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What we know today, Friday February 11

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South Australia recorded a further two deaths and 1,445 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, as authorities consider a new ‘up to date’ vaccine definition.

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SA records two deaths, 1445 new cases

South Australia recorded a further two deaths of people with COVID-19 on Friday, SA Health has confirmed.

The two deceased are a woman in her 80s and a woman in her 90s.

The state also recorded a further 1,445 new cases of COVID-19, continuing a downwards trend in case numbers.

The total number of active cases across the state is now 14,375.

South Australia now has 210 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 16 people in ICU, and five patients on a ventilator.

Of those hospitalised, 120 people are fully vaccinated, 36 people are either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated, and 54 have an unknown vaccination status.

SA Health also flagged the Adelaide Aquatic Centre in North Adelaide as a “high risk location”.

People who were at the centre during the exposure times between February 3 and 9 should closely monitor for symptoms, and get tested if symptoms develop.

It comes as South Australian authorities consider new advice from ATAGI around vaccinations.

ATAGI has recommended that people aged over 16 years should only be considered “up to date” with their vaccinations if they have had booster shot within the previous six months.

Premier Steven Marshall said South Australia’s COVID Ready Committee will consider the new advice.

“We’ll just take some time to consider that … it’s asking us to consider what the fully vaccinated status is for international arrivals, what it will be here for other people living in South Australia,” he said.

Big bank’s technology hub for Lot Fourteen

The Commonwealth Bank will be the first tenant at Lot Fourteen’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Centre on the site of the former Royal Adelaide Hospital, with plans to set up a technology hub employing 150 specialists.

The bank will set up at Lot Fourteen’s Eleanor Harrald building by the end of 2022 and plans to to move to the new centre in 2024.

It says the Technology Hub will employ and train skilled technology staff, including software engineers, data scientists and cyber security specialists.

“CBA is excited about the focus on technology, innovation and entrepreneurship in South Australia. South Australia’s focus on artificial intelligence, data and cyber security are particularly aligned with the skills we see CBA and Australia needing to develop as we move towards a more digital economy,” Commonwealth Bank’s CIO for Technology Brendan Hopper said this morning.

“We believe that the collaborative environment at Lot Fourteen has incredible potential to encourage innovation and spark inspiration between different teams, organisations and sectors, in one location.”

Premier Steven Marshall welcomed the move.

“I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll continue to keep saying it – SA is unreservedly the hi-tech state,” he said.

“Lot Fourteen has turned into a beacon for global and leading Australian companies. Commonwealth Bank is joining the likes of Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Amazon Web Services, the Australian Institute for Machine Learning and LVX Global.

“South Australia’s reputation for building a hi-tech ecosystem that connects global companies with some of the best in artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and cyber security has created an enviable innovation environment, and it’s my intention to grow this even further.”

Victoria decriminalises sex work

Victoria has passed laws to decriminalise sex work, joining New South Wales and the Northern Territory, to the applause of MPs and advocates who welcomed the “historical day”.

Following hours of debate on Thursday, the upper house voted 24 to 10 in favour of a bill to repeal offences and criminal penalties for consensual sex work between adults.

There were cheers and applause in the chamber when the final vote tally was read out with the Labor government garnering the support of 10 crossbenchers.

The opposition voted against the bill.

The Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2021 will partially abolish street-based sex work offences and associated public health offences, remove a licensing system and regulate the industry through existing agencies.

The proposed reforms also strengthen anti-discrimination protections, making it unlawful to deny sex workers accommodation.

The laws include a new offence, preventing street-based sex work from being carried out near schools, care services and places of worship between 6am and 7pm and on holidays.

Victoria is the third jurisdiction in the country to decriminalise sex work after New South Wales in 1995 and the Northern Territory in 2019.

Harassment complainant lashes Labor for airing claims

The complainant who aired allegations of harassment against a fellow staff member in a Liberal MP’s office has lashed the Labor Party for airing the claims in state parliament.

As both major parties traded allegations of bad behaviour under parliamentary privilege in the final sitting week of the Upper House, Labor MLC Russell Wortley yesterday aired claims about inappropriate behaviour by a staff member in the office of Liberal MP for Newland Richard Harvey.

“It started with a male employee of the member for Newland making rude comments that were possibly intended as a joke, but then escalated into alarming and disturbing behaviour,” Wortley told parliament.

“The male staff member would say things like, ‘That perfume smells good, it’s given me a perfume stiffy’… then the inappropriate and unwanted touching started.”

He said that behaviour allegedly escalated, with inappropriate photos sent via Snapchat, before a complaint was made and the issue investigated.

But the unidentified woman complainant late yesterday broke her silence, saying in a statement issued by a Government colleague: “I am distraught this confidential matter was leaked and used by the Labor Party in a sick and twisted attempt to capitalise on a dark and traumatic period in my life.”

She said she had been robbed of her power as an alleged victim by “the airing of my complaint about the conduct of another staffer by the Labor Party in public”.

“My feelings have been sacrificed – and discarded – by those in the Labor Party who just want to further their own political ambitions,” she said.

“I am grateful to the many people of the Liberal Party who have supported and continue to support me through this, including Richard Harvey.”

As the matter escalated yesterday, a lawyer representing the unnamed staffer issued a statement saying his client “participated in an extensive investigation [and] the allegations were found not to be proven”.

“The investigation was intended to be confidential … the Government did no favours to my client in the investigation and he had no support from Dr Harvey or anyone else within Government,” the statement from lawyer Peter Pedler said.

“My client found it to be a very difficult and harrowing experience and his mental health was seriously adversely affected… it is appalling that confidence has been broken [and] that Russell Wortley is taking advantage of that breach of confidence for his own short-term political advantage.”

Treasurer Rob Lucas told parliament that “those issues were elevated as they should have been, they were investigated as they should have been” and that the alleged perpetrator’s contract “was not renewed whilst the investigation ensued”.

Harvey told InDaily: “A complaint relating to a dispute between two staffers was raised and appropriately acted upon.”

-Tom Richardson

ATAGI releases new booster shot advice

Australians will need a COVID-19 booster within six months of their second shot to be considered “up to date” under newly released national guidelines, as the federal government moves to mandate third doses for aged care workers.

However, it will otherwise be up to states and territories to mandate boosters, with Victoria flagging it will require the third shot for incoming international travellers.

Under new advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, people aged 16 and older who have received a booster will be considered “up to date” with their vaccines.

Those who got a second dose more than six months ago will be “overdue” under the updated definition to kick in by the end of March.

Boosters are recommended three months after a second vaccine.

Children under the age of 16 not yet eligible for boosters will still be considered up to date with two vaccine doses.

However, children aged five and older who have severely compromised immune systems will need a booster to remain up to date.

The federal government stressed ATAGI’s advice only covered the management of COVID-19 within Australia and not vaccine requirements for international arrivals.

International tourists must have two doses when the border reopens on February 21.

States will decide if they want to enforce booster mandates for travellers, as has been flagged by Victoria.

Police commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens said he would take advice from chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier on how South Australia’s definition of fully vaccinated would change.

“From my point of view, if there are changes to what is required to be fully vaccinated, then we will obviously make changes to the directions that apply to vaccinations,” he told ABC Radio this morning.

He also said he hoped for national consistency in the definition.

“I think there have been lots of examples over the last couple of years where national consistency would have been hugely beneficial to the states and territories in helping people understand what their obligations are as they move from state to state,” he said.

“Ideally I’d like to see a national approach, but Professor Spurrier meets regularly with the other chief health officers and I’m sure that’s on their agenda.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, premiers and chief ministers agreed during Thursday’s national cabinet meeting only aged care workers would be subject to a blanket booster mandate.

The sector has recorded more than 500 virus deaths this year.

The federal government has thrown a taskforce and bonus payments at the problem as workers request a 25 per cent pay rise.

Australia recorded 58 virus deaths on Thursday, including 24 in NSW, 16 in Victoria, eight in Queensland and seven in South Australia.

Festival Theatre reopens with grand new entrances

The new Festival Plaza entrance to the Festival Theatre. Photo: Peter Barnes

The Festival Theatre will officially reopen today after a seven-month closure, with the Adelaide Festival Centre unveiling two grand new entrances and celebrating the reinstatement of significant artworks including the Kaurna Reconciliation Sculptures.

The theatre has been closed during the construction of the new entrances – one at the Festival Plaza side of the building and the other facing towards King William Road.

Adelaide Festival Centre CEO and artistic director Douglas Gautier said both are more accessible and visible from the redeveloped Plaza, which is also set to be officially re-opened in mid-March.

“Having great new entrances out onto King William Road and then the Plaza – which is in some ways how the centre was first envisaged, but better – is really a joy for us, a joy for the artists and, most importantly, it’s going to be a big plus for the public,” said Gautier.

The new entrances open to the public tonight for the first shows back in the 2000-seat Festival Theatre: Adelaide Symphony Orchestra’s sold-out John Williams at 90 concert and (on Sunday) the The Stones’ Sticky Fingers rock concert. A program of free live entertainment and a light show will also be presented on an outdoor stage outside the dress circle foyer over the coming seven weekends.

A number of significant artworks have been reinstated inside and outside the theatre, including the Kaurna Reconciliation Sculptures, which have now found a prominent new home in front of the King William Road entrance.

Read the full story and see more photos on InReview.

Leigh Sales to leave 7:30

High-profile journalist Leigh Sales has announced she will step down as presenter of the ABC’s flagship current affairs program, 7:30, after nearly 12 years in the role.

Sales, who informed viewers of her decision during last night’s program, will leave the role in June following this year’s federal election but will stay on with the ABC.

Appointed to the role in December 2010, or “five prime ministers ago”, Sales replaced long-time 7:30 host Kerry O’Brien and has since gone on to anchor nine federal budgets, two federal elections and several major international news stories including the election of Donald Trump and the death of Nelson Mandela.

The two-time Walkley Award Winner first joined the ABC in Brisbane in 1995 as a junior reporter before going on to hold numerous senior roles with the national broadcaster, including NSW state political reporter, chief Washington correspondent and Lateline anchor.

“There’s nothing wrong other than I just feel a strong sense of it being time to pass the baton to the next runner in the race and to take a break,” she told viewers last night.

“The end of an election cycle feels like a good time to move on to something new at the ABC.”

ABC News acting director Gavin Fang said they wanted Sales to stay in the role but were excited to see what she would do next.

“7.30 plays a vital role in the service ABC News provides to audiences and the presenter job is one of the most important in the Australian media — and one of the toughest and most highly scrutinised,” he said.

“We’ll start thinking about a new presenter down the track. For the next few months we’ll just enjoy every moment of having Leigh on the program.”

SA Unions roll out election advertising ‘blitz’

The state’s peak trade union council has unveiled a new advertising campaign and “digital marketing blitz” which messages on jobs and health and targets key seats in the lead up to the state and federal elections.

SA Unions, the South Australian branch of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, this morning announced a new “Our Jobs, Our Health, Our Future” advertising campaign which will be rolled out across the state this election season.

The campaign calls for quality healthcare, secure jobs and a “strong plan” for South Australia’s future, according to SA Unions secretary Dale Beasley said.

“South Australia is an amazing place to live and work, with a vibrant culture and a wonderful community, but our future isn’t as bright as it should be,” he said.

“Over one third of South Australians are faced with income and job insecurity and our economy, narrowly based and fragile, is failing to provide the high quality and secure jobs we need for us and our children.

“We call on all political parties to develop a strong plan for our economy that delivers good jobs today and provides our children with the same opportunities we’ve been given.”

The Ambulance Employees Association and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation have already launched TV campaigns targeting the Marshall Government and Morrison Government for investments in health and aged care.

Prince Charles has COVID-19 and recently met Queen

Prince Charles, who has tested positive for COVID-19 for a second time, recently met his mother Queen Elizabeth, but the 95-year-old monarch is not displaying any symptoms, a palace source says.

Charles, 73, the heir to the throne, pulled out of an event in the southwestern English town of Winchester on Thursday that was being held to mark the 70th anniversary of Elizabeth becoming Queen.

“This morning The Prince of Wales has tested positive for COVID-19 and is now self-isolating,” his office Clarence House said in a statement on Twitter.

There was no immediate comment on his condition but a Buckingham Palace source confirmed he had recently met his mother.

The monarch was not displaying any symptoms but the situation was being monitored, the source said.

The Queen confirmed in early 2021 she had received her first COVID-19 vaccine dose, encouraging others to also have the shot, but the palace has declined to confirm whether she has received subsequent shots, saying it does not comment on private medical matters.

Charles confirmed in December that both he and his wife Camilla had received their booster shots.

He had been at Windsor Castle, the Queen’s home to the west of London where she is currently staying, on Tuesday to hand out honours.

The health of the Queen, the world’s oldest and longest-reigning monarch, has been in the spotlight since she spent a night in hospital last October for an unspecified ailment and then was advised by her doctors to rest.

Redbacks on top against Victoria

South Australia holds the upper hand over a strong Victorian side at the midway point of their Sheffield Shield match in Adelaide, with a late Victorian batting collapse – and a newcomer’s century – giving the Redbacks a handy first innings lead.

Wickets in the final session saw Victoria throw away a bright start to their innings to be 5-151 at stumps on day two, still 215 runs behind the home side’s 366.

That’s despite struggling Test opener Marcus Harris warming up for next month’s tour of Pakistan with a confident half-century for Victoria, putting on a 110 run opening stand with young gun Will Pucovski.

Harris, who was left out of the fifth Ashes Test in Hobart following a disappointing summer, didn’t offer any chances to the bowlers on his Shield return until miscuing a pull shot to be caught in the outfield for 58.

Pucovski’s 123-ball innings came to an end when he was caught behind off David Grant (2-30) for 54.

Peter Handscomb (12), Jonathan Merlo (0) and Matt Short (6) soon followed as Victoria lost 4-15.

Earlier in the day, Redbacks Daniel Drew posted his maiden-first class century in just his second Shield outing but it was a nervous experience for the rookie.

Batting at No.5, Drew resumed on 96 only to be tied down for the best part of three quarters of an hour, before reaching three figures with an inside edge and ending on 130.

https://twitter.com/WestEndRedbacks/status/1491702854746214405

Drew set about securing quick runs after reaching his ton before being caught behind off the bowling of Perry for 130 as the Redbacks lost 4-19 at the back end of their innings.

Day one was highlighted by a century for Jake Weatherald (122) who, in concert with Drew, shared a 153-run stand.

Without a win from four starts, SA can catapult themselves back into reckoning with victory in the first Shield match for the calendar year.

-With AAP and Reuters

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