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What we know today, Friday January 7


A veteran ABC Radio Adelaide presenter has pulled the pin after 33 years in journalism – but insists it has nothing to do with recent upheaval in the flagship breakfast shift.

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Spence Denny calls time on radio career

ABC Radio Adelaide presenter Spence Denny has announced his retirement after more than 33 years with the national broadcaster.

Denny told listeners on this morning’s breakfast program that he had informed his manager about the decision around eight weeks ago.

He emphasised his retirement was not related to ABC Adelaide’s breakfast presenter Ali Clarke departing the station last month.

“33 years of being involved with the ABC has been a joy and a privilege,” Denny said.

“The reality is that today will be my last on-air shift with the ABC.

“I want to assure you that my retirement is in no way associated with a new breakfast team as a result of the … resignation of Ali.

“So I made this decision long ago and cannot wait to spend more time with my wife exploring this amazing country.”

Denny joined the ABC as a reporter in November 1988 and has worked for the national broadcaster in Western Australia, Queensland, Mount Gambier and Adelaide.

Prior to moving into journalism, he was an army apprentice and tradesman in Victoria.

Premier Steven Marshall was among the first to congratulate Denny for his long career in radio.

Suburban SA shops granted Australia Day exemption

All shops in South Australia will be allowed to open on Australia Day after Treasurer Rob Lucas opted to grant a special exemption for suburban traders.

Lucas announced this morning that all shops, irrespective of their location or size, will be allowed to open in SA from 11am to 5pm on January 26.

The exemption granted under the Shop Trading Hours Act 1977 will grant suburban South Australian shops their first-ever chance to open on Australia Day along with their CBD counterparts, the Treasurer said.

“If shoppers want to shop, traders want to trade and workers want to work they should have the opportunity to do so in their local community,” Lucas said.

“With Omicron prevalent in the community, this decision will assist social distancing and also allow families to shop close to their homes without having to travel.”

It comes after the Treasurer granted sweeping trading hours exemption throughout the Christmas period, despite his flagship legislation to deregulate shop trading hours falling flat in the Upper House.

APY Lands close after two COVID cases

The APY Lands in South Australia’s remote far north have been closed off to all but essential workers for the next five days after two positive COVID-19 cases were detected in the area – the first infections recorded in the community since the start of the pandemic.

The Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands executive board announced late on Thursday that two positive cases had been detected in Amata, around 14km south of the Northern Territory border.

The two cases and their close contacts have been transferred to Adelaide via the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the executive board says.

“Due to the positive cases – the first in the APY Lands since the onset of the global pandemic – the APY Executive Board has resolved to close the APY Lands for the next five days,” the board said in a statement.

“A decision on reopening the Lands will be made following a review on Monday, January 10.

“The closure order prohibits entry or departure for anyone except essential workers.”

The executive also said the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands further south had been closed due to “increased risks associated with COVID-19”.

Shadow Indigenous Affairs spokesperson Kyam Maher said the Amata community where the cases have been detected is “exceptionally remote” and the virus has the potential to spread quickly.

“There have not been new houses built on the APY Lands for four or five years now,” Maher told ABC Radio this morning.

“There’s overcrowding, a lot of people in each house and certainly there has been a great fear over the last couple years … in the APY Lands, that it has the potential to spread very quickly.

“For a group of people that face significant health challenges already, it could be devastating for APY communities.”

Last month, APY Lands residents were temporarily banned from withdrawing cash from ATMs or buying more than 20 litres of fuel after COVID-19 was twice detected in wastewater in the town of Indulkana.

More tennis visas under investigation after Djokovic saga

The Australian Open has been dealt a further blow with Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews revealing two other international players are being investigated after Novak Djokovic’s visa was deemed invalid.

Andrews said the Australian Border Force, which she oversees, were looking at other players who have travelled to Australia in similar circumstances for the Open.

“I can confirm the Australian Border Force is conducting its inquiries … I am aware that there are two individuals currently being investigated by Australian Border Force,” Andrews told Channel Seven.

Andrews said anyone entering Australia had to show evidence of vaccination or medical reasons why they are not vaccinated.

“But we do have the intelligence to indicate there are some individuals here now that have not met the entry requirements and we have to investigate that,” Andrews said earlier on the Nine Network.

“I know there is a lot of chatter about the visa. The visa, on my understanding, is not the issue, it is the entry requirement.

“The Border Force has been very clear that he (Novak) was not able to meet the requirement to provide the evidence he needed for entry to Australia.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt had told Channel 7 yesterday: “The advice I have is that the ABF (Australian Border Force) can confirm that Mr Djokovic failed to provide appropriate evidence to meet the entry requirements to Australia and his visa has been subsequently cancelled.”

The world No.1 faces another three days in an immigration detention hotel in Melbourne amid one of the great modern sports controversies, waiting for a legal ruling over whether he can defend the Australian crown he’s won nine times.

Beyond the quiet of his hotel, the outcry in his native Serbia over the treatment of Djokovic is growing with his family saying he had been “held captive” in Australia and insisting the treatment of one of sport’s greatest performers was a disgrace.

Woman dies trapped under car

A young woman has died in Happy Valley after becoming trapped under her car in a driveway.

Police say emergency services were called to Jerilderie Drive in Happy Valley shortly after 6pm on Thursday following reports from residents that a person had become trapped under a Holden SUV.

The 22-year-old Happy Valley woman was pronounced dead at the scene despite efforts to revive her.

Police say it appears the woman’s parked SUV rolled back and struck her and no other people or vehicles were involved.

A report is being prepared for the Coroner.

States introduce new COVID restrictions as cases spiral

Spiralling numbers of COVID-19 cases linked to the Omicron variant has led to state governments reintroducing pandemic restrictions.

As Victorians wake to new density limits in hospitality venues, NSW is reportedly set to shut nightclubs and some major events in response to the variant, as the state records another 38,625 cases today and 11 deaths.

Victoria this morning reported 21,728 new cases and six deaths, with 644 people in hospital with the virus.

The Northern Territory has also implemented a territory-wide lockout for the unvaccinated.

It comes as Australia recorded more than 72,000 cases on Thursday, the highest daily number since the pandemic began.

Chair of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness, Professor Jane Halton, said the new restrictions were sensible given the rise in infections.

“What we are trying to do now is manage this particular variant of the virus, and that means slowing its spread down,” Halton told the Nine Network on Friday.

“This is very infectious, we know that, so people are going to have to be prudent for the next several weeks.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has urged Australians to check eligibility for the pandemic leave disaster payments following the case surge.

The payment is worth $750 for each seven day period a person has been told to self-isolate or quarantine.

The rise in cases has led to a boost in demand for rapid antigen tests, which has caused widespread shortages and reports of price gouging at some retailers.

Large queues have been seen at PCR testing clinics across the country following the rapid test shortage.

Labor health spokesman Mark Butler told ABC Radio Australia was at risk from a lack of rapid tests.

“There is a very serious risk the Australian community is going to be dumped by this fourth wave because Scott Morrison failed to do the hard work,” he said.

“The critical weapons in the fight against Omicron … are to make sure we’re getting boosters into people’s arms and to ensure we have a comprehensive rapid testing regime and (the prime minister) failed at both of them.”

Morrison said 200 million rapid tests would be available in coming weeks but ruled out making them universally free, instead providing 10 tests over a three-month period to concession cardholders, which covers more than six million people.

Biden lashes Trump in Jan 6 anniversary speech

US President Joe Biden has accused his predecessor Donald Trump of posing a continuing threat to democracy in a speech on the anniversary of the deadly Capitol attack by Trump supporters who tried to overturn his 2020 election defeat.

Speaking at the white-domed building that was the scene of the January 6, 2021 riot, Biden warned that Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud could unravel the rule of law and undermine future elections.

“We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. Here’s the truth: a former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle,” Biden said.

“He can’t accept he lost,” Biden added.

Launching such a direct attack on Trump – though Biden never actually said his predecessor’s name during the speech – was a departure for the president, who has spent most of his first year in office focused on pursuing his own agenda rather than looking backward.

But Democrats, a handful of Republicans and many independent observers have warned that the damage done by Trump’s efforts to undermine faith in the election he lost to Biden lingers on.

“The former president and his supporters have decided the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections,” Biden said.

According to Reuters/Ipsos polling, about 55 per cent of Republican voters believe Trump’s claim which was rejected by dozens of courts, state election departments and members of Trump’s own administration.

Accusing Trump of seeking to perpetuate a “big lie,” Biden said there is a “battle for the soul of America” and a struggle at home and abroad between the forces of democracy and autocracy.

Trump in a statement issued after the speech said that Biden “used my name today to try to further divide America.”

“This political theatre is all just a distraction,” Trump said.

Four people died in the hours-long chaos a year ago, which occurred after Trump urged supporters to march “to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard”.

Trump said in his speech that “if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore”.

-With AAP and Reuters

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