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Australian News

Police Minister David Elliott says Invasion Day protesters face fines or prison


Anyone attending an organised Invasion Day rally in Sydney on Tuesday faces a fine and even jail time.

NSW Police Minister David Elliott said it was a breach of the public health orders.

“It’s as simple as that,” he told 2GB’s Ben Fordham.

“If 1000 veterans got together tomorrow to celebrate Australia Day, they’d be in breach as well.

“Unfortunately, anyone who attends tomorrow will be exposed to fines and imprisonment.”

More than 2700 people have said they are attending an organised rally at The Domain on Tuesday.

But organisers argue the event will follow strict safety protocols.

“We request you do not attend if you have any flu-like symptoms, wear a mask and practise social distancing,” they said on Facebook.

Under current health restrictions, no more than 30 people can gather in groups outdoors.

Mr Elliott also blasted the ABC for listing the Domain protest as “one of the biggest Invasion Day events”.

In a company-wide memo on the day’s happenings, the public broadcaster referred to the day as Australia Day/Invasion Day.

ABC News also tweeted: “What to do on Australia Day/Invasion Day in 2021.”

The network has since been accused of dividing the nation.

“If you ever wanted evidence the ABC is out of touch with reality then yesterday was exactly the case … with the ABC to take it upon themselves to change the name (from Australia Day) to Invasion Day just goes to show how out of touch they are with Australian society,” Mr Elliott told the radio station.

He described the move as breathtakingly irresponsible.

“I’ll be making a formal complaint against the ABC,” the Police Minister said.

“If you‘re going out there advocating for some sort of illegal activity or an event that would be in breach of a statute or more. Well, then you’d be called to account.”

Police will be out in force on Tuesday, and Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing said people should be patient and plan ahead.

“People may be marking the day differently, but as with any major event, police will still be out and about across the state focusing on public safety, alcohol-related crime and anti-social behaviour,” he said.

“Police aren’t here to disrupt any plans, but we do have the power to ensure that the community is adhering to the current public health orders, including restrictions on gathering and movement and the wearing of mandatory face coverings in certain settings.”

The police operation will extend to the state’s waterways.

Marine Area Commander Acting Superintendent Joe McNulty reminded people to comply with the maritime laws and ensure they had all the required safety equipment on-board.

“We will also be conducting drug and alcohol testing on the water, so remember, the same rule applies as if you were driving a vehicle. It is a 0.05 alcohol limit,” he said.

“Drinking alcohol or taking drugs while out on the water can end in tragedy, so look after your friends and family and act responsibly.”

Temperatures are expected to reach 35C in the city on Tuesday.



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Australian News

Minister says broadcaster “clearly wrong” on Invasion Day


The ABC has been attacked by government figures for using the term “Invasion Day” in an article about Australia Day.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said “the ABC has clearly got this wrong”, referencing the national broadcaster’s publication of an article yesterday on its website about events being held on January 26.

The piece was headlined Australia Day/Invasion Day 2021 events, sparking upset among some Coalition MPs and conservative commentators.

The piece said January 26 was “one of the most polarising dates on the Australian calendar”.

However the ABC is sticking to its guns, saying while Australia Day is its “default terminology”, a “variety of terms” describe January 26 and “it would be inappropriate to mandate staff use any one term over others in all contexts”.

ABC personality Shaun Micallef said referring to protests as “Australia Day events” would have been inaccurate.

A prominent Indigenous activist has accused politicians of playing the “race card” against Aboriginal Australians, which he claims happens in the run to every Australia Day.

RELATED: Have your say on changing the date of Australia Day

Many Indigenous Australians bristle at the date as it marks the arrival of the First Fleet from Britain, an event which led to many Aboriginal people being killed in massacres and suffering other ill treatment at the hands of colonisers.

Others argue the day marks the foundation of modern Australia and the freedoms enjoyed by all.

A new poll published today found fewer than one-third of Australians support shifting the day from January 26.

The ABC article listed celebrations held under the Australia Day banner as well as demonstrations billed as Invasion Day – hence the use of both terms in the headline.

This morning, the communications minister slammed the ABC and said the article was “incorrect about Australia Day”.

“The name of our national day is well understood and supported, and for the ABC to suggest otherwise – that in some way Invasion Day is interchangeable with Australia Day – is clearly wrong,” Mr Fletcher said.

He added that the name Australia Day was used in legislation and was “reflected in the usage of the overwhelming majority of Australians”.

He conceded the public broadcaster had editorial independence but he urged it to “correct this inaccurate article” and to “be impartial”.

RELATED: The real significance of Australia Day

New South Wales Police Minister David Elliott also chimed in, saying it was “breathtakingly irresponsible” to even highlight that Invasion Day rallies were taking place.

Planned protests are not officially sanctioned due to COVID-19 restrictions that prohibit mass gatherings on health grounds.

“If you’ve ever wanted evidence that the ABC are out of touch with reality then yesterday was exactly the case,” Mr Elliott told Sydney radio station 2GB.

Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said January 26 should be referred to as Australia Day.

“This Australia Day we should walk together, side-by-side, as one to reflect, respect and celebrate all that makes us Australian – Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” he said.

Indigenous leader and one-time Liberal Party candidate Warren Mundine said the history of January 26 wasn’t in dispute, but Australia should “stop focusing on things that divide us (and) focus on the real issues and making them better”.

That wasn’t a view shared by prominent Indigenous activist Dr Stephen Hagan, who was behind the long-running and ultimately successful campaign to have Coon cheese renamed.

He told news.com.au he was “100 per cent” in favour of the ABC’s decision to use both Australia Day and Invasion Day.

“I support using both terms if for no other reason that it keeps up the conversation which leads to truth telling,” Dr Hagan said.

“When people say the ABC shouldn’t use the term Invasion Day, what they are saying is they do not support Aboriginal people”.

RELATED: What life was like for Aboriginal people during colonisation

Dr Hagan noted that New Zealand’s national day, Waitangi Day, marked the signing of a treaty between Britain and the local Maori population which established the modern nation, rather than the day UK forces arrived in Kiwi shores.

Mr Hagan accused Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack for using the “race card” with their comments leading up to Australia Day.

“From the PM’s stupid and pathetic comments about the condition of (those in the First Fleet) to McCormack making a reference to all lives matter, they always use the race card – they never miss a beat”.

Labor’s Indigenous Australians spokeswoman Linda Burney also supported the ABC’s use of different terms for the day depending on what was being referred too.

“The article reflects the growing awareness of the complexities around January 26 in our community”.

The ABC did not respond to Minister Fletcher’s comments that the article was “incorrect”.

But in an earlier statement it defended its use of several names for January 26.

“The default terminology for the ABC remains ‘Australia Day’.

“We also recognise and respect that community members use other terms for the event, including ‘26 January’, ‘Invasion Day’ and ‘Survival Day, so our reporting and coverage reflect that.”

The broadcaster said that the term “Invasion Day” was not interchangeable with “Australia Day,” but rather was used in the context of events that are billed as such.

It added that both the Macquarie and Australian Oxford dictionaries listed “Invasion Day” and “Survival Day” as “roughly synonymous” with “Australia Day” particularly for Indigenous Australians.

“Given the variety of terms in use, and the different perspectives on the day that the ABC is going to cover over the course of the long weekend, it would be inappropriate to mandate staff use any one term over others in all contexts.”



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Local News - Victoria

Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio unveils $15m plan for new parks in Melbourne


Pocket parks are created by repurposing unused land in built-up areas to create green space.

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Ms D’Ambrosio said the coronavirus pandemic had highlighted the importance of being able to visit a park close to home.

During Victoria’s second wave of COVID-19, when Melburnians were under tough restrictions to suppress spread of the virus, one of the luxuries they could enjoy was visiting parkland and walking trails in their neighbourhoods.

“We’ve become far more attuned to the small areas, the larger areas near to where we live, when we go out, stretch our legs, get some fresh air,” she said at Redleap Reserve in Mill Park.

“We’ve come to appreciate just being out in the open space.”

However, Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien chastised the government over its hypocrisy in announcing new parks while simultaneously “killing off” open spaces for major transport projects.

Michael O’Brien says the government doesn’t know “whether it’s Arthur or Martha” on the issue of parkland.

Michael O’Brien says the government doesn’t know “whether it’s Arthur or Martha” on the issue of parkland.Credit:Joe Armao

“Everyone loves a park, but this government really doesn’t know whether it’s Arthur or Martha,” Mr O’Brien said.

“You’ve got the Environment Minister announcing new parks, at the same time you’ve got the transport [infrastructure] minister cancelling major parks – they’re going to be chewed up by the Suburban Rail Loop. ”

Documents released in December showing where the $50 billion rail line’s 26-kilometre first stage will run detail plans for the Southern Stabling Yard in Heatherton, where dozens of trains running solely on the suburban loop would be stored. The train stables would take up 35 hectares zoned “green wedge”, which both Labor and the state opposition have vowed to protect.

The 13 pocket parks Ms D’Ambrosio announced on Sunday are in addition to the 18 the government committed to before the last state election, which were predominantly in inner-city electorates Labor hoped to wrest from the Greens.

An artist’s impression of the proposed Mount Street pocket park in Prahran - part of a new $15 million investment in green spaces.

An artist’s impression of the proposed Mount Street pocket park in Prahran – part of a new $15 million investment in green spaces.

Of the 18 announced three weeks before the election, 14 were in marginal electorates. Two new parks had been promised in the state’s smallest – and at the time most marginal – electoral district of Prahran, which the Greens held by just 0.4 per cent.

On Sunday Ms D’Ambrosio denied her government had targeted marginal seats through the $154 million Suburban Parks Program, and said a pocket park had been identified for every metropolitan council area. Local governments were invited to nominate sites for the new parks, with an independent panel assessing the applications, she said.

“We’ve been working with local councils to establish the best places and the best locations for these parks,” she said. “And that’s what our motivation has been because we know that Victorians love these open spaces, and they love to be able to get their dogs off the leash.”

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Australian News

Prime Minister Scott Morrison calls on nation to express gratitude ahead of Australia Day 2016


STARTING 2021 with fresh hopes for the New Year, we thank those who made the past 12 months just that bit easier.

Since launching in October, the Pride of Australia – Thanks A Million campaign received nominations from around the country filled with praise and gratitude for people who made it their mission to help others.

From the frontline workers safeguarding our health, safety and education, and countless acts of kindness, the campaign – partnering News Corp Australia, Woolworths and Australia Post and supported by the National Australia Day Council – has enabled us to share heartwarming and inspiring stories.

Today’s liftout runs in our papers nationally, highlighting frontline heroes most deserving our thanks.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared January 26 a national day of thanks, calling on citizens to keep making their gratitude known.

Mr Morrison said the pandemic had forced us to realise the role played by every member of our community.

“COVID-19 has underlined the importance of those jobs we rely on every day – and deepened our gratitude for the incredibly committed Australians who do them,” he said.

“It has been a testing year for Australia, and it will take time to recover and emerge.

“However, I am confident we will – because I have seen our strength. I have also seen how we care for each other.

“And I know that Australians who have lost family, jobs or businesses will draw strength from the love, affection and support of their family, friends, neighbours and community.”

Harley Fuller is just one inspiring frontline hero brought to light by Thanks A Million.

The assistant store manager at Woolworths in Lake Cathie fought on two fronts over the past 12 months.

Defending homes in Black Summer as an RFS volunteer, Mr Fuller risked his life and was then called to help countless anxious customers in the aisles of his busy regional store.

“In all the negatives, out of fires, out of COVID, even out of the floods straight after the fires … the community has all come together, been through similar situations and we’ve all gotten stronger from it,” Mr Fuller said.

“What we do every day, whether it’s our job or whether it is the community support, it’s a choice. Helping people is a bonus out of the whole situation. For me, it’s just part of the choice we’ve made.”

Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australasia, said it was because of people like Mr Fuller and countless others that the country has done so well in dealing with this deadly pandemic.

“While there will undoubtedly be economic impacts that are felt for some time yet, we have, to date, escaped the worst of the health impacts when compared to the rest of the world,” he said.

“To the police forces, emergency workers, doctors, nurses and carers. To the supermarket workers, delivery drivers and essential service providers. On behalf of all of our readers and all of our colleagues across Australia we would like to say thank you.”

NEW SOUTH WALES

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers said it had been inspiring to witness the outpouring of community spirit and willingness to help out during these trying times.

“As we reflect on the past year, we recognise it will be a difficult time for many,” Comm Rogers said. “So many experienced immense loss last season – including the families of our people who made the ultimate sacrifice, and the members of the community who lost loved ones, and those who lost their home.

“We have welcomed more than 8000 new volunteers into our service this past year, largely as a result of people wanting to help after last season. It is also worth recognising the remarkable level of support from the community, with more than $100 million of public donations being received.”

The year 2020 began as International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife and became one where these people were more valued than ever.

“Every nurse and midwife in NSW has contributed selflessly to tackle COVID-19 since it reached our shores,” NSW Nurses and Midwives’ Association acting general secretary Judith Kiejda said.

“This Thank You Day, we recognise the (huge) sacrifices of nurses and midwives.”

QUEENSLAND

Queensland Nurses and Midwives’ Union secretary Beth Mohle said nurses, midwives, aged care and health workers continued putting others’ wellbeing ahead of their own.

Ms Mohle said the QNMU and Queenslanders were extremely proud of this special workforce. She said their effort was the foundation of both a safe community and strong economy.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has again highlighted the expertise, strength and bravery of Queensland’s nurses, midwives, aged care staff and health workers,’’ Ms Mohle said.

“The QNMU applauds all Queenslanders who have stayed home, been tested and offered acts of kindness and words of support.”

Qld Teachers’ Union President Cresta Richardson said schools in the state remained open to support families of workers in critical industries and acknowledged parents who helped manage remote learning.

“Our teachers and school leaders as frontline workers have reinvented the way they work …(from) a new assessment and tertiary entrance system (to) children and adults adjusting to remote learning as required by the new COVID normal,” Ms Richardson said.

VICTORIA

The Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said teachers, principals and support staff ensured went above and beyond despite grave challenges.

“The fact that they still managed to deliver a high-quality education to students all over Victoria during the pandemic shows how professional, dedicated and resilient they are,” Ms Peace said.

“All Victorians have a new level of respect and understanding of the value of teachers, principals and support staff in their role of educating our kids and we want to give a heartfelt thank you to all of you.”

Country Fire Authority chief officer Jason Heffernan said 2020 was exceptionally difficult year for all Victorians.

“CFA members faced one of the most challenging fire seasons in many years,” Mr Heffernan said.

“Our members went above and beyond in their mission to save lives and properties, particularly in East Gippsland and North East Victoria.

“From battling historic campaign fires, to dealing with the lingering effects of the drought on communities across the state; 2020 highlighted the dedication of our volunteers to Victoria and I would like to personally thank all our members who contributed to the challenges we faced.”

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

The South Australian Ambulance Service saw a sharp increase in demand for its services, as bushfires raged and the pandemic began.

“As a result of its dedicated and professional workforce, coupled with our emergency preparedness and management, SAAS met the demands of 2020,” COVID Incident Commander Chris Howie ASM said.

“Some of our people continued to save their communities even though they had been directly affected personally.

“The leadership team at SAAS is so proud of the way our people represented themselves and our service in 2020 and we thank them for their dedication to each other, our community and the state of South Australia.”

Schools in the state experienced immense pressure last year but have been fearless in coping with many new demands.

“Teachers, leaders and support staff have worked incredibly hard over the past year in challenging circumstances,” said Lara Golding, president of the SA branch of the Australian Education Union.

“They have gone above and beyond, supporting families in crisis and adapting teaching.”

NORTHERN TERRITORY

Protecting our shores from the COVID-19 pandemic remains paramount to maintaining where we are today.

National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre executive director Professor Len Notaras said its Australian Medical Assistance Teams staff had been supporting the country’s COVID-19 response for a year.

“Our efforts commenced with supporting repatriated Australians from Wuhan on Christmas Island and progressed to assisting Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and, since October 2020, the Australian Government in operating the AUSMAT-led Centre for National Resilience at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory,” he said.

“The staff who have worked to support the CNR have done so with compassion, resilience, professionalism, selflessness and good humour for long hours, in the challenging wet season, heat and conditions that are extreme, (including) full PPE in the humidity and rain,” he said.

St John Ambulance NT director of ambulance services Andrew Thomas said frontline workers continued to provide high-level care under ever-changing circumstances while maintaining COVID-safe practices.

“In a year that stretched people to their limits, St John NT employees and volunteers demonstrated incredible resilience and flexibility,” Mr Thomas said.

“We want to thank our ambulance service staff and the entire St John NT team for their tireless work and dedication throughout 2020. Say thanks to an ambo next time you see one.”

TASMANIA

Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein said he was proud of the response of the Tasmanian community during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The thing that has made me most happy during the course of the year … has been the common humanity that I’ve witnessed right across our community, where Tasmanians, regardless of race, background, religion, they have held out their hand to other Tasmanians and they’ve helped each other,” Mr Gutwein said.

“I think that they recognised the seriousness of the challenges as a starting point and they’ve worked together to get on top of it.”

Emily Shepherd, secretary of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Tasmania, said frontline health workers had gone above and beyond to help protect their communities.

“Nurses, midwives and care workers have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 response and leading the treatment of those affected as well as helping to contain and prevent further outbreaks,” Ms Shepherd said.

“The changes to their practice have been enormous and at times incredibly fatiguing. However, their professionalism, skills and knowledge have supported their patients, clients and residents through this incredibly challenging time as well as the broader community.”

National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre executive director Professor Len Notaras thanked its Australian Medical Assistance Teams staff who had been supporting Australia’s COVID-19 response for a year.

There is still time to nominate someone deserving in the Thanks A Million competition – they will go in the running to win a $200 Woolworths Gift Card.

To nominate someone and say thanks, go to thanksamillion.net.au

Terms and conditions apply. For full terms and conditions, visit thanksamillion.net.au



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Australian News

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s views on Australia Day ‘selfish’ and ‘lightweight’, Michael Dodson says


Former Australian of the Year and Northern Territory Treaty Commissioner Michael Dodson has called Scott Morrison’s comments about Australia Day “selfish”, saying he is “very lightweight when it comes to understanding Australian history”.

The Prime Minister on Thursday criticised Cricket Australia for its decision to recommend that teams drop the term “Australia Day” from its Big Bash promotions.

“Australia Day is all about acknowledging how far we’ve come,” Mr Morrison said during a Thursday press conference.

“When those 12 ships turned up in Sydney, all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either.

“What that day, to this, demonstrates is how far we’ve come as a country and I think that’s why it’s important to mark it in that way.”

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Scott Morrison defended the use of the term “Australia Day”.

However, Mr Dodson, who was named Australian of the Year in 2009 for his work as an advocate for reconciliation, slammed those comments as “shallow” and showing a lack of empathy.

“I’m astounded at the comment [from the Prime Minister],” Mr Dodson told PM.

“It indicates to me a very shallow understanding of the arrival of the First Fleet and the impact of that on Aboriginal Australia.

“It’s a very selfish comment. He said nothing about the arrival of that fleet on the Aboriginal owners who own the place.

“There’s no empathy there at all. He’s turning it inward. It’s all about self-praise and aggrandisement of white fella colonisation.

“It’s so shallow in that it doesn’t involve inclusion or diversity.

Dodson praises Cricket Australia’s approach

Perth Scorchers BBL players celebrate a wicket against Sydney Thunder in Perth.
Perth Scorchers are one of three teams that will wear an Indigenous jersey.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Mr Morrison took further aim at Cricket Australia later on Thursday, telling the body, “I think a bit more focus on cricket, and a bit less focus on politics,” on radio station 4RO.

However, Mr Dodson said he “wholeheartedly” agreed with Cricket Australia’s stance, praising the body for the work it had done in growing the game.

“They’ve taken Aboriginal participation in official cricket around the country from 8,500 [in 2013/14] to almost 70,000,” Mr Dodson said.

“It’s not just Indigenous Australians, it’s people from diverse and different cultural backgrounds, they’ve done a terrific job.

“Adam Cassidy [Cricket Australia’s diversity and inclusion manager] and the Cricket Australia team should be very, very proud of what they’ve achieved in such a short time.”

“Because they’re inclusive and have an inclusive and diverse policy, you get figures like that.”

Melbourne Stars, Renegades to stick with ‘Australia Day’

Marcus Stoinis looks down at the ground as a wicketkeeper wearing red claps his hands next to some broken stumps
Neither of Melbourne’s two BBL franchises will drop the term “Australia Day” from their promotional material.(AAP: James Ross)

Although Cricket Australia has recommended that clubs not use the phrase “Australia Day”, the two Melbourne franchises, the Stars and the Renegades have said they will continue to use the term.

Nick Cummins, the Melbourne Stars general manager, told the Sydney Morning Herald that both games scheduled at the MCG on January 26 would be marketed as Australia Day matches.

Mr Cummins said the Stars did not have anything “overtly jingoistic planned” for the event, but had told Cricket Australia that it was not planning on changing their plans this year.

“We need to do it in a timely and constructive manner rather than making an arbitrary decision at very short notice,” Mr Cummins said.

“We believe that this is a significant step and requires the full engagement of all of Victorian cricket.”

The Melbourne Renegades are one of three BBL teams, along with Sydney Thunder and Perth Scorchers, that will be wearing Indigenous-themed jerseys in matches on January 23, 25 and 26.



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Australian News

Dan Christian tells Prime Minister Scott Morrison to follow Cricket Australia’s lead on Australia Day


Indigenous cricketer Dan Christian has told Prime Minister Scott Morrison to “read the room” following his criticism of Cricket Australia’s (CA) decision to drop “Australia Day” from its Big Bash League promotions.

Mr Morrison on Thursday questioned CA’s move to drop the term as part of its effort to normalise conversations over the date’s history.

He described CA’s decision as “pretty ordinary”.

CA also announced this week three BBL clubs would wear Indigenous-inspired uniforms in matches on January 23, 25 and 26.

Christian, a Wiradjuri man who is one of five Indigenous cricketers playing in the BBL, took aim at Mr Morrison on Twitter on Friday afternoon.

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The Sydney Sixers all-rounder said Mr Morrison should support CA’s initiative.

“Read the room Mr Prime Minister,” Christian tweeted.

“@CricketAus are leading the way because your government won’t.

“There’ll be millions of kids watching our @BBL games on the 26th January, and they’ll see us taking a knee against racism, and promoting inclusion for all. Take note.”

Fellow Australian cricketer Usman Khawaja applauded Christian for raising his concern with Mr Morrison’s comments.

“I think for ScoMo (Scott Morrison) to say to CA ‘a bit more focus on cricket and a little less focus on politics’ is pretty petty,” Khawaja tweeted.

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The Prime Minister says Australia Day marks “how far we’ve come” as a country and is important.

Mr Morrison said he believed it was important Australia Day was recognised on January 26.

“When those 12 ships turned up in Sydney, all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either,” he said on Thursday.

“What that day, to this, demonstrates is how far we’ve come as a country and I think that’s why it’s important to mark it in that way.”

Co-chair of CA’s National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cricket Advisory Committee, Mel Jones, said she supported the decision not to make reference to “Australia Day”.

“It’s recognition that it’s a really hurtful day for many,” Ms Jones said on Thursday.

“We’ve got five Indigenous players playing those games and a lot of Indigenous fans that come to the cricket, we just want to make this space as safe and inclusive as possible.”

Perth Scorchers BBL players celebrate a wicket against Sydney Thunder in Perth.
Cricket Australia will not refer to “Australia Day” in BBL promotions this month.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Ms Jones, a retired Australian women’s Test and ODI player, said CA would be prepared to discuss its decision with Mr Morrison.

“Cricket Australia is very comfortable with where it’s at,” she said.

“It’s come from a cricket decision space, [we’re] more than happy to have a conversation with the Prime Minister, more just so he can see where we’re coming from.”

Although CA has recommended BBL clubs not use “Australia Day”, the two Melbourne franchises, the Stars and the Renegades, have said they would continue to use the term.



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Two Australian Open tennis players test positive but may not have active coronavirus infections, Police Minister says



Ten positive COVID-19 tests have now been recorded among people who have flown to Melbourne for the Australian Open tennis tournament, including two players whose results were confirmed today.

Victoria’s Police Minister, Lisa Neville, said one of those new cases was a player who is in hard lockdown, and authorities believe their infection is not active, but shedding.

Ms Neville said another player and one of their support team have also tested positive and are unable to train until authorities can determine the status of their infections.

“In the meantime, the player, the support person and their bubble — so the other support person and player they’re with — will not be training until we have a final confirmation that they are shedding or that they are positive,” she said.

If they are positive, the player and their support person will go into the health hotel and their training partner and their support person will enter a hard quarantine as close contacts of a confirmed case, Ms Neville said.

The three new cases whose test results were received by the Victorian Government today will be reported in the official coronavirus numbers tomorrow, Ms Neville said.

Earlier, Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said the hotel quarantine system was working well.

“We’re in our sixth day and so far our numbers have been extremely low and if they are active cases they go straight to the medi-hotel,” he said.

Paramedics this morning responded to a medical emergency at the View Hotel, where many tennis players have been quarantined.

Ambulance Victoria said one person was taken to hospital in a stable condition, but did not reveal whether the person was connected to the tennis.

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Player complaints still occupying Tennis Australia’s time

Tennis Australia has devoted considerable time to dealing with a vocal minority of players who have continued to complain about conditions in hotel quarantine.

Spanish player Roberto Bautista Agut issued an apology after he likened conditions in quarantine to being in jail, in a video he said was released without his consent.

In the video, Bautista Agut was critical of the Victorian Government, saying the quarantine arrangements were “a complete disaster”.

He later issued a statement saying it was a private conversation taken out of context and released to the media without his knowledge.

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Russian player Yulia Putintseva drew criticism yesterday for an Instagram post in which she was seen holding a protest sign in her hotel room.

Putintseva later continued to complain about cleanliness standards, posting videos of mice in her hotel room.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said Ms Putintseva was moved to a different room in the hotel, and she understood the player had been feeding the mouse.

“We don’t send cleaners into those rooms … so every tennis player needs to clean their own room and change their own bed if they want to do that,” she said.

“I’d just encourage them to minimise interaction with the mice, we will keep doing pest control if we need to, but hopefully that pest control work that was done this week will have fixed the problem.”

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Mr Tiley said Tennis Australia had to remind players that their complaints may not be well received in Melbourne.

“We’re doing the best we can to ask the players to be respectful of the Victorian community, who’ve been through a really tough time over four months of a lockdown, and paid significant prices in loss of life and also in jobs,” he said.

“It’s just one of those environments that we have to every single day talk to the players and ask them to respect that position.

“I believe the majority of them are, it’s just a select few that are not there yet.”

British player Johanna Konta spoke up during a conference call with hundreds of players earlier this week, urging them to be mindful of local sentiment and keep their complaints private.

She told Channel Nine that emotions were running high during the first few days of quarantine, and players were simply anxious about how they would perform after two weeks in a hotel room.

“A big part of that frustration for these players will be how well will they be able to perform and I think that just comes along with being a professional athlete and sometimes rationale doesn’t come into it,” she said.

“The reason we are here is to put on a show for the people of Australia, the people of Melbourne, and also the world stage.”

Quarantine bill to be paid in full by Tennis Australia

Ms Neville estimated the cost of quarantining players ahead of the Australian Open would run into the tens of millions of dollars, and said the bill would not be paid by the Government.

Earlier today, Mr Tiley suggested to Melbourne radio station 3AW that the Victorian Government would help out with quarantine costs, but could not say how much they would contribute.

“Well that’s still to be determined — perhaps next week or the week after we’ll know that, whatever the quarantine costs end up being,” he said.

Mr Tiley said Tennis Australia had exhausted its $80 million dollar cash reserve and had taken out a loan to fund the costs associated with player flights and hotel quarantine, but Ms Neville said his claims about taxpayers funding part of the bill were not correct.

“Hotel quarantine for the Australian Open is fully funded by Tennis Australia. I’ve triple-confirmed that again today [after seeing that information], it is fully funded by the Australian Open,” she said.

She said while the Government supported the Australian Open “as an event”, as it does with all big events, the additional cost of the quarantine arrangements was being funded by Tennis Australia.

“The taxpayer is not contributing to the [Australian Open] hotel quarantine program,” she said.

Tennis Australia is yet to reveal whether allowances will be made in its schedule for the 72 players in hard quarantine, but Mr Tiley hinted that could be a possibility.

“I think how we can adjust is what happens in the lead-in events, how many lead-in events we have and when we start and what the schedule is for those players who need more time,” he said.



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Australian News

Townsville minister Les Walker blamed by opposition for being punched at pub


Queensland’s shadow minister for police has appeared to blame a Townsville minister for being punched at a pub in the state’s north after Labor’s Les Walker was rushed to hospital on Saturday night.

The Mundingburra MP was reportedly celebrating his 56th birthday when he was knocked unconscious during a fight involving two other men at the Mad Cow Tavern in central Townsville, according to police.

Mr Walker was treated at the scene at 1am on Saturday morning before being taken to hospital with no charges being laid by Monday morning.

The incident was criticised by LNP’s shadow police minister, Dale Last, who said Mr Walker failed to live up to the standards expected of ministerial members.

“That’s a concerning incident, there’s no doubt about that,” Mr Last told reporters on Monday morning. “When someone is knocked unconscious, there are always concerns regarding their health.

“That is the subject of a police investigation at the moment and we need to wait until that police investigation rolls out.

RELATED: Palaszczuk hints at easing restrictions

“But can I quote Wayne Bennett (legend rugby league coach) who said, very famously, that ‘nothing good comes from being out past 1am in the morning’.

“And when one of our local MPs is out at a nightclub at that time of night and we’ve now seen this incident unfold that has required his hospitalisation.

“As a member of parliament, there’s a very clear expectation from the community about the standards of behaviour and about how you should conduct yourself in public.”

Earlier in the morning, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she had spoken with Mr Walker.

“He’s recovering well but there is a police investigation that is ongoing so I won’t be making an further comments,” she told reporters.



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Health Minister defends ‘red zones’ as state records ninth day of no local COVID-19 cases, two recorded in hotel quarantine


“The case is not linked to a known case or public exposure site. Final test results are expected today, and these results will be reviewed by the expert review panel to make a final determination on the case classification.”

Health Minister Martin Foley said he understood the frustration of Victorians stranded in Sydney or Brisbane, which are still considered red zones by the state government, but he did not want to risk another outbreak in Victoria.

“I understand and have great sympathy for the circumstances that many Victorians find themselves in at the current time,” Mr Foley said.

“We’re constantly going through those processes and we’re constantly reviewing the risks associated with the red zones in both the five local government areas in Brisbane and the local government areas in Greater Sydney.”

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Mr Foley said that the advice would change once the risks changed.

“I understand the frustrations and the dislocation this is causing, but even more so I understand the frustration and dislocation that another cluster outbreak in Victoria would cause,” he said.

“I apologise for the dislocation that this has caused but I make no apology for the principle of keeping Victoria safe and keeping Victoria open.”

So far 128,833 permits to travel into Victoria have been processed since the state’s new “traffic light” system was introduced on January 11, including 20,841 in the last 24 hours.

At least 100,000 people have been allowed to travel, although more than 82 per cent of applications were from Victorians in green-zone areas. Nine per cent have been from people in orange zones and the remainder from people seeking worker permits or trying to transit through orange and red zones.

However, two busloads of tennis players arrived at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Melbourne’s CBD on Friday morning, where they were greeted by a strong police presence.

“Nobody is getting an answer as to why the tennis players can come in but nobody else can,” said Melbourne businessman John Frostell, who is stuck in Sydney.

Tennis players Andy Murray and Madison Keys have been blocked from boarding flights to Melbourne after testing positive to COVID-19. Both would need to return a negative test if they still want to travel to Melbourne for the grand slam and would still need to undergo 14 days of stringent quarantine, Mr Foley said.

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“Should Mr Murray arrive … he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else,” he said.

Another player, Tennys Sandgren, has received an exemption to travel despite returning a positive COVID-19 test result, which has been determined to be a case of viral shedding. Sandgren is no longer considered infectious.

The government has said the players will be subject to the “strictest rules for tennis anywhere in the world” as they quarantine for the next two weeks, but that is little comfort to Victorians barred from returning home.

Meanwhile, up to 25 per cent of the state’s public sector workers and up to 50 per cent of office workers in the private sector can return to their desks from Monday, without being required to wear a mask indoors. However, the Premier and employer groups predict flexible working arrangements are here to stay.

Office workers won’t have to wear masks indoors, but they are still required in shops, hospitals, on public transport and on planes.

NSW has recorded two cases of COVID-19 in the 24-hour period to 8pm on Thursday, but for a second straight day none of those were within the community.

However, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said “relief is on its way” over restrictions if the state can improve testing rates and maintain low numbers of virus detection in the community. NSW saw 16,070 people come forward for testing on Thursday.

Queensland has recorded three new coronavirus cases, with two new infections in hotel quarantine and one historical case, according to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Health authorities are not concerned about the historical case.

The walls of Brisbane’s Grand Chancellor hotel, where there was an outbreak of the UK variant of coronavirus, have been swabbed and sent away for testing as police investigate how a cleaner became infected before she spent four days mingling in the community.

The 129 quarantined guests evacuated from the Grand Chancellor to other quarantine hotels on Wednesday over fears of a cluster within the facility have all tested negative.

Eighteen Victorians who completed their hotel quarantine stay at the Grand Chancellor since December 30 have been contacted and some, but not all, may need to isolate.

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Defence Minister Linda Reynolds confirms Apache fleet to replace error-prone Tiger helicopters


Australia’s defence capability will be bolstered, with the glitch-prone Tiger helicopter to be replaced by a fleet of Apache’s armed reconnaissance helicopter (ARH).

The federal government has approved the purchase of up to 29 Boeing AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters, replacing a fleet of 22 Tiger ARHs.

The model is flown in the US and 15 other countries and is fitted with upgraded sensors, improved attack capabilities and improved survivability.

The Tiger model had been plagued by malfunctions, with repairs taking its per-hour flying cost to an estimated $34,000.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the government had considered a range of models to replace it but settled on the “low risk” Apache.

“This new ARH capability will strengthen Australia’s armed reconnaissance force to better shape our strategic environment and deter actions against our national interest,” she said.

“The Apache Guardian is the most lethal, most survivable and lowest risk option, meeting all of Defence’s capability through-life support, security and certification requirements.

“By pursuing a proven and low-risk system offered by the Apache, Defence will avoid the ongoing cost and schedule risk typically associated with developmental platforms.”

Friday’s announcement was the first step towards the approval, with cost to be confirmed after Foreign Military Sales processes.

Speaking to The Australian in December, Liberal MP and Afghanistan war veteran Phil Thompson described the Apache as “the Digger’s choice”.

Tiger manufacturer Airbus Helicopters had urged the government to extend its use of the model, which is flown by various European countries, until 2040.

But Defence conceded issues with the model had prompted it to look for a “proven, mature” replacement.

Ms Reynolds said the Apache purchase would create openings for Australian business, including engineering, training development and logistic support.

“The project will deliver on the government’s vision to maximise Australian industry involvement in defence capability,” she said.

“Maximising these opportunities for Australian businesses will enable the future growth of our local rotary wing industry and will present opportunities for Australian industry involvement in the aircraft’s global supply chain.”



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