for over-16s.

Meanwhile, the populous northern suburbs’ LGAs of Playford and Salisbury – where vaccination rates have been a frequent source of concern for authorities and epidemiologists – are closing in on 80 per cent double dosed

Playford on Sunday reached 70.1 per cent fully vaccinated, up nearly five percentage points from 65.4 per cent last week, while Salisbury is now at 75.7 per cent double jabbed,

The two northern council areas have a combined over 15s population of more than 180,000 people and were both between eight and 14 percentage points below the 80 per cent vaccination target when South Australia’s borders reopened on November 23.

On current trajectory, Playford will reach 80 per cent in late December or early January, while Salisbury will pass the mark in the next two weeks.

The two areas have first dose vaccination rates in excess of 80 per cent, with Salisbury currently at 87.3 per cent and Playford only three percentage points behind.

The Mid Murray region remains South Australia’s least vaccinated LGA, according to the available data, with the district at just 66.8 per cent fully vaccinated.

-Thomas Kelsall

NSW records 179 COVID-19 cases, three deaths

NSW has recorded 179 new cases of COVID-19, including two with the Omicron variant of concern, bringing the number of confirmed cases of the new strain to four.

There were three COVID deaths recorded in the 24-hours until 8pm on Monday – ending a four day run of zero deaths.

The two latest overseas travellers diagnosed with the Omicron COVID-19 variant of concern arrived in Sydney from southern Africa on Singapore Airlines flight SQ211 on Sunday. They are fully vaccinated and isolating in the Special Health Accommodation.

Petition with more than 11,000 signatures to ‘fix student support crisis’

Photo: Bianca De Marchi/AAP

The Australian Education Union will today present a petition with more than 11,000 signatures to State Parliament, calling for urgent extra funding for schools and preschools to better support children with additional learning needs.

The union hopes the petition will trigger a parliamentary inquiry into what it says is a “student support crisis”.

AEU state president Lara Golding said some children were waiting more than two years for vital learning support services.

“Two years is too long in a child’s education,” she said.

“Over 11,000 community members across the state are calling on this Government to ensure that every child in every school and preschool has the support they need to be successful.”

The union said a recent survey of 250 parents found nine in ten parents disagreed that their school or preschool was “properly funded to meet the needs of every child”.

Nine in ten parents also disagreed that schools and preschools provided sufficient resources to ensure children with disabilities and/or additional needs “get the support they need, when they need it”.

The union said parents provided comments in the survey including:

“This is a shocking indictment on the lack of support for the next generation of South Australians,” Golding said.

“Educators are crying out for more funding for ongoing, permanent support staff, as well as behaviour coaches, educational psychologists, speech pathologists and mental health support.”

Twitter CEO Dorsey hands reins to Agrawal

Twitter Inc Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey is stepping down from his role and Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal will now lead the company, the social networking site has announced.

The appointment of Agrawal, a 10-year veteran of Twitter, marks an endorsement of a strategy the company previously laid out to double its annual revenue by 2023 and also indicates an increasing focus on Twitter’s long-term ambition to rebuild how social media companies operate.

Dorsey tweeted on Monday that it was “finally time for me to leave”.

Dorsey, who co-founded Twitter in 2006, is leaving after overseeing the launch of new ways to create content through newsletters or audio conversations while simultaneously serving as CEO of his payments processing company Square Inc.

The CEO change is effective immediately and Dorsey will remain on the board until his term expires at the 2022 annual shareholder meeting, the company said.

In an email to employees on Monday, Dorsey said he chose to step down due to the strength of Agrawal’s leadership, the naming of Salesforce Chief Operating Officer Bret Taylor as the new chairman of the board and his confidence in the “ambition and potential” of Twitter’s employees.

“I’m really sad… yet really happy,” he wrote.

“There aren’t many companies that get to this level,” adding that his move to step down “was my decision and I own it”.

-With AAP and Reuters

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