Categories
Australian News

Adam Treloar trade raises questions over Collingwood’s approach to his family issues, says employment lawyer


An employment lawyer says Collingwood’s concerns that Adam Treloar’s family circumstances might have impacted his ability to play football are unfair and potentially discriminatory.

Treloar was one of four Magpies players forced to find new clubs on a frenetic final day of the AFL’s trade period last week, as Collingwood tried to release pressure on its salary cap.

Despite having five years remaining on his contract, there had been intense speculation about the future of Treloar after his partner Kim Ravaillion announced she was moving to Queensland with their infant daughter to continue her Super Netball career.

Magpies coach Nathan Buckley told SEN radio on Monday Treloar’s family situation was “a catalyst in some shape or form” for the club’s decision to considering trading the midfielder to another club.

Buckley said there was no way Treloar’s split from Collingwood could have been done “without trauma or pain”.

Giri Sivaraman, an employment lawyer at Maurice Blackburn Lawyers, said Collingwood’s approach was not fair to Treloar.

“I’m very surprised,” he told the ABC.

“Effectively what he seems to be saying is: ‘We can’t keep you here because you might at some point have to support your wife, and or your child and we can’t accommodate that.’

“Firstly, I wonder if that’s discrimination on the basis of carer responsibilities, and secondly, I think it’s just asking too much of someone, and whether it’s discriminatory or not, it certainly seems unfair.”

Mr Sivaraman said every employer had an obligation to accommodate carer responsibilities and Collingwood’s approach would not be appropriate in any other workplace.

“There’s not even been an attempt to accommodate it here,” he said.

“They’ve just made the assumption that because his partner is moving interstate — just for the netball season I assume — that that’s just something they can’t accommodate.

“It’s like saying to someone who’s pregnant: ‘Well, even though you’ve said to me when you come back to work that you’ll be able to manage your job and care responsibilities, I just think you won’t be able to, therefore I’m not going to have a job for you when you come back.’

“Many women I’ve represented have been in that position and I’ve always said it’s unlawful.”

The Collingwood AFL coach walks alongside one of the Magpies players before a match in Perth.
Nathan Buckley (left) signed off on Adam Treloar’s departure from the Magpies last week.(AAP: Richard Wainwright)

Buckley said it was Collingwood’s responsibility to work out how his partner and child’s relocation would affect his job.

“We are within our rights to have an assessment of that given our knowledge of Adam and the experiences we’ve shared since he came to the club,” Buckley said, alluding to Treloar’s history of anxiety.

Mr Sivaraman said under workplace law employers also had an obligation to attempt to accommodate an employees’ mental or physical impairments.

“[Collingwood] has taken a different approach and decided, well it’s just not going to work and we don’t want what they perceive as a liability,” he said.

“I just think that’s disappointing.”

Mr Sivaraman said the management of Treloar and his family exemplifies how AFL clubs demand a player’s “mind, body and soul”, and was not in the spirit of the direction of workplaces in 2020.

“What this year has shown us is that things that weren’t thought possible certainly are,” he said.

“The number of flexible work arrangements has stratospherically increased.”

Pies players treated ‘too good’: McGuire

Collingwood president Eddie McGuire rejected criticism the club had mistreated players it had traded.

“If there’s a criticism of what Collingwood did with its players in recent times it’s that they’ve looked after players too good as far as the salary cap was concerned,” McGuire told Triple M’s Hot Breakfast radio program.

“And the players have been sensational back-ending their contracts to make it happen because there was a window of opportunity [for a flag].”

McGuire suggested the fallout over the Magpies’ trading period was a media beat-up.

“It’s a big story because the other stories have been done to death for 10 days and Collingwood didn’t do a whole lot on (AFL) Trade Radio and things like that,” he said.

“The media always like to come after people who aren’t racing to be on those types of things.

“Nuance is everything. We could’ve gone on with the salary cap, so it wasn’t as if it was a fire sale. We changed, we pivoted and we’re looking ahead.”



Source link

Categories
Local News - Victoria

Exit of top public servant Chris Eccles the right call but hotel quarantine questions unresolved


It’s a two-minute conversation that has ended the career of Victoria’s most senior public servant. It happened on March 27, at 1.17pm, the same day national cabinet had decided to establish a nationwide hotel quarantine system. The then police commissioner, Graham Ashton, who took the call from Chris Eccles, has indicated that a conversation he had around that time advised him of the decision to use private security in Victoria’s quarantine hotels.

In acknowledging he made the phone call, Mr Eccles emphasised he “did not convey … any decision regarding the use of private security”. While he well understood that he had to fall on his sword yesterday after previously denying having had such a conversation, he was adamant that he was “unaware any such decision had been made”.

While many are sure to speculate, in fairness to Mr Eccles his side of the story should stand until the hotel quarantine inquiry releases its full report. With the benefit of all the facts at hand, the inquiry should be able to make a call on where the truth lies.

At Monday’s press conference, Mr Andrews said he was shocked when told of Mr Eccles’ discovery that he misled the inquiry. The Premier will certainly miss having such an experienced hand by his side during this tumultuous year, but Mr Eccles has operated in political circles long enough to understand what he had to do. It was the right call.



Source link

Categories
Local News - Victoria

Josh Frydenberg’s tax cuts welcome, but questions on JobMaker


“It sounded more like a marketing buzz term.”

The hiring credit of $200 a week for new employees aged under 30 and $100 a week for those aged 30 to 35 is designed to encourage businesses to take on young workers.

New hires must work at least 20 hours a week to be eligible.

Isabella Tilley said the federal budget did not go far enough to address structural disadvantage.

Isabella Tilley said the federal budget did not go far enough to address structural disadvantage.Credit:Luis Enrique Ascui

“My first impression [of the budget] is it looks like a continuation of underemployment,” she said.

“Before COVID a lot of us were in insecure work – we’d be classified as employed but not working very many hours.

Loading

“I think a budget focusing on tax cuts … doesn’t look to long-term answers. I think it looks to a continuation of insecure work. They’re still continuing the cuts to JobKeeper and JobSeeker, which I think it’s bulls—.

“People on these incomes spend everything they have and it goes directly back into the economy … I don’t think tax cuts are necessarily the answers.”

However, David and Vivien Wu, from Rowville, said the tax cuts brought forward two years and backdated to July 1 were the biggest take out from the budget.

David works as a sales representative and Vivien as an audiologist. They run a small tutoring business on the side have a four-year-old son, Toby. Both have university degrees and make upwards of $170,000 a year between them.

“The tax cuts certainly are good relief for us, especially with my line of work,” Vivien said.

Vivien and David Wu with their son Toby.

Vivien and David Wu with their son Toby.Credit:Penny Stephens

“I’ve had my hours cut and this gives us an opportunity to catch up on the savings we were trying to accomplish. It’s been a challenge for the family budget.

“They mentioned childcare funding, but they didn’t go into details about that. I’ll be interested to know how much funding and assistance we’ll get in space.”

David said he would have liked to see more support for self-funded retirees, but the “main thing for us was the tax break”.

“From a social standpoint, it had a bit of everything for everyone, which I like to see as well – how fair it is for people.

“With the asset writeoff, we’re not a capital intensive business so it isn’t going to affect us that much.

Loading

“It would be good for us to get some type of business grant, for example, to transfer our [tutoring] business online. We could then employ more people and give our tutors more hours.”

He said the massive debt, which will likely be inherited by Toby’s generation, made him “nervous”.

“But it’s such a tough balancing act between looking after the generation now and the generation of the future,” he said.

Ms Tilley, who volunteers for the Refugee Council, said she would have liked to see more action on climate change and support for asylum seekers.

Loading

“I didn’t see anything for temporary visa holders or asylum seekers, who are entirely reliant on charities,” she said.

“I think the government is appealing to its safer voting network of mining, gas and business.”

She also said the new $25 million cadetship and advanced apprenticeship program aimed at encouraging women into careers in science, technology, engineering and maths areas also failed to address long-term, structural issues.

“The 30 seconds he spoke about women was nice, but I kind of feel like we were being used as a political tool … even if we do get into these industries there’s a pretty big glass ceiling,” she said.

“But it’s nice that they’re no longer sending our recycling overseas.”

Fraser Bell, who runs Wetlands Mini Golf ‘n’ Games at Wheelers Hill in Melbourne’s south-east, said there wasn’t much in the federal budget to get him excited.

Fraser Bell said he had low expectations for the federal budget. His concerns were state-based - specifically, being able to reopen his business.

Fraser Bell said he had low expectations for the federal budget. His concerns were state-based – specifically, being able to reopen his business.

That task was mostly up to the Andrews government and the “magical” proposed reopening date of October 19.

“I must admit my expectation wasn’t huge because the things that affect me at this point in time are state issues,” he said.

“The tax relief will be nice. Support for industry in some shape or form will be good. If industry can reopen that will help us indirectly.”

The business shut on March 23 and briefly reopened in June before Melbourne’s second coronavirus wave forced it to close again.

It would normally take in about $500,000 a year and Mr Bell could draw an income of about $100,000. Instead, Mr Bell has been supporting himself with savings and JobKeeper.

He said while the tax cuts were positive, they wouldn’t help him directly.

“If it gives consumers a bit more spending money that’s good,” he said.

“But we need to look at the outcomes. It’s no good having a tax cut if you don’t have a job.”

He also likes the federal government’s efforts to get young people into work. But, again, it would not have a significant impact on his business, even when it can reopen.

“We’ve got a ready workforce. We’ve already got kids calling for a job. The real issue is being able to open,” he said.

Get our Morning & Evening Edition newsletters

The most important news, analysis and insights delivered to your inbox at the start and end of each day. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here, The Age’s newsletter here, Brisbane Timeshere and WAtoday‘s here.

Most Viewed in National

Loading



Source link

Categories
Australian News

Can you guess the answers to some of this week’s most-googled questions? Try our quiz to find out



Restrictions, COVID-19 cases, public holidays. Australians have had plenty to google this week.

We’ve collected some of the most-asked questions from the whole country.

Reckon you’re as smart as Google and know the answers?

Test yourself with our quiz.



Source link

Categories
Australian News

The questions to be answered for each team in the 2020 AFL finals series


It was no certainty we would get this far — but now it’s time for four weeks of AFL finals unlike any we’ve seen before.

We always look to September to answer key questions for all the sides in the top eight. This being 2020, we are swapping September for October, but the same idea will apply.

On the basis of this crazy, shortened-quarters, hub-based season, we’ve already learned a lot about the eight remaining teams in contention for the flag.

But here are some of the key issues still unresolved, that only the nine games left in the season can put to rest.

Can the Bulldogs make a big finals run like 2016?

Loading

Is this a year where someone can win the AFL flag from seventh?

The Western Bulldogs did it in 2016, but you need everything to go right — and the Dogs are already taking a chance by bringing back spearhead Aaron Naughton (fractured cheekbone) and Mitch Wallis (shoulder) for the elimination final against St Kilda.

They have won five of their last six games going into finals, but they don’t have that feeling of a danger side the way they did four years ago.

The Bulldogs have a talented team, particularly with Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Josh Dunkley in midfield — but Naughton is a game-changer, if he is fit and firing.

They will also want to get physical, after being monstered by GWS in last year’s finals.

A Western Bulldogs AFL player pumps his right fist as he celebrates a goal against the Adelaide Crows.
Aaron Naughton’s abilities in the forward line could make a difference for the Bulldogs if he can stay fit in finals.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

It’s a hard road to get there — beat the Saints, then take on the Lions or Tigers in order to get a shot at Port Adelaide or Geelong in the prelim.

It seems highly unlikely — and yet with all we’ve seen in this unparalleled season, you couldn’t completely discount it.

Will Collingwood cut the handball and go direct?

Among a sea of players, Maynard looks up and gets a quick handball away
The Magpies rely on handball more than almost every other team in the AFL finals series.(AAP: Darren England)

The Magpies have won three of their last six matches, and they have done enough to make finals.

But where are the winning scores going to come from? Collingwood’s attack averages just 56.76 points a game for the season.

This is eight points behind the next highest scoring finals side, West Coast, and more than two goals on average behind Geelong (70.46 per game).

One of the key questions for Nathan Buckley’s team is their style of play and whether it can get things done in finals. The Pies are heavy on the handball — against Port Adelaide in round 18, they had 161 kicks and 150 handballs, a ratio of 1.07.

Over the entire season Collingwood has a kick to handball ratio of 1.21 — only the Western Bulldogs (1.16) have more handball in the mix.

The other element is that when the Pies do kick the ball, it is often down the line rather than through the corridor.

Collingwood already has the toughest route in the finals, having to travel to Perth for a “win or go home” match against the Eagles.

When you add in going slow and wide to the mix, it makes their challenge even greater.

#saints 

Can the Saints get their mojo back?

A St Kilda AFL player pumps his fist as he celebrates a goal against the Gold Coast Suns.
When the Saints have been at their best this season, small forward Dan Butler has often been involved.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

The Saints have waited nine years to make the finals, since being bounced out by Sydney in week one of 2011.

They want to make an impression on their return — but the question is, which St Kilda will turn up?

After a mixed first few rounds, St Kilda got moving in 2020 — they hit the top four after back-to-back wins at Adelaide Oval, including a stunning victory over high-flyers Port Adelaide.

But then towards the end of the 17-game season, the Saints lost their way again.

Three losses out of their last four games — to Geelong, Brisbane and Melbourne — meant Brett Ratten’s men go into the finals with no great momentum.

When they were firing, the Saints were clearance and contested possession demons, with the likes of Jack Steele, the now-injured Zak Jones, Jack Billings, Hunter Clark and the mobile Rowan Marshall playing a big part.

They also seem to work better when goal-sneak Dan Butler is taking his chances.

That combination hasn’t been clicking lately, and if it doesn’t come together against the Bulldogs, the Saints will be waiting for 2021 to make that impression.

Will the Eagles have the cattle to go deep in October?

A West Coast Eagles AFL player walks off the field between two of the club's medical staff.
Whether Jeremy McGovern’s hamstring holds up in finals could be crucial to West Coast’s chances.(AAP: Darren England)

West Coast is an enigma — a team that knows how to get the job done in finals, yet at times in 2020 a team that couldn’t get the bread and butter wins on the board.

Conditions and attitude proved a problem early on, as the Eagles did not adapt well enough to their temporary Queensland home.

Early losses to Gold Coast, Brisbane and Port Adelaide put them behind the eight ball. West Coast recovered when the team got back to Perth, but late season losses to finals rivals Richmond and Western Bulldogs denied them a vital top-four spot.

The injury list at the Eagles has been a growing problem, with Elliott Yeo already gone for the year, and players such as Luke Shuey, Lewis Jetta, spearhead Josh Kennedy and key defender Jeremy McGovern all missing time.

The plan may be to roll the dice and bring most back. But will they all stay on the field?

There is a danger — particularly with McGovern’s troublesome hamstring — in taking a chance on players who may not be 100 per cent.

It’s not all bad news, since any team with Nic Naitanui taking charge at stoppages is never without a chance.

There are more issues than personnel for West Coast, though — the Eagles at least have the advantage of a first home final against the eighth-placed Magpies.

However, this is an elimination final, so if they win they will have to cross the country again, most likely to the Gabba.

Whether West Coast’s kick-and-mark gamestyle translates to October evenings in Brisbane is another big question.

#cats 

Will the Cats avoid getting jumped early?

It’s a time-honoured cliche that finals football is a step up in intensity, so if teams are not on their game from the opening bounce they will be in a world of trouble.

Unfortunately for Geelong, this lesson does not seem to have sunk in yet.

In 2017, the Cats played Richmond in the qualifying final. They were kept goal-less in the first quarter, had two goals to half-time, and ended up losing by 51 points.

Loading

After beating Sydney in the semi-final, they were crushed by the Crows in the prelim, blown out by six goals to one in the first term.

In 2018, the Cats lost to Melbourne in an elimination final after again kicking just two goals to half-time.

And last year the team kicked one goal to quarter-time and just seven for the match against Collingwood to lose a qualifying final.

In the closing stages of 2020, similar poor starts against the Bulldogs, Swans and Tigers led to two uncomfortably close wins and a loss.

The Cats last won the flag in 2011. Since then, the “dynasties” of Hawthorn and Richmond have taken over.

The team has plenty of experience, the dominant forward in the game in Tom Hawkins, and a potential game-changer in Patrick Dangerfield — but unless the Cats discover a way of starting strongly in finals, that wait for a premiership is set to continue.

Can the Lions learn to kick straight and win home finals?

Last year, Richmond came to Brisbane for a qualifying final and showed the Lions how to kick straight when it counted — the Tigers kicked 18.4, the Lions booted 8.17, and lost by 47.

Loading

The following week was a cut-throat final against GWS, and the Giants did enough to win by three points, with the Lions kicking 11.14 to end up on the wrong side of a devastating loss.

This season the trend has continued. The worst example came against Richmond in round 10.

The Lions kicked a wayward 4.17 as a string of gettable shots went narrowly — or not-so-narrowly — wide.

This time round, there is no excuse for Brisbane. They have last year’s experience to draw upon.

They have avoided most of the big draining road trips (not to mention hub life), so they should have the energy for the challenge of finals.

The Lions control their own destiny — two wins at home will give them the chance to win the flag on their home ground at the Gabba.

The question is — have the Lions learned their lesson?

Two AFL players reach palms and elbows toward each other in celebration of a goal.
Charlie Cameron and the Lions’ forward line can score goals — but they need to be more accurate in finals.(AAP: Brendon Thorne)

Can Eric Hipwood, Charlie Cameron, Cameron Rayner, Lincoln McCarthy, Callum Ah Chee, Lachie Neale, Dayne Zorko and others take their opportunities in front of goal?

If they can’t improve their conversion, it could be another disappointing finals series in Brisbane.

Will the Tigers stay under control in the finals?

Tom Lynch puts his hands across the shoulders of Sam Collins as the pair face each other
Richmond’s Tom Lynch (L) has come to the attention of the AFL’s match review officer a few times this season.(AAP: Darren England)

Richmond’s all-out approach to football has brought them great success in recent years.

That high-energy, get-it-forward-at-all-costs game style has proven hard to stop for opposing teams.

However, there have been times this season when the Tigers have taken things a little too far.

Aside from a couple of high-profile COVID-19 protocol breaches, the team has had a number of on-field incidents where their version of unsociable football got them in trouble.

Tom Lynch and Jack Riewoldt are among a number of Richmond players that have been guilty of going a bit too hard at times this season.

Loading

While Lynch has been ruled out of week one of the finals against Brisbane with a hamstring problem, the Tigers will hope to have him back for the business end of proceedings.

At their best, the Tigers appear capable of taking care of anyone in their way as they challenge for a third flag in four years.

They have game-winners like Dustin Martin, who has plenty of room for improvement in October.

The Tigers have handled playing in Brisbane well — and they trounced the Lions at The Gabba last year in the qualifying final so the venue should hold no fears for them.

The bottom line is that finals campaigns can turn on a few incidents. The question for Richmond is whether the team can produce controlled aggression that helps them get the edge on their rivals, or will someone step over the line and disrupt their challenge for the flag? 

#power 

Can the Power stop teams taking marks inside 50?

An AFL forward holds ball in two hands after taking a mark inside forward 50 in front of a defender.
If the Power keep allowing opponents to mark in the forward line, it will make their finals campaign very difficult.(AAP: Dave Hunt)

Port Adelaide led the ladder from round one to round 18, so why aren’t they going into finals as strong favourites?

They have only lost three times, but it’s not just that the games they dropped were big losses — it was that they were wiped by teams that they are likely to face in October.

Against the Lions, Port Adelaide conceded 12 marks inside their defensive 50 to just four marks inside their own forward 50.

The Saints didn’t win the marks inside 50 — or contested marks around the ground — but they won almost everything else, and proved too strong.

Loading

And against Geelong? It was a painful night for the Power, as the Cats had a massive 18 marks inside 50, against just two for Port Adelaide.

With that many set shots at goal, even if some of them were at disadvantageous angles, a fair number of them were going to go through.

Then in the final game of the regular season, Port Adelaide looked shaky at times against Collingwood — the Magpies took seven marks inside 50 to the Power’s four, with Mason Cox and Jamie Elliott accounting for several.

The Power prevailed in the end, but it was a close run thing.

The obvious point to be made here is that several of their rivals for the flag — particularly Richmond, Geelong and West Coast — have some dangerous tall forwards, and Port Adelaide’s stock of tall defenders is not deep.

If they want to win in finals, against the top teams, they have to avoid giving their opponents too many straightforward opportunities.



Source link

Categories
Local News - Victoria

Lawyers behind Liberals-backed curfew challenge facing impartiality questions


The tribunal’s guidelines state that members “should avoid any activities, interests or associations which may undermine public confidence in the impartial performance of their Tribunal responsibilities” and that “members should conduct their private interests so as to avoid situations which would bring the AAT into disrepute”.

A spokesperson for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal told The Age it was not investigating the issue.

“The AAT is not aware of any breaches of the Guide by either Member Harkess or Member Plain, including any that would undermine their ability to be impartial when hearing migration and refugee matters, or that would bring the AAT into disrepute,” a spokesman said.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter defended the duo whom he appointed to the AAT in 2018.

Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter defended the duo whom he appointed to the AAT in 2018.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Ms Loielo, a restaurant owner, is arguing the state government’s restriction on movement between 9pm to 5am – imposed on August 2 as part of stage four coronavirus restrictions – is unreasonable, disproportionate and violates the human rights of millions of Victorians.

Ms Loielo and the instructing solicitor on the curfew case, Omar El-Hissi, held a press conference alongside Mr O’Brien last week, where the Opposition Leader said his party had acted as “matchmaker” between Ms Loielo and the legal team leading the case: Marcus Clarke QC, Ms Plain, Dr Harkess and Mr El-Hissi.

Mr O’Brien repeated that statement on Wednesday and said he was “very supportive of the fact that the Liberal Party is supporting this litigation” against the curfew.

“As I’ve said previously, Michelle [Loielo] is a member of the party, we’ve made no bones about that,” he told reporters.

Loading

“We’d also been speaking to a number of lawyers who are very concerned that in fact the law had been broken, and the Premier and the government had acted illegally in bringing about the curfew.”

Mr O’Brien said there were “too many Labor law firms” in Victoria that would not have taken on the curfew case.

“Well, thank goodness there are still some lawyers in the state who are prepared to to put their money where their mouth is, act on a pro bono basis and act for Victorians who’ve been done over,” the Liberals leader said on Wednesday.

Vanessa Plain, a part-time member of the AAT who provided legal advice to the Victorian Liberal Party earlier this month.

Vanessa Plain, a part-time member of the AAT who provided legal advice to the Victorian Liberal Party earlier this month.

Ms Plain and Dr Harkess receive up to $900 per day when they work for the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which provides independent reviews of administrative decisions by the federal government such as citizenship and immigration matters. They both work exclusively on migration decisions.

Ms Plain has also provided legal advice to the Victorian Liberal Party that was referred to by shadow Attorney-General Edward O’Donohue in Parliament earlier this month.

Mr Clarke, Ms Plain and Dr Harkess told The Age they were unable to comment, citing Victorian Bar rules protecting lawyer-client confidentiality and preventing public statements about legal proceedings they are involved with. Mr El-Hissi did not respond to requests for comment.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.

Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Federal shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, whose party has accused the government of making politically motivated appointments made to the tribunal, said he was particularly concerned that Ms Plain and Dr Harkess were “only recently appointed by the federal Liberal government to the lucrative jobs on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal”.

“Christian Porter needs to explain how the conduct of these lawyers is consistent with the AAT Members Conduct Guide,” said Mr Dreyfus.

In a statement, Attorney-General Christian Porter said questions about the AAT guidelines were a matter for the tribunal itself and defended Ms Plain and Dr Harkess.

“It is not suggested in any way these members have acted unethically but given the AAT has been so politicised in recent years by one side of politics, it is probably preferable its members are careful not to involve themselves in high-profile political cases.”

The curfew, which Premier Daniel Andrews said was implemented to aid police enforcement, came into focus a fortnight ago after Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton and police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said they did not request the measure.

The Premier said he could not “pinpoint” whose idea it was but indicated it came from within his government, prompting criticism from the opposition that it was imposed without medical advice.

Most Viewed in National

Loading



Source link

Categories
Australian News

Lisa Neville questions need for ADF


A proposal to have the army at Melbourne’s quarantine hotels three months into the troubled program was received coldy by Victoria’s Police Minister, who said she was “not sure what they do at hotels given no one leaves!!”

The exchange between Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp and Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville was revealed in text messages released to the hotel inquiry on Monday.

By the time the messages were sent, problems with security guards at quarantine hotels complying with infection control procedures were well known and COVID-19 outbreaks had occurred.

In a message sent on June 25, Ms Neville asked Mr Crisp about the use of the defence force in the program.

“The use of army in hotels? That was not agreed at CCc (crisis cabinet) yesterday but is that what we doing? And what will they be doing?”

Mr Crisp responded they would be monitoring compliance of quarantine requirements.

“They will work with DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) team leaders and authorised officers. This is seen very much as an interim option while other options including police/PSOs (protective services officers) is explored.”

“Just hotels??” Ms Neville asked.

“Yes,” Mr Crisp responded.

“Not sure what they do at hotels given no one leaves!! And they have no powers,” Ms Neville said.

Mr Crisp replied: “I agree it really is just for the visible presence and raise any issues with team leaders and the Authorised Officers.”

The text exchange came a day after Mr Crisp requested 850 army personnel to be used for the hotel quarantine program, as an alternative to private security firms.

However he rescinded his request the next morning, after the justice department said other options, such as police and protective services officers, were being considered rather than the army.

Corrections officers were eventually installed to take over guarding hotel quarantine.

Earlier, Victoria’s most senior public servant said he was unaware how it was decided to use private security in Melbourne’s troubled hotel quarantine program.

Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Chris Eccles was asked by counsel assisting Rachel Ellyard if he knew how the decision to use private security for the scheme was reached.

“No, I am not aware,” Mr Eccles replied.

Ms Ellyard further pressed him on why he couldn’t explain who was behind the decision to create such a large, costly program.

“A decision to engage private security ended, employing thousands of people and costing tens of millions of dollars. Shouldn’t we be able to say who made it, as a matter of proper governance?” she asked.

Mr Eccles replied there were multiple agencies involved in collective decision-making on complex problems.

“No one of them is the repository of all information that goes to bear to the question,” he said.

During cross examination, Arthur Moses SC, representing Unified Security, asked Mr Eccles if he had become aware, since then, of how the decision to use private security was made.

“No I haven’t,” he said.

The decision to use private security instead of Victoria Police or the ADF has emerged as key question.

The inquiry has heard some guards did not use appropriate infection control procedures and often worked in multiple jobs, potentially contributing to the outbreaks.

More than 99 per cent of second wave COVID-19 cases in Victoria have been traced back to hotel quarantine.

Mr Eccles attended the national cabinet meeting on March 27 in which it was announced hotel quarantine for returned travellers would come into effect.

That same day, Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton sent Mr Eccles a text, saying he had word from Canberra about a hotel quarantine plan in which travellers would be guarded by police.

Mr Eccles said at this time, he was aware of the quarantine scheme, but not any plan to use police as guards.

Minutes later, Mr Ashton appeared to have received confirmation that private security — not police — would be used. He couldn’t recall where the information came from.

Mr Eccles said at that time he did not know details of what Victoria’s security arrangements would be.

He said his phone records did not reveal he responded to Mr Ashton and he had not checked with his inner circle of staff to see if they responded to Mr Ashton’s text question on his behalf.

The inquiry was also shown a transcript of Premier Daniel Andrews’ press conference just after the Prime Minister’s announcement of the hotel quarantine program.

Mr Andrews said police, private security and the government’s health team would work together to monitor compliance in a static location.

He also mentioned “we’ve been working on this for quite some time” and that the co-operation meant 500 police working on coronavirus enforcement would be freed up to “get to even more homes where people are supposed to be quarantining”.

Mr Eccles said he had no awareness of police, private security and the health team working together in this way and could not speculate on what the premier meant.

It also emerged Mr Eccles wrote to his federal counterpart, Philip Gaetjens, less than two weeks after the hotel quarantine program had begun, seeking federal money for private security.

However, Mr Gaetjens responded that the Commonwealth would only provide in-kind assistance of ADF personnel and only if Victoria changed its operating model.

“It was just over a week since Operation Soteria was up and running and I suspect that I was just doing a bit of due diligence, to see whether there was any financial assistance available to support our security operations. I can’t put it any more specifically than that,” Mr Eccles said.

Mr Eccles was unable to say if he passed the information on.

The inquiry continues on Tuesday.



Source link

Categories
Local News - Victoria

The questions suspected COVID-19 cases are asked


The questions have been tweaked during the pandemic, prompting disease detectives to ask questions about hospitalisations, symptoms, comorbidities and risk history including recent travel or contact with a confirmed case.

Cases are asked to detail their movements for the fortnight before falling ill and then the 48 hours prior to and since displaying symptoms. They are asked who they were with, what they did, where they went and how long they stayed.

Mary-Louise McLaws, a UNSW epidemiologist and World Health Organisation COVID-19 advisor, said a good set of questions ensured contact tracers worked quickly and efficiently to “help with the burden of memory”.

“It is a very emotive time for the person on the other end of the phone,” she said.

“The contact tracer needs to go through it with as much speed and empathy as possible. It is pretty hard.”

Professor McLaws said contact tracers should steer clear of pejorative language to ensure COVID-19 victims didn’t feel judged.

“During SARS people were slow to tell you things that were important because they were fearful of being value-judged,” she said. “The same thing happened with HIV.”

She would like government to gather feedback from COVID-19 victims about their experience with contact tracers to see what could have worked better.

UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws.

UNSW epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws.Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

A Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said COVID-19 was wildly infectious and contact tracers needed to ask more detailed questions about people’s movements than they did for other communicable diseases.

“As we have learnt more about the disease we have refined and developed our contact tracing questionnaire to ensure it continues to be evidence based and current,” he said.

The COVID-19 questionnaire used in Victoria appears less prescriptive than the one used in NSW.

NSW contact tracers read from a detailed questionnaire that resembles a call centre script.

It includes prompts such as: “Can you please take me through the two weeks leading up to the onset of your symptom? A calendar or diary, work roster, phone photos, credit or debit card information, might help.”

Contact tracers run through a series of questions with cases to stop the deadly spread of the virus.

Contact tracers run through a series of questions with cases to stop the deadly spread of the virus.Credit:Jason South

Professor Mark Stoove, an infectious disease expert from the Burnet Institute, said the most effective contact tracers did not robotically read through questions.

“A good contact tracer is someone who is able to engage in a conversation,” he said. “They develop rapport with the case.”

Professor Stoove said that because coronavirus was so contagious, the questions had to be more comprehensive than those used for other communicable diseases such as measles and HIV.

Loading

“They need to know exactly your whereabouts for different times of the day, precisely the names of all the people you come in close contact with,” he said. “It is much more complex.”

Contact tracing identifies, assesses and manages people who have been exposed to a disease to stop its spread.

The Andrews government has been desperately trying to rebuild public confidence in the state’s contact tracing system, which has been blamed for helping fuel Victoria’s second deadly wave of coronavirus.

Victorian health officials will soon visit Sydney to study NSW’s contact tracing efforts, while the state government announced on Tuesday it would move to a NSW-style model where community hubs tackle outbreaks using local knowledge.

New technology including artificial intelligence has also been rolled out in an effort to improve the Victorian system.

Sign up to our Coronavirus Update newsletter

Get our Coronavirus Update newsletter for the day’s crucial developments at a glance, the numbers you need to know and what our readers are saying. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here and The Age’s here.

Most Viewed in National

Loading



Source link

Categories
Australian News

Adelaide Oval misses out on grand final as report questions hotel loan security


Adelaide Oval has been dealt a double blow, missing out on hosting rights for the AFL grand final on the same day as a report found the venue’s management may not be able to fulfil its loan obligations for a hotel at the site.

The AFL announced earlier this afternoon that the grand final would be held at the Gabba in Brisbane on October 24, despite bids from other states including South Australia.

The announcement came hours after the release of an SA Auditor-General’s report, which found the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority (SMA) had lost significant income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The report found the SMA may not be able to fulfil its loan obligations for the almost-complete Adelaide Oval hotel.

“The ongoing impact of COVID-19 on [the SMA’s] operating position is currently unknown due to the highly uncertain economic environment and may present a risk to it being able to fulfil its loan obligation,” the report stated.

A $42 million taxpayer-funded loan was provided to the authority to build a 138-room hotel at the oval.

Auditor-General Andrew Richardson has now recommended the State Government perform regular financial checks on its loan and whether the management authority is able to repay it.

The authority has twice asked the Government to reduce the interest rate on the loan and the Government has refused both requests.

But it has agreed to defer payments until the end of this month.

An artist's impression of a hotel planned for Adelaide Oval
An artist’s impression of the Adelaide Oval hotel.(Supplied)

The SMA said it was “recalibrating and refining” its plans to meet its loan obligations.

“Like any borrower, we have a duty of care to seek the best possible terms for our business, particularly in an environment where interest rates have fallen since our initial loan agreement,” a spokeswoman for the authority said.

“We have therefore gone back to our lender seeking a review of terms and we appreciate the Treasurer’s consideration of our requests.

“We are delighted the hotel will open as planned on September 25 and we have had strong pre-bookings and growing national and international awareness about our unique offering.

The Auditor-General found the current interest rate of 4.5 per cent that the authority is paying was already lower than an equivalent commercial rate of 5 to 5.5 per cent.

Queensland congratulated on bid

Premier Steven Marshall congratulated Queensland on being chosen to host the AFL grand final.

“We put in a strong bid, a passionate bid — we’re a football state — but unfortunately we were pipped at the post by Queensland,” he said.

“They put in a huge effort this year to keep the AFL season alive, they’ve been rewarded for that.”

He said Adelaide Oval stood ready if, for some reason, the Gabba was unable to host the event.

He was hopeful Adelaide could still host up to two preliminary finals, especially given Port Adelaide — currently on top of the AFL ladder — could end up playing in one.



Source link

Categories
Australian News

Dustin Johnson’s PGA Tour playoff domination raises questions over direction of men’s golf


American golfer Dustin Johnson had quite a round going when I flicked over to watch the US PGA Tour event on Saturday morning.

The long-hitting Texan was 11-under through 11 holes having made seven birdies and two eagles, as he overpowered the TPC Boston course in the first round of the PGA Tour’s playoffs (because are you even a sport in the US if you don’t have playoffs?).

Loading

He played well for the remainder of his round but just missed out on an incredibly rare sub-60 round by a single stroke.

But never fear, someone else had already shot a 59 earlier in the day when fellow American Scottie Scheffler ripped the course apart.

Johnson couldn’t be stopped on the weekend. He finished the tournament at 30-under and won by 11 strokes. And this was against the best field of the year, with the world’s top 124 players all in the field.

The win should be admired for what it was. One of golf’s most powerful players showing that, for this week at least, he had the short game to match his long hitting.

It doesn’t always happen. He shot two rounds of 80 at The Memorial on a tough Muirfield Village course just last month, but when it clicks, this is what can happen.

And it was just plain boring.

The final round on Monday morning couldn’t have been more of a procession. The only interest was what his finishing score and winning margin would be.

The TPC Boston course is one of 30 or so now owned and run by the PGA Tour. The original Arnold Palmer design was given an upgrade in 2007 with the specific goal of creating a layout that could host the world’s best golfers. And those same players abused it this week.

The debate about technology in golf and what it’s allowing the top male players to do to golf courses is gaining speed.

Big hitters could force rule changes

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.
Bryson DeChambeau hits a 423-yard drive at the Memorial

Bryson DeChambeau made headlines last month when he hit a drive 387 metres off the tee at Muirfield Village, leaving him with a 40-metre pitch into a 430-metre hole.

DeChambeau is a curious player to watch. Dressed in an old-style cap from a bygone era, he is anything but old fashioned.

A devotee of science, he has changed his clubs, swing and approach, and now even his body shape, to get the most out of the scientific advancement in golf balls and equipment.

But he could be changing the way golf is played in more ways than he intended. The ridiculous distances he’s hitting the ball is almost forcing the game’s governing body to step in and place limitations on the equipment.

If they don’t, famous old courses will become obsolete and the sport will be played on lengthened layouts that cater only to those players who can rip it over 300 metres every time.

The leaderboards at men’s tournaments are constantly filled with the same long hitters. For those of us who like to see players think and plot their way around the great courses of the world, dodging hazards and inventing shots, the US PGA Tour is not for us.

But there is an alternative.

Contrast of styles at Women’s Open

A smiling golfer holds the trophy after she wins a major title in Scotland.
Sophia Popov showed everyone she was worth her place on tour with her stunning win in the Women’s Open.(Instagram: Sophia C Popov)

At the same time the TPC Boston was giving up birdies like they were jellybeans, across the Atlantic, the world’s best women’s players were having a hell of a time at Royal Troon.

With 65-kilometre-per-hour winds ripping off the Firth of Clyde on Scotland’s west coast, this classic 140-year-old links was baring its teeth. The leader after the first two rounds was Swede Dani Holmqvist.

She shot rounds of 70 and 71 to be 1-under, the only player in red figures.

The cut was set at 9-over par. Three golfers had rounds of over 80 in the first two days and still played the weekend.

And it was glorious to watch.

I flicked over on Thursday night and followed the group of Nelly Korda, the big-hitting American, and Englishwoman Georgia Hall, a links-golf specialist who won this title two years ago in much kinder conditions at Royal Lytham and St Annes.

Loading

Korda took driver off almost every tee, taking on the devilish pot bunkers with an aim to leave herself short irons into Troon’s tiny greens. And it worked.

Sand sprays in front of a golfer, after she splashes the ball out of a bunker.
Nelly Korda’s fearless challenge fell short at the Women’s Open — but not for want of trying.(Instagram: Nelly Korda)

She shot a 1-over 71 to be just a handful of strokes off the lead.

In complete contrast, Hall took iron off every tee. She knew there was trouble in those sand traps, and so played short of them, always thinking of setting up her next shot. And it worked. She shot a 2-over 72 to be just a handful of strokes off the lead.

It was gripping golf being played the way it was meant to be played. The absence of overpowering distance off the tee forced the field to think their way around a golf course that was designed more than a century ago to be just that, a cerebral challenge of skill as much as it was a test of might.

The tournament had everything and I was hooked. And as the weekend unfolded, the stories emerged.

The American-born German Sophia Popov, the eventual winner, lost her tour rights at the end of last season and started this year caddying for a friend. She finished tied for 9th in a tournament on America’s secondary tour to gain a spot in the Open and is now a major champion.

Thailand’s Thidapa Suwannapura finished second. Five years ago, she had a fractured back and underwent surgery knowing it could end her career. After a year out of the game, she’s won twice on the LPGA Tour.

A golfer walks past a sign at the Women's Open tournament in Scotland.
Australia’s Minjee Lee put herself in contention to win a first major, before finishing third to Sophia Popov.(Instagram: Minjee Lee)

Loading

Australia’s Minjee Lee finished third. She’s an audacious talent but is yet to win a major. She’s only 24 and on this performance, it will come soon enough.

New Zealand’s Lydia Ko was in contention and faded to finish 14th and she did it with a new-found joy to her game. At 17, she was the youngest golfer to ever achieve the world’s number one ranking and has already won 15 times, including two majors.

But like so many child prodigies before her, Ko’s game fell apart under pressure from her coaches and parents. So at just 23 years old, she’s on the comeback trail.

American Lindsey Weaver almost gave up on golf as she struggled to make cuts, and so stripped her game back to the basics.

She played Royal Troon while pulling her own golf clubs along on a 10-year-old trolley she borrowed from her Dad’s garage. She was in contention until Sunday and finished 19th.

Women’s golf has been unfairly maligned over the years but those who criticise the comparative lack of power overlook the skills required to score well around treacherous green complexes like those at Royal Troon.

And when you remove the ability to blast drives over dog legs and bunkers, you bring into play the hazards that have troubled the world’s best for centuries. And the game is all the better for it.

Men’s golf has changed — and left unchecked, it may never be the same.

But as a spectacle, the women’s game is real. And it’s spectacular.



Source link