South Australia sticks with plan to reopen border to Victorians on December 1


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SA Chief Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the fact her state had recorded no new cases was “good news for us,” adding authorities had conducted more than 12,000 tests on Thursday alone.

“In terms of our cases, we now have 23 active cases, so that is a reduction,” Professor Spurrier said.

“That means to me, we are getting as many people with respiratory symptoms tested as possible in our community.”

The Victorian government welcomed the announcement, but said a permit was still required to enter Victoria from South Australia unless an exemption applied, adding its own decisions on borders would continue to be guided by its public health teams.

Permits can be obtained for any reason, however, people who have attended a SA exposure site are not permitted to enter Victoria unless granted approval by the Chief Health Officer.

The Victorian-South Australian border.

The Victorian-South Australian border.

Roving controls from Victoria Police also remain in place.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Wednesday that her state would also reopen to Victorian travellers on December 1. NSW opened its border to people entering from Victoria on Monday and Tasmania started allowing visitors from Victoria to enter the state on Friday.

The SA outbreak caused Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory to close their borders to SA travellers and require any inbound passengers to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival. Thousands in SA were forced to quarantine or to isolate as a result of the cluster.

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The restrictions – which ended early when it was discovered a positive case lied to contract tracers – included closing all schools, universities, takeaway restaurants, cafes and food courts for six days.

Even outdoor exercise was banned, with people allowed to leave their homes only to get food or medical supplies, or because they were essential workers.

Authorities are investigating a pizza shop worker who has been accused of lying to contact tracers and blamed for plunging South Australians into the lockdown.

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Sentence more than doubles for woman’s ‘abhorrent’ teen sex crimes | The Border Mail


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A woman who had a relationship with a boy less than a third her age has had her sentence significantly increased. Heather Elizabeth Allen received a one-year minimum jail term despite having sex with the vulnerable boy multiple times per week. The Wodonga woman was 51 and the boy 15 when the offending occurred in 2015. The pair first communicated over Facebook when the teenager sent Allen a friend request. He told her he was 18 and they shared sexual messages and videos. The boy later told her he was 15 and that he had been brought up in state care and Allen went to visit him in Western Australia. She said she would help him get his life back on track and on July 7, 2015, the boy flew to Wodonga with Allen to live with her. IN OTHER NEWS: The 51-year-old claimed government benefits for having him in her care but they had sex two or three times per week. They argued a month after he boy moved in and he locked Allen out of the house. Police attended and arranged for the victim to be put into state care. He told a foster mother about what had occurred in January 2017 and the boy set up a phone call to discuss what occurred and demanded $10,000 not to go to police. Allen said if the boy reported her, she would end up “six foot under” as it would kill her. Judge Gabrielle Cannon sentenced Allen to a one-year minimum term, three-year maximum, which an appeal court recently heard was inadequate. Three Supreme Court justices found Allen’s behaviour was “egregious”. “In our view, this was serious offending, made all the more so by the fact that the respondent chose to assume a ‘quasi-parental’ role in relation to the complainant,” they said. “A significantly higher (maximum) sentence, and non-parole period, were called for. “The respondent’s conduct was abhorrent, and deserved powerful denunciation.” Allen must now spend two-and-a-half years in jail with a four-year maximum.

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South Australia records no new coronavirus cases, to lift Victorian border restriction



South Australia has recorded no new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, as authorities announce the state will ease restrictions including at social gatherings and along the Victorian border.

From Tuesday the border restriction with Victoria will be lifted, allowing free travel from that state into South Australia for the first time since March.

“The border restrictions which have existed with a Victoria will be completely lifted as of midnight on Monday night,” Premier Steven Marshall said.

The number of active cases in South Australia has dropped from 36 to 23, as people are cleared of the virus.

Mr Marshall announced an easing of restrictions within South Australia for two weeks in the lead-up to Christmas.

The changes include increasing density in outdoor venues — from one person per four square metres to one person per two square metres — and increasing caps on funerals and private functions at licensed venues to 150.

Dancing and drinking while standing up will once again be allowed at weddings.

But the cap of 10 people at home gatherings will remain.

The Premier has also written to the Prime Minister asking to extend the pause on international flight arrivals by another week to December 7.

More than 12,000 people were tested yesterday and about 5,000 people identified as close contacts are still in quarantine.

More to come.



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Greater Hume Council considers rescission motion for Glenellen Solar | The Border Mail


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“Enormous pressure” from residents has brought too much emotion into councillors’ decision-making on solar, says Greater Hume mayor Heather Wilton. A formal position on the Glenellen project decided on November 18 was thrown out at an extraordinary meeting, after a rescission motion was successfully led by Cr Lea Parker. “Considering that councillors’ consistent stance was to object to solar farm developments, this being the fourth one, I was very surprised [with last week’s decision],” she said. “Unfortunately, two councillors including myself were unable to be present, and I thought with such a sensitive and important subject, that it was important for all councillors to be present for that kind of motion. “Our concerns have not disappeared.” Councillor Tony Quinn, whose motion was ultimately passed last week, said it “hit hard a couple of serious points” about traffic problems and developer contributions, arguing he could “poke holes” in council’s previous objections. Cr Quinn was warned by general manager Steven Pinnuck he was “bordering on a breach of the code of conduct” after he questioned the objectivity of environment and planning director Colin Kane’s submissions. Cr Quinn and Cr Wilton voted against a motion that reinstated Mr Kane’s objecting submission. “There is a really serious need for us to dig deep into our conscience and see if we haven’t got a conflict of interest over this one,” Cr Wilton said. “Because I think a lot of these decisions are being made because of pressure from family, friends, [and] neighbours. “The pressure has been tremendous. “If you vote in favour or against … and you’re listening to emotive factors and not the reality of what planning says and planning law is, that’s when we’ll all get into trouble.” Mr Kane’s objecting submission was reinstated with the support of the majority and will become council’s formal position to the NSW government. Some councillors are at odds with the staff’s recommendation for construction traffic to go through Jindera. The developers are proposing to take Glenellen Road but engineering director Greg Blackie’s advice is that traffic should go through Urana Road. On Urana Road, there are over 760 heavy vehicles, of which 100 or so are B-Doubles, and Glenellen Road takes 22 heavy vehicles of which two are B-Doubles. “Adding 50 trucks a day, which is what the EIS has said, would more than triple the amount of heavy vehicles on Glenellen Road, whereas it would be about a 10th [of traffic] on Urana Road,” Mr Blackie said. IN OTHER NEWS: He has concerns about safety and deterioration with the road needing to be widened, among other things. A motion was passed to put specific recommendations to the NSW government, such as that heavy vehicle traffic should avoid school hours. If the Glenellen Solar Farm is approved, a traffic management study and plan would need to be done.

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SA records one new case, will open border with Victoria


South Australia plans to stick with its December 1 deadline to open borders with Victoria and ease restrictions.

Premier Steven Marshall said the state remained “on track” to remove its border arrangements next week.

“I know a lot of people would be very, very happy about that,” he said.

“We know Queensland will be making a decision on Monday next week. We’re hopeful we will be able to resume normalised borders across Australia, certainly in time for Christmas but I’m hoping it will be much sooner.

“The reality is we’ll normalise our border with Victoria on Tuesday next week.

“We’re open with NSW, the ACT, the NT, Qld and Tasmania are the next ones to consider what their arrangements are going to be. I think WA has made their position really clear.”

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said authorities have given a clear indication they were hopeful for restrictions to ease by next Tuesday.

“I think it’s been made pretty clear we’re still aiming for a Christmas that’s as normal as possible based on the restrictions we had back in mid November but we do rely on expert health advice,” he said.

“It’s been very good so far in terms of managing the virus so we’ll see what is said tomorrow… and we’ll announce as soon as possible what’s planned for December 1.”

It comes as the state recorded one new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, bringing the state’s total number of cases to 559 with 40 considered active.

The new case is linked to the Parafield cluster, which has 31 people connected.

The state initially recorded no new infections on Wednesday but health officials revealed later in the afternoon there was in fact one new case, however her test was counted in Thursday’s tally.

It was a female student who attended the Woodville High School in Adelaide’s western suburbs.

An alert was quickly issued for all staff and students who were on campus on Monday to isolate until further notice with their families.

SA Health’s Chief Public Health Officer Nicola Spurrier said the teenage girl was exposed to the virus at the Woodville Pizza Bar, having picked up a pizza on November 14.

She said anyone else who bought food from the Woodville Rd business should get tested.

“We are still working through exactly this person‘s infectiousness period. We are trying to look at the interpretation of the data that we have from her results and we still haven’t completely nailed exactly how she got infected and when she was infectious,” Professor Spurrier said.

“There is also the possibility that there might have been somebody else, so another person who has been infected that this person has become infected through.”

It is still unknown if the student caught public transport to and from school but Professor Spurrier said any information that the public needed to know would be listed on the SA Health website.

“That whole area around Woodville, we are going to be putting out more messaging today and we are going to be doing more testing there and to help people in that area we are going to make sure we have got enough testing sites available.”

Health authorities are looking at setting up a pop-up testing clinic at Woodville, with the council chambers being explored as a possible location.

Woodville High School will remain closed, with plans to reopen next Monday, November 30, after further deep cleaning.

Professor Spurrier said the second person who tested positive to the virus is a male in his 40s who is a close contact of a confirmed case.

She said he was in quarantine and was isolating with his family.

Mr Marshall said nearly 5000 people had gone into quarantine to reduce the circulation of this virus and “stop it in its tracks”.

“The record testing rates we have seen over the last few days will be critical in our efforts to rein in this virus,” he said.

“Nearly 10,000 South Australians were tested yesterday. This is quite simply an outstanding result for our state.”

The state’s Transition Committee will meet again on Friday.



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Corowa mum attacked by her son inside her own home | The Border Mail


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A violent Corowa man who attacked his 67-year-old mother in her home still retains the support of the woman and other family members. Benjamin Clancy spent more than six weeks in custody following the ice-fuelled incident on October 10. Albury Local Court this week heard a motorbike crash, which led to him spending 10 weeks in hospital on life support, had changed his personality. The crash occurred a year ago and his brain injury hasn’t shown much improvement since. While he already had an extensive record, the court heard he was using ice which wasn’t helping the situation. The 43-year-old had demanded his asthma puffer from his mother in her John Street home during the incident, where he was also residing. He was high on ice and when his mother tried to pass the device, he screamed at her. “That’s not my f—ing puffer you old —-,” he said. He pushed her in the chest which caused her to fall over to the floor, and led to upper body pain. Clancy made threats with a steel knife sharpener to the 67-year-old. He left the home but returned a short time later and used the sharpener to try to pry open a door. He pushed past his mother and went to the home’s garage before again leaving the property. IN OTHER NEWS: The 43-year-old handed himself in to police the following afternoon. “What a terrible way to speak to your mother,” magistrate Miranda Moody said after summarising the police case. Clancy told a doctor his mother had been intoxicated and harassed him at the time of the incident, but that he loved her. His mum remains “extremely supportive” of him, and Clancy cried in court when told his mother loved him. He was on an order at the time for a matter where his sister was the victim. The magistrate noted he had a lengthy and sustained record. “It is a great shame he is taking illicit drugs as this is not assisting his record either,” Ms Moody said. She ordered Clancy complete 80 hours of community work. He is banned from being around his mother after taking drugs or drinking. His family had planned to drive to Junee jail to collect him after the sentence was handed down.

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Demand doubles for Albury-Wodonga mental health services during fires, COVID-19 | The Border Mail


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A “perfect storm” of factors has seen Border residents’ mental health take a battering this year, a Q&A panel heard during an event streamed from Wodonga this week. The rolling impact of Upper Murray bushfires, COVID-19 and border closures saw demand for services double, Albury-Wodonga mental health operations director Leah Wiseman revealed after an online screening from the film, Solstice. “We’ve seen a doubling in (the number of) people contacting our triage service,” Dr Wiseman said during panel discussions, which included Professor Patrick McGorry, film-maker Helen Newman and Winter Solstice co-founder Stuart Baker. “We’ve seen a doubling of people presenting to the Emergency Department; and unfortunately it’s taken some time for us to be able to meet their needs.” A new access and entry service for mental health, that started July 1, has provided active data on the impact of the crisis. Dr Wiseman said while there was an obvious increase in demand with COVID-19, there had been another spike specific to border closures. And while the data “is only a small part of the overall picture of mental health in our community”, she said a doubling in demand was a “pretty dramatic” impact. “The complexity of bushfires and then COVID-19 – and given the ongoing issue we have worldwide from a mental health perspective – has meant it’s been a perfect storm of factors that have made it really difficult for people,” Dr Wiseman said. “I’m struggling to think of a community that’s been harder struck by the events of 2020 in Australia than this Border community, given our proximity to fires, the border closure and all the other things that have come with COVID.” Professor McGorry said economists were warning mental ill-health and mental illness generally was the “shadow pandemic” unfolding around the world. And he said there may be more deaths in Australia from this “shadow” pandemic than the virus. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data showed there had been about 60 deaths from suicide in this local area in the past five years, Prof McGorry said. “There is something like that (number) in every community in Australia,” he said. “It’s not a COVID-related thing, although there has been a surge with COVID; this has been an endemic situation of preventable deaths of people in the prime of life.” Yet still the conversation around suicide is “muffled”. “People are still not comfortable about making the suicide endemic situation known even though the Prime Minister has actually put it right at the top of the agenda,” he said. “It’s still being muffled by the people who should be empowering him to act.” Dr Wiseman said if there was one thing 2020 had taught us it was the importance of connection – and hope. “A mentally healthy community is a connected one,” she said. “One of the reasons this year has been so challenging is because that capacity and our reliance on connection has been really fraught for so many people.”

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Bid lodged to alter council’s formal position on fourth solar farm | The Border Mail


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An extraordinary meeting of Greater Hume Council will be held on Thursday night to hear a bid to have the council’s formal position on the Glenellen Solar Farm changed. Councillors Lea Parker, Doug Meyer and Jenny O’Neill are seeking to rescind the motion passed at last week’s meeting to “raise serious concerns with regard to the Glenellen Solar Farm in respect to traffic management”. If the rescission is successful, a notice of motion will be put forward to object to the Glenellen Solar Farm. At the November 18 meeting, an original motion by Cr O’Neill to object to the project was lost. A motion was then put forward by Cr Quinn that council raise concerns only about traffic and preferences for a voluntary planning agreement, which was successful, after an amendment by Cr Meyer to also raise concerns about agricultural land use was lost. Cr Parker and Cr Terry Weston were absent for the meeting. Cr Matt Hicks was not present for the vote as he had declared a non-pecuniary interest, as he does for all solar farm matters considered by council. The position on the Glenellen Solar Farm decided last week was the first time council had raised “serious concerns” over a solar farm, as opposed to objecting outright. Formal objections over a range of issues have been lodged for the Culcairn, Jindera and Walla solar farms. Council’s objections triggers the approval process going to the Independent Planning Commission, however, the proposals would have likely gone to the IPC regardless due to the level of community opposition. The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is accepting submission on the Glenellen Solar Farm until November 30. IN OTHER NEWS: The IPC was referred the Walla project in October and lists it as “in progress”, with the IPC meeting with the NSW DPIE on Friday for further details. A virtual public meeting about the Jindera project will also be held on Friday and the IPC is accepting written submissions until Friday, December 4.

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Vendors relieved to border restrictions lift


Some of Australia’s leading breeders are optimistic Annastacia Palaszczuk’s green light to opening southern borders has come in the nick of time to salvage January’s Gold Coast Magic Millions Sale.

Magic Millions officials breathed a sigh of relief after the announcement, as did some of the company’s biggest vendors.

MM still had a productive June sale under border restrictions, even setting a new record mark for a horse sold on the Gold Coast, but there’s little doubt welcoming New South Wales and Victorian buyers is going to be a huge factor in January’s outcome.

John Messara’s Arrowfield Stud and the Mitchell family’s Yarraman Park sold almost $30 million worth of yearlings in Book 1 of the sale this year and have similarly strong drafts for 2021.

Both admitted to having concerns about when the announcement might come, but are now hopeful it can be a successful sale.

“It will help the sale enormously having freedom of movement,” Messara said.

“Opening the borders means customers who couldn’t have come to inspect the horses will inspect them. It’s never the same inspecting the horses on video.

“Being able to have someone down there looking at the horses several times in the week leading up gives them more confidence.”

Arthur Mitchell of Yarraman Park, which sold 28 yearlings at an average of almost $500,000 this year, says even if the sale does not match the record figures of last year, the opening of borders gives vendors a good deal more confidence.

“It means people will be keen to travel to your beautiful state and I’m sure they will be mad keen to get up there,” Mitchell said.

“I would have been slightly worried if the Victorians couldn’t get there.

“It’s a bigger sale this year with increased numbers, so it’s going to be interesting, but if it goes anywhere near last year or even down a bit, it will still be a great result.”

Messara did suggest the announcement was on the cusp of being too late and he expects the tourist spend associated with the sale to be down as a result.

“The atmosphere will be far better, which is a very positive things for the sale, but I just wish the decision had been made a month before,” he said.

“We cut the team we have travelling to the Gold Coast down because we just didn’t know if this was going to happen.

“As it turns out we are going there with enough people, but it’s fairly skeleton and I think what it’s done is taken the edge off the (leisure) expenditure you might have made.”

The Magic Millions Polo Day, which has in more recent years kicked off the festivities, has been shelved for this year as a result of Covid, but will be back in 2022.

The week now begins with the traditional Surfers Paradise Beach barrier draw on Tuesday January 12, to be followed by seven consecutive days of selling.

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