Victoria’s COVID-19 travel permit system goes live as more stories of forced hotel quarantine emerge


Despite some early hiccups, Victoria’s traffic light permit travel system has gone live, as new stories emerge of residents being kept in hotel quarantine despite having exemptions from the Victorian Government.

The Victorian State Government announced its domestic travel changes on Monday, with regional New South Wales moving from a “red zone” to “orange”, meaning Victorians in those areas can come home today.

However, those people — along with almost everyone in Australia apart from residents in border towns — travelling from interstate to Victoria is required to apply for a permit.

The DHHS’s permit system went live about 9:00pm on Monday after a delay of almost three hours.

Most users responding on social media reported it taking “only minutes” to get approval after the delay.

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However there was still confusion from some in the community hoping to return home to Victoria, particularly from those in the Brisbane area.

Greater Brisbane remains a red zone despite the city’s three-day lockdown coming to an end.

A number of return travellers from greater Brisbane already in Victoria have also contacted the ABC asking whether they can leave isolation if they have a negative test result, if DHHS hasn’t yet contacted them.

Yesterday the DHHS said in a media release: “Anyone who has already arrived in Victoria from the red zone in Queensland from January 2 and who has been advised to isolate until 6:00pm [Monday] evening will be contacted and advised that they can leave isolation if they have a negative test result.”

The DHHS did not respond to the ABC’s questions on the advice.

The confusion comes as many Victorians reveal stories of being forced into hotel quarantine despite exemptions.

For Richard Parris and his family, the past four days have been “confusing, awful and stressful”.

The Melbourne-based electrical engineer was only released from hotel quarantine yesterday after spending three nights at the Park Royal Melbourne Airport, despite having an exemption to self-isolate at home.

Mr Parris was holidaying in New South Wales late last month and then moved to Newcastle — a green zone at the time — in order to fly back to Melbourne without an issue.

Richard Parris and his family
Richard Parris and his family were stuck in hotel quarantine for three days despite having an exemption.(Supplied)

Then the rules changed.

“The earliest we could get a flight back was January 2,” he said.

“We were advised not to fly back and apply for the exemption.

“So we did. We were told it would take 48 hours for the exemption to come through.”

Mr Parris said it took six days.

“We extended our accommodation in Newcastle for as long as we could but after calling and calling at no point could we speak to the team actually assessing the exemptions.

“Once we got put through to a person who said they were giving advice about social distancing.

“So I don’t know what was going on. So we had to fly without the exemption.”

On arrival at midday on Friday Mr Harris said he and his family were held at the airport for three hours and then transferred to the hotel where they spent the night.

They received the exemption on Saturday but were not released until Monday afternoon.

“We were put in a hotel that included international arrivals,” he said.

“They are a much greater risk than us.

“We tried to explain our case but the hotel staff said they needed to clear it with the DHHS. But they couldn’t get the clearance.

“So we spent three nights trapped in hotel quarantine when we should never have been there.”

For Daniel Hand and his partner Eugenia Queiroz, the hotel quarantine experience is continuing.

Richard Hand and Eugenia Queiroz in happier times before they were thrown into hotel quarantine
Richard Hand and Eugenia Queiroz were placed in hotel quarantine.(Supplied)

The couple were holidaying in Byron Bay, which was a green zone at the time, and left NSW on December 31 for the Gold Coast — which is not part of the Greater Brisbane area.

They then flew into Melbourne on January 8.

They were placed into hotel quarantine and as of Monday night, were still there.

“It’s been pretty rough, really hard over the past few days,” he said.

“We haven’t had great experience with the DHHS — I mean I live 10 minutes from the airport.

“It’s been horrible, just awful.”

Mr Hand said he had called the DHHS “about 13 times” to get clarification about why they had to quarantine and why they were still being held.

“Everyone says we’re going to escalate it. You’ll hear back. But I haven’t received anything.

“I still haven’t received a call back. I feel like there’s nothing else we can do.”

On Monday night Mr Hand said his quarantine hotel said he could leave on Tuesday if he received a negative COVID test result.

The DHHS did not respond to the ABC’s questions regarding Mr Parris or Mr Hand’s situations.

Thank you for stopping to visit My Local Pages. We Hope you enjoyed reading this story about National and VIC news and updates published as “Victoria’s COVID-19 travel permit system goes live as more stories of forced hotel quarantine emerge”. This news release was shared by MyLocalPages as part of our local and national news services.

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Sydney COVID-19 cluster concerns grow as ‘mystery cases’ emerge outside the northern beaches


Police say they have issued 15 penalty infringement notices since Christmas Eve, including to 11 people at a house party at North Bondi on Saturday that breached public health orders.

Just before 11pm on Saturday, police attended a home on Blair Street after receiving multiple noise complaints, where they located at least 40 people at the party, most of whom ran from the home when officers arrived.

Officers spoke with 11 people, including two residents and nine visitors, who remained at the property. Two women – aged 24 and 26 – and nine men – aged 26, 28, 30, 31, 32, 34, and three aged 24 – were subsequently issued $1000 infringements for not complying with COVID-19 restrictions.

The residents were also issued a 28-day noise abatement direction, while the visitors were directed to leave the area.



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Gupkar alliance makes it big but BJP’s vote share is better; independents emerge as key players


Counting was suspended in 2 constituencies- Drugmulla in Kupwara and Hajin-A in Bandipore – over citizenship issue of 2 women candidates

SRINAGAR: ‘People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD)’, a conglomerate of Jammu and Kashmir’s half a dozen mainstream regional opposition parties and their allies from the national Left parties, has made it big in the Union Territory’s first-ever District Development Council (DDC) elections. Its tally stands at 110, out of the 278 results officially declared on Wednesday evening.

However, the PAGD’s arch rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not only emerged as the single largest party by winning 75 seats, it is placed better in terms of overall vote share. On the other hand independents, many of them reportedly BJP’s proxies, have emerged as key players with a tally of 50 seats. The Congress bagged 26, the newly formed J&K Apni Party (JKAP) 12, J&K National Panthers Party (JKNPP) and People’s Democratic Front (PDF) two seats each and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) one seat.

 

The PAGD’s tally includes 67 seats won by National Conference (NC), 27 by People’s Democratic Party (PDP), 8 by J&K People’s Conference (JKPC), 5 by  CPIM and 3 by J&K Peoples’ Movement (JKPM).    

J&K’s State Election Commissioner, K.K. Sharma, said that at the end of “peaceful” counting for 278 of the 280 constituencies while the BJP has emerged as the single largest party after winning 75 seats, the independents “turned out to be the major reflection during these elections winning 18 percent of the total seats while registering their win on fifty seats”.

The counting remained suspended in two constituencies- Drugmulla in Kupwara district and Hajin-A in neighbouring Bandipore district- over the citizenship issue of two women candidates. The SEC said that the counting was “deferred” in these two segments “in view of a question that has arisen on eligibility of one each contesting candidates from the seats”. He added, “A final decision in this regard will be taken after taking all aspects into consideration.”

 

Mr. Sharma said that BJP has got 24.82 percent votes in these elections followed by NC with 16.46 percent, Congress 13.82 percent, PDP 3.96 percent, JKAP 5.3 percent, JKPC 1.98 percent vote share while rest of the 28,55,509 polled votes went to other candidates including independents.

Union Home Minister, Amit Shah, thanked people of J&K for voting BJP as the single largest party in the DDC  elections and said that the BJP under the leadership of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, “will continue to work relentlessly towards the prosperity and development of the J&K region.” In a tweet, he also said, “Congratulations to the people of J&K for such great turnout in DDC polls. I applaud the efforts of our security forces & local administration for successfully conducting these multi-phased elections. This will further boost the morale and trust of people of J&K in democracy.” He assured that the Modi government “is doing everything possible to restore the grass root democracy in J&K” and that the maiden DDC polls were the testimony of the same.

 

This was the first democratic exercise in J&K after the Centre’s stripping the erstwhile state (including Ladakh) of its special status after abrogating Article 370 of the Constitution and splitting it up into two Union Territories-J&K and Ladakh- on August 5 last year.

PDP president and former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti claimed that the DDC elections results “have made it clear that people of J&K voted en masse for PAGD thus rejecting the unconstitutional decision to abrogate Article 370”. She added, “They have overwhelmingly supported the PAGD which stands for restoration of J&K’s special status”.

NC vice president Omar Abdullah had earlier said that the BJP had made this election a prestige issue about Article 370 and J&K’s special status “but the people have now spoken and it’s for those who believe in democracy to pay heed to these voices”.

 

However, Ms. Mufti in an interview said that while the results were “very encouraging” she won’t contest any election until J&K’s special status under Article 370 and its own constitution are restored. She and also Mr. Abdullah alleged that soon after the results were out the BJP’s “proxy” (an obvious reference to J&K Apni Party) with the help of the administration has resorted to coercive methods to bring in some independent winners under its fold. Mr. Abdullah tweeted, “The administration has now taken on the responsibility of trying to collect independent candidates for the BJP & it’s recently formed subsidiary. It seems the government doesn’t have enough to do & has branched out into this line of work as well”.

 

Ms. Mufti while referring to one such incident reported from southern Shopian district wrote on micro-blogging site Twitter “BJP & its proxies are sore losers & have resorted to abducting independents who won DDC elections. They are shamelessly using all means to increase their tally. This isn’t dance but death of democracy in J&K”.

Earlier in her diatribe against the BJP, she repeated the charge that the J&K administration and the police at the behest of the saffron party had created all kinds of hurdles for the PAGD and its nominees during these elections. She tweeted, “An election conducted in peace and with fairness is a victory for democracy. But the situation on the ground was far from ideal considering the odds against which the Gupkar Alliance fought the elections”.

 

Reacting to her assertions, BJP’s in-charge of DDC polls in J&K said, “It is important to know that independent candidates have polled more votes than the Congress and the PDP. The same Mehbooba Mufti who’d refused to unfurl the Tricolour has got a befitting reply today. The combined vote share of the Independent candidates and the BJP amounts to a little over 52 percent. This is a clear indication that the Gupkar Gang has lost its credibility and the trust of the people”.

The BJP went for aggressive campaigning bringing its several national leaders including union ministers and chief ministers to reach out to voters across the UT. Former minister and BJP leader Shahnawaz Hussain remained stationed in Kashmir throughout the campaigning period. Union minister for minority affairs, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, went door-to-door to caution people about the PAGD being a “conspiracy”, a conglomerate of “destructive dynastic politics” and “biggest impediment” in J&K’s development.

 

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11 Malaysian startups selected to join the Microsoft Emerge X Programme


  • Startups include Betacard, Leaderonomics Digital, Naluri Hidup, Setel, Supplycart.my
  • Beyond mentorship, they gain GitHub and Azure credits; access to global enterprises

Microsoft has announced the 11 startups from Malaysia that have been selected to be part of the Microsoft Emerge X program.

As an Emerge X startup, they will be participating in a year-long mentorship programme with Microsoft for Startups , which is designed to help them scale and accelerate their growth.

The 11 startups from Malaysia include Alpha Red Services, Betacard, Leaderonomics Digital, Naluri Hidup, OrangeFIN Asia, SalesCandy, Setel, Softinn Solutions, Soft Solvers Solutions, Supplycart.my, and Talentcloud.ai.

Further to the year-long mentorship, they will also receive GitHub and Azure credits, have the opportunity to attend a Founder Bootcamp for three days, gain access to enterprise clients globally through Microsoft’s unique co-sell programme, and interact with Microsoft experts.

“For Asia Pacific to remain at the forefront of global transformation, it takes disruptors, visionaries, and futurists. There are no limits to what people can achieve when the world and technology reflect the diversity of everyone who uses it. Which is why at Microsoft, we build technology so that others can create technology, and to be successful we all need to come together,” says Microsoft Asia Pacific president Andrea Della Mattea.

“Through the Highway to a 100 Unicorns and our Emerge X programme, we aim to help startups on the road to innovation, where they can meet unarticulated needs of the industry and help businesses become resilient.”

The Emerge X Programme, which is part of Microsoft’s Highway to a 100 Unicorns initiative, was launched in Malaysia and 15 other Asian Pacific countries in October 2020.

Since launch, Microsoft has engaged and collaborated with more than 70 prominent startup ecosystem players and governments across the region, including Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysian Global Innovation & Creativity Centre (MaGIC) and Cradle Fund, who then nominated more than 300 of their most promising startups for the programme.

From the nominations, 79 of the most promising startups across Asia Pacific were shortlisted. Additionally, 21 of them were invited to pitch their ideas at the Emerge X Regional Pitching Competition, held at the Philippine Startup Week 2020.

To further nurture Malaysia’s startup ecosystem, Microsoft will be organising the KL StartUp Summit + Microsoft Developer Day in 2021, bringing together the region’s startups to network with a diverse line-up of speakers and participants.

11 Malaysian startups selected to join the Microsoft Emerge X ProgrammeAdditionally, Microsoft will be supporting MaGIC as its technology partner via the MyStartup Hub 2021 programme. The initiative aims to reach global innovative startups from all over the world to establish a business hub in Malaysia, thus reinforcing Malaysia’s positioning in the regional ecosystem while instilling the exchange of knowledge between local and international startups.

“We strongly believe in the potential of the local startup ecosystem to disrupt industries and enable the nation’s inclusive and sustainable economic growth. We’ll continue partnering with fellow ecosystem enablers to provide a vibrant and conducive ecosystem for the development of innovative startup,” says Microsoft Malaysia managing director K Raman (pic).

“This is part of our commitment to empowering our local startups with the right technology and expertise, enabling them to scale and achieve more globally.”



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A $100B opportunity: Alberta could emerge as Canada’s first hydrogen energy hub, report says


Article content continued

The rest of the hydrogen produced in Alberta is considered “gray hydrogen,” because the CO2 emissions associated with its production are not captured.

We already have a good hydrogen economy in Alberta

Dan Wicklum, Transition Accelerator

“We already have a good hydrogen economy in Alberta. It’s an industrial economy. We make hydrogen and we use it to make fertilizer,” said Dan Wicklum, the Calgary-based CEO of Transition Accelerator.

Wicklum said governments previously tried to reduce emissions by mandating certain sectors reduce their emissions to targeted levels either through regulation or taxation, but a hydrogen-based energy system could enable countries around the world to set and meet net-zero carbon targets.

Despite the potential for Alberta and Canada to be a hydrogen supplier, international competitors are already moving into the market.

“Our competitors so far are Australia and Saudi Arabia,” Wicklum said, noting that both countries have already sold hydrogen of hydrogen to buyers in Japan.

In September, Saudi Arabia sent a shipment of blue hydrogen to Japan, said to be the world’s first shipment of the energy source.

We are equipped to pick up the ball and run with it

Dale Nally, Associate Minister of Natural Gas

Alberta’s abundance of natural gas will make it the second cheapest supplier of hydrogen in the world, after Russia, Alberta’s Associate Minister of Natural Gas Dale Nally said Monday.

Nally said multiple projects in Western Canada could allow Alberta to grow its hydrogen production, including two fully permitted pipelines that had been planned to connect natural gas fields with LNG export projects that could be repurposed to export hydrogen.



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2020 ACT election results show levelling of north-south political divide as new party strongholds emerge


The world’s eyes may be elsewhere today, trying to decipher the unpredictable United States electoral college system.

But ACT voters now have access to the final, detailed results of their own relatively convoluted election.

Canberrans returned Labor and the Greens to power last month, but they did something else, too: they bridged a political divide that had split the city geographically.

Four years ago, voters in Canberra’s north — where the light-rail network was to be built — swung sharply in favour of the Government, while the south turned to the Liberals.

This year, voting in the far north and far south was similar for the first time in more than a decade — the city’s political differences now lie elsewhere, instead.

So with the 2020 ACT election wrapped up and a new cabinet governing the city-state, let’s look a little more closely at what happened.

Pick a party and explore how the city voted

Chief Minister Andrew Barr summed up the 2016 result by saying: “Canberra has voted for light rail.”

This year, he said Canberrans had “done it again” — saying a strong Labor result in the south showed residents supported his plans to extend rail to Woden.

But that doesn’t quite explain what happened.

Despite the city-to-Gungahlin tram’s popularity, Labor’s vote was anaemic in the northern electorate of Yerrabi, where the Greens also did relatively poorly (while still winning a seat).

In general, the ACT’s new divide is not north vs south: it’s between affluent parts of Canberra’s suburban fringes, which skew Liberal, and the inner north and Belconnen, where the governing parties thrive.

Canberra Liberals on the outer (suburbs)?

The Liberals won 50 per cent of votes at the small Tharwa booth, the best booth result of any single party.(Wikipedia: Nick-D)

The Liberal Party has long struggled in the ACT, but usually not this badly.

Of the 82 places Canberrans voted, the Opposition only outpolled the combined Labor-Greens vote in seven locations.

Notably, only two of those polling booths were in the party’s traditional stronghold in the inner south — the others were in outer suburbs in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong.

Labor won more first-preference votes than the Liberals in about two-thirds of booths.

It was especially strong in Belconnen and, to a lesser extent, Tuggeranong — particularly in lower-income areas.

Meanwhile, the Greens outpolled the Liberals in nine booths, cementing their place as a major party.

However, the Greens’ success had a very narrow footprint: all of those booths were in Canberra’s inner north.

Tight margins show seats are up for grabs

An aerial shot of a rainbow roundabout.
The Greens almost outpolled Labor in parts of the inner north, where the Liberals received only one in five votes.(ABC News: Greg Nelson)

Despite the concentration of Greens support around Northbourne Avenue, the party did exceedingly well overall, winning six of the 25 Legislative Assembly seats.

Yet the margins of some victories were very thin.

A mere 84 votes (0.15 per cent) in Brindabella saw the Greens’ Johnathan Davis elected above Labor’s Taimus Werner-Gibbings.

Elsewhere, Rebecca Vassarroti (Greens) was just 407 votes ahead of Candice Burch (Liberal), and Peter Cain (Liberal) beat attorney-general Gordon Ramsay (Labor) with a margin of just 167.

The charts below show who benefited from preferences at each stage of the count (choose an electorate and use the navigation buttons to watch).

The outcomes — at least in Brindabella, Kurrajong and Ginninderra — were far tighter than usual.

That’s not to say this was a close election.

For whatever the reason — whether it was the parties’ policies, the Government’s response to COVID-19, or different perceptions of the leaders and candidates — Canberrans overwhelming endorsed more of the same, but Greener.

However, even small shifts in voting and preferences could change the Assembly’s colours next time — a little redder here, greener there, and perhaps even blue, too.



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Bihar election opinion polls: NDA projected to win 160 seats; BJP to emerge as single-largest party


(This story originally appeared in on Oct 12, 2020)

NEW DELHI: The NDA alliance is likely to emerge as the clear favourite to win the Bihar assembly elections by securing 160 of the 243 seats, according to an opinion poll released by Times Now-CVoter on Monday.

The survey, conducted on all 243-assembly seats of the state, predicted that the BJP is likely to emerge as the single-largest party by securing 85 seats. Its ally, the Nitish Kumar’s JD(U) will be the second-largest party with 70 seats.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the survey said, will secure 76 seats. Tejashwi Yadav’s RJD is likely to secure the largest number of seats within the alliance by securing 56 seats. The Indian National Congress will manage only 15 seats, the survey results showed.

The Lok Janshakti Party, which has fielded candidates on 143 seats, is likely to secure victory on only five seats, the survey said.

A party or an alliance needs 122 seats in the 143-seat assembly to secure a majority.

The Times Now-C-Voter survey covered all of Bihar’s assembly segments (243) and surveyed 12,843 people. The survey was conducted from October 1 to 10.

The Bihar legislative assembly election for the 243-seat assembly will be held in three phases from October 28 to November 7. The results for the election will be announced on November 10.

The elections will be conducted amid the Covid-19 pandemic with the necessary guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India.

In the NDA, Janata Dal (United) will contest on 115 seats, while the Bhartiya Janata Party has fielded candidates on 110 seats.

Lok JanShakti Party, which is in alliance with BJP at Centre, has given tickets to 143 candidates.

On the other hand, Mahagathbandhan (Bihar), Rashtriya Janata Dal will contest from 144 seats, followed by Congress which will contest on 70 seats.





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A new Crown will emerge from the ashes of its dysfunctional predecessor


He also understands a proper governance structure does not operate through ad hoc emails sent to an inner sanctum of executives and that reporting lines are not meant to look like a Picasso painting.

As well, based on Packer’s evidence he appreciates that the trusted executives from his private companies can no longer run the publicly listed Crown via some strange defacto outsourcing agreements.

He has also worked out that he can’t have unfettered access to every aspect of Crown’s finances and strategy (information that other shareholders don’t have) just because his underlings conjured up a shareholder protocol agreement.

Commissioner Patricia Bergin at the NSW probity inquiry reminded Packer on Thursday that the more conventional way of a major shareholder receiving information was through its nominees on the board.

Ironically Packer seemed to believe that having a small proportion of his own nominees on the board was worthy of some kind of governance medal for achievement.

The reality is that Packer didn’t need to dominate the board with his own representatives because, as the inquiry heard numerous times, the senior Crown management was either already operating under his instruction or on consignment from his private company, Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH).

And as for conflicts – two of the blokes that were hired from CPH to undertake executive-type tasks at Crown were also on the board of Crown. These were multiple hat wearers.

Packer understands that reporting lines are not meant to look like a Picasso painting.

Thus, the bizarre situation was created where some Crown board members were overseeing their own work.

Commissioner Bergin was apparently confused by this governance game of twister – as would be expected.

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From Packer’s perspective his receipt of this treasure trove of detailed information on Crown was duly authorised.

And this included information Packer sought from former chief financial officer and later chief executive, Ken Barton, about Crown’s financial forecasts during the period in which the billionaire was attempting to offload part of all of his then-46 per cent interest in Crown. More controversial was his move to share this detail with would-be buyer, Lawrence Ho’s Melco.

Even Packer’s most loyal lieutenant, Michael Jonhston, conceded this created a few issues around perception. But it wasn’t just Crown’s unconventional governance structure that fed into what Bergin described as its dysfunction.

It was what Bergin dubbed Packer’s “powerful personality” and the resultant reluctance for management of his private company or Crown to deliver him bad news.

Packer suffers from bipolar disorder and has a renowned volatile temper.

(The inquiry heard that Packer made sufficiently menacing threats to a private equity executive who declined to provide $1.5 billion that the executive hired bodyguards for protection.)

Having acknowledged the failures that have occurred at Crown – from its engagement with tainted junket operators to ineffective anti-money laundering compliance – Bergin invited Packer to come up with a solution.

Packer took up Bergin’s challenge, suggesting these inside information sharing protocols with him would need to be ditched.

It is reasonable to guess that Bergin had already thought of that.

The former judge Patricia Bergin says James Packer has a powerful personality.Credit:

Packer’s next piece of advice was to have the board think whether the current managers were right for the job. In other words Packer is happy to throw Crown’s senior executives under the bus.

Then Packer helpfully offered advice about the implementation of shareholder caps. Presuming he would be subject to these, Packer is effectively offering to sell down his stake in Crown.

While that looks like a pretty large concession it should be viewed in the context that Packer spent six months attempting to offload all or part of his stake in 2019.

He understands the game is up and the high roller, Chinese VIP market is dead. It was this customer segment that was to bankroll his new Sydney casino.

He as much admitted that these days the economics of Barangaroo don’t stake up. It’s a “different world now” than in 2014 when the NSW government awarded Crown its Sydney licence. So being forced to sell down his stake in Crown may not be the punishment it would appear to be.

Lastly Packer said the board would need to be more independent than it had been in the past. That condition would be easily satisfied if Packer was prohibited from (a) owning such a large stake or (b) operating as a defacto king.

This would avoid any future “painful” and “shocking” periods that Packer says he and the board have endured.

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