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What we know today, Wednesday June 9

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A brazen plot to gun down a man leaving a restaurant on The Parade in Norwood last year was foiled by Operation Ironside, the international sting on organised crime, SA Police have revealed.

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Norwood murder plot thwarted by international crime sting

A brazen plot to gun down a man leaving a restaurant on The Parade in Norwood last year was foiled by Operation Ironside, the international sting on organised crime, SA Police have revealed.

The plot involved members of the Comancheros bikie gang luring the man to the suburban Norwood location before using a machine gun in the killing.

Assistant Commissioner Peter Harvey said the conspirators were being monitored and police moved to seize a motorbike that was to be used in the killing to prevent it from happening.

“The conspirators then stole another motorcycle to set up the plot to continue,” he said.

“They are relentless. They have no conscience.”

The second motorbike was also seized, and around the same time a search was conducted in scrubland in Adelaide’s northeast which located the weapon, hidden in bushes along with two fully loaded magazines.

Harvey said police intelligence had revealed the intended victim of the plot was “one of their own”.

“It’s unbelievable the level of violence and distrust among this group,” he said.

A second murder plot was also foiled by Operation Ironside which related to people going to a home in suburban Adelaide on two separate occasions to murder the occupant.

“Most disturbingly, the intended murder victim didn’t even live at the address,” Harvey said.

“Such is the danger that this group represents, that they’re willing to go to a house to kill the occupant and it’s the wrong person.

“It’s an alarming example of the potential harm to innocent people.”

In details released on Tuesday, police said Operation Ironside had resulted in more than 90 arrests across SA, including a record 40 on a single day.

Those arrested have been charged with a range of offences from conspiracy to murder to drug and firearm trafficking and money laundering.

Detectives seized 90 kilograms of methamphetamine with a street value of $45 million.

They also found 50 litres of the drug fantasy, 350 kilograms of cannabis, 10,000 ecstasy tablets and 30 illegal firearms.

Three clandestine drug labs were uncovered, including one capable of producing $25 million worth of methamphetamine each week.

Luxury cars worth a total of $3 million were seized, including a Maserati, two Lamborghinis and one Bentley, along with $1.9 million in cash.

Friend gives moving account of Ann Marie Smith’s life

A former schoolmate of Adelaide woman Ann Marie Smith, who died in horrific circumstances while under disability care, has relayed a moving account of their longtime friendship.

In a statement read to the Disability Royal Commission on Wednesday, the woman said Ann enjoyed singing along to ABBA songs, loved her dogs and had an unforgettable laugh.

The pair had gone to primary school together in Adelaide and had kept in touch during high school and as adults.

“We watched each other grow from little girls to adult women and I will always cherish our friendship through many good years,” the woman said.

But she said Ann could also be headstrong and stubborn, and told the commission they did not speak with each other in the year before her death because of a falling out.

“This is something I really struggle with. I shouldn’t have made excuses,” the woman said.

“I carry a lot of guilt about that and I know that things would have been different if I had gone around to see her.

“For me, it is still incomprehensible what has happened to her.”

Ann, who had cerebral palsy, died in hospital in April last year from septic shock, multiple organ failure, severe pressure sores and malnourishment.

She had been found to be living in squalid conditions in her own home, largely confined to a cane chair, while under the care of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Her death has been subject to a police investigation, with her former carer Rosa Maria Maione charged with manslaughter.

NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commissioner Graeme Head also launched an independent investigation by former Federal Court judge Alan Robertson, with his report last year essentially clearing the commission in how it exercised its regulatory functions.

Robertson said on the question of whether it should have acted earlier to ban Maione, the commission had no information to take such action before Ann’s death.

He said there had been no complaints made to the commission and no incidents reported in relation to the 54-year-old’s care.

And in terms of action against her care provider, Integrity Care, Robertson found that once the commission became aware of Ann’s death, it took steps in relation to the company.

“I have not identified any significant failings in the nature or timing of those steps,” he said.

Melbourne lockdown to end, rules remain

Melbourne’s lockdown will end after two weeks as authorities unveiled eased COVID-19 restrictions for the city and regional Victoria.

Acting Premier James Merlino confirmed Melbourne’s extended “circuit breaker” lockdown would be repealed at 11.59pm on Thursday, ending stay-at-home orders.

In its place is a raft of eased restrictions including a 25-kilometre travel limit from home to keep Melbourne residents out of the regions over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend.

“That means the only reasons to go further than 25km will be for work, education, caregiving or getting a vaccination,” Merlino told reporters on Wednesday.

“Travel into regional Victoria still remains a no-go for now.”

Under the changes for Melbourne, students can return to schools, food and hospitality venues can reopen for seated service only, and outdoor gatherings can resume for up to 10 people.

A ban on home gatherings remains and masks are still compulsory indoors and outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

People in regional Victoria can welcome guests into their homes as part of eased restrictions from Friday.

Victoria reported one new COVID-19 case on Wednesday. It is linked to an existing outbreak and the person has been quarantining during their infectious period.

Rex forecasts FY loss of $15 million

Airline Regional Express has forecast a full-year loss of $15 million due to Victoria’s coronavirus outbreak.

The airline, also known as Rex, had been on course for earnings to break-even but on Wednesday said it now expected a statutory loss before tax of $15 million.

A number of states and territories have required travellers isolate for two weeks after arriving from Victoria, which has hurt travel demand.

Rex said customers whose flights were cancelled due to the virus were being offered credit refunds.

Websites return after hour-long global outage

Thousands of government, news and social media websites across the globe have come back online after getting hit by a widespread hour-long outage linked to US-based cloud company Fastly Inc.

High-traffic sites including Reddit, Amazon, CNN, Paypal, Spotify, Al Jazeera and the New York Times went down, along with the Australian news sites of the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Australian Financial Review and the Guardian.

They came back after outages that ranged from a few minutes to around an hour.

“Our global network is coming back online,” Fastly said.

One of the world’s most widely-used cloud-based content delivery network providers, the company earlier reported a disruption from a “service configuration” and did not give further details.

Fastly, which went public in 2019 and has a market capitalisation of under $US6 billion ($A7.8 billion), is far smaller than peers like Amazon’s AWS.

The company’s content delivery network (CDN) helps websites move content using less-congested routes, enabling them to reach consumers faster.

Fastly helps speed up loading times by storing versions of a company’s website in local servers, meaning less data has to be transferred from long distances.

Users received error messages quickly when they visited affected websites on Tuesday, which is an indication Fastly was not a victim of a DDoS attack, or a type of cyber-attack in which a bad actor overwhelms a network with a flood of internet traffic, according to cybersecurity experts.

The UK attorney-general earlier tweeted that the country’s main gov.uk website was down, providing an email for queries.

At the onset of the outage, nearly 21,000 Reddit users reported issues with the social media platform while more than 2000 users reported problems with Amazon, according to Downdetector.com.

Shares of New York-listed Fastly were up 4.7 per cent at $US52.80 after being down nearly 4.0 per cent in pre-market trading.

Lawmakers prepare for final euthanasia vote

The decades-long push to legalise euthanasia in South Australia could come to an end tonight as the Lower House prepares for a final conscience vote on voluntary assisted dying legislation.

The Bill – which proponents say contains 68 safeguards and has been described as the “most conservative” euthanasia legislation to come before SA Parliament – has already passed the Upper House and a second reading vote in the House of Assembly.

Cosponsored by Labor’s Kyam Maher and Susan Close, it is the 17th attempt in 25 years to legalise voluntary assisted dying in South Australia.

The legislation looks poised to become law due to a shift in the make-up of the Lower House and a number of MPs changing their view on the issue since it was last voted down in 2016.

The Bill’s second reading vote passed 33-5 in the Lower House two weeks ago.

However, debate over amendments to the legislation in its final reading could drag long into the night, with proceedings not due to start until 7:30pm.

If passed, terminally ill patients who have been given six months to live would have the right to die if approved by two separate doctors.

To be eligible, they also have to be over the age of 18 and a resident of South Australia for more than 12 months.

The request to end life early also has to come from the patient and cannot be raised by a doctor.

SA department under fire at disability royal commission

The South Australian Department of Human Services did not grant the mother of a man with autism access to a report into how he acquired a large unexplained bruise while living in disability care, the disability royal commission has heard, as key DHS executives prepare to face the inquiry this week.

The Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability heard from disability advocate Karen Rogers on Tuesday at the second day of the inquiry’s week-long public hearing in Adelaide.

Her evidence came after commissioners heard from two guardians on Monday who told the inquiry they were sent an anonymous letter containing threats to “regularly and repeatedly” abuse their nephew in DHS disability care due to staff frustration about the dismissal of a manager, and the Department subsequently “failed to properly investigate the matter”.

Karen’s son Daniel, 40, has autism and epilepsy, and lived in a State Government-run disability home on Norman Street from 2005 to 2019.

In February 2019, a local doctor admitted Daniel to hospital to have scans for internal bleeding after he sustained a large bruise on his back.

Karen said she was “horrified” by the extent of the bruising, which stretched “around Daniel’s waist going from his spine to in front of his kidneys”.

The inquiry was later told support workers at the facility reported the bruise as “insignificant” in the Department’s incident management system.

Police were unable to take a statement from Daniel due to his limited speech, but his mother was told the DHS would investigate.

“I was not involved in or consulted about the DHS investigation,” Karen said.

“Daniel was living with me after February 2019 and the [Department’s] IMU (Incident Management Unit) never sought to interview him or me.”

The inquiry heard that IMU director Stewart Dodd told Karen more than a year after the bruising occurred that the DHS investigation was “inconclusive” and he was unable to provide a copy of the report.

Karen said Dodd told her if she wanted to see a copy of the investigation she would “need to make a freedom of information application”.

Read the full story here

PM to outline foreign policy vision ahead of G7

Scott Morrison will today deliver a major foreign policy speech ahead of his trip to the UK for the G7 summit where he will stress the importance of helping nations in Australia’s region build low-debt projects, back calls for an investigation into the origins of the pandemic and argue for tougher WTO rules.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson invited Australia in December to be a guest at the G7, where leaders from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US are attending the global conference later in the week.

Morrison will on Wednesday tell Perth’s USAsia Centre that regional infrastructure which comes with onerous conditions or is too expensive isn’t worth having.

“Projects should be high quality – and affordable,” he is expected to say.

“They should meet real need, and deliver sustainable economic benefits. And they should not compromise countries’ resilience or sovereignty.”

He believes G7 countries and Australia should play a crucial role in providing alternative sources of finance for poorer nations, with China’s critics accusing the superpower of trapping developing nations in loans that tip the power balance against them.

Morrison will also warn the international rules-based order is under threat with the world in a similar state of flux as it was in the aftermath of World War II.

“The risks of miscalculation and conflict are growing. And the technological edge enjoyed historically by Australia and our allies is under challenge,” he will say.

After Australia launched trade umpire action against China over barley tariffs, the prime minister will pledge support for fixing the World Trade Organisation’s dispute process.

Australia is also backing US President Joe Biden’s push to bolster and accelerate efforts to identify the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Morrison will on Thursday travel to the G7 via Singapore where he is due to discuss military cooperation, regional security, the pandemic and a regional travel bubble with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

At the G7, Morrison is set to hold meetings with Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in.

During the trip, Morrison is also expected to hold talks with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson with free trade negotiations in focus.

Quarantine breach as Vic scrambles to find delta link

A man who contracted the infectious Delta COVID-19 strain mistakenly opened his room door soon after entering hotel quarantine in Melbourne, but Victorian authorities are downplaying the chances this incident caused transmission.

Health officials have linked an outbreak of the Delta strain in Melbourne to the hotel quarantine case, a man in his 40s, who returned from Sri Lanka on May 8.

They are now scrambling to work out the connection, with health officials believing it is most likely the man transmitted the virus to a staff member while in transit or to a fellow guest.

Genomic sequencing shows his infection is identical to one of two families linked to the North Melbourne Primary School, which has emerged as the epicentre of the West Melbourne outbreak.

But it remains unclear how the virus was transmitted from the returned traveller – who lives in the suburban Glen Eira area in Melbourne’s southeast – to the infected family.

The man initially stayed at the Novotel Ibis Hotel before testing positive and transferring within 24 hours to the Holiday Inn “health hotel”.

During his stay at the Ibis, the man opened his door while a staff member was in the corridor.

But Emma Cassar, the head of COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria, says this incident is unlikely to be the reason for the Delta variant spreading.

“The only IPC (infection prevention control) breach is when this resident opened (his) door for less than a minute – he thought there was a knock on the door (but) it was a room further up,” Cassar said.

“He even acknowledged the staff member on the floor was more than six metres, so it’s not enough for a transmission event … he would have had very low levels of infectiousness at that point.”

She added the worker in the corridor was wearing an N95 mask and a face shield.

The City of Whittlesea cluster, which triggered Melbourne’s current lockdown and is separate to the Delta cluster, is linked to a Wollert man who caught the virus at Adelaide’s Playford medi-hotel.

An SA Health report said the man most likely caught the virus because of the opening and closing of doors in the hotel corridor.

Meanwhile, acting Premier James Merlino says Melbourne and regional Victoria remain “on track” for eased restrictions at 11.59pm on Thursday.

Sweeping changes to US travel advice

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has eased its travel recommendations for 61 countries from its highest “Level 4” rating that had discouraged all travel to recommending travel for fully vaccinated individuals, the agency says.

The new ratings lower 61 countries to “Level 3,” including Japan, France, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Italy.

A US State Department official said it was in the process of revising its travel advisory to reflect the CDC changes.

The CDC said the change comes after its revised its criteria for travel health notices.

The CDC said it has also revised its rating for the United States to “Level 3” from “Level 4”.

Australia is only rated by the CDC as a “Level 1” country.

On May 24, the State Department had urged against travel to Japan, citing a new wave of coronavirus cases before the Tokyo Olympics are set to begin July 23.

The CDC said the new criteria for a Level 4 “avoid all travel” recommendation has changed from 100 cases per 100,000 to 500 cases per 100,000.

The CDC added that many countries have lower ratings “because of the criteria changes or because their outbreaks are better controlled”.

Other countries being lowered to “Level 3” include Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Libya, Panama, Poland, Denmark and Malaysia.

Many of the countries that now have lower ratings remain on the US government’s list of countries subject to severe travel restrictions – and most have been subject to the restrictions since early 2020.

-With AAP and Reuters

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