- NT leader resigns
- Labor’s integrity commission priority as Morrison defends ICAC ‘kangaroo court’ comments
- Hospital promises to fix system after elderly woman left outside
- Latest polling has Coalition falling further behind
- Air purifiers dispatched to SA schools
- SA Governor tests COVID-positive
- Putin speech gives no clue on Ukraine path
- NYT steps in to change Wordle answer
NT leader resigns
Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner has announced his resignation, saying his “head and my heart are no longer in the job”.
“There is never a perfect time to step back, walk away, and give others a go. But for me and my family, this feels like the right time,” Gunner said in a social media post on Tuesday.
“The birth of our second child a few weeks ago confirmed something for me. My head and my heart are no longer in the job. They are at home.
“I have grappled with this decision for some weeks. But welcoming little Nash into the world sealed the deal.”
The Labor leader’s announcement came almost immediately after he delivered the NT’s budget for 2022/23.
Gunner said the foundations for the Territory’s future were set.
“They are solid. An economy that is strong and getting stronger. A budget that is heading back to surplus. And a government that is in safe hands,” he said.
Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison will serve as acting chief minister with a new parliamentary Labor leader to be determined in coming days.
Labor’s integrity commission priority as Morrison defends ICAC ‘kangaroo court’ comments
Anthony Albanese has pledged a federal integrity commission would be one of the first priorities of an incoming Labor government, as Scott Morrison stood by his criticism of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The opposition leader said a Commonwealth anti-corruption body would be one of the first things that would be addressed should Labor win the election on May 21, along with a reconstruction fund and emissions reduction measures.
Albanese said while his first task if he becomes prime minister would be to attend the Quad Leaders Summit on May 24, he would then set his sights closer to home.
“We will then put in place the structures that you need to drive through that change,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
“Structures like our measures to deal with reducing emissions, our national reconstruction fund, our anti-corruption commission … I want to really raise the issues of greater gender equality in this country, I see that as a major priority for us.”
While campaigning in the marginal Liberal seat of Bennelong in Sydney on Tuesday, Scott Morrison defended his previous criticism of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption and his failure to implement a federal body, despite it being a campaign promise in 2019.
“I stand by everything I said on the matter, I don’t believe the NSW model is a model we should follow at the federal level,” the prime minister said.
“I’ve seen it come and destroy people’s reputations and careers before it has even made a finding. I don’t think that’s a good process.”
On the first day of pre-polling on Monday, more than 300,000 people cast their ballots ahead of the election.
Election officials have predicted this year’s election will have the highest pre-poll voting, eclipsing the more than 30 per cent of voters who did so in 2019.
Australian Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said he was not shocked by the large turnout on day one.
“We were expecting an increase in pre-poll and that’s exactly what we’re seeing at the moment,” he told the Nine Network on Tuesday.
“But the more in envelopes through pre-poll and postal, the harder it will be to determine a result on the night.”
Hospital promises to fix system after elderly woman left outside
A senior doctor at the Lyell McEwin Hospital has apologised and promised to change the triage system after a 92-year-old woman and other patients were left to wait in the cold outside the emergency department.
It comes after the family of Maureen Wortley spoke out, posting on Facebook images of the great-grandmother on her walker outside the emergency department on Sunday night after a fall, saying she was left waiting two hours in the cold in her dressing gown without being offered a blanket or wheelchair before she was eventually admitted.
Premier Peter Malinauskas ordered an urgent investigation, describing the situation as a “substantial stuff-up”.
The woman’s family explained that part of the problem was that patients are required to undergo a COVID rapid antigen test in an outside triage area before being allowed inside the ED, and while she had received a negative test soon after her arrival, that had not been communicated properly within the hospital.
Dr Penny Conor, divisional director of critical care in the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network, yesterday afternoon apologised “unreservedly” to Maureen Wortley and her family, saying “there was a bit of miscommunication between a couple of emergency staff in the triage space and the staff who do the RAT tests”.
“I probably wouldn’t describe it as a substantial stuff-up, but yes we could have done better,” she said.
Conor said the hospital had set up an “external COVID screening tent” to try to reduce any potential spread within the emergency department.
“We’ve done it this way at Lyell McEwin because the northern part of Adelaide is one of the lowest-vaxxed communities in the state and we feel very strongly that we need to protect and look after the vulnerable in the community as much as we can,” she said.
“That’s why we have the process outside. In a perfect world the process should take about 20 minutes. And anyone who has urgent medical need is taken straight into the department however if the need is not that urgent they have that external RAT test… and that process should take about 20 minutes.”
Conor said to improve the system for patients going forward, the triage and rapid antigen testing processes would be moved inside, with all patients and their families provided N95 masks, rather than being required to wear just surgical masks.
“We will aim to move our triage practices inside and not do it externally because… we note that after hours it can get cold,” she said.
“So only in times of surge or overcapacity will we need to move outside. And in addition to that we are going to put (on) another nursing resource to try and support this service and we’re going to make the amenities outside better by having improved seating and heating.”
Health Minister Chris Picton told ABC Radio Adelaide this morning that he visited the Lyell McEwin emergency department last night to make sure people were no longer required to wait outside.
Asked if there was a “divide” between SA Health and the Premier over his labelling of the incident as a “substantial stuff-up”, Picton said: “I’m not going to create some sort of fake fight over particular language used”.
“I think the head of the emergency department in her comments yesterday made it very clear that what happened wasn’t acceptable,” he said.
“My job as the health minister is, when issues such as this arise, to take action to make sure that we can provide care for patients, to make sure that we’ve got all of the resources and all the systems in place to make sure people get the appropriate care.”
The Opposition has called on Malinauskas to publicly release the results of the investigation into the woman’s care and to find out why her family was initially told there wasn’t an ambulance available to take her to hospital.
“News of ramping appears to have turned off like a tap since the state election, with this incident only coming to light after the family made a complaint on Peter Malinauskas’ own Facebook page,” the Liberals’ health spokesperson Ashton Hurn said.
“Labor said progress was being made on its health plans, but sadly all we’re seeing are South Australians left out in the cold.”
– Jemma Chapman
Latest polling has Coalition falling further behind
After making advances early in this election campaign, the Coalition’s momentum appears to have stalled as Labor’s underlying lead grows and early voting begins.
With less than two weeks until the election, this week’s Roy Morgan poll shows the ALP enjoying a hefty nine-point advantage in two-party preferred terms, a gain of 0.5 points from last week.
That would be a decisive, election-winning lead.
But the data also points to an increasingly complicated election as a record proportion of voters did not declare an intention to vote for a major party, a shift that makes predicting parliament’s composition difficult.
Using a new method for allocating preferences employed from this week, the Opposition is now up on the Coalition by 54.5 to 45.5 per cent.
The poll is the first taken since the Reserve Bank of Australia raised interest rates in the middle of a campaign with a heavy focus on the cost of living.
The ALP’s share of the primary vote, or underlying support, also rose slightly by 0.5 points to reach 35.5.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will start the day in Sydney spruiking a $5 million election promise to develop a technology skills passport that will make it easier for Australians to get a job in the technology sector.
Meanwhile, Labor leader Anthony Albanese will begin the day in Melbourne talking about cost of living pressures.
The slight growth in Labor’s lead comes after last week’s decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia to raise interest rates by 0.25 per cent: The first such rise during an election campaign in nearly 15 years.
It also comes as a large proportion of voters begin to focus their minds on the question of who to support at the election.
Pre-polling opened on Monday and the number of people casting their ballot on the first day grew considerably.
According to a statement by the Australian Electoral Commission, some 280,000 people voted on the opening day of pre-polling, far more than the 120,000 who did so in the 2019 election.
– James Robertson/The New Daily
Air purifiers dispatched to SA schools
More than 700 additional air purifiers have been sent to South Australian public schools in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19.
The state government announced last month that it would spend $500,000 purchasing 1000 extra air purifiers – on top of the 4000 acquired by the Marshall Government – to improve air quality in schools.
Education Minister Blair Boyer said this morning that so far, 750 of the 1000 additional units had been dispatched to schools that were found to have poor air ventilation in an audit commissioned by the Education Department last year.
He said the number of purifiers for each school varied, with Parafield Gardens High School receiving 23 units, while 70 other schools and pre-schools had only received one unit.
“The air purifiers are just one step we’re taking to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in schools but the anecdotal evidence is showing it’s working,” he said.
“I was at Athelstone Primary School yesterday and the principal spoke to me about the difference the air purifiers have made at her school in terms of stopping the spread.
“We are committed to rolling these out to the schools that need them as soon as possible and we’re happy that more than 700 of the 1000 have already been delivered.”
The government claims there has been a “smoother start to student learning” in Term 2, with 1642 students and 460 staff testing positive for COVID-19 at the end of week one, compared to 5620 students and 847 staff testing positive over seven days at the end of Term 1.
SA Governor tests COVID-positive
South Australian Governor Frances Adamson has tested positive for COVID-19, as the state yesterday recorded 2984 new cases and no new deaths.
In a statement yesterday afternoon, a spokesperson for Adamson said she received a positive test result on Sunday evening and was so far experiencing mild symptoms.
The spokesperson said Adamson intended to carry out her role virtually where possible, but an administrator would be appointed to fulfil her duties as required.
It comes as South Australia yesterday reported 2984 new COVID-19 infections – a slight increase on the previous day’s total.
Hospitalisations also increased from 221 to 228, with 10 people currently in intensive care and one on a ventilator.
All up there are 21,418 active cases in the state.
Putin speech gives no clue on Ukraine path
Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged his citizens to battle in a defiant Victory Day speech, but was silent about plans for any escalation in Ukraine.
In Ukraine, there was no let-up in fighting, with officials in Kyiv describing a stepped-up Russian offensive in the east and a renewed push to defeat the last Ukrainian troops holding out in a steelworks in ruined Mariupol.
Monday’s annual parade in Moscow – with the usual ballistic missiles and tanks rumbling across the cobblestones – was easily the most closely watched since the 1945 defeat of the Nazis that it celebrates.
Officials in the US and European capitals had openly speculated for weeks that Putin was driving his forces to achieve enough progress by the symbolic date to declare victory – but with few gains so far, might instead announce a national call-up for war.
He did neither but repeated his assertions that Russian forces were again fighting Nazis.
“You are fighting for the Motherland, for its future, so that no one forgets the lessons of World War II. So that there is no place in the world for executioners, castigators and Nazis,” Putin said from the tribune outside the Kremlin walls.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his own speech, promised Ukrainians they would triumph.
“On the Day of Victory over Nazism, we are fighting for a new victory. The road to it is difficult but we have no doubt that we will win,” said Zelensky, in plain army garb with his shirt sleeves rolled up.
In a clear reference to Putin, Zelensky added: “The one who is repeating the horrific crimes of Hitler’s regime today, following Nazi philosophy, copying everything they did – he is doomed.”
Putin’s war has killed thousands of civilians, sent millions fleeing and reduced cities to rubble.
Russia has little to show for it beyond a strip of territory in the south and marginal gains in the east.
Sheltering in a metro station in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking second city which has been bombed relentlessly since the war’s first days, World War II survivor Vira Mykhailivna, 90, buried her tear-stained cheeks in her palms.
“I didn’t think this could ever happen to us,” she said.
“This day was once a great celebration.”
The Soviet victory in World War II has acquired almost religious status in Russia under Putin, who has invoked the memory of the “Great Patriotic War” throughout what he calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s allies consider that a false analogy to justify unprovoked aggression.
“There can be no victory day, only dishonour and surely defeat in Ukraine,” UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said.
In Poland, the Russian ambassador was surrounded by protesters at a memorial ceremony and doused in red paint.
Ambassador Sergei Andreyev, his face dripping and his shirt stained, said he was “proud of my country and my president”.
NYT steps in to change Wordle answer
The New York Times has moved swiftly to change Monday’s answer to its daily Wordle puzzle out of fear that it would be seen as some sort of commentary on the debate over abortion rights.
The game, which became a sensation late last year and was bought by the NYT in January, gives users six tries to guess a different five-letter word each day.
Yet the NYT scrambled when it discovered that Monday’s word, which had been entered into Wordle’s computer program last year, was “fetus”.
The timing was particularly fraught given last week’s leaked report of a draft US Supreme Court decision that would strike down a 50-year-old ruling governing the ability of women to receive abortions.
The appearance of “fetus” was “entirely unintentional and a coincidence,” the newspaper said in a message to readers on Monday.
“At New York Times Games, we take our role seriously as a place to entertain and escape, and we want Wordle to remain distinct from the news,” the message said.
The NYT changed Monday’s answer to a different word and a spokesman said that a “vast majority” of users saw that.
But some people who had not refreshed their browsers saw “fetus” instead, spokesman Jordan Cohen said.
He would not say whether the newspaper had received any complaints about “fetus”.
Wordle was invented by Josh Wardle, a Brooklyn software engineer, as a gift for his partner and took off when he began posting it online.
Players guess words and hone in on the correct answer as the game tells them if their guesses contain letters in the word of the day.
The Times bought his invention for more than $US1 million ($A1.4 million) and is revamping the technology to make sure every user is seeing the same word every day, the newspaper said.
Cohen said millions of people play Wordle each day.
– With AAP and Reuters
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