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What we know today, Wednesday December 8

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Australia has made a dream start to the Ashes series in Brisbane, dismissing four English batters in the first session including a wicket on the first ball of the match.

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English wickets tumble as Aussies dominate Ashes opener

Australia has made a dream start to the Ashes series in Brisbane, dismissing four English batters in the first session including a wicket on the first ball of the match.

England won the toss and elected to bat in muggy conditions at the Gabba and was immediately on the back foot when a swinging Mitchell Starc yorker clean bowled Rory Burns with the first ball of Australia’s Ashes defence.

Fellow opening bowler Josh Hazlewood soon joined the party to take 2/1 from his first three overs as England slumped to be 3/11.

This included the prized scalp of English captain Joe Root for a duck and Dawid Malan who edged a ball to debutant keeper Alex Carey, gifting the South Australian his first test dismissal.

Root arrived in Brisbane with six hundreds under his belt in a prolific calendar year that’s yielded 1455 runs in 12 Tests, declaring the series a defining one for his career.

The dangerous Ben Stokes became new Australian captain Pat Cummins’ first victim as skipper when he was caught by Marnus Labuschagne as the score reached 4/29.

English opener Haseeb Hameed showed some resistance to reach 25 not out after being joined by Ollie Pope (17 not out) with the pair taking the total to 4/59 at lunch.

The tourists had earlier made a bold call, leaving Stuart Broad out of the XI in a decision that meant neither he or fellow veteran quick Jimmy Anderson – also omitted despite being fit – would feature in an Ashes Test for the first time since 2006.

Adelaide to be national space manufacturing hub

Australia’s first dedicated space manufacturing hub will be established in Adelaide to help produce everything from small satellites to flying vehicles.

The South Australian government will partner with four companies to set up the Australian Space Park with the government investing $20 million in the new facility.

The government says itt will boost the state’s space manufacturing capability at a purpose-built site, with companies focusing on the production of small satellites, rockets, electrical vertical take-off and landing vehicles and supporting componentry and technical systems.

Premier Steven Marshall said the government was transforming SA into the undisputed space state as a key part of future-proofing jobs for decades to come.

“The creation of the Australian Space Park signals our commitment to the South Australian and Australian space sector by bridging the gap between research and development and prototyping to production at scale,” he said.

“The hub aligns with Australia’s space strategy that aims to triple the space sector’s contribution to GDP to over $12 billion per annum and create up to an additional 20,000 jobs by 2030.

“The Australian Space Park is the next step in positioning Australia’s space community to deliver the entire space value chain, enabling the design, manufacture, launch and mission control of new space capabilities.”

Fleet Space Technologies Chief Executive Flavia Tata Nardini said the space park would enhance Australia’s growing reputation for industry capability within the global space and advanced aerospace sectors.

Two flights named new SA close contact exposure sites

Two Qantas flights from Melbourne to Adelaide have been identified as exposure sites, with SA Health directing those impacted to quarantine immediately.

The orders concern passengers seated from rows 11 to 15 aboard QF691 which arrived at 5.10pm on Sunday December 5, and passengers from rows 11 to 15 aboard QF677 which arrived from 11.25am Monday December 6.

SA Health says unvaccinated contacts must immediately quarantine for 14 days and get tested immediately and again on days six and 13.

Vaccinated contacts must immediately quarantine for seven days and get tested immediately and again on days six and 13.

Passengers aboard both flights seated in rows excluding rows 11 to 15 are considered casual contacts and must get tested immediately and quarantine until a negative result is received.

New exposure site in Adelaide’s west

A western suburbs sporting club has been named a close contact exposure site after four new COVID-19 cases were reported yesterday.

Two of the new cases were men aged in their 40s, and two were women, one aged in her teens and the other in her 20s.

The West Torrens Baseball Club at Lockleys is a close contact site for anyone who was in the clubrooms or bar from 6pm – 8.30pm on Friday, December 3.

SA Health says unvaccinated contacts must immediately quarantine for 14 days, get tested immediately and again on days six and 13.

Vaccinated contacts must immediately quarantine for seven days, get tested immediately and again on days six and 13.

Anyone outside the club from 5-6pm on Friday, December 3, is considered a casual contact and should get tested immediately and quarantine until receiving a negative result, and be tested again on days six and 13.

Medi-hotel orders for overseas arrivals under review

SA Health says airport processes are being “reviewed” in an attempt to allow approved travellers to go directly to home quarantine rather than to a medi-hotel first.

It comes after confusion and complaints from overseas travellers arriving in Adelaide who have been directed into hotel quarantine despite having approval to isolate at home.

Adelaide doctor John Meegan told InDaily his family was left shocked when his son Xavier, 25, arrived last Thursday night after two years in Europe and was abruptly sent to the Playford medi-hotel.

“They just whisked him away in a bus and he spent three stressful nights there,” Meegan said.

The family had believed he would be allowed to quarantine in their large home with Xavier having his own bedroom and ensuite.

“Every time my son spoke to someone at the hotel he got a different story,” Meegan said.

“What was really stressful was arriving with no warning whatsoever, or information provided to you, and then just being whisked off on a bus when we’d been told to turn up to the airport and pick him up.

Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Xavier was eventually allowed to leave three days later to quarantine alone in a family beach house on the south coast.

Australian golfer Wade Ormsby tweeted about his “welcome home” to South Australia from Singapore on Monday.

“Jammed on a bus, sent to hotel quarantine. Pre approved for home quarantine as I’m double vaxxed and qualify via criteria set by our government,” he said.

“Completed entry check SA and approved. Zero information.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for SA Health said: “Up until 27th November, international arrivals pre-approved for home quarantine were able to directly travel from the airport to their home.”

“With the WHO declaration regarding Omicron, in an abundance of caution, international arrivals have been taken to a medi-hotel, for a short period of time to allow for assessment of the suitability of the home quarantine arrangement and to ensure testing compliance,” the spokesperson said.

“The processes at the airport are being reviewed to support travellers approved to home quarantine to safely transit directly home as well as ensuring testing upon disembarkation of the flight.”

– Jemma Chapman

Labor leader’s transition committee plan

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas has pledged to chair the state’s powerful COVID-19 transition committee if Labor wins the next state election – but the Premier says the committee won’t exist by then.

Signalling a shift to current arrangements, Malinauskas on Tuesday said it was important for the premier to be “at the table when the big decisions are being made”.

Premier Steven Marshall doesn’t sit on the transition committee, which rules on COVID-19 restrictions and borders measures, although it is chaired by Department of Premier and Cabinet CEO Nick Reade.

“The premier should not sit outside the room waiting to be told what is happening and why, when these policy decisions affect everybody in the state,” Malinauskas said.

“The people of South Australia elect the premier to lead and to be at the table when the big decisions are being made. That is exactly what I intend to do.”

Malinauskas said that under a Labor government, Police Commissioner Grant Stevens would retain all his existing powers as state co-ordinator through the major emergency declaration, while chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier would continue to be a member of the transition committee providing expert health advice.

But Marshall said “the committee goes” once SA reaches its 90 per cent target for those aged 12 and over – a milestone the state is expected to hit later this month.

“He wants to chair a committee that won’t even exist,” Marshall said.

The transition committee on Tuesday opted against making any changes to South Australia’s border arrangements, with Stevens saying authorities are in a “holding pattern” on restrictions until more is known about the Omicron variant.

Decision on Pfizer for Australian kids imminent

A call on final approval for a Pfizer vaccine designed for five to 11-year-olds could be granted as soon as this week.

Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation co-chair Professor Christopher Blyth said his organisation would provide the government with its findings regarding the COVID-19 vaccine after it finalises its advice this week.

Recommendations are likely to include what timeframe should be left between first and second doses.

“We have looked at the safety data very carefully, because the risk benefits are different in this group compared to older people,” Blyth said.

It comes as more than five million Americans in the same age range have been vaccinated, with chief medical officer Paul Kelly finding data regarding reported side effects as reassuring.

Australia’s vaccine rollout head Lieutenant-General John Frewen told a Senate committee yesterday all 2.3 million children in that age bracket would be able to receive the vaccine by the time the first school term begins.

Meanwhile, Australia will keep battling to slow the Omicron variant’s spread, with 37 cases detected in the country so far.

But Kelly said there was no sign globally Omicron was any more severe than preceding variants.

He added there was no evidence to suggest a specific vaccine was needed for Omicron.

Independent supermarket boss to stand for state parliament

The CEO of South Australian Independent Retailers will contest the next state election as a candidate for the Legislative Council, accusing the Marshall Government of overseeing a period of “chaos” for the sector.

Colin Shearing, who has been a prominent opponent of the State Government’s attempts to deregulate shopping hours, said this morning he wanted to be a voice for small business in parliament.

“South Australia’s small businesses do not need another four years of chaos. They need certainty and a voice in Parliament,” he said in a statement.

“More than 143,000 small businesses across our state currently have no clear voice in Parliament, not even a small business minister.

“My goal is to provide that voice and raise the input of small business – one of the key economic drivers of the State – in government decision making.”

He said tourism operator Carol Haslam would also run as an Upper House independent on the same ticket, under the motto “defend local business”.

Shearing’s organisation represents SA’s strong independent supermarket sector, which includes the Foodland, IGA and Friendly Grocer brands.

Rising SA property prices closing door on first home buyers

South Australian first home buyers appear to be the latest casualty of the nation’s red-hot property market, according to figures released today by the Real Estate Institute of Australia.

The Housing Affordability Report found that while the number of first home buyers across Australia decreased in all states and territories by 12.6 per cent in the September quarter, South Australia recorded the largest quarterly decrease in the number of loans to first home buyers, at 21.6 per cent.

The average loan to first home buyers in SA grew to $361,680, an increase of 2.9 per cent over the quarter and 14.1 per cent over the past year.

REIA President Adrian Kelly said the figures showed a worsening affordability situation in South Australia, particularly for first home buyers.

“Over the past 12 months, the number of first home buyers increased in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory but declined in Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory,” he said.

“Nationally, we saw a fall in the number of first home buyers to 37,782 for the quarter with only 5.8 per cent of these coming from South Australia.

“As we attempt to start adjusting to the new COVID normal, buyer and investor interest shows little signs of being satiated and the combination of rising real estate prices and a return of investors to the market is putting the squeeze on South Australians trying to buy their first home.”

Housing at Mt Barker. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

REIA will not release its September quarter capital city median price data until next week.

However, the latest CoreLogic figures show median house prices in Adelaide were up 6.5 per cent in the September quarter to $558,179, a 12-month increase of 21.4 per cent.

Nationally, the median house price is $698,170, up 22.2 per cent in the past year.

– Andrew Spence

Tasting Australia serves up top chefs

A town square kitchen dinner cooked by local food “legends”, overnight regional trips and a winery pop-up by a celebrated Melbourne restaurant are among the highlights of Tasting Australia under its 2022 program released today.

Tasting Australia, with its “Town Square” hub in Victoria Square, will cover more than 200 events across 11 regions from April 29 to May 11, with the first tranche of events going on sale today.

Highlights include the Legends Dinners in Town Square Kitchen hosted by Cheong Liew and Maggie Beer, Tasting Australia Airlines overnight accommodation packages to the Flinders Ranges, Coober Pedy and Coffin Bay, while the Barossa will host Chin Chin at Yalumba and Kingsford: The Experience including lunch by chefs Peter Gilmore and Alanna Sapwell.

A previous Tasting Australia Town Square base in Victoria Square. Photo supplied

Ben Shewry, Ben Devlin, Kane Pollard, Lauren Eldridge, Justin James and Amy Hamilton will also feature at the festival, along with Hideki Li of Tokyo’s Shirosaka.

More information can be found at tastingaustralia.com.au

Summer brings out SA speeding drivers

December and January are the worst months for SA speeding offences, with nearly 20 per cent more motorists caught by speed cameras in summer than winter, according to the RAA.

It said that police figures over the past five years showed an average of 8311 drivers were caught speeding in January, with December the second-worst month at an average 7909 offences since 2016.

RAA senior manager safety and infrastructure Charles Mountain said the state’s road toll was expected to worsen before year’s end.

“Sadly 92 lives were lost in the first 11 months of this year, and if the December fatality average of the past three years is repeated this month the state’s annual fatalities are on track to exceed 100,’’ he said.

“We all know speed can kill, and latest research by the Centre for Automotive Safety Research at Adelaide University shows speeding contributes to almost one in five fatal and serious injury crashes on SA roads.

“Even speeding at less than 10km/h over the limit can contribute to fatal and serious casualty crashes, the report released last month revealed.’’

Mountain said there could be a couple of reasons speeding offences spike in summer.

“It may be that people are rushing around preparing for Christmas and also heading out on driving holidays,’’ he said, adding that all road users had a part to play in reducing the state’s road trauma.

-With AAP and Reuters

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