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What we know today, Friday April 8

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Twenty Australian Bushmaster armoured vehicles worth $50 million are on their way to Ukraine after leaving Brisbane for Europe on C-17 Globemasters this morning.

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Bushmaster armoured vehicles on way to Ukraine

Twenty Australian Bushmaster armoured vehicles worth $50 million are on their way to Ukraine after leaving Brisbane for Europe on C-17 Globemasters this morning.

The Bushmasters, which include two ambulance variants, were painted olive green to suit the environment in Ukraine and will be fitted with radios, a global positioning system and additional bolt-on armour to increase their protection.

The personnel carriers provide protection against mines, artillery shrapnel and small arms fire and are being sent into battle following a direct request from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his address to the Australian parliament last week.

A Ukrainian flag is painted on either side alongside the words “United with Ukraine” stencilled in English and Ukrainian.

It comes a day after Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced further sanctions against 67 Russian elites.

The sanctions have been extended to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko and military official Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, labelled the “Butcher of Mariupol”, for attacks against buildings sheltering civilians.

The Kremlin retaliated overnight, announcing its own sanctions against 228 Australian government members and lawmakers including Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Peter Dutton.

But Dutton said Australia would continue to stand with Ukraine against tyranny and autocrats.

“People have fought and died for the freedoms that we have in our country. We need to realise we just can’t take for granted what we have – our system of democracy and freedom of speech,” he said.

“These are values that dictators like Putin and Hitler and others will always be against. We need to stand up against them.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations has voted to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council, citing “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis”, before the Kremlin then quit the council.

 

Libs elect new Tasmanian Premier

New Tasmanian Premier Jeremy Rockliff. Photo: Eddie Safarik/AAP

Tasmanian Deputy Premier Jeremy Rockliff is the island state’s 47th premier, after being elected unopposed by the governing Liberal Party.

Rockliff replaces Peter Gutwein, who on Monday announced his resignation after 20 years in politics and two years in the top job.

He was appointed leader at a Liberal partyroom meeting on Friday morning.

“I am honoured and immensely excited to be elected by my parliamentary colleagues,” he said.

“It’s a great privilege to have the support of my colleagues and continue the … work of my predecessors.”

Rockliff, who was elected to parliament in the northwest electorate of Braddon in 2002, has been deputy premier since the Liberals came to power in 2014.

He indicated he would retain the health and mental health and wellbeing portfolios.

Rockliff, 52, who is married with three children, grew up on his family’s farm in Sassafras.

“I love Tasmania. I love our people. I was born here, I was bred here, I’ve farmed here,” he said.

“I will do everything I possibly can to ensure Tasmania seizes every opportunity possible.Tasmania is in my blood.”

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Michael Ferguson will be the state’s new deputy premier. He was the only MP to nominate for the role.

National Trust to move back into Ayers House

The Malinauskas Government has overturned the former Liberal government’s eviction of the National Trust from Ayers House and paved the way for its return.

The National Trust was last year ordered to vacate the heritage-listed 1846 building on North Terrace it had occupied for nearly 50 years, with the Marshall Government announcing it would become the new home of the state government-run History Trust of SA after a $6m refurbishment.

The National Trust launched a petition and legal action against the order from then minister David Speirs, but was unsuccessful.

Environment Minister Susan Close this morning said previous plans for the North Terrace site had been shelved and that once a “comprehensive review” had been done the National Trust could move back to the property.

“The Government is supporting the National Trust to have a permanent home in Ayers House and we will work with the Trust to return to running Ayers House as a place that brings to life South Australia’s history,” Close said.

“The former government waged war with those who care about heritage, including approving the demolition of Shed 26 in Port Adelaide and of the state heritage listed Waite Gatehouse, and evicting the National Trust after it spearheaded community campaigns against these decisions.”

The move means the History Trust of SA will have to find a new base as its former Torrens Parade Ground headquarters has been allocated to veterans’ groups.

Labor leading in SA, Xenophon faces challenge in new poll

Labor has a dominant two-party lead in SA ahead of the forthcoming federal election – while attempted comeback kid Nick Xenophon faces a tough battle returning to the senate, according to a new statewide poll.

The uComms data, commissioned by the Greens and conducted from a telephone survey of 1052 residents in SA on Tuesday night, gauged statewide voting intentions in both the House of Representatives and Senate ahead of the federal election, which is set to be called imminently.

The poll found Labor leading the Coalition with more than 39 per cent of the first-preference vote to 33.2 per cent.

On a two-party-preferred basis, Labor led 58 per cent to 42, with 67.3 per cent of people who nominated minor parties or independents saying they would preference the ALP higher than the Liberals.

An excerpt from the uComms polling.

It follows another uComms poll published this week, commissioned by The Australia Institute, showing the Liberals trailing in two crucial SA seats, Boothby and Sturt.

The polling continues a strong showing for Labor in the state that saw Peter Malinauskas seize power in last month’s state election with a more than 7 per cent swing.

In the senate, Labor’s 36.1 per cent could see the ALP pushing for three SA seats if the result is replicated on polling day.

The Greens will be buoyed by the data, which showed the minor party on 11.6 per cent of the statewide vote – on track for a quota after preferences.

But former senator Xenophon, who quit the senate to run a failed state campaign at the 2018 election, is currently languishing on just 5.2 per cent according to the poll – well down on his 2016 high-watermark, at which his NXT party won three senate seats in a double-dissolution election.

A candidate would need to garner around 14 per cent of the vote after preferences to reach a quota.

Xenophon’s former staffer turned rival Rex Patrick sits on 3 per cent, while Pauline Hanson’s One Nation – whose SA leader Jennifer Game is contesting as lead senate candidate – is on 3.9 per cent.

The Greens are eyeing the chance for a second SA senator to return to Canberra to join incumbent Sarah Hanson-Young, with labour economist Professor Barbara Pocock this week formally launching her bid.

The author and Emeritus Professor at UniSA’s Business School, who has been a member of the state’s Economic Development Board, said she wanted to see “strong action on climate change, the protection of our river and Bight, and more integrity in our political system, including a strong ICAC and election funding reform”.

The poll has a margin of error of 3.02 per cent.

However, it’s understood internal Labor Party polling puts Xenophon in a far more comfortable position. Respondents to a poll conducted before the former Senator confirmed his intention to run again gave him a 93.6 per cent recognition factor, with 16.3 per cent of respondents saying they would give him their first preference if he stood again.

That poll had Labor on 30.8 per cent, the Liberals on 27.7, Greens on 8.9 and One Nation on 5.2.

It found Labor and the Liberals would lose some of that primary support if Xenophon ran – but One Nation’s vote strangely increased to 6.9 per cent in the hypothetical scenario.

 – Tom Richardson

Vaccine mandate trial kicks on

The Supreme Court will enter a third day of hearings as AFLW player Deni Varnhagen challenges SA’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates, in a case that has already sparked tense scenes.

The hearing, initially expected to conclude today, could stretch into next week as Varnhagen, who plays for the Adelaide Crows and is also a registered nurse, questions vaccine requirements for healthcare workers.

Police commissioner and state emergency coordinator Grant Stevens could be among those giving evidence today.

Varnhagen’s legal team has sought to question senior bureaucrats who were involved with implementing the vaccine mandate as part of the SA Emergency Management Act.

Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier needed a police escort as she was heckled outside court yesterday when she was excused from taking the witness stand.

Anti-vaccination protesters outside court on Thursday jeered Spurrier.

Barrister Simon Owen QC read a statement to the court on behalf of Varnhagen and her co-litigant, condemning the treatment of the professor.

Varnhagen, a Crows midfielder, was removed from the club’s playing list and had her nursing shifts cut after refusing a COVID-19 vaccination.

Video: Albanese flies in to woo Boothby voters

Federal Labor leader Anthony Albanese has flown into Adelaide to woo voters in Glenelg and at Marion late yesterday as part of the Opposition’s bid to win Boothby – South Australia’s most marginal seat – at the upcoming election.

Albanese targets Boothby

10 News First Adelaide – Disclaimer

Channel Ten

It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to call the federal election this weekend, widely tipped for a  May 14 or 21 poll date.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Albanese summed up his platform on as seeking “a better future for Australia where no one is left behind and no one held back”.

“Where we make more things here, where people have more secure work, and they have a better standard of living through cheaper electricity prices by acting on climate change, and cheaper child care,” he said.

Albanese points to infighting within the Liberals as a sign the government is more concerned with its own survival than issues of importance to Australians.

US Senate confirms first Black woman to Supreme Court 

President Joe Biden and Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson watch as the senate votes on her confirmation. Photo: Susan Walsh/AAP

Ketanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed to the US Supreme Court, becoming the first Black woman to serve as a justice in the court’s 200-year history.

Jackson, a 51 year-old appeals court judge with nine years experience on the federal bench, was confirmed by the US Senate 53-47, mostly along party lines but with three Republican votes. 

Presiding was Vice President Kamala Harris, also the first Black woman to reach a high office.

Jackson will take her seat when Justice Stephen Breyer retires in the coming months, solidifying the liberal wing of the 6-3 conservative-dominated court. She joined Biden at the White House to watch the vote, embracing as it came in.

Jackson attended Harvard University, served as a public defender, worked at a private law firm and was appointed as a member of the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

She will join three other women, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett – meaning that four of the nine justices will be women for the first time in history.

UN suspends Russia from human rights body

The United Nations General Assembly has suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over reports of “gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights” by invading Russian troops in Ukraine.

The US-led push garnered 93 votes in favour, while 24 countries voted no and 58 countries abstained. A two-thirds majority of voting members – abstentions do not count – was needed to suspend Russia from the 47-member council.

Suspensions are rare. Libya was suspended in 2011 because of violence against protesters by forces loyal to then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The resolution adopted by the 193-member General Assembly draft expresses “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Ukraine,” particularly at reports of rights abuses by Russia.

Russia had warned countries that a yes vote or abstention would be viewed as an “unfriendly gesture” with consequences for bilateral ties, according to a note seen by Reuters.

Russia was in its second year of a three-year term on the Geneva-based council, which cannot make legally binding decisions. Its decisions send important political messages, however, and it can authorise investigations

Port hit 14-year low with loss to Melbourne 

Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley at last night’s match against Melbourne. Photo: Michael Errey/InDaily.

Port Adelaide’s finals hopes are hanging by a thread as the heat continues to intensify on their embattled coach Ken Hinkley after a 32-point thumping at the hands of reigning premier Melbourne last night at Adelaide Oval.

The Demons kicked the first eight goals of the Thursday night game and held Port Adelaide to their first-ever goalless half in the AFL.

The Power had to wait 106 minutes for their first goal, when Dan Houston dobbed one with four minutes left in the third quarter.

The margin swelled to 53 points in the final quarter, before the Power added some respectability to the scoreboard with the last three goals, losing 10.8 (68) to 4.12 (36) as Melbourne notched their 11th win in a row.

“This week against the best defensive team in the competition, we found it really hard to get a score,” Hinkley said post-match.

The result saw the Power slump to 0-4 – their worst start to a season since 2008 – and Hinkley has now lost five games in a row for the first time as Power coach.

Port Adelaide have also lost four straight games at their home ground for the first time in four years.

– With AAP and Reuters

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