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What we know today, Tuesday May 31

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Funding for 48 extra doctors at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital will be included in Thursday’s State Budget to meet a Labor election pledge but it will take four years to recruit the urgently-needed staff, the State Government has announced.

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Budget funding for WCH doctors and nurses

Funding for 48 extra doctors at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital will be included in Thursday’s State Budget to meet a Labor election pledge but it will take four years to recruit the urgently-needed staff, the State Government has announced.

Premier Peter Malinauskas this morning said $37 million would be allocated in the budget to hire the doctors, including 17 senior specialists, as well as 12 extra nurses to improve cancer and mental health care for children.

The announcement honours an election promise made by Labor in February, when Malinauskas outlined the extra staff numbers and cost.

Today he said the 48 additional doctors would be recruited over a four-year period, in specialties including cancer, cardiology, intensive care, respiratory and mental health.

Malinauskas said 10 doctors would start this year, with recruitment underway in consultation with clinicians to determine the areas of most need.

He also said funding would be made available from July to recruit the 12 specialty nurses.

Dr John Widger, clinical director of paediatric medicine at the WCH, said the extra staff would help reduce long wait times for children.

“It will enable us to provide those services more quickly so we would expect our waiting lists to come down as we have more doctors on board… so children won’t be waiting as long for essential services,” he told reporters.

“It will also decrease the workload of the existing staff… because the workload has been very high, especially over the last couple of years.”

The extra staff for the WCH are part of a broader election pledge by Labor to employ 100 more doctors and 300 more nurses across the state to relieve pressure on SA’s stretched hospital system.

Labor also made an election commitment to allocate an extra $100 million for 50 extra beds at the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital, to be built on the western side of the Royal Adelaide Hospital on Port Road and open in 2027.

Opposition health spokesperson Ashton Hurn said today’s announcement was a re-announcement.

“The only thing that is new out of today’s announcement is that the Labor Party appear to be in the slow lane when it comes to delivering on their health promises,” she told reporters.

“I think that people will be rightly disappointed that just 10 new doctors are being put onto the Women’s and Children’s Hospital this year.”

No new deaths and 2689 new COVID infections in SA

SA Health has reported 2689 new cases of COVID-19 in South Australia today and no new deaths.

There are 232 people with COVID in hospital, including six in intensive care.

SA Health said of those hospitalised, 118 patients had received three or more vaccine doses, 90 people were either unvaccinated or partially vaccinated and 24 had an unknown vaccination status.

Currently, there are 19,026 active cases in the state.

There have been a total of 443 COVID-linked deaths reported in SA during the pandemic.

Man charged after stealing car with baby inside

A 37-year-old Para Hills man at the centre of a major police search has been arrested and charged after he allegedly stole a car with a baby inside.

Eastern district detectives and patrols arrested the man at a home in the CBD at about 6pm on Monday night and later charged him with abduction and illegal use.

He allegedly stole a Honda Jazz with a four-month-old baby boy in the back seat early on Monday morning outside the Fourth Ave Deli on Fourth Avenue in Klemzig.

Police said as the 29-year-old mother and car owner “momentarily left the vehicle” with her son still inside, the alleged offender pulled up in a stolen grey Mazda BT ute.

He got in the Honda and started driving away, prompting the mother to rush towards her car in an unsuccessful attempt to stop him from driving off.

“This morning police received a call from a very distraught mother in regards to her vehicle being stolen with her four-month-old child in the rear seat of the vehicle,” Superintendent Matt Nairn said yesterday.

Baby found in stolen car

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The car and baby were found by police officers about an hour and a half later on Wilson Court at Enfield after an extensive search involving what Nairn described as “every available resource in the metropolitan area”.

“An ambulance has attended along with police and now mum, and we can confirm the child is safe and well,” he said.

“It’s a great relief to South Australia police to reunite mum and child and I really think that you can imagine the distress that caused mum.

“To call it despicable is an understatement.”

The boy was found in his back seat capsule and was taken to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital as a precaution.

Nairn said the mother and alleged offender are not believed to be known to each other.

The Mazda ute was allegedly stolen from East Avenue at Black Forest earlier on Monday morning.

The Para Hills man was refused police bail and will appear before the Adelaide Magistrates Court later today.

Police also arrested a second man on an outstanding warrant at the CBD house on Monday evening.

Meanwhile, police have charged a 43-year-old New South Wales man with murder following the discovery of a body at Venus Bay on the Eyre Peninsula yesterday.

The alleged murderer is known to the deceased.

He has been refused bail and will appear in the Port Lincoln Magistrates Court later today.

More damaging winds forecast for SA

A tree felled at Salisbury on Monday night. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

A strong cold front is likely to continue to wreak havoc on South Australia today, with a severe weather warning in place for damaging winds.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued the warning across the southeast of the state, including parts of metropolitan Adelaide, Mount Lofty Ranges, Kangaroo Island, Lower South East, Yorke Peninsula, Mid North, Murraylands and Upper South East districts. 

It forecast damaging gusts in excess of 90km/h are likely, with winds expected to ease this evening.

The SES has advised people to move cars under cover or away from trees, secure loose items and stay indoors, away from windows, while conditions are severe.

Adelaide is forecast to reach 14C today with southwesterly winds of between 35 to 50km/h.

There is a very high chance of showers, becoming less likely in the evening. 

It comes after a small, brief tornado hit the Salisbury area in Adelaide’s north and dumped up to 60mm of rain on Monday, prompting the SES to respond to more than 400 incidents.

The mini-tornado struck shortly after 5am, bringing down powerlines, trees and damaging houses.

Nine unexpected power outages were also reported across metropolitan and regional SA on Monday.

The Bureau of Meteorology said the Mount Lofty, Parafield and Edinburgh Air Force weather stations broke their daily May rainfall records.

Other parts of the state recorded wind gusts in excess of 90km/h.

Federal Labor set to form majority

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will form a majority government after Labor picked up the necessary 76 seats.

Labor reached the target on Monday night after retaining the Melbourne seat of Macnamara, according to ABC election analyst Antony Green.

The seat was secured for Labor incumbent Josh Burns following a tight, three-way contest between Labor, the Greens and the Liberals.

The result comes more than a week after the election which saw Labor reclaim government after almost a decade in opposition.

Counting still continues in two marginal seats, with the results still too close to call in the NSW seat of Gilmore and the Melbourne seat of Deakin.

Labor could win a 77th seat in the House of Representatives if it manages to hold on in Gilmore.

Incumbent Fiona Phillips is currently leading on a razor-thin margin of just 142 votes against Liberal challenger Andrew Constance.

Meanwhile, Labor’s Matt Gregg has narrowed the gap against Liberal incumbent Michael Sukkar in Deakin, where the coalition is ahead by 619 votes.

Large numbers of absentee and declaration votes are still to be counted.

Albanese is set to announce his cabinet today following caucus meetings in Canberra.

He previously indicated that MPs who held a shadow ministry position in opposition would likely hold a similar portfolio in government, but some changes are expected.

Among them will be a replacement for home affairs, with previous Labor spokeswoman Kristina Keneally failing to win the seat of Fowler in Sydney.

Labor’s previous environment spokeswoman Terri Butler also lost her seat of Brisbane to the Greens.

Other portfolios have already been announced, with Linda Burney set to be Indigenous Affairs Minister and the second Aboriginal person in the role.

The frontbench will be formally sworn in at a ceremony at Government House on Wednesday.

Rex to scrap Kangaroo Island flights

Photo: Luis Ascui/AAP

Regional airline Rex has announced it will cut its Adelaide to Kangaroo Island service from next month as government funding dries up.

The airline said flights from Adelaide to Kingscote would stop on June 30 to coincide with the end of the federal government’s Regional Airline Network Support (RANS) program.

The temporary program had ensured Regional Express (Rex) could continue to fly to regional areas during the pandemic.

Rex’s deputy chairman John Sharp said the airline had “faithfully serviced” regional routes for 20 years, but it was no longer able to compete with larger companies such as Qantas, which will still operate flights from Adelaide to Kingscote.

“It is with a really heavy heart that we have to announce the cessation of services in an effort to improve Rex’s financial performance,” Sharp said.

“Qantas’ well-publicised predatory actions on Rex’s regional routes have meant that Rex no longer has the ability to cross-subsidise these marginal routes.

“This behaviour is all the more unconscionable after receiving over $2 billion in federal bailouts over the past two years.”

As well as scrapping the Kangaroo Island service, Rex will also stop flying to Bathurst, Grafton, Lismore and Ballina.

Two other NSW regional routes are also under review.

The airline said its remaining regional network would be “closely monitored” and further adjustments could be announced in the coming months.

Growth slows significantly in early 2022

The latest national accounts are expected to show the economy slowed significantly in the first three months of the year, faced with the impact of the COVID-19 Omicron variant and flooding along the east coast of Australia.

Economists will finalise their forecasts after a series of March quarter figures are released by Australian Bureau of Statistics for company profits and inventories, and international trade on Tuesday.

At this stage, economists are forecasting quarterly growth of 0.5 per cent, after disappointing business investment and construction data last week took the gloss off earlier upbeat household spending data.

That compares with 3.4 per cent expansion in the December quarter as the economy recovered from the Delta variant disruption.

If correct, it would see the annual growth rate slow to 2.8 per cent compared with 4.2 per cent in the December quarter.

The national accounts will be released on Wednesday.

“The new government has inherited a difficult situation,” KPMG chief economist Brendan Rynne said.

“The momentum we saw in the domestic economy during the last quarter of 2021, has slowed, consistent with international experience across G7 economies which collectively shrunk in the March quarter.”

Among Tuesday’s data, company profits are forecast to rise by 4.5 per cent and business inventories – stock on shelves and in warehouses – are predicted to increase 0.7 per cent.

But net exports are expected to be a 1.4 percentage points drag on the March quarter growth result.

Meanwhile, building approvals figures for April are expected to stabilise with a 0.5 per cent rise after sharp double-digit swings in recent months.

Also on Tuesday, the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index – a pointer to future household spending – will capture the initial response to the election of a Labor government for the first time in almost a decade.

Visitor throws cake at Mona Lisa in Paris

A man has thrown a piece of cake at the world-famous Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The painting by Leonardo da Vinci was not damaged in its protective case during the attack on Sunday, a museum spokeswoman said on Monday.

The man was immediately detained by the supervisory staff and taken out of the exhibition hall. Police later arrested him.

The 24-year-old from Paris was taken to a psychiatric hospital where it will be determined whether he can be remanded in custody.

He was said to have made “a confused impression”.

The museum filed a complaint.

The visitor initially pretended to have a disability in order to get a wheelchair and approach the work of art, the spokeswoman explained.

When he was close enough he threw a slice of cake – which had previously been kept hidden – at the display case containing the Mona Lisa.

Photos and videos shared by visitors on social media showed an employee immediately wiping the cream cake off the display case.

“Think of the earth, there are people who are in the process of destroying the earth,” the man shouted, according to the newspaper Le Parisien.

– With AAP and Reuters

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