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What we know today, Thursday March 17

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Australian cricket great Rod Marsh has been farewelled at a memorial service at Adelaide Oval this morning.

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Rod Marsh farewelled at Adelaide Oval

Australian cricket great Rod Marsh has been farewelled at a memorial service at Adelaide Oval this morning.

Hundreds of people attended the 11.30am service, which was streamed online.

The former Australian wicketkeeper and left-handed batsman will be remembered as one of the sport’s most influential figures after passing away on March 4.

Marsh, 74, died in Adelaide after suffering a heart attack in Bundaberg, Queensland, a week earlier.

He played 96 Test matches for Australia between 1970 and 1984 and 92 one-day internationals.

Rod Marsh’s coffin at the Adelaide Oval funeral service this morning. Picture: Matt Turner/AAP

On retirement, he held Test cricket’s then world record for most wicketkeeping dismissals, 355, and scored three Test centuries in his decorated career.

While Marsh’s on-field exploits were legendary, the deep thinker of the game was also renowned worldwide as a coach and talent-spotter.

Marsh headed Australia’s cricket academy before filling the same role in England and was the inaugural head of an International Cricket Council world coaching academy in Dubai.

He also served as a commentator and became Australia’s chairman of selectors in 2014, a position he held for two years.

Marsh leaves his wife Ros and sons Dan, who captained Tasmania to their first Sheffield Shield win, Paul, a former CEO of the Australian Cricketers’ Association, and Jamie a leg-spinner who played for Port Adelaide.

SA hospital patients to miss out on voting in state election

The SA Electoral Commission will not offer hospital patients the opportunity to cast their ballot on Saturday due to COVID-19 safety concerns, with those admitted from today also missing the cut-off to conduct a postal vote.

In a communique to Central Adelaide Local Health Network staff last week, seen by InDaily, SA Health said the SA Electoral Commission (ECSA) had “advised that voting will not be provided at hospital sites prior to, and/or on polling day for the election”.

The decision, which impacts all South Australian public hospital patients, means those admitted from today and who are yet to cast their ballot will miss out, as 5pm today is the cut-off for the receipt of postal voting applications.

“The Electoral Commission has been monitoring the COVID-19 situation and working with the Department for Health and Wellbeing (SA Health) on how they can deliver a safe and appropriate voting service,” the communique said.

“Being admitted to hospital will be a valid and sufficient reason for not voting and no fine will be incurred for patients in hospital at this time.”

ECSA has previously provided voting services for ambulant patients who are unexpectedly admitted to hospital and who wish to vote.

In its communique, SA Health said the decision not to offer hospital voting this election was made following health advice.

“We had early discussions with the Electoral Commission of South Australia regarding mobile polling at hospitals before ECSA made the decision to not proceed with this voting option,” a spokesperson from SA Health said.

An ECSA spokesperson said the commission had taken “unprecedented steps” this year to ensure all voters had the opportunity to cast a ballot safely.

“Hospitals are high-risk settings with strict visitor policies,” the spokesperson said.

“During the current COVID outbreak – in consultation with SA Health – it was agreed that in the best interests and for safety of patients and staff, these voting services would not be provided at this election.”

South Australia yesterday reported 3122 new COVID-19 cases – the highest daily total since January 20. The number of new infections increased by 742 on the previous day.

Hospitalisations have also increased to 136, of which 10 are in intensive care and two are on ventilators.

– Stephanie Richards

Labor to unveil policy costings

Premier Steven Marshall and Opposition leader Peter Malinauskas facing off at the final leaders’ debate on Wednesday afternoon.

Labor’s spending pledges will be in sharp focus this morning as the party prepares to reveal how it will pay for its election promises.

Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas has long flagged he will reveal detailed costings on Thursday to account for a swag of initiatives ranging from its $593 million hydrogen plant in Whyalla to more than $1 billion over four years to create 300 extra hospital beds and hire 350 more ambos, 300 more nurses and 100 extra doctors.

So far, the opposition commitments have totalled more than $2.7 billion but Malinauskas says they can be delivered without any tax hikes. The Liberals have homed in on Labor’s costings throughout the campaign.

Criticism of Labor’s economic credentials was front and centre on Wednesday when Malinauskas and Premier Steven Marshall faced off in the last public debate of the campaign.

The two leaders took questions from undecided voters on a range of issues from climate change, education, the future of the arts and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Malinauskas was adamant the biggest issue facing SA remained problems with the state’s health system, including ambulance ramping, hospital delays and the need for mental health reform.

“Everything about my policy and the plan I take to this election is about the long-term future of this state,” the opposition leader said.

“But before we think about the long term, it is essential we think about the most immediate challenge and need that confronts us right now.

“That is the need to address a hospital and health system that is in total crisis.”

Marshall said voters who wanted certainty and a stronger future should continue to support the Liberal government.

“We’ve delivered the fastest growing economy in the country for the first time ever,” he said.

“We’ve delivered record jobs for South Australia, record exports and record investment.”

SA TAFE workers vote for strike

The Australian Education Union’s TAFE workers have voted to go on a full-day strike today amid ongoing tensions over negotiations for a new enterprise agreement.

The AEU balloted members on Tuesday and Wednesday and says more than two-thirds of members voted for the strike.

The union argues TAFE SA reneged on an undertaking earlier this year to roll over the terms and conditions of the 2016 educational staff enterprise agreement into an updated 2022 version.

It says TAFE SA wants to change the redeployment, retraining and redundancy clause and minimum qualification requirements for the new lecturer classification.

Other proposed changes to the as-yet unsigned enterprise agreement include making the organisation’s chief executive – rather than TAFE SA itself – the “employer”.

AEU SA president Andrew Gohl said the full-day strike – which will see a rally on the step of Parliament House this afternoon – is not about pay but preserving working conditions.

He said the union had a “lengthy meeting” with TAFE SA negotiators on Wednesday to resolve the issues at play.

“Although discussions were useful in clarifying aspects of TAFE SA’s clause changes their negotiators were unable to provide any commitment or comfort in relation to those matters and needed to seek further direction,” he said.

Treasurer Rob Lucas this morning branded the strike a “pre-election political stunt” and said students would be disadvantaged.

“This is nothing more than a pre-election stunt by the union bosses in a desperate bid to get former union boss Mr Malinauskas elected on Saturday,” Lucas said.

“This is an agreement that 88 per cent of TAFE employees voted for an, I’m advised, the union was provided with a copy of it a week before the actual ballot”.

Unemployment tipped to decline in latest figures

Economists expect the unemployment rate could hit its lowest level in over 13 years when the latest labour figures are released as a result of an easing in infections from the Omicron variant.

The consensus among economists rests on a fall in the national unemployment rate to 4.1 per cent when the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases its jobs figures for February at 11am.

This compares to 4.2 per cent in both December and January, the lowest level since August 2008.

However, forecasts for February range from 4.3 per cent to as low as four per cent.

The jobless rate touched four per cent in February 2008 and August of that year under Kevin Rudd’s Labor government but has never been lower according to ABS figures stretching back to 1978.

South Australia’s unemployment rate was in January recorded as the highest in the nation at 4.8 per cent, up from 3.9 per cent in December.

The state’s youth unemployment rate also rose significantly in the most recent round of jobs figures, moving from a record low 7.3 per cent in December to 10.8 per cent in January.

Employment nationally is expected to have risen by 40,000 in February, although forecasts again range from a rise of just 5000 to as high as 60,000.

“Omicron disruptions eased in February as case numbers declined and the impact of the Queensland and NSW floods will not be felt until the March survey,” St George economist Matthew Bunny said.

“The surge in case numbers from the Omicron variant underpinned a sharp fall in hours worked in January, alongside the summer holidays, while employment numbers held up.”

Russia-Ukraine peace talks gain traction

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to US Congress from Kyiv on Wednesday. Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Press Office/AP

New talk of compromise from both Moscow and Kyiv on status for Ukraine outside of NATO has lifted hopes for a potential breakthrough after three weeks of war.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said negotiations were becoming “more realistic” while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said proposals now being discussed were “in my view close to an agreement”.

The Kremlin said the sides were discussing status for Ukraine similar to that of Austria or Sweden, both members of the European Union that are outside the NATO military alliance.

Ukraine’s chief negotiator said it was still demanding a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Russian troops and binding international security guarantees to protect Ukraine in future.

Though the war still ground on with Ukrainian civilians trapped in cities under Russian bombardment, the signs of compromise sent relief through global financial markets.

Shares in Germany – Russia’s biggest energy market – were up 3.4 per cent.

In a speech to the US Congress that drew a long-standing ovation, Zelenskyy in an army green T-shirt appealed for tougher sanctions on Russia and more weapons to help his country fight “for the values of Europe and the world”.

Speaking via a video link mainly in Ukrainian but closing in English, he invoked Pearl Harbour and quoted Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech to call for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, although he acknowledged that the US had ruled this out.

“In the darkest time for our country, for the whole of Europe, I call on you to do more,” he said.

Japan’s Fukushima rocked by another earthquake

A strong earthquake triggers a blackout near JR Kamata Station, Ota Ward, Tokyo on March 17, 2022. Photo: The Yomiuri Shimbun/AP

A powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 has jolted Japan near the coast of Fukushima, shaking buildings as far away as Tokyo and leaving hundreds of thousands briefly without power.

The tremor hit off the coast of Fukushima prefecture, 275km northeast of Tokyo and at a depth of 60km, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

While there were no immediate signs or reports of major damage, it revived memories of the devastating quake and tsunami that hit the region 11 years earlier – also in March – which killed more than 15,000 people across the country and caused the worst nuclear crisis in more than a quarter of a century.

The latest quake has seen some reports of fire, local media said, and a number of people sustained injuries across northeastern Japan, but none of those appeared serious.

Large parts of the capital Tokyo were plunged into darkness for an hour or more, although power appeared to be largely restored by early on Thursday morning.

Separately, a Shinkansen bullet train derailed with 100 people on board, although there were no reports of injuries.

There were no abnormalities at the country’s nuclear power plants, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters, adding that he expected power to be largely back within an hour.

Authorities earlier said a fire alarm had been triggered at a turbine at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

That plant was devastated by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and following tsunami in March 2011, causing a radiation leak and the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

Tokyo Electric Power Company initially said about two million households lost power on Wednesday, including 700,000 in the capital.

Authorities issued a tsunami warning for the region of as high as one metre, with public broadcaster NHK reporting waves of 20 centimetres in some places.

The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre said on Thursday morning there was no tsunami threat to the Australian mainland, islands or territories.

Pakistan hold out for gallant draw against Australia

Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan (right) and Nauman Ali leave the ground after holding out for a draw against Australia Photo Anium Naveed/AP

Australia has fallen short of victory after only managing to take seven wickets in Pakistan’s final innings in Karachi overnight.

Babar Azam’s batting brilliance, video vagaries and some fielding flops thwarted Australia, despite spinner Nathan Lyon taking three wickets in the last 13 overs to bring the tourists within striking distance of their first-ever Test triumph in Karachi.

The series remains nil-all ahead of the third and final Test in Lahore starting on Monday.

Chasing 506 runs to win, Babar made a heroic 196 and Mohammad Rizwan a superb 104 not out as Pakistan finished on 7-443.

Babar blunted Australia’s bowlers in a 425-ball epic, posting the highest-ever score by a captain in the fourth innings of a Test.

But the skipper’s gallant resistance ended when dismissed by Lyon with 12.2 overs remaining.

Next ball, Lyon removed Faheem Ashraf for a golden duck to revive Australian hopes of a last-gasp win.

Lyon’s hat-trick ball was defended by Sajid Khan but the rapid strikes left Australia needing four more wickets in a dozen overs with the third new ball.

With 49 balls remaining, Lyon snared another wicket when Sajid was caught at slip.

With 19 balls left, Usman Khawaja at cover dropped a dolly of a catch from Rizwan’s bat.

And with eight balls remaining, a diving Rizwan, on 99, just returned to his crease after advancing to Lyon, who threw down the stumps.

Rizwan registered his ton from the next ball and then negotiated four balls of the last over before Australian captain Pat Cummins called a halt with victory impossible.

Cummins’ tactics – extending his team’s first innings into day three, not enforcing the follow-on, and batting 35 minutes into day four when 489 runs ahead – came under scrutiny after the match.

“In terms of the tactics, I think overall I wouldn’t change too much, to be honest,” the Aussie captain said.

“Batting into day three gave us that chance to really have a crack at them on day three – it probably went better than we expected.

“But over here the wickets are pretty good. We carved up two and a half days of the best time on the wicket hoping that it was going to break up on day four and five.”

The Aussies were also without some last-day luck: two video reviews for lbw were deemed “umpire’s call” despite replays showing the ball would have hit the stumps.

AFL coach launches extraordinary tirade against reporter

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has unleashed one of the fiercest ever sprays at an AFL press conference, berating a reporter for causing “turmoil” at the club.

In an extraordinary three-minute tirade, Beveridge blasted Fox Sports’ Tom Morris for a report about Bulldogs premiership midfielder Lachie Hunter being dropped for their AFL grand final rematch against Melbourne.

Hunter was named in the Bulldogs’ team on Tuesday night, but was demoted to medical sub an hour before Wednesday night’s contest at the MCG.

But Hunter earned a reprieve into the starting-22 when Norm Smith medallist Jason Johannisen suffered an injury during the warm-up.

Beveridge, after insulting Morris, stormed out of his media conference early after the Bulldogs’ 26-point defeat at the hands of the Demons on Wednesday night.

“You’ve got the nerve to ask me a question and even be here,” Beveridge responded to Morris’ question about the pre-game saga around Hunter.

“You’ve been preying on us and causing turmoil within our football club by declaring our team well before it needs to be declared.

“Is that the gutter journalist you want to be?

“We went in with a plan, we had some late stuff go on out in the warm-up.

“All the other stuff was according to plan right from the Sunday and somehow you’ve found out about that again.

“We’ve got to get to the bottom of this, obviously we need to put our hand up to say there’s some leakage going on.”

The Bulldogs’ 2016 premiership coach said the Fox Footy reporter was “not welcome” at the press conference and Beveridge attempted to have him removed.

Beveridge went on to claim the report was “muck-raking trash”, Morris was an “absolute embarrassment” and he was giving “everyone else a bad name”.

– With AAP and Reuters

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