Australian News

regional quarantine hotels ruled out, Health Minister Brad Hazzard says

The NSW government has ruled out moving coronavirus quarantine hotels to regional areas, the state’s health minister says.

The comments from Brad Hazzard came after the Queensland Premier revealed her government was considering turning rural mining camps into quarantine facilities.

Annastacia Palaszczuk said such a plan would be a “rational option” given a new, more contagious strain of coronavirus had entered Australia and spread in the Brisbane community.

But NSW authorities would not follow suit, Mr Hazzard said.

“This has been looked at very closely by the NSW public health team over the full duration of this particular pandemic,” he said.

“There’s strong views held in our public health team it makes sense to continue to have the hotel quarantine arrangements we currently have.”

He said the main concerns were around transporting arriving overseas travellers to the regions, which might pose a risk of spreading the virus in transit.

Authorities also want to be able to quickly transfer a patient whose condition deteriorates to a major hospital, something that would be harder to do if the quarantine facilities weren’t located in Sydney.

“We simply do not believe, the public health advice here in NSW, we don’t believe there would be an advantage, in fact, (it would mean) distinct disadvantages to consider moving our public health hotels out of the Sydney regional area,” Mr Hazzard said.

Earlier on Thursday, NSW Health issued a warning that anybody who had visited the Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane since December 30 needed to immediately get tested and self-isolate for 14 days after they were last at the hotel regardless of their test result.

Contact tracers have spoken to all 10 NSW residents who were reported to have visited the hotel, Mr Hazzard said.

The new virus strain spread at the hotel after a man quarantining there was confirmed infected after returning from the UK.

Fears of wider community spread led the Queensland government to lock down Brisbane for three days last weekend.

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Brad Crouch departs Adelaide Crows for St Kilda as AFL trade period gets underway

Adelaide has elected against matching St Kilda’s monster AFL offer for Brad Crouch, paving the way for the midfielder to become a Saints player.

The Crows left it right until the 5:00pm (AEDT) deadline on the opening day of the AFL’s trade period to make their call, but decided not to force St Kilda into a trade for the restricted free agent.

Adelaide last week indicated it would match the bid if the Saints’ long-term offer did not draw pick number two as compensation.

But they have instead accepted a second-round selection, currently pick number 23.

“Ultimately, the risk versus reward of matching St Kilda’s offer and trying to force a trade, for say their first round selection at pick 17, which might not eventuate, didn’t stack up,” Crows list manager Justin Reid said.

“We are committed to making decisions in the best interests of the entire playing group and club, and did not see a lengthy deal as responsible list management in this instance.”

Crouch joins the Saints after playing 95 matches with the Crows, with his career at the club including their 2017 grand final loss to Richmond.

He will be linking up with the Saints following a season in which they reached their first finals series in nine years.

“St Kilda is going in the right direction and I’m stoked to be a part of it next season,” Crouch said.

“I’m determined to gain the trust and confidence of the club, its supporters and my new teammates, and I am confident that my best football is ahead of me at St Kilda.”

Crouch will miss the first two matches for the Saints next season, as he and teammate Tyson Stengle were suspended by the AFL after being found by police to be in possession of an illicit substance in Adelaide in September.

Earlier, Greater Western Sydney traded small forward Zac Langdon to West Coast and used its pick from the Eagles to secure Fremantle tall Jesse Hogan.

The Eagles flipped their third-round draft selection, currently number 54, to the Giants for Langdon, who booted 23 goals in 31 matches across three seasons for the Giants before requesting a trade.

Barely an hour later, the Giants on-traded that pick for Hogan, who joins his third AFL club on a one-year contract after stints at Melbourne and the Dockers.

Four Fremantle AFL players group together to celebrate a goal being kicked against North Melbourne.
Jesse Hogan (centre) will play for a third AFL club after stints with the Dockers and Demons.(AAP: Dan Peled)

The clubs had already agreed on trading Hogan, but it became official on the first day of the AFL trade period on Wednesday.

“He’s a mature hard-running and strong-marking player who, at his best, can have a big impact on-field,” Giants football manager Jason McCartney said.

“He’s excited to continue his career with us and his commitment is a great endorsement for our club.”

Meanwhile, fringe Richmond defender Oleg Markov, who played 23 matches for the Tigers since debuting in 2016, has joined Gold Coast for a future third-round draft pick.

The 24-year-old played six matches in 2020 and was emergency for the Tigers’ grand final against Geelong.

The Giants and Cats will head to the trade table with the Cats’ bevy of first-round picks — currently 13, 15 and 20 — firmly in the Giants’ sights.


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News Corp Australasia CEO Michael Miller and Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci call on nominations

Still reeling from Black Summer, Australians were plunged into the global pandemic before catching a breath. So how do we rebuild after a year like 2020? We can start by saying thank you, one million times over.

Today’s launch of Thanks a Million: Pride of Australia invites all Australians to publicly express our gratitude. A partnership between Woolworths and News Corp Australia, Thanks a Million will gather one million names between now and Australia Day – declared a national day of thanks by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

“We are proud to announce this significant partnership with Woolworths to support our Pride of Australia campaign,” said Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia.

“This year, the check-out staff, shelf stackers, newsagents and delivery drivers went from everyday workers to everyday heroes. It seems only appropriate that our two companies join together to say one big thank you.

“Not just to our teams, but to all the teams of frontline workers around Australia who kept us fed, informed and looked after,” he said.

Mr Miller called on other corporate and community leaders to participate.

“Thank you to your teams, to the unsung heroes, to the quiet achievers and especially to those who found themselves on the frontline, often unexpectedly, during this pandemic and who stood up and stood strong for their communities,” he said.

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said mental rather than physical fatigue was the issue for many. He was personally moved to receive thoughtful messages on R U OK Day, just one example of what he calls “Team Australia.”

“That extended team (includes) our competitors – Coles, Aldi, Metcash. It (includes) the states and the federal governments (and) different charity partners, whether it’s OzHarvest, FareShare, Foodbank or Meals on Wheels.

“If we can take these wonderful learnings out of what has happened to us and replicate it in some modest way going forward, that’s unbelievably powerful,” he said.

News Corp Australia community ambassador Penny Fowler said Pride of Australia has shone a light on Australians making a difference for the past 16 years.

“This year, so many people’s daily jobs became truly extraordinary acts and we are asking our readers to call out all those people in their community – their neighbour, newsagent, health worker or local supermarket team – and say thank you.

“Thank you for all they have done for their communities, because in 2020, every Australian is the Pride of Australia,” Ms Fowler said.

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AFL suspends Adelaide Crows duo Brad Crouch, Tyson Stengle after being caught with illicit substance

Adelaide’s Tyson Stengle and Brad Crouch have been suspended by the AFL for four and two matches respectively after being caught by police with an illicit substance last month.

The AFL confirmed on Saturday the pair had been found guilty of “conduct unbecoming”, following an investigation into the September incident.

The Crows players will also have a so-called first strike against them under the AFL’s drugs policy and will have to attend a drug and alcohol education course before next season.

Police caught Crouch and Stengle with an illicit substance in Adelaide’s central business district on September 28.

Crouch and Stengle were not charged by police but they were referred to counselling under a drug diversion program.

“We strongly condemn this type of behaviour and Brad and Tyson have not acted in a way that reflects our values,” Adelaide’s head of football Adam Kelly said in a statement.

“They must work hard to regain the trust of their teammates and coaches, as well as our staff, members and fans.

“All players across the competition receive a great deal of education about drug use and the AFL’s illicit drug policy.”

In April, the Crows suspended Stengle for four matches and fined him $2,500 after he was caught drink-driving and driving an unregistered car.

The 21-year-old is due to answer the charges in Adelaide Magistrates Court later this month.

The AFL said it took that “relatively recent” incident into account when determining the length of Stengle’s suspension.

In August, Stengle signed a contract extension with the Crows until the end of the 2022 season.

Crouch, the Crows’ 2019 club champion, fell off-contract at the end of Adelaide’s season and became a restricted free agent.

Rival clubs including Geelong, Richmond and Port Adelaide are understood to be pitching offers to the 26-year-old midfielder.


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Adelaide Crows AFL players Brad Crouch and Tyson Stengle allegedly caught with drugs

Two Adelaide Crows AFL players have allegedly been caught with drugs in Adelaide’s CBD.

The Adelaide Football Club says Brad Crouch and Tyson Stengle were stopped by police and allegedly caught in possession of an illicit substance in the city early this morning.

The club did not say what the substance was.

Crows head of football Adam Kelly said the club was “extremely disappointed in what was clearly a significant breach of community standards”.

“First and foremost, the alleged conduct is serious and we will continue to ask questions and make sure we have all of the facts before settling on a definitive position going forward,” Kelly said.

“What is absolutely clear is that all players across the league are well educated about drug use and relevant policies.”

The club said it understood neither player would be charged over the matter and instead police have referred them to a counselling process.

In a statement put out through their management, Stengle, 21, and Crouch, 26 said they “unconditionally accept responsibility” for their actions.

“We accept that our error of judgement is not in line with community expectations, nor the high standards we set four ourselves,” it said.

“In this regard, we are committed to the counselling process that SA Police has implemented to manage this and will continue to cooperate with our club as required.”

Hawthorn's James Worpel and Adelaide's Brad Crouch grappel on the ground as the ball bobbles away
Brad Crouch (left) was the Crows’ best and fairest in 2019.(AAP: David Mariuz)

‘Support’ and ‘drug diversion’

Kelly said the Crows would ensure both players received the “necessary support”.

“As an organisation, we take a very strong stance against any behaviour of this kind,” he said.

“The wellbeing of Brad and Tyson is also paramount and we will make sure they receive appropriate support.”

In a statement, SA Police said officers “spoke with a 21-year-old man and a 26-year-old man on Grenfell Street” at 5:15am.

“As a result, both men were drug diverted,” a spokeswoman said.

According to SA Health, “drug diversion” refers to a mandatory nationwide process in which police “divert adults detected for simple possession drug offences away from the criminal justice system”.

“Its aim is to provide individuals with the opportunity to address their drug use through health services and reduce the number of people appearing before the courts for use or possession of illicit drugs offences,” the SA Health website states.

Adelaide Crows players Tyson Stengle pumps his fist after kicking a goal, while teammate Taylor Walker raises both arms.
Tyson Stengle (left) joined the Crows from Richmond in 2019.(AAP: David Mariuz)

Court and contract trouble

Stengle is set to face court next month on a drink-driving charge after his lawyer failed to enter a plea on his behalf in August.

He was suspended for four matches earlier this season after he was reported by police for allegedly drink driving in an unregistered vehicle.

Crouch’s future at the Crows is unclear, without an official contract for 2021, and the midfielder has openly countenanced leaving West Lakes as he seeks a long term playing deal.

“At the moment I’m considering obviously whether to go to another side maybe in Victoria at this stage or whether to stay here,” he said last week.

“It’s a pretty hard decision to make at the moment because I don’t really have a lot of information to go by.”

The Crows ended the 2020 AFL season at the bottom of the ladder with three wins and 14 losses.

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Sydney news: Severe weather warning for ‘vigorous cold front’, Brad Hazzard slams Annastacia Palaszczuk’s hospital comments

Here’s what you need to know this morning.

Wild weather on the way

The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has issued a severe weather warning for a vigorous cold front which is sweeping across western NSW and is set to reach the east coast this afternoon.

The BOM urged residents of the following places to be on high alert until Thursday morning: Newcastle, Wollongong, Nowra, Batemans Bay, Goulburn, Broken Hill and Thredbo Top.

For alpine areas above 1,900 metres around Thredbo, winds could exceed 120 kilometres per hour this morning, while areas on the coast are set to receive winds of up to 90 kph this afternoon.

NSW Health Minister slams Qld Government

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s comments that “in Queensland, we have Queensland hospitals for our people” were “astonishing”.

Mr Hazzard said patients in northern NSW who required renal transplants were being denied access to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane and were being “forced to drive themselves 12 or more hours to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney”.

He said more than 6,000 Queensland citizens sought treatment last year at Tweed Hospital, near the border, representing 20 per cent of all in-patients.

He urged the Queensland Premier to review her border arrangements to “ensure patients receive the health care they need”.

Casino gambler arrested

A composite image of evidence in two plastic bags, one cash and one chips
Police will allege the man purchased chips with the proceeds of crime.(Supplied: NSW Police)

A 30-year-old man has been charged following a police investigation into suspicious transactions at Sydney’s The Star casino in July.

On July 21, a search of the man at the casino, and of his vehicle nearby, led to the seizure of more than $10,000 in cash, $50,000 in casino chips, two mobile phones and documentation.

A second search warrant at his Auburn home resulted in police seizing a further $70,000 in cash, a CCTV system and documentation.

Police will allege he purchased chips with money believed to be the proceeds of crime at least twice.

Pub patron guilty of assault after bottom slap

A woman smiling in sunlight.
Annabel Bassil says she hopes her message influences people’s behaviour.(ABC News: Mridula Amin)

A Sydney pub manager brought criminal proceedings against a patron after he slapped her bottom when she walked past him at work.

Annabel Bassil, 22, of south Sydney, said she wanted to send a message that the behaviour was unacceptable.

“I’m a female manager, I work with so many girls and I would hate for them to be in a position where something happened to them and they were like, ‘But Annabel didn’t press charges when it happened to her,'” Ms Bassil said.

The man faced court last week and pleaded guilty to common assault over the incident, which left Ms Bassil feeling “shaken” and “violated” when it took place last August.

Celebrated restaurateur ‘devastated’

Joseph Bekele was just about to open the doors for a busy night at his Ethiopian restaurant in Sydney’s inner west when the phone rang.

It was NSW Health telling him a positive COVID-19 case had dined in his restaurant four days before.

He says the call ended up costing him $35,000.

GPS winter sports suspended

Winter sports at several Sydney schools have been suspended following the tightening of coronavirus rules.

The Athletic Association of the Great Public Schools of NSW on Tuesday said it was in the “best interest of the safety and welfare” of staff, students and its community that all winter sport competitions and fixtures be suspended immediately.

Schools affected include the Scots College, St Joseph’s College and Kings.

On August 14, NSW Health banned the mixing of students from different areas of Sydney, as well as movement between rural and metropolitan areas.

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New South Wales re-signs Brad Fittler as Blues State of Origin coach

Brad Fittler has been rewarded for becoming the first New South Wales coach to win back-to-back series in 14 years with a one-year contract extension.

Fittler has been re-signed by the New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) until the end of 2021, which would be his fourth season in charge of the Blues.

It means he will become the third longest-serving Blues coach, sitting behind Phil Gould and Laurie Daley.

Fittler guided the Blues to the 2018 series victory — their first in four years — before backing up last year when his side won a gripping State of Origin III.

“I am really grateful for the NSWRL board’s strong show of faith in me and our Origin and pathways program,” Fittler said in a statement.

“It also means my coaching future won’t be a distraction throughout our preparation and defence of the Origin shield.

“Given the year that the entire community has endured from droughts and bushfires to the COVID-19 pandemic, I can’t think of a better way to end the year and lift community spirits.

Fittler has revolutionised the Blues’ approach to State of Origin since taking charge in 2018, providing a breath of fresh air for players.

Blues coach Brad Fittler (R) hugs James Roberts after winning State of Origin II in Sydney.
Fittler (right) broke a four-year drought when he guided the Blues to the 2018 series win.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

In his two successful series, he has barred mobile phones in camp, had players train without shoes in earthing sessions and promoted walking to the ground for matches.

“Winning two from two series, the board obviously could not be happier with the way things are going with Origin,” NSWRL chief executive David Trodden said.

“They were very pleased to extend Brad’s contract when they met today. They have every confidence the run of success will continue this year.”

The venues for the November State of Origin series are expected to be confirmed by the NRL in the coming months.

Part of that will include news that State of Origin II will remain at Sydney’s Olympic stadium, putting off a move to the SCG that would have been forced with the ground’s now-abandoned redevelopment.


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Conor McKenna’s COVID-19 diagnosis should not stop Essendon-Carlton AFL clash, Blues head of football Brad Lloyd says

Carlton is pushing for Saturday night’s clash with Essendon to go ahead, as the AFL nervously awaits the results of further COVID-19 testing today.

The Bombers’ entire list will be tested at Marvel Stadium after defender Conor McKenna returned a positive result over the weekend.

There are fears the Bombers could lose their entire backline as health authorities edge closer to a determination on who was in “close contact” with McKenna.

Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said those who were will be forced to quarantine for 14 days.

Essendon’s round three match against Melbourne was postponed indefinitely, causing a fixture headache for the AFL, but Carlton’s head of football Brad Lloyd said the Blues would prepare as normal for this week’s clash.

David Zaharakis passes the ball with a clenched fist as a Carlton player runs towards him
The Bombers and Carlton are set to play on Saturday night at the MCG.(AAP: Julian Smith)

“We’ll minimise any of that distraction,” Lloyd told radio station RSN.

“We’ve really prepared for this as an industry; 16-minute quarters, training in groups of eight, that’s all in preparation for if these moments happen.

The AFL on Sunday confirmed Essendon would be obliged to play under league rules that state games will proceed providing teams have 25 fit players — enough for a match day team and emergencies.

“That’s been our understanding,” Lloyd said.

“These (training) groups of eight is to minimise the number of players exposed so if you do have someone come up with COVID, it doesn’t take out your whole playing list.”

A beanie-wearing AFL footballer sits on the ground at training with his hands touching his feet.
Conor McKenna did not play in either of the Bombers’ first two games of the season.(AAP: Michael Dodge)

Essendon players have been in isolation since Saturday and those forced to serve the 14 days in quarantine will do so until July 4.

The AFL is reportedly considering pushing back the Essendon-Collingwood clash from July 3 to allow time for those players to return.

The entire Bombers backline took part in an indoor weights session with McKenna on Friday after a full-contact session with the entire list.

Players who test negative on Monday could still be quarantined if they are ruled to have come into close contact with McKenna.

AFL legal counsel Andrew Dillon hopes a decision will be reached imminently.

“There is a definition for close contact and it’s if you are face-to-face for more than 15 minutes or confined space for more than two hours,” Dillon told 3AW on Sunday.

“What we are doing with Essendon and working with the department on is saying how does that definition apply in an Essendon training circumstance.”


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NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard warns we are still ‘sitting ducks’ in virus fight

State Health Minister Brad Hazzard has issued a bleak warning to NSW residents, claiming we are still all “sitting ducks” as coronavirus restrictions are eased across the state.

In a press conference today, he revealed that the state had recorded only one new case yesterday from just over 10,000 tests – but urged people not to get complacent.

Mr Hazzard noted there seemed to have been a “great NSW bust-out” since restrictions in the state were eased.

“Moving about Sydney this morning, and just seeing and talking to folks across New South Wales, I think it’s fair to say that there has been, in a sense, the great New South Wales bust-out,” he said.

RELATED: Follow the latest coronavirus updates

He said people appeared to be rewarding themselves after many weeks of sacrifice and isolation.

“We all deserve it, we’ve all worked very hard at it. So I don’t want to dissuade people from enjoying what is a fantastic state, and at the moment, fantastic weather for this time of the year,” he said.

“But I also do want to remind people that this virus is extremely dangerous, and we are all – every one of us – sitting ducks for this virus.”

Mr Hazzard said many people in cafes did not seem to be exercising social distancing and keeping 1.5m away from each other.

He also noted the “bitter disappointment” of hearing people with symptoms were still visiting friends in their homes.

“I’m very aware of situations where, for example, one particular person … of someone who had a runny nose went with that person’s partner to dinner at a friend’s place, and it turned out that the person with the runny nose did have COVID.”

RELATED: State-by-state guide to restrictions

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Mr Hazzard warned again that people who were sick should be staying home.

“We’re living in dangerous times,” he said. “We can still have fun, but they’re dangerous times until we sort this virus issue out.”

Across the rest of the country, Victoria has recorded seven new cases over the past 24 hours, while Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory all had zero.

In total, Australia has recorded 7040 cases of COVID-19, with 3074 in New South Wales, 1554 in Victoria, 1054 in Queensland, 439 in South Australia, 556 in Western Australia, 226 in Tasmania, 107 in the Australian Capital Territory and 30 in the Northern Territory.

The death toll stands at 98.

The positive results of the past month have prompted the easing of restrictions this week, with Victoria the latest to announce that eateries will be allowed to reopen in June.

Premier Daniel Andrews today confirmed that the state will allow pubs and other eateries to host dine-in patrons in just a matter of weeks. From June 1, cafes, restaurants and the dining sections of pubs will each be allowed to host a maximum of 20 patrons at a time.

“Just three weeks later, from 22 June, those patron limits will go up to 50, and in mid-July … we would look to move to 100 patrons per enclosed space,” Premier Andrews explained.

He also stressed that strict social distancing guidelines would remain in place, including 1.5m spacing, rigorous cleaning and a screening of staff to prevent symptomatic workers infecting customers.

On Wednesday, restrictions were relaxed to allow Victorians to have five visitors in their homes and for outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

But restaurants and cafes are currently still only allowed to provide takeaway, with no dining in permitted unlike other states including NSW that are now allowing venues to hope for a maximum of 10 people.

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NRL 2020: Coronavirus news: updates, COVID-19, season suspended, restart, one referee, Parramatta Eels, Brad Arthur

Tune into our new show Fox League Live on Channel 502 Monday to Friday at 6.30pm and on Saturday at 3pm and Sunday at 5pm.

Parramatta coach Brad Arthur does not support the idea of scrapping two on-field referees and reverting to one when the season returns on May 28.

He joins a host of other coaches against the idea including Manly’s Des Hasler, North Queensland’s Paul Green and Wests Tigers’ Michael Maguire.

The NRL’s Project Apollo came up with the proposal as an attempt to cut costs and the ARLC is expected to approve it as a cost-saving measure this week, as well as eliminating ruck penalties in favour of restarting the tackle count to reduce stoppages.

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